“The purpose of this initiative, and this book, is to show everybody the actual definition of impeachment as set down by the Founding Fathers, and ask whether it applies to anything that is going on now.” Melville House books has discounted copies of A Citizen's Guide to Impeachment, which can be sent to a member of Congress of the buyer's choice. In the meantime, maybe you'd like to get to know the other presidents?
“I can tell you that it was his agent who thought it was a bad idea, when the book was first published, to have a black hero.” Roald Dahl's widow says that he intended for the eponymous hero of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be “a little black boy.” Pair with our own Jacob Lambert's fond recollection of reading Dahl to his son.
“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.
A memoir by Winnie-the-Pooh author A.A. Milne shows a writer frustrated at how his creation undermined his adult literary cred. Republished 70 years after it went out of print, It's Too Late Now reveals a trapped Milne wishing for more control over his own narrative: “I wanted to escape from [children’s books] as I had once wanted to escape from Punch; as I have always wanted to escape. In vain. England expects the writer, like the cobbler, to stick to his last.”
“Make no mistake: if you run a prize, a “best of” list, a residency, with age guidelines you can’t fully justify then, however otherwise diverse your awardees, you and your organisation are consolidating racism, sexism, class and gender discrimination.” Joanna Walsh for The Guardian arguing that, by focusing on youth, literary awards and honors tend to reward “those most likely to have money, security, contacts, confidence.” See also our Post-40 Bloomers series, including interviews most recently with Lidia Yuknavitch and Cole Lavalais.
“I had put manure bags—yes, manure, which is what we could get—at the front and back doors.” Publishers Weekly looks at how Houston-area indie bookstores are faring post-Harvey.
“I have a girl brain but in a boy body. This is called transgender. I was born this way!” The Los Angeles Times reports on an elementary-school teacher reading I Am Jazz, written by transgender teenager Jazz Jennings, with her class; encouragingly, not that many parents freak out. Pair with writer T.K. Dalton reflecting on how to traverse the terrain of books, children, and gender.
“Rather than outlining your plot in chronological order, try outlining your plot as if it were a candle burning at both ends. Begin the process by writing your first and last chapter simultaneously.” Amazon Author Insights gathers, well, insights on writing from Dan Brown and other famous crime and thriller novelists. (Full disclosure: Amazon helps us pay the bills around here!) We will also never not recommend this evergreen piece from our own archives, of writers on the best advice they ever received.
“He taught me that poetry can be anything and with that comes great freedom.” Reminiscences by a former student of the poet John Ashbery upon his death. And for a contemporary take on the question of just what, exactly, poetry is and/or might be, see our recent conversation between Jill Bialosky and Matthew Zapruder.
“Between 1990 and 2014, visits to public libraries grew by a whopping 181%. For context, the population of the United States increased by 28% during that period.” Why the library boom? (via The Digital Reader) See also this paean by Daniel Penev in our own pages,“The Library Is Dead. Long Live the Library!”
Tired of waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish his next Game of Thrones novel, a software engineer has developed a neural network to write the book instead (via The Digital Reader). Pair with this consideration of how the HBO series is going off-book and breaking all the rules.