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.
Director Ross Ching was so inspired by photographer Matt Logue’s “Empty LA” project, he decided to expand the idea. What’s resulted is the ongoing Empty America series, whose first two installments depict Seattle and San Francisco without any humans present. Coming up: Washington D.C. and New York City.
Leigh Stein‘s writing has appeared in places such as DIAGRAM, H_NGM_N, and Dzanc’s Best of the Web 2010. She also has a weekly column for The Faster Times. Her debut novel, The Fallback Plan, will be released next January by Melville House. Publisher’s Weekly thinks pretty highly of it.
“A couple of years ago I attended a British Council discussion about the state of contemporary writing and the creative future in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. When someone brought up the dearth of memoirs in the Nigerian literary landscape, almost everyone in the room laughed ruefully. Someone joked aloud, ‘We can’t write memoirs. We’d have to wait for parents to die. Not just parents – everyone who knows us, even!’ This concern is not limited to nonfiction.” Bim Adewunmi writes for BuzzFeed on African immigrants’ stories.