With the stunning WikiLeaks release of hundreds of thousands of confidential or secret State Department cables, the website’s detractors have argued that America’s global bargaining position is immeasurably weakened, and that our diplomatic allies are imperiled by the sometimes damaging and damning revelations of behind-the-scenes decision-making.
At the same time, researchers at The Nervous Breakdown have discovered a treasure trove of information that will force a complete reassessment of the postwar literary climate—and perhaps forever change our notions of authorship. Samples:
1.Thomas Pynchon and J.D. Salinger both briefly occupied the same spider hole in 1967, yet never noticed the presence of the other.
2.Twilight author Stephanie Meyer once considered making Edward Cullen a “Mormon Aslan.” Turning away from religious allegory, she instead made the glittering man-child just plain boring.
3.Robert Frost’s reading of his poem “The Gift Outright” at JFK’s 1961 inauguration proved a last-minute substitution for the now-lost original, “Back that thang’ up, you double dirty dawg.”
4.Stephen King, celebrated horror-ist and columnist for Entertainment Weekly, entered into a period of despondency, worried that most all of his books were basically the same. Structurally speaking. Then he got over it.
5.In Franz Kafka’s famous short story “The Metamorphosis,” the opening line, here in the J. Underwood translation, “Gregory Samsa woke from uneasy dreams one morning to find himself changed into a giant bug,” was originally written as “Gregory Samsa woke from uneasy dreams one morning to find himself changed into Keith Richards.”
6.Mark Twain’s current bestseller The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 (University of California Press) was originally ordered to be printed 200 years after his death, rather than at the century point. What changed? Realizing that in 2010, printed books would no longer exist, Twain settled for a world where printed books still exist…but no one reads.
7.In response, the US State Department actually considered active book destruction, as seen in this shocking video, as a viable containment strategy for North Korea.
8. John Grisham, celebrated legal thriller-ist, entered into a period of despondency, worried that most all of his books were basically the same. Structurally speaking. Then he decided to make Stephen King his hero.
9. LIFE by Keith Richards with James Fox, a memoir of the guitarist’s rock ‘n’ roll hellraising, was actually ghost-written by an intelligent cockroach from the future who shares Richard’s company as the two traverse a post-apocalyptic landscape that has wiped away all other life from Earth. Just before Richards dies, he tells the cockroach that they can communicate in the roach’s imagination, whispering in his final moments, “burn my unpublished manuscripts/ Mick Jagger is a wanker.“
10. Stieg Larsson’s translator’s titles for his unpublished manuscripts, perhaps already burned to nothing: The Girl Who Kicked the Girl Who Played With Fire and Ended Up With A Bad Case of Hot Foot; The Girl With the My Little Pony Tattoo. Represent!; and The Girl with the Rear That Won’t Quit (purportedly inspired by a lost Robert Frost poem).
Kindle photo courtesy of Karen Larson.