“I took a ride (on an elephant); but it was by request—I did not ask for it, and didn’t want it; but I took it, because otherwise they would have thought I was afraid, which I was.” Mark Twain, the consummate American, travelled the world in style–despite having almost no money. Allow me to direct your attention to this complementary Millions piece on Twain and the art of travel writing.
Edmond Caldwell, a longtime Millions commenter and member of the golden age of lit blogging, has passed away. Caldwell was the founder of The Chagall Position and Contra James Wood. Read a tribute to Caldwell by his friends Boyd Nielson and Joseph G. Ramsey at Dispatches, here.
Lydia Davis is the recipient of the 2016 Hadada Award from The Paris Review, a lifetime-achievement award which is presented each year to “a distinguished member of the writing community who has made a strong and unique contribution to literature.” We brought you a bit on Davis just yesterday.
June 7th would have been Gwendolyn Brooks' 101st birthday. In remembrance of her we encourage you to read her works and reflect on a legacy. To get you started Shondaland has a good primer on this cool poet, who became the first Black person to win a Pulitzer Prize. Pair it with this essay on Brooks and reading outside your culture.
If the description “a comic thriller about mermaids, the natural world and ruthless capitalism” isn’t enough to pique your interest, you might be inspired to pick up Lydia Millet's latest by the title of Laura Miller’s review, which describes Millet as “the P.G. Wodehouse of environmental writing.” At Salon, the book critic goes into the many reasons she enjoys Millet’s work, among them the author's knack for deploying humor at appropriate times. FYI, Millet wrote an article for The Millions recently.