Elizabeth Spiers

The Observer’s redesign of its print edition and website debuts today. Editor-in-chief Elizabeth Spiers told Yahoo News: “The new design does little to distinguish between long form features that appear in the paper and long-form web exclusives, which we'll be doing far more of. . . . [But] the biggest change will be an emphasis on breaking news and smaller scoops throughout the day.”

Open Letter Books is launching a new e-book series.

James Franco should savor this moment: His appearance in the book trailer for the novel Super Sad True Love Story won out over Jay-Z’s chat about his book Decoded in the “Most Celebtastic Performance” category of Melville House’s 2011 Moby Awards for best and worst book trailers. We are pretty sure that this is the first and last time Franco will beat Jay-Z at anything. But maybe the result just emphasizes what the awards’ founder Dennis Johnson has been saying about book trailers all along: “It just seem[s] like, you know, maybe book people should be worrying more about books than about movies.”

April is the cruelest month, but June is the month that brings us T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” as an iPad app. The new version of Eliot’s classic poem includes video performances, extensive notes, and audio readings by Eliot, as well as Ted Hughes and Viggo Mortensen, and manuscript pages that show Ezra Pound’s editing of the poem.

Poet, arts editor, and critic John Yau talks to the New York Foundation for the Arts about the artist’s life.


Jeffrey Eugenides

Jeffrey Eugenides talks about “Asleep in the Lord,” a story from his forthcoming, highly anticipated novel The Marriage Plot, which he says is “the most autobiographical thing I’ve ever written.”

HarperCollins’s imprint Ecco has bought the rights to Philipp Meyer’s new novel, The Son, a multi-generational epic set in Texas, after a “heated auction.” Meyer, recently named one of the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40, published his previous book, American Rust (2009), with Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House.

You’ve read the tweets, you’ve seen the book trailer, now it's time to kick back with the ink-and-paper book: Tweets from Tahrir (edited by Nadia Idle and Alex Nunns) was just published by OR, offering real-time transcripts and phone photographs of the Egyptian revolution.

At the Brooklyn Rail, poet Charles Bernstein talks about his new essay collection Attack of the Difficult Poems and says that while working on it, he discovered ideas for two other books: the first, tentatively titled The Exchange will be selections from conversations with other authors; the second, with a “working title adapted from [poet] Hugh MacDiarmid” will be The Kinds of Poetries I Want, an essay collection focused on individual poets.

Brian Evenson participates in HTMLGIANT’s consistently thought-provoking series “What Is Experimental Literature?,” saying “Most of my characters have a hard time thinking of the world around them as real; they are incredibly suspicious of reality (often justifiably so) but they can’t be suspicious of reality without also being suspicious of their own sanity.”


Groucho Marx

The legendary literary journal Open City recently released their last issue, but thankfully have an anthology forthcoming—a volume of more than eight-hundred pages of works by essential writers like Sam Lipsyte, Ed Park, Mary Gaitskill, Rivka Galchen, and many more. Meanwhile, No Near Exit, another must-read anthology selected from a decade of Post Road magazine, in which writers pick their favorite pieces, is also in the works—the two books provide essential summer reading, and will surely lead to finding new favorite authors to keep you busy all year long.

Groucho Marx in a letter to the heretofore-unknown hunk T. S. Eliot: “I had no idea you were so handsome. Why you haven’t been offered the lead in some sexy movies I can only attribute to the stupidity of the casting directors.”

There’s a new Tin House summer issue.

V. S. Naipaul recently made some unsavory comments about women writers that are probably best just to ignore. After all, why encourage him? However, he did bring up the notion that it’s easy to detect a passage written by a woman, which is news to us. But, maybe you know better: See for yourself.

The Brooklyn indie publisher Akashic Books has a hit on their hands with the surprise bestseller, Go the Fck to Sleep, which has sold a staggering amount of copies. Publisher Johnny Temple keeps the unexpected success in perspective: “It’s a total fluke . . . But we’re going to keep doing the kind of books we’ve always done. Now we’ll just have a little more money to spend.” Next up: Nightmare Noir: Books by Kids Traumatized by Obscene Bedtime Stories?


Hans Keilson, photo by Jürgen Bauer.

Conservative media mogul Glenn Beck is launching an imprint called Mercury Ink with Simon & Schuster.

On Tuesday, the novelist, child psychologist, and former member of the Dutch Resistance Hans Keilson died at age 101. Last year, he enjoyed a literary revival, with his books Comedy in a Minor Key (published in English for the first time) and Death of an Adversary both hailed as masterpieces. The Believer ran a superb profile of Keilson (by author-translator Damion Searls), which is now available online.

n+1 has a new online store, which include digital editions of all their back issues. Revisit or discover great articles such as: Elif Batuman’s debut in issue 2, Carla Blumenkranz on Gawker, Wesley Yang on pick-up artists, and more.

Now that we know when obscene words got into the New Yorker, Calvin Trillin explains how he got some of them there. It wasn’t easy: William Shawn once balked at the phrase “mother jumpers.”

Take a stroll around New York City with Jon Cotner, coauthor of Ten Walks/Two Talks, and impress skeptical citizens with Cotner’s specially designed phrases like “That’s a good-looking dog.” According to Cotner “These lines shatter—open up—daily reality. Anonymity dissolves. Spontaneous societies arise.”


Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, is stepping down to be replaced by Washington bureau chief Jill Abramson, the first woman editor of the paper in its history.

Tonight at the poweHouse arena in Brooklyn, the winners of the 2011 Moby Awards will be announced.

Christian Hawkey

The Awl has a very entertaining history of “dirty talk” (e.g., vagina, blowjob) at the traditionally squeamish New Yorker. But take note: Contrary to the Awl’s account, the word asshole appeared in that magazine’s pages well before 1994. In an article about Artforum that appeared in the New Yorker’s October 20, 1986 issue, Janet Malcolm quotes art critic Rosalind Krauss, who describes two curators as "sounding like complete assholes.” [Update: The New Yorker has issued a handful of corrections to the Awl's history: Asshole, it turns out, appeared in 1975; blowjob in 1995.)

VIDA has released more information about gender imbalance in the publishing world, focusing this time on The Best American series.

The Lit Pub has launched. What is it? At Htmlgiant, founder Molly Gaudry describes the new website, which will select, promote, and sell independent books considered worthy by the Lit Pub powers-that-be: “TLP is a bookstore, and for an entire month it will hold front-table events on its home page for three lucky authors/publishers.”

"What you don't know about copyright, but should."

Christian Hawkey, one of our favorite poets, praises the music of Arthur Russell, confesses his obsession with Montgomery Clift, and considers how to write poetry while remaining committed to the idea of social justice.

Before Madonna scored a hit with the song “Vogue” in 1990, making the term familiar to millions, the Latino and African American communities of Harlem had been refining voguing—a combination of fashion, dance, and attitude—for years. In the forthcoming book Voguing and the Gay Balls of New York City, French photographer Chantal Regnault collects a decade and a half of photos, interviews, flyers, and ephemera from the scene, providing an intriguing document of a vibrant subculture. Anyone looking for actual footage of voguers can try the classic documentary Paris Is Burning—or watch this video of an amazing performance led by artist Rashaad Newsome at the DAP/Bookforum BEA party last week.


Sylvère Lotringer, photo by Iris Klein.

Books or booze? A peek at digital marketing manager Ryan Chapman’s hilarious iPhone auto-correct.

Yesterday, the Fales Library at NYU made the Sylvère Lotringer Papers and Semiotext(e) Archive available to researchers. Lotringer is an author, publisher, and social critic widely credited with bringing French theorists such as Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, and Baudrillard to English-language readers. As Fales’s Senior Archivist Lisa Darms says, “Sylvère's collection could have gone to any number of big league institutions, but by choosing Fales and positioning his archive in the context of our Downtown Collection, he chose to foreground his and Semiotext(e)'s affiliation with the Downtown scene.”

Melville House has announced the finalists for its 2011 Moby Awards for best and worst book trailers, with notable entries including videos for Adam Levin’s novel The Instructions (best Book Trailer As Stand Alone Art Object), Emma Donaghue’s novel Room (Best Big House), Laura Flanders’s non-fiction tome At the Tea Party (Best Small House), and Jay-Z’s autobiographical examination of his lyrics, Decoded (Most Celebtastic Performance). The winner will be announced on Thursday at a celebration at the powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn.

Mark Sarvas, editor of the blog the Elegant Variation, writes of the future of his site (which has been dormant lately, aside from the occasional Banville update), and the future of literary blogs in general: “I’ve come to believe that perhaps the problem with the internet isn’t that it gives voice to every crank with a keyboard and a broadband connection. No, it may be that the insidious thing is the insularity of the waiting chorus of those who champion mediocrity, who validate self-indulgence or unoriginal thinking.”

At The Millions, Garth Risk Hallberg writes about great books that are Kindle-proof.

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