• January 24, 2019

    John Ashbery

    Harvard’s Houghton Library has acquired John Ashbery’s personal library of over 5,000 books. Curator Christina Davis called the collection, which includes everything from religious history to cookbooks, “a vital artery in his writing life” that “served as a kind of early and intimate internet, from which he drew ideas and felicitous bits of data on a regular basis.”

    Following the success of Wired, the New Yorker, and Vanity Fair’s respective paywalls, Condé Nast is planning to add metered paywalls to all its publications by the end of 2019, the Wall Street Journal reports.

    Bill Clinton is working on a new book. The still-untitled project “sheds light on his post-presidential life” and will be published by Knopf Doubleday.

    “One of crime fiction’s great strengths, to my mind, is the outsize metaphorical possibilities of, well, crime,” writes Adam Sternbergh in a reflection on the ethics of writing about violence. “Very few of us have ever murdered a neighbor in a fit of anger, or accidentally hit a drifter with our car, or accepted a murder contract and then buried the body deep in the woods in the dead of night. But most of us can relate to the notion of a shameful secret we hope the world will never uncover, or the feeling of having a fleeting impulse we don’t recognize and would rather not acknowledge.”

    Nieman Lab talks to The Verge editor Nilay Patel about the website’s recent foray into fiction with its “Better Worlds” short story project.

    The only full-time writers for the recently-resuscitated Gawker have left the website over their concerns about editorial director Carson Griffith, the Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani reports. Besides Griffith’s history of offensive tweets, writers Maya Kosoff and Anna Breslaw said that they were disturbed by their boss’s attitude toward race, gender, and diversity of possible writers for the site. “We’re disappointed it ended this way, but we can’t continue to work under someone who is antithetical to our sensibility and journalistic ethics,” Kosoff and Breslaw said in a statement, “or for an employer [CEO Bryan Goldberg] who refuses to listen to the women who work for him when it’s inconvenient.”

  • January 23, 2019

    Rachel Kushner

    The National Book Critics Circle has announced the finalists for the 2018 awards. Nominees include Tara Westover’s Educated, Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room, Zadie Smith’s Feel Free, and more. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in March.

    New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast’s memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is being adapted for television.

    At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hayley Phelan reflects on “Shirley Jackson, Trump, and the evil of complacency.”

    Former Radar editor Maer Roshan has been hired as editor in chief at Los Angeles magazine. “I have the same excitement about this as I did about Radar in many ways,” he said of the move. “For the first time, I think L.A. could say it’s the new cultural capital of America, and it needs a magazine to wear that mantle and have that swagger. . . . There are just so many interesting things happening here and so much creativity and momentum. Whenever I’m in New York, it doesn’t feel that way.”

  • January 22, 2019

    Chigozie Obioma. Photo: Zach Mueller

    Emma Brockes talks to Chigozie Obioma about migration, fate, and his new book, An Orchestra of Minorities. Obioma’s novel was partly inspired by the death of his friend, Jay. A fellow Nigerian immigrant and classmate of Obioma’s in Cyprus,“Jay had been duped by the middle men both into thinking the university . . . would be a springboard into Europe.” But after realizing that he had been lied to about career prospects and access to Europe, Jay was found dead from a fall after a night of drinking. Obioma says that situations like these are why his stories rarely have happy endings. “I want to write a feelgood story. But I think that because I’m fascinated with the metaphysics of existence, I keep thinking why, of all the people who came to Cyprus, was it Jay who died?” he explained. “When you think about these things, and you want to write fiction around that, the path it takes you to can feel inevitable and tragic.”

    At The Guardian, Annie Proulx offers a climate change reading list, featuring titles by Tim Flannery, Amitav Ghosh, and more.

    Patrick Radden Keefe tells Columbia Journalism Review about Ireland’s Troubles, Brexit, and his new book, Say Nothing.

    At the New York Review of Books, Tim Parks wonders whether a translation of a work can be a masterpiece on its own. “Doesn’t translating a work of literature inevitably involve moving things around and altering many of the relations between the words in the original?” he asks. “Unless, that is, we are going to think of a translation as a quite different work with its own inner logic and inspiration, only casually related to that foreign original.”

  • January 21, 2019

    Keith Gessen

    Keith Gessen

    Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times and the author of the new book Merchants of Truth, talks with Isaac Chotiner about moral change in the media, and about how journalism (especially local journalism) will survive after the “Trump bump.”

    Book deals this week: Random House paid six figures for the rights to paleobiologist Thomas Halliday’s Yesterday’s Worlds, which uses the latest science to examine “deep time and revive extinct worlds—from the most recent ice age at the end of the Pleistocene period to the emergence of early multicellular creatures over 550 million years ago.” Bloomsbury has purchased Eve Ensler’s The Apology, an “examination of abuse and atonement.”

    New York’s Drama Bookshop has hosted its final event. The store is closing due to increases in rent.

    The Washington Post and the Times have reported on the scrutiny faced by Buzzfeed following its article claiming that Trump instructed his lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.

    Tomorrow at Brooklyn’s Books are Magic, Keith Gessen, the author of A Terrible Country, will discuss his work with Sam Lipsyte, author of Hark, a sendup of the mindfulness industry. Also tomorrow, at the Ace Hotel in Manhattan, n+1 authors including A.S. Hamrah, Nikil Saval, Elizabeth Schambelan, and Danya Tortorici will read their work.


  • January 18, 2019

    Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver has died at age eighty-three. The New York Times has collected selections of her work that details Oliver’s “reverence for the natural world and her frank, but comforting, descriptions of mourning.”

    Esmé Weijun Wang. Photo: Kristin Cofer

    The Forward is ending print editions of its newspaper and plans to lay off nearly half the paper’s editorial staff, the New York Post reports. The publication will continue to publish online in both English and Yiddish.

    Esmé Weijun Wang talks to Publishers Weekly about writing about illness, her new essay collection, and the different expectations that readers have for fiction and nonfiction. Since writing The Collected Schizophrenias, Wang says that she has found readers “expect you to be able to give advice or give succor” in a way that they didn’t with fiction. “I’m going to hear these stories, and I will try to listen, and I will try to offer as much as I can,” she said. “But at the same time, I don’t have the answer.”

    Hilton Als talks to Garage’s Paige Bradley about curating “God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin” at David Zwirner.

    Tidying Up host Marie Kondo tells Indiewire that, despite the numerous essays claiming that she advocates for getting rid of all of one’s books, “she doesn’t want people to get rid of all (or even most) of their books.” “The question you should be asking is what do you think about books,” Kondo said through her interpreter, Marie Iida. “If the image of someone getting rid of books or having only a few books makes you angry, that should tell you how passionate you are about books, what’s clearly so important in your life.”

  • January 17, 2019

    Atria Books is launching a new imprint. Signal Press, which will be led by Julia Cheiffetz, will focus on “books that contribute to the conversation around feminism, politics, and issues of social justice.” Upcoming titles include Emma Brown’s How to Raise a Boy, Michelle Duster’s Ida B the Queen, and Tom Randall’s biography of Elon Musk.

    Carmen Maria Machado. Photo: Tom Storm

    New York magazine business and strategy editor David Haskell will replace Adam Moss as editor in chief, CNN reports.

    Carmen Maria Machado talks to Entertainment Weekly about research, queer domestic violence, and writing her first memoir. In the Dream House focuses on Machado’s “harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman,” a subject underrepresented in literature. “There’s [this pressure] where the minority wants to perform for the majority, like, ‘We can’t let them know that this happens to us too.’ So it felt like a space very rich for exploration.”

    “In the spirit of Gawker, whose stated mission was to tell the stories journalists talk about at the bar after work,” Splinter’s Laura Wagner details everything there is to know “about all the people who have been hired at the new Gawker.”

    Slate’s editorial union has signed a three-year contract with management. “One of our primary reasons for undertaking this process was our profound love of Slate. We felt so lucky to work with management last week to put our shared goals into action,” the union said in their announcement. “Our contract reflects our fundamental values as a company and a workplace.”

    Grindr has laid off the editorial and social media staff of its online publication, Into. “As with any growing business, we have to continually evaluate what is best for Grindr,” the company explained in a statement. “After a thoughtful and collaborative process, Grindr’s leadership decided to modify Into’s content mix to rely more heavily on video.”

  • January 16, 2019

    Adam Moss. Photo: Mark Mann

    After fifteen years, Adam Moss is stepping down from his role as editor in chief of New York magazine, the New York Times reports. “I’ve been going full throttle for 40 years; I want to see what my life is like with less ambition,” Moss told the paper. “I’m older than the staff. I’m older than the readers. I just want to do something new.” Moss will remain at the magazine through March.

    CBS News and Simon & Schuster are collaborating on a podcast and book project hosted by Mo Rocca. Mobituaries, the title of both works, is “an irreverent but deeply researched appreciation of the people (and things) of the past who have long intrigued him—from an unsung Founding Father to the first Chinese-American superstar, from Neanderthals to the station wagon.” The eight-episode podcast will start this Friday, while the book hits shelves next November, “to coincide with the second season.”

    Help Me! author Marianne Power tells Vulture about the year she spent following the advice of self-help books.

    The New York Times’s Ben Widdicombe reports from the book party for Lili Anolik’s Hollywood’s Eve, which “was as much a boozy wake for bygone magazine jobs as it was a book celebration.”

    Washington Post journalists are conflicted over how to cover owner Jeff Bezos’s high-profile divorce, Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo reports. “If Amazon had a Facebook type of situation, which had tentacles in Congress, public documents, some sort of connection with the election, that would be far closer to our center of gravity,” one anonymous source told Pompeo. “We probably would not be putting a whole team of reporters on this in any case. But it does raise some questions.”

  • January 15, 2019

    Leslie Jamison

    In an exclusive essay at Entertainment Weekly, Leslie Jamison details the origins of her new book on obsession and longing, Make It Scream, Make It Burn. “At first, I thought this collection was about the connection between desire and distance, about being obsessed with what we can’t fully grasp: the mystery of prior lives, the metaphor of a lonely whale, the allure of an online avatar,” she writes. “But eventually, I realized that it was just as interested in what’s right in front of us. How do we keep showing up for our daily lives? How do we keep reinventing them?”

    This year’s T. S. Eliot Prize has been awarded to Hannah Sullivan for her debut collection, Three Poems.

    Bob Woodward has won the 2019 PEN America Literary Service Award for his book Fear.

    Haley Mlotek, a former editor at The Hairpin and a contributor to the New Yorker, n+1, and more, has sold her book No Fault: Romance and Divorce to Viking.

    At Longreads, Sarah Boon talks to Late in the Day author Tessa Hadley about short stories, MFAs, and the difference between painting and writing.

    Splinter looks into Vice News employees’ reports of factual errors in Jill Abramson’s upcoming book, Merchants of Truth. In a section about Vice executive Josh Tyrangiel’s staffing choices, Abramson mischaracterized several reporters’ work experience and made “sweeping assumptions about Vice’s new hires based on their haircuts.”

  • January 14, 2019

    Cory Doctorow Bird

    Cory Doctorow

    The Guardian is spotlighting the “hottest-tipped” debut novelists of 2019.

    New Yorker writer Ken Auletta is writing a biography of Harvey Weinstein, and has sold the rights to Penguin Press.

    Tech journalist and sci-fi author Cory Doctorow recently wrote on his blog Boing Boing about Bird, a scooter-sharing startup. Doctorow explained how anyone can convert, with some simple mechanical adjustments, the scooters offered by Bird into “personal scooters.” Bird has demanded that Doctorow remove the post immediately, saying that he is telling people how to steal their properrty. But the writer isn’t backing down. He’s posted again, writing, “Bird Scooter tried to censor my Boing Boing post with a legal threat that’s so stupid, it’s a whole new kind of wrong.”

    The poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith is taking her podcast, The Slowdown, to NPR.

    Although Samuel Beckett won the Nobel Prize in 1969, newly released papers show that the committee had, in the previous year, expressed “serious concerns about whether his writing was consistent with the spirit of the award.”

    At MasterClass, Margaret Atwood is offering an online course in creative writing.

  • January 11, 2019

    Vulture’s Kat Rosenfield reflects on The Millions, an indie book blog that was recently sold to Publishers Weekly. Although the website has no plans to change its mission or content, “there’s a consensus among readers, writers, publishers, and critics that something has ended,” Rosenfield writes. “If not the Millions itself, then perhaps the culture and era that sustained it: an online Wild West full of hungry readers and exuberant writers still young and innocent enough not to mind working for (almost) free.”

    Linn Ullmann. Photo: Agnete Brun

    The Nieman Foundation has announced its 2019 Visiting Fellows.

    BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel is joining the New York Times opinion section.

    At the New York Times Magazine, Wyatt Mason talks to Linn Ullmann about Ingmar Bergman, anecdotes, and her new book, Unquiet. “I can’t stand anecdotes,” she said, defining them as “a story that’s good for dinner parties” (“I have thousands,” she noted). “Anecdotes . . . elicit a kind of soft response, sweet applause. An anecdote is told many times, honed in a certain way, so that, if it has a rough edge, even that is absolutely palatable. It might elicit tears, a little ‘ah.’”

    “She never volunteers information. . . . She’s totally open, but you’ve got to know exactly how to ask her stuff,” Lili Anolik tells Entertainment Weekly about Eve Babitz, the subject of her new book, Hollywood’s Eve. “ When I started this book, obsession, whatever you want to call it — there was so little out there about her.” Using a borrowed copy of the underground newspaper L.A. Manifesto, Anolik began to contact people in Babitz’s social network. “I fell into rabbit hole after rabbit hole with this because everybody you met was so interesting. You’d get these little stories, these little glimpses.”