• September 12, 2016

    Jeffrey Toobin

    Jeffrey Toobin

    Univision, which bought Gawker Media in auction last month, has voted to remove six posts from still-running sites like Jezebel and Deadspin, saying that the posts are legal risks. John Cook, the executive editor of Gawker Media, wrote to his staff that deleting the articles, such as “Wait, Did Clowntroll Blogger Chuck Johnson Shit on the Floor One Time?,” was “a mistake”: “Disappearing true posts about public figures simply because they have been targeted by a lawyer who conspired with a vindictive billionaire to destroy this company is an affront to the very editorial ethos that has made us successful enough to be worth acquiring.”

    After Norwegian author Tom Egeland’s was suspended from Facebook for posting the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph “The Terror of War,” Norway’s largest newspaper posted the photo, which depicts children fleeing a napalm attack in Vietnam, on their own Facebook page. Although Facebook gave them the option to delete the photo or pixilate then-nine-year-old Kim Phuc’s naked body, the social media giant removed the photo before the newspaper could respond. Now, Aftenposten has published an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg about the editorial decisions of a company that still maintains that it is not part of the media. “Dear Mark, you are the world’s most powerful editor. … I think you are abusing your power, and I find it hard to believe that you have thought it through thoroughly.”

    On the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, young-adult novelists struggle to adapt the story of that day for the readers who weren’t yet born. Writers worry about exploiting the event, balancing real details with what young readers can handle, and about the quality of their work. David Levithan, who wrote Love Is the Higher Law in 2009, told the New York Times, “Writing a bad book is O.K., but writing a bad 9/11 book, that was terrifying.”

    Rich Juzwiak talks to Laura Albert, the author formerly known as JT LeRoy, and Jeff Feuerzeig, the director of the recent documentary Author: The JT LeRoy Story, about making the film, the nature of identity, and how her former selves affected her career. While writing for Deadwood, Albert says her many personalities confused producer David Milch: “I’d started out as JT and then I went to Speedie. Then I’m Emily Frasier, because I didn’t want everyone else to know. Then I’m Laura. He comes in and the rest of the staff still didn’t know. He’s standing there and he has to talk to me because there’s crazy shit going on. I see it on his face—what to fuckin’ call me? He’s just like, ‘…You!’”

    American Heiress author Jeffrey Toobin talks to Hazlitt about paying for source material, Patricia Hearst’s unwillingness to participate, and the state of the nation in the 1970s. “I was completely flabbergasted and amazed at what a wreck the country was back then. A thousand bombings a year, two hijackings a month, Watergate, the energy crisis, economic decline, the Yom Kippur War, and nowhere was it worse than in the Bay Area.”

    The BBC talks to Brian Bilston, the “unofficial poet laureate of Twitter.” Bilston says he never aspired to be a poet: “A poet to my mind was someone of intensity, a serious type, the kind of person you wouldn’t want to get trapped in a kitchen with at a party (if poets received invitations to parties at all, that is).”

  • September 9, 2016

    Barnes and Noble announced a fourteen-million-dollar loss for its most recent quarter, with sales dropping 6.6 percent. The troubled company is searching for a new CEO as Amazon continues to chip away at their business. In an attempt to lure customers back into the bookstore, B&N will be opening four new trial stores this fall that will have a restaurant serving food, beer, and wine. The first, set to open in Eastchester, New York this October is also planning to have a fire pit and bocce court.  

    The public libraries of Washington, DC will be hiding once-banned books throughout the city. Free copies of titles such as Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple, and Slaughterhouse Five can be found at local businesses by following clues on social media.

    Alan Moore. Photo: Matt Biddulph

    Alan Moore. Photo: Matt Biddulph

    Author Alan Moore throws the New York Times’s “By the Book” column for a loop by not having a nightstand, a favorite genre, or a system for organizing his books. When asked which still-working writers he admires, Moore said the question made him uncomfortable: “In anything other than a stark and unqualified list that unreels to the end of our allotted space here, there are going to be serious, gaping omissions that will cause me to wake at 3 in the morning and groan in useless torment at my own inadequacy as both a friend and reader.” Moore also announced his retirement from comic books at a press conference yesterday: “I think if I were to continue to work in comics, inevitably the ideas would suffer, inevitably you’d start to see me retread old ground.”

    New York magazine editor Gabriel Sherman’s 2014 biography of Roger Ailes detailed some of the same allegations of sexual harassment that caused the Fox News president to resign this summer.  At the Columbia Journalism Review, Sherman talks about why the accusations have finally stuck: “This is all playing out in a post-Cosby culture, where women are more likely to be believed when they make allegations against a powerful man.”

    An exhibition of Charlotte Brontë’s letters, manuscripts, and personal items goes on display today at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York. In addition to parts of the original manuscript of Jane Eyre, the show will also include the only two portraits made of the author during her lifetime, on loan from London’s National Portrait Gallery. The exhibit will be open through early next year.

    Tomorrow, Emily Books publishers Emily Gould and Ruth Curry will hold a panel discussion about women’s writing. The two spoke with LitHub about the myth of “women’s fiction” and the late writers they would invite to the panel if they could: “Cookie Mueller, Ellen Willis, Jean Rhys, Zora Neale Hurston, Barbara Comyns . . . Maybe next year!”

  • September 8, 2016

    Lisa Lucas. Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

    Lisa Lucas. Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

    Lisa Lucas, the executive director of the National Book Foundation, talks to the New York Times about her job as a books evangelist, inclusivity in publishing, and why there’s no shame in reading mass-market fiction. “The Oscars don’t give “The Fast and the Furious” Best Picture, right? Still, I’m sure the academy doesn’t feel as if it’s a bad thing to go see an action movie.”

    Foo Fighter Dave Grohl’s mother, Virginia Hanlon Grohl, will be interviewing the mothers of other rockers for her forthcoming book. From Cradle to Stage: Stories From the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars will include interviews with the mothers of Amy Winehouse, Dr. Dre, and REM’s Michael Stipe, among others. The book comes out next April.

    Parts of the original manuscript for “Clisson et Eugénie,” a novella by Napoleon Bonaparte, goes up for auction later this month. The story of a romance between an army officer and a young woman in central France, “the novella only runs about 22 scribbled pages, so the plot swiftly progresses from love to marriage to melancholy.”

    The last of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s finished yet unpublished works will be published in a collection by Scribner next spring. The stories in I’d Die for You were written during the mid- to late-1930s, and were withheld from publication due to Fitzgerald’s “writing about controversial topics, depicting young men and women who actually spoke and thought more as young men and women did, without censorship.”

    Vanity Fair takes a long look at Arianna Huffington’s questionable editorial decisions at her namesake publication, from which she resigned last month. Huffington’s friendships with powerful people had provided the support to get the news site off the ground, but would later create tension between Huffington and her editorial employees. “‘I think it really speaks to a broader point about Arianna,’ explains one person involved, ‘which is that when powerful people [she knows] get angry about something, it is by no means a guarantee that she will defend her staff.’”

    Beacon Press is launching an imprint dedicated to audio books. Beacon Press Audio’s first edition will be Jerald Walker’s The World in Flames: A Black Boyhood in a White Supremacist Doomsday Cult, and will be followed by aural versions of backlist titles, including one by James Baldwin.

    Today, the Trump campaign ends its blacklist of various news outlets who have been critical of the candidate. The Washington Post, Politico, and others will have their requests for press credentials approved. About the reversal, Trump told CNN, “I figure they can’t treat me any worse!”

  • September 7, 2016

    Cosmopolitan editor Joanna Coles has been named chief content officer at Hearst magazines, and will be the first person at the company to hold the position. Coles will “identify new business opportunities and partnerships for Hearst in areas including television and live events, with the goal of extending the company’s brands beyond just print magazines and websites.” Michele Promaulayko, formerly the editor of Yahoo Health and Women’s Health, will be Cosmopolitan’s new editor in chief.

    New York magazine national affairs editor and Roger Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman has been named a contributor to NBC and MSNBC. He will continue in his editorial role at New York magazine.

    Margot Lee Sheerly. Photo: Aran Shetterly

    Margot Lee Sheerly. photo: Aran Shetterly

    The New York Times interviews Margot Lee Shetterly, whose book Hidden Figures chronicles the careers of four black female mathematicians who worked at NASA, “often under Jim Crow laws, calculating crucial trajectories for rockets while being segregated from their white counterparts.” A film version of the book, starring Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer, will be released at the end of the year.

    Olympic gymnast Simone Biles will write an autobiography, Courage to Soar, set to be released this November.

    Gretchen Carlson will receive $20 million from 21st Century Fox in a settlement of her sexual harassment case against the news organization and Roger Ailes. The company also issued a public apology, reportedly part of the settlement terms: “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect that she and all our colleagues deserve.”

    Late novelist Gabriel García Márquez is the face of the new 50,000 peso bill in Colombia. 

    At Vanity Fair, David Kamp profiles Bruce Springsteen, whose memoir Born to Run will be released at the end of September. After watching a huge audience sing along “full-throatedly and with fists pumping,” at a European tour date, Kamp is surprised by the Boss’s tendency toward glum introspection, as Springsteen tells Kamp, “I’ve always felt a lot in common with Sisyphus. I’m always rolling that rock, man. One way or another, I’m always rolling that rock.”

  • September 6, 2016

    Gabriel Sherman’s long-expected deep dive into the sexual harassment allegations against former Fox News President Roger Ailes went live this weekend. Sherman, the author of the book The Loudest Voice in the Room, chronicles Ailes’s career trajectory—defined by ”his volcanic temper, paranoia, and ruthlessness”—along with his rise and fall at Fox News. After Ailes’s departure, employees “described feeling like being part of a totalitarian regime whose dictator has just been toppled.” “As of November 9, there will be a bloodbath at Fox,” an unnamed Fox host told Sherman. “After the election, the prime-time lineup could be eviscerated.” Meanwhile, Ailes has hired Charles Harder, the lawyer who defended Hulk Hogan against Gawker Media, for a possible defamation lawsuit against Sherman for his series of articles on Ailes in New York magazine.

    Harder is also defending Melania Trump in her defamation lawsuit against the Daily Mail and others. Wayne Barrett, author of the now-classic (and recently reissued) Trump: The Deals and the Downfall, spoke with The Guardian about the case, saying the legal action is “a threat to other reporters, publishers, news organizations.” Barrett said that “Trump had bragged to him nearly 40 years ago about ‘breaking reporters.’”

    The Newspaper Association of America will change its name to the News Media Alliance this week. CEO David Chavern said that the new name should not be taken as a disparagement of the newspaper. Instead the new moniker “indicates just how many new ways our members are delivering journalism to their communities.”

    Tobias Wolff. Photo: Mark Coggins

    Tobias Wolff. Photo: Mark Coggins

    At The Guardian, writers reflect on the Obama presidency. Author Tobias Wolff says that disappointment in the Obama presidency “comes down to immaturity—in us, not him.” Novelist Akhil Sharma said that the last eight years has made him “intolerant of certain types of stupidity from white people.” Attica Locke writes that Obama’s legacy is just beginning: “He could be like Jimmy Carter.”

    Literary agents say that Barack and Michelle Obama might earn anywhere from $20 million to $45 million in book deals after the presidency. “His is going to be easily the most valuable presidential memoir ever,” according to one book agent. Publishers, however, “balked at such lofty evaluations, with several saying Mr. Obama is unlikely to earn more than $12 million and Mrs. Obama $10 million.”

    In the New Yorker, Ian Parker profiles Pete Wells, the New York Times restaurant critic who has subjected himself to such dining experiences as Senor Frog’s, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, and Per Se. Parker calls dining with the critic, which requires restaurant staff perform a balancing act of recognizing and catering to Wells without making it clear that they are doing so, “an episode of Cold War fiction involving futile charades and a likely defenestration.”

  • September 2, 2016

    The New York Times books section and the paper’s Sunday Book Review will no longer be separate entities. On the Recode Media podcast, Assistant Masthead Editor Clifford Levy said, “We have to be willing to try new things, and if they fail, that’s fine.” The two teams will be merged under the guidance of Book Review editor Pamela Paul, who told Publishers Weekly that the move will reduce redundant reviews: “‘There will no longer be any instances of two freelancers reviewing the same books.” In today’s business section, the Times’s internal email system assists Daniel Victor as he advises readers on what to do about being added to an unwanted email chain.

    Yaa Gyasi. Photo: Michael Lionstar

    Yaa Gyasi. Photo: Michael Lionstar

    Finalists for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize have been announced. The short list includes Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, Emma Cline’s The Girls, and Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs to You.

    The verbal attacks by Roger Ailes’s lawyers on journalist Gabriel Sherman have taken on a more menacing tone “in our Age of Hogan,” writes James Warren. “Have no doubt that the courtroom victory of Hulk Hogan, which marked the financial ruin of Gawker Media, is part of the calculus in essentially warning Sherman and his employer that Team Ailes means business.”

    HuffPost Mexico launched yesterday, becoming the site’s sixteenth international edition. Global Editorial Director Howard Fineman noted the Trump campaign in his lengthy introduction to the Mexican edition earlier this summer: “Our two countries are increasingly intertwined, whatever Trump may wish to unravel.”

    After the FAA recently relaxed rules about who could legally pilot drones, any journalist with the ability to pass a multiple-choice test can take to the skies in search of stories. To avoid “a glut of inexperienced operators,” a University of Nebraska journalism professor and a BuzzFeed fellow have created an open-source manual for drone reportage.

    New Order and Joy Division drummer Stephen Morris has signed a deal to write a memoir with Little, Brown imprint Constable. “Part memoir, part visual scrapbook, part aural history,” the book will be published in 2018.

    At The Awl, Patrick Hoffman reviews James Patterson’s MasterClass on writing. “I started zoning out a little. My eyes drifted over toward my cat. Mr. Patterson pulled me right back in by saying, ‘Once you have the outline, start writing dude, you’re ready.’ It was that dude that woke me.”

    Jonathan Safran Foer spoke with The Bookseller about his new novel, Here I Am. “My feeling of the book is it is . . . about things like how dishes are washed, what kind of moisturiser one applies, why a certain kind of mattress is purchased instead of another, what it’s like to take a baby’s temperature.” Foer’s book was included in The Guardian’s round-up of this fall’s “best American writing,” along with Nicholson Baker’s Substitute, Nell Zink’s Nicotine, Ruth Franklin’s Shirley Jackson, and Rabih Alameddine’s The Angel of History.

  • September 1, 2016

    gabe-sherman-3-credit-nephi-nivensmall_vert-a56d3fe133c7691df29b10225082c0ba6b229967-s6-c30

    Gabriel Sherman. Photo: Nephi Niven

    An upcoming exposé by Gabriel Sherman in New York magazine has Roger Ailes’s lawyers denouncing the writer to the Daily Beast. “Gabe Sherman is a virus, and is too small to exist on his own, and has obviously attached himself to the Ailes family to try to suck the life out of them,” Marc Mukasey told the news site. “Roger is fine and doing well, and is not going to allow a virus like that to poison the atmosphere.” Susan Estrich, the feminist attorney who surprised everyone by taking the Ailes case, said that the forthcoming article “is Gabe Sherman’s last stand, and it falls flat.” At least this time around Ailes’s spokespeople aren’t hiding behind anonymity.

    Even after removing the biased parts of their trending section, i.e. human editors, Facebook can’t escape the critical eye of the Washington Post. The newspaper will be compiling trends from the social media site every hour and analyzing them in a daily email. “Are these trends an objective reflection of what’s happening in the world — or do they have their own algorithmic slants? Honestly, we don’t know … yet!”

    A Columbia Journalism Review report says that even though Vice relies on freelance writers, producers, and fixers all over the world to create content, they also have a habit of not paying them. Yardena Schwartz, a journalist based in Tel Aviv, began collecting stories of other freelance journalists burned by Vice after a story she had worked on for three days was cut due to an editor’s family emergency, and the company offered her only a fraction of their previously-settled pay rate. “Out of 25 people I spoke to, emailed with, or interacted with through Facebook, three said they had a positive experience freelancing for Vice.”

    Seth Grahame-Smith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, has been sued by Hachette for turning in a book that the publisher says is “not original to Smith, but instead is in large part an appropriation of a 120-year-old public-domain work.” The suit does not name the book that the new manuscript relies on, nor does it explain why appropriating public domain works other than Pride and Prejudice is unacceptable.

    Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson will release a book with HarperCollins imprint Broadside. Common Sense for the Common Good: Libertarianism as the End of Two-Party Tyranny will be published as an e-book at the end of September, with plans for a hardcover version in the spring.

    Looking for a beach read in time for the holiday weekend? Goldman Sachs has you covered.

    Sam Lipsyte introduces an excerpt of Annie DeWitt’s White Nights in Split Town City: “It’s almost a sacrilege to put words in front of her words. . . . This novel wants to hurt you in just the way you want art to hurt, and it also wants to slay you, the way art just wants to fucking slay you. And it will.”

  • August 31, 2016

    President Barack Obama will be the guest-editor of Wired’s November issue, on the subject of “Frontiers.” “When the Founders wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they were at the bleeding edge of Enlightenment philosophy and technology,” said Wired editor in chief Scott Dadich. “We want to wrestle with the idea of how today’s technology can influence political leadership. And who better to help us explore these ideas than President Obama?”

    Despite rampant speculation about Trump’s plans to launch a media project after losing the general election, Bloomberg says it might take more money than the candidate has. “It’d be an expensive move for a man who has famously run a low-budget presidential campaign.” The Washington Post has digitized a large amount of source material from its recent book, Trump Revealed, including financial documents, court filings, and interview transcripts.

    Egyptian novelist Ahmed Naji, who was sentenced to two years in prison after a reader claimed that a sex scene in Naji’s The Use of Life “made his blood pressure drop and his heartbeat fluctuate,” has lost his motion for appeal of his sentence.

    Although Facebook just dismissed its entire New York-based editorial team, Poynter thinks that the website should hire some fact checkers to oversee its trending topics section. But fact checkers would be editorial employees, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this week that Facebook is “a tech company, not a media company.” A former Facebook editor spoke with Digiday about working on the platform’s trending section. The site claims that the human editors were teaching the algorithm how to perform, but the computer was a poor student: “If you’ve used the tool in the last few days, you’d realize that the algorithm didn’t learn shit.”

    John_Forbes_Nash,_Jr._by_Peter_Badge

    John F. Nash. Photo: Peter Badge

    The Nobel Prize medal of mathematician John F. Nash, the subject of Sylvia Nasar’s book A Beautiful Mind (later a film), will be auctioned this fall at Sotheby’s. The projected price of $2.5 to $4 million may prove the current command “of scientists over literary types in the rarefied market for some of the world’s most difficult-to-acquire gold jewelry.” By contrast, William Faulkner’s medal did not sell in 2013 after bidding reached only $425,000.

    Lena Dunham announced a new collection of short stories in her newsletter yesterday. Best and Always will be published by Random House next year. Read her newest story, “The Mechanic,” at Lenny Letter.

    “Book ninjas” in Melbourne, Australia, have been stealthily leaving books on trains and bus lines “in a subversive attempt to bring reading back to workers’ commutes.” Although one usually becomes a ninja by birth, anyone can become a book ninja by requesting stickers from co-founders Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus.

  • August 30, 2016

    Hasan Minhaj

    Hasan Minhaj

    Hasan Minhaj, a Daily Show senior correspondent, is collaborating with PEN America to launch “The M Word,” an event series that “will provide a platform for Muslim-American writers and cultural figures to address audiences on their own terms . . . to challenge the prevailing narrow representations of highly diverse Muslim communities comprised of more than three million Americans.” Minhaj will be part of a panel on Muslim comedians on September 21.

    The MTA is collaborating with Penguin Random House to launch “Subway Reads, a web platform that can be reached from a subway platform.” The program will offer free digital versions of short stories and book excerpts that can be downloaded using the Wi-Fi service offered in subway stations, with selections sorted by the length of a commuter’s ride. Subway Reads will be available for the next eight weeks.

    After firing most of its human editors, Facebook is struggling to convince users that the site’s trending algorithm is ready to fly solo. This weekend, however, the trending section picked up a fake article about Megyn Kelly endorsing Hillary Clinton, among other questionable stories, “including #McChicken, a hashtag that had gone viral after someone posted a video of a man masturbating with a McChicken sandwich.”

    After a third sexting scandal, Anthony Weiner has been put on leave from his job at NY1, and his columns will no longer be printed in the New York Daily News. Huma Abedin, Clinton aide and Weiner’s wife, announced that they had decided to separate.

    Fox News is currently the most-watched cable network for all time slots, but how long can the network hold on to the top spot? “Half of Fox News viewers are over the age of 68.”

    Ursula K. Le Guin talks to the New York Times about her forthcoming Library of America collection, The Complete Orsinia. Although Le Guin is known for science fiction books like The Left Hand of Darkness, she convinced the publisher to compile her more realist early works. “Someone who pigeonholed me firmly will say, ‘What the hell?’ But that’s their problem.”

  • August 29, 2016

    Google has finally revealed why it shut down novelist Dennis Cooper’s blog and canceled his email account earlier this summer. On his Facebook page, Cooper writes that “some unknown person’s flagging of one image on a ten year-old group-curated page that wasn’t even technically on my blog is the reason they disabled my blog and email account.” Late last week, Cooper announced that Google has agreed to release the decade’s worth of data and archives from his blog. Cooper’s blog—“in a new, non-Google spot”—relaunches today.

    Director Harmony Korine is working on an adaptation of Alissa Nutting’s novel Tampa, about a middle-school teacher who seduces one of her students.

    Ian McEwan. Photo: Thesupermat

    Ian McEwan. Photo: Thesupermat

    Ian McEwan, whose upcoming book Nutshell centers on the experience of a fetus as its mother conspires with its uncle to kill its father, worries that he may get shot at a book signing. “Someone’s going to come up, especially in the States, shooting at my chest, you know. It would be quite easy,” McEwan told The Guardian. He has other concerns, such as repeating himself and possibly boring his interviewer, but he is sanguine about the difficulties of writing from the point of view of an unborn person: “[McEwan] solved the problem of how a foetus could know enough about the outside world to make sense of what he overheard by making Trudy an avid listener to Radio 4 and podcasts.”

    Far-right news site Breitbart hopes to capitalize on the growing nationalist sentiments worldwide by opening a European branch. “Germany and Brussels are also being considered but France is a particularly attractive option for expansion, [editor in chief Alexander] Marlow said, given the prominence of far-right politicians, concerns about terrorism and the impact of Islam on society.” Glenn Beck spoke with BuzzFeed about what steps Trump might take if, after losing in November, he starts his own television channel. “Make sure that it is clearly understood my disdain for this entire vision,” Beck said.

    The New York Times is searching for dedicated editors to cover education, climate change, and gender issues. The new positions will be exclusively focused on digital journalism and “independent of the department structure.”

    The Village Voice has tapped Rolling Stone contributing editor (and former Voice music-section editor) Joe Levy to be its interim editor in chief.

    Alan Moore spoke to Publisher’s Weekly about the origins of his new novel, Jerusalem. The 600,000 word book came out of Moore’s meditations on the hereafter. “He found various conceptions of the afterlife lacking. The conventional Christian idea ‘didn’t sound like it was quite the kind of lifestyle that I’d like to pursue for the rest of eternity,’ he says. ‘All of that golden marble, it sounded like a 1980s plasterers bathroom.’” After realizing that his life now was the ideal eternity, “he wrote an immense novel that encompasses all of his feelings for home and family. And along the way, he says, he unknowingly re-created Albert Einstein’s thinking about time and space.”

    Poet Max Ritvo, known for his work in the New Yorker and elsewhere, has died at 25. Four Reincarnations, his first collection of poetry, will be published in the fall.

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