• April 6, 2017

    John Berger

    At n+1, Annie Julia Wyman reflects on the timelessness of John Berger’s writing. “He was a monument, a world of his own,” she writes. “His thinking and his art—which are the same thing—address themselves at once to the past, the present, and the future.”

    Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, have each signed deals with Flatiron Books. The reportedly $8 million deal includes two books from the former Vice President and a third that will be co-written with Jill Biden. Biden’s first book will be a memoir of the challenges he faced in his last year in the White House, including the death of his son Beau.

    Megyn Kelly has finished negotiating her leave from Fox, and is now able to appear on NBC. Her new programs at the network will begin later this year.

    After a New York Times article reported that Fox News has paid $13 million to settle multiple sexual harassment lawsuits on behalf of Bill O’Reilly, dozens of advertisers have dropped The O’Reilly Factor. Both the network and O’Reilly remain silent on the issue, and viewership has increased since the article first appeared last weekend. Donald Trump told the Times that he believes O’Reilly is a “good person” who should not have settled his lawsuits. Jim Rutenberg writes that even though the network pledged to change its ways after the Roger Ailes scandal last summer, most of the people responsible for hiding Ailes’s misbehavior are still on the payroll, and company culture has stayed the same. According to Rutenberg, the impact of this lack of change reaches far outside the newsroom. “The wildness that allegedly permeates Fox News’s office culture has extended to its reportage in ways that have at times helped President Trump create his famous alternative reality,” he writes.

    Tonight, the Center for Fiction celebrates Grace Paley, whose work was recently collected in A Grace Paley Reader. Karen Olsson writes that our current political moment is the perfect time to read (or re-read) Paley’s stories and essays. “To remain open to what you don’t understand, to take a real interest in life, to put yourself on the line. She lived and wrote like that,” Olsson writes. “If today’s newspapers seem not always up to the task of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, this book did the trick.”

  • April 5, 2017

    Gabriel Sherman reports that a third employee has joined the racial discrimination lawsuit against Fox News. Credit collections manager Monica Douglas said that the company knew about former comptroller Judy Slater’s behavior, but was told that “Slater will not be fired, because she knows too much.” Sherman’s TV miniseries about Fox’s Roger Ailes scandal, co-written with Tom McCarthy, has been picked up by Showtime.

    Naomi Klein is rushing to publish No Is Not Enough, her new book on the Trump administration, which she began writing last February. Although she usually spends “at least five years” on research and writing, Klein will have the book ready for sale in June.

    Imbolo Mbue. Photo: Kiriko Sano

    The PEN/Faulkner Foundation has announced Imbolo Mbue as the winner of the 2017 Pen/Faulkner Fiction Award for her book, Behold the Dreamers. Mbue will receive her the prize at a ceremony in May.

    At Out Magazine, Aaron Hicklin talks to Lydia Polgreen about her childhood, her new job at the Huffington Post, and her long career at the New York Times.

    The Atlantic’s White House correspondent, Rosie Gray, has signed with HarperCollins to write a book about Breitbart News. Bloomberg’s Joshua Green, who has profiled Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, and other members of Trump’s administration, is working on a book about conservative populism and its effect on the 2016 election.

    In the New York Times Magazine, Jonathan Mahler profiles CNN president Jeff Zucker, and explains how the Trump campaign helped him reinvigorate the once-struggling network. “Trump’s foray into reality TV gave Zucker a prime-time hit when he badly needed one; now, Trump’s foray into politics has given Zucker a big story when he badly needed one,” he writes. “It’s a symbiotic relationship that could only thrive in the world of television, where the borders between news and entertainment, and even fantasy and reality, have grown increasingly murky.”

  • April 4, 2017

    Atlantic Media chairman David Bradley talks about his failed purchase of the now-shuttered National Journal.

    Calvin Tomkins profiles Dana Schutz, the artist whose abstract oil painting of Emmett Till’s body has caused controversy at the Whitney Biennial.

    Howard Jacobson is still furious about Trump’s election, and encourages others to stay angry as well. “There mustn’t be a moment when we turn on the TV and think there’s Trump in the White House—that must never feel normal,” he told The Guardian. “That ‘get over it’ thing—ooh, I want to kill anybody who says get over it. Why should I get over it? I’ve actually not met anyone who is as angry as I am about it.”

    Jill Abramson. Photo: Peter Yang

    Lena Dunham talks to Jill Abramson about her upcoming book, teaching at Harvard, and leaving the New York Times. Abramson explained why she always honest about the fact that she was fired from the paper. “I’ve devoted my life to words and their meaning, and so why not?” she said. “If you use some euphemism, people are left wondering, What happened?

    At the Columbia Journalism Review, Kerry Myers reflects on criminal justice reporting. Myers spent twenty-seven years in prison, where he worked as a writer and editor for the Louisiana State Penitentiary’s inmate-produced magazine, The Angolite. “Prison is necessary, but not the way we do it—wasting finite resources and destroying redeemable lives—and certainly not the way we understand it,” he writes. “For the latter, the media is largely to blame.”

  • April 3, 2017

    National Book Critics Circle Award winner Ishion Hutchinson

    As the New York Times points out, a number of recently published dystopian novels suddenly “seem more like grim prophecy than science fiction.”

    “Name a writer or publication you disagree with but still read…” Vox interviews Roxane Gay

    In a review of the documentary I Am Not Your Negro, Colm Toibin celebrates the work of James Baldwin, “the finest essayist and prose-stylist of his generation.” The essay opens with an anecdote about the recently deceased New York Review of Books editor Robert Silvers, who, working at Harper’s in the 1960s, became concerned that an essay by Baldwin had not yet arrived. Baldwin could not be reached by phone, so Silvers decided, as devoted editors sometimes do, to visit the writer at his apartment

    Former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe is working on a series of books about his life. The first, a photo-based autobiography, is due out later this year.

    Brooklyn magazine has posted photos from this year’s National Book Critics Circle Awards.

    At the New Yorker, Christine Smallwood talks to Laura Kipnis about consent, totalitarianism, and her new book, Unwanted Advances. Kipnis says that she’s still trying to understand the many sides of the issue, including the harassment she has experienced herself. Once, an unnamed man who was well-known in the field of cultural studies threw his drink on her and bit her leg. “Now it’s become sort of a fond memory,” she recalls. “I should have said he *flirtatiously* threw a drink on me. I actually had to go upstairs and dry my hair.”

    For months, it was unclear whether or not Bob Dylan would accept his Nobel Prize at all. Then, at the public ceremony, Patti Smith received it for him. Now, Dylan has finally accepted the award in person, at a secret ceremony in Stockholm.

  • March 31, 2017

    The Believer has been sold to the Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Joshua Wolf Shenk, the director of the Institute, will take over as editor. The current editors, Heidi Julavits and Vendela Vida, will remain as consultants. Vida told the Associated Press that although The Believer has become more financially stable over the years, the sale will help sustain the magazine for the long term. “To persist and grow,” Vida said, “The Believer needs resources and an ambitious agenda, and Josh and the Black Mountain Institute have both.”

    Mary Gaitskill talks to the Huffington Post about Twitter, politics, and her recent essay collection, Somebody With a Little Hammer. Gaitskill stays she’s stayed away from social media because of its impersonal nature. “I thought it would just be positively dangerous for me to get on Twitter at night, when I’ve had a little too much to drink, and start expressing myself,” she said. “It’s one thing to do that with somebody who you’re looking at, and who may think you’re a drunken idiot or an unstable person, but at least you’re looking at that person. With Twitter it’s like, you don’t even see who they are.”

    The TV series based on Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend will be broadcast by HBO. The show’s dialogue will be in Italian, with English subtitles. Although HBO has committed only to the eight-episode first season, the New York Times writes that “the ultimate aim is to adapt all four novels, for a total of 32 episodes.”

    Nan Talese

    At Vanity Fair, Evgenia Peretz profiles Nan Talese, head of her eponymous imprint at Doubleday and wife of journalist Gay Talese. Peretz explores the “intense mystery” of the couple’s nearly sixty-year marriage, which has weathered numerous infidelities and a book based on said infidelities. Talese has a tendency to go after the things she wants and do whatever is needed to get them—she surprised her then-boyfriend in Rome and told him they were getting married. Even in her professional life, Talese made her way up the ranks of publishing houses while raising two children and dealing with male authors who didn’t like the idea of a female editor. The Taleses’ two daughters are also baffled by their longevity of their parents’ relationship. Though her husband is currently working on a book about their relationship, Talese doesn’t seem worried. “He doesn’t know anything about marriage,” she said, “so I’m not concerned.”

    Elizabeth Spiers, founding editor of Gawker and former editor in chief of The Observer, explains why her old boss Jared Kushner is not the right leader for the Office of American Innovation. Spiers writes that Kushner had trouble translating his real estate experience to the media world, and was wary of spending money on the publication, even when it was doing well. After the paper’s first profitable quarter, Kushner suggested layoffs. “He wanted the Observer to be cheaper to run, usually at the expense of growth and evolution.” Spiers also notes that Kushner might be innovative, but not in an effective way. When she started her job at The Observer, she was given Kushner’s old Macbook laptop. Kushner “liked the design of Apple products” but not the operating system, so the computer was running Windows. “Frankensteining two products you appreciate into one product you appreciate even more isn’t irrational; it’s even creative, in a way,” she writes. “On the other hand, why did the newspaper’s owner need a $2,500 monitor?”

  • March 30, 2017

    Bob Dylan will accept his Nobel Prize after one of his previously-scheduled performances in Stockholm this weekend. In a “Good news about Dylan” blog post, Swedish Academy permanent secretary Sara Danius wrote that the Academy “will show up at one of the performances,” but that Dylan will not be giving his required lecture at the media-free, Academy-only event.

    Rosie Gray

    Three months after leaving BuzzFeed for The Atlantic, Rosie Gray has been named as the magazine’s White House correspondent.

    Digiday looks at The Guardian’s US office, which was responsible for Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on the National Security Agency and Edward Snowden, but is still struggling to turn a profit and faces layoffs in the coming months. Although the most recent budget cuts have been attributed to a company-wide cost-cutting effort, former employees blame the situation on frequent leadership turnover and poor business decisions, from not using a paywall to bad real estate deals.

    At the New Yorker, John Cassidy reflects on Theresa May’s Brexit rhetoric after the UK government announced plans to begin negotiations of the country’s exit from the European Union. Cassidy writes that May’s speech—in which she spoke of her “fierce determination to get the right deal for every single person in this country” and a desire to “live in a truly global Britain that gets out and builds relationships with old friends and new allies around the world”—was “filled with so many false claims, so much cant, and so many examples of wishful thinking that it is hard to know where to begin.”

    Fox News is facing a new discrimination lawsuit. Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright, a payroll manager and payroll coordinator, say that they experienced “top-down racial harassment” from company comptroller Judith Slater, who was fired late last month after discrimination allegations were brought to higher-ups.

    Shaya Tayefe Mohajer examines the reporting on the murder of Timothy Caughman, who was stabbed to death in New York by a white supremacist. Mohajer notes that the first articles about the attack focused on misleading information, like Caughman’s 2002 arrest, and irrelevant details, like his assailant’s clothing choices. Other articles speculated that the two men had fought, an unsubstantiated detail not found in early police reports. According to Mohajer, not only do these editorial choices reinforce old biases about black crime victims, but they also fail to offer any empathy to the dead. “What crime writers don’t seem to recognize is that they are often writing obituaries for the city’s most unlucky,” she writes.

  • March 29, 2017

    Claudia Rankine

    Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric has won the 2016 Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry. The $10,000 prize will be awarded to Rankine at a ceremony in April. At Artforum, Lauren O’Neill-Butler talks to the author about the Racial Imaginary Institute, which Rankine founded after winning her MacArthur “genius” grant last year. The institute is still settling on a location somewhere in New York, but Rankine hopes that it will be located somewhere more accessible than a university campus. “It would have been easier for me to bring it to an academic space,” she said. “I would have had more access and things would have moved much more quickly, but then we would have been inside an elite and closed space, and it would be harder to enter the mainstream.” Rankine also discussed why she thinks that our current system of white supremacy and the rise of the “alt-right” cannot be blamed on capitalism alone. “A good example is the people who are on the Affordable Care Act who say they want to keep it but who also want to get rid of ‘Obamacare,’” she said. “They understand that the ACA is useful to them, but they don’t want anything that is proximate to blackness near them. That’s not about the economy.”

    The journals of late singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley are being collected into a book. Da Capo Press will publish Jeff Buckley: His Own Voice in spring 2019.

    The Mothers author Brit Bennett talks to The Millions about writing a screenplay, abortion, and the racial assumptions people made about her book. Many readers seemed surprised that Bennett would set a story about a black community in Southern California. “My working theory on this is that what people expect from a black story is a racism-driven plot,” she said. “My book is a story that is inflected by race, but the plot points don’t hinge on racism. That’s one way in which my book upends expectations. People think because it’s about a religious community it must be set in Mississippi.”

    Over one hundred employees of the Wall Street Journal have signed a letter to editor in chief Gerard Baker and deputy editor Matt Murray requesting that management take steps to make the newsroom more diverse in terms of both race and gender. “There are currently four women and eight men listed as deputy managing editors, and both editorial page editors are men,” the letter points out. “Nearly all the people at high levels at the paper deciding what we cover and how are white men.”

    BuzzFeed is opening an office in Austin, Texas. The website hopes to use the new location to break out of the New York-centric focus of most media companies.“As a lot of people who live in the South, or in the Midwest have observed, there’s sort of a coastal thing that happens where everyone writing most media is based in California or New York,” said Summer Anne Burton, who will be running the office. “So I definitely think it’s an advantage to be in Texas.”

    Tonight at McNally Jackson, Harper’s Magazine hosts a discussion on resisters and collaborators with Masha Gessen, Kate Crawford, Corey Robin, Lawrence Jackson, and Sarah Schulman.

  • March 28, 2017

    Colson Whitehead. Photo: Dorothy Hong

    Moonlight writer and director Barry Jenkins is developing a series for Amazon based on Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad.

    The rights to Jeffrey Tayler and Nina Khruscheva’s In Putin’s Footsteps have been acquired by St. Martin’s Press. The book examines Putin’s impact on the country through snapshots of cities in each of Russia’s eleven time zones. In Putin’s Footsteps will be published in 2018.

    The Atlantic is opening a new office in London. National correspondent James Fallows will lead the bureau as the magazine’s first Europe editor. In a statement, Atlantic president Bob Cohn noted that 25 percent of the magazine’s website audience lives abroad. “This expansion means we’ll be creating more journalism from Europe for both U.S. and international readers, and bringing our lens on the world to more global leaders in business, finance, technology, culture and government,” he said.

    Former Lifehacker editor in chief Alan Henry is joining the New York Times as a senior digital strategist. Henry will work on improving the paper’s service journalism. In their announcement, deputy managing editor Clifford Levy wrote that the new hire shows that the Times is “excited about bringing on journalists who made their names at outlets that are not our traditional competitors.”

    The Democracy Fund is partnering with First Look Media to offer a grant package of $12 million to support investigative journalism endeavors. Among other recipients, the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Center for Public Integrity, and ProPublica will each receive $3 million.

    At the Times, Jill Filipovic writes that the numerous photos of all-male meetings and celebrations of executive orders released by the Trump administration are probably not an accident. “The great America it promised has white men at the top, and that’s the image they’re projecting, figuratively and literally,” Filipovic writes. “It’s not an error, it’s the game plan.”

    Tonight at the Strand Book Store, the New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino talks to Rebecca Solnit about “her latest dispatches from the front lines of the feminist revolutions.”

  • March 27, 2017

    Laura Kipnis

    Last week at Wellesley College, six professors sent an email to fellow faculty members, urging them to reconsider the criteria by which they select authors to speak at the college. They hoped that their request would prevent speakers such as Laura Kipnis, who appeared at Wellesley earlier this month, from being invited to speak on campus in the future. In her new book Unwanted Advances, Kipnis delivers a scathing critique of the way universities have regulated sexual conduct on campuses, particularly their use of Title IX. The six Wellesley professors argued that such arguments could be “painful to significant portions of the Wellesley community.”

    Patti Smith has purchased the reconstructed childhood home of French poet Arthur Rimbaud.

    Graphic novelist Daniel Clowes talks about his involvement in the film adaptations of Ghost World and Wilson, and also describes how his work-in-progress changed after Trump won the election. “It’s not a political comic, really, but it was definitely begun with the thought that we were going to have a sane democracy continuing in place and not what’s going on. So now I’m rethinking it with the knowledge that I’m going to have this craziness running through my head for the next four years.”

    In an essay that appears in the New Republic, Sam Sacks isolates a strain of nostalgia in the work of some of biggest novelists in the US. “You might call them the last escapists: If their books still resonate, it is not because they reflect the zeitgeist, but because they run so profoundly against it,” Sacks writes. “And as long as their brand of exuberant nostalgia holds appeal, there’s a danger of being left with a literature that tells us only what we already know, however enchantingly.”

    Tributes to the New York Review of Books Editor Robert Silvers continue to roll in. At the New Yorker, Alexandra Schwartz remembers her time as Silvers’s assistant (“Bob famously lived entirely for and at the job”); and at n+1, several writers (including onetime NYRB staffer A. O. Scott) pay their respects.

  • March 24, 2017

    At The Guardian, John Banville remembers Robert Silvers’s editing ability and knack for matching books with reviewers. “The FedEx package would arrive, containing a volume I could not imagine wanting to read, much less review,” he writes. “Yet a few weeks later I would find myself writing three or four thousand enthusiastic words on it, and wondering why I had not taken notice of this author, or that subject, before.” At the Washington Post, Christian Caryl writes that Silvers’s death came at the worst possible time for American intellectual life. “Bob’s legacy has had a profound and lasting impact on generations of American thinkers,” he writes, “and I can’t help thinking that, if we manage to survive this current era with our minds intact, we’ll owe him part of the credit.”

    The New York Times has hired Jesse Green as co-chief theater critic. Green comes from New York magazine and will be sharing the role with Ben Brantley. He is replacing Charles Isherwood, who was fired earlier this year.

    Nieman Lab looks at NowThis’s plan to expand their content beyond sixty-second videos on Facebook. After a $100 million investment in their parent company, NowThis has hired talent from MTV, the Huffington Post, and the now-shuttered Reported.ly in an attempt to move away from aggregation and publish more original video and reportage.

    At the Times, Michael Paulson talks to Pulitzer-winning playwrights Lynn Nottage and Paula Vogel, who will both open their first Broadway shows this spring. Paulson reflects on the gender disparity on Broadway. Nottage’s “Sweat” and Vogel’s “Indecent,” he writes, “are the only new plays by women this Broadway season; by contrast, there are eight new plays by men (none of whom has credentials comparable to those of Ms. Vogel and Ms. Nottage).” Both women have also dealt with the frustration of having their award-winning plays stuck Off-Broadway. “But both are also thrilled to be here now,” Paulson writes, “and savoring the sweetness.”

    Jami Attenberg

    Jami Attenberg asks readers to stop guessing which parts of her novel are autobiographical. Although Attenberg bears a striking resemblance to the protagonist of her latest novel—a single, childless New Yorker—she writes that she had no intention of writing an autobiographical novel. “If I had wanted to talk about the single life in a grand, public way,” she points out, “I might have written something like Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies or Kate Bolick’s Spinster.” Regardless, Attenberg hopes to someday be more accepting of questions about her personal life as it manifests in fiction, but she hopes readers will try to let go as well. “Fiction is a magic trick of sorts. But at its best it doesn’t just conjure up an imaginary world; it makes the real one disappear, it makes the author disappear,” she writes. “So, if you can, forget about everything else. Just be there with the book.”

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