Why did Harper's web-wiz Paul Ford quit? The Awl's Choire Sicha investigates; talk of rats, sinking ships, and "consulting" ensues.

Jaron Lanier

Move over David Remnick, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Bob Woodward—there's a new presidential historian in town. Porn-peddler Larry Flynt is writing a book about US presidents' (and first ladies') sex lives. According to the proposal, he will answer questions like: "How did a gay-love affair aid the secession movement?" And: "How did one of Wilson's affairs result in the first Jew on the Supreme Court?" We can't wait to find out.

Though he resembles a disgruntled bar bouncer, Jaron Lanier is a virtual reality pioneer. He's playing the contrarian at the SXSWi Festival, delivering an unpopular message about the depersonalized, "darker side" of the web, as articulated in his recent volume You Are Not A Gadget. Lanier is more concerned with human-to-human connection these days, so if you see him, give him a hug.

Bob Miller is leaving HarperSudio, the imprint that specialized in bloggers-turned-authors. We know it's the way of the future, but maybe it was too soon to eliminate author advances.

Brandon Scott Gorrell reviews the harsh reviews of Tao Lin's novel Shoplifting from American Apparel. Unfortunately, the writer doth protest too much, especially since he's published by Lin's Muumuu House.

John Grisham, who has sold more than 250 million books the old-fashioned way, gives in to e-books.

Brittain's poet Laurette Carol Ann Duffy feels soccer star David Beckham's pain. Her poem "Achilles," compares Beckham, to well... Achilles, and intones "it was sport, not war, / his charmed foot on the ball... / But then his heel, his heel, his heel" Oh, brave billionaire Beckham's fragile heel!

Sylvia Beach, modernism's midwife, recalls meeting James Joyce in her memoir: “He put his limp, boneless hand in my tough little paw.” Now a collection of her charming and erudite letters is being published by Columbia University Press, offering first-hand accounts of her bookstore Shakespeare and Company's founding, Joyce's publication, and the shop's rushed shuttering under Nazi pressure.

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