• November 8, 2017

    The Library of America announced that it has hired John Kulka to be its new literary director. Kulka—who has held positions at Harvard University Press, Yale University Press, and Basic Books—is replacing editor and author Geoffrey O’Brien, who will conclude his long tenure as LoA’s editor in chief at the end of 2017.

    Mattress company Casper is launching its own quarterly print magazine. Woolly “encourages readers to relax with a mix of personal essays, comedic advice columns, yoga instructor confessions and much more,” according to Adweek.

    Kevin Young

    The New York Times talks to Kevin Young about poetry, hoaxes, and his new book, Bunk. In his research, Young found that modern hoaxes are much worse than their predecessors. “They’re worse in their damage and in their intent now,” he said. “And to see that, and be proven right, or prescient, is a kind of hollow victory.”

    The South African government is threatening to ban journalist Jacques Pauw’s new book, The President’s Keepers, an exposé of “Jacob Zuma’s compromised government.” The State Security Agency sent a cease and desist letter two days after the book was published, claiming that Pauw’s work was “replete with inaccuracies.” But NB, the book’s publisher, says that it has no plans to withdraw the book.

    Through a collection of a year’s worth of New York Times push notifications, Slate examines how “the convergence of Trump and technology and the media landscape, with the invigorated news giants and hungry digital outlets duking it out for our bloodshot eyeballs” has changed the way we live. “For all of our polarization and our partisan bubbles, this inability to detach from the news is something we’ve experienced together,” they write. “We didn’t used to know what was said at every White House press briefing. We didn’t await word of the next mass shooting. We didn’t always wake up expecting news. The cadence of life has changed.”

  • November 7, 2017

    The New York Times talks to Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner about his debut novel, Heather, the Totality. Weiner said that although he’d always wanted to write fiction, he wasn’t sure he would ever have the opportunity to do so, and has been shocked by his book’s warm reception in the literary world. “It’s like someone who goes to the casino for the first time and wins,” he said.

    Rose McGowan’s upcoming memoir will be released in January, one month earlier than planned. Brave will be published in January by Harper One.

    Daniel Mendelsohn

    The Millions talks to An Odyssey author Daniel Mendelsohn about memoirs, family, and why Greek epics are still relevant today. In Mendelsohn’s opinion, “Greek texts have a kind of hardness and durability” because they avoid the pitfalls of sentimentality. “Modern superheroes are all essentially optimistic visions of transformation,” he says. “You need to only read two pages of Ovid’s Metamorphosis to understand that the ancient transformations are very problematic. The essential vision of life is pessimistic and these transformations are punishments.”

    Margaret Sullivan writes that while journalists are working harder than ever on deeply reported, investigative pieces about the conflicts of interest in the Trump administration, they are struggling to find a way to break through a chaotic news cycle that many readers are tuning out. “The scoops have been relentless, the digging intense, the results important,” Sullivan writes, but “too often, it has succumbed to the chaos of covering Trump, who lies and blusters and distracts at every turn.”

    The Observer reports from a rally held yesterday in support of the DNAinfo and Gothamist writers who lost their jobs last week after owner Joe Ricketts shut down the sites in response to a union vote. Former Gothamist editor David Colon takes a closer look Ricketts’s decision to replace each website’s work with his letter announcing the site’s closure. By doing so, “Ricketts did more than just erase a literal database of New York City history,” Colon writes. “He also directly attacked the reporters who he fired without a second thought. It’s the kind of retaliatory move made by a man who thinks he’s above consequences—a spiteful kiss-off to people whose only crime was sticking up for themselves.” Ex-LAist editor in chief Julia Wick remembers the site’s dedication to local reporting and warns that Gothamist and DNAinfo likely won’t be the last sites to be shut down over unionizing. “There are more important stories to tell than ever, and a growing contingent of moneyed powerbrokers now have the ultimate say over the content—and life—of our newsrooms,” she writes. “If you aren’t scared yet, you should be.”

  • November 6, 2017

    Donna Brazile

    Donna Brazile

    Former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile has come under fire for her new tell-all political memoir Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House. Brazile has been deeply critical of Hillary Clinton, and in interviews she has called Clinton’s presidential campaign “worse than Hurricane Katrina.” More than 100 former senior aides with Hillary for America responded with a rebuttal to Brazile’s account, proclaiming, among other things, that “It is particularly troubling and puzzling that she would seemingly buy into false Russian-fueled propaganda, spread by both the Russians and our opponent, about our candidate’s health.” House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and current DNC Chair have also spoken out against Brazile’s account. Brazile has this response for her critics: “Go to hell.”

    Jonathan Franzen considers how we can prepare for climate change in the era of Trump: “I don’t have any hope that we can stop the change from coming. My only hope is that we can accept the reality in time to prepare for it humanely, and my only faith is that facing it honestly, however painful this may be, is better than denying it.”

    Following mounting allegations of sexual misconduct against Kevin Spacey, Netflix has announced that it has canceled a Gore Vidal biopic in which Spacey had been cast to play the author. Meanwhile, novelist Alexander Chee provocatively considers Spacey’s response to the allegations.

    Publisher’s Weekly explains why, in the age of e-books, it has become increasingly difficult to define a bestseller.

    Nancy Friday, the bestselling author of My Secret Garden and other studies of gender politics, has died at age eighty-four.

    Kirkus Reviews has announced the winners of its annual book awards. What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories by Lesley Nneka Arimah won for fiction, and The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea by Jack E. Davis won for nonfiction.

  • November 3, 2017

    Local news sites DNAinfo and Gothamist were shut down yesterday by owner Joe Ricketts. The decision comes one week after the New York offices of the company voted to unionize, and will affect 115 employees. In a post on the website, Ricketts wrote that while he was proud of his reporters for covering “tens of thousands of stories that have informed, impacted and inspired millions of people . . . DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure.”

    Condé Nast is ending the print edition of Teen Vogue, and will be reducing the print frequency of several other magazines. At least eighty jobs will be cut as part of publisher-wide cost-cutting measures.

    Andrew Durbin. Photo: Tag Christoff

    Novelist Andrew Durbin has been hired as the senior editor for the Americas of Frieze magazine.

    Julianne Moore has signed on to play Gloria Steinem in the film adaptation of Steinem’s memoir, My Life on the Road.

    Flatiron has announced the title and publication date of former FBI director James Comey’s upcoming book. A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership will be released next May.

    Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo looks at the rift between the Wall Street Journal’s reporters and opinions writers. Although the paper’s news staff aren’t usually bothered by the editorial page’s more conservative views, Pompeo writes that the latest articles into the Trump campaign’s connection to Russia, particularly the Journal’s call for Robert Mueller to resign, has left some news writers frustrated. “We could disprove half the stuff [the opinion writers] are saying if they just read our own reporting,” said one anonymous reporter. “It’s like living in some alternate universe.”

  • November 2, 2017

    Michael Oreskes, head of news at NPR, has resigned after multiple women alleged that he sexually assaulted them when he served as the Washington bureau chief of the New York Times. More men have come forward with allegations of sexual assault against actor Kevin Spacey. Deadline speculates that the alleged incidents—which have already halted filming on the upcoming season of House of Cards—might affect Spacey’s biopic about Gore Vidal. Netflix has yet to comment on whether the streaming service will release Gore as scheduled in 2018.

    The Cut’s Anna Silman talks to Sarah Polley, whose miniseries adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace will premiere on Netflix this Friday. Polley first attempted to option the book twenty years ago, when she was 18, but Atwood wasn’t interested. “I started thinking about making it into a film when I was close to Grace’s age at the time of the murders, and now I’m almost the age Grace is at the end of the novel,” she said. “My understanding of why I was so drawn to it has changed over 20 years of psychoanalysis, which has involved talking about this book a lot.”

    Mohsin Hamid. Photo: Jillian Edelstein

    Mohsin Hamid explains why there is so much “pessimism and despair about the future.” Hamid says that social media encourages the natural human tendency to focus on negative information over positive. “Nobody’s going to say that today in Pakistan, 16 million mothers kissed their kids goodnight, 5 million musicians practiced their musical instruments, and 833,000 people fell in love for the first time,” he notes. “They’re going to say that today in Pakistan somebody killed five other people with a bomb. Now, that is true, but it is a fundamental omission of so much information.”

    Fox News staffers criticized their network’s coverage of Robert Mueller’s indictments this week. The anonymous employees told CNN that they were embarrassed by the coverage, and that the network “feels like an extension of the Trump White House.” “I’m watching now and screaming,” one Fox News personality said in a text message. “I want to quit.”

    A cache of Facebook posts and ads from Russian-controlled accounts were released by lawmakers yesterday. Ads were targeted at social media users across the political spectrum, with group topics ranging from “Defend the 2nd,” a page for gun owners, to “Don’t Shoot,” a page for citizens against police brutality. One free page, “Army of Jesus,” spread an image of “Clinton dressed as Satan, with red horns and boxing gloves, appearing to punch Jesus, who also was wearing boxing gloves, as well as a determined glare as heavenly light appeared above him.”

    Tonight at NYU, Arlie Russell Hochschild talks about her latest book, Strangers in Their Own Land.

  • November 1, 2017

    Solmaz Sharif. Photo: Arash Saedinia

    Agatha French reports on the PEN Center USA Literary Awards, held last week in Los Angeles. Winners included Solmaz Sharif’s Look for poetry, Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air for creative nonfiction, and Martin Pousson’s Black Sheep Boy for fiction. Presenter Nick Offerman noted that if anyone wanted to call the president “an incompetent, degenerate boob,” or “a cartoon slug made of Cheeto dust,” that PEN “will fight for your ability to do so.”

    Bloomberg looks at Facebook’s inability to control the spread of fake news on its social media site. Although the company has implemented a fact checking program and started marking news deemed to be from untrustworthy sources, progress has been slow. Aaron Sharockman, executive director of PolitiFact, one of the organizations partnering with Facebook to provide fact checking, said that marking each article as “disputed” takes too long to have an impact. “By the time we’ve done that process it’s probably living in 20 other places in some way, shape or form,” he said. The New York Times reports that Facebook’s fake news problem is global. From Myanmar, where photoshopped images have helped spread anti-Rohingya messages, to India, where hoaxes and fake news are shared on Facebook-owned WhatsApp, “people are dying, and communities are tearing themselves apart with the tools Facebook has built.”

    Fitzcarraldo Editions has acquired the rights to Patrick Langley’s next novel, Arkady.

    Simon & Schuster has published Bob Dylan’s Nobel lecture, available in a mass-market hardcover for $16.99 or as a limited-edition signed copy for $2,500.

    Warner Bros has announced a release date for Crazy Rich Asians, an adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s novel. The movie, starring Constance Wu, will be released next August.

    Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales explains his new project, Wikitribune. Wales writes that the site is not yet a news service. Instead, “this is the launch of a project to build a news service. An entirely new kind of news service in which the trusted users of the site – the community – is treated as completely equal to the staff of the site – also the community.”

    The Daily Beast talks to Katia Kelly, Matt Termine, and Julian Russo, Brooklyn-based bloggers whose investigations into the owner of a derelict building in Carroll Gardens contributed to Paul Manafort’s indictment. After Kelly wrote a post on her blog, Pardon Me for Asking, wondering about the brownstone, Matt Termine and Julian Russo looked through public records in their freetime and “uncovered a series of unusual loans” that led to Manafort, the building’s owner. “I think it’s very exciting if not too surprising,” Russo said about the charges filed earlier this week. “This feels today like sort of a climactic culmination of all this time we spent along with other people we connected with through our website.”

  • October 31, 2017

    Jacqueline Woodson. Photo: Marty Umans

    Jacqueline Woodson talks to Entertainment Weekly about her new two-book deal with Riverhead. Woodson’s last book, Another Brooklyn, was her first work of adult fiction in twenty years. “I think it’s much harder to write for young people than it is to write for adults,” she said. “You have to go back to that place of being a young person yourself and so many adults have either deliberately forgotten that place (probably because it was too painful a time to hold onto) or they just can’t access it.”

    The Guardian speculates on who might be in the running for the next editor of Vanity Fair. Two months after Graydon Carter resigned, the magazine has yet to announce his replacement.

    Little, Brown editor Tracy Behar is starting her own imprint with the publisher. Behar’s still-unnamed imprint will launch next year and focus on health, psychology, and science.

    Kristopher Jansma looks at Clarice Lispector’s final novel, A Breath of Life, which was published after her death and assembled by the late author’s friend and assistant, Olga Borelli. Hired by Lispector after a fire destroyed all of the author’s unfinished work, Borelli “dedicated her life to the remainder of Lispector’s,” Jansma writes. “She cared for her, talked with her, comforted her, and played a singular hand in the construction of her late works, editing and arranging them from disparate fragments.”

    Hamilton Fish, publisher of the New Republic, is taking a leave of absence after a number of female employees reported that Fish “created an uncomfortable environment for them,” according to a letter from owner Win McCormack.

    Nick Denton reflects on the impact of Gawker’s early reporting on rumors and gossip about sexual harassment in the media and entertainment industries—including on Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, among others—and how those posts paved the way for outlets like the New York Times and the New Yorker. “Those first accounts of sexual harassment — even if anonymous or thinly sourced — give confidence to victims that they are not alone,” he writes. “Gossip, though it draws those motivated by envy and resentment, is also a tool of the powerless.”

  • October 30, 2017

    Philip Roth

    Philip Roth

    Why the French love Philip Roth.

    The Sh*tty Men in Media list began as a private, anonymously crowdsourced document meant to warn women about men who had been accused of sexual harassment. It was, writes Madison Malone Kircher at New York magazine, meant “more as a shield than a weapon.” But that didn’t last long. Though the list has been taken down from Reddit, screenshots are circulating online. “It’s now being leaked and distributed not to protect women from predators but to publicly attack the men on it,” Kircher writes. One person who has sought to “weaponize” the list is ultra-right-wing blogger Mike Cernovich, who offered $10,000 for a copy of the list.

    The Center Will Not Hold, Griffin Dunne’s documentary about Joan Didion, his aunt, is now streaming on Netflix.

    Colin Kaepernick, the ex-quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers who spearheaded the NFL protests during the National Anthem, has signed a $1 million book deal with Random House imprint One World.

    The Wall Street Journal editorial board has accused Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party of colluding with the Russians.

    Ron Chernow—the Pulitzer-winning author of Alexander Hamilton, the biography on which the blockbuster Broadway musical is based—talks about his new book about the life and times of the US general and president (and drunkard) Ulysses S. Grant.

  • October 27, 2017

    The Environmental Protection Agency has accused the New York Times of writing “elitist clickbait trying to attack qualified professionals committed to serving their country.” The comment was in response to Eric Lipton’s story, “Why Has the E.P.A. Shifted on Toxic Chemicals? An Industry Insider Helps Call the Shots.” The spokesperson who sent the message, Liz Bowman, had previously been employed at the American Chemistry Council, a trade association for chemical companies. She told Erik Wemple that she is happy to cooperate with reporters, but feels that Lipton is biased: “There are a lot of reporters at the New York Times that we are happy to work with. In this particular case, it was clear that Lipton was acting on behalf of other officials with an ax to grind. It was clear he was not going to change his mind and certainly would not produce a balanced story.” The Times is giving readers a chance to decide for themselves, if they’re willing to wade through a lot of paperwork: the publication posted 374 pages of annotated reporting notes for the story, including answers from Bowman to reporters’ detailed questions.  

    HBO and Penguin Press are both cancelling projects with Mark Halperin in the wake of sexual harassment allegations by five women. Halperin is also resigning from his job as a political analyst for MSNBC.

    Jennifer Egan

    Jennifer Eagan, whose new book, Manhattan Beach, takes place in the years before and during World War II, tells the Dallas News about one advantage to writing historical fiction: “I think part of what appealed to me about writing about the ’30s and ’40s was the idea of just eliminating technology in the form that I’m often obsessed. It was wonderful to just get rid of it.”

     

    As part of New York magazine’s fiftieth-anniversary issue, Christian Lorentzen writes about New York literary parties and shares what he’s learned over the years: “Never go to a networking event. Poetry readings are either the best or the worst things. You can skip any book party because they only happen once, they end too soon, and there’s no narrative to them, especially if you’re not there. . . . The best way to befriend famous people is to have no idea who they are.”

    More than 6,000 letters written by Marcel Proust will be posted online next year.

    Tonight at Book Culture in Manhattan, Brit Bennett reads from his debut novel, The Mothers

  • October 26, 2017

    Margaret Atwood. Photo: George Whiteside

    Margaret Atwood’s book Alias Grace will be a Netflix miniseries written and produced by Sarah Polley. The show will premiere on November 3rd and follows the successful adaptation of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which won an Emmy for best drama this year. Atwood told the New York Times, “No one else would’ve asked me to do this but Sarah Polley. . . . Both Sarah and I are interested in what is true and what is not true. I think she liked that a lot of my films have characters crossed with madness. And she knew I wouldn’t try to make ‘Downton Abbey.’” Atwood also hinted that at least two more adaptations of her books may be on the way, but wouldn’t give any further details, saying, “We will not talk about them until they’re real.”

    Republican Senator Jeff Flake’s book Conscience of a Conservative has gotten a big sales bump after his speech on Tuesday in which he strongly criticized the president and said he wouldn’t run for reelection.

    Elizabeth Bruenig is joining the Washington Post Opinions section as a staff writer and editor.

    Longreads has an excerpt of Richard Lloyd Parry’s harrowing new book, Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone, which details the 2011 emergency and its aftermath: “I met a priest in northern Japan who exorcised the spirits of people who had drowned in the tsunami. The ghosts did not appear in large numbers until autumn of that year, but Reverend Kaneta’s first case of possession came to him after less than a fortnight.”

    Tonight at the Center for Fiction, Barbara Browning will read from her recent book, The Gift, present video art related to her fiction, and meet with audience members.

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