• May 24, 2018

    Journalists from CNN, Politico, and other outlets were banned from attending an Environmental Protection Agency summit on water contaminants this week. When one CNN reporter showed their credentials and attempted to enter the conference, a security guard told them “they ain’t doing the CNN stuff,” and an Associated Press journalist was physically removed from the summit after requesting to speak with a public affairs staffer about the ban.

    A federal judge has ruled that Trump cannot legally block Twitter users from viewing his posts.

    Facebook has announced three new tactics for fighting fake news on the platform. The company is inviting researchers to study the phenomenon, mounting a public education campaign on Facebook’s homepage, and releasing a short video called Facing Facts. “The message is clear,” writes Wired’s Nicholas Thompson. “Facebook knows it screwed up, and it wants us all to know it knows it screwed up.”

    Lauren Groff. Photo: Megan Brown

    At The Intercept, Maryam Saleh explores the decision made by reporter and Caliphate podcast host Rukmini Callimachi to remove thousands of pages of internal ISIS documents from Iraq, and how that choice impacts the country’s understanding of its own history. “How can Iraq or any country come to terms with its own history when its people no longer possess the documents that can help them better understand all that they’ve endured?” she writes. “What should journalists do when they come upon important documents that are abandoned or without protection during war?”

    In the New York Times’s “By the Book” column, Florida author Lauren Groff wonders why men aren’t influenced by books written by women. “When male writers list books they love or have been influenced by — as in this very column, week after week — why does it almost always seem as though they have only read one or two women in their lives?” she asked. “And it isn’t because male writers are bad people. We know they’re not bad people. In fact, we love them. We love them because we have read them.”

    As Meredith Corp. prepares to sell Time, the New York Times has compiled an oral history of the news magazine. Though there were many good times—like the move to the Time-Life building and the money of the mid-1990s—there was also an intensely gender-segregated workplace where women weren’t hired as writers or editors until the 1980s. Maureen Dowd, one of the first female staff writers at the magazine, remembers the Mad Men–style work culture. “My boss felt free, when we worked late closing the magazine on Fridays nights, taking all the young male writers out to dinner at the steakhouse downstairs without a thought that they were walking past the offices of the only two women in the hall — me and my friend, the late Susan Tifft,” she recalls. “Susan, a staunch feminist, confronted the boss. But we never did get to that steakhouse.”

  • May 23, 2018

    Philip Roth

    Philip Roth has died at the age of eighty-five. The New York Times obituary calls Roth “the last of the great white males,” along with John Updike and Saul Bellow, and quotes Roth comparing himself to the two authors: “Updike and Bellow hold their flashlights out into the world, reveal the world as it is now. I dig a hole and shine my flashlight into the hole.” At The Guardian, writers and friends remember Roth, who won the Pulitzer prize for his 1997 novel American Pastoral and is one of the most award-winning novelists in American literature. The New Yorker has a run-down of the magazine’s coverage of Roth and his contributions over the years. Among the most memorable are a profile from 2000 by David Remnick and a 2012 article about Roth’s retirement. As Gary Shteyngart put it, “Roth led a life for which most writers would give up both of their typing arms: he completed his life’s project and then he stopped. Could there be a better writing life than that?”   

    This year’s Man Booker International Prize has been awarded to Olga Tokarczuk for her novel Flights. Tokarczuk is the first Polish author to win the prize. The chair of the judging committee, Lisa Appignanesi, said of the book, “We loved the voice of the narrative—it’s one that moves from wit and gleeful mischief to real emotional texture and has the ability to create character very quickly, with interesting digression and speculation.”

    There have been more layoffs at Vanity Fair. The magazine is restructuring and is planning to announce some new hires soon.  

    Michelle Cottle has been named the lead opinion writer for national politics at the New York Times. Cottle has previously worked at The Atlantic, the National Journal, and the Daily Beast. The Times press release summed up her recent output: “Among many other gems, her recent work has included (politely) nudging Hillary Clinton toward the exit, dissecting the #MeToo era in state government and sticking up for unpaid interns—all the while, digging into today’s dating scene as a Date Lab columnist for The Washington Post.” At the Washington Post,  Monica Hesse has been hired as the paper’s first gender columnist.  

    Tonight at the New York Public Library, documentary photographer Susan Meiselas, whose retrospective book Mediations was published in March, talks about her work with artist Ann Hamilton.

  • May 22, 2018

    Interview magazine is shutting down after nearly fifty years. Founded by Andy Warhol in 1969, the publication has become entangled in legal challenges from former staffers who claim lost wages worth hundred of thousands of dollars, as well as a charge that the former creative director, Karl Templer, overstepped “the professional line.”

    The New York Times is developing a television series based on “Overlooked,” the paper’s ongoing feature about important women and people of color who did not receive a Times obituary. The scripted series will have ten episodes per season, each telling one person’s story. All of the episodes will be written and directed by women.

    Spiegel Online has more details about the scandals at the Swedish Academy. The article, which details the charges against Horace Engdahl and Jean-Claude Arnault that led to the Nobel Prize in literature being suspended this year, also speculates about the future of the award: “Some say that the Nobel Committee should simply take responsibility for the prize away from the Swedish Academy and give it to a different academy. That, they say, is the only possible way to save the prize—if indeed it can still be saved.”

    At the Columbia Journalism Review, Farai Chideya writes about the lack of diversity in newsrooms and offers suggestions for how the long-standing issue might be addressed: “Major news prizes like the Pulitzer and DuPont could require public disclosure of diversity metrics as a qualification for acceptance of the prize. This would broadly affect both the for-profit and the non-profit media outlets that compete for these awards.”

    Peter Mayer

    At n+1, Mark Krotov remembers publisher Peter Mayer, who died on May 11th at the age of eighty-two. Mayer was the publisher of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses and founder of the Overlook Press. Krotov writes, “He was known for his charm, his temper, his savvy, his smoking, and for the relentless dynamism he brought to an industry that often preferred to react or sit still.”

    Tonight at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, Mary Gaitskill will read from and discuss her collection of essays, Somebody With a Little Hammer.  

  • May 21, 2018

    Book deals this week: Chris Fanz, a former member of the Talking Heads, sold his memoir Remain in Love to St. Martin’s Press; and Megan Angelo, a journalist and former contributing editor to Glamour, sold her debut novel, which has been described as a combination of Station Eleven and Black Mirror, to Graydon House for a reported six figures.

    Barbara Ehrenreich

    Barbara Ehrenreich

    Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of Nickeled and Dimed, has written a book about why she, at seventy-six, will not seek any preventative medical treatments, like cancer screenings and checkups. In Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, she writes that she is now “old enough to die,” and that she won’t be wasting any time at the doctor’s office. “I decided that I was also old enough not to incur any more suffering, annoyance, or boredom in the pursuit of a longer life.”

    The Guardian tries to predict the “next Elena Ferrante” in an article spotlighting the best new European fiction.

    The Paris Review has posted its 1991 interview with Tom Wolfe, in which the author, who died at eighty-eight last week, talks about his experiences while working at newspapers, his novel Bonfire of the Vanities, his earliest influence (Emil Ludwig’s biography of Napoleon), and his critics (“Dwight Macdonald once wrote that reading me, with all these exclamation points, was like reading Queen Victoria’s diaries. He was so eminent at the time, I felt crushed”).

    Chanel lip color, Cleveland Cavaliers jerseys, Wayne Koestenbaum’s Orange Marmalade: At New York magazine, novelist Rachel Kushner names nine things she “can’t live without.”

  • May 18, 2018

    Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon are editing an anthology to commemorate the centennial of the American Civil Liberties Union. The still-untitled book—which includes essays and stories from Marlon James, Jesmyn Ward, Colson Whitehead, Hanya Yanagihara, and more—will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2020.

    Sergio De La Pava. Photo: Sharon Daniels

    At Literary Hub, Michael Ondaatje lists the books that he continues to reread.

    Tobias Carroll talks to Sergio De La Pava about rich people, football, and trying to write a topical novel. “The novel’s never going to be good at dealing with that kind of topicality,” De La Pava explained. “Events are constantly going to be feeding your ability to produce the work. What I’m looking for before I start the project is soil where things can grow. I’m looking for things like that, that are rich enough that for several years I’m going to be able to entertain myself, which is always my first goal.”

    Journalist Ben Doherty reflects on the ways that fiction and storytelling have impacted his reporting and how he views the truth. “As communities, our stories unite us, bringing us together to belong to something larger than ourselves,” he writes. “They tell us who we are and what we value. They are the foundation stones of our identity, of how we understand our place in the world.”

    Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo goes inside NBC to take a look at how executives are handling the news about Ronan Farrow’s upcoming book, Catch and Kill. News of the book has piqued employees’ curiosity about exactly why NBC decided to pass on Farrow’s Harvey Weinstein reporting and about just what Farrow will discuss. “The bottom line,” Pompeo writes, “is that it will bring an embarrassing episode back into the headlines regardless of what new insight Farrow reveals or how damaging it looks.”

  • May 17, 2018

    Saraciea J. Fennell

    At the New York Times, Concepción de León reports on the upcoming Bronx Book Festival, organized by Saraciea J. Fennell. A publicist for Tor Books and a Bronx native, Fennell says she was inspired to create the festival after attending a similar event in Brooklyn. “I thought to myself, ‘This is amazing,’” she recalled. “‘Why doesn’t the Bronx have something like this?’” The event will be held this Saturday at Fordham Plaza.

    The O. Henry Prize Stories for 2018 have been announced. The selected works will be anthologized in a collection, which will be published this fall by Anchor.

    Peter Kafka has been named executive editor of Recode. Kara Swisher, Kafka’s predecessor, will remain with the website as editor at large.

    The New York Times has appointed Paul Fishleder to lead the paper’s new political investigations unit, which will cover a range of topics related to the 2018 and 2020 elections.

    Scott Indrisek’s cats interview The Female Persuasion author Meg Wolitzer for The Believer.

    At the Times Literary Supplement, Nathalie Olah talks to Bret Easton Ellis about #MeToo, David Foster Wallace, and social media’s consensus culture. “I mean I talk about it on my podcast all the time. All the time, ad nauseum. People actually criticize me for it. Oh here we go again, Ellis talking about cultural appropriation and Hollywood straw men and liberal whatever,” he said. “People are hungry to hear someone talk about that. And I don’t think it’s particularly brave or noble but I’m shocked when I hear people say it is.

  • May 16, 2018

    Queer Eye fashion expert Tan France is writing a memoir, which will be published by St. Martin’s Press next year. The still-untitled book details France’s story of growing up as “one of the few people of color” in small-town Northern England and his “experience of coming out to his family” and “revealing to them that he is happily married to his partner of over 10 years, a self-described gay Mormon cowboy from Salt Lake City.”

    Michelle Tea

    Michiko Kakutani has released the cover and publication date of her upcoming book. The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump  will be published by Tim Duggan Books in July.

    Pittsburgh City Paper editor Charlie Deitch has been fired. In a series of Tweets, Deitch explained that decision was motivated by his refusal to stop writing about Representative Daryl Metcalfe, who is a client of the paper’s parent company.

    Lynne Tillman talks to David Ulin about the eight years she spent writing Men and Apparitions.

    At Literary Hub, Carley Moore talks to Michelle Tea about failure, and success, and Jack Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure. “I think celebrating failure actually does a lot to erode the whole concept,” Tea said. “We are all fish swimming in the waters of capitalism thinking this is all there is, this success and failure binary; it’s so ingrained in us that even the most woke among us carry huge blind spots. But our purpose isn’t to ‘succeed.’ I think our purpose, if we have one, absolutely encompasses the experience of failure and everything we get from that.”


  • May 15, 2018

    Tom Wolfe, the writer and reporter known for creating New Journalism in the 1960s, died yesterday in Manhattan. He was 87.

    New York Times reporter Scott Shane considers the difficulties of reporting on leaks during and after the 2016 election. Shane feels that while many leaks are newsworthy, relying on old methods of reporting aren’t sufficient for covering them. “For the most part, the 2016 stories based on the hacked Democratic emails revealed true and important things. . . . The problem was that Russian hackers chose not to deliver to American voters the same inside material from the Trump campaign,” he writes. “By counting on American reporters to follow their usual rules, the Kremlin hacked American journalism.”

    Michael Chabon

    Skyhorse is publishing Alan Dershowitz’s The Case Against Impeaching Trump this July.

    Pascale Petit has won the Ondaatje prize for her poetry collection, Mama Amazonica.

    The Outline’s Paris Martineau wonders if Facebook finally did “something right for once” with their recent changes to its news feed algorithm.

    At the Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan reflects on the numerous missteps by NBC in the past few months. From their handling of the internal investigation into Matt Lauer’s misconduct to their lack of support for Ronan Farrow’s reporting, some of the company’s recent decisions are affecting the network’s credibility. “A news organization’s reputation builds — or fades — over time,” Sullivan writes. “Does NBC really want to be seen as a place where stars are protected too vigorously, and where ratings and profits reign supreme?”

    Michael Chabon tells The Guardian that he doesn’t worry about how his children will feel when he writes about them by name. “Everything you write is drawn from the people you know,” he said. “You can do all this sweating and agonising about whether it’s going to embarrass them or make them angry and often it just sails right over them and they don’t even recognise that you’re talking about them.”

  • May 14, 2018

    Ronan Farrow

    Ronan Farrow

    Ronan Farrow, the Pulitzer-winning journalist who has written extensively about sexual misconduct for the New Yorker, has sold a book called Catch and Kill to Little, Brown. According to the publisher, the book is “a deeply personal story about a reporter grappling with how much to put on the line to protect the truth, and a story that expands our understanding of the forces in law, politics, and media that maintained a conspiracy of silence around Weinstein and other men in power committing gross abuses with impunity.”

    Director Ramin Bahrani, whose adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 begins airing on May 19, writes that Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel “is the book for our social-media age.” In that novel, Bradbury “imagined a world where people are entertained day and night by staring at giant wall screens in their homes. They interact with their ‘friends’ through these screens, listening to them via ‘Seashells’—Bradbury’s version of Apple’s wireless AirPods—inserted in their ears. In this world, people would be crammed ‘full of noncombustible data’—words to popular songs, the names of state capitals, the amount of ‘corn Iowa grew last year.’”

    Unit sales of print books fell 3 percent the first week in May, compared with figures from a year before. The biggest drop has been in adult fiction.

    BuzzFeed reports on new research into fake reviews on Amazon. Tommy Noonan, CEO of ReviewMeta, a site that analyzes Amazon listings, estimates that the site has approximately 250 million reviewers, a significant number of whom seem to be inauthentic. “Noonan’s website has collected 58.5 million of those reviews, and the ReviewMeta algorithm labeled 9.1 percent, or 5.3 million of the dataset’s reviews, as ‘unnatural.’”

    Peter Mayer—who, while he was at Viking Press, published The Satanic Verses—has died. “I was advised by many to live like a hunted man,” Mayer recalled in an oral history about the release of Salman Rushdie’s controversial novel, “and to change my address, change my car, move into a hotel.”

  • May 11, 2018

    The politics and news site Talking Points Memo is joining the Writers Guild of America East union. The site’s owner, Josh Marshall, wrote to his staff saying, “We have always strived to espouse and embody a belief in creating a society that is more equitable, just, humane and free. I believe this morning’s decision is consistent with those values and that history. I look forward to working together with the TPM Union to build on what we’ve already created together.” Over the past few years the union has successfully drafted many online media sites, including Vice, the Huffington Post, the Intercept, Salon, Slate, and more.     

    Medium will be ending the feature that allows websites that use the platform to charge for paid subscriptions. The sudden change has left online publications such as Electric Literature scrambling to cover the potential lost income.

    Sheila Heti

    Sheila Heti discusses her new book, Motherhood, about the choice to have children, freedom, writing, and regret: “If you say that, actually, having children is not going to be part of your life, then you have to in some way make up your own meaning. That’s definitely a unique existential position to be put in.”

    At Vox, Alexia Underwood looks at #MeToo in the literary world. Underwood writes, “It’s a moment long overdue for an industry in which women are the overwhelming majority of workers but men are often the coddled ‘geniuses’ with power.”