“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.
There’s a tiff going on between Ursula le Guin and Kazuo Ishiguro. After le Guin accused Ishiguro of “despising” the fantasy genre, following an interview with the Times in which he wondered aloud if his readers would be prejudiced against his latest book, Ishiguro defended himself, claiming that he is “firmly on the side of the ogres and the pixies.” You can read a full rundown in The Guardian.
Recommended reading: "What is Color in Poetry" by Dorothea Lasky for Poetry. It's a lengthy article but a thoughtful one, and, as a bonus, it includes some of Lasky's childhood poetry. Pair with our earlier post about reading teenage poetry to crowds and you've got a theme for the day.
The LA Times has a review up of Eula Biss's On Immunity: An Innoculation, an "elegant, intelligent and very beautiful book, which occupies a space between research and reflection." We covered the collection in our Second-Half 2014 Book Preview, and Biss's first book, Notes from No Man's Land, has appeared in several Millions pieces over the last few years.
Geoff Dyer is fond of taking potshots at literary academics. He devotes considerable time in one of his novels to a professor whose speech at a conference goes off the rails. Which is why it’s odd that, in mid-July, the author showed up at a conference devoted to -- what else? -- his own work. (It's apropos to point out here that our own Mark O'Connell wrote a great essay for Slate about Dyer.)