Melissa Franklin

The New York Times has published a short, vaguely squeamish profile of Jaimy Gordon, whose novel Lord of Misrule was the underdog winner of a 2010 National Book Award. “Ms. Gordon, who has a graduate degree in writing from Brown but also spent time working at a racetrack and briefly lived with an ex-convict who set fire to their apartment, has never been very conventional.”

Novelist Rick Moody—who we believe is the author of the best outer-space sex scene ever—and physicist Melissa Franklin recently participated in the Rubin Museum’s “Talk About Nothing” series, discussing Samuel Beckett (and black holes) from a slightly Buddhist perspective.

Peter Handke, the Austrian novelist best-known for his innovative fiction and for his admiration of Slobodan Milosevic, complains about contemporary American novelists and their “knitting pattern” fiction.

Andrew Shaffer recycles the “13 Most Obnoxious Publishing Stories of 2010.”

Last September, the Defense Department spent almost $50,000 to destroy copies of former Defence Intelligence Agency officer Anthony A. Shaffer’s memoir, Operation Dark Heart. Now, Shaffer is filing a lawsuit.


Deb Olin Unferth

The new Vice fiction issue is out now, featuring new stories by Sam McPheeters, Deb Olin Unferth, and the late Terry Southern, plus interviews with graphic novelist Charles Burns, fiction writers Amy Hempel and Sam Lypsite, as well as many other literary treats.

The Awl (which currently has a good story in which five authors talk about their Book Editors) will start paying its writers in January.

A profile of Rumpus Editor and Adderall Diaries author Stephen Elliott shares his tips on self-promotion.

Today at 3pm Caleb Crain will be live chatting on the New Yorker website, answering questions regarding his recent article about the original Tea Party and the American Revolution, “Tea and Antipathy.”

MFA vs. NYC: Is indie publishing the bridge?


George Saunders

The incomparable George Saunders, the poet laureate of theme parks, has a new short story, “Escape from Spiderhead,” and an interview on the New Yorker’s website.

The New York Times reports that The Atlantic is set to make a profit this year for the first time in at least a decade—how did they pull it off? The president of the Atlantic Media Company, Justin B. Smith, explains: “We imagined ourselves as a venture-capital-backed start-up in Silicon Valley whose mission was to attack and disrupt The Atlantic.”

(Via Biblioklept) Most writers will tell you that they don’t read reviews of their work—or, at the very least, that they’ve learned to shrug off criticism. But Robert Bolano didn’t perpetuate this ruse. He told an interviewer from Mexican Playboy how he really felt when critics attacked his work: “I begin to cry, I drag myself across the floor, I scratch myself, I stop writing indefinitely, I lose my appetite, I smoke less, I engage in sport, I go for walks on the edge of the sea . . . and I ask the seagulls, whose ancestors ate the fish who ate Ulysses: Why me? Why? I’ve done you no harm.”

Up to now, books have been blissfully free of commercial interruption, but this may soon change, as marketers anticipate the inevitable—placing advertisements (customized just for you!) in e-books.

The new issue of PEN America has just been published, and it's a stellar volume, featuring fiction by Don Delillo, a conversation about Rimbaud between newly minted National Book award winner Patti Smith and novelist Jonathan Lethem, a poem by John Ashbery (whose new translation of Rimbaud will be out in April), and much more.


Harper’s has announced a digital version of the magazine is now available for the iPad, but unlike its redoubtable competitor, the New Yorker (which only allows users to purchase the iPad edition one issue at a time), Harper’s e-version is available as a yearly subscription.

Jonathan Franzen and family, circa 1975. From the Paris Review.

If you've ever registered on Gawker or one of its sister sites, you may have had your username, email, and password stolen. Gawker assures users that the irony has not been lost on them.

The Onion’s AV club has apologized for running a review written by an author who clearly didn’t bother to read the book.

Tariq Ali writes that the “neo-con” Liu Xiaobo shouldn’t have received the Nobel Peace prize this year because Liu has supported the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Korea.

The Daily Beast has posted a few choice excerpts from the Paris Review’s interview with Jonathan Franzen, which will be on newsstands this week. On the eminent critic James Wood, Franzen offers this dismissive squawk: “I stopped reading my reviews after James Woods' piece on The Corrections . . . what he wrote was a quibbling and carping and narrowly censorious thing, with a willfully dense misreading of my Harper’s essay.”

If your author friends seem especially distracted lately, it is probably because they’re wondering why their book isn’t selling in Wichita, as Amazon has recently granted authors access to Nielsen BookScan’s weekly geographic sales figures.

Tonight at the 92nd Street Y, New Yorker stalwarts Ian Frazier and John McPhee discuss their recent work with Mark Singer.


Steve Martin frustrated the crowd at the 92nd Street Y earlier this month by disuccsing his new novel, An Object of Beauty, at the expense of what the audience wanted to hear about—his wild and crazy days in show business. He had a considerably better time at a recent appearance on The Colbert Report, a tour-de-force of performance art and comedy featuring artists Frank Stella, Shepard Fairey, and Andres Serrano.

The New Yorker’s Book Bench has a nice roundup of liquor books, just in time for the holidays. We’d add one more to the list: David Wondrich's festive and wry volume Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl.

Laura Albert, photo by Marissa Roth for The New York Times.

Laura Albert, the author who made her big splash by posing as a former teen drug-addict and prostitute-tuned-writer named J. T. Leroy, is suing her publisher, Bloomsbury, for blowing “a golden opportunity to promote her work following a 2007 fraud trial.” Though Albert is not known for her honesty, she is apparently very meticulous: She’s asking for $131,573.60.

Graywolf Press will publish a bilingual edition of poetry by 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who is currently serving a prison sentence in China for “inciting subversion of state power.”

At the Awl, Miles Klee has almost outdone David Shields. Klee has constructed a surprisingly lucid story—fittingly named “Ibid”—made completely out of sentences from other works; the narrative contains eighty-five footnotes, including sources as diverse as Dante, Susan Sontag, and Jim Thompson.

The blizzard of literary events continues unabated this weekend. Two of the best are n+1’s reading tonight, featuring ten quick appearances by contributors including Caleb Crain, Keith Gessen, and Carla Blumenkranz at Brooklyn’s cozy BookCourt; and Saturday’s Moonlighter Presents series, which “encourages the public presentation of secret hobbies, passions, thoughts, opinions, and research,” with readings by Triple Canopy’s Sam Frank, as well as Sean Tommasi, and Cecily Swanson.


The Nobel Peace Prize ceremony will take place tomorrow (you can watch a live webcast here), but the honoree—Chinese activist and author Liu Xiabo—remains in prison. A group of protesters have delivered an open letter to the Chinese embassy in Oslo calling for Liu’s release. The letter reads, in part: “During the two months since the announcement of the prize in early October, the Chinese government has not only held Liu Xiaobo in prison and confined his wife, Liu Xia, to house arrest; it also has sharply escalated its use of tactics like detention, house arrest, mandatory interrogations, and raids on homes to intimidate other Chinese citizens.”

Idra Novey

The new issue of The Paris Review will go on sale December 15. It will include an interview with Jonathan Franzen, paintings by Amy Siliman and Tom McGrath, and a “troubling, sexually charged” novella by Peter Nadas.

Via Bookslut: The Babyshambles frontman, possible bad influence, and occasionally incarcerated Pete Doherty has been cast for a French film about 19th-century author Alfred de Musset.

Tireless innovator Seth Godin has launched a new imprint called The Domino Project, a partnership with Amazon, which will, as he describes it, “choose and deliver manifestos that are optimized for the tribe, for the small group that wants to grab them, inhale them and spread them.” The first optimized manifesto on offer hasn’t been named yet (we’re guessing it’s one of Godin’s relentlessly chipper dispatches on the zeitgiest), but will be available in March 2011.

Not to be outdone by Franklin Foer, Vice Magazine editor in chief Jesse Pearson is leaving his post.

Tired of best-of the year lists yet? We are, too. Still, we couldn’t help feeling some cheer when we saw that Anne Carson’s Nox was the top contemporary poetry bestseller for 2010.

Tonight at Unnameable Books in Brooklyn, Susan Bernofsky (whose translation of Robert Walser’s Microscripts was one of our books of the year) and poet and translator Idra Novey will read from their recent work.

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