Literary fame is a knotty thing. It’s hard to predict exactly who will be known for centuries, and why. William Wordsworth, for example, owes at least part of his fame to the Lake District, which started to use him in their tourist campaigns not long after his death. In The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman takes a look at H.J. Jackson’s Those Who Write for Immortality. Related: Gina Fattore’s recent essay on fame and money.
We have finally reached peak Trump. In Hart Seely’s new book Bard of the Deal, three decades of Donald Trump speeches and interviews have been reworked into what the publisher is calling a “treasury of spoken poetry.” One can only hope there’s a poem titled, “Bored With Winning.”
“The Books of Magic makes The Lord of the Rings, The Avengers, Harry Potter, and even Twilight all look like entries in the same broad genre of tween-superhero fantasy, in which someone insignificant gets mighty powers, fights the forces of evil, and ultimately triumphs. …The pop culture landscape starts to look like an endless row of Tim Hunters, the same successful formula applied again and again.” From The Atlantic, a look at how Neil Gaiman‘s The Books of Magic prefigured the runaway success of Harry Potter and the modern YA fantasy-adventure craze.
Remember the Muppet movie when Kermit has an existential crisis about time? Yeah, we never saw that one either. But a new biography of Jim Henson, Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones, discusses Henson’s early experimental filmmaking (sans puppets) and plans to open a psychedelic nightclub in the 1960s. You can watch the aforementioned trippy short film “Time Piece.”
Wole Soyinka does not approve of the push for Chinua Achebe to be awarded a posthumous Nobel Prize for Literature, and he doesn’t appreciate fan letters asking for his support to that end. “How did creative valuation descend to such banality?” Soyinka remarks in an interview with SaharaReporters. “Do these people know what they’re doing – they are inscribing Chinua’s epitaph in the negative mode of thwarted expectations. I find that disgusting.”