Displaying articles for: May 2010

1890-1900: Travel & Talk

The last entry in Mark Twain's Autobiography shows him feeling beaten and bewildered. His daughter Jean had died suddenly two days earlier, on Christmas Eve morning, 1909. Too weak and distraught to attend the December 26th funeral in Elmira, New York, Twain stayed in Connecticut, watching the clock.... Read more...

The Other Woman

Faced with conflicting evidence and no smoking kiss, the biographers of Twain's last years have staked claims on every available patch of the 'other woman' question. Some are convinced that Twain's relationship with Isabel Lyon, his secretary and house manager, was the affection of a lonely widower for a compassionate helpmeet. Read more in the fifth installment of our Twain: Milestones series. Read more...

The Matrimonial Pit

A year before his marriage, Mark Twain predicted that by taking on "the task of making a Christian of me," Olivia Langdon would "unwittingly dig a matrimonial pit and end by tumbling into it." When Livy died in 1904, after thirty-four years of marriage, it was Twain's turn to tumble. Read more in the fourth installment of our Twain: Milestones series. Read more...

Mister Darcy and Sharks in Space

We've long been big fans of Kate Beaton's clever and well-read comic Hark, a Vagrant! (who could resist subjects like "Dude-Watching with the Brontes"?) Her most recent strip is one of our favorites to date, as it attempts to answer the question of what Jane Austen would have made of the recent attempts to revamp her novels. Read more...

Twain's "Aquarium Club"

In Mark Twain's last years, he had "reached the grandfather stage of life without grandchildren," and said he had nothing but "a forlorn sea of banquets and speechmaking" to replenish his "dry and dusty" heart. His answer was to create an "Aquarium Club" of young devotees. Read more in the third installment of our Twain: Milestones series. Read more...

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.