August 3, 2016

Colson Whitehead. Photo: Larry D. Moore

Colson Whitehead. Photo: Larry D. Moore

Colson Whitehead’s new novel, The Underground Railroad, was released yesterday, one month early, in a surprise move to coincide with the announcement of its inclusion in Oprah’s book club. For now, the book is only available in the Oprah-approved format. This weekend, the Times will feature a 16,000 word excerpt of the book, but only in print.

The Times might be the next news outlet to find itself on the Trump media blacklist. After insinuating as much at a campaign event, the candidate sat down with Sean Hannity to call out the newspaper for being sub-literate: “They don’t know how to write good. … I call it ‘The Failing New York Times,’ because it won’t be in business for probably more than a few years.”

VICE is becoming a template for digital publishing, at least when it comes to TV. Websites like Ozy, Vox, and BuzzFeed are looking to the HBO partner for inspiration. “‘It’s a lot of freaking work,’ said Chad Mumm, VP of Vox Entertainment, which is working on a show about prefabricated homes for the FYI network.” The publisher Atlas Obscura is also considering a TV spin off, while “building the ‘Nice Vice’” in the meantime. Founder David Plotz currently “travels to the headquarters in Brooklyn three days a week to commune with the company’s 19 employees, but he takes the slow train and stays with his in-laws in Queens.”

Not everyone thinks VICE has the right idea. CNN president Jeff Zucker tells Variety, “I don’t think Vice and BuzzFeed are legitimate news organizations,” calling them “native advertising shops.” Zucker, who “has 11 TVs mounted on the wall” of his office and “displays a framed tweet by Donald Trump complimenting CNN,” went on to explain his decision to bring on former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as a commentator: “I think it’s really important to have voices on CNN who are supportive of the Republican nominee. It’s hard to find a lot of those.”

Novelist Jay McInerney, whose new book Bright, Precious Days hit bookstores yesterday, talks to The Guardian about his struggle “to find a balance between his affection for his characters and his desire to satirize the woes of these affluent, liberal Manhattanites.” Adelle Waldman writes that “nobody has a more exquisite appreciation than McInerney of the morbid, hypervigilant sensitivity we tend to harbor about our place in the world, especially when we’re feeling down.”

At the Strand tonight: WWBD? (What Would Buffy Do?)

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