• December 8, 2017

    In a Twitter thread, A.N. Devers looks at the erasure of former Paris Review editor Brigid Hughes from the history of the magazine. Hughes took over after founder George Plimpton died in 2003, and was let go in 2004. Devers points to New York Times articles about the magazine over the years—including a 2011 profile of Stein that erroneously refers to him as only the second editor after Plimpton—and notes that mentions of her work are regularly removed from the publication’s Wikipedia page. “One of the most amazing things about Brigid Hughes is that she then started her own magazine and continued to be who she was, an extraordinary editor who did the work with little fanfare,” Devers writes. “But we should still demand her first work be acknowledged.”

    Anne Garréta

    Finalists for the Albertine Prize have been announced. Nominees include Édouard Louis’s The End of Eddy, Anne Garréta’s Not One Day, and Mathias Énard’s Compass.

    MSNBC has reversed its decision to allow journalist Sam Seder’s contract to expire without renewal.

    The New York Times talks to Richard Lloyd Parry about Martin Amis, failing to finish Ulysses, and gendered literature. Parry says that he avoids the genres of “chick lit” and “lad lit” equally. “Anything that hitches itself too closely to a particular readership has failed a crucial test of literature,” he explained. “You’ve got to try to make a broad appeal, or at least not to exclude 50 percent of humanity.”

    Sarah Seltzer explores the ways that scandals are used to overshadow the accomplishments of female authors. Comparing the outing of Elena Ferrante’s identity and the recent plagiarism lawsuit brought by an ex-boyfriend against Emma Cline, Seltzer writes that these incidents both show the ways in which writers’ personal lives are used to detract from their literary success. “Those twin intrusions . . . both attempted to permanently put asterisks on the discussion of these women’s writing,” she writes. “At least temporarily and at least for some readers, Cline is reduced to the ex-girlfriend of the guy suing her. Ferrante became the wife of another novelist.”

  • December 7, 2017

    Kal Penn

    Novelist and essayist William H. Gass, author of The Tunnel and many other works, has died.

    Kal Penn is publishing an essay collection with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2019. The still-untitled book will include pieces on “his ambition as an actor, the challenges of navigating Hollywood,” and his year-long hiatus from acting while he worked as an associate director in President Obama’s Office of Public Engagement.

    Actress Sally Field is working on a memoir. Grand Central will publish In Pieces, which Field has been writing for the last five years, next fall.

    Paris Review editor Lorin Stein has resigned “amid an internal investigation into his behavior toward female employees and writers,” the New York Times reports.

    WNYC hosts Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz have both been put on leave as the station investigates recent allegations of misconduct.

    The Times looks at the complicity of Harvey Weinstein’s colleagues and professional acquaintances in maintaining the environment of silence and intimidation around the former producer. The Guardian reports that six women have filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Weinstein and other producers at the company. “We are but six women representing hundreds,” the women said in a statement. “Dozens have come forward so far, and many more remain in the shadows, still trying to find their courage. But we will, if we can transform our horror stories into a cultural shift.”

    Pacific Standard’s Jack Denton wonders who exactly is behind Semanal Media and the reasoning for the newly-formed group’s purchase of LA Weekly. After firing three-quarters of the staff, the paper has posted few articles and the new owners have made inconsistent statements about their motivations and plans. “The new owners’ backgrounds notwithstanding, there has been little evidence of a political shift at LA Weekly during the first week,” Denton writes. “Instead, the shift has, at least initially, been one toward incompetence and ignorance.”

    Tonight at the Brooklyn Historical Society, Jennifer Egan talks about her new book, Manhattan Beach.

  • December 6, 2017

    Paul Farhi details the numerous reporting mistakes that ABC’s Brian Ross has made over the years. Erik Wemple explains why suspending Ross is the wrong move for the network: “Suspensions help media companies take the air out of social-media backlash against their mistakes, give the chief screwup artist an anguished exile from the newsroom, and otherwise postpone the reckoning and re-org that the organizations must undertake to avoid the next suspension-worthy gaffe.”

    Kwame Anthony Appiah will lead the judging panel for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.

    Joy Williams

    Joy Williams has won the Paris Review’s Hadada Award. The prize will be presented to Williams next April.

    Rebecca Carroll reflects on her experience working as a producer on Charlie Rose, and explores how even during “this watershed moment of examination and reckoning” the effects of sexual harassment and hostile work environments on black women are still being ignored. “If I pushed back on anything race-related, I was silenced or punished,” she remembers. “It was an environment that all but erased me, while simultaneously exploiting me as a black woman.”

    The New York Times talks to actress Gabrielle Union about her new memoir, We’re Going to Need More Wine. Union said that on her book tour she often had trouble finding copies of her own book in stores, even after it spent three weeks on the bestseller list. Literary agent Kima Jones told the Times that it wasn’t surprising that Union’s book wasn’t receiving attention, but it was disappointing. “I hate to use the word ‘timely,’ because this is something that should have been part of the cultural conversation for a long time—but it is very ripe and very timely,” Jones said of We’re Going to Need More Wine, which deals with Union’s own experience of sexual assault. “There’s actually no reason we shouldn’t be talking about Gabrielle Union’s book beside Roxane Gay’s work or Leslie Jamison or Maggie Nelson’s work or any of the other women who are talking as critics of popular culture.”

    At BuzzFeed, Katie Notopoulos looks at Twitter’s inconsistent policies for dealing with offensive tweets. After one of her posts from 2011 was reported as offensive by alt-right users last month, Notopoulos was banned from the service and spent over a week waiting for a response to her appeal. She compares her experience to that of Trump, who has a history of tweeting highly offensive content and yet has never been banned from the service for varying reasons. “I’m not mad that the system works slightly differently for the president than it does for me. He also gets to drive through red lights on his motorcade and I’m not bitching about that,” she writes. “But the way Twitter decides what stays and what goes seems to be pretty arbitrary.”

  • December 5, 2017

    The Pulitzer Prizes will no longer limit the Breaking News award to local media. According to a press release by the organization, “breaking news entries will now include coverage related to news events of consequence, whether they are produced by a local, state or national news organization.”

    Al Tompkins explores why newsrooms are are more susceptible to sexual harassment than other workplaces.

    Sam Shepard. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

    PBS is replacing Charlie Rose with rebroadcasts of Christiane Amanpour’s eponymous CNN show.

    Bill O’Reilly is being sued by one of the women that he settled a sexual harassment claim with. Rachel Bernstein, who came to a settlement agreement with O’Reilly in 2002, is suing both O’Reilly and Fox News for statements made to the New York Times and other papers that violate the non-disparagement clause in their agreement.

    The New York Times looks at how Sam Shepard’s writing style changed after he was diagnosed with ALS and how he explored living with the disease in the stories in his final book, Spy of the First Person. The book, out today from Knopf and largely dictated by Shepard after he could no longer type or write longhand, “is an unvarnished, intimate portrait of a man facing the end of his life, as he reflects on his past and observes how his own body has betrayed him.”

    Emily Dutton talks about her new book, Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America, and the difficulties of writing as a new parent. Dutton says that most of the book was written soon after the birth of her first child. “There was a lot of multitasking going on,” she remembered. “I fear that some of that crept into the writing. There are places I wish I could start over again and rewrite more clearly and eloquently, and take away the exhaustion of early parenthood.”


  • December 4, 2017

    Emma Cline

    Emma Cline. Photo: Megan Cline.

    Emma Cline’s ex-boyfriend Chaz Reetz-Laiolo has sued the novelist, claiming that Cline plagiarized him in The Girls, her 2015 novel loosely based on the Manson Family. In a countersuit, Cline calls Reetz-Laiolo’s complaint “ludicrous.” Cline’s agent, Bill Clegg, calls the dispute “heartbreaking and enraging.”

    Geraldo Rivera is apologizing for what he is calling “tawdry” descriptions of his relationships with women that appear in his 1991 memoir, Exposing Myself.  

    Rizzoli books has announced that it’s launching a new imprint.

    Oregon Live revisits the early career of the late cult novelist Katherine Dunn.

    The 92nd Street Y has announced that it will hold a public memorial for John Ashbery on December 13, featuring Maxine Groffsky, Elizabeth Hazan, Ann Lauterbach, Dara Wier, Trevor Winkfield and musical performances by Dashon Burton and the Brentano String Quartet.

    Brian Evenson has written a critical-study-slash-memoir about Raymond Carver’s What We Talk about When We Talk about Love.

  • December 1, 2017

    Porochista Khakpour

    Porochista Khakpour explains how she and her team at Harper Perennial came up with the cover for her upcoming memoir, Sick. Khakpour says her newest work was also the hardest to chose a cover for: “Do you do some play on Lyme? (At one point a lime green cover was an option to which I yelped, please no!) Hospital paraphernalia? Meds? Doctors?” In the end, she and her team chose one of the many selfies Khakpour had taken while hospitalized, something she had done regularly to keep track of her health and stave off boredom. “I was mixed for a moment about this—it’s a lot to imagine your face at bookstores and all over the internet for ages to come, but especially your face associated with a word like ‘sick!’”

    Actress Jenny Slate is working on an collection of feminist essays and fables. The currently-untitled book will be published by Little, Brown in 2019, and “will explore what it’s like to be female in a misogynistic culture.”

    Emma Cline has filed a counter-suit against an ex-boyfriend who claims the novelist plagiarized parts of The Girls by installing spyware on his computer to access his unpublished work. Cline’s lawsuit  attributes any similar language to “the couple’s shared lives, conversations and reading of each other’s work when they were both aspiring writers who were romantically involved.” Cline is seeking $75,000 in damages.

    The New York Times has chosen its top ten books of 2017, culled from its annual list of one hundred notable books from the past year. Selections include Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West, and James Forman Jr.’s Locking Up Our Own. Literary Hub has released its own list of twenty “baffling omissions” from the paper’s yearly list, including Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Zinzi Clemmons’s What We Lose, and Richard Lloyd Parry’s Ghosts of the Tsunami.

    Vacationland author John Hodgman talks to the Times’s “By the Book” section about film adaptations, choosing books by their cover, and literary dinner conversation. “I’m lucky that I actually get to eat dinner with several writers I really admire,” he says. “But talking with writers about writing is not something that I enjoy doing, and I don’t find other writers do either. We mostly talk about TV.”

  • November 30, 2017

    Wired will switch to a metered paywall early next year. “The simple reason that we’re going to a paywall model is that I think it’s going to make money, and I’d like us to make more money,” editor in chief Nick Thompson explained. “The deeper reason we’re going to a paywall model is because you need to hedge against the future.”

    Syfy is developing a TV series based on George R. R. Martin’s 1980 novella, Nightflyers. The network has ordered ten episodes of the series, which may air as early as next summer.

    Elena Ferrante’s publishers say that the reclusive novelist has not given up on writing books.

    Daniel Alarcón

    Electric Literature talks to Daniel Alarcón about journalism, literary influences, and his new short story collection, The King Is Always Above the People. Alarcón says that although he is an avid reader, he hasn’t been able to find much of his favorite writers in his own work. “I read so much Borges when I was younger,” he said, “but see almost none of him in my work, which, as you might imagine, is a tremendous disappointment.”

    In the wake of Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor’s respective firings yesterday, New York Times television critics James Poniewozik and Margaret Lyons discuss sexual harassment and sexism in the entertainment industry, especially on morning shows. The two point to the artificial intimacy and family-style bond promoted by such programs as encouraging sexism. Poniewozik noted the “weird gender assumptions built in,” like the notion “that you need a man and a woman hosting—like a mom and dad—and that, often, the man is cast as the one who lends gravitas and authority.” Lyons hopes that the recent shake-ups at shows like CBS This Morning and Today will push the programs to “grapple with this as a process, like when Katie Couric taught us about cancer screenings. ‘Welcome back to the third hour of Today. Later, we’ll talk about restorative justice. But first, here’s how the patriarchy is bad for everyone.’”

  • November 29, 2017

    Dodai Stewart

    Amazon’s publishing company is launching a new imprint. Amazon Original Stories will focus on books of both fiction and nonfiction “that can be read in a single sitting” by authors like Joyce Carol Oates, Dodai Stewart, Eddie Huang, W. Kamau Bell, and more.

    NPR announced that executive editor Edith Chapin will take over the duties of news editor David Sweeney, who left the company yesterday after three women filed sexual harassment complaints against him.

    Margaret Sullivan explores how attacks on the media—like the sting operation by Project Veritas against the Washington Post—could end up increasing trust in journalism. Sullivan writes that the continued attacks on the credibility of “the reality-based press” has required journalists to become more transparent about what and how they report. “Newspeople used to joke that readers should never be allowed to see how the sausage is made. Now we need to show that messy process as clearly as possible,” she writes. “Our very credibility depends on it.”

    At The Atlantic, Julia Ioffe writes that the Trump administration’s block of the AT&T/Time Warner merger, which is rumored to be over Time Warner’s ownership of CNN, “should be a wake-up call for American journalists.” Ioffe looks to Russia, where the journalism of independent news organizations like TVRain and RBC have been shut down through financial pressure rather than physical intimidation. “The death of independent Russian media . . . was achieved by applying subtle political pressure on large businesses whose media properties, or the advertisements they placed in the media, were just a small, dispensable part,” she writes. “And though Time Warner and AT&T are going to contest the Trump administration’s decision in court, who knows if the next media owner will decide it’s too expensive—and exposes the rest of his assets to too much risk?”

    Politico reports that CNN will not attend the White House’s Christmas party this year. “In light of the President’s continued attacks on freedom of the press and CNN, we do not feel it is appropriate to celebrate with him as his invited guests,” a spokesperson said. “We will send a White House reporting team to the event and report on it if news warrants.”

  • November 28, 2017

    Better Homes and Gardens publisher Meredith Corporation has bought Time Inc. with a “passive financial investment” from the Koch brothers. Politico talks to skeptics of the brothers’ claims that they won’t be involved in the company or use their newly-acquired publications to spread their conservative agenda. “They could influence coverage without lifting a finger, basically,” said Koch biographer Daniel Schulman. “If the staff of these publications are aware that the Kochs are significant financial backers of Time Inc, they may not go out of their way to be critical of the brothers or the company.”

    Keith Olbermann

    Keith Olbermann is “retiring from political commentary in all media venues,” including his GQ webseries, “The Resistance.” “I am proud of it, and I repudiate none of it. It has been my privilege to do it,” Olbermann said in the show’s final episode, which aired yesterday. “But frankly, I have not enjoyed one minute of it. As I’m certain it has also been for you, for me, it has been unadulterated pain, revulsion and horror.”

    Margaret Sullivan explains why an upcoming Supreme Court case on warrantless access to cellphone location data could negatively impact journalists.

    The Rumpus has announced the nominees for the 2017 Pushcart Prize.

    Ta-Nehisi Coates talks to SF Gate about the influence of hip-hop on his writing style. Coates says that although artists like Mobb Deep inspired him to write poetry, hip-hop influences his journalistic writing as well. “One of the things people don’t give hip-hop enough credit is—I’m talking about the great ones—the amount of weight they put on each line, how much energy is actually put into each line and how that has a cumulative effect,” he said. “For me, the way I do that is—even though the lines are written a certain way—they’re facts. If I say something poetic about Trump, it’s going to be facts after that.”

    The New York Times took to its Reader Center to explain its recent profile of white nationalist and Nazi sympathizer Tony Hovater, which many critics felt normalized Hovater’s racist views. At Splinter, however, Anna Merlan and Brendan O’Connor still have some questions. Among other things, Merlan and O’Connor note that the paper did not require Hovater and his wife to use their legal names. “It’s unusual for any newspaper, let alone the Times, not to say when their subject isn’t using their real name,” they note. “A paper that insists on noting Snoop Dogg’s legal name can probably do the same for a Nazi, no?”


  • November 27, 2017

    In a study published in the journal Scientific Study of Literature, two English professors, Chris Gavaler and Dan Johnson, seek to prove that readers approach science fiction more “stupidly.”

    Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

    Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

    The New York Times profiles a new generation of Nigerian writers, including Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, author of the award-winning novel Season of Crimson Blossoms. “A new wave of thematically and stylistically diverse fiction is emerging from the country,” writes Alexandra Alter, “as writers there experiment with different genres and explore controversial subjects like violence against women, polygamy and the rise of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.”

    Jamelle Bouie, the chief political correspondent for Slate, ridicules the New York Times for “running a profile of a Nazi as if he’s just an odd curiosity and not part of a violent and dangerous movement.”

    Pulitzer-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides, whose book of short stories Fresh Complaint has just been released, tells The Guardian that he does not, as a writer, feel obliged to match the baroque oddness of our current political situation. “It’s not my main worry: trying to compete with the outrageousness of Trump with something outrageous of my own. Right now, I think we’re in need of a certain amount of calm and tranquillity, and that’s what I try to provide with writing. I’m more and more interested in clarity and thoughtfulness in fiction, rather than in spectacle or gimmickry. Just a voice that’s companionable and speaking to you on some reassuring level.”

    O, the Oprah Magazine has released its list of the best books of 2017.