Why does Wall Street appear so rarely in fiction? John Lanchester claims it’s because explaining the intricacies of high finance would bog down good storytelling. Explanation, he says, is “fine in small doses, as a dollop of rationale before the main course of drama, but anything longer and the reader wakes hours later to the familiar clanking noise of the milkman delivering bottles to the front door.”
Salman Rushdie will chair this year’s PEN World Voices Festival, and participants will include Martin Amis, Colson Whitehead, and Marjane Satrapi. We were thrilled to see that Elevator Repair Service, the Downtown theater group who brought us the brilliant staging of The Great Gatsby, will be performing.
The eighteen-room, Greek revival home in Brooklyn where Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s just sold for $12 million—$6 million below the initial asking price.
Marilyn Monroe may be dead, but that didn’t stop The Believer’s Sheila Heti from interviewing her.
At the AWP convention in Chicago last weekend, we saw great events (Eileen Myles and Monica Youn) and lots of new books (finished copies of Edouard Leve’s Autoportrait), but nothing surprised us quite as much as seeing—and touching—Edward Gorey’s fur coat, which the writer notoriously wore to the New York Ballet (with Converse). The writer A. N. Devers, who now owns the coat, would even let you try it on.
The American Scholar explains how F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Crack-Up anticipated the rise of autobiographical essay writing in America.
In case you missed it, Slate’s monthly book review launched last weekend, and it’s pretty awesome.
A review of Andrew Breitbart's Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!.
Before his death last December, Christopher Hitchens was known for torching his intellectual adversaries. Vanity Fair interpreted this talent rather literally when they handed out Christopher Hitchens lighters at their Oscar party last weekend. Each quote came engraved with a Hitch quote, including our favorite: “Everyone has a book inside them, which is exactly where I think it should, in most cases, remain.”
Slate launches the inaugural issue of the Slate Book Review today, a monthly review that will publish on the first Saturday of every month.
To protest a bill passed last year in the Tucson, Arizona, public school system that bans school curriculum “designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” a group calling themselves Librotraficante have organized a book caravan to smuggle “contraband” books back into affected schools.
Bookstores are suffering, and so are libraries. But curiously, bookstores in libraries are on the rise.
McSweeney’s imagines the titles of rejected AWP panels, including “How to Explain to Your Parents That Your Novel is Not Based On Them”; “I Love Your Use of Narrative Exposition: Dating Writers 101,” and “So You’re the Person Who Rejected My Story: Proper Editor Etiquette.”
The musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book Matilda has been a runaway success in London, and this week, The Royal Shakespeare Company announced plans to bring the production to Broadway.
In response to the latest VIDA report, Emily Gould posits, at The Awl, an interesting theory about the paucity of women writing or getting reviewed in any of the “top” literary magazines. “Could it be,” she wonders, “that part of the imbalance is caused by the fact that women are choosing not to write for these magazines?”
We just listened to two recent and excellent public-radio interviews, both available online: At L.A.’s Bookworm, host Michael Silverblatt talked with Wayne Koestenbaum about his book Humiliation (which Laura Kipnis wrote about here). And NPR’s Tom Gjelten interviews Timothy Snyder about Thinking the Twentieth Century, his collaboration with Tony Judt, the world-class public intellectual who died of ALS last year. Near the end, Snyder says, Judt lost all the use of his limbs, but “he retained a potent individuality.”
Yesterday, the AWP (which stands for Association of Writers & Writing Programs, so it should be AWWP, but never mind) kicked off its sold-out annual conference at the Chicago Hilton. In addition to bringing in luminaries such as Forrest Gander, Jennifer Egan, Margaret Atwood, and others, the conference promises to drastically increase alcohol sales in the area. Last night’s best off-site event was at the Empty Bottle, where James Greer—who used to write rock journalism, then played bass for Guided by Voices, and now is a novelist and screenwriter—played with his band Detective.
Comedy Central has announced its plans to start publishing books. And no, that is not a joke. The network plans to inaugurate its imprint, Running Press, later this year with a novelty holiday book by Denis Leary. (Though we wonder if the press’s name will stick, as another Running Press already exists.)
The London Review of Books has published a lost short story by Charlotte Bronte that turned up while a contributor was researching the writer at a museum in Charleroi. The story, “L'Ingratitude,” was written in 1842 in French and handed in as a homework assignment for Bronte’s tutor.