When you think “Franz Kafka,” it typically isn’t his sunny disposition that comes to mind. According to Reiner Stach, this new collection of ephemera, however, seeks to challenge the tired, old conception of Kafka-as-tortured neurotic. Here’s a Millions review of Stach’s twin biographies of Kafka, himself.
Who’s the official Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Officer at your place of work? You mean you don’t have one? Well, get on that promptly. The Center for Disease Control advises that “If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack,” so you might as well kill five birds with one stone.
“Writing on a computer can be terribly distracting, so sometimes I like to use a pencil and paper to jot down ideas. I always end up drawing a cartoon duck. Inevitably, the duck is holding a notepad, and I can read the ideas that he wrote down.” At Clickhole, six writers explain how they overcome writer’s block.
Back in 2013, Ted Gioia wrote a piece for The Millions about an old sci-fi novel that correctly predicted the future. Since then, he’s embarked on an ambitious project that expands on his interest in sci-fi, exploring how the most radical sci-fi writers of the sixties paved the way for much of modern fiction. As he puts it, “I focus on this era in the history of sci-fi because it laid the groundwork for one of the most important developments in current-day fiction."
Purveyor of popular nonfiction Erik Larson has a new book out this week, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin. The Snowman by Jo Nesbø is a new entry in the increasingly popular Scandinavian thriller genre. Inward-looking graphic novelist Chester Brown's latest, Paying for It is out, and musician and actor Steve Earle can now add "novelist" to his resume with the release of I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive. And new in paperback are a pair of big books, Brady Udall's The Lonely Polygamist and Karl Marlantes's Matterhorn.
“There are people out there who want you to write their novels for them,” observes professional ghostwriter Sari Botton. Over at Scratch, she shares some advice for breaking into the industry. Also, the magazine has made her longer article about “the spooky finances behind her gigs” free to read – all you have to do is register.
An English student at the University of Texas has unearthed previously unpublished writing from Jupiter Hammon, the first published African-American poet. Some of Hammon’s work – which dates back to 1760 – can be found online courtesy of The Poetry Foundation: “A Poem for Children with Thoughts on Death” and “An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley.”
For over twenty years, from the thirties through the fifties, a group of Oxford writers who called themselves The Inklings met weekly to drink, exchange ideas and read aloud their drafts. Though J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were easily their most famous members, the group had other notable figures, among them the language historian Arthur Owen Barfield. In The Chronicle of Higher Education, a history of the group.