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?
Michael Chabon is really into prog rock. And I just picked up a couple of great Emerson Lake & Palmer LPs. So now I’ve got a soundtrack for reading Telegraph Avenue, which I’m especially stoked on after our own Michael Bourne’s review of the novel, devoted as I am to the “brilliant little brushstrokes of language.”
Recommended reading: The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the new modesty of literary criticism and the complicated relationship between texts, critics, and politics. For more on the balance between art and politics, look no further than Jonathan Clarke‘s Millions essay, “Alive with Disagreement and Dissent.”