Mike Albo, author of The Junket

Bookforum excerpts The Junket, Mike Albo's excellent Kindle Single about the travails of being a freelancer in New York: "If you haven’t been to Manhattan in the last ten years, you should know that it no longer trades in durable, fungible goods except for artisanal cheese and celebrity cupcakes. These days, the city is a marketplace of intangible ideas and the internet efforts that promulgate them. Now people make millions by crowd-sourcing, aggregating and hedging funds."

N+1 editor Chad Harbach’s novel The Art of Fielding is weeks away from hitting shelves, but it’s already been optioned for an HBO series.

In the September issue of Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis’ twenty-page assessment of Germany’s role in the European financial crisis (titled, naturally, “It’s the Economy, Dummkopf”) is not winning him friends among economists or policy wonks. At the New York Times Magazine blog The 6th Floor, journalist Stephan Seiler takes issue with the feature, and implies that one of the more bizarre proposed explanations for why Germany is willing to prop up Europe—the country’s fascination with excrement—might reveal more about Lewis than his subject.

BookLamp, the “Pandora for books,” is now live.

On the occasion of his new book, Beijing Welcomes You, author and Deadspin editor Tom Scocca chats with GQ about America’s flagging prosperity, the global ascent of China, and “farmers with artillery pieces who were trying to shoot rockets into the clouds to make it rain.”

With the excuse that part of Colson Whitehead’s forthcoming novel, Zone One, is now available to read online, readers are encouraged to revisit Whitehead’s earlier writing, and in particular, his excellent 2008 satirical essay on being a writer in Brooklyn.

Public schools in Virginia's Albemarle County have been forced to remove Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mystery “A Study in Scarlet” on the grounds that the book is disrespectful to Mormons. The offending passage: “(John Ferrier) had always determined, deep down in his resolute heart, that nothing would ever induce him to allow his daughter to wed a Mormon. Such marriage he regarded as no marriage at all, but as a shame and a disgrace.”


Harold Bloom

A Facebook group titled “I Hate Reading” has 442,551 (and counting) more supporters than it should. Abe Books responds with a “We Hate the I Hate Reading Page” video.

As if writers didn’t have enough to stress about, a new Amazon feature called Author Central lets authors check their print sales figures by city and region.

Tom Perrotta’s forthcoming novel about being left behind after the Rapture has already been optioned for an HBO series. The Leftovers will come out with St. Martin’s Press at the end of the month.

“I met you in a Chinese restaurant in Juniper Park. You ordered General Tso’s Chicken and we talked about horseback riding briefly.” Brooklyn artist Sophie Blackall’s ethereal illustrations of Craigslist Missed Connections are now available in book form.

The editors of the 2011 Best New Poets anthology have selected the cream of this year’s crop, which includes Brittany Cavallaro, Rebecca Hazelton, Ansel Elkins, and Scott Abels, author of the poem, “As Rambo Lay Dying.”

On the occasion of the publication of his thirty-eighth book, Scott Horton chats with Harold Bloom.


Nathaniel Hawthorne's home in Salem, Massachusetts.

David Orr, who spends most of his journalism dough writing about poetry, has weighed in on the rise of fantasy novels, and on why George R. R. Martin dominates the New York Times bestseller list.

Did you know you can share books on Google+? You can. The Los Angeles Times’ Jacket Copy blog explains.

April Bernard joins a slowly growing group of authors—which includes Laura Miller and Brock Clarke—who have meditated on the phenomenon of the writer's houses as tourist destination. Bernard hates it, or at least the idea “that art can be understood by examining the chewed pencils of the writer. That visiting such a house can substitute for reading the work. That real estate, including our own envious attachments to houses that are better, or cuter, or more inspiring than our own, is a worthy preoccupation. That writers can or should be sanctified. That private life, even of the dead, is ours to plunder.”

To commemorate Buenos Aires’s appointment as the 2011 World Book Capital, artist Marta Minujin has built an 80-foot tall, 30,000-book spiral sculpture in one of the city’s pedestrian plazas.

On the heels of @CondeElevator’s success, the New York Timesfridge now also has a Twitter account.

Spoiler alert, defused: Jonah Lehrer, the author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist, wonders if giving the way the end of a book actually ruins our enjoyment of it. He cites new research, natch.


(Dr.) Theodor Seuss Geisel, and the Cat in the Hat.

British looters are leaving bookstores untouched: "Books are losing out to high-end jeans and Apple-made gadgets," The Economist reports.

New York's Steven Kasher gallery celebrates the aesthetic of punk with Rude and Reckless—an exhibit dedicated to "punk and post-punk graphics." Book cover designer Chip Kidd writes, "the historic influences are abundant and cleverly re-invented: Russian Constructivism for Kraftwerk's The Man Machine; Chinese propaganda for The Clash's Sandinista, and "the decadence of the Weimar Republic for Lou Reed's Rock 'n Roll Animal," among others.

A new lawsuit accuses Apple of conspiring with publishers to fix e-book prices before the launch of the iPad.

A film adaptation of The Great Gatsby featuring Leonardo DiCaprio has starting shooting in Australia.

Undiscovered Dr. Seuss: Random House is going to release The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories, seven Suessian stories starring a “reedy duck named McKluck,” that were originally published in Redbook in 1950 and 1951.

The PEN American Center has announced the winners of its 2011 literary awards. Susanna Daniel, author of Stiltsville, and Danielle Evans, author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, will share the prize for fiction; Robert Perkinson was awarded the nonfiction prize Texas Tough: the Rise of America's Prison Empire; and Siddhartha Mukherjee gets the organization’s first-ever science writing award for The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.

Zadie Smith’s Turkish translator has accused Turkish novelist Elif Safak of plagiarizing passages from White Teeth in Safak's new novel, Iskender.


Philip Levine, our newest Poet Laureate

Are they ‘protestors,’ ‘looters,’ or ‘rioters?’ The Guardian parses the vocabulary of the UK riots.

Philip Levine is the right poet for our troubled times, Dwight Garner opines: “the work of Philip Levine, America’s new and 18th poet laureate, is welcome because it radiates a heat of a sort not often felt in today’s poetry, that transmitted by grease, soil, factory light, cheap and honest food, sweat, low pay, cigarettes and second shifts. It is a plainspoken poetry ready-made, it seems, for a time of S&P downgrades, a double-dip recession and debts left unpaid.”

The Washington Post will “enhance the quality, quantity and range of [books] content” by laying off their book review editor and folding books coverage into other sections.

Internet fashion zine Put This On chats with Gay Talese about his style.

Do you agonize over drafts or write hundreds of words in a single sitting? (That is, are you a ‘Mozartian’ or a ‘Beethovenian?’) Slate offers some tips for how to write faster.

Don’t be put off by the title: Where Kids Sleep is James Mollison’s amazing photo book of children’s rooms around the world.


Christian Bale in American Pyscho

Philip Levine is our new Poet Laureate.

A former employee of the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, has confessed to embezzling over $1 million from the author’s estate. While many authors’ homes are under financial duress, the LA Times notes, most “are not systematically plundered."

Big British book chains are closing stores early as riots spread across London.

You’ll never get a table at Dorsia, but the Harvard Club, Indochine, and the Four Seasons still take reservations: A New York City movie scout rounds up the real-life locations featured in American Pyscho.

Boosted largely by e-books, adult and YA fiction, the publishing industry is enjoying a revival, with book sales jumping 5.6 percent since 2008. “We’re seeing a resurgence, and we’re seeing it across all markets—trade, academic, professional,” a publishing executive tells the New York Times.

Not even the Conde Nast elevator is safe from Twitter.

Selections from Thomas Pynchon’s Spotify playlist: “People Are Strange,” “Wipeout,” and “Something Happened to Me Yesterday."


Albert Camus, via The Guardian

Baltimore’s Edgar Allen Poe house has lost public funding and may soon have to close; that is, unless a series of Poe-inspired movies (John Cusack in ‘The Raven,’ anyone?) can help revive the late author’s legacy.

Today in conspiracy theories: Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera claims that the car crash that killed Albert Camus might have been orchestrated by the KGB in order to stop the Algerian intellectual from finishing a book critical of the Soviet Union.

Is it sexist or just offensive? Michele Bachmann says she still hasn’t seen Newsweek’s controversial new cover, which features an especially bad photo of the Tea Party presidential hopeful, as well as the title “The Queen of Rage.” Meanwhile, the The New Yorker runs Ryan Lizza’s excellent profile of Bachmann.

After a Missouri high school banned Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five from its library and curriculum for being so dirty that it could “make a sailor blush with shame," Vonnegut’s memorial library has responded by giving away 150 free copies of the book to Republic High students.

How did you get started writing, Luc Sante?


Electric Literature reviews "The Waste Land" iPad app.

The Awl breaks down the case of 24-year-old hacktivist Aaron Swartz, who was indicted last July for taking nearly 5 million JSTOR documents off an MIT laptop and releasing them into the public domain.

Melville House is planning to launch what it calls HybridBooks—books with barcodes that, when scanned with smart phones, will allow readers to access supplementary material called "illuminations." Bartleby the Scrivener will come outfitted with 19th-century maps of Wall Street and recipes for ginger nuts (a Melvillean favorite?). According to publisher Dennis Loy Johnson, the hybrid edition of Giacomo Casanova's The Duel will include "a comic essay by Mark Twain on French dueling and an account of a famous duel fought from hot-air balloons."

Courtesy of the Washington Post, a graphic novelization of the debt ceiling crisis.

What's the deal with zombie fiction? "You have to wonder," Terrence Rafferty suggests, "whether our 21st-century fascination with these hungry hordes has something to do with a general anxiety, particularly in the West, about the planet's dwindling resources: a sense that there are too many people out there, with too many urgent needs, and that eventually these encroaching masses, dimly understood but somehow ominous in their collective appetites, will simply consume us."


We were sad to learn today that Agota Kristof died on July 27. Born in 1935, the Hungarian author, who spent her adult life in Switzerland, wrote the Book of Lies, a shape-shifting trilogy about two brothers living in Europe who are separated during World War II. Shape-shifting and grippingly taut, brain-teasing and fairy-tale simple, confident yet horrific, it's a landmark in contemporary European and experimental fiction.

Nicholson Baker, the Santa Claus of smut, via Simon and Schuster.

With the advent of e-books, authors now have more opportunity than ever to revise and republish previous books. So will they? The Boston Globe’s Alex Beam poses the question to John Banville and Tom Perrotta, among others.

Journalist-turned-novelist Tony Parsons has been named Heathrow Airport’s second writer-in-residence. He’ll spend a week at the airport and will publish a short story collection based on the experience this October.

A Powell’s Books clerk takes to the pages of the Chicago Tribune to exhort publishers to fight back—and fight dirty—against the ascent of e-readers.

“I don’t know how this book will be accepted,” Nicholson Baker says of House of Holes, his new (comic?) novel about a sexual theme park. “You could almost say we’re in the postpornographic era now. There’s so much porn around it’s part of everybody’s life. It’s not something you find in a certain seedy part of town or in discreetly wrapped parcels that come in the mail.”

At Grantland, Extra Lives author Tom Bissell reflects on the future of iPad gaming beyond Angry Birds.

Last Friday, David Berman, the man behind the now-defunct band Silver Jews and one of our favorite poets, gave a rare reading in Chicago, where a heckler provided him with a new title.

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