• June 8, 2018

    Anthony Bourdain—who became famous with his bestselling memoir Kitchen Confidential, and went on to become the host of the CNN show Parts Unknown—has died

    In a staff memo, Reuters editor in chief Steve Adler outlined the tactics that journalists should use when reporting on Trump, based on the rules used by foreign correspondents in countries where “the media is unwelcome and frequently under attack.” “Do’s” include not worrying about official access, which was “never all that valuable anyway,” while “Dont’s” reminds reporters to not “take too dark a view of the reporting environment,” since “it’s an opportunity for us to practice the skills we’ve learned in much tougher places around the world.”

    Mary Beard

    For their reporting on Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment settlements, Times journalists Emily Steel and Mike Schmidt have won the 2018 Livingston Award.

    At BOMB, Marwan Hisham and Molly Crabapple talk to Alia Malek about Arabic poetry, secularism, and the difficulties of writing and publishing a book about Syria for a Western audience.

    Novelist Lydia Millet tells the New York Times’s By the Book column that she would want Dept. of Speculation author Jenny Offill to write her life story. “She’s strictly a fiction writer, which is actually a selling point, and she has a way of spinning the everyday into subtle gold. She could take the tawdry parts and make them seem almost tasteful, or at least forgivable, using nothing but her magic wand of words,” she said. “Also, she actually knows the tawdry parts, and you cannot have a juicy biography without those.”

    Moira Donegan talks to Women & Power author Mary Beard about misogyny, past and present. Beard says that the current debate about misogyny and sexism, as well as the reaction to it from opponents, is similar to the debate in ancient times. “Like Perseus and Medusa: decapitating women, silencing women, cutting women’s tongues out. There are things that are so resonant with now,” she said. “If you look at what Twitter trolls tend to say when they want to target a woman, they go back to those tropes about cutting tongues out, cutting your head off and raping it. And I’m pretty certain that many of them have not read Ovid.”

  • June 7, 2018

    Editorial staff of the New Yorker have unionized with NewsGuild of New York. New York magazine’s Noreen Malone reports that the group includes copy editors, fact checkers, assistant editors, design staff, and web producers. Malone notes that staff writers are excluded, as they are hired as independent contractors and not staff, an ironic twist that “would not escape the red pen of the magazine’s fact department.” Assistant editor McKenna Stayner said that magazine can not only afford to recognize the union, but that it would be against their professed values not to. “We run labor pieces, and for many of our writers, their system of beliefs is for workers’ rights,” she said. “With the certain kind of tone of moral authority we have taken on, it would be confusing for both readers and employees for there to be a lot of aggressive pressure against unionizing from New Yorker management.”

    Kamila Shamsie

    Fast Company staff are unionizing with Writers Guild of America East.

    In a letter on their website, Boston Review editors Deborah Chasman and Joshua Cohen explain why they have decided to keep Junot Díaz on as the magazine’s fiction editor after numerous women came forward with stories of misconduct. The editors write that during Díaz’s fifteen years on staff, there have been no complaints about his conduct in the workplace, and that they don’t believe the reported incidents “have the kind of severity that animated the #MeToo movement.” In response, Review poetry editors Timothy Donnelly, BK Fischer, and Stefania Heim have decided to resign.

    The Women’s Prize for Fiction has been awarded to Kamila Shamsie for her novel, Home Fire.

    Playwright and performance artist Lars Jan is adapting Joan Didion’s “The White Album” for the stage. The essay will be read by Mia Barron while performers “stage a house party mirroring the social turmoil of the period.” The work will debut at BAM later this fall.

    Daniel Radcliffe will co-star in the Broadway adaptation of John D’Agata and Jim Fingal’s The Lifespan of a Fact. Radcliff will play the role of Fingal, the fact checker who worked with D’Agata on an essay for The Believer.

    Tonight at Murmrr in Brooklyn, Tao Lin talks with Hamilton Morris about his new book, Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation and Change.

  • June 6, 2018

    General H. R. McMaster is the latest former member of the Trump administration to start shopping a book. BuzzFeed News reports that the erstwhile national security adviser is working with ICM agent Amanda Urban on his proposal.

    Wall Street Journal executive editor Matt Murray is taking over for Gerard Baker as the paper’s editor in chief. Baker will stay on as editor at large, a role that includes writing a regular weekend column and hosting a “WSJ-branded news and interview show on Fox Business News.”

    Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

    The Lambda Literary Award winners were announced this week. Roxane Gay won the Trustee Award, while Edmund White received the Visionary Award. Other winners include Carmen Maria Machado, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and Barbara Browning.

    Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman reports that Fox News is not profiting from its pro-Trump shows. “The pro-Trump thing isn’t working,” one employee told Sherman. “We can’t monetize DACA and the wall and that right-wing shit.”

    Women’s Wear Daily reports that Interview magazine, which recently declared bankruptcy, may relaunch soon under the control of Kelly Brant, the magazine’s president, and Jason Nikic, who most recently served as Interview’s chief revenue officer. WWD notes that both Brant and Nikic “had a hand in not paying the many people who worked under them” before the bankruptcy, and by choosing to file under Chapter 7, they may be able to avoid paying back the millions that they owe. “But should Interview relaunch after essentially skipping out on fees to hundreds of players in the fashion and publishing industry, is it possible that it will have the same allure for prospective contributors?” WWD’s Kali Hays wonders. “Will anyone be willing to risk working for people who have shown at best an indifference to timely and full payment to their partners and employees? As Warhol himself said, ‘Art is what you can get away with.’”

  • June 5, 2018

    Porochista Khakpour

    Porochista Khakpour tells Tin House about writing her memoir, Sick. “I felt I had to be really careful not to make my book appear like it represents the experience of all chronically ill or disabled America,” she said. “In that sense I also felt if I paraded around Audre Lorde’s experience with cancer or even Amy Tan’s with Lyme, I would be creating a sort of wonky narrative dilemma: a sort of forced dependency, a connecting of dots, and for what? For whom? For metaphor? To justify my story?”

    Former New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani talks to Vanity Fair about why she decided to write The Death of Truth. “One reason I wrote this book is to call attention to those who in their own times found what Margaret Atwood has called the ‘danger flags,’” she said, “in this case the denunciation of ‘fake news’ and the citing of ‘alternative facts’ by Trump and his White House.”

    In the New York Times’s Reader Center, reporter Rukmini Callimachi and editor Michael Slackman answer questions about the 15,000 ISIS documents collected by Callimachi for her article, “The ISIS Files.”

    The Break author Marian Keyes has accused the judges of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize of sexism after noting that only three women have won the award in nearly two decades. “Power and money are lovely, and those who have it want to hold onto it. One way of keeping those who don’t have it from having it is to mock them and mock the things they love,” she said. “It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.”

    Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s publicity tour for The President Is Missing is off to a rocky start, according to Entertainment Weekly’s David Canfield. “With Patterson awkwardly by his side, Clinton was grilled, particularly, by NBC News on Today, about his affair with Monica Lewinsky while he was in office,” Canfield reports. Reviews of the book have also been less than glowing. The Guardian’s Steven Poole points out that the title “fake news” since “the president isn’t missing,” and warns that “readers hoping for spicy revelations about what really goes on in the White House are likely to feel short-changed by bromides such as, ‘Sooner or later, every president faces decisions in which the right choice is bad politics, at least in the short term’, or the revelation that there is a one-lane bowling alley in the White House basement.”

  • June 4, 2018

    Michael Lewis

    Michael Lewis

    Moneyball author Michael Lewis is giving up his position as a contributing writer at Vanity Fair to work for Audible, the Amazon-owned audiobook company. Lewis has signed a multi-year contract with the Audible, for which he will produce original audio nonfiction stories, the first of which will be available in July. “You’re not going to be able to read it, you’re only going to be able to listen to it,” Mr. Lewis says. “I’ve become Audible’s first magazine writer.” At the New York Times, Alexandra Alter uses the move as an opportunity to highlight the growing market for audio content: “After years of stagnation in the industry, audiobooks have become a rare bright spot for publishers. While e-book sales have fallen and print has remained anemic, publishers’ revenue for downloaded audio has nearly tripled in the last five years, industry data from the Association of American Publishers shows.”

    In a Vanity Fair profile, Michiko Kakutani discusses her departure from the New York Times, where she was the lead book critic for more than three decades, to write her own book, The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump, which will be released this July.

    The Columbia Journalism Review has created a new ad campaign designed to combat “fake news.”

    The winners of the 11th annual Best Translated Book Awards have been announced.

    This week, Jaime Green made her debut as the romance-fiction columnist for the New York Times Book Review. Says Green in an interview: “I’ve been thinking about not only how good, fun and smart these books can be (very, very and very), but also why they matter, what motivates romance authors and what readers find in their work.”

    Garry Wills pays homage to the legendary oral historian Studs Terkel, and considers the 5,600 tapes that Terkel left behind when he died in 2008. The tapes have recently been digitized and catalogued, and are now available for download.

  • June 1, 2018

    At the Los Angeles Review of Books Blog, Rebecca Schultz talks to The Perfect Nanny author Leïla Slimani about the strange space that nannies occupy in a household and how identity factored into her novel. “I don’t care about identity, I don’t really understand what it means. I’m not interested in what people are; I’m interested in what people do,” Slimani said. “So in my books I like to make plenty of references to identity, and often with an ironic tone, just to say that maybe identity is not the clue, and it can’t help the reader understand the character.”

    Tommy Orange

    The National Book Critics Circle has announced the 2018 class of Emerging Critics.

    Alexandra Altman profiles There There author Tommy Orange for the New York Times. A member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes who grew up in Oakland, Orange says that in his youth he often felt like he didn’t fit in anywhere, something he addresses in his novel. “There’s been a lot of reservation literature written,” Orange said. “I wanted to have my characters struggle in the way that I struggled, and the way that I see other native people struggle, with identity and with authenticity.”

    The New York Post reports that Village Voice editor in chief Stephen Mooallem “quietly left the company” last March. The alt-weekly has yet to hire a replacement.

    President Bill Clinton tells the Times’s “By the Book” column about the books that influenced his political decisions. Besides choosing Al Gore as a running-mate after reading Earth in the Balance, Clinton says he can’t remember any specific choices that were inspired by literature. “But books by Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison made me want to do more about civil rights,” he said. “I read ‘America: What Went Wrong,’ by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, in 1992, and it strengthened my determination to try to reverse trickle-down economics and achieve a fairer and more prosperous economy.”

     

  • May 31, 2018

    John Carreyrou

    New York magazine talks to Bad Blood author John Carreyrou, whose reporting on Theranos and CEO Elizabeth Holmes ultimately brought down the company. Carreyrou says that he understands why other publications wrote glowing profiles of Holmes and her blood-testing machine, even though it didn’t actually work. “You could make a case that maybe they should have done more reporting beyond interviewing her and her immediate entourage,” he said. “But how much is a writer/reporter to blame when the subject is bald-face lying to him, too?”

    HBO recently announced that Alex Gibney has signed on to direct a documentary on Holmes’s rise and fall for the network.

    Reuters reports that a court has halted the building of the Nobel Center.

    Rumaan Alam talks to the Barnes & Noble Podcast about how “story of an uneasily blended family is a way of writing about nothing less than America.”

    After his literary agency’s accountant embezzled $3.4 million from the agency and its authors, Fight Club writer Chuck Palahniuk says that he is “close to broke,” The Guardian reports.

    The BBC reports that Arkady Babchenko, the Russian journalist said to have been assassinated earlier this week, attended a Ukrainian press conference today. At the conference, Babchenko explained that he had been working with Ukrainian security services to catch the perpetrator, who allegedly was hired by Russian security services. “I have buried many friends and colleagues many times and I know the sickening feeling,” Babchenko said. “I am sorry you had to experience it. But there was no other way.” Both Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists have condemned the staged shooting. “This journalist’s reappearance is a great relief but it was distressing and regrettable that the Security Service of Ukraine played with the truth,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said in a statement. “Was such a scheme really necessary? There can be no grounds for faking a journalist’s death.”

  • May 30, 2018

    The Nobel Prize for Literature will not be awarded again until the Swedish Academy’s issues are resolved, The Guardian reports. Although the group has announced plans to award two prizes in 2019, Nobel Foundation executive director Lars Heikensten wrote on the prize’s website that he hopes “that this will be the case, but it depends on the Swedish Academy restoring its trust.” In a radio interview, Heikensten also urged the current members of the academy to resign. “I think everyone needs to think about whether they are good for the Swedish Academy and the Nobel Prize and whether they will be good for the academy in the future,” he said.

    The first bid for Gawker.com was accepted yesterday. Long Island digital ad agency Didit has offered $1 million for the site, and “plans to turn the once-biting and snarky site into a ‘good gossip’ news site.”

    David Sedaris

    David Sedaris tells the AV Club that he doesn’t understand why his books Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked are so popular. “Quite often a textbook will rerun something from Naked or Me Talk Pretty One Day, and I just—there’s so many better things,” he said. “I mean, those books were written so long ago, and they’re over-written in my opinion. So I could give you 20 reasons not to buy either of those books and not a single reason to buy one.”

    CNN reporter Chloe Melas talks to the New York Times about her reporting on the sexual harassment allegations against Morgan Freeman, which was prompted by her own experience of harassment by the actor.

    The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Cartwright explores the friendship between Donald Trump and TMZ’s Harvey Levin.

    At Vox, Todd VanDerWerff explains why cancelling the highly-profitable Roseanne reboot was a good decision for ABC. “At what point do you accept that Barr is going to keep tweeting things like this, turning off a growing portion of your audience, and if that continues to happen, soon only those who are watching to hear Barr say outrageously racist things will be around?” he writes. “It hurts all those other shows by sharing space with them, and it scares off peddlers of new shows who might not want to share a network with a series whose star seems intent on chasing away everybody who isn’t already predisposed to laugh at racist tweets.”

  • May 29, 2018

    The Library of Congress has announced the lineup for this year’s National Book Festival main stage. Authors include Amy Tan, Dave Eggers, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Emily Cooke is joining the New Republic as editorial director. Cooke was most recently the deputy editor of Harper’s Magazine, and previously worked as an editor at Bookforum and the New Inquiry.

    Alex Bowler has been hired as publisher at Faber. The Granta executive publisher will replace Faber’s current publisher Mitzi Angel, who is leaving the company for Farrar, Straus and Giroux this fall.

    Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s upcoming book has been cancelled.

    Sheila Heti talks to The Guardian about the ways mothers and non-mothers judge each other for their respective choices. “Maybe if we both feel shame it’s because it’s shameful to be a woman. Whatever you choose you feel shame,” she said. “I wonder if it’s ever going to change, or if women will feel that way until there are no humans ever.”

    In the New Yorker profiles Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie remembers the difficulty of being a new mother and trying to continue writing. “I’d take her to the playground, with what I call the Society of Stay-at-Home Mothers, who are all deeply good and pure and righteous, and their entire lives are about the well-being of their child,” she remembered, “and I’m, like, Oh, Lord, I haven’t even read the damn news, I’m reading fiction only for thirty minutes before sleep, that’s not the person I am.”

  • May 25, 2018

    Noah Shachtman

    Daily Beast editor in chief John Avlon is leaving the website to become a full-time political analyst at CNN. He will be replaced by Noah Shachtman, who currently serves as executive editor. In a memo to staff, Shachtman wrote that he is excited to be the website’s third editor in chief. “The first chapter of The Beast’s history saw an astonishing launch—followed by the Newsweek merger. In the second chapter, we parted ways with the magazine, reestablished our foundations, and then, improbably, turned this place into a scoop machine,” he writes. “Chapter three is poised to be the best one yet. I can’t wait.”

    At Columbia Journalism Review, Pete Vernon explains how the recent ruling that Trump cannot block other Twitter users will affect other politicians.

    BuzzFeed News’ Ben Smith looks at Elon Musk’s recent criticisms of the press and argues that both Musk and Zuckerberg’s attitude toward media reveals “how little the tech barons shaping the new ways we live and consume information understand about journalism.”

    Taffy Brodesser-Akner reflects on Philip Roth’s legacy and how his writing shaped the American Jewish experience. “With every book, with every question, with every overt display of ambivalence and disgust, he was affirming to us that we were contenders,” she writes. “Like our experiences deserved to be considered and judged. Like we belonged here.”

    At Literary Hub, Karl Taro Greenfeld wonders how he ended up a “minor writer” rather than a major one. “It could be a lack of talent. I could be bad luck. Perhaps a combination,” he writes. “I’m not asking for sympathy or pity. I am merely identifying a common enough condition: I didn’t become what I dreamed.”

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