Joseph Heller, via Epic Black Car

At The Guardian, Jim Crace surveys the history of phone hacking in literature.

New York magazine argues that one of the main characters in Jeff Eugenides’s forthcoming novel The Marriage Plot (which we’ll all be hearing plenty about over the next several months) is modeled on David Foster Wallace.

A lesbian couple is asked to stop holding hands—at a Gertrude Stein exhibition in San Francisco.

As British Prime Minister David Cameron comes under attack for his ties to the Murdoch empire, News International stock enjoyed an upward bounce Tuesday thanks to Rupert’s testimony before Parliament. Romenesko writes that the Wall Street Journal has run at least seven editorials this week in defense of its parent company, News Corp.

Music critic Anthony Tommasini takes in the cacophonous sounds of a Yankees game.

The first chapter of Catch-18—the original title of Catch-22—received a lukewarm reception from Joseph Heller’s literary agency; that is, until it fell into the hands of Candida Donadio, a twenty-four-year-old Brooklynite who “smoked and drank heavily, indulged heartily in Italian meals,” and, according to Cork Smith (Thomas Pynchon’s first editor) “had more synonyms for excrement than anyone you’d ever run across.” It would be another year before Heller turned in the novel’s second chapter, and Donadio would go on to become one of the most prominent agents of her generation, representing John Cheever, Philip Roth, Jessica Mitford, William Gaddis, and Peter Matthiessen. Tracy Daugherty’s new Joseph Heller biography, Just One Catch, sketches out the details of Catch-22’s path to publication and is excerpted in the August issue of Vanity Fair. For further reading, the Paris Review interview with Robert Gottlieb (Heller’s editor and the only editor ever interviewed in the magazine) is available online, as is Heller’s 1974 Paris Review interview with George Plimpton.


Dana Spiotta, photo by Jessica Marx.

A Pandora for books? Mashable reports on BookLamp, “A book recommendation engine built on book content and writing style instead of sales data.”

With digital technology speeding up the book publication cycle, and fewer copy editors to catch mistakes, Virginia Heffernan says we’re living in an age of typos.

Are the books authors are best known for always their best books? Definitely not, argues the The Guardian.

With budget cuts looming, the University of California Press will suspend its poetry book series, New California Poetry.

Tonight at McNally Jackson Books, novelist Dana Spiotta chats with Edward Champion about Spiotta's new book, Stone Arabia.


Rupert Mudoch hangs his head, via MSNBC

It was bring your son to work day in the British Parliament on Tuesday as Rupert and James Murdoch testified in London about the News of the World hacking scandal. Amid rumors that Rupert might be forced to resign as CEO of News International, the eighty-year-old media mogul maintained that he knew nothing of the scope of the misconduct, and gave parliamentarians the ‘bad apple’ excuse, saying that News of the World makes up less than one percent of his 53,000-employee empire. Leaning across his son James, he told the panel, “this is the most humble day of my life." (According to the offical transcript released to the media beforehand, he said "life" instead of "career.") Both Murdochs denied plans to open a new Sunday paper, and refused to say how much former NoTW editors Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton were paid after resigning last Friday. Piers Morgan notes that after falling steadily over the past twelve days, the "News Corp. stock price has risen throughout the hour.” In an unanticipated bit of drama, the hearing was interrupted by a man attacking Murdoch with a pie tin full of shaving cream, prompting Murdoch's wife, Wendi, to attack the attacker. All this caused News International stock prices to jump an additional six percent.

Meanwhile, two top UK police officials have resigned in connection with the scandal as more ties were revealed between News International and Scotland Yard. Prior to Murdoch’s testimony, outgoing Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson denied any impropriety in hiring former News of the World journalist Neil Wallis, who was arrested last week, as a media consultant. His number two, Assistant Commissioner John Yates also stepped down last week; and yesterday, it was revealed that Scotland Yard hired a senior News of the World executive as an interpreter. "It was almost industry standard," said Paul McMullen, former features editor for the News. "A few times, I was put on stories that came from . . . coppers we paid for good information." Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a state visit to Africa early amid scrutiny over his ties to high-level News International officials.

The New York Times’s Lede blog, and the Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow are liveblogging the proceedings.

Young Haruki Murakami, via Writers and Kitties

Borders has announced plans to liquidate all its remaining stores after negotiations with a private-equity investor collapsed, and they failed to receive any other bids. According to the Wall Street Journal, stores will start closing as soon as Friday, and the chain will go out of business entirely by September. Nearly eleven-thousand people will lose their jobs as a result of the shutdown.

Slavoj Zizek dismisses the rumor that he and Lady Gaga are dating, which was started by a group of “anti-authoritarian communists” and picked up by some New York tabloids.

Colson Whitehead files his first dispatch from the World Series of Poker, and Harper’s excerpts part of his forthcoming novel, Zone One, which will be published in October by Doubleday.

Here are several things you probably didn’t know about David Bowie, from Paul Trynka’s new biography of the British pop icon: A fistfight over a girl left one of Bowie’s pupils permanently dilated; a druggy screening of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” provided the inspiration for the rocker’s first single, “Space Oddity;” and finally, Bowie won over his wife, the model Iman, with his excellent impersonations.

The Millions releases the first paragraph of Haruki Murakami’s three-volume novel IQ84, which will hit American bookstores this fall: “The taxi’s radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast. Janáček’s Sinfonietta—probably not the ideal music to hear in a taxi caught in traffic. The middle-aged driver didn’t seem to be listening very closely, either. With his mouth clamped shut, he stared straight ahead at the endless line of cars stretching out on the elevated expressway, like a veteran fisherman standing in the bow of his boat, reading the ominous confluence of two currents. Aomame settled into the broad back seat, closed her eyes, and listened to the music.”


Saturday was the sixtieth anniversary of the publication of Catcher in the Rye. To commemorate the event, writer and Salinger scholar Michael Moats contemplates the origins of Holden Caulfield.

The Los Angeles Review of Books runs the first segment of Mike Davis’s nine-part biography of Harrison Gray Otis, an early twentieth century newspaper mogul, a “wrathful gargoyle with a walrus moustache and Custer goatee,” and the so-called “inventor” of modern Los Angeles.

You probably won’t remember this: Psychologists at Columbia University have found that people are significantly less likely to retain information if they know they can look it up online.

Borders may be out of business by the end of the week.

The Daily Beast examines how the Wall Street Journal has dealt with reporting on the misdeeds of its parent company: “It stinks. It makes our stomachs churn,” says one Journal staffer of the phone hacking scandal.


James Joyce with Sylvia Beach at Shakespeare and Co. in 1920.

Happy 75th birthday, New Directions!

Thomas Pynchon’s Manhattan Beach, California duplex is on the market for a cool $1.05 million. FSG wonders if it “smells like weed and genius.”

Paris Review editor Lorin Stein sends his staff a postcard from Paris: “My hosts at Shakespeare & Co. kindly booked me a room around the corner from the famous shop. Mine is the best room the Hotel Esmeralda has to offer, and one of the highest, smelling faintly but not unpleasantly of blow-dryer and dead mouse. It is five flights up.”

From the Lapham’s Quarterly food issue: the cheese (Limburger, specifically) stands alone.

The New York Times sends book critic Dwight Garner to the ballet.

Finally, in your UK phone hacking roundup: Rupert Murdoch drops his bid for British Sky Broadcasting, police arrest another former News of the World editor; and Murdoch, his son James, and former News of the World executive Rebekah Brooks agree to testify next week before a British parliamentary panel. Meanwhile, The Guardian continues its fantastic blog coverage of the story, a Reuters columnist apologizes for writing an incorrect article about News Corp’s taxes (the corporation paid $4.8 billion in taxes between 2007 and 2010, it did not receive that amount, as the article originally suggested), ProPublica explains how reporters’ bribes in the UK can violate American law, and the New York Times’ s David Carr argues that the antidote to a toxic media culture is more good journalism.


Lecturing on topics one knows nothing about may be a liability for professionals, but for participants in Sheila Heti's Trampoline Hall lecture series, it’s a requirement. Since late 2001, the monthly Toronto-based talks have been a fixture of the city’s arts scene, inviting speakers to wax poetic on topics ranging from “The Lazy Sociopath” to “Secret Eating” and “Teenage Circumcision.” In honor of the Heti and Misha Glouberman’s new book, The Chairs Are Where the People Go, they've taken the series on the road, and will appear tonight for a book-promo-cum-Trampoline-Hall event at the powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn with writers Sara Marcus and Adam Sternbergh. More details are available here.

Margaret Drabble

Will the Bancroft family hold a Eliot Spitzer-style press conference expressing regret for selling the Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch?

"It’s sad, but our feud is beyond repair": Margaret Drabble talks about a lifetime of enmity with her sister A. S. Byatt.

Members of the National Book Critics Circle are naming their favorite comic novels, which include Charles Portis’s Masters of Atlantis, Flann O’Brien’s At Swim Two Birds, and Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim (duh). Our favorite selection: George and Weedon Grossmith's Diary of a Nobody.

Google has announced its first e-reader, the iRiver Story HD, which reportedly looks a lot like a Kindle. There’s at least one big difference: The iRiver will allow you to buy from Google's e-bookstore.

Stoya, the adult-movie star who raved about Blake Butler’s novel This Is No Year, has started a book club.

Vogue editor Anna Wintour is reportedly gearing up to write her memoir—or at least to find someone else to write it.


The Book Barge, via Flickr

After railing against Twitter in the New York Times Magazine, Bill Keller expands his beef with the written word in a new column titled “Let’s Ban Books, or At Least Stop Writing Them.” The gist: too many reporters are taking leave to write books, and Keller’s own failed attempts at book-writing haven’t endeared him to the practice: “Book-writing is agony—slow, lonely, frustrating work that, unless you are a very rare exception, gets a lukewarm review (if any), reaches a few thousand people and lands on a remaindered shelf at Barnes & Noble.” Let the Twitter wars begin.

In honor of Snooki’s landing another book deal, Anderson Cooper does a dramatic reading of her first novel, A Shore Thing.

The New York Times says it will pay back a $250 million loan from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim (his real name) by August 15—three and a half years ahead of schedule.

Taking a page from Calvino, The Guardian is enamoured with the Book Barge, a floating bookstore located (for now) in Staffordshire, England.

How do you make your kid a writer? “First of all, let her be bored. Let her have long afternoons with absolutely nothing to do... Let her get a job. Let her work long hours for crappy pay with a mean employer and rude customers. If she wants to be a writer, she'll have to be comfortable with hard work and low pay.” [Via Ta-Nehisi Coates]

We're looking forward to the launch of Girl Crush Zine, a ladies-only online mag featuring a stellar list of contributors.

McSweeney’s debuts its food magazine, Lucky Peach, which features essays by chefs Anthony Bourdain and David Chang, recipes by Wylie Dufresne and Mario Carbone, and art by Tony Millionaire and Scott Teplin. The first issue is dedicated to Ramen, staple of the collegiate food pyramid.

The New York Times’s Ravi Somaiya is tweeting from Julian Assange’s trial in London: “Just got—and I am not making this up—a really strong whiff of gin in #Assangecourtroom. Unmistakeable.” For background on the case, check out Ken Silverstein's Bookforum essay on WikiLeaks as literature.

At myunfinishednovel.com, novelists are invited to share stats about their failed attempts at fiction. (Misery, after all, loves company.) Thomas Baines wrote more than twenty-nine thousands words of a sci-fi novel before running out of ideas; Farida Samerkhanova got over fifty pages in to a manuscript before switching to flash fiction. “The unfinished nature of this novel is not failure but rather a kind of catharsis,” explains one author, “at least that is what I keep telling myself.” [Via MobyLives].

The University of Iowa is offering a full, $37,000 scholarship to the prospective student who composes the best 140-character tweet.

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