• June 5, 2017

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

    In the New York Times Book Review’s By the Book column, basketball legend and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—whose new book is Coach Wooden and Me—names the best book he ever received as a gift (Geoff Dyer’s But Beautiful: A Book about Jazz) and his favorite literary hero (Walter Mosley’s P.I. Easy Rawlins).

    Reporting on this year’s Book Expo America convention, Publishers Weekly names this fall’s “big books” (new fiction by Jeffrey Eugenides, Leni Zumas, and Jennifer Egan), and gives a recap of the convention’s main event, Hillary Clinton’s discussion with Wild author Cheryl Strayed. Clinton called her latest book of personal essays, which will be published by Simon & Schuster this September, “a really unvarnished view of what I think happened [in the election].” “Someone else could run for president tomorrow, or in four years, and they won’t have the same experience,” Clinton said. To which Strayed replied: “Somebody else please run for president tomorrow.” PW also reports on the BEA panel Book Reviews: The Diversity of Race, Ethnicity and Sexual Orientation, and took note of “a different feel” (smaller, but still relevant) at this year’s convention.

    “People say, if all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. We should be so lucky. President Trump has a hammer, but all he’ll use it for is to smash things that others have built, as the world looks on in wonder and in fear.” Environmental activist and author Bill McKibben—the author of Oil and Honey and Earth—offers a clear and eloquent rebuttal of Trump’s decision to “obliterate” the Paris climate accord. “It’s not stupid and reckless in the normal way. Instead, it amounts to a thorough repudiation of two of the civilizing forces on our planet: diplomacy and science. It undercuts our civilization’s chances of surviving global warming, but it also undercuts our civilization itself, since that civilization rests in large measure on those two forces.”

    Novelist Ian McEwan says he’s still in denial about Brexit. “My faction lives in daily bafflement. How has this happened in a mature parliamentary democracy, this rejection of common sense and good governance? How can it be that in a one-off vote just over a third of the electorate has determined the fate of the nation for the next half century? That shameless lies were told in the Brexit cause?”

    Robert Caro is reportedly nearing the end of his research on Lyndon Baines Johnson. He has so far published four volumes of the proposed five-book biography of LBJ, and is currently working on the fifth. A question remains: What will become of Caro’s voluminous archives of research? In a recent interview, “the author estimated that less than 5 percent of the material in his research files has made it into the finished books.”

    J. Ryan Stradal has written a deeply felt personal essay about the time he spent with author Denis Johnson.  

  • June 2, 2017

    Maria Semple

    Julia Roberts will star in the television adaptation of Maria Semple’s Today Will be Different. Semple is currently writing a limited series based on the book for HBO.

    Scholars have discovered a new play by Edith Wharton in a Texas archive. “The Shadow of a Doubt” was written and produced in 1901, long before Wharton began writing novels.

    At the New York Times, Holland Cotter reviews the Morgan Library and Museum’s exhibition on Henry David Thoreau. “As you go through the show it becomes clear how important it is to have him present, right now,” Cotter writes. “Not just because 2017 is the bicentenary of his birth but because he is a model of resistance in a rived, self-destructive, demagogic political moment.”

    John Cassidy reflects on Trump’s announcement that the US will withdraw from the Paris climate-change accord. Cassidy calls the speech “Trumpism in its full glory—the world as a conspiracy against its sole superpower, a country that accounts for a quarter of global G.D.P. and about forty per cent of global personal wealth.”

    After one of the paper’s journalists was assaulted by a US congressman, The Guardian has seen a 40 percent increase in reader contributions.

    Conservative journalist Cassandra Fairbanks is suing Fusion reporter Emma Roller for defamation. The suit was filed after Roller tweeted a photo of Fairbanks, which included a caption that alleged Fairbanks was making a “white power hand gesture.” According to Fairbanks’s lawyers, mainstream journalists use the First Amendment “to smear and slime their adversaries at will,” when it is actually “meant to protect the Cassandra Fairbanks’ of the journalism world: independent, alternative voices of truth in a sea of fake news.”

  • June 1, 2017

    The New York Times is offering another round of buyouts in the newsroom in the hopes of avoiding forced layoffs. The paper plans to merge the current system of copy editors and “backfielders” into a single group. The Times is also eliminating the public editor role, currently held by Liz Spayd. In a memo, publisher Arthur Sulzberger noted that the public editor position was poorly suited to the digital age. “Today, our followers on social media and our readers across the internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog, more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be,” he wrote. Instead, the paper is establishing a Reader Center. Run by International desk editor Hanna Ingber, the department will work with editorial staff throughout the newsroom to field tips, criticisms, and other feedback.

    Former CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley will now serve as a full-time correspondent on 60 Minutes. Pelley has worked on the program since 2004, and continued to work as a correspondent after he took over Evening News in 2011.

    Chris Kraus

    Politico is launching a London edition of Playbook this summer. The newsletter will be run by current Daily Mirror political editor Jack Blanchard.

    Bill O’Reilly is working on his next book. Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence will be published in September by Henry Holt.

    At Literary Hub, Chris Kraus explains why you should read Eileen Myles’s recently-reissued first novel, Cool for You. Loosely based on Myles’s childhood, Kraus writes that the novel could be considered a kunstlerroman, or “a chronicle of an artist’s becoming.” “Seventeen years after its first publication, the book feels just as radical, startling, and daringly alive as when it first came out,” writes Kraus. “Perhaps now it will be better read.”

  • May 31, 2017

    Francesco Pacifico

    Francesco Pacifico talks to Adam Thirlwell about translating his his new novel, Class. Pacifico is translating the new book into English himself, which he says has given him a chance to rewrite the original. “I’d gained enough distance from Class to realize the Italian version hadn’t been properly edited—there were a lot of moral asperities that I had to tone down because it was a crazily bleak book,” he said. “Now my Italian editor and I think we should publish the new version as a paperback.”

    At Hazlitt, Elizabeth Strout discusses politics, stand-up comedy, and her new book, Anything is Possible.

    BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti stands by his company’s decision to publish an unverified intelligence dossier on Donald Trump, and says he plans to “vigorously defend” the website in the resulting defamation lawsuit.

    The Ringer is the latest web publication to leave hosting platform Medium. The sports and culture site will be moving to Vox Media later this summer. Creator Bill Simmons will retain ownership and editorial independence, while Vox will assist in ad sales and share profits.

    Four more editorial employees of The Observer were fired yesterday, including Dana Schwartz, the author of last year’s open letter to owner Jared Kushner. Other laid off employees include a culture writer, a managing editor, and “a business and tech editor who was hired only in the past month.” The website has yet to fill the editor in chief position after the resignation of Ken Kurson last week.

    The Atlantic’s Rosie Gray looks at the challenges faced by former White House communications director Mike Dubke, whose recent resignation was made public yesterday. As a low-profile, establishment Republican, writes Gray, “Dubke never cut much of a figure in a White House populated with outsize personalities and animated by factionalism and conflict.” But Republican strategist Katie Packer Beeson says that there were other reasons for his short tenure. “The best communications director in the business is no match for a boss who thinks they know better, changes their mind and struggles with the truth,” she told Gray. “This is an impossible job and no amount of compensation in the world would make it worth taking.”

  • May 30, 2017

    Al Franken

    At the New Yorker, Jill Lepore looks at a new (and newly relevant) batch of dystopian novels.

    In his new book, Giant of the Senate, Al Franken recalls likening Ted Cruz to “a Carnival cruise” (and noting that both are “full of shit”). Cruz has responded: “Al is trying to sell books and apparently he’s decided that being obnoxious and insulting me is good for causing liberals to buy his books… I wish him all the best.”

    Philip Pullman has offered a glimpse of his forthcoming novel The Book of Dust, which is meant to serve as a companion to his bestselling trilogy of “His Dark Materials” novels. You can read an excerpt from the book (which will be released on October 19) here.

    Benjamin Anastas explains why American journalist Martha Gellhorn’s A Stricken Field, an account of the 1938 refugee crisis in Prague, continues to be “essential reading for today.”

    At the Los Angeles Times, David L. Ulin has written an eloquent appreciation of the novelist Denis Johnson, who died last week. And at the New Yorker, Tobias Wolff recalls Johnson’s generosity, and Philip Gourevitch honors the novelist’s “ecstatic American voice.” 

    The new issue of Bookforum is out now.

  • May 26, 2017

    Denis Johnson

    Jesus’ Son author Denis Johnson died yesterday at the age of 67. The news was announced by Farrar, Straus and Giroux publisher Jonathan Galassi. “Denis was one of the great writers of his generation,” Galassi said. “He wrote prose with the imaginative concentration and empathy of the poet he was.”

    The collection of O. Henry Prize Stories for 2017 will be published by Anchor next September. The anthology was edited by Laura Furman and includes stories by Michelle Huneven, Alan Rossi, and more.

    Entertainment and culture writer Ira Madison III is leaving MTV News for the Daily Beast. New York magazine’s Lauren Kern has been hired as the first editor in chief of Apple News. Ken Kurson has resigned from his position as editor in chief of The Observer.

    Polis Books founder and publisher Jason Pinter is self-publishing a novel. “I wrote this book during the insanity of the election campaign,” he told Publisher’s Weekly, “and I wanted it out right now, not in 18 months [which is the usual publishing cycle]. I knew I would need to do it myself.” The Castle will be released on June 26.

    The New York Times details the increasingly violent treatment of journalists in the first months of Trump’s presidency. After Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte body-slammed a reporter the night before his election, the Times asks, “In this time of intense partisanship, shiv-in-the-kidney politics and squabbles over the meaning of truth, can Americans come together and agree that a politician slamming a journalist to the ground for asking a question is wrong? The answer, it turns out, is no.”

    At Electric Literature, Rebecca Makkai reviews the new American Writers Museum in Chicago, and asks, “How can we represent four hundred years of American literary history in a way that doesn’t reinforce the unfortunate hierarchies of those four hundred years?”


  • May 25, 2017

    Amazon’s first bookstore in New York opens today at Columbus Circle. The “physical extension of Amazon.com” uses customer behavior to choose which books to stock. “We incorporate data about what people read, how they read it and why they read it,” said Amazon Books vice president Jennifer Cast. The New York Times reports that reactions to the new store are conflicted. “I’m happy there’s a new store where people can see books and encounter them, but I’d rather we were in there,” said Book Culture owner Chris Doeblin. “If I had the money, I would go and open a store right next to Jeff Bezos’s store.”

    Advertisers are dropping Sean Hannity’s show over his continued reporting on the death of DNC staffer Seth Rich.

    Sex Object author Jessica Valenti has been hired as a contributing editor at Marie Claire’s website. Valenti will write a weekly column and help the magazine increase their politics coverage.

    Dating app Grindr has hired Zach Stafford as the editor in chief of its online magazine, Into. Stafford, who has previously worked for The Guardian and Out, plans to hire reporters and increase the site’s serious news coverage.

    Maggie Haberman

    At Elle, Rachael Combe profiles Times reporter Maggie Haberman. Working at New York tabloids for a decade has given Haberman her expertise in the “Trump psyche,” Combe writes. “She was accumulating sources who were close to Trump, who knew when he was angry and what he watched on TV and how he could only sleep well in his own bed.” But Haberman doesn’t always appreciate the outside scrutiny of her connection to president, such as David Remnick’s assertion that Trump is her “ardent, twisted suitor.” “I didn’t care for that metaphor,” Haberman said. “No one suggests her male colleagues are ‘wooing’ Trump,” Combe adds.

    Tonight, at the Greenlight Bookstore Lefferts, Emily Gould talks to Barbara Browning about her new book, The Gift.

  • May 24, 2017

    Phong Bui

    Over a dozen staff and board members resigned from the Brooklyn Rail late last week. Although the departing editorial team has not commented on their reasons for leaving, cofounder and current artistic director Phong Bui told ArtNet that the departures were necessary for the future of the magazine. “It’s like a marriage that that has gone wrong,” he said. “It is better that the father and the mother part ways.”

    Elisabeth Moss is working on a television adaptation of Mary Beth Keane’s novel Fever, which tells the story of Typhoid Mary. Moss will produce and star in the limited series.

    Former James Bond actor Roger Moore, who died yesterday at the age of 89, had turned in the manuscript for his last book two weeks earlier. The still-untitled project does not have a release date, publisher Michael O’Mara said that the book chronicles Moore’s experience with aging. “A suitable subject for a man in his 90th year,” he said.

    The Washingtonian profiles Breitbart Washington editor Matt Boyle, “a human Molotov cocktail against the political establishment.”

    The family of murdered Democratic National Committee staff member Seth Rich has written a letter to Sean Hannity’s executive producer, asking him to stop promoting conspiracy theories around Rich’s death. Police are investigating Rich’s death as a robbery, but right-wing media believe Rich sent internal DNC emails to Wikileaks, and that his murder was “retribution for the supposed leak.” Fox News has retracted their latest story about the case, but Hannity has said that he will continue his investigation. “These are questions that I have a moral obligation to ask,” he said. “All you in the liberal media—I am not Fox.com or FoxNews.com. I retracted nothing.”

  • May 23, 2017

    Jann Wenner. Photo: Albert Chau

    Journalist Joe Hagan is writing a biography of Rolling Stone founding editor Jann Wenner. The book will be based on interviews with Wenner and his many celebrity friends, including Mick Jagger, Yoko Ono, and Bruce Springsteen. Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine will be published by Knopf next October.

    LitHub talks to Ian Buruma, the incoming editor of the New York Review of Books. “A jewel has been dropped into my lap,” he said of his new job. “My task is to keep it bright and shining.”

    Foreign Policy editor and CEO David Rothkopf has left the magazine. Sources suggest the departure is related to conflicts between Rothkopf’s editorial job and his work as the head of advisory firm Garten Rothkopf.

    Yahoo News profiles Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee who is rumored to be in the running for press secretary Sean Spicer’s job.

    Far-right conspiracy website InfoWars received temporary White House press credentials yesterday for the second time this year. Business Insider’s Maxwell Tani explains that the day-long credentials, “which are far easier to receive and viewed as less prestigious than a permanent pass,” were issued on a day when neither the president or press secretary would be at the White House. But, Tani notes, “Monday wasn’t the first time an InfoWars reporter attended a press briefing, nor is it likely to be the last.”

    Monica Lewinsky reflects on the death of Roger Ailes, who used news coverage of her affair with President Bill Clinton to turn Fox News into the number one cable news channel. “The irony of Mr. Ailes’s career at Fox—that he harnessed a sex scandal to build a cable juggernaut and then was brought down by his own—was not lost on anyone who has been paying attention,” Lewinsky writes. Poynter reports that three more discrimination lawsuits have been filed against the network this week.

  • May 22, 2017

    Guy Trebay

    Guy Trebay remembers the exquisite parties thrown by editor and author Jean Stein, the editor of Grand Street and the co-author of Edie: An American Biography, who died late last month. “At these parties one was as likely to encounter Warren Beatty as the Russian dissident poet Andrei Voznesensky. Among the guests were Tennessee Williams in boozy conversation with Truman Capote, Allen Ginsberg in knotty confabulation with John Cage, and Norman Mailer putting on a performance of knuckle-dragging machismo for the apparent benefit of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.”

    At The Guardian, Maggie Nelson talks about the second life of her book The Red Parts, and describes the ways in which her work has been misunderstood the first time around. The Argonauts, for instance, was “turned down initially by people [ie publishers] saying it was too academic.” Nelson goes on to note that there’s something “heartening” about the fact that her books have gone on to find an audience, despite publishers’ initial doubts. “I’ve always believed that, in a way, you invent your own readers—and that people can read more complicated books than they’re given credit for.”

    The PEN Center USA has named its new board members: The Black List founder Franklin Leonard, author David L. Ulin, Coast magazine editor Samantha Dunn, and author-filmmaker Amir Soltani.

    Politico ponders the question: “Should the Washington Post have withheld sensitive details about an ISIS bomb plot” when it broke the story that President Trump had revealed classified information to the Russians?

    The Ringer includes Dennis Lim’s critical study David Lynch: The Man from Another Place on its helpful list of films, music, and books to revisit in anticipation of the premiere of the new season of Twin Peaks.