January 26, 2017

Author Harry Mathews died yesterday in Key West, Florida, at the age of 86. A long-time contributor to the Paris Review, Mathews was also the only American member of Oulipo, the French literary society “whose stated purpose is to devise mathematical structures that can be used to create literature.” During his nearly sixty-year career, Mathews published numerous works of fiction, poetry, and essays. With James Schuyler and John Ashbery, he started the journal Locus Solus. Of his novel Cigarettes (1987), Edmund White wrote: “This book is remarkable, as involving as a 19th-century saga and as original as any modernist invention—a rare combination of readability and ingenuity.” In their spring issue, the Paris Review will include an excerpt from the novel he finished shortly before his death.

Roxanne Gay. Photo: Kevin Nance

Roxane Gay has decided to pull her upcoming book, How to Be Heard, from Simon & Schuster after they decided to go ahead with the publication of Milo Yiannopoulous’s book on free speech. In a statement to BuzzFeed, Gay explained that although she believes in Yiannopolous’s right to free speech, “he doesn’t have a right to have a book published by a major publisher but he has, in some bizarre twist of fate, been afforded that privilege,” she wrote. “I’m not interested in doing business with a publisher willing to grant him that privilege.” Gay has yet to find another publisher for the book.

Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Milk, has announced plans for a memoir about his red-state upbringing. Mama’s Boy: The Story of Two Americas will be published by Knopf, and details his relationship with his religious mother and how his Southern upbringing “gave him the tools and courage to stand up for gay rights and become the storyteller he is today.”

Facebook announced yesterday that it will no longer tailor Trending Topics to each reader, in an attempt to minimize the impact of fake news. Instead, readers across the country will see the same news items regardless of what their algorithms think they’ll be interested in. Additionally, the topics will be chosen based on the amount of news outlets covering the story, rather than the number of pageviews for a single article.

At The Atlantic, Rosie Gray looks at Breitbart News’s attempt to enter the mainstream, and what that might mean for their outsider credibility. In recent weeks, the extreme right-wing website has poached numerous reporters away from established publications like the Wall Street Journal, and are looking to hire more in the coming months and several former staff have taken on roles in the Trump administration. “It would be hard for any news organization to maintain an identity as an iconoclastic truth-teller if its main mission is to amplify the president’s message, as Breitbart’s critics allege is now the case,” Gray writes.

After many federal agencies were ordered to cease all social media activity and outside communication, The Verge reports that “the resistance will be tweeted,” now that unofficial Twitter accounts like @AltNatParkSer, @BadHombreNPS, and @ungaggedEPA have begun tweeting climate facts and sarcastic jibes to the president in response. Kaitlyn Tiffany writes that, “given Trump’s notoriously thin skin” and his reliance on Twitter to act as his press office, tweeting “might actually be the best way to get his attention.”

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