Klaus Kinski, with puppy.
Fourth time’s the charm? Julian Barnes has finally won the Booker Prize for his new novel, Sense of an Ending.
Safety concerns are swirling around Russian journalist Masha Gessen’s forthcoming biography of Vladimir Putin. Dubbed one of the most talked-about books at the Frankfurt Book Fair by Publishers Weekly, “a rep at Riverhead [which is set to publish the book in March] said the book contains ‘explosive’ information about the Russian prime minister, and that could be a hazard for Gessen, especially in a country that is notoriously dangerous for journalists.”
Amazon isn’t making any money off the Kindle yet, but it is creating its own ecosystem around digital publishing. Business Insider explains the financial logic behind the e-reader.
In an essay for The Millions, Jeffrey Eugenides explains how The Marriage Plot began as a diversion while writing Middlesex, and started life as a novel about “a wealthy family throwing a debutante party.”
Via the Criterion Collection, Klaus Kinski holding the manuscript of his autobiography... and a puppy.
The “Author Name’s Everyday Object” formulation is increasingly common in book titling—think Balzac’s Omelette or Flaubert’s Parrot—but how easy is it to tell real titles from fake ones? A Slate quiz proposes to find out.
Thanks to a $300,000 donation and a little goodwill from New York Public Library president Anthony Marx, all children under eighteen will be exempted from all outstanding city library fines.
Young-adult novelist Lauren Myracle has agreed to withdraw her book Shine from the shortlist of National Book Award finalists in keeping with the board’s request. Myracle says she was asked to do so to “preserve the integrity of the award and the judges' work.” Soon after the five finalists in the young-adult-fiction category were announced last week, a sixth book, Chime by Franny Billingsley, was added. The National Book Foundation hasn’t said that they got the titles mixed up, but they did apologize for the mistake.
Looking into how could a single author could have written or edited more than 100,000 books, Pagan Kennedy investigates the rise of “robot-books”: “software programs—robots, if you will—that can gather text and organize it into a book.”
Bookstore sales rose nearly twelve percent in August! (But possibly because Borders went out of business.)
The online petition Occupy Writers—which currently has more than eight hundred members—is now publishing literary dispatches from the Wall Street occupation. Participating writers are asked to submit “a paragraph, a poem, a comic, a story, a vignette, anything goes.”
Reviews by David Shields and Ben Ehrenreich, and essays on Glenn Beck’s novels, literary tattoos, and Buster Keaton round out the first edition of the Los Angeles Review of Books e-book.
Britain prepares for the midnight release of Murakami’s opus 1Q84.
A public bookshelf in Karlsruhe, Germany.
A terrible, if practical solution to the problem of book storage: A company called 1Dollarscan will scan all your books and send you the PDFs for a dollar per hundred digitized pages. The books, tragically, are then pulped in accordance with American copyright law.
Free public bookshelves are popping up all over Germany.
Jeff Sharlet's Occupy Writers petition has gotten more than three hundred signatories, including Salman Rushdie, Judith Butler, and Jennifer Egan. "I was holding out hope for George Will," Sharlet joked to the Observer. "He wrote me a long nice e-mail saying he'd been sleeping in the park but he's just not there yet."
Stay away from recreational drugs: a 62-year-old Stephen King offers his 16-year-old self a belated bit of advice.
A chain of elaborate responses to the Reddit comment, "What if a unit of current U.S. Marines are suddenly transported back to ancient Rome and forced to do battle with the Roman legions?" has landed user James Erwin a Warner Brothers movie deal.
E-book sales doubled in July, but it was still the smallest increase in digital sales all year.
"I was a sophomore in college, and my voice on the page sounded like that of a 60-year-old Sorbonne professor, badly translated from the French," writes Steven Johnson in an essay on the pleasures and hazards of studying semiotics.
Lewis Hyde, John D'Agata, D.A. Powell, Jonathan Lethem, Elif Batuman, Fiona Maazel, James Wolcott, David Bezmozgis, John D'Agata, Sara Marcus, Meghan O'Rourke, Luc Sante, David Rakoff, Rebecca Solnit and Jeff Sharlet: a small selection of the writers who have signed a letter in support of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
Was one of the nominees for the National Book Award in the Young Adult literature category a mistake?
Teju Cole brings a “literary horsepower to his tweets that’s a little hard to tease apart with conventional critical methods. For one, his fait divers — which he also calls “small fates” — often deploy an elusive irony or the logic-dazing bluntness of a Zen koan,” Matt Pearce writes at The New Inquiry.
What happened to all the sex in Alan Hollinghurst novels?
The New York Times runs a hard-hitting review of their executive editor’s new book about puppies: Jill Abramson “is a powerful journalist few would dream of discounting,” the Times’ John Grogan writes, “And yet, when it comes to her dogs, she pleads guilty to being a hopeless pushover.”
A newspaper software architect explains what’s so terrible about word clouds.
The floor of the 2010 Frankfurt Book Fair.
Twenty finalists have been announced for the 2011 National Book Awards in the fields of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and Young Adult lit. Nominees include Téa Obreht, Jesmyn Ward, and Edith Pearlman for fiction, and Stephen Greenblatt, Manning Marable, and Mary Gabriel for nonfiction. A full list of the finalists is available here.
A new British book award, creatively named The Literature Prize, has been created as a result of frustration with the Man Booker Prize.
The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh eulogizes his lawyer, and in the process, offers a mini-tutorial in investigative journalism.
The Frankfurt Book Fair begins today, and according to Publishers Weekly, along with novels by Laurie Frankel and Ben Fountain, everybody is talking about a debut trilogy by Swedish author Alexander Soderberg, titled the The Andalucian Friend. In other Swedish pop-literary news, DC Entertainment has announced plans to adapt Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy into a series of graphic novels.
Slate’s David Haglund revisits the controversy over John Updike’s homophobic review of Alan Hollinghurst’s novel The Spell. “Updike didn’t just express discomfort at the Hollinghurst’s precise, physically detailed observations about gay sex,” Haglund notes, “he actually wrote a kind of brief against gay love as a compelling novelistic subject.”
Asterix, the lovable, Roman-fighting Gaul of comic-book fame, is going on tour, and he's starting at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Matt Taibbi offers some advice to Occupy Wall Street protesters.
After being out of print for decades, Renata Adler’s critically acclaimed cult novels Speedboat and Pitch Dark are going to be re-released as New York Review Books classics. Of Adler's fiction, John Leonard wrote: "Nobody writes better prose than Renata Adler."
The New York Review’s Sara Kramer writes:
“We don't have the books scheduled yet, but they'll most likely be published at the start of 2013 (it sounds far away but it's our next available season). We usually talk about the classics series as publishing books that had been forgotten, but the Adler books are a little different. Far from being forgotten, it seems that if anything their reputation and influence have grown over the years.”
In 2010, a National Book Critics Circle poll identified Speedboat, winner of the 1976 Hemingway Award for Best First Novel, as the book most members wanted to see back in print. The acquisitions are also are a significant get for New York Review Books: Melville House was so certain that they were going to win the rights to the novels that they included them in their 2012 catalogue.
Adler's fiction “picks up on a certain New York-intellectual-bohemian strand in the series, but their narrative mode is something of a departure from what we've published in the past,” Kramer told Bookforum. “Add that to the fact that Adler wrote for the Review back in the day and that Elizabeth Hardwick was an early champion of [Speedboat] it all seemed pre-ordained.” (One of Adler's contributions to the NYRB was her notorious scathing essay about Pauline Kael.)
After publishing her two novels, Adler went on to release four books of nonfiction, including Gone, a controversial book about working at The New Yorker.
And now the big question about the reissues: who will write the introductions?
A youthful Margaret Atwood.
The University of Texas’s Harry Ransom Center, which in the past few years has acquired the papers of David Foster Wallace and Denis Johnson, has now bought the papers of J.M. Coetzee, who earned his Ph.D. from UT-Austin in 1969. The Ransom Center will house more than 160 cabinets and boxes of the Nobel Prize winner’s items, including “family photographs, business correspondence, recordings of interviews, notebooks, and early manuscripts for his novels and his autobiography.”
Is it journalism? Is it fiction? Does it matter? Jonathan Franzen claims that David Foster Wallace fabricated some—and perhaps most—of his nonfiction.
Margaret Atwood is no stranger to postapocalyptic scenarios and ecological disaster. So it’s not that surprising that a special, autographed edition of her latest book, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, will be printed on a material made primarily out of straw—“without any harmful impact on forests and their fragile ecosystems.”
The “Cavalcade of Literary Jerks: Part 1.” Who will be number one?
Independence Day author Richard Ford is joining the faculty of Columbia’s MFA program in writing.
Hat tip to the Observer’s Emily Witt: In their profile of 97-year-old stand-up comedian Irwin Corey, the New York Times failed to mentioned one of the comic’s better stunts—accepting the 1973 National Book Award for Gravity’s Rainbow as Thomas Pynchon.
The people who bring you the National Book Award have announced the latest batch of “5 Under 35” authors.
#black|Richard Hell, co-founder of the band Television and one of the musicians who made CBGB famous, has sold his memoirs to Ecco Press, the publisher who recently brought us another memoir by another musician and poet: Patti Smith. According to Ecco, Hell’s book, I Dreamed I was a Very Clean Tramp, will move from his “early days as a struggling writer to the opening of CBGB’s and his subsequent endless nights with the club’s denizens, such as The Ramones, Patti Smith Group, Blondie, and the New York Dolls, to [his] encounters with literary luminaries like Susan Sontag and his relationship with high school friend and Television co-founder Tom Verlaine, to a long procession of vividly evoked girlfriends, to the heroin addiction that threatened to derail him completely.” Hell has written two novels, Go Now#black| and Godlike, and his book of essays and lyrics, Hot and Cold#black|, strongly suggests that his autobiography will be wise, honest, and attention-grabbing. ##
Christopher Hitchens, pre-chemotherapy.
Junot Diaz’s next novel will be an reworking of the Superman saga, the Middlebury College student newspaper reports, and instead of setting the superhero in Kansas, he'll be based in the Dominican Republic, circa 1937. Diaz is also making a few other changes: “the Dominican Superman will actually enslave the world with his powers," the novelist told students.
Economist Felix Salmon explains how new technology lets the New Yorker turn a profit off old content.
A little over a year after being diagnosed with cancer, Christopher Hitchens has given up smoking and, more shockingly, alcohol. “Hitchens, who used to thrive on whiskey the way a bee thrives on nectar, hasn’t had a drink since July, when a feeding tube was installed in his stomach. “That’s the most depressing aspect,” he told the New York Times. “The taste is gone. I don’t even want to. It’s incredible what you can get used to.”
Yes, there’s a chemistry behind that magical old book smell.
The Occupy Wall Street Library is now online.
Amy Winehouse’s father has signed a book deal with HarperCollins to write “a heartfelt and revelatory memoir” about his daughter. “Amy” will come out next year, and proceeds will go to a charity in her name.