"Your wife always used to say you'd be late for your own funeral. Remember that? Her little joke because you were such a slob—always late, always forgetting stuff, even before the incident. Right about now you're probably wondering if you were late for hers." This is the beginning of Memento Mori, a short story by Jonathan Nolan, which was originally published with an Esquire article Everything you wanted to know about "Memento". Jonathan also read the story, which became the movie Memento (trailer, original 2000 era website, still online - previously, twice). [more inside]
"Moby Dick" can be an intimidating read, so why not whet your appetite with some source material? "Mocha Dick" was a giant sperm whale in the early 1800's who destroyed over 20 whaling ships. You can read the original 1839 article written by explorer Jeremiah Reynolds that helped inspire Herman Melville in the creation of his masterwork. If even that is too much for you, author Brian Heinz and artist Randall Enos have created a striking children's book based on the original story.
Where does one novel end and another one begin? One day not too long ago, I was thinking about this as I considered what sort of message to send next to my little email list. I decided to do a little research. Gather just a bit of data.[more inside]
Mid-19th C. terrors, ca. 1840-1865: short fiction selected for the occasion by Miriam Burstein, a.k.a. The Little Professor, an expert on 19th C. British literature (especially including "lost" but formerly popular religious novels). [more inside]
The Writer As Reader: Melville and his Marginalia In the General Rare Books Collection at Princeton University Library sits a stunning two-volume edition of John Milton that once belonged to Herman Melville. Melville's tremendous debt to Milton — and to Homer, Virgil, the Bible, and Shakespeare — might be evident to anyone who has wrestled with the moral and intellectual complexity that lends Moby Dick its immortal heft, but to see Melville's marginalia in his 1836 Poetical Works of John Milton is to understand just how intimately the author of the great American novel engaged with the author of the greatest poem in English. Checkmarks, underscores, annotations, and Xs reveal the passages in Paradise Lost and other poems that would have such a determining effect on Melville's own work.
i wanted to call him up and tell him his notes are funny, but then i realized he DIED A MONTH AGO. bummer. Craig Fehrman traces the post-mortem dispersion of writers' personal libraries: in particular, David Markson's personal library and the way in which his fans are using Facebook to reconstruct the range of Markson's reading.
900 caricatures of noted Victorian and Edwardian personages from British society magazine Vanity Fair which ran from 1868 to 1914. Among those pictured are Oscar Wilde, Benjamin Disraeli, Herman Melville, Alfred Dreyfus, Teddy Roosevelt, Gustave Eiffel and Charles Boycott (from whose name comes the word). A couple are mildly not safe for work, a few quite racist, as was the prevalent attitude of the time, and at least one is both.
Melville's Marginalia Online. The study of Herman Melville's creative process has long been hampered by a lack of primary sources. Melville's long lost annotations (they were written in pencil and subsequently erased) to the 1839 book The Natural History of the Sperm Whale have been restored through high-tech innovations such as squinting and digital photography. The results are available here in a PDF file. [more inside]
Thinking of reading Moby Dick? Let David Sedaris do it for you. And don't forget the amazing Assassinations Foretold in Moby Dick!