“[Mark] Twain wasn’t above the contrivances of capitalism, even as he skewered them. . . From nonage to dotage, in dire straits or in the pink, he was always a capricious entrepreneur, counting the zeroes on an imaginary balance sheet.” The New Yorker writes about the humor writer’s many failed attempts to get very rich. From our archives: Twain and the Wild West.
Peter Osnos on how far the publishing industry has come since the galas and publishing events of the 1990s: “That the action in publishing now is in the creation of books rather than selling the rights to them is a meaningful indicator of the excitement in the industry about the digital potential.”
If you’re wondering why you should read this new essay on Jack London, consider this sentence: “Born in 1876, the year of Little Bighorn and Custer’s Last Stand, the prolific writer would die in the year John T. Thompson invented the submachine gun.” In Smithsonian Magazine, Kenneth Brandt explores the brief life of the author.
Is it another Beyoncé/Lemonade thinkpiece? Yes. Is it also more than that and worth your time to read? Yes. Terryn Hall at The Rumpus on Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, and being a black woman in the South: “Although Beyoncé is not ‘literary’ in a traditional sense, she’s using her power to usher in new black poetic (Warsan Shire) musical (Ibeyi, Chloe and Halley Bailey) and modeling (Jourdan Dunn, Zendaya) talent in a manner similar to that of the literary patrons of yesteryear.”
In an excerpt of Out of Time, a new book on “the pleasures and perils of ageing,” author Lynne Segal makes a case that many iconic male writers — among them Philip Roth, John Updike and Martin Amis — display in their works a belief that the slow loss of virility is one of the most tragic effects of growing older for men. Citing passages from Toward the End of Time and Portnoy’s Complaint, she finds evidence that these writers’ depictions of masculinity reveal “obdurate social hierarchies of gender and ageing.” (Related: Keith Meatto on advice you can glean from Philip Roth’s work.)