“I remembered Def Leppard for their one-armed drummer arrested for spousal abuse. Meanwhile Prince played, like, twenty different instruments while having sex in the backseat of taxicabs, ducking the Antichrist, and shouting for gun control. Also: girlfriend on drums. What’s fair is fair.” The Prince-related thinkpieces have mostly subsided by now, but this new piece by Dave Tompkins at The Paris Review will make you glad that people are continuing to write about him.
Thriller writer James Patterson was set to publish a novel in November about an attempt on his author colleague Stephen King's life, subtly titled The Murder of Stephen King. Following reports of real-life threats against King, however, the book has been scuttled. After you've read that tale of high dudgeon, see also our editor-in-chief Lydia Kiesling’s essay, “Everything I Know About America I Learned from Stephen King.”
Recommended reading: The Awl takes a look at the "attempt to create a completely logical, absolutely universal language," which goes about as well as you'd expect (read: not very).
In his profile of Roger Angell, Sridhar Paddu offers this astute observation from Charles McGrath: “Which is the greater—Roger the writer or Roger the editor? It’s kind of a toss-up.” Bonus: Angell's piece about Don Zimmer, who just passed away this week, is well worth your time.
“I just didn’t see the textual evidence for it. If Mark Twain wanted to make somebody black, he would make them black. He was not shy about dealing with matters of race.” For The New Yorker, Mythili G. Rao on the complicated backstory to the upcoming publication of The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, a “new” children's book by Mark Twain. See also: our consideration of Twain's self-deprecating travelogue The Innocents Abroad.
Could this be the start of a trend? HarperCollins paid the singer Billy Joel $3 million for a memoir back in 2008. Joel wrote The Book of Joel, the publisher edited it, and a June publication date was set. Last week, however, Joel abruptly backed out of the deal and apparently will return the portion of the advance he's been paid. His reason? He told the Associated Press he "was not all that interested in talking about the past."
How many Millions readers reside in Miami? All of you should come check out this USpeak event hosted by the University of Miami's Creative Writing Program. Students will read verse and short stories, and visiting professor Patricia Engel (author of Vida) will read as well. You can also pick up a copy of Mangrove, the university's undergraduate literary journal.