The real origin of the Mark Twain pen name might be a burlesque sketch in the 19th century humor magazine Vanity Fair. If you’re still trying to come up with the perfect nom de plume, Bill Ferris has some advice.
Amazon has given its entire front page over to a “letter” from CEO Jeff Bezos touting Dan Brown’s forthcoming gnostic thriller The Lost Symbol. It’s a mix of hyperbole and “thrilling” intrigue. My favorite excerpts: “This is one of the most anticipated publishing events of all time.” “The book remains so deeply under wraps that we’ve agreed to keep our stockpile under 24-hour guard in its own chain-link enclosure, with two locks requiring two separate people for entry.” Bezos goes on to promise that Amazon will deliver Kindle owners the book “wirelessly while [they] sleep.”
In 1998, T.C. Boyle released his first massive collection of short stories, titled, appropriately enough, Stories. Clocking in at 700+ pages, the book illustrated the zany profligacy of one our premier short fiction writers. Now Boyle has released a new collection — titled (of course) Stories II — and with it comes a new trailer.
“Marta Reale, 10, her smile broad, her bangs blanched, made her way to a recreation center’s doorway through the dense crowd of other children, sunlit cigarette smoke and mothers fanning themselves on the seats of scooters. Above her, more children were hanging out the window, and above them, more were crammed onto a balcony.” Jason Horowitz files from Naples, Italy for The New York Times about a casting call for HBO’s upcoming adaptation of Elena Ferrante‘s My Brilliant Friend, noting that it “has already drawn 5,000 children, the vast majority of whom have never heard of Elena Ferrante, and injected a mix of hysteria and hope into parts of Naples that are poor in resources but rich in real characters.” Pair with this piece about The Neapolitan Quartet‘s scope and impact.
You can lose entire days while researching the Voynich Manuscript on the Internet, so maybe you should begin with this overview of the matter – one that asks whether or not the entire thing is just a big hoax.
Clare Beams reflects on her impressions of Little Women as a child and an adult at Ploughshares. A piece of her essay: “Of course, none of the real Alcott sisters could have fit into the spaces Little Women carved out for them. No real person could…. Real-life girls are messes of contradiction.” You could also read Deena Drewis’s essay on the perception of women’s writing and gender bias in publishing.
It was the height of the feminist revolution and one man was trying, unsuccessfully, to publish a book about a man amidst a midlife crisis. 25 years later, Esquire editor Gordon Lish read sections of An Armful of Warm Girl in a literary magazine and demanded that Knopf reconsider publishing it (they did). This week over at Bloom, Nicki Leone dives into the work of W.M. Spackman, the man often referred to as “Fitzgerald‘s literary heir.”