Soundtracks make for excellent background music when writing a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Junot Díaz wrote his first book with the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack on loop, he said during an interview with The Daily Beast.
“Now I wrote until near dawn, wanting a map of the literary nation, a beautiful evocation of how we are truly a nation of village and city and prairie and brownstone, of Rockies and bayous and mesas. Novels give to every reader someone else’s home. Can we not see this – we of wonder and grievance?” Susan Straight creates a map of America in 737 novels, prompting us to remember the perennial literary question: What is the greatest American novel?
Surprising news emerged today about This American Life‘s Mike Daisey episode on Apple’s Foxconn subcontractors (previously mentioned on The Millions here, and later here). Apparently portions of Daisey’s visit to Chinese Foxconn factories were fabricated, and TAL‘s producers failed to ensure factual accuracy because he misled their efforts. As a result, the show has retracted the broadcast (PDF), Daisey has issued a statement of defense, and the next TAL episode will cover the entire fiasco.
When Good Things Happen to Bad People: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. On one of our favorite industry blogs, The Rejectionist weighs in on one of publishing’s perennial problems: what to do when someone really foul ends up being way more successful than you are.
Mark Twain first rose to fame as the author of an essay about a frog-jumping contest in California. Originally titled “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” the essay went viral in America’s biggest newspapers, eventually inspiring the New York Tribune to write of Twain that “no reputation was ever so rapidly won.” Yet the humor which made the essay so popular is often lost on modern audiences, in no small part because, as Ben Turnoff writes in Lapham’s Quarterly, frontier humor isn’t funny if there’s no Wild West.