Published last month, Bound to Last is a new anthology for which thirty authors pay homage to their "most cherished books." There are some excellent and in some cases deeply inspired entries: Ed Park geeks out over the Dungeon Masters Guide; Nick Flynn assembles a series of personal, melancholic fragments about Ryszard Kapuscinski's Shadow of the Sun. But the most personal essay is by artist Karen Green, the widow of David Foster Wallace. Her topic is The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel, but the essay basically uses quotes from that book as a framework for her reflections about DFW's suicide—about selling the house that they shared, about describing what had happened in the house, about talking to her late husband's psychiatrist. "I was asked to contribute to this anthology because I am the widow, via hanging, of David Foster Wallace," she writes, "whose writing I enjoyed very much, but whose made-up potty humor songs on a road trip I liked even better." Green's humor is on a par with Hempel's: Her description of the gift shop at the L. A. Coroner's Office is both skewed and also, somehow, respectful of life. The piece is the most moving thing we've read about Wallace's death yet.
After two decades in Gotham, indie publishing icon Soft Skull Press is heading to Berkeley. As the New York Press writes, "While it might not be the end of Soft Skull altogether, by leaving New York, the press will never be the same. After all, Soft Skull is the quintessential New York City indie press." New York Press details the imprint's history, from its early days in a Greenwich Village copy shop, publishing books like Lee Ranaldo's 1995 Road Movies, through its Downtown heyday, when a motley mix of musicians, activists, and authors hung out in its basement office and produced books like Eileen Myles's novel Cool for You. A few years ago, Soft Skull merged with Counterpoint Press, and is now decamping to Counterpoint's Bay Area offices. As the New York Press notes, "Soft Skull leaving New York makes perfect sense. After all, the New York that fostered Soft Skull—the one that made room for punk rock poets, nightclubs like Tonic and copy shops where smart, bored kids could bind books and sell them out of their East Village apartment—isn’t the New York that we live in anymore." Here's hoping that the press survives, and thrives, on sunnier shores.
Tonight at New York's Center for Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle will host a roundtable discussion on the question: "Should novelists review other people’s novels?" We predict that the short answer will be "yes," as the panelists include Roxana Robinson, Lev Grossman, and Jane Ciabattari, all of whom are both fiction writers and book reviewers.
(Line)breaking up is hard to do: On the imperfect art of poetry formatted for e-readers, the Poetry Foundation has found that small poetry publishers waver between optimism and doubt. As Copper Canyon Press's marketing director, Joseph Bednarik, says, "“Copper Canyon is all about the poem on the page, the poem in the book. . . . As a publisher, we’re excited by the possibility that e-books afford, but we need to be careful about the way poems and e-books are presented."
In the '90s the Gap memorably informed us that Jack Kerouac wore khakis, but did he wear an angled baseball cap too? A new project confirms the essential frat dude that’s at the heart of Kerouac's work, translating his classic novel into bro speak.