Eric Alterman

John Nolan, an editor of the Rochester Times and author of the paper’s police log, has started inserting puns, humor, and poetry into the blotter’s formerly humdrum record of crimes and misdemeanors: “At Halloween, upon a street, where youngsters go for Trick-or-Treat, a worried parent calls the cops. His kid has been handed Hall's cough drops . . . Police check out this plot of terror, and find it was a simple error."

Sick of hearing about David Foster Wallace yet? A cottage industry of work on Wallace is beginning to bloom in academia, as the Chronicle Review notes, “David Foster Wallace studies is on its way to becoming a robust scholarly enterprise.” Wallace guru Stephen Burn says that while he appreciates the attention to his subject, it is a mixed blessing: “there's a real danger . . . that his name will begin to float free of his substantive literary context and become an index for larger cultural fantasies about the tortured artist.”

Tonight at the Broadway branch of Barnes and Noble in Manhattan, Eric Alterman discusses his new book, Kabuki Democracy, and posits why a progressive presidency is impossible today.


Tickets for the World’s Most Literary Rent Party Ever go on sale today at 2. The party, which is raising funds for author Charles Bock and his family, will feature readings and performances by Rick Moody, Mary Gaitskill, Jim Shepard, Tanya Donnelly (formerly of the Throwing Muses), and others.

Martin Amis

“'Congrats' to @tao_lin and @meganboyle on their 'elopement.' News gave me a 'smiling' facial expression, 'restored' my 'faith in love.'” Christian Lorentzen writes Tao Lin’s wedding announcement—in the style of Tao Lin.

Martin Amis is moving to New York, and his new novel is said to be a “withering” critique of the UK. Still, the author feels “incurably English.”

“Today, no poet could outwit any reader who has an Internet connection.” Adam Kirsch argues that Google has made literary allusions more “democratic and more generous” than they were in the age of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.”

Tonight at Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore, the “Rumpus Women” read from their new book.


Michael Chabon

MobyLives excerpts a letter in which New York Magazine editor Adam Moss dwells on the importance of finding “wonderful new voices who will keep the magazine fresh and moving forward.” Which prompts MobyLives to ask a good question: “Who are the most exciting young critics currently writing?

Your new book is coming out soon: Design a cool book cover, self-publish, and print-on-demand. Easy! Now you just need to figure out a way to sell them.

Obama is to be the subject of a new work of fiction titled O: A Presidential Novel, due in stores on January 25. Though the author is Anonymous, various reports state that the author is “someone with ‘vast personal experience’ about what President Obama needs to do to win re-election.” Everyone, of course, is comparing the new book to Primary Colors, the novel based on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, which was also attributed to Anonymous. That book’s author, political reporter Joe Klein, was unmasked in 1996 by Vassar College Shakespeare professor Donald Foster, who had developed a computer program that could accurately identify the author of a text. One wonders how long it will take for Foster or some other textual specialist to reveal the O author’s identity.

The new issue of McSweeney’s, which includes a “fragment of Michael Chabon’s lost novel,” comes in a box with a head drawn on it.


Jami Attenberg

According to an entertaining article in the New York Observer, it’s a good time to find a job as a writer or an editor—if you’re “talented,” that is! But don’t expect to be lavishly wined and dined: Today’s biggest hires happen over a beer or a cup of coffee.

When is author Shalom Auslander's editor going to get around to reading his manuscript?

Mark Twain scholar Alan Gribben is distressed that Huckleberry Finn has been pushed out of schools because of the book's use of a racial epithet. So, he's creating a new edition of the novel that expunges the slur. Gribben says: "After a number of talks, I was sought out by local teachers, and to a person they said we would love to teach . . . Huckleberry Finn, but we feel we can't do it anymore. In the new classroom, it's really not acceptable.” Meanwhile, Cindy Lovell, executive director of The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum says "The book is an anti-racist book and to change the language changes the power of the book. . . . He wrote to make us squirm and to poke us with a sharp stick." Discuss.

“What was African-American literature?” A podcast with professor and author Kenneth W. Warren.

New Yorkers: Jami Attenberg’s excellent novel The Melting Season is now out in paperback, and she’s throwing a party at Brooklyn’s Word bookstore tonight. On hand to help her celebrate will be artist Emily Flake, and authors Rosie Schaap, Lisa Hanawalt, Emma Straub, Sarah Glidden, Jason Diamond, Renata Espinosa, Maris Kreizman, and Ron Currie, Jr.


Chad Post

Open Letter publisher Chad Post engages in "wild speculation" over the inflated prices of two books that rival publisher (and Post’s former employer) Dalkey Archive Press is releasing in 2011. Post writes: "This switch from a $12.95 to (the unsellable) $34.95 feels like some sort of punishment or retaliation or something. But where is this punishment directed?"

Many critics have complained about James Frey’s “fiction factory.” Here’s a taste of its product: A film trailer for a recently published book, I Am Number Four, which Frey co-wrote with a Columbia MFA graduate.

The Millions has posted its list of the “most anticipated” books of 2011. Read it, and consider yourself informed. Bonus: The UK’s Guardian looks forward to the new year in books.

James Franco, who is directing a forthcoming film version of Stephen Elliott’s memoir The Adderall Diaries, is carving out an impressive chunk of literary cinema in the near future. He’s directing Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying (from his own screenplay), and is working on a deal with producer Scott Rudin to do Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.


Sam Anderson

You heard it here first: Next month, McSweeney’s Press will reportedly publish a compact and shocking novel titled Donald, which, though fiction, will feature events based on the crazy life of Donald Rumsfeld. The authors are said to be Eric B. Martin, author of Winners, and Stephen Elliott, the primary force behind The Rumpus, and the author of the amazing memoir The Adderall Diaries (soon to be a movie directed by James Franco). Elliott is also a seasoned political writer, so this novel should be legit. That said, this information was—like many good scoops—gleaned over drinks at a bar near New York’s Union Square, and might or might not be completely reliable.

What’s up with the New Yorker's recent lack of women authors?

Following in the footsteps of editor Hugo Lindgren, book critic Sam Anderson has left New York magazine for the New York Times Magazine.

In an ominous sign for the beleaguered book-chain, Borders has been forced to delay payments to some publishers. Moby Lives asks: Are we about to become a one-bookstore-chain country? (Meanwhile, Barnes and Noble report their biggest sales ever.)

Three newly unearthed stories by Zora Neale Hurston have scholars Glenda R. Carpio and Werner Sollors revisiting the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance legend.


One of Artist and librarian Rachael Morrison's book-smelling ledgers.

Those were the days: GalleyCat rounds up the top ten publishing stories for each month of 2010.

We love the smell of books in the morning, as does artist and MoMA librarian Rachael Morrison, who spends her lunch-break sniffing each book in MoMA’s library and cataloging her impressions (such as “armpit,” or “cigar smoke and tea”) in an accounting ledger. So far, she’s chronicled the scent of one hundred and fifty tomes out of the library’s three hundred thousand volumes. (via The Rumpus).

Amazon has announced a breakthrough in the Kindle’s software that allows users to lend an e-book.

While catching up on the vast number of "best books of 2010" lists that have flooded literary channels lately, a sense of panic is sure to set in: So many Great books, so little time. Where to begin? The Guardian has posted the perfect starting point: “Five best lines from the year's best books.” And, the list has a great litmus test for those still debating whether or not to read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. We're sure the line from that little-known novel will strike you as either soulfully profound or laughably pretentious: “There's a hazardous sadness to the first sounds of someone else's work in the morning; it's as if stillness experiences pain in being broken.”

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