Daniel Handler made some flat-footed and racist jokes while hosting Wednesday’s National Book Awards event. It’s no fun to watch. He apologized yesterday on Twitter, but the bad taste lingers. As Roxane Gay put it: “It’s not one off color joke, it’s the sum of all of them, everywhere, from the people you are most inclined to like and love.”
Recover from the embarrassment of watching Handler by watching Louise Glück, who accepted her award with endearing emotion. She thanked her colleagues in poetry, “who have more times than I can say astonished me and moved me and filled me with the envy that becomes gratitude.”
Recover further by reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s wonderful remarks: “Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words. I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want—and should demand—our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.” Le Guin won the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
Jack Shafer has been laid off at Reuters, and, in an interview with Capital New York, is unusually forgiving about it. “The job belongs to Slate or the job belongs to Reuters, not to me. . . . We know this going in. We’re mercenaries.” The Washington Post says Reuters’ removal of Shafer marks the end of the company’s web strategy of a few years ago, which was to hire a gang of “big-name opinionators.”
Scribner is launching an online magazine it has imaginatively called Scribner.
Clancy Martin wants to be a better person. His first step is karate.