• April 3, 2018

    Viv Albertine. Photo: Michael Putland

    Slits guitarist and memoirist Viv Albertine talks to The Guardian about her childhood, female rage, and her new book, To Throw Away Unopened. Albertine says that her newest book “is essentially about rage and being an outsider.” “Female rage is not often acknowledged—never mind written about—so one of the questions I’m asking is: ‘Are you allowed to be this angry as you grow older as a woman?’ But I’m also trying to trace where my anger came from,” she explained. “Who made me the person that is still so raw and angry? I think that it’s empowering to ask that question.”

    The New York Times looks at the South China Morning Post, which was bought by Alibaba last year, and wonders whether the acquisition has softened the paper’s criticism of the mainland Chinese government.

    At the Village Voice, Roy Edroso examines conservative media’s persecution complex.

    “All of the biggest issues right now that we’re reckoning with—economic inequality, the expansion of the criminal justice system, attacks on immigrants—also touch on sex workers’ lives,” said Melissa Gira Grant in a discussion of why and how the media should report on sex work. “Those are all entry points into covering sex work that aren’t about identity per se, but about power, influence, and money.”

    LA Weekly has started a #SpeakTruth campaign to repair their reputation and fight back against a boycott that they say is based on “lies and half truths.” The Outline’s Ann-Derrick Gaillot calls it “a frankly creepy attempt to delegitimize” the boycott, which was started by former writers and readers of the paper after its new owners made drastic staffing and editorial changes. “Considering the transparency of the effort, and the alt-right-esque language meant to appeal to its longtime readers, who theoretically used to read the alt-weekly for its progressive values, the #Speaktruth website comes off as nothing but a pathetic and weird joke,” Gaillot writes.

    Tonight at Books are Magic in Brooklyn, Jia Tolentino talks to Meg Wolitzer about her new novel, The Female Persuasion.

  • April 2, 2018

    Anita Shreve, 1946-2018

    Anita Shreve

    Novelist Anita Shreve has died at age seventy-one. Her 1997 novel, The Weight of Water, was a bestseller, and in 1998 Oprah Winfrey chose Shreve’s The Pilot’s Wife for her book club. “She wrote beautifully melodic and nuanced prose. I admired every book of hers,” her publisher, Michael Pietsch, CEO of Hachette Book Group, told the Boston Globe. “She brought a great mind to the observation of emotions.”

    The Guardian has assembled an ambitious list of “fifty writers you should read now,” covering not only “fiction,” “politics,” and “memoir,” but also “science and nature.”

    Quijote Talks has organized an event tonight at 6:30pm featuring novelist Lynne Tillman, who will read from her new novel Men and Apparitions, and then discuss her work with artist Adam Pendleton.

    Author Kevin Killian talks about his new book Tony Greene Era, younger writers he admires (Renee Gladman, Ariel Goldberg), and his own experiences as a young writer: “I encountered Amiri Baraka and Ted Berrigan and Allen Ginsberg, Robbe-Grillet and Margaret Mead. I went to the Berg Collection at the NY Public Library, where I heard they kept the Virginia Woolf papers, and asked the redoubtable Lola L. Szladits, the chief curator, if she would bring out Virginia Woolf’s suicide note. I didn’t know that Szladits was a figure who could make grown scholars cry. I had no idea. I was 17 with brass balls, and she looked at me and then said, ‘I will do this for you,’ and brought out the letter. I copied it over in my school notebook. David Bowie was releasing Ziggy Stardust and Pin Ups and Diamond Dogs and Young Americans, and those were the chief events in my life of starting out as a writer.”

    At Alternet, Jacob Bacharach grapples with the question: “Why are major newspapers and magazines hiring so many right-wing cranks?” “The editors and publishers will tell you that it is so that their overwhelmingly liberal audiences may be exposed to new ideas…. And if you are the sort of person who complains about these hires online, someone will surely pop into your Twitter mentions to remind you that the outrage machine drives lots of clicks and page views. The truth, though, is that these columnists are all hired as part of a project of desperate make-believe.

  • March 30, 2018

    Employees of the AV Club, The Onion, and Clickhole have formed a union. Onion Inc. staffers join Gizmodo Media Group, Vice, and more in unionizing under the Writers Guild of America, East.

    Jeffrey Eugenides

    The New York Times has released a report on the diversity of its staff. The company plans to publish a report on the gender and ethnic diversity of its staff annually.

    The Ecuadorian Embassy in London has cut off Julian Assange’s internet access due to his violation of “an agreement he signed with his hosts at the end of 2017 not to use his communiques to interfere in the affairs of other states.”

    Danielle Tcholakian explores the idea of journalism as activism, parsing the criticism and praise received by a student journalist at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who told CNN that journalism was a form of activism.

    Twenty-five years after its publication, Jeffrey Eugenides discusses the legacy of The Virgin Suicides. Comparing the book to Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, Eugenides reflects on the difficulties of writing about suicide and depression. “I understand why people worry about books and movies and television shows contributing to a sense of malaise and pushing people to commit suicide,” he said. “But that’s an old argument — about whether art is inspiring people to do things, or whether it’s a reflection of the world people are already inhabiting and things they’re already feeling.”

    Literary Hub’s Kristen Evans wonders what it takes to make a well-received literary adaptation for film and television. Evans talks to a number of TV and film critics, who disagree over how faithful an adaptation needs to be to the source material. “An adaptation can even improve on the source material, or at least give flat, stereotypical characters a second chance at life on screen,” Evans writes. “Sometimes, it’s just good TV to move away from the source text and its limitations, riffing on themes instead of adhering to plot.”

  • March 29, 2018

    Members of the Folio Academy are calling on the Man Booker organization to stop including American writers in the competition. 2005 Booker winner John Banville said that while he had been in favor of the 2014 rule change, he now has a different opinion. “The prize was unique in its original form, but has lost that uniqueness. It is now just another prize among prizes,” he explained. “I am convinced the administrators should take the bold step of conceding the change was wrong, and revert.”

    Liu Cixin

    Amazon is reportedly spending $1 billion develop Liu Cixin’s sci-fi book series The Three-Body Problem into a multi-season show as part of their “quest to best HBO by creating a show even bigger than Game of Thrones.” “That may be a drop in the bucket compared to Jeff Bezos’s net worth,” Yohana Desta notes, “but it’s also a hefty enough sum to make this potential adaptation one of the most expensive shows of all time—and that’s before production even begins.”

    Radhika Jones has made a number of new hires at Vanity Fair. Sticky Fingers author Joe Hagan will serve as special correspondent, while Variety’s Sonia Saraiya and Stealing the Show author Joy Press will cover TV.

    Game Change director Jay Roach is directing and producing HBO’s Fire and Fury adaptation.

    Playboy has decided to leave Facebook. In an announcement on instagram, chief creative officer Cooper Hefner explained that the decision was motivated not only by the platform’s “sexually repressive” environment, but by their “recent meddling in a free U.S. election,” which “demonstrates another concern we have of how they handle users’ data—more than 25 million of which are Playboy fans.”

  • March 28, 2018

    Daniel Heath Justice implores young indigenous writers to be persistent and trust their instincts. “Too often we’ve been told that our words don’t matter. Too often we’ve been told that Indigenous people are unworthy of consideration as writers,” he writes. “Your work is the inscribed embodiment of the survival and struggle of generations, the realization of possibility that’s so different from what so many of our ancestors had to face.”

    Colson Whitehead. Photo: Dorothy Hong

    The New York Times looks at the ways in which publishers have reacted to sexual misconduct claims against their authors.

    Going Clear director Alex Gibney is adapting a new biography of Tiger Woods for television.

    At The Guardian, Geeta Dayal reflects on Ursula K Le Guin’s forgotten electronica album from the 1980s.

    Literary Hub rounds up the highlights from Underground Railroad author Colson Whitehead’s “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit. “In between projects, I decompress and don’t write for a year or year and a half, and that means video games and cooking, specifically X-Com and pork shoulder,” he said in explaining how he spends his downtime. “Cooking, I guess, and weeping into my shirt-tails are two things I enjoy doing.”

    “What is this book-shaped thing that lies before us? Is it just a lark — a nutty novel you wrote because you’re famous and they let you? Or is it more than that — a furious, despairing takedown of America as the country battles its own worst instincts?” asks Jeff Giles in his review of Sean Penn’s new novel. “If it’s the latter, why did you bury your truest feelings and loveliest writing so deep in muck? “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff” might have had the power of a manifesto. Instead, it’s a riddle wrapped in an enigma and cloaked in crazy.”

  • March 27, 2018

    Ian Buruma

    Ian Buruma

    The New York Review of Books collects scenes from the March for Our Lives in New York and Washington, DC. Lucy Jakub writes that the capital’s march was “by turns high school variety show, pop concert, and memorial tribute,” and didn’t involve much marching. “At the D.C. Women’s March in 2017, the rally was effectively invisible and inaudible to most of the crowd, which was antsy to go somewhere and yell at somebody,” she writes. “The organizers of the March for Our Lives knew that what the people want now, above all, are the kids. We came to listen and to look them in the eyes.”

    Ian Buruma talks to The Guardian about Brexit, Japan, and his new memoir, A Tokyo Romance. Buruma said that in order to write the book, he had to see his younger self as a character separate from himself. “You have all these snippets and impressions, and you have to make them into a coherent story. It is partly out of your imagination,” he explained. “Of course, memory works that way anyway. You’re always re-editing it subconsciously.”

    The New York Times consults several lawyers about the lawsuit between Harper Lee’s estate and Aaron Sorkin.

    The Intercept talks to Eve Ewing about Black Panther, public schools, and her new book, Electric Arches.

    The Daily Show host Trevor Noah is launching his own production company with Viacom.

    Literary Hub celebrates the beginning of the first Zodiac sign’s season with a round up of literary Aries, including Frank O’Hara, Kathy Acker, Valerie Solanas, and Maya Angelou. “In Aries season, flowers begin belligerently shooting pollen everywhere, much like an Aries writing at their desk—or an Aries doing anything, really,” Randon Rosenbohm writes. “They are seminal, self-starting, and, stereotypically, self-centered, enthusiastically spreading their seed, regardless of the allergies of the weak.

  • March 26, 2018

    Lauren Cerand

    Lauren Cerand

    Literary publicist Lauren Cerand is joining the staff of the journal A Public Space, where she will act as Marketing and Development Director.

    Tomorrow at the Brooklyn Public Library, authors Porochista Khakpour, Idra Novey, and John Freeman will discuss Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector, whose The Chandelier has just been published in English for the first time (in a translation by Benjamin Moser). Also tomorrow: Two amazing novelists, Lynne Tillman and Colm Toibin, will appear at McNally Jackson to discuss Tillman’s new book, Men and Apparitions.

    At Splinter, Paul Blest revisits some of the opinions expressed by Kevin D. Williamson, the author of The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome who was recently hired by The Atlantic to write for the magazine’s new Ideas section. Among other things, Williamson has written that “the the law should treat abortion like any other homicide,” and that Laverne Cox is “not a woman.” Says Blest: “There was no reason for The Atlantic to hire Williamson.”

    Luc Sante—author of Low Life and The Other Paris—reconsiders The Kinks’ 1967 album Something Else. Kinks singer Ray Davies was, Sante writes, “establishing himself as a sensibility—an auteur—at a time when the Beatles were still addressing themselves to teenagers and the Rolling Stones still working their way through the Chess back catalog.”

    In his latest “Interesting Times” column, Andrew Sullivan (Virtually Normal; The Conservative Soul) analyzes the Trump presidency by borrowing some insights from Plato’s Republic. Sullivan, like Plato, worries that “late-stage democracy, dripping with decadence and corruption, with elites dedicated primarily to enriching themselves, and a people well past any kind of civic virtue,” is just a short step away from tyranny.

  • March 23, 2018

    The Atlantic has hired four new columnists for its soon to be launched ideas, opinions, and commentary section. In this new feature of the website, Ibram X. Kendi, Kevin D. Williamson, Annie Lowrey, and Alex Wagner “will help readers understand the key issues of the day, introduce novel evidence and reporting to the debate, and shape the public conversation.”

    Carmen Maria Machado. Photo: Tom Storm

    New York magazine has bought Splitsider, the Awl Network’s comedy website. The site’s archives will stay online and its URL will now redirect to Vulture.

    Tracy K. Smith will continue in her role as poet laureate for the next year.

    Caity Weaver is joining the New York Times’s Styles section. Weaver, who was most recently a writer at GQ, will also be a writer-at-large for the Times’s magazine.

    In her acceptance speech for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, Carmen Maria Machado reflected on the continuing relevance of her short story collection. “I know that Her Body and Other Parties is terrifyingly real right now. I wish it wasn’t. I would give this book up in one second if I thought I could make it less relevant, if I could undo my own need to have written it,” she said. “But the fact is, it’s always been this real. The fact is, stories exist whether or not we decide to commit them to the page. I consider myself lucky to have coaxed a few of them out of the ether, if only to say: me, too.”

  • March 22, 2018

    Esmé Weijun Wang. Photo: Kristin Cofer

    The 2018 Whiting Award winners have been announced. Tommy Pico, Weike Wang, Anne Boyer, Brontez Purnell, Patty Yumi Cottrell, Esmé Weijun Wang, Rickey Laurentiis, Nathan Alan Davis, Hansol Jung, and Antoinette Nwandu will all receive $50,000.

    Penguin has acquired a memoir by late style photographer Bill Cunningham. The manuscript was found by Cunningham’s family after his death in 2016. Fashion Climbing details Cunningham’s childhood in Boston and his life in New York. The book will be published in September and includes a preface by New Yorker writer Hilton Als.

    New York Magazine has hired Gabriel Debenedetti as a national correspondent. Debenedetti was most recently a national political reporter at Politico.

    Recode’s Peter Kafka explains why recent efforts by Google and Facebook to help publishers and improve online journalism won’t be enough.

    Axios reports on Meredith Corp.’s plans for their newly-acquired magazines that don’t fit into their lifestyle brand, like Fortune and Sports Illustrated. The “basic message” from a staff meeting with CEO Tom Harty was: “We’re trying to sell you, but won’t shut you down if we fail.” Axios also notes that the company plans to lay off over 1,200 people over the next ten months.


  • March 21, 2018

    The shortlist for the Wellcome book prize has been announced. Nominees include Ayòbámi Adébáyò’s Stay with Me, Kathryn Mannix’s With the End in Mind, and Sigrid Rausing’s Mayhem. The winner will be revealed next month.

    Les Payne, former Newsday editor and founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists, has died.

    Tracy K. Smith. Photo: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

    Google is launching a campaign to “support the media industry by fighting misinformation and bolstering journalism.” Over three years, the Google News Initiative will invest $300 million into supporting news organizations, creating new tools for journalists, and promoting accurate reporting during breaking news events.

    Bring Out the Dog author Will Mackin talks to George Saunders about why he channeled his experience in Iraq and Afghanistan into fiction. “Initially, I wrote nonfiction about the wars because I thought that others did the real work and who was I to take liberties,” he explained. “It wasn’t until ‘getting it right’ proved impossible that I started tweaking the details.”

    US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith tells the New York Times’s “Behind the Book” that her interest in poetry started in childhood. “I felt from an early age that poetry was something mysterious, something playful and lilting,” she said of her early days reading Poe and Shakespeare. “As I got older, poems began to offer me new and life-changing ways of looking at the familiar world.”

    Lenny Letter is partnering with Glamour to create an “interactive fiction” series, which will be written by a group of female writers. Each of the seven chapters in Daughter, First, which follows the daughter of a Massachusetts governor, will be influenced by readers’ responses to prompts on social media. “We have seen the popularity of podcasts using serial storytelling, and so we just thought that newsletters . . . could be used in the same way, to draw readers in and create suspense and just tell a really good story,” said Lenny Letter editor in chief Jessica Grose, who will also be one of the writers on the project. “And I’d been noticing that the national conversation is very highly dominated by politics. I thought, ‘What a better time to do a novel —a totally fictional portrayal — about a political family?’”