• August 10, 2017

    Bruce Springsteen will perform on Broadway this fall, in a show that incorporates his music, excerpts from his autobiography, and other pieces of his writing. “Springsteen on Broadway” will run for eight weeks at the Walter Kerr Theater. “My show is just me, the guitar, the piano and the words and music,” Springsteen said. “Some of the show is spoken, some of it is sung. It loosely follows the arc of my life and my work.”

    Director Ava DuVernay is adapting Octavia Butler’s novel Dawn for television.

    Actress Busy Philipps is writing an autobiographical essay collection. The still-untitled book “will offer the same unfiltered and candid storytelling that her Instagram followers have come to know and love,” and will be published by Touchstone in 2018.

    Molly Patterson. Photo: Elaine Sheng

    Axios reports that the Charles Koch Foundation, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark’s CraigConnects have all pledged financial support to TechDirt, a website that is in the middle of a libel lawsuit. Axios concludes that “this sends a message that there are wealthy Americans or their proxies willing to push back on a trend toward litigation over negative news stories driven by some of their peers.”

    T: The New York Times Style Magazine profiles Rebecca Solnit, “the oddball essayist” who recently republished book Hope in the Dark has made her “suddenly and unexpectedly a progressive icon, a wise female elder.”

    Volume 1 Brooklyn talks to Molly Patterson about history, expectations of women, and her new book, Rebellion. Set in nineteenth-century China, Rebellion follows the lives of a group of Chinese and American women. Patterson said that she found a connection between her characters in “the ways that women across culture and time have been expected to—or forced to—lead small lives, with small expectations.”

    Tonight at Brooklyn’s Powerhouse Arena, Weike Wang talks to Jenny Zhang about her new book, Sour Heart.

  • August 9, 2017

    Vox analyzed seventeen months of Fox & Friends transcripts in an effort to understand the relationship between the show and the president. Rather than simply echoing the party line as traditional state-run media might, Alvin Chang writes that the show seeks to offer Trump advice. “What we found is that Fox & Friends has a symbiotic relationship with Trump that is far weirder and more interesting than state media,” Chang writes. “Instead of talking for Trump, they are talking to him.”

    Reggie Ugwu

    The New York Times has hired Reggie Ugwu as a pop culture reporter. Ugwu was most recently at BuzzFeed News, “where he focused on pop music, and the cultural, economic and technological forces that shape it.”

    Rion Amilcar Scott’s Insurrections has won the 2017 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction.

    The Times talks to new press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders—”the good cop to Mr. Spicer’s barking sergeant.”

    Jennie Yabroff talks to Jonathan Dee about capitalism, representing tragedy, and his new book, The Locals. The book begins on September 12, 2001, with a scene that Dee says he had to fight to keep in the book. Dee chose to illustrate the event through an unnamed stranger reacting to the actions of a man that turns out to be the book’s protagonist. “You don’t want the opening scene of your novel to consist of a bunch of characters sitting on their couches watching TV and crying,” he explained. “I felt like I had to begin with at least an invocation of 9/11, if not the day itself, because that day instigated a long political reaction that we didn’t recognize as a reaction for quite some time.”

  • August 8, 2017

    The New York Times reports on the growing trend of investing in politically-minded memes, instead of spending money on traditional marketing tools like TV and newspaper ads. “Viral media expertise is emerging as a crucial skill for political operatives, and as donors look to replicate the success of the social media sloganeers who helped lift President Trump to victory, they’re seeking out talented meme makers.”

    WNYC has picked up former US Attorney Preet Bharara’s podcast. “Stay Tuned with Preet” will be a weekly show that focuses “on issues of justice and fairness.”

    The Globe and Mail profiles author Joseph Boyden, whose claim of Indigenous heritage has come under scrutiny due to a land rights lawsuit. After Boyden provided a copy of an unofficial identification card to prove his Métis heritage in court, Eric Andrew-Gee writes, “This is Boyden as his sharpest critics see him: a cultural tourist flogging a dubious Indigenous identity for profit under the guise of good works, his achievement in preserving a vision of Indigenous Canada through his writing . . . undercut by the shadowy tactics and self-seeking he appears to have marshalled along the way.”

    Mary Beard

    After defending a BBC schools video that showed “a high-ranking black Roman soldier” as historically accurate, author Mary Beard has received a “torrent of aggressive insults” on social media. “It feels very sad to me that we cannot have a reasonable discussion on such a topic as the cultural, ethnic composition of Roman Britain without resorting to unnecessary insult, abuse, misogyny and language of war,” she said. The Guardian has collected the tweets of Beard’s defenders, including JK Rowling, MP Diane Abbott, and Monica Lewinsky.

    At Vulture, Kat Rosenfield reports on the detrimental call-out culture in Twitter’s Young Adult literature community. What started as a campaign against racism and a lack of representation in YA books has become, according to Rosenfield, “a jumble of dogpiling and dragging . . . with accusations of white supremacy on one side and charges of thought-policing moral authoritarianism on the other.” Rosenfield writes that even her reporting was “met with intense pushback” from authors, agents, and fans. “Several influential authors instructed their followers not to speak to me; and one librarian and member of the Newbery Award committee tweeted at Vulture nearly a dozen times accusing them of enabling ‘a washed-up YA author’ engaged in ‘a personalized crusade’ against the entire publishing community,” Rosenfield writes. “With one exception, all my sources insisted on anonymity, citing fear of professional damage and abuse.”

  • August 7, 2017

    Benjamin Moser

    More than a year ago, New York Review Classics announced that it would reissue Norman Podhoretz’s 1967 book Making It, with an introduction by critic and Susan Sontag biographer Benjamin Moser. When the new edition of Making It was published, however, it arrived with an introduction by Terry Teachout. Now, Moser explains why. Podhoretz is notorious for his shift from the radical left to the reactionary right, and in his introduction, Moser tried to show that even though he was interested in Making It, this did not amount to an endorsement of Podhoretz’s current political positions. “Podhoretz saw through this, of course. He was offended by the opening paragraphs, and angrily rejected the preface.

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the author of Americanah, rereads Albert Speer’s Inside the Third Reich, a book she read as a child. “What could I, at the age of ten, have found so engaging in the memoir of a Nazi, Adolf Hitler’s de-facto No. 2 man?” Adichie asks. As she answers that question, she also finds how the book offers some lessons about the current political moment. “Hitler rose to power because he exploited in Germans that sense of what Speer called ‘personal unhappiness caused by the breakdown of the economy,’ which ‘was replaced by a frenzy that demanded victims.’ He turned history into a reservoir of resentments. And he spoke simply. Speaking simply, in this case, meant discarding complexity and disregarding truth.”

    On August 1, Karen Torres, a VP of marketing at the Hachette Publishing Group, embarked on a refreshingly old-fashioned campaign: She took twenty-six editors and publishers on a tour of independent bookstores in the Northeast. This wasn’t just to pitch forthcoming titles to booksellers. Torres wanted Hachette’s acquiring editors to learn from the experience—to have “an opportunity to get a sense of the marketplace.”

    At Publishers Weekly, Karin Roffman, the author of a new biography of John Ashbery, offers a list of the ten best Ashbery poems.

    Novelist Alexander Chee delves deep into the world of Patricia Highsmith’s character Tom Ripley. “A character like Ripley fascinates because he is one of those protagonists who doesn’t much change—the novel’s transformation is enacted inside the reader,” Chee writes. “You are the one who changes, confronted with the baroque moral surface of a murderer’s loneliness.”

  • August 4, 2017

    Literary Hub talks to Jenny Zhang about childhood, representing the immigrant experience in fiction, and her new book, Sour Heart. While Zhang was a student at the Iowa Writers Workshop, her classmates often said that the language of her stories’ Chinese-American subjects wasn’t believable to them. “I always found that so befuddling,” she said. “How am I, a Chinese person, less knowledgeable about how Chinese people talk than you, a non-Chinese person? Then I realize what they’re really saying is ‘I’ve never met a Chinese person who speaks this way’ and there’s a lot of reasons for that they’re not investigating.”

    Margot Lee Sheerly. photo: Aran Shetterly

    In the New York Times’s “By the Book” section, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden says she has a hard time choosing the last great book she read. “Books are a little like a good meal,” she said. ”You enjoy it and remember it, but you are always looking forward to the next one.” The Library of Congress has released the lineup for the National Book Festival in September, a list that includes Roxane Gay, Margot Lee Shetterly, and more.

    Susie Banikarim has been named editorial director of Gizmodo Media Group. Banikarim will supervise editorial operations on all eight Gizmodo websites.  

    New York Times reporter Nick Confessore notes that the title of Corey Lewandowski’s new book is the same as one in a “book proposal he denied pitching during [the] campaign.” Let Trump Be Trump: The Inside Story of His Rise to the Presidency will be published by Center Street in December.

    CNN talks to employees at Fox News, who say that the network has yet to take any action over a story about a murdered DNC staffer that was retracted two months ago. After one of the story’s sources filed a lawsuit against the network over the article, employees are again questioning why the internal investigation into the story has taken over two months, and why the author of the article has continued to write for the site. “It really forces the question, how much journalistic integrity does Fox News really have?” one anonymous employee said. “Because most other news outlets, these situations come up, but they are dealt with appropriately. People are held accountable. People are fired, they are disciplined or whatever. But this is like classic Fox. No one ever gets fired from Fox for publishing a story that isn’t true.”

  • August 3, 2017

    Judith Jones

    Editor and author Judith Jones died yesterday at 93. The New York Times writes that Jones—who pulled the manuscript for the diary of Anne Frank out of a reject pile and published Mastering the Art of French Cooking after it had been passed over by other publishers—“modestly ascribed her success to being in the right place at the right time.”

    Flatiron has bought former FBI director James Comey’s book, but instead of “the tell-all memoir many readers hoped for,” Entertainment Weekly writes that the book will be about leadership. The Wall Street Journal reports that the book sold for $2.5 million at auction, a price well below initial estimates. “The skeptics worried that Mr. Comey won’t dwell on the juiciest material, such as more details on run-ins with Mr. Trump or others in the administration,” Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg writes. “An inside-the-room memoir would likely have brought a bigger payday, suggested publishing executives.”

    President Trump has started his own news program on his Facebook. Hosted by his daughter-in-law Lara Trump, the program offers “updates on news favorable to her father-in-law.” Trump began her newscast with a quick shoutout to the mainstream media: “I bet you haven’t heard about all the accomplishments the president had this week because there’s so much fake news out there.”

    The Freedom of the Press Foundation and Committee to Protect Journalists are launching a U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. The project will use be funded by money donated by Congressman Greg Gianforte, who gave $50,000 to CPJ after body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs.

    Poynter is keeping a running tally of all the New York Times employees who have accepted buyouts in recent months. The list includes numerous George Polk and Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as critics like Michiko Kakutani, Andy Webster, and Anita Gates.

    At Literary Hub, Adam Fitzgerald talks to Sarah Schulman about conflict, abuse, and victimhood. Schulman points out that the language of abuse and victimizations is now being used to keep the powerful in their positions, rather than help the less powerful. “We have a president that tells us everyday that he is a victim, that he’s under attack,” she said. “The person with the most power sees literal descriptions of their power as an attack.”

  • August 2, 2017

    Sam Shepard. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

    Patti Smith remembers friend and collaborator Sam Shepard, who died last week from complications of ALS. “He liked packing up and leaving just like that, going west,” she writes. “He liked getting a role that would take him somewhere he really didn’t want to be, but where he would wind up taking in its strangeness; lonely fodder for future work.”

    At New York magazine, Christian Lorentzen reflects on the current demand for dystopian fiction. From Jeff VanderMeer’s Borne, to Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan, Lorentzen explains how “the present moment, with its dismal politics and cries from both sides of impending catastrophe,” has made dystopian novels more appealing to readers. “When things are bad, we want to hear how much worse they can get,” he writes. “There’s something paradoxically comforting about watching characters live through terrifying alternate realities and collapsing near futures.”

    Macmillan Publishers is moving from the Flatiron Building in Chelsea to new offices in downtown Manhattan. Publisher’s Weekly notes that as the building’s only tenant, “Macmillan has become associated with the skyscraper to the point where Bob Miller chose to call his new imprint Flatiron Books when he joined Macmillan in 2013.” The move will be completed in 2019.

    After numerous scoops by pro-Trump on White House staff shake-ups were confirmed, Axios writes that this access is making right-wing news organizations seem more trustworthy. “The fake stories make it hard to spot the true news, but for others, the true news gives credibility to the misinformation.”

    Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler has filed a lawsuit against the network over a now-retracted story about the murder of Democratic National Committee aide Seth Rich. Wheeler claims that Fox News “intended to deflect public attention from growing concern about the administration’s ties to the Russian government,” and that a reporter “created quotations out of thin air and attributed them to him to propel her story.”

    Columbia Journalism Review talks to former NBC reporter Anthony Ponce about quitting his job, becoming a Lyft driver, and creating the Backseat Rider podcast, which is based on conversations he has with his passengers. Ponce says that the new job has changed his life in many ways, especially financially. “I moved my family back in with my parents. My wife and I are renting out our house, and I also took a job part-time on-air stuff with a company called Dose for a morning show on the CW. The podcast hasn’t grown audience-wise where it could be my full-time gig … yet,” he said. “On the fulfillment side, on a scale from 1 to 10, I’m at a 10.”

  • August 1, 2017

    Mic examines MSNBC’s thwarted evolution into a centrist news channel. Chairman Andrew Lack had been planning to reorganize the network and increase its ratings by cancelling opinion-based programming in favor of more balanced news coverage. “But the election of Donald Trump has complicated that evolution,” Kelsey Sutton writes, “raising the profile and popularity of MSNBC’s liberal hosts just as Lack sought to dial back the network’s liberal identity.”

    Although the White House claims that Anthony Scaramucci’s departure was meant to give the new chief of staff a “clean slate,” that may be an impossible task for the Trump administration. From lies about crowd size at the inauguration, to the resignation of Michael Flynn and claims of surveillance by Barack Obama, Erik Wemple writes that “in light of all that, there’ll be no clean slates at this White House, no matter how many people are pushed out the door.”

    Actor, playwright, and author Sam Shepard died last week at 73. The New York Times remembers him through their reviews of his plays, books, and movies.

    Gwendolyn Brooks

    At the Times, Claudia Rankine reflects on the legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks, as found in two new anthologies honoring the poet. Referring to a reader’s report on Brooks from the 1940s, in which novelist Richard Wright wrote that “America needs a voice like hers,” Rankine writes that Wright’s claim is confirmed by “the hundreds of artists represented in these two new anthologies, poets who have used her work as a prompt or a point of engagement.”

    Poynter talks to Dodai Stewart, the editor in chief of Splinter, the website formerly known as Fusion. Although Splinter has hired a number of former Gawker and Gizmodo Media Group staff, Stewart maintains that the site is not trying to replace Gawker. “Splinter is the new Splinter. Splinter is not the new Gawker,” she said. “I’m looking forward and not back.”

    MTV president Chris McCarthy talks about his plans to revive the network, which include bringing back Total Request Live and abandoning MTV News’s longform project. “MTV at its best—whether it’s news, whether it’s a show, whether it’s a docu-series—is about amplifying young people’s voices,” he said. “We put young people on the screen, and we let the world hear their voices. We shouldn’t be writing 6,000-word articles on telling people how to feel.”

  • July 31, 2017

    Choire Sicha

    Choire Sicha—the onetime Gawker writer, cofounder and former editor of the Awl, and the author of Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. 2009 A.D.) in a Large City—has been named the new editor of the New York Times’s Style section.

    Alexandra Schwartz considers the career and legacy of Times book critic Michiko Kakutani: “A good review brought on elation,” Schwartz writes.  “A bad one incited rage, sometimes despair. Nicholson Baker compared getting a negative Kakutani review to undergoing surgery without anesthesia; Jonathan Franzen called her ‘the stupidest person in New York.’ (She had deemed his memoir ‘an odious self-portrait of the artist as a young jackass.’)”

    Atlantic Media has announced that it will sell a majority stake in The Atlantic magazine to the Emerson Collective, an organization led by philanthropist and investor Laurene Powell Jobs, who is the widow of Steve Jobs.

    Harper has announced that it will publish What Does This Button Do?—the memoir by Iron Maiden lead singer (and motivational speaker and novelist) Bruce Dickinson—this fall.

    Dan Piepenbring looks at writing style through the lense of Ben Blatt’s new book Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve: What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing, which approaches canonical works through the use of statistics. “In ‘literary experiments’ on diction, punctuation, cliffhangers, clichés, and other aspects of style and usage, Blatt uses data to probe the body of conventional wisdom that surrounds creative writing. What if those who allegedly loathe adverbs are actually completely, totally addicted to them? What if it’s quite O.K. to use intensifiers very often, because Jane Austen is rather fond of them? What if I like exclamation points!”

    Happy birthday, John Ashbery.


  • July 28, 2017

    After nearly forty years with the paper, the New York Times’s chief book critic Michiko Kakutani is stepping down. The Times has a round up of the best of Kakutani’s thirty-year years of reviewing. Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo reports that Kakutani accepted a buyout offer, and plans to “branch out and write more essays about culture and politics in Trump’s America.” Known for launching the career of writers like David Foster Wallace and Zadie Smith, “Kakutani’s departure will instantly change the shape of the publishing world,” Pompeo writes. “She wielded the paper’s power with remarkable confidence and abandon.”

    Parul Sehgal. Photo: David Surowiecki

    New York Times Book Review senior editor and columnist Parul Sehgal has been named book critic at the Times.

    Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad has won the Arthur C. Clarke award. The announcement comes one day after Whitehead’s book was included on the Man Booker Prize longlist.

    Novelist Jane Green tells the New York Times’s “By the Book” that Cat Marnell’s How to Murder Your Life taught her a valuable lesson. In the book, Marnell wrote that in rehab she was taught to ignore negative thoughts by imagining “her brain was coated in Teflon,” a technique that stuck with Green after reading the book. “It is utterly brilliant, works like a charm and, given that I have been employing it since I read the book, may have changed my life,” she said.

    Despite a renewed interest in O.J. Simpson, as well as his release on parole, TMZ reports that “major publishers will NOT be scrambling to offer him a book deal after he gets out of prison.” In addition to the fact that his last planned book If I Did It led to a HarperCollins publisher losing her job, Javelin president Keith Urbahn says that “consumers won’t spend 20 bucks on a self-aggrandizing book about how he’s turned his life around.”

    The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza recalls a ranting phone call from the new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci,  in response to a tweet that Lizza had sent earlier in the evening about Scaramucci having dinner with the president, first lady, Sean Hannity, and former Fox News co-president Bill Shine. After Lizza refused to reveal his source for the information, Scaramucci became convinced that the leak came from Reince Priebus. Referring to Priebus as a “paranoiac,” Scaramucci imitated the chief of staff as he explained a possible motive for the leak: “‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months.”