“My only concern is with the future of long-form prose writing and how people want it and how we’re going to connect the reader to the book—whether they want it electronically or in print.” Ethan Nosowsky, the talented Graywolf Press editor who helped usher Geoff Dyer’s latest essay collection, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition into print, reflects on publishing's next step.
Bizarre lunch triangle: You can now bid on the opportunity to dine out with Slavoj Zizek and Julian Assange.
What’s the story behind the shocking novel Histoire d’O?
The OED gets an update: New words for June include auto-complete, babe, and brain candy. And the phrase “use it or lose it” has been added to the use entry (the sassy motto actually dates back to 1887); “you snooze you lose” is sure to be added posthaste.
Now that Anthony Weiner has resigned (what, you haven't heard?), we’re hoping for an updated version of Laura Kipnis’s sassy and incisive book, How to Become a Scandal, to explain what the heck just happened and why everyone paid attention.
Last night, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz hosted a "mingle" at Brooklyn Borough Hall in honor of the upcoming Brooklyn Book Festival, which will take place on September 18. Participants will include Kurt Andersen, Brooke Gladstone, John Hodgman, Phillip Lopate, Sigrid Nunez, Christian Parenti, Adrian Tomine, Touré, Dorothy Allison, Russell Banks,Nuruddin Farah, Jonathan Safran Foer, Diana Gabaldon, Amitav Ghosh, Jessica Hagedorn, Pete Hamill, A.M. Homes, Nicole Krauss, Jhumpa Lahiri, Terry McMillan, Larry McMurtry, Walter Mosley, Joyce Carol Oates, Téa Obreht, Karen Russell, John Sayles, Colson Whitehead, Mary Jo Bang, Timothy Donnelly, and others. The festival will also host a panel featuring Pulitzer Prize recipients from Brooklyn, including Jennifer Egan, Jesse Eisinger, and Jake Bernstein. “Now in its sixth amazing year, the Brooklyn Book Festival is, without question, one of the premier literary destinations in the world,” said Johnny Temple, editor of Akashic Books and the chair of the Brooklyn Literary Council.
At Salon, Andrew O’Hehir reviews Andrew Rossi’s new documentary film, Page One: Inside the New York Times. The film follows the New York Times’ tribulations against the changing world of media and O’Hehir concludes: “Rossi's film makes a compelling case on behalf of the traditional values of journalism.” Page One opens tomorrow in New York City.
At the Paris Review Daily, How to Win author and Harper’s contributing editor Clancy Martin details how playing Cee-Lo’s “Fuck You” on repeat in a New Orleans hotel left him pantsless on the corner of Saint Charles street, and why the obvious thing to do was call fellow novelist-essayist Nathaniel Rich.
The Guardian has listed its favorite 100 nonfiction books. They have Joan Didion. But no Ryszard Kapuscinski? No David Foster Wallace? Discuss.
On a 2006 trip to Russia to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace sat down for a radio interview with journalist Ostap Karmodi to discuss the Cold War, animal rights, and the idea that “the main character of much of modern cinema and pop-literature… is a black briefcase full of money.” An abbreviated version of the interview—which ran nearly two hours over schedule—is available for the first time in English at the New York Review of Books blog, and is guaranteed to clear up any doubts about DFW’s views on contemporary fiction and American imperialism.
The summer issue of the Paris Review is out today; now available in a digital edition. Highlights include an amazing portfolio of video art curated by Marilyn Minter, new fiction by Jonathan Lethem, part two of Roberto Bolano’s The Third Reich, and interviews with William Gibson and Samuel R. Delany. Also: Beach towels!
Nick Flynn, photo © Matt Valentine.
The blog Harriet details a new exhibition at the Tate Britain museum dedicated to the short-lived early twentieth-century art and poetry movement called Vorticism, which included Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound. The museum writes, “The Vorticists forged a distinctive style combining machine-age forms and energetic imagery, embracing modernity and blasting away the staid legacy of the Edwardian past.”
Tonight, New York’s Cake Shop will host the last Mixer reading of the season, featuring Nick Flynn, Katie Peterson, Jibade Khalil Huffman, Sandra Lim, and Mal Blum.
There’s a free audio book download featuring Samuel L. Jackson reading Adam Manbach’s best-selling fake children's book for bleary-eyed parents, Go the F*ck to Sleep, on Audible.com. Jackson hasn’t had this much fun with an obscene and absurd text since his “Royale with cheese” conversation with John Travolta in the 1994 film Pulp Fiction.
We could really use a shelf-pod here at Bookforum HQ.
At MobyLives, Nathan Ihara reviews some recent books that ponder boredom as a gateway to enlightenment (or a road to ruin). He discuses The Pale King, of course, as well as the novel The Canal by Lee Rourke, and a recent article by Joseph Epstein in Commentary magazine that covers the new non-fiction titles Boredom: A Lively History by Peter Toohey, and A Philosophy of Boredom by Lars Svendsen. Ihara quotes Foster Wallace’s notably downbeat commencement address from Kenyon college in 2005, and Epstein praises Joseph Brodsky’s similar 1989 Dartmouth speech, in which “Brodsky told the 1,100 Dartmouth graduates that, although they may have had some splendid samples of boredom supplied by their teachers, these would be as nothing compared with what awaits them in the years ahead.” One can almost picture the students half-heartedly tossing their caps in the air.
Salman Rushdie is working on a science fiction TV drama for Showtime, called The Next People.
Last year, three of the most intellectually engaging independent non-profit cultural groups in the city—the innovative film group Light Industry, the brilliant online magazine Triple Canopy (rumored to be pondering publishing a print version), and the remarkable education collective Public School New York—enjoyed a happy co-habitation in downtown Brooklyn, which lasted nearly a year. The three groups have now signed a five-year lease for a new space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where they’ll host more of their inspiring public programs; they’re asking supporters to consider kicking in some money to help them get started.
George Saunders's summer reading will be his own work, mostly, as he aims to complete two books, but also plays by Annie Baker, Lydia Davis’s new translation of Madame Bovary, and many other worthwhile titles.
What’s with the Jane Austen porn? Critic and ardent Austen fan William Deresiewicz explains.
Patrick Leigh Fermor
Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, the genial author famous for his exploits as a daring British soldier in World War II (he once kidnapped a German general) and for his wanderlust (he walked for a year across Europe in the mid-1930s), died on Friday at the age of ninety-six. Fermor’s reputation as one of the greatest travel writers in English is based on the first two books of an unfinished trilogy detailing his perambulations across the tumultuous pre-war European landscape while a teenager, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water, written from memory forty years later. Recently, the NYRB published Fermor’s intriguing six-decade correspondence with the youngest of the Mitford sisters (the Duchess of Devonshire) and The Traveller's Tree, an account of his post-war travels in the Caribbean, in which he describes sharing a joint as “unwieldy as an ice-cream cone” with Rastafari in Jamaica. Anthony Lane, a friend and admirer of Fermor—his companions always called him “Paddy”—wrote of him in a 2006 profile, “This quintessential Englishman is, before anything else, a man of the world.”
Rozalia Jovanovic reports from poet Jon Cotner’s Spontaneous Society (sponsored by Elastic City), a group that journeys around Manhattan (or, in case of rain, within the Time Warner center) on a “good vibes” walking tour, trying to spread cheer through carefully calibrated phrases. It doesn’t always work: One man, when told that he was in a good place to smoke, aggressively confronted the Society, shouting, “What did you say to me?” But even this rebuff has poetic resonances to Cotner, who later told the group: “As the ancient Greek poet Sappho reminds us . . . when some fool explodes rage in your breast, / hold back that yapping tongue.”
The new n+1BR has just been published online. Meanwhile, in the n+1 offices, a new crop of summer interns has arrived, along with a precariously placed air-conditioner, and a hard-won verdict on an age-old question: Should it be “a historian” or “an historian”?
Saturday at Dia:Chelsea, Triple Canopy and Printed Matter join forces to celebrate the publication of Gwen Allen's new book, Artists' Magazines, with a panel featuring artist Paul Chan, The Serving Library co-founder Angie Keefer, artist Matt Keegan, Specific Object founder David Platzker; moderated by Triple Canopy’s Colby Chamberlain.
The Iowa Writers’ Workshop—the MFA program that has launched thousands of careers—turns seventy-five.
Bomb has published part 2 of its spectacular interview with George Saunders, who states that going to writing school made his fiction worse (then better), wonders if contemporary story writers are “too specialized/dark/mopey,” and recalls the day he realized that imitating Hemingway was not enough: “Living in Amarillo, Texas, working as a groundsman at an apartment complex, with strippers for pals around the complex, goofball drunks recently laid off from the nuclear plant accosting me at night when I played in our comical country band, a certain quality of West Texas lunatic-speak I was hearing, full of way off-base dreams and aspirations—I just couldn’t hear that American in Hem-speak.”
The em dashes blog lists a handful of People Magazine's highbrow literary moments, which included profiles of Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, and Christopher Isherwood.
According to an article at the Business Insider, it is time for those who scoffed at the New York Times’s online-subscription plan to “eat crow.”
At Salon, Tracy Clark-Flory writes about Erica Jong’s anthology Sugar in My Bowl, in which women authors such as Ariel Levy, Meghan O’Rourke, and Daphne Merkin write about sex: “I was delighted: Respected female writers exposing their sexual underbellies! I was also alarmed: Respected female writers exposing their sexual underbellies—what were they thinking?”
At the New Yorker, Richard Brody, author of the Jean-Luc Godard biography Everything Is Cinema, gives an entertaining account of how hard it once was to see some of Godard’s films. “Around 1980, the Mudd Club (the White Street night spot and music venue) got hold of a 16-mm. print [of Made in U.S.A.] and showed it—with the projector in the room—to a crowd of heavy smokers. It was like watching a movie outdoors in London by night, or as if through the shrouding mists of time.”
Tonight, we'll be at McNally Jackson bookstore for a celebration of the excellent new issue of The Review of Contemporary Fiction, titled "The Art of Failure." Guest editor and Witz author Joshua Cohen will read with a handful of other eminent contributors, including Gary Indiana, Eileen Myles, and Sam Frank.