Though Mark Twain first gained notoriety after publishing an essay about a famous jumping frog, the onetime Samuel Clemens didn’t really hit his stride until he became a public speaker, as the money he accrued from reading in front of audiences gave him a steady source of income. At Salon, Ben Tarnoff recounts Twain’s journey to the podium, one laid out more broadly in Tarnoff’s book about a group of San Francisco writers.
“You couldn’t say, no, this is actually a president, this is exactly how a leader ought to talk and reason, because even with the uhs and ums cleaned out and the spoken sentences made to look like written ones, Trump’s discourse isn’t coherent.” Linguist Michael Erard for The Awl on reading Trump’s transcripts.
“The voices you hear when you sit down to write lead you to believe that you’re a character in the novel you’re writing even though metafiction hasn’t been invented yet.” If this applies to you, you might be in a Muriel Spark novel according to Maud Newton’s article at The Toast. We aren’t surprised that Newton wrote this because Spark made her 2010 Year in Reading post.
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.)
Geoff Dyer is fond of taking potshots at literary academics. He devotes considerable time in one of his novels to a professor whose speech at a conference goes off the rails. Which is why it’s odd that, in mid-July, the author showed up at a conference devoted to — what else? — his own work. (It’s apropos to point out here that our own Mark O’Connell wrote a great essay for Slate about Dyer.)