Joan Didion will be the subject of a new film by Griffin Dunner.

GQ and Farrar, Straus & Giroux are teaming up to produce The Originals Series; events that will pair writers and musicians for conversations in “an intimate West Village loft space.” The series will debut next Tuesday with John Jeremiah Sullivan and the Brooklyn band Cavemen, and will be hosted by David Rees. Last we checked, only eight tickets were left.

HarperCollins is buying religious publishing imprint Thomas Nelson, which according to the press release, is "the world’s leading provider of Bibles [and] inspirational books."

In the Rumpus, Stephen Elliott rips into the first sentence of Glen Duncan’s New York Times review of Colson Whitehead’s zombie book, Zone One: “A literary novelist writing a genre novel is like an intellectual dating a porn star.” In response, Elliott, who points out that he is pro-New York Times, asks: “What does he mean? Can the porn star be an intellectual? What if an intellectual is dating another intellectual who is also a porn star?”

A preview of Griffin Dunne’s film about Joan Didion and her new book, Blue Nights.

More than twenty years and thousands of pages in the making, the third installment of Robert Caro’s epic Lyndon B. Johnson biography, The Passage of Power, will be out in May.

A discussion about Steven Pinker’s new book about violence, The Better Angels of Our Nature, has generated over 350 comments and 50,000 words at the blog Crooked Timber, despite the fact that many of the commenters haven’t read it.


Former literary super-agent and the new director of literature for the National Endowment for the Arts, Ira Silverberg.

Literary agent and onetime editor of Grove Press Ira Silverberg is leaving his position at Sterling Lord Literistic—where he represented authors such as Sam Lipsyte, Adam Haslett, Rene Steinke, and Neil Strauss—to become the new director of literature for the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Wall Street Journal debuts its e-book bestseller list, which—surprise, surprise—looks just like regular old print bestseller lists. Nicholas Sparks, Bill O’Reilly and James Patterson rank high on both.

E-readers actually get heavier—by about a molecule—with each new virtual book added.

The first book ever to be outfitted with a ‘smart chip’—an RFID-enabled sticker that lets you pull up more information by tapping a smartphone against it—will be Gary Schwartz’s The Impulse Economy: Understanding Mobile Shoppers and What Makes Them Buy.

“We all—in the end—die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.” Novelist Mona Simpson eulogizes Steve Jobs, the long-lost brother she met for the first time when she was twenty-five.

Post-Halloween listening: Christopher Walken reads “The Raven”.


St. Mark's Bookshop

Despite the exhortations of marquee writers and the Cooper Union community, the St. Mark’s Bookshop in New York will not get the rent break it had been petitioning for, Publishers Weekly reports. "They'd like to rent the space for twice what we're paying," said St. Mark’s co-owner Bob Contant. "They're going to have to answer to the community for the decision they made. We're extremely disappointed."

‘Twitterologists’ claim that the microblogging service can gauge the ebbs and flows of global moods; Maud Newton parses Twitter regional slang.

Books They Gave Me: A (Tim O’Brien inspired?) Tumblr dedicated to literary relics of past lovers.

“In the American dream, a man enters the wilderness to fashion a home for his family out of the abundant raw materials of the continent. The Canadian dream is much more lonely and rough. A man goes into the backcountry and becomes wild”: Stephen Marche explains the Canadian obsession with hockey.

At New York Magazine, Emily Nussbaum assesses how the internet has changed the conversation surrounding feminism.


Robert Moses: coming to a cable-equipped TV near you.

On Tuesday, NYU hosted a panel discussion titled “From the Publishers’ Perspective” that featured Dutton’s Brian Tart, HarperMedia’s Ana Maria Allessi, and FSG’s Sarah Crichton. As PW points out, one of the major themes was uncertainty. According to Tart, “You learn to fail really quickly.”

H&M is launching a new clothing line based on the fictional stylings of Lisbeth Salander, the anarcho-hacker heroine from Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy.

We were thrilled to see the lineup of authors who will be at Page Turner 2011, the third annual Asian American Literary Festival, which will take place at Brooklyn’s PowerHouse books on Saturday, October 29. Just a handful of the writers who will participate: Junot Díaz, Amitav Ghosh, Jessica Hagedorn, Kimiko Hahn, Hari Kunzru, Jayne Anne Phillips, Suketu Mehta, Teju Cole, Alexander Chee, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Monica Youn.

Oliver Stone is adapting The Power Broker, Robert Caro’s brilliant brick of a Robert Moses biography, into an HBO special.

At the Awl, Lili Loufbourow writes beautifully about a 1656 pamphlet titled The Academy of Pleasure, details “the sorry state of sexual expression,” and presents a challenge: “Save the slangforest. Breed dirty words.” We are surprised, however, that she does not weigh in on the merits of Nicholson Baker’s House of Holes, or his usage of terms such as “thundertube of dickmeat.”

Is John Jeremiah Sullivan the new Tom Wolfe? Lev Grossman thinks so.


Hunter S. Thompson

In the wake of news that Bibles are among the most frequently downloaded Apps, the New Yorker’s Book Bench blog contacted heads of several New York City religious institutions to ask how the digital age is transforming worship.

The Baffler has just signed a $500,000 deal with MIT Press guaranteeing three issues a year for the next five years. Surveying the deal, the Observer catches a new name on the masthead: twenty-four-year-old hacker Aaron Schwartz, who made headlines this summer for leaking four million JSTOR articles.

Legendary book designer Chip Kidd, most recently known for designing the cover of Murakami’s 1Q84, will write an original Batman graphic novel, tentatively titled "Batman: Death By Design.”

A new iPad app calls Subtext lets readers add links and have “Facebook style discussions” within their e-books.

“He invited me back to his house that night at about 2 or 2:30 in the morning, and I noticed this beautiful nickel-plated 12-gauge shotgun on his wall. I was raised around weapons all my life, being from Kentucky, so I said, 'Wow, that’s a really good-looking 12-gauge.' And he said, 'Would you like to fire it?' And I said, 'Yeah, sure, I’ll fire it.' And he said, 'Shit, man, we must build a bomb!' So we built this bomb out of propane tanks and nitroglycerin, took it out in his backyard, and he gave me first crack” — Johnny Depp recalls his friendship with Hunter S. Thompson.


Joseph Heller

Triple Canopy excerpts artist David Wojnarowicz’s journals: “May 7th spent the afternoon developing photos—most in the Rimbaud series—others from the ‘shoot-from-hip’ series—excited about them, they’re fine images semi-ghostly bald men in leather eating in restaurants faces whirling with darkness reflected in opposite mirrors… four o’clock rolls around—½ hour till the meeting—I finished up in the darkroom I rent on Prince Street from some old walrus ex-ship captain fella who has tons of shots of Mexico on the studio walls. A real grumpy fart. Paid him his fee and split to a nearby Cafeteria for some coffee and a cigarette—spread photos out—selected best printed ones and then headed on over to the B’WAY offices.”

Bottom-basement pricing on Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet has resulted in quarterly losses for the company. But this is probably good news in the long run, the Observer explains: “at $200 cheaper than the iPad, even if Amazon’s profits are marginal because of the sunken price, they’re selling what essentially amounts to a license to buy more stuff from Amazon.com.”

In a related sign of the times, attendance spiked at this year's Self-Publishing Book Expo.

"How did I feel about the war when I was in it?" Joseph Heller wrote in a three-page letter to be auctioned this week. "Much differently than Yossarian felt and much differently than I felt when I wrote the novel … In truth I enjoyed it and so did just about everyone else I served with, in training and even in combat... I was young, it was adventurous, there was much hoopla and glamour; in addition, and this too is hard to get across to college students today, for me and for most others, going into the army resulted immediately in a vast improvement in my standard of living."

Dubravka Ugresic rages agains the hotel minibar, and details its power to humiliate.

The Awl explains how to write romance novels.

Young Joseph Heller

Triple Canopy excerpts artist David Wojnarowicz’s journals: “May 7th spent the afternoon developing photos—most in the Rimbaud series—others from the ‘shoot-from-hip’ series—excited about them, they’re fine images semi-ghostly bald men in leather eating in restaurants faces whirling with darkness reflected in opposite mirrors… four o’clock rolls around—½ hour till the meeting—I finished up in the darkroom I rent on Prince Street from some old walrus ex-ship captain fella who has tons of shots of Mexico on the studio walls. A real grumpy fart. Paid him his fee and split to a nearby Cafeteria for some coffee and a cigarette—spread photos out—selected best printed ones and then headed on over to the B’WAY offices.”

Bottom-basement pricing on Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet has resulted in quarterly losses for the company. But this is probably good news in the long run, the Observer explains: “at $200 cheaper than the iPad, even if Amazon’s profits are marginal because of the sunken price, they’re selling what essentially amounts to a license to buy more stuff from Amazon.com.”

In a related sign of the times, attendance spiked at this year's Self-Publishing Book Expo.

"How did I feel about the war when I was in it?" Joseph Heller wrote in a three-page letter to be auctioned this week. "Much differently than Yossarian felt and much differently than I felt when I wrote the novel … In truth I enjoyed it and so did just about everyone else I served with, in training and even in combat... I was young, it was adventurous, there was much hoopla and glamour; in addition, and this too is hard to get across to college students today, for me and for most others, going into the army resulted immediately in a vast improvement in my standard of living."

Dubravka Ugresic rages agains the hotel minibar, and details its power to humiliate.

The Awl explains how to write romance novels.


Chinua Achebe

Jeffrey Eugenides's vest (you know, the one on the Times Square billboard) now has its own Twitter account.

Roland Emmerich's new film Anonymous promises to irritate English professors everywhere by suggesting that Shakespeare wasn't really Shakespeare.

Forbes magazine names Chinua Achebe "Africa's most influential celebrity."

The New Yorker excerpts part of It Chooses You, Miranda July's forthcoming book about "adventures" she's had with strangers met through local classified ads.

Underworked scientists prove that there are relatively few health risks associated with reading on the toilet.

From the LRB archives, Richard Sennett explains how his interest in sexuality and solitude overlaps and varies from Michel Foucault's.

And because it's a slow literary news day, here's a short round-up of recommended reading: Frank Rich reads the Occupy Wall Street movement as the beginning of class warfare; an 1859 article from the Atlantic asks if women should learn the alphabet.


Steve Jobs’s authorized biography comes out today. Among the highlights, Jobs wanted to revolutionize the $8-billion-a-year textbook industry by giving textbooks away for free with iPads; he declared “thermonuclear war” against Google for copying iPhone features in its Android phone; and he regretted waiting to undergo surgery for his pancreatic cancer.

In an echo of the Juan Williams affair, NPR has fired freelancer Lisa Simeone for her involvement with the Occupy Washington D.C. movement. Simeone hosts the World of Opera program, and works for the show Soundprint, both of which are produced by NPR-affiliate stations and distributed through National Public Radio. She was fired after the conservative Daily Caller website accused her of violating the taxpayer-subsidized station’s ethics policy. “I don’t cover politics,” Simeone said to a left-wing blog after her firing. “What is NPR afraid I’ll do—insert a seditious comment into a synopsis of Madame Butterfly?

Is it illegal for politicians to use campaign contributions to buy their own books? Herman Cain—author of This is Herman Cain!—doesn’t seem to think so.

Harvard’s Nieman Lab on a high-tech literary feud: “Last month, Jeff Jarvis published his new book, Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live. Last week, Evgeny Morozov published a scathing review of it. In response, Jarvis rebutted Morozov via Twitter, Google+, and then, finally, a Google Doc (custom link: http://bit.ly/AnsweringMrGrumpy) that copied Morozov’s nearly-7,000-word review, in full, and then proceeded to plug the holes Morozov had hacked therein.”

Your daily dose of Murakami-mania: The New York Times Magazine runs Sam Anderson’s breathless account of visiting the author in Tokyo—where Anderson was shocked to find that Murakami’s cool cosmopolitan capital bore little resemblance to the radically foreign city he immediately got lost in—and Parul Seghal poses six questions to Jay Rubin, Murakami’s longtime translator.

And just for fun: Moby-Dick covers through the ages; the missed connections of Occupy Wall Street.


Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!

With a little help from their friends at Random House, Politico is launching an online bookstore that will carry a curated selection of books on politics, history, current events and biography.

HBO is adapting Karen Russell’s Florida-set novel Swamplandia! into a miniseries.

Here’s a 21-minute video of Michael Winslow recounting the history of the typewriter—by imitating the evolution of their sounds.

Simon & Schuster’s author portal now lets its writers see their all their sales data, broken down by format.

Now that his journals are out, read Spalding Gray’s 1986 interview with BOMB.

Apple’s new virtual newsstand—an app that lets iPad and iPhone users store their digital publications—has led to a big spike in magazine downloads. Since Newsstand launched last week, the New York Times and National Geographic apps have jumped to the top of "most downloaded" lists, and The Spectator and Le Monde Diplomatique have also enjoyed big jumps, as has The Daily. “So what is Newsstand’s secret weapon, its viral ingredient?” Ponyter ventures a guess: “It is, I think, the shelves.”

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