Editor Thomas Beller details the history of the recently closed literary magazine Open City, which he co-edited with Joanna Yas: “It’s a magazine, it’s over, life will go on. But there was a lot of life in it. A lot of death, too. Thirty issues in twenty years. A lot of life pressed into those pages.”
When are we going to see the much-anticipated New York Times’s paywall? The paper’s own Public Editor, Arthur Brisbane, wanted to know, but the best answer he could get was this exasperated response from the Times’s Media Editor: “We still don’t know exactly when the paywall is going up, how much it will cost readers or how many free hits readers will get before hitting the wall. Those are the critical questions we want answered—and believe me, we have asked.” Perhaps the Times is waiting to see how the new paywall at the Dallas Morning News pans out?
If you’re in New York, tonight marks the beginning of the four-night reading of There Is No Year by Blake Butler, the seemingly tireless author of cult favorites Ever and Scorch Atlas and frequent blog posts at HTML Giant. Readers participating in the tag-team marathon event include Justin Taylor, Ben Greenman, Rachel Shukert, Giancarlo DiTrapano, and the author himself.
From Moby Lives, a report on World Book Night, held this weekend in London’s Trafalgar Square.
Here’s a fascinating document that reveals the editorial changes made to David Foster Wallace’s posthumously published story, “Backbone” (a fragment from his forthcoming novel The Pale King), before appearing in the New Yorker last week. [Via the Millions]
Jon Cotner, one of the authors behind the excellent book, Ten Walks/Two Talks, has been covering the Armory Show for the Paris Review. In the process, he managed to ask Mayor Bloomberg what he thinks of Picasso’s blue period.
Letterpress, the printing technique beloved by chapbook and limited edition art book publishers, comes to the iPad. As Andrew Gorin writes at the Faster Times: “Trying to preserve the craft of letterpress printing by making it into an iPad app is. . . . so absurd that it just might work!”
At Slate, Jack Shafer writes about the newly-added editor credits at the end of New York Times Magazine feature stories: “Try complimenting an editor sometime about a good piece in his publication, and you're certain to get this eye-rolling response: ‘You shoulda seen it when it came in!’ For this reason alone, editors should be sentenced to perpetual anonymity.”
"Tweets were sent. Dictators were toppled. Internet = democracy. QED. Sadly, this is the level of nuance in most popular accounts of the Internet's contribution to the recent unrest in the Middle East." Evgeny Morozov reconsiders the claim that Facebook and Twitter were driving forces behind the Middle East uprisings.
Biographer and critic Hazel Rowley has passed away at the age of 59. She wrote biographies of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre (Tete a Tete), Richard Wright, and Christina Stead, as well as the 2010 first-couple study Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage. Rowley was an accomplished essayist and frequent contributor to Bookforum, in which she wrote about Wright and the 1950s culture wars, Beavoir’s 1960 trip to Brazil, and Paris’s legendary Village Voice bookstore.
Hazel Rowley, photo by Mathieu Bourgois.
Theodore Ross has a funny—and wise—article called “Drinking off the Job,” detailing how his life has changed after his recent departure from Harper’s magazine: "The past few weeks the better part of my social life has revolved around drinks. I can’t speak to the cultural mores of other industries, but publishing tends to liberally grease the runners of those it transports out the door."
This April, OR Books is publishing Tweets from Tahrir, a collection of pivotal mini-dispatches from the epicenter of the Cairo uprising—telling the story of the Egyptian Revolution as it unfolded 140 characters at a time.
New Yorkers: Throughout the day, CUNY is hosting a conference called “The Scandals of Susan Sontag,” with participants including Susie Linfield (author of The Cruel Radiance), Elaine Showalter (A Jury of Her Peers), Laura Kipnis (How to Become a Scandal), and others.
Apple guru Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance to unveil the new iPad (he is currently on sick leave). Apple has also announced that Random House will begin offering titles through the iBookstore, which has sold one hundred million books since its launch.
Open City, the literary magazine run by Tom Beller, Joanna Yas, and others, is closing. The journal, which introduced us to voices such as Sam Lipsyte, and published vital work by many excellent authors for two decades, will be much missed. Luckily, the Open City Books imprint will continue.
Literary critic Terry Castle’s smart, hilarious, and occasionally brutal collection of personal essays, The Professor, was one of our favorite books last year. Scott McLemee provides a thoughtful consideration, finding that "in Terry Castle's hands, the autobiographical essay becomes both a kind of cultural history and a challenge to the reader: Here are my obsessions and the things I would forget if I could. Do you dare to confront your own?"
Scribner has announced Stephen King’s next novel, which will be published this fall. Called 11/23/63, the thousand-plus-page book features a protagonist who travels back in time to attempt to stop the JFK assassination. King is probably wishing he had a time machine so he could travel back to 2002, and undo his announcement that he was retiring—he's written at least a half-dozen books since.
More changes at the New York Times Magazine: The publication will start crediting editors at the end of features (there’s currently no masthead in the magazine). And the popular “On Language” column is now in limbo. Can Facebook save it? Hope springs eternal, as editor Hugo Lindgren sent this encouraging tweet earlier this week: “The column is not part of the mix for right now, but it is not dead. Please stay tuned.”
In Tunisia and Egypt, books banned by the recently ousted regimes are back on the shelves.
New York magazine’s Adam Moss has lured New York Times stalwart Frank Rich away from the paper after a long career. Rich says of the appointment by his old buddy Moss: “The role Adam has created for me at his revitalized New York Magazine will allow me to write with more reflection, variety, and space than is possible within the confines of a weekly newspaper column.” Meanwhile, the Times has been busy revamping its Sunday Magazine, with recenly hired editor Hugo Lindgren at the helm—the result will debut this weekend. Lindgren says he’s hoping to lend the magazine “a little bit more of an improvisational, we-just-did-it-this-week kind of feeling;" Yahoo News’ Cut Line blog has a preview of what’s new.
Shelley Jackson’s Skin project, which has been ongoing since 2003, asks people to tattoo a word from a Jackson story on their body, and nearly 1,500 volunteers have participated so far. Yesterday at the Berkeley Art Museum, Jackson unveiled an intriguing sub-plot: A video version of a new story made by editing together video footage of some of the tattoos, one that anyone can remix and rewrite using clips from YouTube.
Here’s a cheerful thought by Rudolph Delson, from the forthcoming anthology The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books (edited by the folks at The Millions and including an all-star lineup of contributors): “Most of the best books will be written only after you and I are both dead.”
Via the Paris Review, an intriguing exchange between PR poetry editor Robyn Creswell and a blogger known only as the “Angry Arab,” about Egyptian literature.
Last week, Elif Batuman gave a lecture at the British Museaum about literature and accounting, as the Granta blog explains: “She set up writing and life as a 'credit/debit' relationship: writing takes time, but you need to take time away from writing to have something to write about. So how do writers negotiate their time-accounts?”
Steve Erickson’s next novel, These Dreams of You, will be published by Europa Books in 2012.
Comedian Michael Showalter (Mr. Funny Pants) will be reading tonight at BookCourt. Laughs—perhaps even hijinks—are almost certainly guaranteed.
Famed blogger Andrew Sullivan is leaving The Atlantic to move to the Daily Beast/Newsweek.
Paris Review editor Lorin Stein gets the luxe treatment in the Times weekend Fashion and Style page, which lovingly details the retro Rolodex and “neat bowel of paper clips” on his desk, follows Stein through a busy night of socializing, and deems him “an unlikely sex symbol” (helpfully noting that “among New York’s literary crowd, being pale, thin and occasionally bespectacled doesn’t count against you”). Style points aside, the Review has never been better: The spring issue is arriving on newsstands now.
Christopher Hitchens’s mother used to say “The one unforgivable sin is to be boring”, and Hitchens’s Memoir, Hitch-22, is anything but. As part of the National Book Critics Circle’s 31 Books in 31 Days, critic Eric Banks reviews Hitchens’s remembrance, a strong contender in the NBCC award’s best autobiography category.
Letter from an Unknown Woman
“Poverty is poverty and it sucks and it sucks so much more when you have a child. There is no romance in getting up at 5 am to write your poems and coming home at night when the young boys are just going out to their bars.” Sandra Simmons writes about the challenges of being a “poor poetry mother.”
In April, Sarabande Books plans to publish a new chapbook by Lydia Davis titled The Cows, which reprints a story that first appeared in the journal Electric Literature. This news reminded us of Donna K’s excellent, strange video, which riffs on a single Lydia Davis sentence: “Does she prefer the company of that cow, or does she prefer that corner, or is it more complicated.”
At the Millions, Sonya Chung considers writers who “who dare to leap the imaginative chasm of gender.”
The New York Times is increasing its online coverage of children’s books.
If you’re looking for us tonight, we’ll be at the Philoctetes Center for a screening of Max Ophuls’s Letter from an Unknown Woman, which will be introduced by Tom McCarthy, the author of C and the founder of the General Secretary of the International Necronautical Society. Tomorrow, Feb 26, we’ll be at the launch party for Washington Square, which will feature readings by Adam Wilson and Timothy Donnelly, who has written, among many other great things, a poem about the Patriot Act that incorporates lyrics from Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” For real!