Harper Perennial has just published the anthology Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar: Stories of Work, edited by Richard Ford, which contains many of the authors you might expect, such as Russell Banks and John Cheever, and some you might not, like Donald Barthelme and Jeffrey Eugenides. There’s one author, though, that seems to be a particularly conspicuous omission: Raymond Carver. Not only is Carver a working-class literary icon, he’s also one of Ford’s favorites. An editor’s note at the end of the text explains that the Carver estate declined to allow his story “Elephant” to be included in the volume. Still, those interested in the ways that work is portrayed in fiction should pick up Ford’s anthology, and read Gerald Howard’s excellent Tin House essay “Never Give an Inch.”
Media Bistro offers up a group of editors you can follow on Twitter. Just don’t pitch them your great unfinished manuscript in a tweet.
The Penguin Group has created an app for Reif Larsen's The Collected Works of T.S. Spivet.
What was the New York Times Magazine like 100 years ago?
John la Carre asks to be removed from the shortlist for the Man Booker prize.
The schedule for the 2011 PEN World Voices festival has been posted.
Poet Ron Silliman is ending his influential blog after an eight-year run (though he leaves the possibility of returning open). Silliman writes, “what was once the newest thing on the block has by now become normative, even predictable. Blogs continue to have their uses, but in web time nothing stands still as a form,” writing that he plans to spend more time on his own writing, and using Twitter to share links; if you’re following him there, prepare for a deluge of updates.
What is the New York Times’s policy on potentially offensive tweets? From Poynter, a fascinating exchange on the subject.
The Onion offers some much-needed perspective on the debate over the New York Times’s pay wall.
At the New York Review blog, Robert Darnton gives six reasons for the "failure" of Google Books.
One of the most engrossing sections of the new Paris Review is a portfolio of collages curated by Pavel Zoubok, whose New York gallery is solely dedicated to cut-and-paste art. At the Review’s Daily blog, senior editor David Wallace-Wells interviews Zoubok, who notes the works’ affinity with poetry: “Collage is an inherently literary medium. It’s associative, and collagists use images and objects to produce meaning through context.”
Tonight at the Public Theater, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks performs “Watch Me Work,” allowing the audience to see a real live writer in action—and perhaps get some of their own writing done.
“Waitressing is hard.” And: “No good sex goes unpunished.” Carolyn Kellogg recaps the first installment of Todd Haynes’s Mildred Pierce, a TV miniseries based on James M. Cain’s 1941 novel.
As Borders goes bankrupt, its top executives may get big bonuses.
The Financial Times profiles Mischief + Mayhem, a writer’s collective including novelists Dale Peck and Lisa Dierbeck (among others) who plan to bypass Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and reach readers through OR Books and some independent bookstores.
Ayelet Waldman tweeted a screed about Katie Roiphe: “Really Roiphe? You seek ‘slightly greater obsession w/ the sublime sentence.’ My husband's sentences are INFINITELY more sublime than yours.” (etc.) The New York Observer is calling it a battle “with no winners,” which is actually a fair description of any Twitter tussle.
So, you’re into Gordon Lish: You’ve read the work he edited for Raymond Carver, Barry Hannah, Cynthia Ozick, and others. You’ve checked out the claim that he radically altered Carver’s work, and read some of Lish’s own fiction. But you’re not a true Lish obsessive until you’ve visited Gordon Lish Edited This: Forgotten and Ignored Books Edited by Gordon Lish 1978-1994, which even includes a Lish rejection letter. [via HTMLGIANT]
The new film Limitless, in which a writer takes smart drugs and becomes extremely prolific, provides Laura Miller with an opportunity to critique Hollywood’s long-standing stereotype of the blocked writer.
Japanese publishers, after the quake.
As the New York Times’s pay-wall looms, Times fans accustomed to reading online for free are trading slightly panicked queries: If you’re a weekend subscriber, do you get online access? If you pay, can you read articles from more than one computer? And WHY OH WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS? The Times has enlisted Paul Smurl, “vice president for paid products,” to provide chipper answers to all of your digital subscription Qs. Meanwhile, Gawker offers a profile of the people planning to defy the pay wall. As the Times’s publisher Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr. described them: "It'll be mostly high school kids and people out of work."
The great Portland bookstore Powell’s is so big and bountiful that there is now a mobile phone app that provides turn-by-turn navigation within the store to a specific title on the shelf.
More than once, HBO’s The Wire—which was written by authors such as Richard Price, David Simon, and George Pelecanos—has been compared to a grand nineteenth-century novel. Now, authors Joy Delyria and Sean Michael Robinson have captured the particular similarities in their pitch-perfect satirical evocation “When It’s Not Your Turn.” In one of the essay’s many hilarious highlights, Jimmy McNulty—The Wire’s morally dubious, hard-drinking, but likable detective—is sketched as a Dickensian protagonist: “He is helpless to incite real and lasting change, his passivity forced upon him as he constantly struggles against it, rather than rising from an internal lack of agency.” The essay is accompanied by amazing faux period illustrations—complete with yellowing pages—including a Victorian re-staging of The Wire’s famous four-letter-word scene, in which Detectives McNulty and Bunk Moreland investigate a crime scene uttering nothing but expletives.
The international-literature fanatics over at 3 Percent have announced the finalists for the 2011 Best Translated Book Awards, which include Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky, Agaat by Marlene Van Niekerk, translated from the Afrikaans by Michiel Heyns, among others.
The Baffler returns! The seminal magazine of culture and politics—which was founded by Thomas Frank in 1988—has often been plagued by intermittent outages (even a disastrous office fire in 2001) and has been “on hiatus” since last fall. But in a tweet yesterday morning, the publication told subscribers to “hang on!”: It will have a new print issue later this year, and new online content soon.
The man who wrote Elizabeth Taylor’s New York Times obituary actually died in 2005.
In the New Yorker, the Nobel-winning novelist Kenzaburo Oe writes of the dangers of nuclear power: “This disaster unites, in a dramatic way, two phenomena: Japan’s vulnerability to earthquakes and the risk presented by nuclear energy. The first is a reality that this country has had to face since the dawn of time. The second, which may turn out to be even more catastrophic than the earthquake and the tsunami, is the work of man.” And in Newsweek, Junot Diaz professes his love for Tokyo.
The 11th issue of n+1 comes out today, complete with reports from Egypt and Wisconsin and fiction by Yelena Akhtiorskaya. Tonight at McNally Jackson, Akhtiorskaya, as well as contributors Kent Russell, Gemma Sieff, and Emily Witt read from the issue.
Waiting for Godot, the video game.
In Ishinomaki, a Japanese town wrecked by the earthquake and tsunami, reporters published their newspaper using felt-tip markers and large sheets of paper, as all other technology had failed. A recently penned headline: “We Now Know the Full Extent of the Damage.”
The New York Review of Books blog has published an essay by the late Roberto Bolaņo about the books he remembered best, such as Camus’s The Fall: “I read it, devoured it, by the light of those exceptional Mexico City mornings . . . on a bench in the Alameda, with no money and the whole day ahead of me, in fact my whole life ahead of me.”
Rebecca West’s impassioned call to critics, “Our first duty is to establish a new and abusive school of criticism. There is now no criticism . . . there is merely a chorus of weak cheers,” is as true now as when she wrote it in 1914. Then again, even the most mild-mannered negative review can sometimes lead to charges of criminal libel.
Madison Smartt Bell
In the latest entry in Bomb magazine’s engrossing “Fiction for Driving Across America” series, Madison Smartt Bell reads from his bewitching novel The Color of Night.
Where have we heard that argument for e-books before? Tick a square on the Electronic Publishing Bingo Card every time someone spouts a (usually false) truism such as “printing is the most costly part of publishing.” Did we hear someone yell “Bingo!”?
Literary-minded New Yorkers will wish they could be in three places at once tonight, as there is a trio of stellar events in the city. First up, McNally Jackson Books hosts an NBCC Reads event, “Back in Print,” featuring editors and critcs Michael Miller, Honor Moore, Gary Giddins, and Eric Banks discussing out-of-print books, and nominating some favorites they’d like to see republished. The KGB bar presents “Film Night” with critics J. Hoberman and A. S. Hamrah reading from their recent works of cinema critique, while the New School offers “Work Study: Sex Work and the New School Student”, with guests including authors Audacia Ray, Melissa Febos, and Jennifer Baumgardner.
At the Nervous Breakdown blog, novelist Jennifer Gilmore interviews herself: "Q: Who would you be if you could—finally—escape and become someone else? A: Justin Bond and Zadie Smith, combined, no question.”
James Carroll, photo by Patricia Pingree
Colson Whitehead’s forthcoming postapocalyptic book, Zone One, is a zombie novel.
From CBS News, a video profile of Benedikt Taschen, the print book publisher flourishing by creating luxe volumes in lean times.
At PWxyz, Laura Miller has some intriguing insights into the current state of book reviewing, especially the oft-debated question of the purpose of panning a book: “It’s bad when an author gets a bad review he or she doesn’t deserve, but it’s bad for the overall ecology of book reviews, if a reviewer gives a book an unduly positive review. It establishes a climate of bad faith. . . . That’s one reason that professional reviews are becoming extinct: people don’t trust them.”