• November 12, 2014

    The Awl announces a redesign and asks for submissions. They’re looking for stuff about “architecture; urbanism (but not the dull, aggravating kind); interesting pieces or works of criticism about movies, books, television, or music that are not simply reviews or recaps or RED HOT TAKES; observed non-fiction; offbeat works about fashion and style; stories about places and cities and towns that aren’t New York (and also that are) and the people living in them that would work wonderfully in an alt-weekly; labor and capital and activism(!);videogames because why not; food and drink; history, personal or otherwise; c r i m e; genderand race and sex (just not from white men); THE MEDIA and writing too; science, death,your breakup, spacetime and/or faith, dogs, bears, whatever.”

    At the New Yorker, Richard Brody praises a newly released John Coltrane album, Offering: Live at Temple University, which was recorded in 1966, a few months before Coltrane died, and on which the saxophonist plays in his late period, free-jazz style. Brody has no patience for those Coltrane fans, like Geoff Dyer, who prefer Trane’s more accessible playing. As Brody puts it, “Dyer is so bound to his own idea of what jazz is, and to its popular and classical roots, that he can’t hear the ideas of one of its greatest creator.” Dyer, for his part, hears in Coltrane’s free explorations not a yearning spirituality, as it is often described, but rather “the momentum of what he’d done before—and a situation he’d helped to create—carrying him towards a terminus, a brick wall, a dead-end or, in the cosmic scheme of things, some kind of interstellar void.”

    Tonight, at Housing Works in Manhattan, Bomb launches its new anthology, The Author Interviews. The book features a great number of interesting conversational pairings, including Sharon Olds and Amy Hempel, Paula Fox and Lynne Tillman, andRachel Kushner and Hari Kunzru. At least a few of these writers, we assume, will be in attendance.

    Jonah Lehrer

    Jonah Lehrer

    Jonah Lehrer, disgraced in 2012 for self-plagiarism and the apparent invention of a handful of quotes he attributed to Bob Dylan, has a new book deal. The Penguin Random House imprint Portfolio has announced it will publish The Digital Mind: How We Think and Behave Differently on Screens, which Lehrer will co-write with Shlomo Benartzi, a UCLA professor who studies behavior and decision-making. Of his decision to collaborate with Lehrer, Benartzi said, “I am sympathetic toward people who make mistakes.” Lehrer is also working on a book about love for Simon & Schuster.

    Tim Parks’s ongoing series of posts about reading, on the NYRB blog, sounds dull but isn’t. In his latest, he asks why we ought to read new books.

    New Yorker editor Nicholas Thompson explains how the magazine arrived at the number six when deciding the number of articles readers would see for free with the new paywall system.

  • November 11, 2014

    The New Yorker is instating a paywall today, after months of offering everything in the magazine for free. Readers will have access to six free articles a month, after which they will need to subscribe. Anything on the website will count towards the six, in effect erasing the distinction (and implicit hierarchy) between ‘web’ pieces and ‘magazine’ pieces, and providing an incentive for the magazine to make all its content equally good.

    POLITICO has launched a new website, with four feature stories on its homepage, and a “fully responsive” design that will work on any platform.

    The December issue of Wired, out at the end of November, has been guest-edited by Christopher Nolan. The theme: “Time, Space, and Multiple Dimensions.” The regular editors seem a bit star-struck: “Talking with Nolan, one other thing that became abundantly clear is his formidable intellectual curiosity, which ranges from history to mathematics to physics—he even refers to the structure and rule sets of his films as their “geometry.” . . . Our conversations ranged from the famous 1886 book Flatland, about life in a two-dimensional world, to the reasons nothing can travel faster than light.” Next week will be “Christopher Nolan week” on Wired’s website.

    Yesterday Obama released a statement about “net neutrality,” arguing that internet service providers should be treated like public utilities and regulated accordingly. The Washington Post has a Q&A with Columbia law professor Tim Wu, who first coined the phrase. And at the Awl, John Herrman attempts a simple definition: net neutrality, he says, “is the idea that there ought to be laws that prevent the large, monopolistic companies that sell internet access from charging different rates for different parts of the internet, either by asking customers to pay extra to access, say, YouTube, or by asking YouTube/Google to pay some sort of fee itself.” This was in reaction to Republican senator Ted Cruz’s tweet that net neutrality “is Obamacare for the Internet.”

    Hachette has embraced open-plan offices. When the publisher recently moved to a new space (to avoid higher rents at its old location), it abolished all private offices in favor of cubicles. “Pink noise” is piped in to reduce distraction, and employees have access to handful of conference rooms called “quiet cars.”

  • November 10, 2014

    Ed Park—novelist, cofounder of the Believer, and Bookforum contributor—has left his position as the editor of Amazon’s imprint Little A to become the executive editor of Penguin Press. Reporting on recent party thrown by Amazon at the New Museum, Boris Kachka argues that Park’s departure constitutes “another blow” to Amazon’s credibility as a publisher.

    B14cJ-gCUAE4ApjIn 1998, Stephen Glass was found to have fabricated many of the stories he had written for the New Republic (a scandal that was later dramatized in the film Shattered Glass). Tomorrow, according to a tweet by New Republic executive editor Rachel Morris, the magazine will publish Glass once again. The article is titled “Hello, My Name Is Stephen Glass, and I Am Sorry.”

    A manuscript of Georges Perec’s novel Portrait of a Man, long thought to be lost, was recently discovered. Perec is perhaps best known for writing A Void, a novel that avoids using the letter “e.” Even with this in mind, Portrait of a Man, says David Bellos at the Guardian, is “quite strange.” It will be published this week.

    Flavorwire names five new (or newish) literary magazines to watch, including Freeman’s, the latest project of author and editor John Freeman (formerly of Granta), and TheButter, a collaboration between Roxane Gay and editors of TheToast.

    On Friday, Reuters announced that it will no longer run comments sections in news stories. Says Reuters executive editor Dan Colarusso, “We value conversation about the news, but the idea of comments on a website must give way to new realities of behavior in the marketplace. The best place for this conversation is where it is open to the largest number of participants possible.” Colarusso points out that Facebook and Twitter are now better suited for these conversations, and suggests that this is in part due to the aggressive nastiness and hatred of some commenters on news sites. Facebook and Twitter, he notes, “offer vibrant conversation and, importantly, are self-policed by participants to keep on the fringes those who would abuse the privilege of commenting.”

  • November 7, 2014

    The 2014 Dylan Thomas award, which comes with a £30,000 cash prize, has been given to Joshua Ferris for his novel To Rise Again at a Decent Hour. The award goes to any thirty-nine-year-old playwright, novelist, or poet. 

    Twitter has plans to open an office in Hong Kong in early 2015. The office will mainly house sales staff, charged with working with advertisers, especially Chinese companies “looking to go global.” Seventy-seven percent of Twitter users are outside of the US, but only 34 percent of the company’s revenue has international origins. Twitter hasn’t been allowed in China since 2009. 

    At Vanity Fair, a long piece from Keith Gessen on the Amazon conflict. “The size of the self-publishing program alone within Amazon is already so large,” Gessen reports, that “some believe that statistics about book publishing in general can no longer be trusted. Some huge and growing part of the market is simply unaccounted for.”

    The beloved DC bookstore Politics and Prose will open mini-stores in all but one of the six Busboys and Poets restaurants.

    Is Banksy a woman?

    Matt Bissonnette, the former Navy SEAL who wrote a book about the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed, is suing his lawyers. The Justice Department conducted a criminal probe after the book, No Easy Deal (2012), was published (it appears under the pseudonym Mark Owen). Bissonnette blames his “tarnished reputation” on the lawyers’ failure to advise him to submit the book to governmental agencies for pre-publication review. He also blames them for having to give up most of the book’s proceeds, losses that, he claims, will amount to close to $8 million.

  • November 6, 2014

    St. Martin’s Press has bought a debut novel by Stephanie Clifford, a New York Times reporter, for seven figures. The book, Everybody Rise, describes a young woman’s social and professional striving in 2006-era Manhattan.

    Jian Ghomeshi has lost his book deal with Penguin Random House Canada, in the wake of allegations of violent sexual assault on eight women he has been involved with. He’s also lost his job, his agent, his PR firm, and his crisis management firm.

    Snapchat is in talks with Buzzfeed, Comedy Central, Time, National Geographic, Spotify, Vice, and others about “Discover,” a proposed section of the app that will offer content from media companies.

    Rozalia Jovanovic

    Rozalia Jovanovic

    At the New Yorker, Deborah Treisman interviews Richard Ford. About his urge to write his most recent novel, Ford says, “Although I don’t believe in souls, I do believe in something kicking somewhere that becomes a call to language.” He says he owes Updike his temerity to write more than one book about his character Frank Bascombe: “If John hadn’t written the Rabbit books I might not have thought (as his contemporary) that three, then four, books about a real-estate salesman in New Jersey could be plausible.”

    Rozalia Jovanovic is the new executive editor of Artnet News.

  • November 5, 2014

    The Virginia-based conservative website the Independent Journal Review—a cross between RedState and Buzzfeed, according to one of the site’s advisors—is becoming increasingly popular. Its traffic—about 24 million unique visitors per month— outstrips that of the Drudge Report and Breitbart News, and the founders are proud of drawing more readers with fewer stories than other similar websites. In August the IJReview received 14 million Facebook shares for 646 articles, while the Huffington Post published thirty-eight times as many articles for only four times as many shares. The founders credit “putting the right content in front of the right audience.”

    Find Me I’m Yours, a new e-book by Hillary Carlip, borrows marketing strategies usually reserved for movies and TV: In exchange for copious references to Sweet’N Low, the artificial sweetener’s manufacturer, Cumberland Packing Corporation, “invested” $1.3 million in the book. Find Me I’m Yours is an “interactive multimedia narrative,” with links to original videos and websites mentioned in the storyline embedded throughout the e-book.

    At Hazlitt, Karl Ove Knausgaard talks about recreating his childhood memories for My Struggle, his work translating the Bible into Norwegian, and, in a clear-cut case of lede-burying, casually mentions that he’s written a five-hundred page book about the World Cup.

    At New York magazine, Andrew Rice profiles eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who poured $250 million into First Look Media last year. “Omidyar’s organization operates a little like WikiLeaks, except it is staffed by well-salaried journalists and backed by Silicon Valley money,” Rice writes. “It aims to unite strident ideology with publishing technology, cryptography, and aggressive legal defense.” Rice quotes Glenn Greenwald, one of the founders of First Look’s “prototype” website the Intercept: “Back before this all happened, he just seemed like the normal, average, amicable billionaire.”

    Ann Patchett gently corrects a Times reviewer, who “mentions topics ranging from ‘her stabilizing second marriage to her beloved dog’ without benefit of comma, thus giving the impression that Sparky and I are hitched.” Patchett is not married to her pet: “He married a dog named Maggie at Parnassus Books last summer as part of a successful fund-raiser for the Nashville Humane Association. I am married to Karl VanDevender. We are all very happy in our respective unions.”

  • November 4, 2014

    Jill Abramson, the former Times executive editor, revealed more details of the media company she’s working on with journalist Steven Brill. Abramson says she’ll pay $100,000 advances (yes, you read that correctly) to writers so they can work on novella-length stories that will be featured online, with one new story appearing each month.

    At the Paris Review Daily, authors Michael McGriff and J. M. Tyree discuss their new book, Our Secret Life in the Movies, a book of short stories about the writers’ year spent watching the entire Criterion Collection together. “We were watching two or three movies a day, eating a lot of pizza, drinking a lot of sambuca,” Tyree says. “Our book evolved naturally from the feeling that movies and life seep together out there in the fog.”

    Each year, interns at the Los Angeles Review of Books publish their own edition, the LARB Intern Magazine.

    On the n+1 website, a short story (read: true-life tale) by Kaitlin Phillips, the millennial love-child of Renata Adler and Elaine Dundy. “Hanna Liden once told me, ‘I don’t like new faces.’ It was the first thing she said after we were introduced. She ignored me for the rest of dinner.” “Younger poets seem to be feeling a lot. Like quite often they say, ‘Sorry I didn’t email you I was dead inside of late but now is now now.'” Find “YOLO Ethics” here.

    Tom Magliozzi, right, with his brother Ray

    Tom Magliozzi, right, with his brother Ray

    Tom Magliozzi, one of the hosts of the long-running NPR show “Car Talk,” has died. He was seventy-seven.

    Condé Nast is moving from Times Square, where the company has lived for fifteen years, to the new World Trade Center building, where eighteen magazines will occupy 1.2 million square feet on twenty-four floors. The company’s law firm gets the highest floor in Condé Nast’s name, the forty-fourth. The New Yorker gets the thirty-eighth. New Yorker writers will now have to share offices with a colleague, the New York Times reports, and more desks will sit in open rooms.

  • November 3, 2014

    In a piece about the recently deceased Ben Bradlee, Bookforum editor Chris Lehmann describes the former WaPo editor’s memorial service and notes: “Part of what made the scene at the cathedral a bit harrowing in its palpable longing to continue worshiping the fallen editorial hero of the Watergate years is that today’s Washington Post is just a shadow of its former self.”

    At the Telegraph, Rupert Hawksley writes that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists—based on a Ted Talk she gave in 2012, “might just be the most important book you read all year.”

    Later this week, an exhibition of William S. Burroughs’s cut-ups will open at the Boo-Hooray gallery in New York. In addition to hand-edited drafts of pages from the Nova Trilogy, the show will feature Burroughs’s cut-ups—pages that the author cut, shuffled, and pasted to a page to achieve his singular nonlinear style.

    Cathy Park Hong

    Cathy Park Hong

    In a new essay called “Delusions of Whiteness,” Cathy Park Hong identifies the racist strains of avant-garde poetry, grapples with the challenging dilemmas that poets of color face, and recommends that writers chart new territory: “Fuck the avant-garde. We must hew our own path.”

    PEN America has launched a new website for First Editions/Second Thoughts, for which seventy-five authors and artists personally annotated their own books. Highlights include Philip Roth’s American Pastoral, Angela Davis’s If They Come in the Morning, John Ashbery’s The Tennis Court Oath, Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, Don DeLillo’s Underworld, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Ed Ruscha’s Past Stuff. Some of the handwritten annotations are quite elaborate, such as the ones on the TOC page of George Saunders’s Civilwarland in Bad Decline, which incorporates footnotes and various colors of ink. The works will be auctioned at Christie’s on December 2.


  • October 31, 2014

    Matt Taibbi

    Matt Taibbi

    The Intercept gives the backstory to Matt Taibbi’s recent departure from First Look (its parent company), describing his resignation as the result of “months of contentious disputes” that Taibbi had with Pierre Omidyar, Randy Ching, and John Temple (First Look’s founder, COO, and president, respectively). Taibbi had been hired to head Racket, which was conceived of as a satirical magazine, but problems arose over the “structure and management” of the site. According to Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill, and Jon Cook  (all are listed as authors on the story), the conflict has to do with a schism between executives who “come from a highly structured Silicon Valley corporate environment” and the “fiercely independent” journalists who are skeptical of that corporate culture and “management-speak.” The even profounder problem, it seems, is the question of how much autonomy the Intercept and Racket are to have, financially and in terms of their editorial content.

    When Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth leaves the company on October 1, the paper’s masthead will be 100 percent male.

    Joyce Carol Oates invited a round of Twitter scorn with her comments on a recent video of a woman getting catcalled around New York. In ten hours of walking, the woman received 100 catcalls. Oates chalked it up to the neighborhoods the woman was walking in. Twitter disagreed.

    The Baffler has left MIT Press, after three years with the publisher.

    The New York Times has added 44,000 digital subscribers this quarter. That’s the good news. The rest isn’t: Print circulation increased only infinitesimally; print advertising dropped 5 percent; and the paper experienced a net loss of $12.5 million.

  • October 30, 2014

    The poet Galway Kinnell died on Tuesday in Vermont. He was eighty-seven. Poetry, Kinnell said, “is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.” Read some of his poems at the Poetry Foundation.

    Galway Kinnell

    Galway Kinnell

    Knopf has signed a two-book, six-figure deal with Stephanie Danler, a thirty-year-old writer who managed to attract attention to the manuscript of her debut novel, Sweetbitter, by mentioning it to Peter Gethers—the editor-at-large of Penguin Random House who is a regular at the West Village restaurant where Danler works as a waitress (presumably not for long).

    George W. Bush will soon begin promoting 41, the book he’s written about his father, George H. W. Bush. Both CBS and NBC have interviews scheduled.

    “In order to be tragic, Humbert needs to convince us that he is a character of stature, not just a sordid abuser who takes a young girl on a sex tour of seedy American motels.” Guardian books editor Claire Armistead argues that Lolita’s Humbert Humbert is the “most seductive villain in fiction.” Yesterday The Guardian launched a redesign of its US website (which, for what its worth, subtly color-codes according to type of story: Features are dark pink, opinion is orange, video is yellow).

    Kathryn Schulz at New York magazine has compiled “Your Complete Ebola-Quarantine Reading Guide.”

    Two more bookstores in New York City are closing: the Posman Books in Grand Central Station and a Barnes & Noble in Queens.