“The morning after the opening sentence took shape, Heller “arrived at work”—at the Merrill Anderson Company—“with my pastry and container of coffee and a mind brimming with ideas, and immediately in longhand put down on a pad the first chapter of an intended novel.” The handwritten manuscript totaled about 20 pages. He titled it Catch-18. The year was 1953.” Happy Birthday Joseph Heller, author of the anti-war classic Catch-22, born this day in 1923 in Coney Island, New York.
In May, poet David Lehman wrote the first line of a sonnet about cubicle anomie and began crowdsourcing the rest. The completed 12-week project at The American Scholar is not merely a pretty great piece on its own, but a lesson in how to write one, line by line: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8/9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. You can submit your title suggestion as late as midnight on Sunday, but we suggest getting a start on it now, while the prison of work is still fresh in mind. (h/t The New York Times)
The “David Mamet Appliance Center” has some predictably abrasive customer service representatives. Here is Peter McCleery for McSweeney’s imagining a hilarious and existentially hopeless exchange between customer and technician. The Millions has even more to satisfy your fictitious-Mamet fix: an imagined symposium with Mamet, Francine Prose, and James Wood among others.