Long-lost books by VS Pritchett, Edith Sitwell, and Alec Waugh (among others) will be back in print soon thanks to Bloomsbury’s new digital publishing imprint, Bloomsbury List.
Amazon has upped the ante in the e-reader wars with the Amazon Fire, a tablet that’s positioned to compete with the iPad, but at $199, is roughly half the price.
Following Moneyball’s lucrative opening weekend, Warner Brothers has tapped Michael Lewis to adapt Liar’s Poker, his debut book about working on Wall Street in the boom-bust 1980s, into a movie. “I’m going to spend the next two months doing that,” Lewis told The Hollywood Reporter.
Meanwhile, poets are occupying Wall Street.
New Yorkers with no plans next Tuesday might want to check out Twain in the Membrane, a Samuel Clemens-themed party pegged to the release of Michael Kupperman’s illustrated book, Mark Twain’s Autobiography: 1910–2010.
If you don’t already read the “liberal arts 2.0” blog Kottke, you should. If you do, and have ever wondered whether a robot aggregator could compete with the web’s best obscure link collector, Slate’s Chris Wilson and Farhad Manjoo test the question with Robbotke.
A University of South Dakota professor has been fired after putting out a book of poetry allegedly based on his attraction to a former student. Edward Allen says that 67 Mixed Messages has nothing to do with the student, Suzi Grace, even though a character who appears in the series of sonnets is named... Suzie Grace.
Albert Uderzo's characters Asterix and Obelix
James Franco, aka “America’s most famous poetry geek,” is not only teaching a poetry-heavy film class at NYU, but he’s asked his nine student to direct short films based on C.K. Williams poems.
Found in the wonderful Lingua Franca archives: Daniel Zalewski on the advent of silent reading.
Magazine publishers Hearst, Conde Nast, and Meredith have all signed on to sell digital versions of their publications (which include Esquire, The New Yorker, Vogue, and Wired) on Amazon’s new i-Pad-like e-reader. The notable absence? Time, Inc.
A former handyman who stole rare manuscripts by Winston Churchill, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and TS Eliot has been sentenced to 30 months in prison by a UK court.
Via Adweek, the story of how The Atlantic managed to become profitable again by breaking down the “traditional wall between the editorial and business sides” and behaving like a start-up.
William Morrow/Harper Collins has pulled Neal Stephenson’s new book, Reamde, off Amazon’s virtual shelves after discovering that the e-book was riddled with errors. The move isn’t cheap, either: as of this morning Reamde was the thirty-sixth best-selling book on Amazon.
Albert Uderzo, co-creator of Asterix the Gaul, has declared himself “a bit tired” and is retiring after fifty-two years of animating the comic.
The Awl advises on how to write a love poem.
Orson Welles, man of letters.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s first manuscript, which was lost in the mail and never published during the Sherlock Holmes author’s lifetime, will finally see the light of day. The British Library has released “The Narrative of John Smith,” “a novel from the perspective of a 50-year-old man who is confined to his room when he has an attack of gout.”
Siddhartha Deb celebrates the launch of his new book, The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of New India, at KGB Bar in Manhattan on Tuesday.
On the occasion of a new Library of America publication of Ambrose Bierce’s collected writings, The Atlantic’s Benjamin Schwarz considers the writer who has “always been best known for being undeservedly unknown.”
Harvard’s Nieman Lab looks at what Facebook’s new design will mean for journalists.
Can’t wait to put some Faulkner into this: a new web service, Wibbitz, saves people the trouble of reading by converting online text into one-minute videos. “Basically, we analyze the text, we create a summary out of it, we only extract the most important parts of it, we analyze it and bring the most relevant images and video clips from around the web and convert all the text to voice.”
For PS1’s Art Book Fair (which starts on Thursday!), poet Jon Cotner will be leading four Spontaneous Society walking tours, which invite participants to generate “good vibes” by repeating positive phrases to people around them.
Via the blog Awesome People Reading, here’s Orson Welles wrapped up in a book.
John Lithgow's memoir comes out on Tuesday.
Things you may not know about Ernest Hemingway: he had a son named Bumby, he taught Ezra Pound how to box, and at the end of his life, he “had shock treatments at the Mayo Clinic and believed the FBI was following him” (which was actually true). James Salter assesses Paul Hendrickson’s new biography of Papa in the New York Review of Books.
Astronomers in Texas have figured out the exact hour that Mary Shelley decided to write Frankenstein based on her description of the moonlight on Lake Geneva in June of 1816.
Courtesy of The Atlantic, a visual history of literary references on “The Simpsons.” (Lisa, unsurprisingly, is very well read).
John Lithgow’s memoir comes out on Tuesday.
Bloomberg crunches the numbers to see what it would take to save St. Mark’s Bookshop.
What kind of hobby is collecting signed books, Geoff Dyer wonders? “Autograph-hunting combined with biblio-fetishism? Name-dropping in the form of name-hoarding? A little of both, certainly, but I think there is something about the solitary, wholly internalized nature of reading that makes one crave an ex libris tattoo as external confirmation of the transient intimacy of reader and book.”
End-of-week-original-content-roundup! This week at Bookforum.com:
Justin Taylor considers Jess Row’s new story collection: “The stories in Nobody Ever Gets Lost, take us from Thailand to the Punjab to New York City (and elsewhere around the Northeast), but wherever they touch down we find the same thing: psychically wounded people stunned by a world at once too vast and too small.”
In our syllabi section, Alex Aciman considers the pleasures of deviancy and what we love about the anti-heroes of 19th century novels.
Adam Plunkett examines "Why Critics Praise Bad Poetry."
Ed Park, "the wizard of whimsy," now at Amazon Publishing.
From Triple Canopy’s literary issue, selections from David Wojnarowicz's archives.
Rumor alert: Facebook may introduce a “read” button (that’s past tense) in addition to “listened” and “watched” buttons.
Bill Clinton’s next book, Back to Work, will be published this November by Knopf.
Because New York (and children) don’t produce enough smells on their own, a new Kickstarter project is fundraising for a scratch n’ sniff children’s book about New York.
Here’s an excerpt from William Gibson’s novel, Zero History, in which the protagonist attempts to use Twitter: "He was registered, now, as GAYDOLPHIN2. No followers, following no one. Whatever that meant. And his updates, whatever those were, were protected."
So much for reading time: the MTA has announced that starting next week, select New York City subway stops will get cell phone service. (But not if you’re a Verizon customer).
Amazon now lets you check out Kindle books from your local library.
A first-edition dust jacket of the Great Gatsby is expected to raise more than $175,000 at auction this week.
UK publisher Canongate is defying Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s wishes and tomorrow will release thousands of copies of his unauthorized autobiography that it published in secret.
Columbia Journalism Review assesses the “positive news beat” and the daily media offerings for what Ode Magazine calls “intelligent optimists.”
Dwight Garner is upset that many of the best living writers can’t approximate the “casually herculean pace” of a John Updike or Woody Allen.
Mother Jones interviews graphic novelist Craig Thompson, author of the 672-page book Habibi, a love story set in a fictional Middle East rife with biblical plotlines, numerology, and environmental catastrophe.
Media bias, a problem? Not to Jack Shafer: “As long as I’m eating news, give me the saffron smoothness of New York Times liberalism and the hallelujah hot sauce excitement of Fox News Channel conservatism.”
Recently named MacArthur genius Kay Ryan
What’s it like working at Amazon.com’s Pennsylvania storage facility? "I never felt like passing out in a warehouse and I never felt treated like a piece of crap in any other warehouse but this one," said former employee Elmer Goris. "They can do that because there aren't any jobs in the area."
At the Washington Post, Ezra Klein introduces 'Wonk Reads': a weekly roundup of “the five best long-form stories related to economic and domestic policy.”
MacArthur Genius grants have been announced! Among this year’s winners: Former Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, New Yorker writer Peter Hessler, and poet A.E. Stallings.
Even without the @SalmanRushide Twitter handle, Salman Rushdie (tweeting as @SalmanRushdie1) has been cultivating a lively social life on the microblogging service. Since joining last week, he’s already picked up over 16,000 followers, and is currently "locked in a Scrabble deathmatch series" with Kylie Minogue.
Tom Bissell profiles Jim Harrison for Outside magazine.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 1996 novel News of a Kidnapping is selling out all over Tehran after Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi cited the book as an accurate reflection of his life under house arrest. “If you want to know about my situation in captivity,” Moussavi allegedly told his daughters last month, “read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's News of a Kidnapping.”
Titian’s “Portrait of a Man,” van Dyck’s “Portrait of the Artist,” Rubens’s “Triumph of Christ Over Sin and Death,” and El Greco’s “View of Toledo” were several of the paintings that Ernest Hemingway lingered on during a 1950 trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
From The Phantom Tollbooth
The Phantom Tollbooth turns fifty.
The New Yorker’s Macy Halford tests Goodreads’ new recommendation algorithm by entering the books currently on her desk, including The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach, The Known World, by Edward P. Jones, Within the Context of No Context, by George W.S. Trow, The Hermeneutics of the Subject, by Michel Foucault, Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, and Alison Bechdel’s The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For. Results are predictably funny.
Speculative fiction writer Harlan Ellison is suing to stop the release of Justin Timberlake’s new movie, In Time. The movie, which Ellison claims is based off of one of his short stories, is set in a "dystopian corporate future in which everyone is allotted a specific amount of time to live."
For maximum fun, listen to Simon Reynolds talk with Jesse Thorn about his new book, Retromania, on the Sound of Young America podcast.
At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Bookforum pal Sara Marcus considers Ellen Willis, and the challenges writers face in trying to escape “the music ghetto.”
Read Bookforum editor Chris Lehmann’s Harper’s cover story on how Mormon economics shape the G.O.P. [Behind paywall!].
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner with President Obama
Landing at the same time as a White House plan to trim $3 billion from the deficit is a new exposé that purports to explain why, for the past three years, passing these kinds of policy proposals has been nearly impossible. Confidence Men, Ron Suskind’s 500-plus-page look at the infighting and palace intrigue behind the Obama White House, has quickly become what Daniel Yergin in our Fall issue calls a “Washington Read”—a book adopted by the inside-the-beltway crowd that’s generally more discussed than read. Judging by the recent explosion of media attention for Suskind, however, he seems to have found plenty of readers.
“Book portrays dysfunction in the Obama White House,” read last week’s Washington Post headline, while reviewing the book in today's New York Times, Michiko Kakutani describes Obama as an “oddly passive chief executive,” saying Suskind sketches him as a “young, inexperienced president lacking the leadership and managerial skills to deal effectively with the cascading economic problems he inherited.” The book has also spawned debate over whether, as former communications director Anita Dunn is quoted as saying, the White House is a “genuinely hostile workplace for women.” Emphasizing the point, Suskind cites Christina Romer, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, as saying she “felt like a piece of meat” after a meeting with fellow ex-economic advisor Larry Summers.
To write Confidence Men, Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize winning former Wall Street Journal reporter, interviewed over two hundred people, including current and former administration members. (Some of whom, Kakutani notes, have political reasons to distance themselves from an administration widely perceived as on the rocks). Talking points include Suskind quoting Larry Summers complaining about the handling of the debt crisis, and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s refusal to come up with contingency plans for the dissolution of Citigroup. Other senior economic advisors are described as “systematically undermining” the president. “We’re home alone,” Suskind cites Summers as saying. “There’s no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes.”
Advance copies were sent to the media last week, and although the book isn’t scheduled for public release until tomorrow, the White House is already on the defensive. Romer, Summers, and Dunn have denied Suskind’s explosive quotes, and Geithner remarked this week that "the reports I've read about this book bear no resemblance to the reality." To counteract more negative press, the White House has granted the author an interview with Obama “to clear up a lot of bad reporting and theories that Suskind had developed." Excerpts from that interview are available here, and at New York Magazine, Frank Rich and Adam Moss discuss whether the book is really revelatory, or if it's just more media sensationalism.