The five year dispute over the estate of philanthropist and author Brooke Astor has been settled, according to the Wall Street Journal. Among the beneficiaries will be the New York Public Library (NYPL), who will recieve about $15 million.
The New York Times calls on readers to complete one of the suggested exercises in Draw It With Your Eyes Closed, Paper Monument’s new book on the art of the art assignment, which Jerry Saltz calls “a catheter to the creative self. An instant indispensable classic. An art-school in a book; and a lot cheaper.” n+1 takes on an assignemnt, hurling books and apples—among other things—out of their office window.
In the New York Times, Joel Stein has harsh words for adults who read YA lit: “The only thing more embarrassing than catching a guy on the plane looking at pornography on his computer is seeing a guy on the plane reading The Hunger Games.”
Nick Flynn talks with Guernica about the process of adapting his memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, for the big screen. The first thing they adapted is the title itself: The movie version is called Being Flynn.
At the TLS blog, David Horspool identifies one of the big book cover trends of 2012—legs—and tries to figure out what these legs mean. “Most of the legs belong to girls, and it has been suggested that if the feet are turned in, that means pathos, if not downright misery. One foot kicked up, and you can expect laughs, or at least some bitter-sweetness.”
In the name of public health, Argentine customs authorities are now required to intercept all foreign books and magazines coming into the country in order to check the lead levels in their ink.
We really enjoyed this video of translator, art critic, and literary biographer Benjamin Moser talking about "the great Clarice Lispector—the sphinx of Rio de Janeiro."
Poet and essayist Adrienne Rich has died at at her home in Santa Cruz of complications from long-term rheumatoid arthritis. Here is a 2002 profile of Rich, and a full bibliography at the Poetry Foundation.
David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King is about to be released as a paperback—with four previously unpublished scenes. PWxyz reveals what the new material is about, and what it adds to the posthumous book.
An argument over the relative merits of J. R. Tolkien versus C. S. Lewis recently erupted into a full-fledged brawl when two Ann Arbor, Michigan, men were unable to agree on which Oxford don was the better writer.
Zadie Smith’s novel On Beauty has been optioned for a movie, which will be directed by “actress turned writer slash director Kasi Lemmons.” Smith’s next novel, NW, about five residents of a Northwest London housing estate, will hit American bookstores in September.
The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation is releasing a batch of letters between Ernest Hemingway and confidant Gianfranco Ivancich. The letters were written between 1953 and 1960 during Hemingway’s travels across Cuba, Idaho, Kilimanjaro, Nairobi, Paris, and Madrid; twelve of them have never before been published. In one letter, written in Cuba in 1953, Hemingway describes having to shoot his beloved cat after he had been hit by a car, when all of a sudden, a group of tourists drove up: “I still had the rifle and I explained to them they had come at a bad time and to please understand and go away. But the rich Cadillac psycho said, ‘We have come at a most interesting time. Just in time to see the great Hemingway cry because he has to kill a cat.’” Hemingway then writes, “I humiliated him as he should be humiliated, omit details.”
With its greatest hits laid out year-by-year, The New Yorker’s new Facebook timeline is an entertaining way to browse the magazine’s history. Some favorites from the archives: George Trow’s 1978 series on record-industry mogul Ahmet Ertegun; Mark Danner’s 1993 investigation into a massacre in a Salvadoran town; and, going back to 1948, Berton Roueché’s first "Annals of Medicine" column and J.D. Salinger’s story “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.”
The Observer's Rozalia Jovanovic writes up Choire Sicha's inaugural column for Bookforum—an investigation into the life and tweets of "cultural truffle hound" and MoMA curator Klaus Biesenbach. "While Mr. Biesenbach’s celebrity obsession is not exactly news," Jovanovic writes, "Mr. Sicha does remind us that it does still make us a tad uncomfortable to see the curator at one of the world’s top institutions getting into the pit with the rest of us."
Paris Review editor Sadie Stein has become the editor of the magazine's Daily blog. Stein is replacing senior editor Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn, who’s off to edit the books section at Harper’s. (Speaking of the Paris Review, Emma Straub is on tour with the Magnetic Fields and blogging about it for Daily.)
Has J. K. Rowling revolutionized digital bookselling? Starting this week, Harry Potter e-books will sold exclusively at Rowling’s Pottermore website—not on iTunes, or in the Amazon store. The digital books are compatible with any tablet or e-reader.
At Poetry Magazine, Ben Lerner, a poet whose novel Leaving the Atocha Station was one of our favorites of 2011, interviews Peter Gizzi about his fifth book, Threshhold Songs.
Author Maura Kelly makes a plea in The Atlantic for a return to “slow books”—books that “took some time to write and will take some time to read, but will also stay with us longer than anything else.” When she asked people on Twitter to name their favorite slow reads, Infinite Jest and Anna Karenina came out on top.
New Yorkers looking for a Thursday night activity are advised to check out the musical stylings of Call Me Ishmael, a Moby Dick-inspired band that will play this week at Pianos bar in the Lower East Side. Founder Patrick Shea has written 136 songs—one for each chapter of Moby Dick—and he recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to publish a book featuring the lyrics alongside the original text.
After eight years at the helm of Vice, former editor Jesse Pearson left the magazine in 2010 with relatively little fanfare. But come September, Pearson is preparing to return to the magazine world with Exploded View Quarterly, a new publication aiming to fall somewhere in the “center of the lit-mag spectrum—neither a twee indie journal tailored to precious 20-somethings nor a highbrow M.F.A.-department circular.” The quarterly is co-founded by hardcore musician and writer Sam McPheeters, who just published his first novel, The Loom of Ruin.
Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk is doing fine after a freak car accident in Washington State last weekend. According to UPI, Palahniuk was parked in a driveway when the driver of a semi-trailer took a turn too quickly, and went rolling off the highway into Palahniuk’s car. Both the trailer and Palahniuk’s car were totalled, but neither Palahniuk nor the driver were injured.
Commentary assesses the state of the “literary canon” by determining which authors are being written about the most. According to the MLA International Bibliography, since 1947, Henry James and William Faulkner have inspired the most academic writing, with Eliot, Melville, and Nabokov as runners up. Of the top twenty-five most written-about writers, only five are women, and only one—Toni Morrison—is still alive.
Facebook makes a questionable trademark claim on the word book.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters has awarded English novelist David Mitchell the $20,000 E.M. Forster prize. The money is designed to help “a young writer from the United Kingdom or Ireland for a stay in the United States.”
Librarians at the New York Public Library films a trailer for an imaginary thriller.
Renowned Italian novelist Antonio Tabucchi died last night of cancer at his home in Lisbon at the age of 68. Tabucchi, who has been in the running several times as a possible Nobel Prize contender, is the author of more than two dozen books, seven of which have been translated into English. His most famous novel is 1994’s Pereira Declares, about the struggle against fascism in Portugal. Read an excerpt of Tabucchi's 1997 novel The Missing Head here.
Jeanettte Winterson explains what she calls the “asymmetrical” literary judgment between men and women: “If Henry Miller writes Tropic of Cancer and calls the hero ‘Henry Miller,’ he’s still allowed to say these are novels, and none of the guys question it. Because a man is allowed to be bigger. A woman isn’t. She can only possibly talk about herself.”
An experimental theater collective in Queens is staging a tribute to David Foster Wallace entited “A (radically condensed and expanded) SUPPOSEDLY FUN THING I’LL NEVER DO AGAIN.”
New Yorkers: If you’re free tonight, go hear Susanne Kippenberger discuss her brother, German artist Martin Kippenberger, and her acclaimed biography about him, Kippenberger: The Artist and His Families (2012), at the Goethe Institut.
Brent Easton Ellis is planning his next micro-budget movie about "youth, glamour, sex and Los Angeles, circa 2012,” largely through Facebook. With the help of screenwriter Paul Shraeder (who worked on Taxi Driver and The Comfort of Strangers), producers are casting the two male and two female leads exclusively through online searches, which has led to “unexpected interpretations of the characters,” Shraeder wrote in a Facebook post. The Canyons is set to start shooting in early July in Los Angeles.
And in other Brent Easton Ellis news, the American Psycho author calls Jeff Ragsdale’s One Lonely Guy “the most powerful reading experience I've had in the last year,” describing it as “a new art form.”
When Steve Almond was in his twenties and depressed, he didn’t go to therapy—instead, he got an MFA in writing. Decades later, he suggests that many writers are doing the same, and “that literary endeavor has supplanted therapy as our dominant mode of personal investigation.”
The New York Times Style section profiles the nightlife and times of Salman Rushdie.
The Occupy Wall Street Library, Zuccotti Park, 2011
Brian McGreevy’s eccentric mystery novel Hemlock Grove—which will be published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux later this month—is going to be adapted into a Netflix original series.
In Lapham’s Quarterly, Simon Winchester details the mysterious origins and long gestation of the Dictionary of American Regional English, which was started in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1965 and only recently was fully completed.
New York City police confiscated a brand-new Occupy Wall Street Library in Union Square on Wednesday. Activists had rebuilt the library by 7pm, and police took it down by 10pm, prompting a new protest chant: “People got sold out, Books got thrown out!”
Mike Daisey has everybody asking: If you’re a writer, can you make stuff up? Slate addresses the question with a rather funny chart that ranges from fantasy writer (yes) to journalist (no).
New York Times Op-Ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof responds to the Village Voice’s response to his Sunday column about Backpage, a Voice-owned site on which, Kristoff says, pimps have run ads for underage prostitutes.
The party never got started at St. Martin’s Press after San Diego police seized two packages containing over eleven pounds of marijuana addressed to “Karen Wright” at the New York publishing house. Turns out, neither Wright nor ABTBooks—the company named on the return address—actually exist. The Smoking Gun website estimates that the pot was valued at upwards of $70,000. The incident has spawned the Twitter hashtag #potlit and inspired at least one pot-themed literary list.
Meehan Crist and Tim Requarth highlight some problems with Jonah Lehrer’s theory of creativity, and explain why his “mash-up” technique of arguing through anecdotes and science reporting falls flat in his new book, Imagine. As they note: “If dubious interpretations of scientific data appeared only once in Imagine, it might be a worrisome fluke; but they appear multiple times, which is cause for real concern.”
After a raucous book party and drunken agreement, the New York Observer goes on a New Jersey pilgrimage with Gideon Lewis-Kraus. On a related note, here’s a survey of the history of travel literature, “from the book of Exodus to Joan Didion.”
Speaking of Joan Didion, the Blue Nights author canceled a UCLA event yesterday “due to injury,” but fans are assured that there’s no cause for concern. She was at lunch and "banged her leg," Knopf publicity director Paul Bogaards told the Los Angeles Times.
Amazon Publishing has released Jeff, One Lonely Guy, in which Jeff Ragsdale reprints conversations he had with strangers after hanging flyers in New York City urging people to call him. In an interview with author Nick Flynn, Ragsdale notes: “I became a relationship counselor, a sex therapist, a probation officer, a confession booth. I found that people just need someone outside their inner circle to talk to, who’ll just listen and won’t judge.”
The Rumpus is soliciting submissions for their latest “Rumpus Readers Report.” The theme: “Friends with Benefits.”
Amsterdam Stories—published by New York Review Books, translated by Damion Searls, and featuring an introduction by Joseph O’Neill—should bring the Dutch writer known as Nescio a broad American audience.
More than 15 years have passed since Mark Leyner appeared on Charlie Rose with fellow novelists David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen. This weekend, the New York Times Magazine profiles Leyner on the occasion of his new novel, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, which is being released into a culture that has become so “grotesquely Leyneresque ... that you might wonder (he certainly has) if there is a place left in it for Mark Leyner.”
An in-house scoop: Bookforum editor Chris Lehmann has informed us that the ink has dried on his book deal with Metropolitan Books. The working title of Lehmann’s latest—a follow-up to his 2010 Rich People Things—is The Money Cult and will be edited by Sara Bershtel. Lehmann says the book is “an effort to account for the missing reform tradition in American Protestantism, while also accounting for the more irrational, quasi-spiritual features of our civic worship of the market economy.” Lehmann adds: "I'm delighted to be taking this project on, since it combines two long-standing obsessions. And I'm really excited to be working with Sara, an impassioned and exacting editor who's helping to sustain the best traditions in American publishing. Just knowing that she's working on this project makes me feel like a better writer than I probably am."
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq may be winding down, but military memoirs written by former soldiers—such as Chris Kyle’s bestseller American Sniper—are gaining momentum. “I’ve been doing these kinds of books for 15 years, but it’s not until recently that they have really taken off,” said Marc Resnick, an executive editor at St. Martin’s Press, told the New York Times. The paper notes that the last time this genre was so big was in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.
Why isn’t Mike Daisey like John D’Agata? Simple, says Slate: Because Daisey wasn’t up front with his audience—or his editors. At the New Inquiry, Aaron Bady weighs in on fact/fiction blends: “If we only emphasize the lies in these accounts, we thereby overlook the extent to which they were saying true things.” And what about David Sedaris’s 1999 book Naked, about which he once said: “I mean, I exaggerate. But all the situations were true.”
The Paris Review talks with New York Review of Books editor and founder Bob Silvers about his stint at the Paris Review, his decision to found his own magazine, and how he got the country’s top thinkers and reviewers to write for him for free: “The essays were simply model book reviews—they made the book review form not just a report on the book and a judgment of the book, but an essay in itself. And that, I think, startled everyone—that a book review could be exciting in that way, could be provocative in that way.”
After dismissing Kate Zambreno’s Green Girl in an early round of The Tournament of Books, Edith Zimmerman and Zambreno sit down to talk things over, and to take a second look at the novel.
Move over, vampires. In light of the success of Fifty Shades of Gray, the sleeper “mommy porn” hit that has become an international bestseller, publishers say that we can expect to see more “female-targeted erotica packaged for the mainstream reader.” As one insider told Forbes, “Every major publisher will be taking the genre seriously now.”
Starting on April 10th, the numer of New York Times's articles available for non-subscribers to read online goes from twenty to ten a month.
Harper’s has hired Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn as their new senior reviews editor. Foley-Mendelssohn, who currently works at the Paris Review, comes to Harper’s via The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books.
Have you ever wondered how top-shelf chefs manage to run their restaurants and find time to publish cookbooks and memoirs? Simple: They use “food ghosts” and “writer-cooks.”
At the NYRB, Bookforum contributor Eric Banks weighs in on the New Museum triennial: “From a title like ‘The Ungovernables,’ one might further expect a willfully chaotic installation. In fact, the work on view finds an admirable coherence as an exhibition, with various other threads connecting disparate art in a range of media. The Triennial is a tidy, clean, professional-looking affair, much less rowdy than the average international biennial, and despite an admirable number of far-flung return addresses, much of it seems almost domesticated by the rigid floor plan of the New Museum itself.”
Reddit has added a new section for literary videos, which includes poetry videos, short story videos, live readings, spoken work performance videos, animated storytelling videos, documentaries about writers, book trailers, author interviews, and anything else involving the written word.
The brief reopening of the OWS Library in Zucotti Park.