Peg Plunkett was an 18th-century Dublin courtesan who decided one day to make some money by publishing a series of memoirs. Now, over two hundred years after Plunkett sketched out her life story, Professor Julie Peakman has rewritten all three volumes for a modern audience. In a piece for The New Statesman, Sarah Dunant reviews her edition of Plunkett’s oeuvre.
“Literary interviews became popular in the eighteen-eighties, but Richard Altick, the late professor of Victorian literature at Ohio State University, traces the public fascination with writers’ homes at least as far back as the eighteen-forties, when there was a vogue for books describing the houses and landscapes of famous authors, complete with engravings and, later, photographs.” On the strangeness of literary celebrity.
October kicks off with a mega-dose of new fiction: Ancient Light by John Banville, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, It’s Fine By Me by Per Petterson, The Heart Broke In by James Meek, In Sunlight and in Shadow by Mark Helprin, Live by Night by Dennis Lehane, and Have You Seen Marie? by Sandra Cisneros. And that doesn’t even include debuts Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, That’s Not a Feeling by Dan Josefson, and Safe As Houses by Marie-Helene Bertino. And there’s more: graphic novel master Chris Ware’s Building Stories, The Paris Review’s collection Object Lessons (we interviewed one of the Steins behind the book) and this year’s Best American Short Stories collection. Finally, Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim is out in a new NYRB Classics edition with an introduction by Keith Gessen.
“[Mark] Twain wasn’t above the contrivances of capitalism, even as he skewered them. . . From nonage to dotage, in dire straits or in the pink, he was always a capricious entrepreneur, counting the zeroes on an imaginary balance sheet.” The New Yorker writes about the humor writer’s many failed attempts to get very rich. From our archives: Twain and the Wild West.