Mallory Ortberg of The Toast, whose Ayn Rand-inspired versions of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and You’ve Got Mail we told you about a few months ago, is back it at again. Now Rand (er, I mean, Ortberg) has her sights set on the dubiously libertarian children’s classic If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. If we give you the article, you’ll probably ask us for an essay by Gary Percesepe about meeting Ayn Rand’s editor to go along with it.
Moby-Dick is a quintessential Great American Novel, perhaps even the greatest, but it might not be pure fiction. That’s what George Dobbs argues in a piece on “The Real Life Inspirations Behind Moby-Dick” for The Airship. Invention or not, at least we can be thankful no cannibalism sneaked its way onto the Pequod…
Up until 1999, Italian college students were required to write longform theses, which explains why Umberto Eco felt the need to write a guide to completing one. Eco being Eco, however, the guide went on to become a classic with many applications. At Page-Turner, Hua Hsu explains why the author’s writing manual is also a guide to life. You could also read Hillary Kelly on Eco’s Confessions of a Young Novelist.
During its ongoing contract talks with the publisher, Amazon has been displaying that Hachette’s books ship in “up to 3-5 weeks.” James Patterson, one of their biggest authors, has declared on Facebook that “there is a war going on between Amazon and book publishers.” The Washington Post has more on the backstory of Amazon’s strategy, while the New York Times blog details how Patterson and other authors are fighting back.
Whether you admire the work of e.e. cummings or think of him mainly as the inspiration for your high school’s worst poet, you’ll enjoy this excerpt of Susan Cheever’s new biography, which touches on the poet’s later years and his relationship with Cheever’s father. The two (contrasting) money quotes here are Malcolm Cowley’s claim that cummings was “the most brilliant monologuist I have known” and this exasperated question posed by Helen Vendler: “What is wrong with a man who writes this?
This week in book-related graphics: An image-heavy test that combines poetry with traffic signs from Ploughshares, and an infographic breaking down the most fearsome (and most useless) characters in The Iliad.