A professor at Clemson University believes he’s identified the fugitive slave who was harbored for one night in the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Moreover, the professor believes that the man was “an inspiration for the novel [Uncle Tom’s Cabin]. I think his pain touched [Stowe] and helped her to act.”
I’d heard that the New Yorker excerpt was the opening of Jonathan Franzen’s new novel Freedom, but it turns out it is preceded in the novel by this: “The news about Walter Berglund wasn’t picked up locally–he and Patty had moved away to Washington two years earlier and meant nothing to St. Paul now–but the urban gentry of Ramsey Hill were not so loyal to their city as not to read the New York Times. According to a long and very unflattering story in the Times, Walter had made quite a mess of his professional life out there in Washington. His old neighbors had some difficulty reconciling the quotes about him in the Times (‘arrogant,’ ‘high-handed,’ ‘ethically compromised’) with the generous, smiling, red-faced 3M employee they remembered pedaling his commuter bicycle up Summit Avenue in February snow; it seemed strange that Walter, who was greener than Greenpeace and whose own roots were rural, should be in trouble now for conniving with the coal industry and mistreating country people. Then again, there had always been something not quite right about the Berglunds.”
The Great Gatsby, that quintessential American classic, was first published 90 years ago today. Over at Scribner Magazine authors ranging from Anthony Doerr to Christopher Beha remember their first encounters with the novel, and Time has republished its original review of the novel.
The latest installment in The Believer’s “What Would Twitter Do?” series (which we’ve mentioned before) features London Review of Books editor Christian Lorentzen, whose Twitter feed, Sheila Heti writes, “seem[s] like what someone who only expresse[s] himself as a fiction writer within the universe of twitter might come up with.” Meanwhile, Heti has a review of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman in (where else?) the LRB.
How’s this sound: an eight-mile midnight stroll through Fire Island, replete with Socratic dialogue and references to Sappho, Pythagoras, Diogenes and Hippocrates? Such is exactly what you get from Island Night, the latest project of poet Jon Cotner (previously mentioned for his We’re Floating and Poem Forest projects). As the poet explains to the NY Times, his mission with the walks was to revive “the ancient and endangered practices of walking and talking.”
“Sitting there in my thrift-store jacket and boa with my legs spread, I was a study in cubism: lips mouthing well-bred earnest truisms about postcolonial theory, hand guiding their hand up under my skirt, it was, on a deep level, hilarious.” Chris Kraus writes about working New York’s topless hustle bars at n+1.