Swarm and Spark, a new column at The Millions, invites you to write with your questions about publishing, the literary life, or writing. The column is written by two anonymous figures: a NYC editor with years in the industry and an MFA professor at a long-established program. Ask anything that has plagued, confounded, pleased or troubled you about your life in and around literature and you may be answered, always with respect: your question will be treated as anonymous as well. Send your true confessions, complaints and queries to [email protected].
You probably knew a Lothario was a character before his name grew into a generic euphemism for “Guy You Don’t Want Your Daughter Dating,” but what about “brainiac,” “mentor,” and “pamphlet”? It turns out character names have been making their way into everyday vocabulary for thousands of years.
It’s hard to resist reading others’ diary entries, especially when the diaries in question belong to famous writers. Now that a selection of Jack Kerouac‘s journals is being released from The New Yorker archives and made available online, resistance is more or less futile. Originally published in 1998, these journal entries span the years from 1948 to 1950, from just after the long drive that inspired On the Road to the publication of Kerouac’s first book, The Town and the City.