• April 24, 2019

    Three months before technology news site The Markup’s expected launch, editor in chief Julia Angwin has been let go from the Craig Newmark–funded project that she helped found with Sue Gardner and Jeff Larson. Angwin says that she was pushed out by Gardner after she refused to “change the site’s mission to ‘one based on advocacy against the tech companies’ instead of ‘producing meaningful data-centered journalism about the impact of technology on society,’” the Times reports. Several staff members have resigned in protest.

    Ian McEwan. Photo: Urszula Soltys.

    Jewish Currents magazine has added several editors and writers to its staff, including Nathan Goldman, Marissa Brostoff, Rachel Cohen, and David Klion.

    Nieman Lab compares the three published editions of the Mueller Report, all of which are bestsellers on Amazon.

    The Guardian reports that J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate as “fired a broadside against” an upcoming biopic about the author with a “terse statement” that they “do not endorse it or its content in any way.”

    “I think my experience [as LeRoy] helped me to dismantle the ways we’re supposed to be and to keep questioning how something feels, which parts matter to me,” Savannah Koop, who served as the face of author J.T. LeRoy, tells The Guardian.

    Ian McEwan talks to Literary Hub about Bach, memory, and the writing advice he received from Philip Roth. “Where many others thought my writing was wild and weird, he thought I wasn’t being wild enough,” McEwan said of Roth. “He said, ‘You have to write as though your parents are dead.’ My parents were alive. I took that advice.”

  • April 23, 2019

    Prince. Photo: Scott Penner

    Prince’s memoir The Beautiful Ones, which was announced just before his death in 2016, will be published by Random House in October. “Spanning from his childhood to his final days as one of the most successful musical acts of all time,” The Guardian reports that the book will include “Prince’s unfinished manuscript alongside photos from his personal collection, scrapbooks and lyrics, including his original handwritten treatment for his 1984 hit Purple Rain.”

    Quartz’s Annaliese Griffin examines the sexist media coverage of Pintrest as the company prepares to go public. “The fact that pinners, as the site’s users are called, skew female has been the dominant story about the company, and a distinctly gendered condescension has often defined its news coverage,” she explains.

    Reflecting on the Golden Records that were sent into space with the 1977 Voyager missions, Mireille Juchau wonders what sounds and ideas to include on a twenty-first-century version.

    “To read an epistolary novel is to be a voyeur. Then again, when we read novels of any kind we are peering into the lives of others,” writes Isabella Hammad on the similarities between novels and letters. “We are continually opening envelopes that don’t appear to be addressed to us.”

    Biographers of Michael Jackson tell the New York Times that they’re struggling with their work after the release of HBO’s Leaving Neverland. “It complicates things in ways that are just really, really challenging,” said Joe Vogel, who is working on a new edition of his biography Man in the Music. “Not only are you thinking about how do you deal with this on a personal level, you’re also thinking about how to handle it professionally.”

  • April 22, 2019

    Rebecca Solnit

    BuzzFeed examines the Mueller report and revisits the story that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. At the Washington Post, Paul Farhi points out that the Mueller report shows fake news came not from the media but from Trump and his team. Also at the Washington Post, Carlos Lozada, who just won a Pulitzer for criticism, argues that the Mueller report is “the best book on the Trump White House so far.” Meanwhile, three printed versions of “The Mueller Report” have risen to the top of Amazon and Barnes & Noble best-seller lists.

    “The mantra I give to my students is: Write every day, and walk every day.” Amitava Kumar offers advice from his forthcoming book, Writing Badly Is Easy, which will be published by Duke University Press early next year.

    Book deals this week: Riverhead has paid six figures for More of This Please: Self-Care for the Soul from Sikh Wisdom by Simran Jeet Singh, a Sikh religious scholar and activist who was raised in Texas. According to Riverhead’s Jake Morrissey: “Simran offers what I think is a refreshing approach to confronting the darkness that swirls around us—the anger, ignorance, and outrage that assault us everyday.” FSG has purchased the rights to Carly Simon’s Touched by the Sun, about her friendship with Jacqueline Onassis.

    “Nobody gets married; nobody becomes a princess; the prince needs liberation too.” Rebecca Solnit talks about her new book Cinderella Liberator, her update of the classic fairy tale.

    Novelist and critic Alex Preston suggests books that can help “to deal with the constant and creeping sense of existential dread in today’s social, political and economic times.”

    “Narrative momentum was a kind of North Star for me. I wanted to keep the reader turning pages while I was presenting lots of information, and I realized that structure was the answer. I’m a fiendish outliner. I outline like crazy.” Patrick Radden Keefe, the author of The Snakehead and the new Say Nothing, discusses his writing craft.

  • April 19, 2019

    Carmen Maria Machado. Photo: Tom Storm

    Carmen Maria Machado talks to Electric Literature about Carmilla, a vampire novel by J. Sheridan LeFanu that predates Dracula by two decades and is now being reissued by Lanternfish Press with an introduction by Machado. “The connection between narratives of vampires and narratives of women—especially queer women—are almost laughably obvious,” she says. “The hunger for blood, the presence of monthly blood, the influence and effects of the moon, the moon as a feminine celestial body, the moon as a source of madness, the mad woman, the mad lesbian—it goes on and on. It is somewhat surprising to me that we have ever imagined male vampires at all.”

    The New Republic has added more editorial staff. Former Gawker editor Alex Pareene and New Republic contributor Walter Shapiro are joining as a staff writers, while Gregg Levine has been hired as a senior editor.

    After a failed attempt to sell the magazine, Meredith has decided to shut down the print edition of Money.

    For Literary Hub, Aaron Robertson talks to Jack Jones Literary Arts founders Kima Jones and LaToya Watkins about their new Culture, Too initiative, their newly announced week-long conference for writers of color.

    Columbia Journalism Review’s Mathew Ingram argues that the US government’s case against Julian Assange is a threat to investigative journalists. “There’s no question Julian Assange is a reprehensible person in a number of ways, which makes holding him up as a defender of press freedom more than a little problematic,” he writes. “But we don’t get to choose the individuals who provide an opportunity for us to defend free speech and journalism, and it’s hard to argue that Assange is any worse than Larry Flynt or any of the other reprobates who have helped shape First Amendment law.”

    Soccer player Abby Wambach talks to the New York Times’s By the Book column about Andre Agassi, how reading has impacted her career, and her new book, Wolfpack. “I found my way to soccer because of a book,” she said. “My sister Beth told my mom she wanted to learn to play soccer so my mom went to the library and checked out a book called ‘How to Play Soccer.’ Our family read it, signed us all up for teams, and I scored 27 goals in my first three games. I guess I do owe it all to books.”

  • April 18, 2019

    Simon & Schuster is starting a new imprint this summer. The “trend driven” Tiller Press will publish “practical nonfiction, serving readers clamoring for information to solve their real-world problems, achieve their goals, and lead richer, more meaningful lives.”

    Michael McFaul

    After a New York Times journalist blocked former ambassador and From Cold War to Hot Peace author Michael McFaul on Twitter, Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton wonders whether it’s ethical for journalists to block reasonable critics on social media. “Is blocking someone who is a respected member of the commentariat — and a frequent source for your news organization — okay if he’s tweeted something critical of you or your work?” he asks.

    “So-called women’s media seems particularly vulnerable as both print and digital struggle to find pathways for reliable revenue,” writes Jezebel’s Frida Garza on the decline of women’s magazines and websites. “For a long time, women’s media did this well: garnering advertising dollars by delivering a mix of make-up, fashion, dating, sex, and/or parenting advice with an authoritative, accessible tone. But in the last few years, editors and writers have struggled to find audiences—or at least, to find audiences big enough to make advertisers happy.”

    In the wake of the Notre-Dame fire earlier this week, Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is number one on Amazon France’s bestseller list.

    At Vanity Fair, Diana Falzone talks to women who say they’re being blackballed from the TV news industry after filing or settling sexual-harassment lawsuits against networks. “The very same people who publicly applaud you for speaking up about bad behavior will never hire you into their own organizations because you are forever pegged as a whistleblower and a troublemaker,” said one anonymous woman. “On your deathbed, you will probably feel that you have done the moral thing by speaking up, but in the years you are alive, you are very cognizant of the toll your decision to come forward has taken on your life and your career path.”

  • April 17, 2019

    At Vulture, Morgan Jerkins talks to Claudia Rankine black trauma, Serena Williams, and her new play, The White Card. “I love women who refuse invisibility in black femininity and who are insisting that we are worth whatever worth is out there,” Rankine said. “The policing of Serena shows up again and again in my work because the amount of respect I have for that woman floods me. We see her in a sport dominated by white people and you hear the racism against her again and again and again. And yet, she keeps winning.”

    Susan Choi

    At Literary Hub, Monika Zaleska profiles Seasonal Associate author Heike Geissler.

    The New York Times details the recent restrictions on free speech in Myanmar that are being put in place by the government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

    I wanted the reader to think about the ways in which we receive information and accept without question information from what seem like authoritative sources, not just in literature, but also in life,” said Susan Choi on why she chose not to reveal her characters’ real names in her new book, Trust Exercise. “Humans are surprisingly and maybe wonderfully trusting creatures, and we’re biased towards believing what we hear. We want to believe what we hear.”

    An auctioneer has found two undiscovered poems by Daphne du Maurier hidden inside a frame behind a photograph. Roddy Lloyd, who found the works while cataloguing du Maurier’s archive, said that the poems were likely written when the author was in her twenties. “The poems are not juvenile ones of a child,” he said, “nor the polished products of her later years.”

  • April 16, 2019

    Jeffrey C. Stewart

    The 2019 Pulitzer Prizes have been awarded. Winning books include Richard Powers’s The Overstory, Jeffrey C. Stewart’s The New Negro, and Eliza Griswold’s Amity and Prosperity. The full list of winners and nominees can be found at the Pulitzer website.

    Katherine Cusumano wonders why literary novels are so obsessed with cults.

    Quartz is unionizing with NewsGuild. Editorial employees say that they began to consider organizing after the business news website was sold by Atlantic Media last summer. “When Quartz sold to Uzabase we had no reason to worry,” explained Zoë Schlanger, a staff writer. “We’re also not naive to what happens when anything is sold.”

    Digiday’s Sahil Patel examines the “corporate shit show” that was Univision’s acquisition and sale of Gizmodo Media Group and The Onion.

    The Hollywood Reporter profiles the “polarizing” media mogul Bryan Goldberg, CEO of Bustle Digital Group. “While selling your company to BDG can save it from an otherwise inevitable demise, to some it also can serve as the ultimate sign of failure,” the magazine explains. “You’re acknowledging defeat,” one anonymous source says. “There are founders now who would prefer to go out of business than sell [to Goldberg].”

  • April 15, 2019

    Nick Flynn Mister

    Nick Flynn

    Last week, Chris Lehmann left The Baffler to become editor of the New Republic. Now, The Baffler has named its new editor in chief: Jonathon Sturgeon, who has been a senior editor at the magazine since 2017. “During The Baffler’s explosive growth since the 2016 election,” says publisher Noah McCormack, “Jonathon has led the way in commissioning the broad range of diverse writers that have gained The Baffler an ever-growing audience.”

    This Thursday, Michel Houellebecq, France’s “best-known and most provocative novelist,” will receive the Legion of Honour, France’s “highest civilian distinction,” from President Emmanuel Macron.

    Electric Lit predicts the winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize in fiction. The awards will be announced later today. “I really do think Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers takes it,” writes Bradley Sides, “but the Pulitzer announcement usually comes with some surprises.”

    “Maybe I am a bit too militant about detachment, but every time I love a book, my heart breaks for a few weeks, I tell a few people, and then I erase it from my mind. It’s the only way I can move on.” Ottessa Moshfegh dwells on her personal literary canon.

    Author and agent Bill Clegg (The Portrait of the Addict as a Young Man) has sold Nick Flynn’s new memoir, Mister Mann, to W.W. Norton’s executive editor Jill Bialosky. Flynn, a poet, is the author of three previous memoirs, including Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. His latest is “an exploration of parenthood and grief, tracing the effects of Flynn’s upbringing by his single mother and her suicide.”

    On Friday night, the Los Angeles Festival of Books kicked off by naming the winners of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, who included Francisco Cantu, Beth Macy, and Rebecca Makkai.

  • April 12, 2019

    Hanif Abdurraqib

    Michael Robbins—author of the poetry collection Alien Vs. Predator and the essay collection Equipment for Living: On Poetry and Pop Music—just announced that he has another book in the works: “contract signed for my third book of poems, Walkman. scheduled for early ’21 if civilization hasn’t collapsed.”

    The Verge has posted a video of a conversation between Marlon James and George R.R. Martin, in which the authors dwell on genre, violence, and a writer’s concerns about audience.

    The Paris Review has posted the first installment of poet and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib’s new monthly column, Notes on Pop. “I like a jukebox that requires labor. I’m not aging into one of those fist-shaking olds who sits on a porch and bemoans the fact that kids these days don’t play outdoors or that people stare at their phones or whatever else gets said about the younger generations. But there is the fact that I prefer a jukebox, one that cannot be controlled by a phone. I believe in accountability everywhere, even as it so eagerly escapes much of our day-to-day lives.”

    Author Emily Gould talks about The Bell Jar, Andrea Kleine’s novel Eden, and how social media has hurt book reviewing: “The flattening of discourse into BEST or WORST is uh … THE WORST. Also people are very scared of being canceled and this is bad for both books and criticism, duh.”

    Meghan O’Rourke—whose books include the poetry collection Halflife and the memoir The Long Goodbye—talks about her plans as editor of The Yale Review. “The great challenge of editing a literary journal—or a political and literary journal, which I hope the Yale Review will be—is to figure out how to publish an assortment of really good pieces that add up to something more than a slightly incidental aesthetic. That point to aspects of our cultural experience that we know but maybe haven’t named or aspects of the discourse that are hypocritical or unrigorously explored.”

  • April 11, 2019

    Literary Hub’s Emily Temple writes that it’s time to recognize Sally Rooney as more than just a “millennial writer.” “In the same way that praising novels as ‘timely’ unintentionally undercuts their worth—suggesting that they have an expiration date, that their contents are only important in the moment—defining a writer by her generation, especially a generation so roundly mocked and fretted over, feels like a subtle undermining of her abilities,” she explains.

    Carmen Maria Machado. Photo: Tom Storm

    The 2019 Guggenheim Fellows have been announced. Recipients include Carmen Maria Machado, Catherine Lacey, and Julia Bryan-Wilson.

    The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer has won the April Sidney Award for her reporting on “how Fox News became the propaganda arm and the policy shop for the Trump White House.”

    Splinter’s Samantha Grasso wonders why NPR’s Morning Edition segment on Stephen Miller didn’t bother to explore the white nationalist roots of Miller’s policies.

    At The Atlantic and the New Yorker respectively, Andrew Ferguson and Michael Luo argue the merits of print journalism, which they say allows readers to pay more attention. “How well can news be absorbed by osmosis?” Luo asks. “Studies have found that people bounce between tasks on their computers at stunning rates; a paper published last year found a median switch time of eleven seconds. Introduce mobile devices into the mix, and the switching is even faster. It’s no wonder that news is getting chopped up into smaller bits.” Ferguson agrees. “On my phone or my laptop, I am beckoned incessantly to click on one link or another or still another,” he writes. “Mysterious algorithms known only to the gremlins of Silicon Valley push me toward stories that the gremlins reckon must be of related interest, as though, having read a story about Trea Turner’s broken index finger, I will now be eager for a review of the latest developments in orthopedic surgery.