Reflecting on the sales figures of Lean In and How to Win Friends and Influence People, Sarah L. Corteau wonders: could it be that self-help is America’s quintessential genre? (You could also read Alan Levinowitz on the paradox of Christian self-help books.)
Following a long battle with cancer, David Rakoff died Thursday night at the age of 47. Rakoff recently delivered a novel entitled Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die; Cherish, Perish to Doubleday, and fans can look out for it next year. Reflections on Rakoff’s life and legacy can be read courtesy of Jason Diamond and Choire Sicha, and two of Rakoff’s best This American Life pieces can be found here and here.
Meet Philip M. Parker, a marketing professor at INSEAD Business School and the man whose name graces the covers of over 100,000 books. Is he the most prolific author of the modern age? Well, kind of. Thanks to “a computer system that can write books about specific subjects in about 20 minutes,” Parker and his company have combined to create over 800,000 titles currently listed on Amazon – including such works as The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Spinal Stenosis and Webster’s Icelandic – English Thesaurus Dictionary.
“The entire manuscript was written with the E-type bar of the typewriter tied down; thus making it impossible for that letter to be printed. This was done so that none of that vowel might slip in, accidentally; and many did try to do so!” Abe Books tells the tale of Gadsby, a self-published 50,000-word novel written without using the letter “e.” Its author, Ernest Vincent Wright, won some notoriety when he accomplished the feat – called a lipogram – in 1939, although it’s unlikely Wright could have foreseen that individual copies of his book would eventually fetch prices upward of $1,200. And if it’s literary hijinks you’re after, definitely read our own Anne Yoder on the work of Georges Perec, who wrote a lipogram of his own in 1969.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice is going to have one heck of a star-studded cast. Among the names attached to the production thus far are Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro, Martin Short and Sean Penn. The film is tentatively scheduled for a 2014 release. (Bonus: Take a sneak peek at Pynchon’s forthcoming novel, Bleeding Edge.)
“REPORTER: You’ve reportedly conveyed to Judge Garland that if he comes knocking on your office door he’ll be wasting his time. But would you deign to meet with him somewhere off the grounds of the U.S. Capitol? Say, at a Starbucks? BARTLEBY: I would prefer not to.” This Bartleby, the Senator: A Story of Merrick Garland (not to be confused with the Bartleby, the Scrivener).