CHRIS LEHMANN CHATS ABOUT 'RICH PEOPLE THINGS'

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."  

Advertisement