“Directly you are in motion you will feel quite helpless, and experience a sensation of being run away with, and it will seem as if the machine were trying to throw you off.” The bicycle was little more than a confusing craze back in 1877. The London Library has just uncovered some fascinating and hilarious vintage educational pamphlets on everything from ‘The Gentlewoman’s Book of Sports’ to ‘Cycling As a Cause of Heart Disease.’
"It just goes to show you: it’s not just luck you need to have a successful literary career. It’s luck, piled on luck, piled on luck again, and around the corner, you need another sprinkling of it" says Michelle Dean, after investigating Stephen King's rise in response partly to Dwight Allen's "Snob Notes" on the author. Colin Dickey and Sarah Langan have both previously weighed on on Allen's essay and King's particular strengths.
In August of 1911, Franz Kafka and his future literary executor Max Brod paid a visit to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. It was, all told, a weird time to make such a trip, because a week before the two arrived in Paris, crafty thieves abducted the famous painting. So why did they go if there wasn't a painting to see? To look at the absence, of course. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
Book to movie news: Soon to hit theaters is a big-screen take on Allen Ginsburg's Howl, focusing on the obscenity trial Ginsberg faced after the publication of the poem and starring James Franco as Ginsberg (alongside Jon Hamm and Jeff Daniels). (The trailer). The film includes an animation of the poem itself by illustrator Eric Drooker. Art from the animation has been collected in a new book under the title Howl: A Graphic Novel.
In a 6,000 word essay for The Point, founding editor Jon Baskin wades into the personal and professional psychodrama of the Franzen-Wallace friendship. Beneath the public surface, finds deep questions about the "novel of the self," the "novel of society," and the life worth living.