World-building is an essential part of any story, but what about map-making? At Book Riot, two cartographers explain how they create the maps we see inside books. One cartographer’s perspective: “I really wanted to make a map that could easily be an artifact from the world of the book…. I came up with the idea that the map could be a page ripped from an atlas, and someone had written notes on it.” See also: Rob Goodman’s essay for the reader on world-building and its relationship to reality.
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?
The upcoming Supreme Court decision on gay marriage is drawing a lot of attention. But what about the other ruling — the one aimed at grizzled old men? At The Onion, a report on Justice Alito’s recent decision, which tersely states that marriage is a pact between a man and the sea.
At HTML Giant, Catherine Lacey interviews David Shields, who says that his new book, How Literature Saved My Life, drew material from his stated identity as a “highly self-conscious lab rat.” For more, you can read our own Mark O’Connell’s review of his book in the Times.
If you’re in need of a great read this week, you’ll be glad to know that Byliner has compiled a list of 101 spectacular nonfiction stories from 2011. They run the gamut from investigative to personal to borderline trivial: There’s Mac McClelland’s incredibly daring and disturbing essay on working through PTSD through controlled sexual violence, alongside Jon Mooallem’s history of the high five. Happy reading!