Tom Sawyer, from smithsonian.com

At the New Yorker’s Page Turner blog, Christine Smallwood reflects on Norman Mailer’s brief career as an auteur (he specialized in films that “that bartenders play on silent to create ambiance”) and what it suggests about his fiction.

The real-life inspiration for Tom Sawyer: a hard-drinking, Brooklyn-born, volunteer firefighter.

Is former New Yorker journalist Jonah Lehrer angling for a book deal about his fall from grace? That’s what it sounds like according to an essay in Los Angeles Magazine. "I’m extremely tempted to correct many of the false accusations that have been made about my work in recent weeks," he wrote in a recent email to a journalist.

Does Mitt Romney need a campaign poet, and if so, who are his politically compatible options?

What is Junot Diaz’s “niftiest literary trick?” According to Michael Bourne, it’s his use of the second person: Three of the nine stories in his new collection This is How You Lose Her are written in the second person, and another is addressed to “you.” Bourne argues that by confessing his crimes to “you”—as in you, the actual reader—Diaz makes his readers complicit in his narrator’s bad behavior. “You, my friend, are a player, a Latin chick-magnet, a sucio, and all you did was open a book and start reading.” To get a better idea of what Bourne's talking about, read Diaz's story "Miss Lora" on the New Yorker website.

Elsewhere on the internet, we’re loving Bookforum contributor Adam Wilson’s Los Angeles Review of Books essay on Louie C.K. and the rise of the “laptop loner.”

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