University of Chicago Press director Morris Philipson

Congratulations to our friends at New Herring Press, who celebrated their launch on Sunday in Brooklyn with readings by Parul Sehgal, Lynne Tillman, Nitsuh Abebe, Amanda Davidson, and Francis Richard. And with a piano bar.

Random House in Canada is testing out a new, ticketed model of book tours that includes the cost of a book in the price.

New York Times critic Janet Maslin excoriates Haruki Murakami’s opus 1Q84, and the Onion’s AV club gives the book a "D" rating.

Morris Philipson, the former University of Chicago Press director responsible for first publishing translations of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jacques Derrida, and Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as out-of-print works of fiction from André Malraux, Isak Dinesen, and Paul Scott, has died at the age of 85.

Stephen King has donated $70,000 to help low-income Maine residents heat their homes.

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Jason Boog reviews the history of guerrilla libraries.


Graphic novelist Alison Bechdel

The Second Pass founder John Williams has been hired to oversee online books coverage at the New York Times.

The Los Angeles Times goes behind the scenes at a company dedicated to filming book trailers.

Why would spy novelist Q. R. Markham plagiarize dozens of passages in his new book? The Book Bench’s Macy Halford investigates the discovery that led Little, Brown to recall the novel, and pushed Assassin of Secrets’ Amazon sales ranking up from 62,924 to 174 in a single day.

“My father and I grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town and he was gay and I was gay and he killed himself and I became a lesbian cartoonist,” says the protagonist of “Fun Home,” Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel memoir, which will soon be adapted into a musical.

At the Awl, Choire Sicha details how Jim Romenesko’s media blog—once well-liked, intelligent, and sometimes funny—became intolerable. “The changes at the blog,” Sicha writes, “have been awful to watch.” Meanwhile, AdWeek reports that Romenesko, after the Columbia Journalism Review’s Erika Fry revealed that he had used other writers’ phrases without giving proper attribution, has offered to resign from Poynter.

The cover price for New York magazine is about to go up.


Jonathan Lethem, Jennifer Egan, and Lynn Nottage at Occupy Wall Street.

Christopher Hitchens is dominating a Publisher’s Weekly readers poll for favorite book of the year. His essay collection Arguably has garnered 91.55 percent of the votes. Aside from the “other” category (2.63%), the closest contender is Tina Fey’s Bossypants (1.83%). Meanwhile, The Marriage Plot hasn’t even broken the 1 percent barrier.

Novelists Jonathan Lethem and Jennifer Egan and playwright Lynn Nottage held forth at Occupy Wall Street this week, with Lethem telling the crowd: “Even those who sneer or berate . . . they’re one of you—one of us—just not willing—not yet—to see it.” Today, authors including Josh Cohen, Eileen Myles, and Adam Wilson will read from the Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” which includes, in addition to its much repeated mantra, “I would prefer not to,” this instructive line in civil disobedience: “Nothing so aggravates an earnest person as a passive resistance.”

In The Los Angeles Review of Books, an in-depth look at the decline of the Los Angeles Times under owner Sam Zell, who once told staffers at the slumping paper: “I am your Viagra."

Uncovering Amazon.”

New Yorkers: Tonight, White Columns and Performa are co-hosting Psychedelic Noir, an event featuring readings—by pamphleteer-novelist Stewart Home and fiction writer Lynne Tillman, among others—as well as “book shredding, ventriloquism, and verbal acrobatics.”


PG Wodehouse, with pipe.

The Dec/Jan issue of Bookforum won't be in stores (or mailboxes) until the end of the month, but, early issues are being handed out at the People's Library at Zuccotti Park this afternoon. Head down to grab a free copy!

David Lodge’s A Man of Parts, Rosa Luxembourg, and T.S. Eliot’s letters round out the Atlantic’s list of the best books of 2011. Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding, Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, Karl Marlantes’s What It Is Like to Go to War and Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography make Amazon’s list of the top books of 2011. Speaking of Chad Harbach, here’s a video of him on Emily Gould’s cooking show, teaching her how to make homemade protein bars.

The first book about Occupy Wall Street, titled This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement, will be on shelves by the end of the month.

The newest Ryan Gosling blog mashes up glam shots of the actor with typographical tips.

Brooklyn bookstore Spoonbill & Sugartown is hosting a photo exhibit of the three cats that have lived at the shop since it opened in 1999.

PG Wodehouse's letters have been released in England.

A Wired quiz challenges readers on how much more surreal 1Q84 (the Murakami novel) is than 1984 (the year) was.

At the Paris Review blog: Taking his cue from Nicholson Baker, Adam Wilson riffs on his “admittedly creepy, undoubtedly perverse” fascination with Owen Wilson. Bonus: Trinie Dalton interviews Lizzi Bougatsos from Gang Gang Dance.


Ai Weiwei

Jonathan Lethem pens a takedown in the Los Angeles Review of Books of a tough but positive review New Yorker critic James Wood wrote of Lethem's novel The Fortress of Solitude, while at The Millions, Alan Hollinghurst slams Wood’s review of his latest book as “so pathetic that I stopped taking it seriously.”

Slate’s staff selects its “new classics”: books, movies, songs, and even typefaces that staffers think will stand the test of time. Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, Volume 1, and Aleksandar Hemon’s Nowhere Man get nods in the books department.

How publishers handled illustrating “The Joy of Sex” in repressive 1970s Britain.

Since last Tuesday, more than twenty-thousand people have donated over $840,000 to help dissident artist Ai Weiwei pay his $2.4 million tax bill to the Chinese government.

Ayn Rand, Newt Gingrich, Rachel Maddow, and Frank Rich round out the New Republic’s list of the most over-rated thinkers of 2011.

The Awl offers an illustrated look at what would have happened if popular characters in literature had been killed off in early drafts.


Young Steve Buscemi

Readers! The Dec/Jan issue of Bookforum hits stands this week, featuring Jeff Sharlet on Occupy Wall Street, Natasha Vargas-Cooper on Norman Mailer and Marilyn Monroe, Dennis Lim on Haruki Murakami, and lots, lots, more.

Also, it’s Occupy Wall Street week on Bookforum.com—throughout the week, we’ll be running essays by Will Bunch, Sarah Leonard, and Aaron Lake Smith.

Jonathan Lethem will be at the Occupy Wall Street Library today at 3:30 for a teach-in. Lethem recently contributed the story "Tickling the Corpse" to the Occupy Writers blog.

Steve Buscemi is directing an adaptation of William Burroughs’ novel Queer, starring Guy Pearce, Ben Foster, and Kelly MacDonald.

Why did Martin Amis decline to authorize Richard Bradford’s biography? Bradford’s fawning take on the writer wasn’t the issue, Geoff Dyer suggests. No, rather, “Amis is hyper-allergic to bad writing and seeing his life half-swaddled in Bradford’s sentences must have induced anaphylactic shock.”

Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo’s book Poor Economics has been named the FT/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year.

What better place to hold a launch party for a book about the CIA’s role in Che Guevara’s murder than the Cuban Mission to the United Nations?


Alexis Jenni, the very happy winner of the Prix Goncourt.

The Prix Goncourt, France’s top literary prize, has gone to a high school biology teacher from Lyon, Alexis Jenni, for his six-hundred page debut novel, The French Art of War. He might not be quitting his day job soon, though: The Goncourt only comes with a ten euro honorarium.

Self-publishing websites are huge in China, attracting more than forty percent of all Chinese internet users every month.

The New York Times profiles the Wilde Boys Salon, a “roving salon for self-described queer poets at which attendees lounge fetchingly and flirtation comes in the guise of academic one-upmanship,” An attempt to recreate the downtown poetry culture of the 50s and 60s, the Wilde Boys has thus far featured Mark Doty, Edmund White, Michael Cunningham and John Ashbery. “I invited the cute gay poets right away,” explained founder Alex Dimitrov. “I sort of had a list of gays that I wanted to come, and some of them that I wanted to sleep with.”

Amazon has launched a Kindle lending library that lets its Prime Members “borrow” e-books for a month before they disappear. This is Amazon’s first attempt at a virtual library, despite the fact that none of the “big six" publishers—Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Hachette—have agreed to participate.

Princeton University Press will become the first academic press to release Kindle Singles.


Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o'

After weeks of negotiation, Cooper Union has agreed to give East Village bookstore St. Mark's Bookshop a break on its rent, reducing their monthly payments from $20,000 to $17,500 for a year, and forgiving $7,000 in debt. This is half of the $5,000 monthly reduction St. Mark's owners say they need to stay in business, and there are no plans yet to rehire laid-off staff.

New Yorkers: If you’re free this this evening, you should head to the 92nd Street Y to hear Nuruddin Farrah and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’—two of the most accomplished African novelists working today—sit down for a chat. The talk will take place at 8:15, and James Gibbons and Philip Gourevitch will introduce them.

Turkey’s literary community is up in arms over the arrest of publisher and Turkish PEN member Ragip Zarakolu under anti-terrorism laws. Zarakolu was detained in Istanbul on Friday with forty other activists as part of a crackdown on Kurdish political parties. Since the ‘70s, Belge, Zarakolu’s publishing house, has released controversial books by Armenian, Greek and Kurdish authors.

Pitchfork excerpts Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum's oral history of MTV.

The November/December issue of the Believer is out. It’s the annual art issue, and yes, James Franco is in it.

Despite being lauded as the “poet-president,” the Guardian claims that Irish president Michael Higgins’ verse is actually pretty bad.

Jon Cotner, coauthor of Ten Walks/Two Talks and the mastermind behind the Spontaneous Society walking tour, has been invited by the Poetry Society of America to host a new walk-and-talk event called Poem Forest. Held at the New York Botanical Garden, this 15-minute “meditative walk” (which will take place on November 5, 6, 12, and 13) will encourage participants to ponder 15 excerpts of poetry while strolling along the park’s Sweetgum Trail.


Joan Didion will be the subject of a new film by Griffin Dunner.

GQ and Farrar, Straus & Giroux are teaming up to produce The Originals Series; events that will pair writers and musicians for conversations in “an intimate West Village loft space.” The series will debut next Tuesday with John Jeremiah Sullivan and the Brooklyn band Cavemen, and will be hosted by David Rees. Last we checked, only eight tickets were left.

HarperCollins is buying religious publishing imprint Thomas Nelson, which according to the press release, is "the world’s leading provider of Bibles [and] inspirational books."

In the Rumpus, Stephen Elliott rips into the first sentence of Glen Duncan’s New York Times review of Colson Whitehead’s zombie book, Zone One: “A literary novelist writing a genre novel is like an intellectual dating a porn star.” In response, Elliott, who points out that he is pro-New York Times, asks: “What does he mean? Can the porn star be an intellectual? What if an intellectual is dating another intellectual who is also a porn star?”

A preview of Griffin Dunne’s film about Joan Didion and her new book, Blue Nights.

More than twenty years and thousands of pages in the making, the third installment of Robert Caro’s epic Lyndon B. Johnson biography, The Passage of Power, will be out in May.

A discussion about Steven Pinker’s new book about violence, The Better Angels of Our Nature, has generated over 350 comments and 50,000 words at the blog Crooked Timber, despite the fact that many of the commenters haven’t read it.


Former literary super-agent and the new director of literature for the National Endowment for the Arts, Ira Silverberg.

Literary agent and onetime editor of Grove Press Ira Silverberg is leaving his position at Sterling Lord Literistic—where he represented authors such as Sam Lipsyte, Adam Haslett, Rene Steinke, and Neil Strauss—to become the new director of literature for the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Wall Street Journal debuts its e-book bestseller list, which—surprise, surprise—looks just like regular old print bestseller lists. Nicholas Sparks, Bill O’Reilly and James Patterson rank high on both.

E-readers actually get heavier—by about a molecule—with each new virtual book added.

The first book ever to be outfitted with a ‘smart chip’—an RFID-enabled sticker that lets you pull up more information by tapping a smartphone against it—will be Gary Schwartz’s The Impulse Economy: Understanding Mobile Shoppers and What Makes Them Buy.

“We all—in the end—die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.” Novelist Mona Simpson eulogizes Steve Jobs, the long-lost brother she met for the first time when she was twenty-five.

Post-Halloween listening: Christopher Walken reads “The Raven”.

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