In a world full of bias, bunk, and super-sized opinion, these anonymous scribes find the facts, and save face, for the world's most trusted publications.
A report from this weekend’s AWP conference, on indie publishers' electronic-book plans: Graywolf Press will have them this fall, Coffee House Press is also taking the plunge, while Melville House reports that its first Kindle title, Every Man Dies Alone, has been a "shocking" success. Meanwhile, the debate still rages over the ethics of pirating digital-lit, while the Christian Science Monitor reports that North Koreans are perusing Western e-books, including—in a twist of irony that Cervantes would savor—Don Quixote.
Tonight at McNally Jackson Books, Russian author Olga Grushin reads from her novel, The Line, a story of squabbling among characters in a queue for concert tickets, based on Stravinsky's 1962 return to Russia.
This weekend, book lovers should flock to downtown Brooklyn's 177 Livingston, where Triple Canopy is hosting West Coast indie publisher Publication Studio. They'll be making books by day (10-4, Saturday), and hosting a discussion and party tonight and Saturday night. Art, live music, industry speculation, and cheap drinks are secondary seductions to lure you to the real prize, the Studio's extraordinary books.
“Are You Absolutely, Positively, and Wholeheartedly Ready to Publish Your Novel?” You can find out here.
On April 30, the PEN World Voices Festival is hosting a panel discussion called "A New World of Yesterday: Stefan Zweig’s Utopian Nostalgia." It will feature Zweig enthusiasts Klemens Renoldner, the director of the Stefan Zweig Centre at the University of Salzburg, and George Prochnik, who has written about Freud's trip to America and the importance of silence (he is now writing a book about Zweig). Here's the kicker: the panel will also feature Michael Hofmann, whose resume includes translating Thomas Bernhard, writing poetry, discovering (for us, at least) Lydia Davis, and making anyone who praises Stephan Zweig feel angry (he calls the author "the Pepsi of Austrian writing," in one of his gentler moments). Renoldner responds to the latter attack here. We happen to like Zweig's Beware of Pity, and are excited for this lively debate.
They don't cover "Zweig" (zvIg), but California's Diesel Bookstore has produced a handy chart that tells you how to pronounce authors' names. Print it out and tape it on the wall next to your desk, aspiring book nerds! And trust us, don't rely on this Village Voice guide: it got us into serious book-party trouble when it came out in 2003 (back when literary greats George Plimpton and John Updike still walked among us).
Malcolm McLaren, the man behind the Sex Pistols, is dead at 64. Here's what Greil Marcus said about him in his 1989 book on punk rock and the Situationist, Lipstick Traces: he realized the fact that rock songs such as "Stairway to Heaven" were "oppressions." "Thus [McLaren and the Sex Pistols] damned rock 'n' roll as a rotting corpse: a monster of moneyed reaction, a mechanism for false consciousness, a system of self-exploitation, a theater of glalmorized oppression, a bore." (page 57)
Motoko Rich is leaving her post as the New York Times's publishing-beat reporter. In May, she will begin writing for the Business Day section.
Mark E. Smith
A university exhibit and new book highlight David Foster Wallace's life and work, and Scott McLemee visits the relics: "A writer who kills himself runs the risk—and he must have known this—of having his life and work turned into one long suicide note."
Scholar Tariq Ramadan returns to the U.S. for the first time since he was barred from the country by the Bush Administration in 2004. He chats with author Ian Buruma, Slate editor Jacob Weisberg, and war reporter George Packer tonight at Cooper Union's "Secularism, Islam, and Democracy: Muslims in Europe and the West."
Performing songs like "Coca Cola Douche" won't preclude you from being covered by the Wall Street Journal: if nothing else, poet, Fugs member, and all-around countercultural juggernaut Ed Sanders has proven that much.
Big news for spy-novel fans: The Mysterious Bookshop owner Otto Penzler is auctioning off part of his 60,000-volume collection; there's never been a better time to brush up on your William Le Queux.
Don't get us started about mix tapes. All of our teenage lust, angst, and ungodly passion for jangly, jagged music was channeled through said ninety-minute analog wonders, and rambling about them now just makes us feel old. So we were dismayed to see Flavorwire's ten-song mixtape for "English majors and other word nerds." We don't care about the New Yorker-endorsed tykes Vampire Weekend, the glorified jam-band Built to Spill, or a slightly past-their-prime Magnetic Fields. But the last song on the list, The Fall's "Repetition," is worthy of a mention for its literary merits alone—singer Mark E. Smith's lyrics deserve a Booker award or two, or, at the very least, the undiluted adulation of bloggers everywhere. But forget tape hiss and old song lists; Flavorwire isn't all about nostalgia—they also provide a very handy list of 10 Book Types You Should Follow on Twitter.
Starting today, the New Republic is walling off its print content, creating the "TNR Society," a place where connoisseurs can imbibe the magazine's "premium content," and enjoy "other new perks, like insider newsletters, articles, and invitations to high-profile events." As for the clubby vibe, TNR has never prided itself on being overly friendly; as editor Leon Wieseltier said after James Wood left for the New Yorker, "David [Remnick] believes that civility is a primary intellectual virtue. I believe it’s a secondary intellectual virtue, or no intellectual virtue at all.”
In 1996, the small publisher Orchises Press managed to land J. D. Salinger's novella Hapworth 16, 1924—and then they lost the deal. Orchises's owner Roger Lathbury explains how.
Tonight at New York City's Highline Ballroom, novelists Sam Lipsyte and Colson Whitehead will be joined by porn star Lorelei Lee to read their work.
Say it ain't so, Tommaso! The New Yorker's Judith Thurman has uncovered more fraud by Italian journalist Tommaso Debenedetti, who fabricated interviews with Philip Roth, Toni Morrison, E. L. Doctorow, and a growing list of top flight authors. Debenedetti isn't yet admitting any wrongdoing, saying he’s “shocked and saddened” that his subjects deny their Obama-bashing chats.
Jack Estes, who runs Pleasure Boat press, proclaims that publishing is alive and well. Just don't expect to sell more than four hundred copies, or make a profit: "If you are writing to be published, if that's your goal, you're probably writing for the wrong reason. If you're writing to get rich, you're really writing for the wrong reason."
The Rumpus has posted a moving meditation on William Bowers's criminally underrated essay, "All We Read Is Freaks." Bowers was once deemed Page Six material by the New York Post's Liz Smith, and scored a book deal, but since then, nothing. What happened?
Over at the Los Angeles Times, Carolyn Kellogg poses the somewhat tired, but still zeitgeisty query: "Are Twitter and Facebook good or bad for writers?" While some writers thrive online, others, like Malcolm Gladwell, avoid it. According to Jonathan Franzen, the web is writers’ Kryptonite: "It's doubtful that anyone with an Internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction."
Publishers Weekly has been purchased by PWxyz, a company run by George Slowik, who was the magazine's publisher in the eighties and early nineties.
HarperStudio, the HarperCollins imprint with an innovative plan for paying writers (by withholding their advances), is calling it quits.
Noah Baumbach—who directed the bookish family bummer film The Squid and the Whale and, more recently, Greenberg—will adapt Claire Mesud's novel The Emperor's Children for the screen (via the Millions).