A new report by Gartner Research predicts that 10 to 15 percent of all ratings and reviews generated through social media will be fake by 2014—they’ll be written either by the author or somebody with a vested interest in the success of the product. So perhaps this is a good time to pay attention to Galleycat’s roundup of the top customer reviewers on Amazon.
Just in time for the publication of Salman Rushdie’s memoir, Joseph Anton, a radical Iranian organization has raised the bounty on Rushdie’s head from $500,000 to $3.3 million. When reached for comment, Rushdie seemed unperturbed: "I'm not inclined to magnify this ugly bit of headline-grabbing by paying it much attention," he told the Los Angeles Times through his publisher.
At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Maria Bustillos offers a “corrective” to Hannah Rosin’s The End of Men.
In response to the Mother Jones video in which Mitt Romney said 47 percent of Americans beleive they are “victims” who are “dependent upon government” and won’t ever vote for him, Roxanne Gay weighs in on the politics of entitlement.
“A therapist once told me I should stop dating writers and just be one. That was good advice”: Molly Ringwald talks to New York magazine about her new collection of short stories, which Choire Sicha reviewed in our new issue.
A previously unpublished essay by Agatha Christie that praises the virtues of British crime fiction has been dug out of the archives and published for the first time as the preface to a reissue of the 1933 novel Ask a Policeman.
Here's an interview with Lauren Cerand, identified by the Rumpus, Flavorwire, and The Millions as a “need-to-know freelance literary publicist.”
In a tell-all that will be published this week, Joyce Johnson, one of Jack Kerouac’s exes, reminisces about what it was like to date the famously drunk, famously prolific author of On the Road. Among the juicier details to emerge from the book is that, contrary to Kerouac’s claim that he wrote On the Road in a “blast of energy during three weeks in 1951,” the writer actually spent years working on and revising the novel.
Salon excerpts David Byrne’s How Music Works, which Simon Reynolds reviewed in our Fall issue. As Reynolds writes, “Byrne’s book tells a version of the musical life that is deliberately less dramatic and heroic that first person accounts by musicians usually are. . . . Overall, Byrne’s clear and calm approach serves him well.”
Here is a slideshow of famous writers in their undies.
“You cannot tell from a man’s demeanor how much chutzpah he may have,” Kathryn Schulz writes of novelist Michael Chabon in New York magazine, positing that Chabon may be the ideal writer for the age of Obama.
Last year, editor and novelist Keith Gessen was arrested at an Occupy Wall Street protest and spent some time in jail. Today, as protests marking OWS's one-year anniversary roil Wall Street (so far, more than 100 people have been arrested), a concerned citizen asks Gessen how much the arrest cost him. Turns out he paid a $120 fine, got a parking ticket, and his bike was stolen. All told, that cost him about $250—kind of a lot if you're living on a writer's wages.
A San Francisco literary agent says she plans to be more careful about her use of social media—and especially about how much she announces her location—after she was violently attacked last week by an author whose manuscript she rejected.
n+1 editor Marco Roth talks to the Observer about his forthcoming memoir, and about how an investigation into his father’s death led him back through the canon of classic novels that his father made him read as a teenager.
For the next 135 days, a star-studded cast that includes Tilda Swinton, Will Self, and David Cameron will be reading chapters of Moby Dick and posting the recordings online as part of the Moby Dick Big Read. Artists Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley are also contributing to the project.
Speaking of audiobooks, readers planning very, very long road trips might consider taking the new 120-disc set of Remembrance of Things Past along with them. The 153-hour reading of Proust’s classic replaces the only previously existing version: an abridged, 36-disc set.
A Columbia graduate student has unearthed a lost novel by Harlem Renaissance author Claude McKay titled Amiable With Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affair Between the Communists and the Poor Black Sheep of Harlem. Jean-Christophe Cloutier discovered the novel while working in a rare book archive, and its authenticity was verified by his dissertation advisor (and Bookforum contributor) Brent Hayes Edwards. The find is being described as a “major discovery” and “scholarly gold” by Harlem Renaissance authorities, and Edwards told the New York Times that it will likely be recognized “as the key political novel of the black intellectual life in New York in the late 1930s.”
“Recently, there’s been pressure to be more aggressive on fact-checking and truth-squading,” says New York Times’s political editor Richard Stevenson. “It’s one of the most positive trends in journalism that I can remember.” Relatedly, if you haven’t read Michael Lewis’s 13,000-word profile of President Obama in the latest Vanity Fair, we recommend it.
The Nervous Breakdown conducts a six question sex interview with Junot Diaz.
We enjoyed this profile of poet and critic Stephen Burt (Close Calls with Nonsense), who is not only "heir to the intellectual mantle long held by giants like Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler" but an "unabashed cross-dresser."
Monica Lewinski is "shopping a top-secret book project," the New York Press reports.
The Observer wonders who’s sick of Naomi Wolf's Vagina and responds: everybody. Wolf’s latest opus has been taken down by the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, Slate, and the Observer (and by Natasha Vargas-Cooper in our fall issue). Meanwhile, readers attempting to buy the e-book in the Apple iTunes store are encountering a different problem. Apple has deemed the title too explicit, and changed it to Va.
In honor of Roald Dahl’s birthday today, Puffin is making his classics James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Danny, Champion of the World, George’s Marvelous Medicine, Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Twits available as e-books.
O/R Books has acquired four previously unpublished interviews with Gore Vidal conducted by Jon Wiener. The interviews will be published in November under the title I Told You So: Gore Vidal Talks Politics.
Also in O/R Books news, the publisher is offering to send readers free copies of their satire Fifty Shades of Louisa May to anybody who sends in a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. They assure readers that their version is not only better than the original, but also illustrated with “X-rated woodcuts.”
NPR is teaming up with the Paris Review to launch their three-minute fiction contest this weekend on the radio show All Things Considered. The Paris Review staff will choose the finalists, and the winner will be published in the magazine. On September 18, Alexander Chee, Paula Bomer, Christopher Beha, Elissa Schappell, and others will read their three-minute stories at Brooklyn's Public Assembly.
For your amusement: the David Foster Wallace endnote generator.
Anne Carson has written the sequel to her novel-in-verse Autobiography of Red. The new book, Red Doc >, will be published in March.
To mark the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street movement, a coalition of OWS working groups called Strike Debt have released The Debt Resistors' Operations Manual, a free (and downloadable) book offering “specific tactics for understanding and fighting against the debt system.” Five thousand copies of the book will be distributed around New York City this weekend, and at an Occupy event in Washington Square Park.
Last week, Masha Gessen—author of The Man Without a Face (about Vladimir Putin), a book on mathematician Grigori Perelman, and other works—was the editor of one of Russia’s most respected popular science magazines. This week, she’s out of a job, thanks in part to her refusal to send a reporter to cover president Vladimir Putin’s latest PR stunt: hang-gliding while reintroducing cranes into the wild. Gessen had been anticipating the firing for months, and calls it “faster and less painful” than she had imagined. Gessen recently protested Putin’s tactics in an op-ed for the New York Daily News, in which she spoke out against the arrest of three members of the Russian punk collective Pussy Riot.
No Easy Day, a Navy SEAL’s account of the Osama Bin Laden assassination, sold 253,000 copies in its first week, becoming the first book to knock Fifty Shades of Gray out of the top slot of the Nielsen bestseller since late April. The book, authored by a SEAL writing under the pen name “Mark Owen,” has been Amazon’s number-one seller for the past three weeks. Contrary to earlier rumors, however, Steven Spielberg won’t be adapting the book into a movie.
The Awl excerpts noir master James M. Cain’s lost novel The Cocktail Waitress: “The Wigwam looked normal enough on the outside, just a double door with a sign over it, which Tom pushed open as though he’d been there before. But inside, it seemed different from any club I’d been in, though of course I hadn’t been in too many.”
Is the Atlantic making us stupid? At the LARB, Pamela Erens wonders whether the magazine’s impressive roster of “sex-marriage-mommy pieces” are actually, as the editors claim, “enlightening rather than just entertaining its public.” Says Erens: “The record is mixed.”
The Booker list is whittled down even further with the announcement of the Booker shortlist. Authors who made the cut are Will Self for Umbrella, Jeet Thayil for Narcopolis, Deborah Levy for Swimming Home, Alison Moore for The Lighthouse, Tan Twan Eng for The Garden of Evening Mists, and Hilary Mantel for Bring Up the Bodies.
Jumping on the Fifty Shades bandwagon, Melville Houses sexes up its classic novellas.
Kudos to the Feminist Press for being the first to put out an e-book about the arrest and trial of three members of the Russian punk collective Pussy Riot. Pussy Riot! A Punk Prayer for Freedom will be out on Sept. 21, and will feature essays by Yoko Ono, Bookforum contributor Johanna Fateman, Justin Vivian Bond and Eileen Myles among others. No word on whether it will include statements from the members themselves, but in the meantime, they’re available to read online at n+1.
There’s been a lot of online chatter lately about whether the book review as a form is a dying. But never mind all that, says Darryl Campbell at the Millions: before we can talk about where book review culture is going, let’s access the anatomy of a good review.
Junot Diaz talks to the Atlantic about the perils of writing a book about sexism from the perspective of a sexist character. "I think the average guy thinks they're pro-woman, just because they think they're a nice guy and someone has told them that they're awesome," Diaz noted. "But the truth is far from it. Unless you are actively, consciously working against the gravitational pull of the culture, you will predictably, thematically, create these sort of fucked-up representations."
We can’t get enough of Bob Staake’s cover illustrations for bad children’s books.