David Wojnarowicz, photographed by Peter Hujar.
Guernica and Interview are running excerpts of Cynthia Carr's excellent new biography of downtown artist David Wojnarowicz (that's pronounced Voy-nar-o-vitch). And if you haven't read it already in print, check out Luc Sante's equally excellent review of the book from our summer issue.
A devotional choral work by sixteenth-century composer Thomas Tallis has raced to the top of the UK classical music charts after getting a mention in the sadomasochistic mommy porn trilogy, 50 Shades of Gray. Meanwhile, at the New York Times, Adam Sternbergh muses about whether it's creepy to see somebody reading 50 Shades on the subway.
It's especially difficult to judge a book by its cover when covers are all starting to look alike. The Atlantic wonders why handscripted titles over blocky, simple illustrations are all the rage in book cover design.
Oxford American founder and editor Marc Smirnoff and managing editor Carol Ann Fitzgerald have been abruptly ousted from their jobs at the magazine following an internal investigation. Publisher Warwick Sabin refused to comment on the matter, but local news sites in Arkansas—where the magazine is based—are reporting that Smirnoff and Fitzgerald were locked out of their offices last Wednesday.
The Days of Yore, a website that interviews writers about how they got their start, talks with former Believer editor and current Amazon Publishing editor Ed Park about his days as a Village Voice copyeditor. (See also Park's classic Bookforum review of the sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style.)
In the Baffler, Steve Almond takes on John Stewart, "the most trusted man in America": "Our lazy embrace of Stewart and Colbert is a testament to our own impoverished comic standards. We have come to accept coy mockery as genuine subversion and snarky mimesis as originality. It would be more accurate to describe our golden age of political comedy as the peak output of a lucrative corporate plantation whose chief export is a cheap and powerful opiate for progressive angst and rage."
A still from the BBC's Jane Austen videogame.
Graywolf releases the trailer (which is really more of an epic short video) for Josh Cohen's forthcoming book, Four New Messages. "Emission" stars Girls actor Alex Karpovsky, and was directed by Brian Spinks. The book will be out in early August.
A blogger for Boston-based literary journal Ploughshares has been reprimanded for critiquing other publications on the magazine’s website, and retaliated by leaking an email from the magazine managing editor to the Observer. “After some upsetting conversations regarding the nature and tone of the opinions I’ve expressed over my nine posts, the managing editor has asked me not to blog any longer,” poet Sean Bishop said of the incident.
Thanks to Google’s Ngram feature, which tracks the usage of words over time, linguists can now quantify the rise of American narcissism through literature. A new study focusing on the recurrence of certain words in books over the past fifty years has found that “language in American books has become increasingly focused on the self and uniqueness in the decades since 1960.”
A Goodreads user has compiled a list of authors known for throwing “temper tantrums” in response to negative reviews of their work. We’re wondering what’s behind the fact that most of the authors listed work in the fantasy or sci-fi genres.
A number of brick-and-mortar bookstores (including those owned by Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million) have decided not to carry books put out by the new Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint New Harvest on the grounds that the books are paper editions of e-books that have been acquired and published by Amazon. New Harvest launches on August 1.
The BBC’s entertainment division has teamed up with Legacy Games to release a Facebook game about Jane Austen. The objective of “Jane Austen’s Rogues and Romances” is to track down Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet—the protagonists of Pride and Prejudice—and “convince them to return to their newlywed life.”
Why does The New Yorker publish so many pieces about The New Yorker? Slate investigates.
Little, Brown has paid a jaw-dropping seven-figure advance to Australian writer Hannah Kent for her debut novel Burial Rights. Kent, 27, works at the literary magazine Kill Your Darlings. Her novel is about the last woman to be publicly beheaded in 1830.
Twenty years ago, William Gibson wrote a poem, put it on a floppy disk, and coded it to self-destruct after one reading. Now, a PhD student studying cryptology has created a replica of the coded poem and challenged hackers to crack it. To sweeten the deal, whoever does so first will get a complete set of William Gibson books.
To get around paying state sales tax, Amazon has employed a fairly simple strategy. They set up distribution centers in low-residency states like Kentucky or Nevada (where taxes are lower) and ship mainly to people in high-residency states like New York or California (where taxes are higher). This has gotten them into more than a few legal entanglements with states who want Amazon’s tax money, but according to Slate, the company is giving in, and embracing a new strategy that could be disastrous for local retailers. Amazon now plans to relocate distribution centers to states where most of their customers live, and to pour millions into free next-day, and in some cases, same-day delivery. Another odd detail about the plan is that consumers who live in New York, Seattle, or the UK will soon be able to pick up their Amazon items in automated “lockers” set up in drug stores.
In the spirit of longtime biker George Plimpton, the Paris Review is offering a fancy bicycle to anybody who can best describe a cartoon of a wolf chasing a woman in the style of Elizabeth Bishop, Ray Bradbury, Joan Didion, Ernest Hemingway, or P. G. Wodehouse.
The Atlantic considers why award-winning memoirist Mary Karr can get away with releasing a country music album (which she did last month) and what it takes for a successful creative type to make the leap to a different field.
A new study by Publishers Weekly names Kickstarter as the fourth largest publisher of graphic novels, behind Marvel, DC, and Image. The crowdfunding site raised more than $4 million for graphic novels in a three-month period between February and April. During that time, seven projects raised over $40,000, while one—Rich Burlew’s comic The Order of the Stick—raked in more than a million dollars.
A two-volume e-book claiming to contain images of one hundred previously undiscovered drawings by Caravaggio has been pulled from Amazon in the wake of suspicion over its scholarly legitimacy. While art historians Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz and Adriana Conconi Fedrigolli say that they found the lost sketches at a castle archive in Milan, archivists contended that they had no record of working with the pair. “A serious scholar doesn't produce an e-book,” said former archive director Maria Teresa Fiorio.
Serious scholars may not produce e-books, but apparently the Vatican does.
Neil Gaiman has signed a five-book deal with HarperCollins, and will publish three novels and two picture books over the next several years.
In case you were wondering, David Foster Wallace voted for Reagan—at least according to details leaked from D.T. Max’s forthcoming biography.
The New Yorker’s Page Turner blog recounts how Mavis Gallant and W. Somerset Maugham’s literary agent Jacques Chambrun—a man described as “grandiose and very French”—swindled thousands of dollars from his clients, and in some cases, managed to continue working for them even after they learned of the con.
MobyLives predicts that 50 Shades of Gray will single-handedly cause Random House’s profits to double this year. And they’re not being glib: So far, the books have brought in $145 million and account for “one in five adult-fiction physical books sold in the U.S.” While one Random House staffer told MobyLives that he wasn’t sure about the exact figures, “let’s just say we could take the rest of the year off and still make our numbers.”
The TLS differentiates the Jonathans—Franzen and Lethem—with the help of film critic Manny Farber’s distinction between “elephant” and “termite” art.
The Garden of Lost and Found author Dale Peck
After optioning E.L. James’s 50 Shades of Gray last March for a staggering $5 million, Universal and Focus Pictures have finally attached some names to the project: Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti, who have been hired as producers. The film, however, is still in need of a director. (There’s no word on whether the studios will pick up Bret Easton Ellis, who has been vying for the job via a very enthusiastic Twitter campaign.)
At the New Yorker’s Page Turner blog, Michael Cunningham completes his white-knuckled, blow-by-blow account of why the Pulitzer Prize committee failed to award a winner this year.
A trailer for Dale Peck’s new novel, The Garden of Lost and Found, spoofs a certain Bob Dylan video and pays homage to a series of now-defunct book publishers—including Carroll and Graf, which was initially supposed to put out the novel. The book is now being released by Mischief & Mayhem.
Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, David and Goliath, will be about “what happens when underdogs confront the powerful.” It’s scheduled to come out sometime next year.
This week, Margaret Atwood celebrated the launch of Fanado, a new app that “allows artists and fans to meet, talk, interact and sign stuff—paper books, e-books, cards, t-shirts—over the internet.” Atwood began fundraising for the project this summer, and actually auctioned off spots in her forthcoming novel to raise money for the app. All donors who gave $10,000 or more had the option of getting name-checked in the book.
The New Republic challenges readers to guess whether quotes on excess and the American upper-crust come from Mitt Romney’s recent Hamptons fundraising speeches or from The Great Gatsby.
Zadie Smith's next novel NW comes out in September.
The Guardian “discovers” literary Brooklyn in a breathless essay that name checks every Brooklyn-based writer from James Agee to Martin Amis, and then goes on to detail their weekly soccer games and favorite coffee shops. For readers without the time or patience to read the article, Moby Lives provides a snarky summary, which ends by naming every Brooklyn author named in this “invaluable work of reportage.”
Nathan Englander beat out Etgar Keret, Sarah Hall and Kevin Barry to win the 25,000 euro Frank O'Connor prize for his short story collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.
Anne Rice is jumping on the E.L. James bandwagon, or rather, her publishers are. This Thursday, Plume will re-release Sleeping Beauty, a trilogy of erotic thrillers Rice wrote in the 1980s under the pen name A. N. Roquelaure, with a 50 Shades of Grey slant. The new editions—which will published under Rice’s real name—come with new covers and are emblazoned with the phrase “if you liked 50 Shades of Grey, you’ll love the Sleeping Beauty trilogy.”
This is the first paragraph of Zadie Smith’s novel NW, which comes out in the U.S. this September: “The fat sun stalls by the phone masts. Anti-climb paint turns sulphurous on school gates and lampposts. In Willesden people go barefoot, the streets turn European, there is a mania for eating outside. She keeps to the shade. Redheaded. On the radio: I am the sole author of the dictionary that defines me. A good line—write it out on the back of a magazine. In a hammock, in the garden of a basement flat. Fenced in, on all sides.”
At the New Yorker’s Page Turner blog, Pulitzer Prize juror Michael Chabon offers a blow-by-blow of why the board failed to award a winner this year—and why the decision was as much a shock to the three jurors as anybody else.
Next year’s Book Expo America has been bumped back a week to lower hotel costs for attendees. The 2013 conference will take place from May 30 to June 1 at the Jacob Javits center in New York, and thanks to the schedule shift, is expected to cost ten to twenty percent less.
From gorgonize to yonderly: a visual thesaurus of unusual words.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Novelist Patrick Somerville recounts how a critic's misreading got his fourth book panned in the New York Times, and how an email correspondence between one of the novel's characters and a Times editor resulted in a correction. Meanwhile, Publisher's Weekly looks into how much a NYT Book Review write-up really matters in terms of sales.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez's brother has revealed that the Colombian writer's career is effectively over due to dementia, The Guardian reported this weekend. Garcia Marquez, now 85 and the author of five novels and dozens of essay and story collections, has been fighting a protracted battle against lymphatic cancer.
The Los Angeles Review of Books has published decades-old correspondence between William Gaddis and his editor Robert Gottlieb from the time when Gaddis was writing J R.
As if authoring a six-part Lyndon B. Johnson biography wasn't time-consuming enough, Robert Caro is also at work on another project. In addition to the next installment of the LBJ bio, Caro says that he's currently writing an account of how he started writing the biography and the book that came before it, The Power Broker, a biography of New York City urban planner Robert Moses.
A South Carolina woman has been granted a reduced sentence for drunk driving on the condition that she read the Old Testament's Book of Job and write a book report on it.
It was revealed last week that Hemingway wrote forty-seven endings to A Farewell to Arms, prompting Slate to satirically claim that Fitzgerald one-upped him by writing forty-eight endings to The Great Gatsby, including the "nude beach ending" and "The College Lit Mag Ending." Our favorite is No. 7, "The Freudian Ending": "When you really thought about it, Gatsby looked a lot like my mother, and so did Jordan."
Oxford University Press has been fined 1.9 million pounds after it was revealed that two of the publisher’s subsidiaries bribed Kenyan and Tanzanian government officials to secure contracts for school textbooks in those countries.
After a "heated auction," Ecco has won the rights to a memoir by U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. The book, tentativey scheduled to be released in 2014, "explores Trethewey’s experience growing up mixed race in the South of the '70s and '80s, her close relationship with her mother, who was later murdered by her stepfather, a Vietnam veteran, and the repercussions and resonances of these seminal events in her life and work."
Instead of italics, Faulkner originally wanted to print each of the various narrative threads in The Sound and the Fury in different colors—an option that wasn’t available when the book came out in 1929. This August, the English publisher Folio is honoring the late writer’s wishes, and putting out a new edition of the novel with each timeline set in shades of blue, green, yellow, and purple. The book won’t come cheap, though: according to HTMLGiant, it will cost $345.
“The Word for Snow,” Don DeLillo’s previously unpublished one-act play about global warming, will receive its international debut at the London literature festival next week.
For those wondering about the implications of the discovery of the Higgs boson—the so-called “God particle”—Slavoj Zizek has some thoughts.
Details (and a cover image) have emerged about J.K. Rowling’s next novel: Casual Vacancy, a “big novel about a small town.” The book weighs in at 512 pages, and is about tensions following the death of a local government official in the fictional town of Pagford, England. The book is scheduled to come out in the U.S. in late September.
The Deadline website reports that HBO is planning a TV movie on Fox chief Roger Ailes, which will draw from a forthcoming book about the GOP-friendly network by political writer Gabriel Sherman. The book, which is rumored to be titled The Loudest Voice in the Room: An Inside Account of the Rise of Fox News, is slated to come out with Random House next summer.
Turkish author Elif Shafak was accused of plagiarism last year after critics flagged several striking similarities between her novel Iskender and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. Now, Shafak is back under the plagiarism spotlight thanks to the cover of her new novel, Semspare. Many have noted the resemblance between the book’s cover—an image of umbrellas suspended in the street above a historic neighborhood—and an installation by artists Rafael Legidos Ibane and Mario Berna Box. Speaking to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, Shafak denied allegations.
Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle's design of the McAllen Pubilc Library (formerly a Wal-Mart) in Texas.
At the Paris Review blog, Clancy Martin recounts a trip to St. Petersburg, which featured shots of vodka, dancing bears, and his own mission to sleep with a Russian “whom he did not have to pay.”
Classic kids show Reading Rainbow was canceled in 2009 after twenty-six years on PBS, but thanks to a new initiative by longtime host LeVar Burton, it’s now reincarnated as an app. The “Reading Rainbow” app, geared toward kids between three and nine, “is just an updated, interactive version of the TV show, one that takes users right to the books instead of just telling them about them.” Burton explains in a video for Forbes.
Anthony Burgess’s dark, ultra-violent novel Clockwork Orange might not seem like it would make for a good musical, but the author would beg to differ: two years after releasing the book in 1962, Burgess, also a classical-music scholar, put out a “play with music” based on Clockwork, which debuted in Manchester, England, last week. To celebrate the novel’s fiftieth anniversary, graduates of the Royal Northern College of Music performed Burgess’s five original songs at his alma mater, the University of Manchester.
An abandoned Texas Wal-Mart has been repurposed into an award-winning library.
The Joy of Cooking, Our Bodies, Ourselves, The History of Standard Oil, and Alcoholics Anonymous make the Library of Congress’s list of “Books That Shaped America” and offer an elucidating look into the national psyche. The “Books that Shaped America” exhibition is part of the library’s larger “Celebration of the Book” festival.”
We have been thoroughly enjoying Pixar illustrator Josh Cooley’s children’s book treatment of classic scenes in R-rated movies.
A hotel in Newcastle, England, has swapped out the traditional bedside bible for something a little more tech-forward: a Kindle. For the next two weeks, guests at the Hotel Indigo have the option of downloading any “religious text” on their e-readers for free, so long as the good book in question costs less than five pounds.
The Nation staffers and contributors offer their summer reading recommendations.
The Book that Can't Wait, written in disappearing ink.
The Observer investigatives whether tax reasons (as opposed to a pure love of Brooklyn) was behind Martin Amis’s decision to purchase a $2.5 million brownstone in Cobble Hill.
Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style gets the hip-hop video treatment.
HarperCollins CEO Victoria Barnsley tells the media that she has a good feeling about News Corp’s decision to break their news outlets—which includes HarperCollins—into a company separate from its cable-entertainment channels. While Barnsley isn’t sure precisely what the move will mean for HarperCollins, at the company’s annual party last night, she told reporters that "we will be a bigger fish in a smaller pond . . . We will have more clout. I think we will have more investment, which will be good for all of us."
Argentine publisher Eterna Cadencia is responding to the threat of e-books in a novel (and some might say fatalistic) way—by printing a book, titled The Book That Can't Wait, with disappearing ink.
The latest issue of Words Without Borders focuses on new writing from Japan.
Today, The Millions released their “Great Second-Half 2012 Book Preview,” which includes writeups ofPadget Powell’s You & Me and Martin Amis’s Lionel Asbo. Speaking of lists, Flavorwire has unveiled its list of the Ten Best Books of the Year So Far.