A Kafka on Paperwork & Mark Twain as Santa Claus

Emily M. Keeler is a writer and the editor of...

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This conversation between Zadie Smith and Chris Ware, on the doubly wonderful occasion of their both having new books this year, is chock full of fascinating thoughts on building fictional worlds.

Are you as delighted as I am that there is a man who studies paperwork with Kafka for a surname? Ben Kafka, the author of Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork (on Zone Books, no less!) is apparently part of a whole network of social scientists suddenly interested in memos, missed-call slips, and other paper documents—literal ephemera.

Mark Twain was born Samuel Clemens, but he became, oh yes, Santa Claus.

Never having done so myself, I can’t quite imagine a better way to answer Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire than Louis C.K. did. I can definitely see more than a little bit of what Pasha Malla sees in the guy behind Louie.


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There’s a lineage of middle and upper-class British pop stars, actors and chefs who’ve affected a Cockney…