The Paris Review has posted an excerpt from Gary Scharnhorst‘s The Life of Mark Twain: The Early Years, published by University of Missouri Press.

Alison Flood (The Guardian) reports that Neal Cassady’s letter will be auctioned at Christie’s, after a tour from Seattle to New York
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A letter from Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac, which inspired the spontaneous style of On the Road and was described by Kerouac as “enough to make Melville, Twain … I dunno who, spin in their graves”, is to go up for auction later this month for the second time in less than two years. (more…)

George Hunka reflects on his reading of Something Happened and Carpenter’s Gothic

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At breakfast this morning I mentioned Joseph Heller’s 1975 novel Something Happened to my wife. I read it upon its publication and found it as near to a masterpiece as Heller’s first and far more highly regarded novel Catch-22, though after submitting my wife to William Gaddis’s Carpenter’s Gothic a few months ago I didn’t feel the need to recommend yet another unremittingly dour and unrelentingly pessimistic fiction. In his New York Times review, Kurt Vonnegut called it “one of the unhappiest books ever written,” and Carmen Petaccio called it “a punishingly bleak novel” in an appreciation of the book written for the Los Angeles Review of Books two years ago, the 40th anniversary of its publication:

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