Tonight at Brooklyn's 177 LivingstonTriple Canopy and Cabinet magazine are hosting "A Hearing on the Activities of the International Necronautical Society," where editors and audience members (as well as novelist Joshua Cohen and critic Christian Lorentzen) will debrief INS founder Tom McCarthy and Chief Philospher Simon Critchley on recent findings. What strides has the INS made toward their goal to "map, enter, colonise and, eventually, inhabit" death? McCarthy's new novelC, is his most emphatic answer to the question yet.

Chuck Klosterman's essays are now available for the iTunes-like price of 99 cents each, which seems about right—Klosterman's best essays have always had the confectionary appeal of a great pop song.

The staff of Knopf looks dapper in their gold Sperry shoes and spiffy whale ties, worn in honor of the newly published book True Prep. We'd love to see the folks at powerHouse Books one-up them by donning threads inspired by the 1960s classic Take IvyLiterary fashion buffs looking to guage the present moment need look no further than the bohemian sartorial elegance on display at last Saturday's launch party for the new Paris Review

We are listlessly reading the Telegraph. We see a headline that must be a joke. We laugh. But it is real. Two British authors criticize the Man Booker Prize shortlist for having too many books written in the present tense.

Last night, The Rumpus's "Summer Shakedown" event at Brooklyn's Death by Audio space (which comedian Michael Showalter described as, if we remember correctly, a "blown-out former dentist's office,") was everything we told you it would be and more—but also a little bit less. We saw Neal Pollack read about his adventures in yoga and then do the "alligator" pose onstage. We saw Sara Marcus read from her new history of Riot Grrrl, Girls to the Front, and actually sing some of the passages. We saw Nick Flynn read a chapter from his memoir The Ticking is the Bomb about Rumpus honcho and emcee Stephen Elliott (which involved a dominatrix), and joke about the venue's very dusty fan that was precariously attached to the ceiling by very dusty bungee cords. And we witnessed an intense spoken-word performance by Corrina Bain. But we did not see Hilton Als, at least not before we left. It appeared, as far as we could tell, that he did not show up.

Sunday's Brooklyn Book Festival, photo by Carolyn Kellogg.

Pictures and video from this weekend's soggy Brooklyn Book Festival, and critic David L. Ulin on the fest's "moral mysteries." At one of the marquee events, John Ashbery chatted with Paul Auster about the poet's first job in New York, at the Brooklyn Public Library: "I did so miserably at that job and was so unhappy at it—though loving Brooklyn of course. I had to punch a time clock and almost every day it was red because I was staying out late in New York." 

Fall book picks from the Daily Beast, the LA Times, and Gawker, who offer this sage advice about Roland Barthes's Mourning Diary: "Read it in English, but pretend to have read it in French."

Last week, the Washington Post reported that the Defense Department was negotiating to buy and destroy a 10,000 copy print run of Operation Dark Heart, an Afghanistan war memoir by former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Anthony Shaffer. Now, the book is being sold on eBay, with one copy fetching more than $2,000 yesterday.

Google attempts to eradicate writer's block with Scribe, a predictive typing tool that might just help you finish writing your Great American Novel.

Tonight, the Harry Ransom Center is celebrating its public opening of the David Foster Wallace archive with a reading of the late author's work featuring Elizabeth Crane, Doug Dorst, Owen Egerton, Chris Gibson, and Jake Silverstein. Can't make it to Austin for the event? Watch it on the Ransom Center's webcast at 7pm CST.


Chris Lehmann is a conspicuously over-employed editor and cultural critic. He’s a co-editor of Bookforum, a deputy editor for the Yahoo news blog The Upshot, a columnist for the Awl, a contributing editor for The Baffler, and a guitarist and singer for the band The Charm Offensive. He’s also just penned a book, Rich People Things, which will be published this fall by OR books. We recently caught up with Mr. Lehmann via email to discuss the how his blog column became a book, why he considers himself an economic populist, and what we talk about when we talk about class in America.

Q: Mr. Lehmann, I can’t help notice that your name figures prominently in my Gmail Priority Inbox. In the interest of full-disclosure, we should probably mention that you’re one of the chaps who edits timely and informative articles for Bookforum, and that we sometimes spy you thumbing through galleys here in our New York office, though you’re based in Washington, DC. That is you, isn’t it?

Yes—which is one reason among countless that it’s absurd for you to refer to me as “Mr. Lehmann.” I know your own preferred form of address for me is simply my last name, with maybe an under-your-breath expletive before or after.

Hilton Als

Tonight, the Rumpus ushers in autumn with a "Summer Shakedown" event. There's a stellar lineup of authors including Nick Flynn (The Ticking is the Bomb), Sara Marcus (Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution), and Hilton Als (Justin Bond/Jackie Curtis), as well as comedians Michael Showalter and Jessi Klein, performers Elissa Bassist and Corrina Bain, and music by Frankie Rose and the Outs.

The new Paris Review is out, and we haven't been so excited about a literary magazine in ages. It's the first issue edited by Lorin Stein, and if it’s any indication, he's taking the magazine in an exciting (and more fiction-friendly) direction. There are stories by Sam Lipsyte and Lydia Davis, both authors whom Stein edited during his tenure at FSG. The interviews—with Mating author Norman Rush and French bad boy Michel Houellebecq—are excellent. And it looks fantastic. Do check it out. In other lit-mag news, Hilton Als's new novella appears in the latest issue of McSweeney's, which has a magic ink cover, along with fiction by Steven Millhauser and Roddy Doyle.

In the 1970s, William S. Burroughs collaborated on a "Word/Image" novel with Malcolm McNeil. Fantagraphics has just announced that it will publish the work, "Ah Pook Is Here," along with McNeil's memoir of working with the junky high priest of the Beats, next year.

With a month to go before the Man Booker prize announces its winner, Andrew Motion, chair of the judges' panel, writes about the hard work of whittling down the list from 140 titles to the shortlist of 6, the criteria used to pick these titles, and their variety: "what characterises our list is the difficulty of fitting it into a neat category. Which feels like a fitting tribute to pay to a form that has always thrived on notions of surprise and unpredictability."  

The true identity of the famed Twitter satirist Emperor Franzen and Evil Wylie has been revealed!

John Ashbery

If you're in New York this weekend, you really must go to the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday. There are too many events to list, but here are just a few highlights: Joshua Cohen and Matthew Sharpe will talk about Kafka; poet John Ashbery will discuss his work with Paul Auster; and Bookforum  co-editor Albert Mobilio will talk about international noir with Mexican author Paco Ignacio Taibo II, French author Caryl Férey, and New York's Pete Hamill. Other participating authors include Mary Gaitskill, Colson Whitehead, Russell Banks, and Stephen Elliott. There are also a number of related events on Friday and Saturday nights. You'll find us at the Saturday-night Bell House event DJ'd by Rob Sheffield.

The Wall Street Journal will unveil its new stand-alone book review, edited by Robert Mesenger (formerly of The Weekly Standard and The New York Sun) in the next few weeks. As The New York Observer points out, this appears to be another one of Rupert Murdoch's direct challenges to The New York Times.

The latest issue of N1BR, a.k.a. The n+1 Book Review, is out. In addition to reviews of Mary Gaitskill and Paul Berman, it includes a very smart essay by Naomi Fry, the first writer we know of to really grapple with the "toxic environment" of Bret Easton Ellis's Imperial Bedrooms.

Thomas Guinzburg, a co-founder of The Paris Review, dies at 84.

At The New Republic, Ruth Franklin has a persuasive article—with data—about The New York Times's treatment of women writers. Now, Slate follows up with a number-crunching report on The New Republic.

Lionel Shriver

Novelist Lionel Shriver details her experience of how "publishers are complicit in ghettoising not only women writers but women readers into [an] implicitly lesser cultural tier." Using her own novels as examples, such as the disturbing health care tale, So Much for That, Shriver writes that publishers’ insistence on "trussing up my novels as sweet, girly and soft is like stuffing a rottweiler in a dress." 

Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins was recently quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying, "lyrics just don't hold up without the music . . . I assure [my students] that Jim Morrison is not a poet in any sense of the word." Perhaps not Morrison, but how about Biz Markie, who is on cover of the fall issue of Bookforum? Poet Kevin Young asks this question about rap lyrics in his feature review of The Anthology of Rap, edited by Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois, writing "poetry can move you, hip-hop can make you move—for my part, I'll take both."

Did Tony Blair crib a line from the 2006 film The Queen for his new memoir? Screenwriter Peter Morgan thinks so, telling The Telegraph that perhaps Blair "had one gin and tonic too many and confused the scene in the film with what had actually happened, and this I find amusing because he always insisted he had never even seen it." We'll be perusing Blair's book, The Journey (published last week in the US), for other cinematic scenes, and hope that a Monty Python moment somehow snuck its way into the prime minister's remembrances.

When Michael Lewis's The Big Short came out last March, the book's Amazon page was besieged with complaints because it wasn't available in a Kindle edition. Now that it is, eBookNewser is tracking the most popular passages readers are highlighting in the e-book version. Topping the list is this pithy summary of the housing bubble's toxic recipe: "How do you make poor people feel wealthy when wages are stagnant? You give them cheap loans." We can't decide which is more unsettling about this story: the terribly imprudent lending practices of the housing bubble, or Amazon’s tracking of what people are highlighting on their Kindles.

Melissa Febos

The shortlist for the 2010 Man Booker Prize has been announced.

Sure, we may have entered the age of wireless devices and ADD, but as The Millions points out, big, sprawling novels with lots of characters aren't dead yet. In fact, "the current profusion of long novels would seem to complicate the picture of the Incredible Shrinking Attention Span."

OR Books, the new independent publisher who does not work with Amazon, has announced that it will publish Douglas Rushkoff's Program or Be Programmed, in which the novelist and countercultural essayist will attempt to help you swim, not sink, in the digital age.

Tonight at Brooklyn's Word bookstore, Stephen Elliott will host a party for the paperback release of his excellent The Adderall Diaries, which coolly blends memoir, reports on a Bay Area murder, and pointed meditations on storytelling itself. Among Elliott's many themes is masochism, so it's appropriate that he'll be reading with Melissa Febos, whose Whip Smart recalls how she paid for college in NYC by becoming a high-end dominatrix. Turns out that Jonathan Franzen is reading in NYC tonight too. Says Elliott: "I love Franzen, but I'm not going to miss my own reading in Brooklyn to see him read in Brooklyn."

You can invite Arianna Huffington to talk to a school or group during her Third Wold America book tour.

Michael Schaub recalls how one drunken night nine years ago led to the creation of Bookslut. The excellent literary website Bookslut has posted 12,000 blog entries, more than 2,700 articles, and, now, 100 issues. One of the new articles, "After Portnoy," responds to Katie Roiphe's notorious essay for the New York Times by interviewing three young male writers about sex.

The Virginia Quarterly Review story continues to develop, as the University of Virginia plans to perform a "thorough review" of the literary journal.

French novelist Michel Houellebecq's controversial work has been called racist and sexist (and sometimes brilliant). Now critics are crying "plagiarism," as the author apparently pasted portions of Wikipedia into his new novel, The Map and the Territory. Houellebecq has responded to the charge with his usual sangfroid: "When you use a big word like 'plagiarism,' even if the accusation is ridiculous, something (of the accusation) will always remain. . . . And if people really think that, then they haven't the first notion of what literature is." 

At the New Republic G. W. Bowersock remembers the great classicist Bernard Knox, who passed away last month. 

Tonight, Barnes and Noble's security may keep a close eye on author Tao Lin (an accomplished shoplifter), as he appears at the chain's Tribeca branch to discuss his new novel Richard Yates. But can Lin be as uninhibited in person as he is on the Web? As Joshua Cohen writes of Lin in the latest issue of Bookforum: "To Lin's generation, which is to say to mine as well, transparency is the new sincerity; many of our peers maintain that it's psychologically healthy, and artistic, to expose oneself entirely online."

As Christopher Hitchens battles esophageal cancer, God-fearing fans have anointed September 20th as "Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day," but the preeminent atheist is still having none of it: "I don't mean to be churlish about any kind intentions, but when September 20 comes, please do not trouble deaf heaven with your bootless cries. Unless, of course, it makes you feel better."

The Brooklyn Rail has a gripping (and disturbing) excerpt from Xiaoda Xiao's forthcoming novel The Visiting Suit: Stories From My Prison Life, based on the author's seven years in Chinese labor brigades.