What inspired Samuel Clemens to change his name to Mark Twain? Was it a Mississippi riverboat captain? Did he earn it by “drinking at a one-bit saloon in Virginia City, Nevada?” Or, as rare book dealer Kevin Mac Donnell now alleges in the new issue of Mark Twain Journal, did the author find his pseudonym in a popular humor journal?
As evidenced by the amazing quiz “Jonathan Franzen Gripe or YouTube Comment about Saggy Pants,” a perception exists that the widely acclaimed writer is allergic to new technology. At Slate, Benjamin Nugent argues that Franzen’s new book, The Karl Kraus Project, proves inadvertently that Franzen is less of a Luddite than we think.
The Atavist has been killing it lately. Last month, I was riveted by Joshuah Bearman’s outrageous (and completely true) story of one Brit’s attempt to bring a “Baghdad Country Club” to the city’s Green Zone. This month, “Mother, Stranger,” Cris Beam’s account of her abusive mother–a distant relative of William Faulkner–had me on the verge of tears.