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 finalists are set and the judges have been selected, so that means that The Morning News’s Tournament of Books is officially underway. As a special bonus to Millions readers, one of this year’s deciders is our own Lydia Kiesling. Also? One of the books that made the final cut is none other than the one I told you to read a month ago.
It’s official: Borders has announced it will begin liquidating its 399 bookstores this week. Store closures could begin as early as this Friday and will continue through September, according to the Times.
An international group of forensic experts studying the poet Pablo Neruda‘s remains, which were ordered exhumed in 2013, says he didn’t die of cancer, as the Nobel laureate’s official cause of death states. The question remains: was he poisoned? And if you want to see how Neruda lived, perhaps you might enjoy this tour of writers’ houses.