“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.
Jonathan Franzen’s Kraus Project should be “a match made in heaven,” writes Jacob Mikanowski, because of how it pairs together “the old hater [Karl Kraus] and the new [Franzen], the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of cultural criticism drawn together across the gulf of a century to take on all comers.” Alas, the end result is instead a “strange and rather discordant experience, like receiving a deep tissue massage while being spat on from a great height.” (Bonus: One of the best London Review of Books openers of all time.)
“We find ourselves in a swarm of fellow starstruck souls outside the Sheraton Hotel on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, churning, squirming.” 25 years after the publication of Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe returns to the subject of Wall Street. You can also check out my review of his most recent novel, Back to Blood, over here.