The Mississippi was integral to Mark Twain’s fiction, so David Carkeet traced Twain’s path on the river in the new issue of Smithsonian. “What would Samuel Clemens have made of the Riverwalk? He was a grown child who readily took a God’s-eye view of life on earth. He would have loved it.” Pair with: Our essay on Twain’s travel writing.
Hobart is celebrating the month of June by offering a 20% discount on all of their Short Flight / Long Drive Books. You can pick up any two for $15. In particular I recommend Adam Novy’s Avian Gospels, a vividly imagined story of a young boy who can control flocks of birds. (I’ve recommended it before.) You can also get a taste for the book by watching its trailer over here.
We have a lot of prizes that honor well-crafted first novels. But what about the second novel, which is far more likely to be ignored? Herewith, Dan Kois announces that Slate is teaming up with the Whiting Foundation to produce We Second That, a list of under-recognized second novels from the past five years. You could also read our own Bill Morris on the golden age of the second novel.
In general, fact-checking isn’t the most glamorous part of a journalist’s career, which is why Michael Erard was surprised to find that a recent fact-checking session for an Al Jazeera article turned out to be among the most interesting conversations of his life. Why? His sources were linguists, and their job was to explain to him the workings of brand-new sign languages.
Out this week: All the Rage by A.L. Kennedy; The Confabulist by Stephen Galloway; Fallout by Sadie Jones; The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson; With My Dog Eyes by Hilda Hilst; Ruby by Cynthia Bond; and The Informed Air by Muriel Spark. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.