What if a treasure hunt in a book crossed over into the real world? Author Kit Williams buried a prize and left clues to its location in his novel, Masquerade. The search drove England crazy. Our own Hannah Gersen maps the imaginary in her essay about how authors organize their manuscripts.
Mark Twain first rose to fame as the author of an essay about a frog-jumping contest in California. Originally titled “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” the essay went viral in America’s biggest newspapers, eventually inspiring the New York Tribune to write of Twain that “no reputation was ever so rapidly won.” Yet the humor which made the essay so popular is often lost on modern audiences, in no small part because, as Ben Turnoff writes in Lapham’s Quarterly, frontier humor isn’t funny if there’s no Wild West.
Hanya Yanagihara, the author of A Little Life, writes on reenacting a version of John Cheever’s short story “The Swimmer” by swimming across Martha’s Vineyard. As she explains it, “Swimming in the ocean is writing a novel; swimming in a pond is writing in a diary.” Pair with Nick Ripatrazone’s Millions essay on Cheever’s classic story.
The Millions is adding a new staff writer today. Join us in welcoming Bill Morris. Bill most recently wrote a consideration of China Miéville for the site this week, his fifth piece for us thus far. Bill is the author of the novels Motor City and All Souls’ Day. His writing has appeared in Granta, The New York Times, L.A. Weekly, the (London) Independent, the Washington Post Magazine and the website Aolnews.com. He lives in New York City.
Junot Diaz, whose novel The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008, has been deemed “un-patriotic” and “anti-Dominican” by the Dominican Republic’s consul in New York City. Diaz had been working in Washington with Haitian-born writer Edwidge Danticat in the hopes of urging the U.S. government to take action against the abhorrent treatment of Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic.
In 1847, Charles Dickens founded a house for homeless women in the Shepherd’s Bush neighborhood of London. After setting up the center’s amenities, he publicized the house using leaflets and, upon hearing that London society was shocked that the center had a piano, spread a rumor that the center boasted a piano for every resident. At The Guardian, a look at a letter Dickens wrote to the matron of the house, to be sold at Christie’s in May. (h/t The Paris Review)