April 29, 2015

250px-MausBookstores in Moscow are removing copies of Art Spiegelman’s Maus from the shelves, because the graphic novel has a swastika on the cover. The author told The Guardian, “I don’t think Maus was the intended target for this, obviously. . . But I think [the law banning Nazi propaganda] had an intentional effect of squelching freedom of expression in Russia. The whole goal seems to make anybody in the expression business skittish.”

President Obama criticized the media’s coverage of the unrest in Baltimore yesterday, saying that the coverage of isolated acts of violence obscures the larger issues, adding, “If we really wanted to solve the problem, we could . . . It would require everybody saying, ‘this is important, this is significant,’ and not just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns or a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.”

In a somewhat unlikely pairing, Disney and Vice will be making the magic happen together: A&E Networks will turn over a whole channel to Shane Smith and co., who’ll launch by early 2016. Vice gives its take on news to HBO, so this one will be strictly “lifestyle programming.” Let’s hope this means A&E will succeed in “drawing more young viewers” (apparently the goal), and that the Vice employees Gawker’s been worrying about may get a few extra perks.

Google has announced it will spend about $165 million on a Digital News Initiative in Europe, providing grants to newspapers and publishers in an attempt to win them over. Google executive Carlo D’Asaro Biondo recently told a London conference that the company has made mistakes in how they’ve handled Google News in Europe: “I think we didn’t listen enough. We said ‘we know,’ and to be honest we didn’t know. . .  . It is sometimes messy, happens in random ways, and sometimes we fail.”

When ghostwriters attack: Courtney Love is being sued by Anthony Bozza, author of a 123,375-word manuscript for her long-awaited memoir, Girl with the Most Cake, which after missing several release dates, probably won’t be seeing the light of day. Pity the biographer whose subject is still around to make trouble (Mr. Bozza must be used to it, as he’s previously worked on autobiographies for Wyclef Jean and Tracy Morgan). Judith Shulevitz writes of Zachary Leader’s new book on Saul Bellow: “As Leader admits, he had a big advantage over his predecessors. By the time he began doing his research, Bellow was dead, no longer able to deploy the evasiveness shading into nastiness with which he’d sabotaged so many previous efforts to uncover his secrets.” She also quotes Bellow himself on the subject, writing to a friend in 1990: “I am no more keen about a biography than I am about reserving a plot for myself at 26th and Harlem Avenue.”

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