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.
Gabriel García Márquez has died at the age of 87. The Colombian writer was a prominent novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. He was most famous for One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, and The Autumn of the Patriarch and won a Nobel Prize in 1982 for his work.
Earlier this month William Beutler, a D.C. based writer, started a blog about the landmarks in Boston that inspired the landscape of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Beutler does a great job chronicling the real-life history of different buildings and explaining how DFW altered them to fit into his novel.
Rashard Mendenhall is retiring from the Arizona Cardinals in order to write, among other reasons. “The truth is, I don’t really think my walking away is that big of deal. For me it’s saying, ‘Football was pretty cool, but I don’t want to play anymore. I want to travel the world and write!'” Maybe he’ll be published by another retired sports star’s imprint?
Out this week: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman; There’s Something I Want You to Do by Charles Baxter; Bon Appétempt by Amelia Morris; The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah; The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson; The Marauders by Tom Cooper; We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler; A History of Loneliness by John Boyne; Holy Cow by The X-Files star David Duchovny; and Get in Trouble by Kelly Link. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.