Last night, at a standing-room-only launch party for the revived Baffler, we heard its new editor in chief John Summers talk about how he inherited the magazine from founder Thomas Frank, and how he really, really will end the magazine’s history of fading in and out of print (with some help from its new distributor, MIT Press). Chris Lehmann, an old Baffler hand and current contributing editor (also an editor of Bookforum), talked about the evolution of the magazine from its Chicago days in the ’90s, noting how the Baffler’s trademark salvos against the status quo are still relevant, because complacent Washington thinkers often write with a mind to “move the debate one millimeter to the right or to the left, or more likely, towards the center, or else they’ll be considered ‘out of the debate.’” Anthropologist and OWS-architect David Graeber wondered why we have yet to invent flying cars and robot housecleaners, concluding that bureaucracy is a great hindrance to technological innovation—and that true technological breakthroughs are anti-capitalist (he ended his talk by calling for a Leftist mission to Mars). And Barbara Ehrenreich dispelled the notion that animals are Man’s Best Friend (though she’s an advocate of animal rights), detailing a horrific, and at times hilarious, catalog of unprovoked animal on human attacks—“12,000 years of human dominance has not gone unnoticed,” she quipped. To read the details, you’ll have to subscribe. In the meantime, read Thomas Franks’s “Too Smart to Fail: Notes on an Age of Folly.”
According to Reuters, the Justice Department is nearing a settlement with Apple and five of the six big publishers who have been accused of “colluding to push up electronic book prices.” The decision, according to one source, will benefit companies that want to buy e-books on the “wholesale model” and then sell them for whatever price they like. In other words, it will benefit Amazon.
Variety reports that Ashton Kutcher will play Steve Jobs in the biopic Jobs, which will portray his transformation “from wayward hippie to co-founder of Apple.”
The Awl has an entertaining guide to writing the “great American novel,” although its most persuasive advice concerns what not to do. For instance, “Move out of Brooklyn.” And: “Stop drinking and doing so much coke.”
Lynne Tillman, the author of Someday This Will Be Funny, has stepped down from her position as Fence’s fiction editor. According to the literary magazine’s editor, Rebecca Wolff, the fiction in future issues will be overseen by a series of guest editors, starting with Atmospheric Disturbances author Rivka Galchen.
Wayne Koestenbaum reviews Eduard Leve’s visionary self-portrait.