• May 31, 2017

    Francesco Pacifico

    Francesco Pacifico talks to Adam Thirlwell about translating his his new novel, Class. Pacifico is translating the new book into English himself, which he says has given him a chance to rewrite the original. “I’d gained enough distance from Class to realize the Italian version hadn’t been properly edited—there were a lot of moral asperities that I had to tone down because it was a crazily bleak book,” he said. “Now my Italian editor and I think we should publish the new version as a paperback.”

    At Hazlitt, Elizabeth Strout discusses politics, stand-up comedy, and her new book, Anything is Possible.

    BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti stands by his company’s decision to publish an unverified intelligence dossier on Donald Trump, and says he plans to “vigorously defend” the website in the resulting defamation lawsuit.

    The Ringer is the latest web publication to leave hosting platform Medium. The sports and culture site will be moving to Vox Media later this summer. Creator Bill Simmons will retain ownership and editorial independence, while Vox will assist in ad sales and share profits.

    Four more editorial employees of The Observer were fired yesterday, including Dana Schwartz, the author of last year’s open letter to owner Jared Kushner. Other laid off employees include a culture writer, a managing editor, and “a business and tech editor who was hired only in the past month.” The website has yet to fill the editor in chief position after the resignation of Ken Kurson last week.

    The Atlantic’s Rosie Gray looks at the challenges faced by former White House communications director Mike Dubke, whose recent resignation was made public yesterday. As a low-profile, establishment Republican, writes Gray, “Dubke never cut much of a figure in a White House populated with outsize personalities and animated by factionalism and conflict.” But Republican strategist Katie Packer Beeson says that there were other reasons for his short tenure. “The best communications director in the business is no match for a boss who thinks they know better, changes their mind and struggles with the truth,” she told Gray. “This is an impossible job and no amount of compensation in the world would make it worth taking.”

  • May 30, 2017

    Al Franken

    At the New Yorker, Jill Lepore looks at a new (and newly relevant) batch of dystopian novels.

    In his new book, Giant of the Senate, Al Franken recalls likening Ted Cruz to “a Carnival cruise” (and noting that both are “full of shit”). Cruz has responded: “Al is trying to sell books and apparently he’s decided that being obnoxious and insulting me is good for causing liberals to buy his books… I wish him all the best.”

    Philip Pullman has offered a glimpse of his forthcoming novel The Book of Dust, which is meant to serve as a companion to his bestselling trilogy of “His Dark Materials” novels. You can read an excerpt from the book (which will be released on October 19) here.

    Benjamin Anastas explains why American journalist Martha Gellhorn’s A Stricken Field, an account of the 1938 refugee crisis in Prague, continues to be “essential reading for today.”

    At the Los Angeles Times, David L. Ulin has written an eloquent appreciation of the novelist Denis Johnson, who died last week. And at the New Yorker, Tobias Wolff recalls Johnson’s generosity, and Philip Gourevitch honors the novelist’s “ecstatic American voice.” 

    The new issue of Bookforum is out now.

  • May 26, 2017

    Denis Johnson

    Jesus’ Son author Denis Johnson died yesterday at the age of 67. The news was announced by Farrar, Straus and Giroux publisher Jonathan Galassi. “Denis was one of the great writers of his generation,” Galassi said. “He wrote prose with the imaginative concentration and empathy of the poet he was.”

    The collection of O. Henry Prize Stories for 2017 will be published by Anchor next September. The anthology was edited by Laura Furman and includes stories by Michelle Huneven, Alan Rossi, and more.

    Entertainment and culture writer Ira Madison III is leaving MTV News for the Daily Beast. New York magazine’s Lauren Kern has been hired as the first editor in chief of Apple News. Ken Kurson has resigned from his position as editor in chief of The Observer.

    Polis Books founder and publisher Jason Pinter is self-publishing a novel. “I wrote this book during the insanity of the election campaign,” he told Publisher’s Weekly, “and I wanted it out right now, not in 18 months [which is the usual publishing cycle]. I knew I would need to do it myself.” The Castle will be released on June 26.

    The New York Times details the increasingly violent treatment of journalists in the first months of Trump’s presidency. After Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte body-slammed a reporter the night before his election, the Times asks, “In this time of intense partisanship, shiv-in-the-kidney politics and squabbles over the meaning of truth, can Americans come together and agree that a politician slamming a journalist to the ground for asking a question is wrong? The answer, it turns out, is no.”

    At Electric Literature, Rebecca Makkai reviews the new American Writers Museum in Chicago, and asks, “How can we represent four hundred years of American literary history in a way that doesn’t reinforce the unfortunate hierarchies of those four hundred years?”


  • May 25, 2017

    Amazon’s first bookstore in New York opens today at Columbus Circle. The “physical extension of Amazon.com” uses customer behavior to choose which books to stock. “We incorporate data about what people read, how they read it and why they read it,” said Amazon Books vice president Jennifer Cast. The New York Times reports that reactions to the new store are conflicted. “I’m happy there’s a new store where people can see books and encounter them, but I’d rather we were in there,” said Book Culture owner Chris Doeblin. “If I had the money, I would go and open a store right next to Jeff Bezos’s store.”

    Advertisers are dropping Sean Hannity’s show over his continued reporting on the death of DNC staffer Seth Rich.

    Sex Object author Jessica Valenti has been hired as a contributing editor at Marie Claire’s website. Valenti will write a weekly column and help the magazine increase their politics coverage.

    Dating app Grindr has hired Zach Stafford as the editor in chief of its online magazine, Into. Stafford, who has previously worked for The Guardian and Out, plans to hire reporters and increase the site’s serious news coverage.

    Maggie Haberman

    At Elle, Rachael Combe profiles Times reporter Maggie Haberman. Working at New York tabloids for a decade has given Haberman her expertise in the “Trump psyche,” Combe writes. “She was accumulating sources who were close to Trump, who knew when he was angry and what he watched on TV and how he could only sleep well in his own bed.” But Haberman doesn’t always appreciate the outside scrutiny of her connection to president, such as David Remnick’s assertion that Trump is her “ardent, twisted suitor.” “I didn’t care for that metaphor,” Haberman said. “No one suggests her male colleagues are ‘wooing’ Trump,” Combe adds.

    Tonight, at the Greenlight Bookstore Lefferts, Emily Gould talks to Barbara Browning about her new book, The Gift.

  • May 24, 2017

    Phong Bui

    Over a dozen staff and board members resigned from the Brooklyn Rail late last week. Although the departing editorial team has not commented on their reasons for leaving, cofounder and current artistic director Phong Bui told ArtNet that the departures were necessary for the future of the magazine. “It’s like a marriage that that has gone wrong,” he said. “It is better that the father and the mother part ways.”

    Elisabeth Moss is working on a television adaptation of Mary Beth Keane’s novel Fever, which tells the story of Typhoid Mary. Moss will produce and star in the limited series.

    Former James Bond actor Roger Moore, who died yesterday at the age of 89, had turned in the manuscript for his last book two weeks earlier. The still-untitled project does not have a release date, publisher Michael O’Mara said that the book chronicles Moore’s experience with aging. “A suitable subject for a man in his 90th year,” he said.

    The Washingtonian profiles Breitbart Washington editor Matt Boyle, “a human Molotov cocktail against the political establishment.”

    The family of murdered Democratic National Committee staff member Seth Rich has written a letter to Sean Hannity’s executive producer, asking him to stop promoting conspiracy theories around Rich’s death. Police are investigating Rich’s death as a robbery, but right-wing media believe Rich sent internal DNC emails to Wikileaks, and that his murder was “retribution for the supposed leak.” Fox News has retracted their latest story about the case, but Hannity has said that he will continue his investigation. “These are questions that I have a moral obligation to ask,” he said. “All you in the liberal media—I am not Fox.com or FoxNews.com. I retracted nothing.”

  • May 23, 2017

    Jann Wenner. Photo: Albert Chau

    Journalist Joe Hagan is writing a biography of Rolling Stone founding editor Jann Wenner. The book will be based on interviews with Wenner and his many celebrity friends, including Mick Jagger, Yoko Ono, and Bruce Springsteen. Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine will be published by Knopf next October.

    LitHub talks to Ian Buruma, the incoming editor of the New York Review of Books. “A jewel has been dropped into my lap,” he said of his new job. “My task is to keep it bright and shining.”

    Foreign Policy editor and CEO David Rothkopf has left the magazine. Sources suggest the departure is related to conflicts between Rothkopf’s editorial job and his work as the head of advisory firm Garten Rothkopf.

    Yahoo News profiles Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee who is rumored to be in the running for press secretary Sean Spicer’s job.

    Far-right conspiracy website InfoWars received temporary White House press credentials yesterday for the second time this year. Business Insider’s Maxwell Tani explains that the day-long credentials, “which are far easier to receive and viewed as less prestigious than a permanent pass,” were issued on a day when neither the president or press secretary would be at the White House. But, Tani notes, “Monday wasn’t the first time an InfoWars reporter attended a press briefing, nor is it likely to be the last.”

    Monica Lewinsky reflects on the death of Roger Ailes, who used news coverage of her affair with President Bill Clinton to turn Fox News into the number one cable news channel. “The irony of Mr. Ailes’s career at Fox—that he harnessed a sex scandal to build a cable juggernaut and then was brought down by his own—was not lost on anyone who has been paying attention,” Lewinsky writes. Poynter reports that three more discrimination lawsuits have been filed against the network this week.

  • May 22, 2017

    Guy Trebay

    Guy Trebay remembers the exquisite parties thrown by editor and author Jean Stein, the editor of Grand Street and the co-author of Edie: An American Biography, who died late last month. “At these parties one was as likely to encounter Warren Beatty as the Russian dissident poet Andrei Voznesensky. Among the guests were Tennessee Williams in boozy conversation with Truman Capote, Allen Ginsberg in knotty confabulation with John Cage, and Norman Mailer putting on a performance of knuckle-dragging machismo for the apparent benefit of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.”

    At The Guardian, Maggie Nelson talks about the second life of her book The Red Parts, and describes the ways in which her work has been misunderstood the first time around. The Argonauts, for instance, was “turned down initially by people [ie publishers] saying it was too academic.” Nelson goes on to note that there’s something “heartening” about the fact that her books have gone on to find an audience, despite publishers’ initial doubts. “I’ve always believed that, in a way, you invent your own readers—and that people can read more complicated books than they’re given credit for.”

    The PEN Center USA has named its new board members: The Black List founder Franklin Leonard, author David L. Ulin, Coast magazine editor Samantha Dunn, and author-filmmaker Amir Soltani.

    Politico ponders the question: “Should the Washington Post have withheld sensitive details about an ISIS bomb plot” when it broke the story that President Trump had revealed classified information to the Russians?

    The Ringer includes Dennis Lim’s critical study David Lynch: The Man from Another Place on its helpful list of films, music, and books to revisit in anticipation of the premiere of the new season of Twin Peaks.

  • May 19, 2017

    The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard has released an analysis of news coverage of Trump’s first one hundred days in office. The report found that Trump received three times as much news coverage as previous presidents in their first months in office, and that the overwhelmingly negative attention set “a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president.”

    Trump is considering a decrease in the amount of time Press Secretary Sean Spicer spends on camera. Sources told Politico that “the briefings have become one of the most dreaded parts of the president’s day,” and that the president “doesn’t want Spicer, who has developed a belligerent persona from behind the podium, publicly defending and explaining the message anymore.”

    Former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes’s death yesterday may complicate legal matters at the network. The company is under a federal investigation and is facing numerous discrimination lawsuits.

    Heather Dietrick. Photo: Victor Jeffreys

    Heather Dietrick has been hired as the new president and publisher of the Daily Beast. Dietrick was most recently the president of Gawker Media, where she assisted Nick Denton with the company’s legal battle with Hulk Hogan.

    Jeffrey Tambor talks to the New York Times’s “By the Book” section about his Los Angeles bookstore, libraries, and writing a memoir. Tambor said that he had been reading other actors’ memoirs, but that he didn’t find them useful for writing his own book. “Absolutely no help,” he said, “except producing a serious amount of awe and envy.”

    The Times observes a Naples casting call for the television adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend. The show’s producers are searching for two sets of child actors to play eight- and fifteen-year-old versions of the main characters, Lila and Lenú, as well as “a large ‘Annie’-esque supporting cast of hard-knock lifers.”

    At the New Yorker, Jia Tolentino mourns the death of the personal essay, a genre that once defined internet writing and is now rarely published. The genre was both women-dominated and poorly-paid, a fact that felt exploitative to many writers and editors. And after the 2016 election, writes Tolentino, using personal feelings to discuss broader issues feels particularly irrelevant. “Put simply, the personal is no longer political in quite the same way that it was,” she writes. “Many profiles of Trump voters positioned personal stories as explanations for a terrible collective act; meanwhile, Clinton’s purported reliance on identity politics has been heavily criticized. Individual perspectives do not, at the moment, seem like a trustworthy way to get to the bottom of a subject.”

  • May 18, 2017

    Ian Buruma

    Ian Buruma has been named the editor of the New York Review of Books. Buruma has been contributing to the magazine since the 1980s, and is taking over for founding editor Robert Silvers, who died earlier this year.

    The Walrus editor Jonathan Kay has resigned after “expressing dismay” over the departure of Write magazine editor Hal Niedzviecki, who stepped down last week amid criticism of his recent column on cultural appropriation. On Twitter, Kay wrote that while he did not object to Niedzviecki’s firing, he did object to “the shaming, the manifestos, the creepy confession rituals.” In an appearance on CBC, he noted that while he agreed that there needed to be more focus on the rights of writers of color to call out appropriation, “it doesn’t help the debate when you take one side and cast them all as a bunch of racists.”

    Unwanted Advances author Laura Kipnis is being sued by one of the pseudonymous students featured in her book. Filed as Jane Doe, the student’s suit alleges that Kipnis’s book misrepresents her relationship with the professor and has “significantly harmed” her reputation.

    Get Out writer and director Jordan Peele is working on a TV show for HBO. Based on Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country, the show will focus on a young man’s journey through the Jim Crow South.

    The shortlist for the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing was announced earlier this week. The selected authors include Lesley Nneka Arimah for her New Yorker short story, “Who Will Greet You At Home,” and Magogodi Makhene for “The Virus,” originally published in the Harvard Review. The winner will be announced in July.

    Tochi Onyebuchi talks to Exit West author Mohsin Hamid about democracy, migration, and writing as a political act. Hamid traces the origin of his novel to the recent increase in anti-immigrant sentiment worldwide. “As someone who has often migrated myself—at the age of three, I went to California; back to Pakistan at nine; back to America at eighteen; Britain at thirty; then back to Pakistan in my late thirties—I feel it almost personally.” Hamid also notes that the current political tension worldwide has changed the literary conversation over the purpose of novels. “Preoccupations with the form as form and with the privileging of a question of authenticity to myself and fiction versus non-fiction may not seem as pressing as concerns at a time when you have to worry about whether the state is marginalizing entire groups of human beings and whether democracy will still exist in ten years,” he said.

    At the New Yorker, Rebecca Mead profiles Gerhard Steidl, the printer and publisher of Steidl. Mead chronicles Steidl’s meticulous process for creating books, which involves flying photographers to Germany at least three times, where they are required to stay in “Steidlville,” the guesthouse next door to the factory and office. Steidl is involved in every decision that goes into the book—from how many types of black ink to use to which type of endpapers to use—and prizes quality over cost efficiency. “Using the cheaper one saves significant money for the shareholders,” he told Mead. “But I am the only shareholder.”

  • May 17, 2017

    The Guardian examines Facebook’s new tools for debunking fake news, and finds that they may be having the opposite effect. After the fact-checking system labeled an article about Irish slavery as fake news, readers of the article increased rather than decreased. Christian Winthrop, editor of the website that published the article, said that the “disputed” label actually encouraged free-speech proponents to share the article more widely: “A bunch of conservative groups grabbed this and said, ‘Hey, they are trying to silence this blog–share, share, share.”

    The Bay Area News Group reports that Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle is in talks to replace Sean Spicer as press secretary. Guilfoyle was a candidate for the position after the election, and has worked with Trump in the past.

    At The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance talks with Liz Spayd about her work as the New York Times’s public editor. Spayd says that her main job is to listen to Times readers, even if she doesn’t always agree with what they have to say. “If you have a child, you listen to that child,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you agree.”

    Tina Brown

    Bravo will air a limited series about Anna Wintour and Tina Brown. Based on Thomas Maier’s Newhouse, the six-episode follows the two editors as they “fight their way to the top of a male-dominated industry driven by greed and betrayal [and] find new paths to change the world around them—Tina, through the intersection of high-culture and celebrity, and Anna with a gut instinct for high fashion and emerging talent.”

    Amid rumors that BuzzFeed plans to become a publicly-traded company, Hamilton Nolan implores the website’s employees to unionize before that happens. Nolan writes that as the largest non-union publication left, BuzzFeed’s unionization could help the media field become a “union industry.” “BuzzFeed employees would not just be helping themselves by organizing,” he writes. “They would be helping to raise the standards for everyone else in the industry, and for thousands of future online media people who will enter our industry in years to come.”