• February 4, 2016

    trialNext Friday, February 12, Bookforum will host a Valentine’s reading at the New Museum. “Trial and Error,” a tribute to love’s vicissitudes (in previous years we’ve named it “Bad Trips,” “Wasted Youth,” and “The Night We Called it a Day”), will feature readings by Mary Gaitskill, Vivian Gornick, Patricia Marx, A. O. Scott, and Christopher Sorrentino.

    No one seems quite ready to believe that Amazon now plans to open hundreds of physical bookstores, but if you’re on the west coast, weren’t put off by that New York Times story, and have the ability to lift 50 lbs,” you might just have a shot at a job.

    And it seems fair, or at least tempting, to say that you could do a lot worse (both professionally and in terms of reading material).

    Alexander Chee writes in the New Republic about the odd status of the historical novel, from War and Peace—which “holds a strange place in literary history, participating in the crowning of realism as a substantial and serious literary mode in America, even as the novel also contributed to the argument that historical fiction could be by nature dangerous, illegitimate, and inaccurate”—to Hilary Mantel’s tour de force of the French Revolution, A Place of Greater Safety, which she was initially unable to publish, to the “trepidation” in friends’ eyes when he described his own second novel, “as if I had announced that I was giving up years of hard work writing literary fiction to sell out and become a hack.” And the Rumpus interviews Chee about that novel, The Queen of the Night, “structured like a five act opera,” and how, while writing it,I often thought I was losing my mind, or that I’d done something that would kill me before I finished it.”

    Now that Tina Fey has signed a deal with Universal Pictures to make a movie based on a Good Housekeeping article, we can’t help wondering whether or not writers there are bound by New Yorker–style rules about such things.

    As primary season rolls on, you may want to refamiliarize yourself with our editor Chris Lehmann’s thoughts on the Republican field (sans Trump).

  • February 3, 2016

    Christopher Cox

    Christopher Cox

    Christopher Cox, who was promoted to editor in chief of Harper’s just three months ago, has been abruptly fired by the publisher and president, John R. MacArthur, seemingly over Cox’s support of a plan to redesign the magazine’s cover. The rest of the staff reportedly opposed the firing of Cox, who has done great work in his several years at the magazine. Roger D. Hodge, a previous editor of Harper’s who was fired in 2010 after a four-year tenure, told the New York Times that he too had had conflict with MacArthur over editorial matters, and that he warned Cox when he took the job “that he should expect to get fired eventually, but that he would probably have a few good years.”

    In the Guardian, Pankaj Mishra has a biting account of the situation for writers in Narendra Modi’s India, where the novelist Arundhati Roy is now facing trial for “contempt of court.” Mishra vividly describes the ways in which “the suppression of artists and intellectuals in a formal democracy such as India manifests itself in many interlocking patterns.”

    The Awl reports rumors that Gawker’s editorial union will be staging a two-hour walk-out one day next week in protest at the management’s refusal to offer cost-of-living salary increases. All the Gawker sites are expected to go dark during the staffers’ absence.

    The Atlantic won Magazine of the Year at the Ellies on Monday night, and Kathryn Schulz, a poet of the present and future tenses, took the prize for feature writing for her truly frightening New Yorker piece, “The Really Big One.

    Ten thousand copies of a very real-looking parody supplement to the New York Times were handed out to New York commuters yesterday (including outside the Times building itself). It critiques the Times’s Israel/Palestine coverage and announces a “new editorial policy.”

  • February 2, 2016

    If you can take your eyes off the surprising results from last night’s Iowa caucuses, there is a new issue of Bookforum online.

    Ahead of the shut-down, Al Jazeera America staffers have set up a portfolio site, where you can find an impressive array of their best work.

    book-seidel-oogaboogaThe New Yorker has a review of Frederick Seidel’s new book of “suave and vengeful” poems: “If the id had an id, and it wrote poetry, the results might sound like Widening Income Inequality (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Frederick Seidel’s sixteenth collection. . . .  American poets like to think of their art as open, democratic, all-­embracing; few aside from Seidel have imagined the lyric poem to be an exclusive haunt of self-flattering, hedonistic élites. Seidel is securely on the winner’s side of the widening wealth gap; the implication, if we’re reading him, is that so are we.”

    Tobi Haslett has published an intriguing conversation with Margo Jefferson in Bomb, about Negroland and much besides: “Sometimes I look at myself on tape,” she says, “and I think, ‘Ugh, God, that perfect diction.’ It’s natural to me—but oh it’s just so pristine. You know? It’s strange to keep confronting, in these stylistic ways, how you were constructed. What you were constructed to be in the world.”

    And, as he publishes his second novel, The Queen of the Night, fifteen years after his first, Alexander Chee tells The Millions exactly what his writing life is like.

    Meanwhile, Sarah Manguso’s exploration of writerly envy is a welcome tonic.

  • February 1, 2016

    Simon & Schuster’s imprint Gallery Books has announced that it will publish a new biography of David Bowie by Paul Morley, who recently helped Grace Jones with her recent book I’ll Never Write My Memoirs. Morley’s book, The Age of Bowie, is scheduled to appear late this year.

    MTV News has been on a hiring spree—earlier in January, the company brought in five former employees of Grantland, the ESPN-owned sports and pop-culture website that closed its doors late last year. Now, in an effort to boost its political coverage, MTV has hired author and Wonkette founder Ana Marie Cox and New York Magazine columnist Jaime Fuller.

    Stephen King has awarded the Guardian’s Short Story Prize to Elodie Harper, a reporter whose submission, “Wild Swimming,” is “a sinister tale set around a reservoir in Lithuania.”

    Meredith Wild

    Meredith Wild

    Meredith Wild, who sold millions of her self-published romance novels, has started an imprint called Waterhouse, which, according to the New York Times, “is off to a promising start.” Many authors-turned-publishers are thriving, the article says, because they know how to market books that fail to stand out in the crowded world of self-publishing. “The self-publishing ecosystem has become oversaturated,” the article points out. “Amazon has more than four million e-books in its Kindle store, up from 600,000 six years ago, making it harder for new authors to find an audience.”

    Hilary Mantel explains why you should read the under-sung novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard.

    David Granger is leaving his position as the EIC of Esquire after nineteen years in the position. He will remain an editorial director at the magazine. His replacement is Town and Country’s Jay Fielden.  

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