Rumor has it that an authorized biography of Steve Jobs tentatively titled iSteve: A Book of Jobs will come out in 2012. The title could turn out to be problematic, however, since “iSteve” is the tag name of one Steven Sailer, a self-described "journalist, movie critic for The American Conservative, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute." And just what are VDARE.com and the Human Biodiversity Institute? The Southern Poverty Law Center has described VDARE.com as an anti-immigration "hate site" and the HBI as a "neo-eugenics outfit."
Deb Olin Unferth
Roll Call has a short article about the current members of Congress who write novels. “Sometimes, during a long filibuster,” says Senator Barbara Mikulski, “I would go back to my office and write on legal pads.”
We somehow forgot that last Thursday, April 7, was New York City’s official John Ashbery Day, there will still be opportunities to celebrate the man this year. On May 16, Norton will publish his new translation of Arthur Rimbaud’s Illuminations. There’s a fascinating interview about it at Rain Taxi.
Every weekend during National Poetry Month, poet and international journalist Eliza Griswold is selecting two poems—one new, the other a classic—to post on the Daily Beast. This week: Jonathan Galassi and W.H. Auden.
You’ve probably read too much about David Foster Wallace of late—perhaps it’s time to read something by him for a change, lest you start treating him, as his widow Karen Green notes, like a “celebrity writer dude.” That said, there is a fine discussion of the author by Deb Olin Unferth, Rivka Galchen, and other deeply original contemporary writers.
In honor of Henry James’s birthday (April 15), Bookslut is devoting its entire Starcrossed column to the “master.”
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has become the first e-book to sell more than a million copies.
Shed Simove’s book, What Every Man Thinks About Apart From Sex, made it into Amazon’s top 50 bestsellers. It is a quick read, though, since every page is completely blank. Simove ponders his prank's ramifications for authors and the publishing industry.
When thinking of 1970s punk, places like London and New York come to mind, but perhaps not Cleveland, Ohio. On Saturday, the powerHouse arena in Brooklyn is hosting the Cleveland Confidential Book Tour, revealing a suprisingly vibrant late-70s DIY scene. The panel is moderated by author and critic Luc Sante, and features 70s punk legend Cheetah Chrome of the band the Dead Boys, among other punk pioneers.
Natalie Portman’s father, Dr. Avner Hershlag, has a self-published novel, Misconception, which is reportedly piquing some interest at New York publishing firms. The Observer presents some riveting excerpts.
The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, whose incendiary blog rants were recently published in the US, was seized by police in Beijing last Sunday. Anyone wondering why he’s being held by the government should go directly to this video of a 2009 talk he gave in Shanghai; it captures one of the many occasions that Weiwei has insistently spoken out against modern China’s corruption and totalitarianism. “Because we’re talking about designing China, I think we need to start from the questions of basic fairness, human rights, and freedom,” he says through his translator. “These are concepts which China, for all its economic development and success, has still not come to a basic understanding of.”
Yesterday Borders executives tried to persuade publishers that the company was on track for growth again after filing for bankruptcy; the plan was deemed “unrealistic.”
How much did it cost the New York Times to build its pay-wall?
Andrew Hultkrans reports on a reading for the Review of Contemporary Fiction’s “Failure Issue,” edited by novelist Joshua Cohen, and featuring authors such as Triple Canopy’s Sam Frank, n+1’s Keith Gessen, and poet Eileen Myles, recently held at MoMA’s PS 1: “The gold standard of literary failure is lack of response. . . . This event, while diverting, failed only at that.”
Twenty years after originally asking, UK songwriter Kate Bush has finally received permission to use lyrics taken from James Joyce’s Ulysses on her forthcoming album. The Guardian has neatly assembled all the talking points in the latest edition of its droll “Pass Notes” series.
Time magazine has hired critic and editor Jessica Winter to be Arts Editor for the print publication and website.
The late David Foster Wallace’s annotated self-help books are a minor but revealing component of the Harry Ransom Center’s impressive Wallace collection. What can we learn about Wallace from studying his marginalia in books like The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller? The Awl’s Maria Bustillo visits the Ransom archives and finds many telling clues, including this underlined passage in Miller’s volume, marked “Amherst 80-85” by Wallace: “Such a [gifted] person is usually able to ward off threatening depression with increased displays of brilliance, thereby deceiving both himself and those around him.”
More than one hundred letters by Franz Kafka have been jointly purchased by the Bodleian Library and a rival institution, the German Literary Archive in Marbach. The arrangement governing how the correspondence will be shared between the two institutions has not been announced: We can only hope that researchers will not feel like the protagonist in The Castle while trying to gain access to the materials.
Bookstores used to put frequently stolen books (Abbie Hoffman, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, et. al.) behind the front counter, but what will publishers do to stop e-book piracy? At the Boston Globe, Alex Beam investigates, finding that filching a new book is as easy as illegally downloading an album. He reports that publishers are “not too worried. Allow me to worry on their behalf. Free is still a price that is hard to beat.”
From the Electronic Book Review, Lydia Davis interviews Lynne Tillman.
For a series of articles on the New Europe, The Guardian has asked editors at papers from France, Germany, Spain, and Poland to write about what people are reading in those countries today. Most of the articles nod to a thriving literary culture (in Poland, a biography of Ryszard Kapuscinski; in Spain, the forthcoming novel by Javier Marias). But some of the bestsellers look pretty familiar: Proving that the appeal of vampires and teenagers cuts across cultures, Germany’s top-five-selling books includes a title by Stephanie Meyer.
The New York Observer recaps the recent ascension of Cary Goldstein, the new publisher of Twelve Books.
Advice from fiction writers. Martin Amis: “You have to be slightly innocent to be a novelist. You can't have too much nous. It gets in the way, somehow.” Jennifer Egan (who just won the Morning News’s book tournament): “All that matters, and the hardest thing, is to do some decent work, and to keep getting better.”
The final round of the Morning News's 2011 Tournament of Books saw Jonathan Franzen's Freedom compete with Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Good Squad. The latter won by a hair.
Jessa Crispin: “Publishing isn't dead. Smart publishing, well, that's a different story.”
Some editions of the New York Times Book Review failed to put a marquee-worthy (and controversial) name on the marquee. Here’s the paper’s somewhat squeamish correction: “Because of a production error, a review on the cover of the Book Review, about Bismarck: A Life, by Jonathan Steinberg, omits the byline in some copies. As noted in the table of contents and in the contributor’s biographical note, the review is by Henry A. Kissinger.”
“Publishing guru” Jason Epstein shares his high hopes for print-on-demand machines.
A Public Space has announced the first English-language issue of Monkey Business: New Voices from Japan. The inaugural English issue will showcase some of the best writing from the Japanese magazine, and will include work by Yoko Ogawa, Barry Yourgrau, and many others. Twenty-five percent of profits will go to earthquake- and tsunami-relief aid funds.
For poetry month, the Poetry Society is handing over its Twitter duties to the poets. It’s a great lineup: D.A. Powell started things off asking what poem first seduced you. Others include Richard Siken, Joshua Clover, CAConrad, Amy King, and Dorothea Lasky.
Billy Joel’s memoir, The Book of Joel, was scheduled to come out with HarperCollins in June, but no more: The author has decided to not release the book. “It took working on writing a book to make me realize that I'm not all that interested in talking about the past.”
Chipp Kidd discusses how he came up with the cover design for Haruki Murakami's 1Q84.
The Poetry Foundation’s blog, Harriet, has assembled an excellent lineup of poets to post during National Poetry Month, which begins today.
Fiction writer Jon Raymond writes of his sole visit to the set of Mildred Pierce, Todd Haynes's HBO series based on the James Cain’s novel, for which Rayond cowrote the script: “Thus, my triumphant visit mostly consisted of sitting in [a] hangar, listening to the sounds of Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce simulating passionate first-time sex. . . It was a good afternoon.”
Sigrid Nunez talks about her new Susan Sontag memoir with Emily Gould, recalling Sontag’s matchmaking skills, her gifts as a mentor, and her fondness for saying “Don’t be so servile.”