Heidi Julavits credits her habit of keeping a diary with convincing her that writing might be a viable career path. In her new book, The Folded Clock, she returns to the format of her childhood, crafting a lengthy diary meant to stand on its own as a narrative. In the Times, Eula Biss reads the book and reflects on our notions of the self. Related: Rachel Signer on the Julavits/Sheila Heti/Leanne Shapton project Women in Clothes.
“This is a story about a woman who was erased from her job as the editor of the most famous literary magazine in America.” For Longreads, A.N. Devers writes about Brigid Hughes, the second editor of The Paris Review, who has been all but scrubbed from the magazine’s history. See also: Dever’s 2011 Year in Reading entry.
What inspired Samuel Clemens to change his name to Mark Twain? Was it a Mississippi riverboat captain? Did he earn it by “drinking at a one-bit saloon in Virginia City, Nevada?” Or, as rare book dealer Kevin Mac Donnell now alleges in the new issue of Mark Twain Journal, did the author find his pseudonym in a popular humor journal?
A recent survey of 19th century British literature uncovered advertising subtly placed within classic texts by authors like Dickens, Austen, and Thackeray. From Vanity Fair, for example: “‘My sisters say she has diamonds as big as pigeons’ eggs,’ George said, laughing. ‘How they must set off her complexion! Surely she avails herself of Madame A.T. Rowley’s Toilet Mask (or Face Gloves)…’” (via Book Bench)
Jennifer Egan recently spoke with Willing Davidson, fiction editor of The New Yorker, as part of Rewiring the Real, a yearlong series of podcasts with writers about the interplay of literature, technology and religion. Rachel Hurn, a former Millions intern, was there and noted Egan’s ambivalence towards “personal writing.” [Updated to correct the quote] “If writing necessarily meant writing about myself, then I’d rather do something else,” Egan said.
Robert Darnton at the New York Review of Books considers the feasibility of creating a National Digital Library: “I know: the devil can cite Jefferson. Anyone can cull through the papers of the Founding Fathers in order to find quotations in support of a cause. But I can’t resist.”