paper trail

Oct 28, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

David Foster Wallace and friend

The Millions links to a previously unpublished story by David Foster Wallace, which a few years ago was circulated samizdat-style and is now on Tumblr. The story, presumably from the author's forthcoming posthumous novel, The Pale King, opens with a boy who wants "to press his lips to every square inch of his body," hinting at a tragic mix of self-love and overwhelming isolation in ways that only DFW can.

Daniel Ellsberg, the man famous for leaking the Pentagon Papers in 1971 (and the subject of a recent PBS documentary, "The Most Dangerous Man in America"), has just signed a contract to write a memoir about his time working on nuclear strategy for the Defense Department. We suggest that the book be thoroughly vetted, or else it could go the way of Army intelligence officer Anthony Shaffer's Operation Dark Heart, a memoir whose first printing the Defense Department recently arranged to have pulped.

Grove/Atlantic will soon publish the book Roger Sterling was supposedly writing during the last season of Mad Men, which may outdo the gold standard for literary stocking-stuffers, 2005's philosophical treatise On Bullshit. The new tome, titled Sterling's Gold, favors the epigrammatic style you'll find in the terser passages of Nietzsche, although the comparison grinds to a halt there. A sample nugget of Sterling wisdom: "Being with a client is like being in a marriage. Sometimes you get into it for the wrong reasons and eventually they hit you in the face."

Reviewing Anne Trubek's new book A Skeptic's Guide to Writers' Houses, Laura Miller argues that "literary pilgrimages" are worthwhile: "For some of us, [Emily Dickinson's] chamber pot is the star attraction. It tells us that Dickinson may have been incandescently brilliant and gifted, but she had to piss in a pot just like everybody else."

James Patterson joins Steig Larsson in the million-reader Kindle club.

Tonight, David Thomson, for whom writing about movies seems as natural as breathing, will discuss his authoritative (and yet still-evolving) Biographical Dictionary of Film at 192 Books. Film-geek bonus: Show up with your copy of Thomson's cult classic work of half-fiction, Suspects, in which a narrator spins increasingly embellished stories about Norma Desmond, Norman Bates, and other film characters who, set free from their frames, mingle with one another and create an alternative cinematic mythology.