BURN PILE: Maps and the authors who love them, writing the "State of the Union," and Al Gore jokes

OldMap_CC "Every map is an interpretation, which may be why writers are so drawn to them." In her wonderful examination of literary cartography, at The New Yorker, Casey Cep details the roles maps played in the creation of Stevenson's Treasure Island and Le Guin's setting for The Earthsea Trilogy, and notes efforts by Thoreau and Faulkner to map the contours of Walden Pond and Yaknapatawpha County. She also compares the efforts of cartographers and writers, and argues that selectivity rewards the readers of text and map alike.

"I have worked on five State of the Union addresses, and they never get easier." Yet President Barack Obama's former speechwriting director, Jon Favreau, finds ways to wax patriotic in a short essay about how No. 44's State of the Union addresses takes shape. More interesting? Favreau's comments about the evolution of SOTU tropes, like shout-outs to lesser known public figures.

"Code name: Al Gore."  In keeping with our part-politics theme, Mark Katz—whose jokes have populated remarks made by Bill Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, and more—has a must-listen at The Moth about writing for Al Gore.