• September 16, 2013

    Public intellectual, writer, Times Square expert, and longtime Dissent contributor Marshall Berman died in New York last week at the age of 72. Todd Gitlin summed up Berman, whose books include All That Is Solid Melts into Air, as a “master lyric-analytic Marxist, defiant chronicler of cities, activist, sage, dear friend.”

    Harper’s will never, ever post its content for free on the internet, says publisher John MacArthur in a three-page statement in the latest issue of the magazine.

    David Mitchell’s next book is “about an immortal being that gets reincarnated as different men and women.”

    In his book Into the Wild, about a young man’s fateful journey into the Alaskan wilderness, Jon Krakauer speculated that Christopher McCandless died in 1993 after mistakenly eating the poisonous seeds of the wild sweet pea. The debate over whether this is true continues, and at the New Yorker’s Pageturner blog, Krakauer himself weighs in.

    How did mass-market fiction go from Harold Robbins and Mario Puzo to James Patterson and Dean Koontz? Mark Brand considers the declining quality of supermarket fiction over the past several decades.url

    Jonathan Franzen goes after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in an essay for the Guardian about the corrosive effects of the internet on literary culture: “In my own little corner of the world, which is to say American fiction, Jeff Bezos of Amazon may not be the antichrist, but he surely looks like one of the four horsemen. Amazon wants a world in which books are either self-published or published by Amazon itself, with readers dependent on Amazon reviews in choosing books, and with authors responsible for their own promotion.”

    Elissa Schappel says that the thing she likes least about being a writer is the fact that so many writers feel entitled to complain about their job: “This tendency to whine is one I share with many of my people. Writers seem to think that by virtue of intellect or sensitivity that we suffer more than others, that the work we do is more necessary than other work. This idea is not only ridiculous, it’s shameful.”

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