Mark Twain Archive

Round-Up: Mark Twain, George Saunders, and Barack Obama

Author: | Categories: Round-Up No comments
From Mark Twain's unpublished story to Former President Obama's relationship with books, here's the latest literary news.

Mark Twain and Literary Caves

Author: | Categories: Reading No comments
On road trips, I’ve taken to stopping at caves. Cave systems may be the last undiscovered regions on earth, but I go to the tourist ones, the long-since-discovered and heavily trampled ones, the kind that only require a jacket and sneakers, not a hard hat, Coleman Lantern, or rope.

Writer & Artist: What We Can Learn from Writers Who are Both

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice No comments
In many ways, visual art gave birth to literature. The first stories written down were cave paintings. For years our alphabet was made up of pictographs which simply meant that the only people who could tell stories were those who could draw.

Literary Blueprints: The Orphan

Author: | Categories: Reading, Series No comments
  In the wide realm of literature, having parents is a convenience that escapes many characters. The Orphan is one of the most prominent characters in literature, in part because the absence of parental figures automatically fuels so many possible motivations. Origin Story: Unlike some blueprints, which can be

The Fairytale Redux: On Patrick deWitt’s “Undermajordomo Minor”

Author: | Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction No comments
The last thing the world needs is another reimagining of the fairy tale. It has been done from every angle: straightforward, post-modern, and (yawn) from the villain’s perspective. So it was with some wariness that I approached Patrick deWitt’s new novel, Undermajordomo Minor, a fairy tale of sorts that

“Cow Country” And The Problem With Pseudonyms

Author: | Categories: Industry News, Publishing No comments
A recent post on the Harper’s blog has gotten me thinking about pseudonyms. In it, Art Winslow posits that a new novel, Cow Country, from an obscure vanity press was actually authored by Thomas Pynchon under the pseudonym Adrian Jones Pearson. As evidence, Winslow points to certain aesthetic similarities

Do-Overs: 5 Books that Tell The Untold Story

Author: | Categories: Reading, Series No comments
Some of the best rewrites of classic stories come to us through the author’s imaginings of what the original doesn’t say. Through original work that transcends “fan fiction,” these stand-alone novels and plays work best when they have their own story to tell. Whether this is done through expanding narrative

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Centrifugal Force” by Jodi Angel

Author: | Categories: Reading, Series No comments
People want to believe that Mark Twain once said, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt,” though there’s zero evidence to back up his authorship. While others have claimed to know the quote’s true origin, most likely it’s one of those anonymous aphorisms passed down through the years. But

Harold Bloom’s Song of Self

Author: | Categories: Reading, Writing No comments
Here’s the story of my first and only encounter with Harold Bloom. It was the first week of a new semester, my last semester of graduate school, and I was waiting in a stuffy seminar room packed with sharply dressed undergraduates. The luckiest students had secured seats around the grand

“Beruffled Little Wet Apron” or “Vast and Prodigious Cadence of Water”?: Bicycling at Niagara Falls

Author: | Categories: Reading No comments
    As a child in the Midwest, I was shocked to find out that my parents hadn’t honeymooned at Niagara Falls, which I’d thought was sort of a requirement. It turned out that they’d instead spent three days in Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain country. Niagara Falls seemed even