• April 9, 2018

    Tom Wolfe

    Tom Wolfe

    This week, New York Magazine is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. To celebrate, it’s running an oral history, with quotes from editors and contributors, including Tom Wolfe, Gloriam Steinem, Gail Sheehy, Michael Wolff, and Frank Rich. In the first issue, which came out on April 8, 1968, Tom Wolfe wrote about accents and status, and Arthur C. Clarke wrote about Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    William T. Vollmann’s new books about nuclear- and carbon-based fuels should “scare the hell out of you.”

    Amazon’s TV adaptation of the Lord of the Rings could wind up costing more than $1 billion to make.

    In the wake of the rapid departure of controversial right-wing columnist Kevin Williamson—who written, among other things, that “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide”—the Atlantic says it will be more thorough in its vetting of future hires.

    In January, the New York Times Book Review announced its plans to stop publishing the Bestseller List for graphic novels. But the review is continuing to take comics seriously: It recently hired Ed Park and Hillary Chute to write a new column about graphic novels, which will start this month.

    Novelist Anthony Marra, author of The Tsar of Love and Techno, has won the 2018 Simpson Family Literary Prize, which supports mid-career authors.

  • April 6, 2018

    Emily Nemens. Photo: Jeremiah Ariaz

    The Paris Review has chosen Emily Nemens as its new editor. Nemens was most recently the co-editor of the Southern Review. “Her literary tastes, her accomplishments, the combination of her work ethic and her sense of collaboration—both with her writers and her staff—make her a really unique package of talent,” one board member told the New York Times. “This is someone who is on a steep trajectory, and The Paris Review is going to benefit from that.”

    The Atlantic has fired columnist Kevin Williamson “after it became apparent that his belief that women who get an abortion should be hanged was more than just a single tweet,” the Daily Beast reports.

    Penguin Random House has named Madeline McIntosh as CEO and Allison Dobson as president.

    Literary Hub has a round up of this year’s literary Guggenheim fellows, which includes Teju Cole, Roxane Gay, Rachel Cusk, Deb Olin Unferth, and more.

    NiemanLab’s Laura Hazard Owen explains the backlash to the WNYC revival of Gothamist, the local news website that was shut down by its billionaire owner after employees decided to unionize. After WNYC acquired the website through donor funding, Gothamist began a Kickstarter campaign for $100,000, something critics say is unfair to their previously unpaid contributors and underpaid employees. “From this angle, the Gothamist Kickstarter, and WNYC putting out its hand to readers to relaunch the site when WNYC already received money (including from one unidentified source) to acquire it, feels . . . weird,” Owen writes. “Like, use the money you already have.”

  • April 5, 2018

    The Man Booker International prize has reversed its decision to change Taiwanese author Wu Ming-Yi’s nationality from Taiwan to “Taiwan, China.” Wu, whose novel The Stolen Bicycle is on the longlist for the prize, was previously listed as being from Taiwan, but The Guardian reports that “following a complaint from the Chinese embassy in London last week, his nationality was changed on the prize’s website.”

    Sloane Crosley

    Look Alive Out There author Sloane Crosley talks to Hazlitt about how living in New York affects her writing. “I grew up in White Plains, which is a commuter town thirty minutes outside of the city. So, while I’m not from New York, it’s not exactly the same as moving to New York from Florida or England. . . . I’m invited to the party, but I don’t feel totally comfortable,” she said. “But you have to be slightly uncomfortable to be able to walk down the street and notice things. It’s hard to observe something if you’re the life of the party or the white-hot center of it.”

    Roxane Gay is editing a pop-up magazine at Medium, where twenty-four writers respond to the same question: “What does it mean to live in an unruly body?”

    Fast Company details the history of abuse, trolling, and fake news on Twitter, and the company’s struggle to find a solution to it. BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel writes that the recent shooting at YouTube shows that the social media platform is no longer a useful resource during breaking-news events. “Twitter has long been a vital service for following along with current events as they unfold in real time,” he writes. “But in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy, Twitter’s usefulness is offset considerably by a growing chorus of trolls, hoaxers, and irresponsible commentators. It’s loud and reactive at a time when restraint is most necessary.”

    Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo goes “inside the woke civil war at the New York Times,” where staff are split on generational lines over issues like sexual misconduct and the paper’s opinions writers. “The olds feel like the youngs are insufficiently respectful of long-standing journalistic norms, or don’t get that things are the way they are for a reason,” one younger employee told Pompeo. “The youngs feel like the olds are insufficiently willing to acknowledge the ways in which the world and media landscape have changed, and that our standards and mores should evolve to reflect that.”

  • April 4, 2018

    The city of New York has announced another round of its One Book, One New York program. James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach, Hari Kunzru’s White Tears, Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers, and Esmeralda Santiago’s When I Was Puerto Rican are all in the running, with the winner to be announced in May.

    Kevin Young

    The winners of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards have been announced. Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing won the fiction category, while Kevin Young’s Bunk has won the nonfiction prize.  

    So Many Olympic Exertions author Annelise Chen says that she’s noticed one thing she and other autofiction writers have in common: their “unexplained revulsion” at writing pure fiction. “It’s not something we can explain — the moment we feel like we’re making something up, we feel disgust. So autofiction might be the logical end result when a fiction writer can’t stomach fiction.”

    Condé Nast says that there’s no truth to the rumors that Anna Wintour is leaving the company.

    Conservative columnist Kevin Williamson’s first piece for The Atlantic claims that the Democratic party is “dreaming up excuses to sue or jail people for their views on climate change, and the United States is for the moment left with two authoritarian populist parties.” However, neither of his two cited sources for the lawsuit claim—one of which is a four-year-old Gawker opinion post—back it up.

    Sinclair Broadcast Group executive chairman David Smith tells New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi that he does not trust any print media. “The print media is so left wing as to be meaningless dribble which accounts for why the industry is and will fade away,” he wrote in an email when Nuzzi requested an interview. “For a pundit or a far-right politician, statements like Smith’s have become expected in the Trump era,” Nuzzi notes. “But from one of the most powerful media executives in the country, they’re not.”

  • 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.