“literary” fiction

NEWS | Libertarian Author Publications: “Communitas” and “Pretty Citadel” Thumbnail

Allen Mendenhall

I’m finally getting around to writing about two short stories published late last year that were written by libertarian authors. Both are works of literary fiction.

One of the stories is by our very own Allen Mendenhall. “Communitas” was published in the online quarterly magazine of literary fiction, Full of Crow, in October 2011. You can read it online in full for free. The story is set in Okmulgee, Oklahoma and is told from the point of view of a nameless old man obsessing over a lost… loved one? It strikes me as a rather bleak tale about the modern breakdown of identity, social relationships, and moral decency.

Allen is a multi-talented writer, attorney, editor, and teacher. Visit his website to learn more about him. Also, check out his interview with Jeffrey Tucker.

The other story, “Pretty Citadel,” is by Kerry Howley and was published in The Paris Review, also an online quarterly magazine of literary fiction, in the Fall 2011 issue, No. 198. The first four paragraphs of the story can be read online for free, but you’ll have to purchase the issue for $12 in order to read it in full.

Kerry Howley

“Pretty Citadel” is set in Burma, in a local newspaper office, and is told from the point of view of a woman (I assume) who works there. Her boss talks of revolution, though it’s not clear it’s the political kind. There’s mention of most everything besides the newspaper being banned — it being an exception because it is censored before publication by a government bureaucrat — and of politically incorrect people being disappeared. I like the way the brief glimpses into the workings of the totalitarian Burmese regime are casually interspersed between cynical descriptions of Burma and the POV character’s work. But that’s about all I can tell you about this story, as I’m not about to pony up $12 for one short story, however good it may be.

Kerry Howley is a former editor of a Burmese newspaper (which would help explain the story’s setting, I suppose) and a senior editor of Defunct: A Literary Repository for the Ages. You may already know her from her work as a contributing editor for Reason Magazine as well as some tv news appearances. Visit Kerry’s website to learn more about her and for links to some of her articles online.

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This post is the first in a new series in which we will highlight new and recent fiction publications by libertarian authors. If you think there are any we might have missed, please do let us know. If you’re interested in reviewing any of these stories, contact me.

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BOOK REVIEW | Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1: The Complete and Authoritative Edition Thumbnail

Good things come to those who wait, the old adage goes, and the world has waited a century for Mark Twain’s autobiography, which, in Twain’s words, is a “complete and purposed jumble.” But this 760 page jumble is a good thing. And well worth the wait.

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1: The Complete and Authoritative EditionTwain, or Samuel L. Clemens, compiled this autobiography over the course of 35 years. The manuscript began in fits and starts. Twain, while establishing his legacy as a beloved humorist and man of letters, dashed off brief episodes here and there, assigning chapter numbers to some and simply shelving others. In 1906, he began making efforts to turn these cobbled-together passages into a coherent narrative. He even met daily with a stenographer to dictate various reflections and then to compile them into a single, albeit muddled, document. The result was a 5,000 page, unedited stack of papers that, per Twain’s strict handwritten instructions, could not be published until 100 years after his death.

To say that we’ve waited a century to view this manuscript is only partially accurate because pieces of the manuscript appeared in 1924, 1940, and 1959. But this edition, handsomely bound by the University of California Press, and edited by Harriet Elinor Smith and others of the Mark Twain Project, is the first full compilation of the autobiographical dictations and extracts to reach print. The editors, noting that “the goal of the present edition [is] to publish the complete text as nearly as possible in the way Mark Twain intended it to be published before his death,” explain that “no text of the Autobiography so far published is even remotely complete, much less completely authorial.” The contents of this much-awaited beast of a book, then, are virtually priceless, and no doubt many of the previously unread or unconsidered Twain passages will become part of the American canon.

Stark photographs of the manuscript drafts and of Twain and his subjects — including family members and residences — accompany this fragmentary work. The lively and at times comical prose is in keeping with the rambling style of this rambling man whom readers have come to know and appreciate for generations. Would we have expected any less?

[Keep reading…]

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