• August 20, 2018

    nate chinen

    Nate Chinen

    Longreads has an interview with former New York Times staff critic Nate Chinen, who “might have been the last full-time jazz reviewer at any American newspaper.” In his new book, Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century, Chinen looks at the twenty years he spent writing about live music, and argues that jazz has recently entered a rich, productive, and expensive phase. “The culture of jazz has shifted perceptibly during my time covering it. It’s much more permeable and permissive and dynamic and fluid. I think that’s a really exciting development,” Chinen notes. “I’m a big proponent of that, and to me the conversation around jazz is more useful now than it was when I was first starting out.”

    Charles Harder, a litigation counsel for the Trump campaign, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Simon & Schuster, warning the publisher that if it released Omarosa Manigault Newman’s Unhinged: An Insider’s Look at the Trump White House, a lawsuit would be filed. The Trump campaign has also filed a suit against Manigault Newman, who once worked on The Apprentice, alleging that she has breached a confidentiality agreement she signed in 2016, when she became one of Trump’s political aides. Simon & Schuster has said that it “will not be intimidated.” In response to Harder’s letter, Simon & Schuster’s counsel Elizabeth McNamara has written: “While your letter generally claims that excerpts from the book contain ‘disparaging statements,’ it is quite telling that at no point do you claim that any specific statement in the book is false. Your client does not have a viable legal claim merely because unspecified truthful statements in the Book may embarrass the president or his associates. At base, your letter is nothing more than an obvious attempt to silence legitimate criticism of the president.”

    Rebecca Mead, a staff writer at the New Yorker and the author of My Life in Middlemarch, writes about her decision to return, after decades, to England.  

    George Pelecanos—a crime writer who is also known for his work on the HBO series The Wire—talks about his new book, The Man Who Came Uptown, and why it is important for people in the criminal-justice system to have access to books.

    Norton’s Jill Bialosky has purchased Sahar Mustafah’s debut novel, The Beauty of Your Face, about a young Palestinian-American woman whose sister goes missing. Mustafah’s first book, the short story collection Code of the West, was published last year.

  • August 17, 2018

    Ottessa Moshfegh

    “It’s been really exciting to give myself the time to delve into nonfiction, specifically cultural histories of China and America at the turn of the twentieth century,” Ottessa Moshfegh told the Amazon Book Review about her next project, a novel about a Chinese immigrant coming to the US at the turn of the century. “I’m at the beginning of it, following breadcrumbs, and watching the story weave itself together. It’s a delicious place to be in a project, before the grueling work of actually writing begins. So I’m taking my time.”

    As part of its expansion into Europe, The Atlantic has hired Prashant Rao as global editor. Rao was most recently at the New York Times, where he focused on finance, economics, and business in Europe.

    The National Book Critics Circle has announced their 2018 class of emerging critics.

    Keanu Reeves talks to the T: The New York Times Style Magazine about his art book imprint, X Artists’ Books.

    Knopf designer Janet Hansen reflects on the process of designing the cover for Nico Walker’s Cherry. Hansen writes that it was a particularly difficult job because the author was in prison with “limited access to text-only emails.”

    “I’m often not a reader of books from one end to the other but a rover, as a result of more than half a lifetime of doing research in books, where you’re there not just for the pleasure (though there is often considerable pleasure) but to find out some particular thing,” Rebecca Solnit tells the New York Times’s By the Book column about her reading habits. “Also I get interrupted a lot, and misplace books in this house of books, and so one way or another I’m usually reading about a dozen books at a time.”

    At The Outline, Jeremy Gordon makes a case for moving internet conversations away from Twitter and back to Tumblr. Although Tumblr’s insularity may “create overfamiliar bubbles prone to social regulation,” Gordon writes that this is preferable to Twitter’s free-for-all style. “Sometimes a overfamiliar bubble is more conducive to well-intentioned discourse, instead of a dozen randos screaming ‘what’s wrong with you, you Nazi and/or anti-Nazi fuck.’”

  • August 16, 2018

    The New York Times has collected the editorials of the hundreds of newspapers across the country criticizing Trump’s attacks on the press and remind readers of the value of journalism. “Insisting that truths you don’t like are ‘fake news’ is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy,” they write. “And calling journalists the ‘enemy of the people’ is dangerous, period.” Participating newspapers include the Topeka Capital-Journal, one of the few publications to endorse Trump in 2016.

    Min Jin Lee

    The Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalists have been announced. Nominees include Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West, Jenny Erpenbeck’s Go, Went, Gone, Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s We Were Eight Years in Power. Winners will be announced in October.

    Vogue’s Jason Horowitz reports from the Italian set of HBO’s My Brilliant Friend, based on Elena Ferrante’s best-seller.

    At Poets & Writers, Michael Taeckens talks to Wall Street Journal book critic Sam Sacks about negative reviews, book blurbs, and the power of criticism. “Nothing can take the place of a direct encounter with a book,” he said. “But if criticism doesn’t lead me to change my own judgment, it wonderfully broadens my understanding and appreciation of what a writer is doing.”

    Look Alive Out There author Sloane Crosley reflects on the ways book display has become a lifestyle choice and explains why she doesn’t have any bookshelves in her apartment (instead, Crosley stores her books on the decorative moldings in her apartment). “Aesthetics in literature are important, but literature as aesthetics makes me nervous,” she writes. “When did a candle-topped pyramid of paperbacks become a symbol of depth? If you line up your novels in rainbow order but don’t Instagram them, were they ever really there?”

  • August 15, 2018

    Hannah Gadsby

    Hannah Gadsby, creator of the Netflix special Nanette, is writing a book. Ten Steps to Nanette will detail the “funny and sometimes dark events of the Australian comedian’s life leading up to her realization that she had to quit comedy as she knew it.” Ballantine has reportedly bought the US publishing rights to Gadsby’s book, which will come out in Australia next year.

    Axios has hired Felix Salmon to write a weekly newsletter with “a focus on big personalities in markets and business,” Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo reports.

    Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy, a feature film about JT Leroy starring Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart, will close the Toronto Film Festival next month.

    The owners of New York Media, which includes New York magazine, Vulture, and The Cut, is “exploring options including a possible sale,” the Wall Street Journal reports. In an email obtained by CNBC, CEO Pam Wasserstein wrote that while she and her family “would be happy to continue owning” the publisher, “partnering to support acquisitions or other ways of growing might make sense. Or it might not.”

    As over two-hundred newspapers around the country prepare to simultaneously run anti-Trump editorials on their op-ed pages this Thursday, Politico’s Jack Shafer writes that the plan, instigated by the Boston Globe’s opinions editor Marjorie Pritchard, “is sure to backfire.” “It will provide Trump with the circumstantial evidence of the existence of a national press cabal that has been convened solely to oppose him,” he writes. “When editorials roll off the press on Thursday, all singing from the same script, Trump will reap enough fresh material to whale on the media for at least a month.”


  • August 14, 2018

    V.S. Naipaul

    The tributes to and remembrances of V.S. Naipaul—who died this weekend at the age of eighty-five—continue to pour in: At the New York Times, novelist Aatish Taseer remembers his friend as both cruel and tender; at the New Yorker, George Packer recalls reading Naipaul’s A Bend in the River while serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa, writing, “I came under the spell of his prose before I knew not to like him”; at the New York Review of Books Daily, Ian Buruma remembers the author’s “fastidiousness,” arguing, “It is tempting to see Naipaul as a blimpish figure, aping the manners of British bigots; or as a fussy Brahmin, unwilling to eat from the same plates as lower castes. Both views miss the mark.” At Slate, Isaac Chotiner recommends the best books by and about Naipaul. From the Bookforum archives: Allen Barra reviews a 2009 biography of Naipaul and Thomas Meaney considers the author’s 2010 book, The Masque of Africa.

    A report on the troubles at Barnes and Noble, where founder Leonard Riggio is increasingly under fire.

    At the LARB, Robert Abele remembers food critic Jonathan Gold, who died last month at age fifty-seven.

    At the Columbia Journalism Review, Mathew Ingram parses a recent report in The Australian in which a Facebook executive, Campbell Brown, said that Mark Zuckerberg “doesn’t care” about traditional media publishing. Brown also reportedly said that if publishers didn’t work on new business models with the social media platform, “I’ll be holding your hand with your dying business, like in a hospice.” Facebook quickly denied that the quotes in the report were accurate, but Ingram writes that there is some truth to them: “The comments from Brown might have seemed like a veiled threat, but they could also have been just a statement of fact: If Facebook won’t provide the revenue or the traffic necessary for some outlets to survive, publishers might start going on life support.”

    Tonight at The Strand, MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer will discuss his new book, The Hard Stuff.

  • August 13, 2018

    V.S. Naipaul

    V.S. Naipaul—the Trinidad-born author who went on to become one of the most evocative portrayers of postcolonial life, winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 2001—has died at age eighty-five. Amitava Kumar ponders Naipaul’s complicated legacy. At the New Republic, Jeet Heer remembers the “towering writer and deeply flawed man.”

    Stephen King inspired a “meme meltdown” when he asked his Twitter followers a question about Trump’s “space force.”

    Harper Design will publish a book by Justin Timberlake this October.

    At The Atlantic, Jesse Lichtenstein writes about “how poetry came to matter again.” Today’s poets “are immigrants and refugees from China, El Salvador, Haiti, Iran, Jamaica, Korea, Vietnam. They are black men and an Oglala Sioux woman. They are queer as well as straight and choose their personal pronouns with care. The face of poetry in the United States looks very different today than it did even a decade ago, and far more like the demographics of Millennial America.”

    Rodale publishing has recalled Tales from a Forager’s Kitchen, a cookbook by Instagram star Johnna Holmgren that was released in May. Some of the recipes—which include ingredients such as raw morel mushrooms, elderberries, uncooked rice, and acorns—may be dangerous, the publisher says. Full refunds are being offered to anyone who has purchased the book.  

    Isaac Fitzgerald has announced that his first essay collection, Dirtbag, Massachusetts, has been purchased by Bloomsbury. “DIRTBAG, MASSACHUSETTS is going to be a deeply personal book,” writes Fitzgerald, who has worked at The Rumpus and is a cofounder of Buzzfeed Books. “These stories are my life. But I’m also hoping they’ll mean something to a wider audience, especially with young, angry men who are looking for a different path. The more you get out from under toxic masculinity, the better your life becomes. I know that because I’ve lived it. And try to continue to live it every day.”

  • August 10, 2018

    At the Los Angeles Review of Books blog, Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick examines how socioeconomic status drives the characters of Gillian Flynn’s books. “Whether filthy rich or debt-ridden, her characters are motivated by an original sin tied to an economic woe, particularly one that has shifted their life to or from success,” he writes. “The results? Persons so crazed by money that they kill.”

    Olga Tokarczuk

    The New York Times’s Tobias Grey profiles Olga Tokarczuk, whose novel Flights won the Man Booker International Prize in May for its English translation by Jennifer Croft.  

    Times op-ed columnist Bret Stephens attempts to welcome Sarah Jeong to the paper by explaining why he stands by his new colleague despite her tweets, which he criticizes not for their supposed racism but for “their often snarky tone, occasional meanness, and sheer number.” “The person you are drunk or stoned is not the person you are — at least not the whole person,” he writes. “Neither is the person you are the one who’s on Twitter.”

    “In grade school, for some sort of school-wide assignment, I wrote a story about a girl who turned into a swan,” R.O. Kwon says about the first time she understood the powerful effects of writing. “What I remember most vividly, besides the joy of writing the story, is that the school librarian read it and after she looked a little bit afraid. There’s something about seeing the power that words can have that really stuck with me.”

    Tonight Metrograph cinema will be screening Sunset Boulevard ahead of this weekend’s film book fair.  

  • August 9, 2018

    ProPublica is expanding its Local Reporting Network to include investigative reporting on government and politics at the state level. The grant will cover the salary and benefits for reporters at seven news outlets.

    Kate Lewis is replacing Joanna Coles as Hearst’s chief content officer.

    Crystal Hana Kim

    At Hazlitt, Nicole Chung talks to Crystal Hana Kim about inherited trauma, storytelling, and Korean identity in her new book, If You Leave Me. Kim said she was surprised by some of her early readers’ perceptions of life during the Korean War. “Once I workshopped a chapter . . . one of the comments was: ‘I don’t know that a woman of this time would have these sexual desires,’” she remembered. “And I just remember thinking, ‘What?’ I wanted people to understand that women in these circumstances would have the same desires, the same wants, maybe some of the same ambivalence about becoming a mother that many women today experience.”

    At The Atlantic, Todd S. Purdum writes about the dangers of performative journalism. Discussing Jim Acosta’s combative relationship with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Purdum writes: “Whenever a reporter who has not been kidnapped by terrorists, shot by an assailant, or won a big prize becomes an actor in her own story, she has lost the fight. Or in this case, reinforced the corrosive, cynical, and deeply dangerous feedback loop that has convinced Trump’s most fervent supporters that his relentless brief against the press has merit.”

    This weekend, Metrograph cinema will be hosting a film book fair. Vendors will be selling film-related memorabilia, magazines, scripts, ephemera, monographs, and more. The theater will also host screenings all weekend, including a showing of Reds presented by critic Darryl Pinckney, two Roald Dahl movies (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and You Only Live Twice, a James Bond movie for which Dahl wrote the screenplay), and Sunset Boulevard.  

  • August 8, 2018

    The Guardian has tallied the votes for its Not the Booker shortlist. Nominees include Rebecca Ley’s Sweet Fruit, Sour Land, Naomi Booth’s Sealed, Ariel Kahn’s Raising Sparks, Will Dean’s Dark Pines, and Dervla McTiernan’s The Ruin. A sixth nominee will be announced next week.

    Apple has bought the series rights to Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko. Soo Hugh has signed on to write and produce the adaptation.

    Catherine Lacey. Photo: Willy Somma

    Catherine Lacey talks to Hazlitt about Lydia Davis, turning real people into characters, and her new short story collection Certain American States. “There’s this interaction between any writer’s life and what they’re writing about. In the past, I’ve felt extremely nervous about what this or that person thinks of this or that character, if something shows up in my fiction that looks a lot like my life or that person,” Lacey said. “I’ve been worried about hurting someone’s feelings—or, in writing a story, sometimes I realize that I don’t care anymore.”

    At Folio, Cable Neuhaus reflects on Radhika Jones’s Vanity Fair, which has adopted a more modest and subdued style.

    Tonight at Books are Magic, Laura Van Den Berg presents her new book, The Third Hotel.

  • August 7, 2018

    Joanna Coles

    Hearst Chief Content Officer Joanna Coles is leaving the company. “Have you any idea of the miles I have walked on this treadmill desk through the peaks and the valleys of Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and as Hearst’s first chief content officer?” the former Cosmopolitan editor said in a goodbye video on Twitter. “But my route is being recalculated. It’s time for a new adventure.”

    BuzzFeed News looks into the right-wing conspiracy theorists of QAnon and speculates that the idea may have been created as a leftist prank based on the Italian novel Q.

    The Washington Post is publishing a book on “Russian interference in the 2016 election and the subsequent political, legal and diplomatic fallout.” Published in October by Custom House, The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and The Subversion of American Democracy will incorporate the work of several of the paper’s reporters, including national security correspondent Greg Miller.

    At the New York Times, Grace Shulman criticises The Nation’s recent apology for publishing Anders Carlson-Wee’s poem, “How To.” Shulman, who worked as the magazine’s poetry editor from 1971 to 2006, accuses the current poetry editors, Stephanie Burt and Carmen Giménez Smith, of “abandoning [the] storied tradition” of presenting challenging and provoking work and defending “writers’ right to be wrong.” As an example, Shulman offers a late-’80s Gore Vidal column that “some people deemed anti-Semitic,” which the then editor-in-chief, Victor Navasky, defended at the risk of losing the magazine’s participation in a poetry contest at the 92nd Street Y. Shulman observes, “How far we have come from those idealistic, courageous days.”

    At Litery Hub, Daniel Crown writes about Victor Klemperer, the scholar and Nazi-era diarist. Crown argues that Klemperer’s memoirs, which cover the years 1933–45 and were first translated into English in the 1990s, are becoming newly relevant as a first-hand look at how a democracy can break down.

    Tonight at Books are Magic, R. O. Kwon discusses her new novel, The Incendiaries.