Kurt Vonnegut on the shape of stories

The lecture goes on, but unfortunately the video doesn’t; this is too bad, because then Vonnegut describes Kafka’s The Metamorphosis:

Kurt Vonnegut's sketch of Kafka's The Metamorphosis

Poor old Gregor Samsa. Not only does he start really low on the GI-axis (good fortune, ill fortune), he turns into a cockroach and experiences infinite ill-fortune.

The full text of Vonnegut’s lecture can be found at Lapham’s Quarterly, where he goes on to explain why Hamlet is still regarded as one of the world’s great bits of literature.

Alltop prefers that Scottish play.


The 14 people you need to help you decide if you should publish or not

There are three things that I love about this:

  1. they are tremendous and witty words of wisdom from Mark Twain.
  2. it is narrated by John Lithgow, who’s voice alone makes me laugh.
  3. the sleeping man scares me, and reminds me to be entertaining, as he should.

In Twain’s own words:

“But the man whom I most depend upon is the man who always goes to sleep. If he drops off within 15 minutes, I burn the book. If he keeps awake three quarters of an hour, I publish, and I publish with the greatest confidence, too. For the intent of my books is to entertain and by making this man comfortable on a sofa and timing him, I can tell, within a shade or two, what degrees of success I’m going to achieve.”

–Mark Twain

via Brain Pickings, and the New York Public Library’s Live from NYPL program.