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.
The Guardian's Max Liu highlights several rising star Asian American authors, including Year in Reading 2017 participant Jenny Zhang. "After years on the peripheries of US fiction and poetry, Asian American authors have stepped into the spotlight during 2017. Books by writers of east and south-east Asian heritage are one of the hottest trends this year. [...] Transcultural writers, born to immigrant parents in the US or immigrants themselves as children, they are channelling their experiences into writing that, with perfect historical timing, challenges readers to resist attacks on immigrants’ rights and to see refugees as individuals with unique stories."
New York Times travel editor Monica Drake recounts visiting Antigua after reading Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place—a sharp critique of tourism and the colonialist narrative around the island. As she puts it, “For all the drama of its history, [...] the beauty of the place, the very thing that bewitches its tourists, renders it a time capsule to its residents.”
Recommended Reading: Laura Gianino at The Rumpus on seeing The Boss, Bruce Springsteen: "It felt silly to me, as a Springsteen fan of approximately four hours, to tell Keith that I felt Bruce understood me, too, but I realized somewhere in the middle of the show that Bruce was the same age when writing those songs as Keith and I were as we listened. Maybe I was just caught up in the moment. But if that were true, so was everyone."