In “The World’s Longest Out-of-Office Message,” Choire Sicha explains why he’s taking a sabbatical from The Awl. One reason: “I’ve taken on various roles and learned a lot about small businesses. But small businesses do things eccentrically. Independent media definitely does things eccentrically. I’d like to go look at how other people do things, maybe try on new ways of being. Then I’m going to steal all these ideas and use them here. :)” While on leave, Sicha will continue to share (with Alex Balk) the company’s voting rights, so he will “maintain the privilege of weighing in on the big decisions” at the site.
Adelle Waldman, author of the novel The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., has written an essay considering the ways that fiction writers depict love in their work. Novelists, she writes, “seem to lean to one or the other of two poles: the notion of love as a profound, mysterious attraction, or the idea of it as a partnership with a like soul, a person uniquely capable of understanding one’s inner life.” There are, she points out, “many reasons that women might have gravitated more toward the latter.”
In China, five booksellers have recently disappeared, and each of them was part of a company called Open, which has published books critical of the country’s communist government. Now, Open has decided to halt its publication of dissident Yu Jie’s Xi Jinping’s Nightmare, which is deeply critical of the Xi regime.
Selections of Dave Hickey’s Facebook posts have been published as a book of aphorisms titled Dust Bunnies.
An interview with Lee Boudreaux, the editor of a new self-titled imprint at Little, Brown. “Books can be long, with tangents, strange interludes, a weird backstory. There are no rules. But when I go in and edit I read to make sure whatever that strange thing is we have done it with the right balance. Things have to add up, the velocity needs to be there, you’ve got to have that quality of language and some forward movement at every stage even if it’s not what we think of as ‘plot.’”
Early last fall, the Huffington Post learned that the US was secretly negotiating with Iran to exchange prisoners. But they waited to publish the story until now. Ryan Grim, the site’s Washington bureau chief, explains why: “For years, a journalistic convention has held, more or less, that hostage and prisoner swap talks ought not to be reported on if doing so risks upending the negotiations. When a member of the media is involved, especially a well-respected one like Rezaian, the pressure to stay quiet becomes much greater.”
Bestselling author Philip Pullman has resigned from his position at the Oxford Literary Festival, complaining that the festival doesn’t pay the writers who participate. Says Pullman: “The principle is very simple: a festival pays the people who supply the marquees, it pays the printers who print the brochure, it pays the rent for the lecture halls and other places, it pays the people who run the administration and the publicity, it pays for the electricity it uses, it pays for the drinks and dinners it lays on: why is it that the authors, the very people at the centre of the whole thing, the only reason customers come along and buy their tickets in the first place, are the only ones who are expected to work for nothing?”