Dmitri Nabokov

Algonquin Books hopes to release legendary publisher Barney Rosset’s unfinished autobiography, tentatively titled The Subject Was Left-Handed, by the end of the year.

Vladimir Nabokov’s son Dmitri Nabokov died in Vevey, Switzerland, last Wednesday at the age of seventy-seven. According to the Times, Dmitri was “a bon vivant, a professional opera singer, a race car driver and a mountain climber.” But he was best known as the executor of his father’s estate. After Vladimir’s death, Dmitri oversaw the publication of the novelist’s letters, stories, and unfinished novel.

The Washington Post closed its standalone book review, and the Los Angeles Times cut book coverage. But as the National Book Critics Circle’s Jane Ciabattari tells Publishers Weekly, it's not all bad: Book sections at the San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Plain-Dealer, and Chicago Tribune show no signs of slowing down.

Have trouble remembering the books that you’ve read? Publishers Weekly offers tips on “How to Cure Reading Forgetfulness.”

Inspired by Wallace Stevens, Jeff Gordiner takes a literary pilgrimage to Hartford, Connecticut, which, thanks to the poet, he claims, “could probably rival the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco as a wellspring of psychedelic imagery.”

A kind of Spotify for books has launched in Spain. For ten euros a month, Booquo subscribers get all the e-books they can read—as long as they’re put out by the right publishers.


For Sale: Ernest Hemingway's childhood home.

Amazon has pulled more than four thousand e-books from its digitial shelves after publishers refused to let the company sell them more cheaply.

J.K. Rowling is breaking into the world of adult fiction. The Harry Potter author announced this week that after a five-year break, she's signed a deal with Little, Brown to publish her next book, which will be targeted for an older audience. The book's title and pub date have not been released.

Writer Will Self has been named a Professor of Contemporary Thought at London's Brunel University. Self will be teaching in the arts and social sciences departments, and plans to introduce himself to the university with lecture on "urban pyschosis" at the end of next month.

Can’t sell your book? Patricia O’Brien—sorry, Kate Alcott—suggests changing your name.

In anticipation of AWP, Tin House provides a field guide to the literary types that will be floating around Chicago next week: While memoirists “favor fleece outerwear and often carry snacks,” “the essayist signals his difference from the memoirist by the appropriation of a blazer.”

While held captive in Berlin during the Second World War, P. G. Wodehouse recorded radio broadcasts for the Nazis. When the war ended, it was these broadcasts (one of which featured the author describing the German army as “a fine body of men, rather prettily dressed in green, carrying machine guns”) that prevented his return to England, out of fear that he would be persecuted on charges of treason. For the next twenty years, Wodehouse allies petitioned the British government to let him return. These documents, though ultimately unsuccessful—“He was nothing more than a silly ass!” wrote one unnamed friend—are now declassified and available to be read at the UK National Archives.

A self-published webcomic is behind the most successful creative Kickstarter campaign ever, having raised more than a million dollars over a nine-year fundraiser. The Order of the Stick author and illustrator Rich Burlew began the campaign in 2003 with the hopes of raising the $57,750 needed to keep his comics about the “fantasy adventures of a collection of stick figures in a role-playing game world,” in print. He succeeded: The campaign closed on Tuesday with 14,952 backers and $1,254,120.

Ernest Hemingway’s childhood home in Oak Park, Illinois, is for sale for $525,000, while the gated home that was built for Thomas Mann in Brentwood, California is rentable for $15,500 a month.


Barney Rosset

Legendary publisher Barney Rosset passed away yesterday at the age of ninety. From the helm of Grove Press, Rosset was one of the first to publish Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, Allen Ginsberg, David Mamet and Malcolm X, among others, and spent years in court defending his books from charges of obscenity. (This was the the subject of a 2011 documentary about Rosset, Obscene). He also published the literary magazine The Evergreen Review, which still exists online. Here's a Paris Review interview with Rosset, and a 2008 profile of him by Louisa Thomas.

Why was Kanye West thanked in Patrick French’s 2008 biography of V. S. Naipaul? Paul Wachter investigates.

Deborah Eisenberg and Wallace Shawn will read from Gregor von Rezzori’s An Ermine in Czernopol at the Center for Fiction tonight. If you haven’t already, read Marjorie Perloff’s essay on Rezzori in the most recent issue of Bookforum, and here’s a 1988 BOMB interview with the man himself.

After leaving the Village Voice last month, longtime film critic and Bookforum contributor J. Hoberman has found a new gig, joining Blouin Artinfo as the site’s chief film critic.

Abraham Lincoln has been commemorated on coinage, through statues, and in literature. But until recently, never before have the last two been combined. In honor of President’s Day, a group of historians constructed a thirty-four-foot tour of books about Lincoln, which they set-up in the lobby of a center affiliated with Ford's Theatre. According to Ford’s director Paul Tetreault, over 15,000 books have been written about Lincoln—more than anybody in history except Jesus.

A correspondent for Science explains how his “dance your phD” party became a successful online video competition.


Michael Lewis

Cormac McCarthy is such a fan of Lawrence Krauss’s biography of scientist Richard Feynman that, without being asked, he offered to edit the paperback edition of Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s Life in Science. But the offer came with some copy-editing stipulations. “To start with,” Krauss says, “he made me promise he could excise all exclamation points and semicolons, both of which he said have no place in literature.”

Laura Miller and Maud Newton have teamed up on a new blog, The Chimerist, about “two iPad lovers at the intersection of art, stories, and technology.”

Variety reports that the Disney has purchased the rights to Moneyball author Michael Lewis’s Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life, and has hired him to write the script. The book, which came out in 2005, “tells the true story of Lewis's journey to rediscover his influential baseball mentor.” It seems that most of the Lewis’s backlist is destined for some kind of screen treatment: The author is adapting Liar’s Poker, his tragicomic take on ’80s Wall Street, for Warner Bros; Paramount is currently working on the movie version of The Big Short, his account of the 2008 financial meltdown; ABC has bought the rights to his 2010 volume Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood; and of course there’s Moneyball, staring Brad Pitt as the maverick General Manager Billy Beane.

At the Paris Review blog, Margaret Eby goes on a literary pilgrimage to Mississippi’s capital: “There are certain towns that are forever linked with the authors who lived there. Oxford, Mississippi, is Faulkner land, parts of New Orleans’s Toulouse Street belong irrevocably to Tennessee Williams, and Monroeville, Alabama, is Harper Lee’s territory as surely as if it had been marked on the state map. If Jackson, Mississippi, had a patron saint, it would be Eudora Welty.”

If this homage to ocean rowboater John Fairfax isn’t the best New York Times obituary ever, we challenge you to find a better one.

The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin has a world-class collection of literary artifacts, including a Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare folios, and James Joyce manuscripts, among the archives of many litterateurs. But in recent years, the Center has also been snapping up the private papers of Denis Johnson, Jayne Anne Phillips, J. M. Coetzee, and other contemporary authors (as well as the library of David Foster Wallace). “Something else happens when the scribblings of a living artist are placed alongside those of the greats,” the Atlantic’s Anne Trubeck claims in a recent profile. “The center is out to play a role in literary-canon formation.”


Heidi Julavits

Amanda Knox, the 24-year-old Seattle native who spent four years imprisoned in Italy for allegedly killing her British roommate while studying abroad (she was eventually acquitted), has signed a $4 million deal with HarperCollins to write a tell-all about her experience.

Heidi Julavits and Catherine Lacey are two of the first contributors to Two Serious Ladies, the new online magazine that alludes to the Jane Bowles classic and “promote[s] writing by women.

George Murray has officially closed Ninjabook, one of the earliest and most-read literary blogs.

“With the prayers over, the men hoisted Daif's coffin over their heads. They left through the mosque's gray, steel gates and ventured into the desolate, dirt streets awash in trash. Some were barefoot and others wore sandals.” Read the Washington Post Iraq War dispatch that won Anthony Shadid a Pulitzer Prize.

Before she left for Europe in 1921, Djuna Barnes spent seven years living in New York working as an illustrator for Vanity Fair and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Work from the Nightwood author’s early career is on display now at the Brooklyn Museum, where an exhibit featuring Barnes’s drawings and journalism will be up until August.

A 24-hour news cycle demands a new kind of publisher—the kind that can turn a book around fast. The Guardian profiles indie Zer0 Books, a three-year-old house that specializes in music criticism, philosophy, political and film theory, as well as rapid responses to current events.


Anthony Shadid

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Anthony Shadid died of an asthma attack on Wednesday while on assignment reporting in Syria. Before joining the Times, Shadid was the Middle East correspondent for the AP and Boston Globe. Described by Steve Coll as "the most intrepid, empathetic, fully engaged correspondent working in the Middle East for American audiences," Shadid was the author of the forthcoming memoir House of Stone.

The New York Public Library is back on track to continue with a $1 billion, Norman Foster-led renovation of its Fifth Avenue flagship branch, officials announced this week. To pay for the facelift, $300 million will come from the NYPL, $150 million will come from the city, and the rest from donations. The plan was proposed in 2008, quickly derailed due to money trouble, and is now going ahead almost as intended. To accommodate an increase in visitors, roughly seventy percent of the library will be open to the public (now only about thirty percent is open) and there’s talk of keeping the library open until 11 p.m. several nights of the week. “We want this to be Writing Central for New York,” library president Anthony Marx told the New York Times. But there’s dissension in the readerly ranks over the plan. In a November article for The Nation, Scott Sherman noted that aside from the proposal’s exorbitant budget in an era of shrinking libraries, staffers worried that “the makeover would not only weaken one of the world’s great libraries but mar the architectural integrity of the landmark building.”

Garage Magazine thinks readers will be so excited to buy their second issue (on sex and relationships) that they’ve included artist-designed condoms.

What can we learn from the books writers disown? In Martin Amis’s case, a lot. According to an essay on The Millions, while he was writing Money, Amis was simultaneously working on a secret side project that he’d now rather forget: a history of 1980s arcade games. Featuring an introduction by Steven Spielberg (“read this book and learn from young Martin’s horrific odyssey round the world’s arcades”) and a full-portrait image of the young Mr. Amis, Invasion of the Space Invaders: An Addict’s Guide to Battle Tactics, Big Scores and the Best Machines is, in some regards, a lost classic. It’s now nearly out of print and selling for upwards of $150 on Amazon.

After protracted investigation, a Munich court has ruled in favor of international publishers and sent cease and desist letters to two Ireland-based websites that were hosting over 400,000 downloadable, copyrighted books for free.

“Low or not, romance is by far the most popular and lucrative genre in American publishing, with over $1.35 billion in revenues estimated in 2010,” Maria Bustillos writes at The Awl. And she’s reading them so you don’t have to. “Romance novels are feminist documents. They're written almost exclusively by women, for women, and are concerned with women: their relations in family, love and marriage, their place in society and the world, and their dreams for the future.”

The Women’s Media Center confirms it: The media is “male and getting maler,” although ladies are taking more newsroom jobs.

The vexed history of naming publishing houses.


Cheryl Strayed, a.k.a. Sugar

Haute couture inspired by Love in the Time of Cholera? Sure, why not. Honduran designer Carlos Campos’s new collection takes its inspiration from Garcia Marquez’s fifty-year-long love story in rural Columbia, resulting in what the New York Post claims is "clothing as poetic and nuanced as the novel."

After two years of anonymity, The Rumpus's advice columnist, heretofore known as Sugar, outed herself at a party in San Francisco on Tuesday night. She was revealed to be Portland-based writer Cheryl Strayed, author of the forthcoming memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail.

Nearly six thousand mathematicians have signed a petition boycotting scholarly publisher Elsevier for what they describe as “a system in which commercial publishers make profits based on the free labor of mathematicians and subscription fees from their institutions’ libraries.” That is, writers, researchers, and peer reviewers often work on a volunteer basis, while Elsevier, which claims to have more than 600,000 contributors to its scientific journals, sells their work. “It’s time for people to get mad about this if they care at all about the survival of scholarly communication,” the head of the University of Pittsburgh’s librarian told the school paper. “The system as it exists today is untenable. It’s unsustainable.”

Most unpaid internships are technically illegal, so why hasn't there been an intern revolution yet?

The economy of literary magazines “appears to be a closed system,” Nick Ripatrazone writes at The Millions. "Writers publish in literary magazines that are often read by writers. Money is tight, payment is low, and subscriptions and institutional support appear to be the final hope for sustenance.”

The battle over the book Lifespan of a Fact continues as Slate’s Dan Kois wonders: Is “John D’Agata as much of a jerk as this book makes him out to be?”

Charles Dickens walked up to twenty miles a day.


One of Robert Montgomery's poetry billboard in London.

A poetry vandal is on the loose in London. The Independent reports that artist Robert Montgomery has been plastering his “very pleasing verse,” which “[screams] out ideas about beauty, consumerism and hypocrisy” on billboards across the city.

Readers, let us know if any of these literary pick-up lines worked for you.

Rozalia Jovanovic has landed a new gig as the Observer’s culture reporter; Craig Morgan Teicher is the new poetry editor at the Literary Review; and JC Gabel has launched his long-awaited magazine, The Chicagoan.

Thanks to a $16 million budget cut, California libraries are now basically broke.

What caused a promising writer to plagiarize huge swaths of his debut novel? Lizzie Widdicombe investigates the strange case of Quentin Rowan, whose Assassin of Secrets was recalled five days after its release, when Little, Brown discovered that most of the novel had been lifted from other books. “Rowan’s method,” Widdicombe writes, “constructing his work almost entirely from other people’s sentences and paragraphs—makes his book a singular literary artifact, a ‘literary mashup,’ as one commenter put it...” Rowan has been living in self-imposed exile in Seattle since being exposed as a fraud, but not everybody agrees that the scandal should end his career. He “could have used a dream team of literary theorists to get him out of trouble,” Avital Ronnell remarked.

Over the past few months, Salon has been publishing less and getting way more traffic. Courtesy of the Nieman Jouralism Lab: “What Charlie Sheen taught Salon about being original.”


Introducing Warscapes, a new literary magazine featuring poetry, fiction, and art about war.

New York reports that Amy Adams is angling to star in the movie adaptation of An Object of Beauty, Steve Martin’s 2010 novel about a young woman’s ascent through the New York art world.

In the hierarchy of literary street cred, bragging about listening to audiobooks ranks somewhere near the bottom. At n+1, Maggie Gram dissects the bias against audiobooks, and the implications of having “a whole set of unrelated and real (if only partially attended) experiences while simultaneously experiencing a book.”

Humbert Humbert “was... despite mes malheurs, an exceptionally handsome male,” while Emma Bovary’s “eyelids seemed chiseled expressly for her long amorous looks.” Meet The Composite, a blog dedicated to composite sketches of literary figures.

Slate’s new language podcast, Lexicon Valley, investigates the history of “the other f-word,” and wonders if there’s “a way to defang and repurpose” the word faggot. In other Slate news, tech columnist Farhad Manjoo has sold a book, Masters of the Universe, about “Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon, as they expand beyond their traditional services and move aggressively into each other’s territory, battling for dominance of our lives.”

Genre trouble: In an interview with Eminent Outlaws author Christopher Bram, Salon asks: “Is gay literature over?” Meanwhile, The San Diego Union-Tribune wonders: “Is chick lit dead?” (Not according to The Guardian, which just published a new profile of “quintessential chick-lit writer” Sophie Kinsella.)


Adam Wilson

Could the “Deep Throat” of the Watergate era remain unnamed today? Probably not. According to the New York Times, the Obama administration “has brought more prosecutions against current or former government officials for providing classified information to the media than every previous administration combined.” Adam Liptak reports on reporters’ ability to protect their sources in the midst of a “high-tech war on leaks.” A Justice Department spokesperson offered this All The President’s Men-era advice: “Don’t be stupid and use e-mail . . . You have to meet a reporter face to face, hand him an envelope and walk away quickly.”

The trailer for Adam Wilson’s angst-ridden comic novel, Flatscreen, features actor Paul Dano (L.I.E.), HarperPerennial editor Michael Signorelli (on the sofa, with the chardonnay), and adult-film star Stoya, who literally gnaws on her copy of the book.

At the LARB, Audrey Bilger writes that the Proposition 8 saga, an attempt to ban gay marriage in California, is “one of the greatest stories of our time,” and details how she “read the regular installments of transcribed statements as an evolving serialized drama, awaiting them as a Victorian reader would a new chapter of Dickens or Thackeray.”

Asked how it feels to receive a “scathing review,” Geoff Dyer responds: “It's a horrible feeling, but I've been fortunate that all the bad reviews I've had have been written by idiots.”

At the Art of Google Books, Krissy Wilson captures the human stain within Google’s vast digital library: hands caught turning pages, marginalia and annotations, rubber-covered fingers, accidental arty glitches, and, in a meta-twist, end-paper addresses mapped on Google Maps.

Tonight at Greenlight bookstore in Brooklyn, a serene evening with Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, and George Prochnik, author of In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in A World Full of Noise. And please (it goes without saying), turn off your cell phones.

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