• May 21, 2018

    Book deals this week: Chris Fanz, a former member of the Talking Heads, sold his memoir Remain in Love to St. Martin’s Press; and Megan Angelo, a journalist and former contributing editor to Glamour, sold her debut novel, which has been described as a combination of Station Eleven and Black Mirror, to Graydon House for a reported six figures.

    Barbara Ehrenreich

    Barbara Ehrenreich

    Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of Nickeled and Dimed, has written a book about why she, at seventy-six, will not seek any preventative medical treatments, like cancer screenings and checkups. In Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, she writes that she is now “old enough to die,” and that she won’t be wasting any time at the doctor’s office. “I decided that I was also old enough not to incur any more suffering, annoyance, or boredom in the pursuit of a longer life.”

    The Guardian tries to predict the “next Elena Ferrante” in an article spotlighting the best new European fiction.

    The Paris Review has posted its 1991 interview with Tom Wolfe, in which the author, who died at eighty-eight last week, talks about his experiences while working at newspapers, his novel Bonfire of the Vanities, his earliest influence (Emil Ludwig’s biography of Napoleon), and his critics (“Dwight Macdonald once wrote that reading me, with all these exclamation points, was like reading Queen Victoria’s diaries. He was so eminent at the time, I felt crushed”).

    Chanel lip color, Cleveland Cavaliers jerseys, Wayne Koestenbaum’s Orange Marmalade: At New York magazine, novelist Rachel Kushner names nine things she “can’t live without.”

  • May 18, 2018

    Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon are editing an anthology to commemorate the centennial of the American Civil Liberties Union. The still-untitled book—which includes essays and stories from Marlon James, Jesmyn Ward, Colson Whitehead, Hanya Yanagihara, and more—will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2020.

    Sergio De La Pava. Photo: Sharon Daniels

    At Literary Hub, Michael Ondaatje lists the books that he continues to reread.

    Tobias Carroll talks to Sergio De La Pava about rich people, football, and trying to write a topical novel. “The novel’s never going to be good at dealing with that kind of topicality,” De La Pava explained. “Events are constantly going to be feeding your ability to produce the work. What I’m looking for before I start the project is soil where things can grow. I’m looking for things like that, that are rich enough that for several years I’m going to be able to entertain myself, which is always my first goal.”

    Journalist Ben Doherty reflects on the ways that fiction and storytelling have impacted his reporting and how he views the truth. “As communities, our stories unite us, bringing us together to belong to something larger than ourselves,” he writes. “They tell us who we are and what we value. They are the foundation stones of our identity, of how we understand our place in the world.”

    Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo goes inside NBC to take a look at how executives are handling the news about Ronan Farrow’s upcoming book, Catch and Kill. News of the book has piqued employees’ curiosity about exactly why NBC decided to pass on Farrow’s Harvey Weinstein reporting and about just what Farrow will discuss. “The bottom line,” Pompeo writes, “is that it will bring an embarrassing episode back into the headlines regardless of what new insight Farrow reveals or how damaging it looks.”

  • May 17, 2018

    Saraciea J. Fennell

    At the New York Times, Concepción de León reports on the upcoming Bronx Book Festival, organized by Saraciea J. Fennell. A publicist for Tor Books and a Bronx native, Fennell says she was inspired to create the festival after attending a similar event in Brooklyn. “I thought to myself, ‘This is amazing,’” she recalled. “‘Why doesn’t the Bronx have something like this?’” The event will be held this Saturday at Fordham Plaza.

    The O. Henry Prize Stories for 2018 have been announced. The selected works will be anthologized in a collection, which will be published this fall by Anchor.

    Peter Kafka has been named executive editor of Recode. Kara Swisher, Kafka’s predecessor, will remain with the website as editor at large.

    The New York Times has appointed Paul Fishleder to lead the paper’s new political investigations unit, which will cover a range of topics related to the 2018 and 2020 elections.

    Scott Indrisek’s cats interview The Female Persuasion author Meg Wolitzer for The Believer.

    At the Times Literary Supplement, Nathalie Olah talks to Bret Easton Ellis about #MeToo, David Foster Wallace, and social media’s consensus culture. “I mean I talk about it on my podcast all the time. All the time, ad nauseum. People actually criticize me for it. Oh here we go again, Ellis talking about cultural appropriation and Hollywood straw men and liberal whatever,” he said. “People are hungry to hear someone talk about that. And I don’t think it’s particularly brave or noble but I’m shocked when I hear people say it is.

  • May 16, 2018

    Queer Eye fashion expert Tan France is writing a memoir, which will be published by St. Martin’s Press next year. The still-untitled book details France’s story of growing up as “one of the few people of color” in small-town Northern England and his “experience of coming out to his family” and “revealing to them that he is happily married to his partner of over 10 years, a self-described gay Mormon cowboy from Salt Lake City.”

    Michelle Tea

    Michiko Kakutani has released the cover and publication date of her upcoming book. The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump  will be published by Tim Duggan Books in July.

    Pittsburgh City Paper editor Charlie Deitch has been fired. In a series of Tweets, Deitch explained that decision was motivated by his refusal to stop writing about Representative Daryl Metcalfe, who is a client of the paper’s parent company.

    Lynne Tillman talks to David Ulin about the eight years she spent writing Men and Apparitions.

    At Literary Hub, Carley Moore talks to Michelle Tea about failure, and success, and Jack Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure. “I think celebrating failure actually does a lot to erode the whole concept,” Tea said. “We are all fish swimming in the waters of capitalism thinking this is all there is, this success and failure binary; it’s so ingrained in us that even the most woke among us carry huge blind spots. But our purpose isn’t to ‘succeed.’ I think our purpose, if we have one, absolutely encompasses the experience of failure and everything we get from that.”

     

  • May 15, 2018

    Tom Wolfe, the writer and reporter known for creating New Journalism in the 1960s, died yesterday in Manhattan. He was 87.

    New York Times reporter Scott Shane considers the difficulties of reporting on leaks during and after the 2016 election. Shane feels that while many leaks are newsworthy, relying on old methods of reporting aren’t sufficient for covering them. “For the most part, the 2016 stories based on the hacked Democratic emails revealed true and important things. . . . The problem was that Russian hackers chose not to deliver to American voters the same inside material from the Trump campaign,” he writes. “By counting on American reporters to follow their usual rules, the Kremlin hacked American journalism.”

    Michael Chabon

    Skyhorse is publishing Alan Dershowitz’s The Case Against Impeaching Trump this July.

    Pascale Petit has won the Ondaatje prize for her poetry collection, Mama Amazonica.

    The Outline’s Paris Martineau wonders if Facebook finally did “something right for once” with their recent changes to its news feed algorithm.

    At the Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan reflects on the numerous missteps by NBC in the past few months. From their handling of the internal investigation into Matt Lauer’s misconduct to their lack of support for Ronan Farrow’s reporting, some of the company’s recent decisions are affecting the network’s credibility. “A news organization’s reputation builds — or fades — over time,” Sullivan writes. “Does NBC really want to be seen as a place where stars are protected too vigorously, and where ratings and profits reign supreme?”

    Michael Chabon tells The Guardian that he doesn’t worry about how his children will feel when he writes about them by name. “Everything you write is drawn from the people you know,” he said. “You can do all this sweating and agonising about whether it’s going to embarrass them or make them angry and often it just sails right over them and they don’t even recognise that you’re talking about them.”

  • May 14, 2018

    Ronan Farrow

    Ronan Farrow

    Ronan Farrow, the Pulitzer-winning journalist who has written extensively about sexual misconduct for the New Yorker, has sold a book called Catch and Kill to Little, Brown. According to the publisher, the book is “a deeply personal story about a reporter grappling with how much to put on the line to protect the truth, and a story that expands our understanding of the forces in law, politics, and media that maintained a conspiracy of silence around Weinstein and other men in power committing gross abuses with impunity.”

    Director Ramin Bahrani, whose adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 begins airing on May 19, writes that Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel “is the book for our social-media age.” In that novel, Bradbury “imagined a world where people are entertained day and night by staring at giant wall screens in their homes. They interact with their ‘friends’ through these screens, listening to them via ‘Seashells’—Bradbury’s version of Apple’s wireless AirPods—inserted in their ears. In this world, people would be crammed ‘full of noncombustible data’—words to popular songs, the names of state capitals, the amount of ‘corn Iowa grew last year.’”

    Unit sales of print books fell 3 percent the first week in May, compared with figures from a year before. The biggest drop has been in adult fiction.

    BuzzFeed reports on new research into fake reviews on Amazon. Tommy Noonan, CEO of ReviewMeta, a site that analyzes Amazon listings, estimates that the site has approximately 250 million reviewers, a significant number of whom seem to be inauthentic. “Noonan’s website has collected 58.5 million of those reviews, and the ReviewMeta algorithm labeled 9.1 percent, or 5.3 million of the dataset’s reviews, as ‘unnatural.’”

    Peter Mayer—who, while he was at Viking Press, published The Satanic Verses—has died. “I was advised by many to live like a hunted man,” Mayer recalled in an oral history about the release of Salman Rushdie’s controversial novel, “and to change my address, change my car, move into a hotel.”

  • May 11, 2018

    The politics and news site Talking Points Memo is joining the Writers Guild of America East union. The site’s owner, Josh Marshall, wrote to his staff saying, “We have always strived to espouse and embody a belief in creating a society that is more equitable, just, humane and free. I believe this morning’s decision is consistent with those values and that history. I look forward to working together with the TPM Union to build on what we’ve already created together.” Over the past few years the union has successfully drafted many online media sites, including Vice, the Huffington Post, the Intercept, Salon, Slate, and more.     

    Medium will be ending the feature that allows websites that use the platform to charge for paid subscriptions. The sudden change has left online publications such as Electric Literature scrambling to cover the potential lost income.

    Sheila Heti

    Sheila Heti discusses her new book, Motherhood, about the choice to have children, freedom, writing, and regret: “If you say that, actually, having children is not going to be part of your life, then you have to in some way make up your own meaning. That’s definitely a unique existential position to be put in.”

    At Vox, Alexia Underwood looks at #MeToo in the literary world. Underwood writes, “It’s a moment long overdue for an industry in which women are the overwhelming majority of workers but men are often the coddled ‘geniuses’ with power.”

  • May 10, 2018

    The unrest at the Denver Post continues, with the paper’s journalists staging a protest in front of the New York City building where the hedge fund that owns the paper is located. Alden Capital, which acquired the paper in 2010, has made the newspaper business a profitable one by cutting costs and laying off staff. Last week, the editorial page editor resigned after an article critical of Alden was blocked by ownership. According to the New York Times, one of the protestors, Elizabeth Hernandez, wore a pin that said “I am a certified pest.” She told the Times, “I don’t like being the story. But if we don’t tell our own story now, I don’t know how long we’ll able to tell our community’s.”

    The Onion has started a satirical protest website, ResistanceHole. In the first post, the site channels the self-righteous fury of angry anti-Trump bloggers:  “ResistanceHole is here to take a courageous stand against you by pumping out enough shareable content to topple you and the craven liars and incompetent mouth-breathers you surround yourself with.”

    Anne Carson

    Tonight at the City University of New York (CUNY), Anne Carson will discuss “Envisioning the Classics.”

    At the Washington Post, Erik Wemple writes about the White House Correspondents’ Association’s responses to Trump. As the president continues to threaten press freedoms, the WHCA has a mixed track record in condemning his provocations. After a tweet in which the president suggested revoking press credentials for journalists who are “negative (Fake),” the Association released a statement strongly condemning Trump’s words: “A free press must be able to report on the good, the bad, the momentous and the mundane, without fear or favor. And a president preventing a free and independent press from covering the workings of our republic would be an unconscionable assault on the First Amendment.”

    FX, Hulu, and the New York Times are teaming up on a new TV show, The Weekly, a news-driven series modeled on the paper’s successful podcast, The Daily. The show will premiere later this year.

     

  • May 9, 2018

    Richard Lloyd Parry has won the Rathbones Folio Prize for his book Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone. For our winter issue, William T. Vollmann wrote about the book: “A lesser writer might have exploited [the] ugly, gruesome stories. This man has a heart. He transmits to us not only the facts but also, through that special emotional conduction that requires both skill and sincerity, a portion of his subjects’ sufferings. In other words, you will not find this to be an uplifting book.”

    In the wake of the sexual and verbal abuse allegations against Junot Díaz, Lyta Gold considers the myths that surround talented male writers: “Once Díaz was labeled a genius, his work was presumptively taken to be flawless and free of sin, which turned legitimate critiques into heresies and, ultimately, may have prevented Díaz from developing as a writer.”   

    Google News has been redesigned and will now feature personalized news chosen by Artificial Intelligence. A feature called Full Coverage will provide many sources for one story, including timelines and videos.  

    Rachel Kushner

    At the Washington Post, Ted Genoways writes about how copyright law prevents works like the Zora Neal Hurston’s Barracoon, which has just been republished, from coming to light: “‘Barracoon,’ . . . was rejected for publication in 1931, because it was deemed too vernacular by Hurston’s editor. Current copyright law unintentionally conspired to unnaturally extend the duration of that wrongheaded judgment for decades. That is why I bridle at the description of works like ‘Barracoon’ as ‘lost.’ They are not lost — they have always been here — but they have repeatedly encountered power structures that block their publication. It’s time for that to change.”

    Tonight at Greenlight Books in Brooklyn, Rachel Kushner will read from her new novel, The Mars Room. For more on the book, see Sasha Frere Jones’s review in our new issue.  

  • May 8, 2018

    The staff at the Denver Post have released a statement heavily criticizing the paper’s ownership, Digital First Media and the hedge fund Alden Capital. The letter was released soon after the editorial page editor, Chuck Plunkett, resigned because an op-ed critical of the owners was blocked by DFM’s chief operating officer. The open letter concludes with a call for the ownership group to make big changes: “It has become vividly clear that they must either invest in the newspaper or sell it to someone who cares about Colorado, and they must do it immediately.” The Daily Beast has more background on the story in “The Denver Post Newsroom is in Full-On Rebellion against Its Hedge Fund Master,” while Neiman Labs takes a deep-dive into how Alden Capital is making money in the news business by slashing staff and budgets.

    Ian McEwan. Photo: Urszula Soltys.

    Ian McEwan helped his son Greg with a paper on McEwan’s novel, Enduring Love. According to McEwan, “I didn’t read his essay but it turned out his teacher disagreed fundamentally with what he said. I think he ended up with a C+.”  

    In the New York Times, David Leonhardt calls for Barnes & Noble to be saved as Amazon threatens to make the bookselling giant irrelevant.

    At New York magazine, Eric Levits considers the recent trend of mainstream media outlets hiring conservative columnists: “It’s one thing to employ a conservative writer because he or she is interesting . . . it’s another to employ a substandard columnist because he or she is conservative. And liberal publications, in their quest for balance, have often done the latter.”

    Wired magazine talks to the authors of the most-cited source on Wikipedia, a 2007 academic paper on world climate that has been referenced more than 2.8 million times.

    Tonight at the Brooklyn Historical Society, David Grann talks about his book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.

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