George Plimpton and Mr. Puss, the cat.

Does the term "advertorial" (a collision between "advertising" and "editorial") seem less off-putting when applied to books? The Staff Recommends, a publisher-backed books site spearheaded by members of McSweeneys and the Morning News, hopes so.

A Kickstarter campaign to finance a documentary about Paris Review editor George Plimpton (titled Plimpton!) is gathering momentum. With 28 days left to go, filmmakers have raised more than half of the $25,000 needed to pay for archival footage.

Unbound, the “Kickstarter for books,” works by allowing members to propose a book idea, then letting the internet public fund it (or not). Fast Company reports that the start-up may have raised enough money to finance its first project: a book by Monty Python’s Terry Jones.

Little, Brown is banking on any publicity being good publicity: To the irritation of booksellers, the publishing house has sent out an email blast announcing the last-minute addition of Untitled, by Anonymous, to its fall lineup—a book described only as a “the inside story of life with one of the most controversial figures of our time.” Rumor has it that it's a Madoff tell-all.


Susan Sontag, the David Wu of her time. Photo by Annie Leibovitz

The Los Angeles Times has laid off all of its freelance book reviewers.

ThinkProgress blogger Matt Yglesias has signed a deal with Simon & Schuster to write a “relatively short relatively cheap e-book” on housing policy: The Rent is Too Damn High.

In the August issue of Vanity Fair, Dave Eggers chats with Maurice Sendak about Bumble-Ardy, the first book that Sendak has written and illustrated in over three decades.

Queried by The Observer about her contribution to soon-to-launch zine Girl Crush (a publication in which ladies air their admiration for female role models), Jennifer Egan admitted that she had no idea what a ‘zine’ looks like nowadays, then chose Hillary Clinton as her ‘girl crush’ for being “consistently amazing.”

Elsewhere, Egan’s short fiction is starting to look suspiciously utilitarian.

The Library of Congress is looking for docents, and books are bursting through the wall at a Portland ad agency.

And to start your morning right: Susan Sontag at her desk in a bear suit.


A remembrance of our much-missed colleague, Clara Heyworth, marketing manager of Verso Books.

Chantal Akerman, courtesy of the San Francisco MoMA

Carrie Kania has left her post as publisher of Harper Perennial to become an agent at Conville & Walsh in London. According to GalleyCat, “her departure also sparked a reorganization,” but we hope the Harper Collins inprint won’t lose its current sensibility. Publishing books by the likes of Kevin Sampsell, Blake Butler, and Justin Taylor, Harper Perennial has become one of the most adventurous major publishers out there.

In addition to veteran fiction writers Alan Hollinghurst and Julian Barnes, four first-time novelists made this year’s Man Booker Prize longlist.

Should novelists moonlight as book critics? At Salon, Erin Keane considers the perils of leading a double literary life.

Filmmaker Chantal Akerman's adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s debut novel, Almayer's Folly, will premiere next month at the Venice Film Festival. The novel is set in Malaysia, and is about a treasure-seeking Dutchman, and his "failed marriage to his captain’s adopted daughter.”

A winner has been crowned in the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which invites writers to submit the worst first sentence of an imaginary novel. The winning sentence, courtesy of Wisconsinite Sue Fondrie: “Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.”


Tonight, Bookforum co-editor and poet Albert Mobilio will read from his new book, Touch Wood, at the annual Poets House Showcase with Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Jena Osman, and Evie Shockley.

Nicholson Baker

After writing twelve columns and chalking up a 41.6 percent correction rate, Bill Keller is giving up his much-lambasted New York Times Magazine column.

The Guardian publishes its top-twelve picks for this year’s Booker Prize.

The Atlantic has posted part of its summer fiction issue, featuring stories and essays by Ariel Dorfman, Wendell Berry, and John Barth, among others.

The Awl presents some mini-excerpts from Nicholson Baker’s soon-to-be-published sex-saturated novel, House of Holes.

Young adult novelist John Green proves that if you have enough Twitter followers, your book doesn’t even need to be finished before hitting the number one spot on Amazon.


Werner Herzog, years before meeting with comparatively tame fans at Comic—Con.

Werner Herzog was spotted at Comic-Con: “I have never seen the collective dreams all in one place,” he remarked.

Mental Floss rounds up the fifteen of the best words with no English equivalent, including ‘gumusservi’ (Turkish for moonlight shining on water), ‘kummerspeck’ (German for weight gained by emotional overeating; literally translates to ‘bacon grief’), and ‘slampadato,’ the Italian term for tanning-bed addiction.

The Guardian complains that straightforward facts are ruining history books.

Novelist Jeffrey Eugenides’s read at the Paris Review offices on Thursday with a black eye and stitches. Why? As the New York Post reports in “Author Socked by Train Drunk,” Eugenides was heading home on public transportation earlier this week when “a pair of inebriated idiots” began loudly talking, and then singing, about their genitals. When an offended passenger asked them to stop and was rudely refused, Eugenides intervened and got socked in the ensuing scuffle.

Sasha Frere-Jones remembers Amy Winehouse.


We're deeply excited about "Reading Life," a new weekly column in the New York Times by "world-class noticer" Geoff Dyer.

By Peter Stackpole, from a 1953 Life Magazine spread.

He might not be the writer we want, but is Tao Lin the writer the digital generation deserves?

The New Yorker's Book Bench flags the emergence of 'hipster lit' as a bookstore category, and wonders, rightly, where the women writers are.

Saul Bellow, Anthony Burgess, and Tobias Wolff all have first novels that are best forgotten, but among the three, Wolff has gotten closest to scrubbing his debut effort, Ugly Rumours, from publishing history, Elon Green writes at The Awl.

Britain's House of Lords launches an inquiry into how the decline of newspapers will affect investigative journalism.

“The fact is that Borders has been facing headwinds for for quite some time, including a rapidly changing book industry, the eReaders revolution, and a turbulent economy,” company officials write in their sign-off email. “We put up a great fight, but regrettably, in the end, we weren't able to overcome these external forces.”

At the London Review of Books, Alan Bennett waxes poetic about libraries.

Rolling blackouts, packed hospitals, and oven-like temperatures: Malcolm Gladwell considers the 1995 Chicago heat wave, and its political consequences.

The Telegraph excerpts part of Julian Barnes’ new novel, The Sense of an Ending.

Iran’s 72-year-old Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, lashed out against “harmful books” on Wednesday (i.e., ones that challenge his political authority) comparing them to "poisonous" drugs.

Noted YA author Ayn Rand, courtesy of The Wit Continuum

Media used to be full of moguls, but no longer: The Economist opines that Rupert Murdoch is “the last member of a dying breed.”

The Hangover star Bradley Cooper gets cast as Lucifer in a new film adaptation of “Paradise Lost.”

Why was Ayn Rand such a bestseller? “Because she writes the best children’s literature in America,” former editor Patrick O’Connor told The Millions’ Gary Percesepe. “The Fountainhead is practically a rite of passage for alienated youth. She writes these epic, Wagnerian things. Where the sex takes place on the very highest plane and it speaks to the kids’ highest aspirations, their youthful idealism. It’s all YA stuff.”

More than eighteen thousand scientific papers downloaded from JSTOR have been uploaded to Swedish torrenting website Pirate Bay as a single, thirty-three gigabyte file.

Triple Canopy has released part of its new issue online.

And, finally on Borders’ demise: Yahoo! News looks at how the book chain’s closure will ripple across the country; paidContent considers the biggest losers from the Borders bankruptcy; NPR examines what Borders’ demise means for bookstores, authors and readers; GalleyCat blames Amazon for the chain’s collapse; and even though Barnes & Noble will get a modest boost from the liquidation of its largest rival, it still faces stiff competition and an industry-wide decline in book sales.

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