In the latest entry in By Heart, the Atlantic series we’ve written about a few times, Ben Marcus (who recently came out with a new book) reflects on the true meaning of the word “Kafkaesque.” Marcus interprets Kafka’s “A Message from the Emperor” as a parable about the difficulty of real human connection. (Related: there’s now a Kafka video game.)
"I hate to break it to you but everyone does not, in fact, have a book in them." For The Outline, literary agent Kate McKean writes about the difference between good stories and good books—and what it takes to write the latter. Pair with: an essay on the books that fight back
"For that reason, it’s hard to imagine coming to this book for the first time, and experiencing it in the same way as that college senior back in 2003." The Outline on the 15-year anniversary of Chuck Klosterman's Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. (Read our review of the king of pop culture's newest book.)
Hold on to your starched collars: In breaking Shakespeare news, Oxford University Press announced that in its new edition of the complete works of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe will receive credit as co-author on the Henriad plays. And if you're really tired of Will getting all the credit, you'll enjoy our recent piece about the surge of interest in Ben Jonson, who's basically the Third Tenor to their more famous voices.
Tin House magazine’s new Theft issue includes gems like this poem from Matthew Zapruder and this story by Kirsten Bakis among many others. John Brandon’s essay from The Millions on the literary consequence of petty theft is a perfect follow-up read for all of you kleptomaniacs out there.
“Every sense cleared about three hundred percent and stood up on its hind legs waving its feelers.” Eighty years ago, James Agee got an assignment that entered him into history, though not during his lifetime. Let us now celebrate Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. See also: our essay on famous artist-writer collaborations, like Agee's with Walker Evans.
A couple months ago, I linked to a new Granta series in which authors select one of their own first sentences and recall how they came to it. This week, Patrick French explains the first sentence of a nonfiction piece titled “After the War" (available in Granta 125) by digging up an old photograph that shows how the Edwardian English were “stitched and machined into a grid of expectations.”