Roundtable

The Rest Is History

A Big Basket of a building, Mark Twain’s ghost writes a book, and bringing Prohibition back.

By Angela Serratore

Friday, March 04, 2016

Longaberger Basket Company headquarters in Newark, Ohio.

• If Mark Twain’s ghost writes a book, who owns it? “The novel Jap Herron was published with an introduction by the purported transcriptionist, a journalist and author from St. Louis named Emily Grant Hutchings, about the book’s mystical origins. It came out in the midst of a ‘spiritualism’ craze in the United States; its Bookman review, which noted that it was ‘unquestionably in Mark Twain’s style,’ was titled ‘Another ‘Ouija Board’ Book.’ Jap Herron wasn’t the first novel dictated from beyond the grave, but it had the highest profile ‘author,’ which considerably raised the stakes.” (Fusion)

• What happens to a newly vacant building shaped like the product peddled by its former tenants? (Architect’s Newspaper)

Fifty years of arguing about Valley of the Dolls as a central text of queer culture. (The Nation)

The best way to rob a library is to understand its architecture: “In May 2002, the truth came to light. It was not a ghost at all, but an engineering teacher from Strasbourg. He had been entering the room through a long-forgotten secret passage, access to which was hidden inside one of the bookcases. Unseen—indeed entirely unsuspected—he was able to remove the library’s priceless collection piece by piece, emerging from the walls to take entire shelves of books at a time.” (Cabinet)

• Courtroom sketches from the past eighty years will be preserved at the Library of Congress. (Hyperallergic

•  Founded in 1869, the Prohibition Party is the third-oldest continuously operating party in American politics: ‘I think hardly anybody knows about us, and that most of those who do think that we’re a one-party issue because of the name,’ says Jim Hedges, Executive Secretary of the Prohibition Party. Hedges has been a proud Prohibition Party member for half a century, and is their presidential candidate for 2016. He describes his party as a piece of ‘living history,’ and starts his emails ‘Thanks for noticing the Prohibition Party!’” (Atlas Obscura)