Master blurber (and documentary subject) Gary Shteyngart.
There’s a copy of Rick Moody’s Purple America for sale on E-Bay, and it’s not just any old copy. “THIS BOOK WAS OWNED BY BERNIE MADOFF,” the seller boasts.
The Penguin Press has announced its plans to publish Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, The Bleeding Edge. Publication date TBA. Meanwhile, rumors are swirling that the reclusive author “may be working” with director Paul Thomas Anderson on the director’s forthcoming film adaptation of Pynchon’s 2009 novel, Inherent Vice.
At The Awl, Maud Newton looks to novelist Muriel Spark’s characters for advice for the coming year. Insomniacs, take note of this bit of wisdom from Spark’s Ms. Hawkins: "Insomnia is not bad in itself. You can lie awake at night and think; the quality of insomnia depends entirely on what you decide to think of. Can you decide to think?— Yes you can. You can put your mind to anything most of the time. Who lives without problems every day? Why waste the nights on them?"
Edward Campion has released a short documentary/mockumentary about Gary Shteyngart—his life, career, and weakness for writing book blurbs. (“These are all people I’d be happy to be in a hot tub with,” he says of the writers he has endorsed.) Edmund White, A.M. Homes, Karen Russell, and many others...
The marquee act in the first digital edition of Newsweek is Tom Wolfe, who in “Eunuchs of the Universe” offers a searing indictment of how the world of finance went wrong.
One of the books featured on the back-page ad of this week’s New Yorker is Rosemary Okun’s An Imperfect Life, which is self-published.
The Harry Ransom Center, on the University of Texas at Austin campus; one of the big buyers of writers' papers.
The New York Times profiles Uzoamaka (Max) Maduka, editor-in-chief of the newly launched American Reader, and living “proof that even in this iPhone age, some paper-based dreams have not died: bright young things, it seems, are still coming to New York, smoking too much and starting perfect-bound literary journals.”
John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, but according to newly declassified documents, he wasn’t anybody’s top choice: "There aren't any obvious candidates for the Nobel prize,” committee member Henry Olsson wrote of the decision, adding, “the prize committee is in an unenviable situation."
The New York Review of Books is gearing up for a splashy fiftieth birthday party.
How much does an author’s junk go for on the open market? That depends on how good your broker is, says the Wall Street Journal in article on the growth of the (still very tiny) profession of . Broker Ken Lopez spent two decades marketing for authors like Peter Matthiessen and William S. Burroughs before going into the trade, and now Lopez “puts prices for interesting paper piles at $30,000 to $300,000.” Most of the sales are to large research libraries or universities like Emory in Atlanta, which in 2006, spent “an undisclosed amount” on two hundred of Salman Rushdie’s "falling apart, crappy cardboard boxes.”
Barnes and Noble’s holiday sales were so lackluster—10.9 percent lower than sales over the same nine-week period the year before—that experts are wondering whether the company will be able stay afloat. Worse, sales of the Nook e-reader dropped 12.6 percent from last year. “They are not selling the devices, they are not selling books and traffic is down,” consultant Michael Shatzkin told the New York Times. “I’m looking for an optimistic sign and not seeing one. It is concerning.”
Here’s one possible explanation for why the release date for Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby has been borne back into late Spring: Jay-Z is composing the film’s score.
The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle
After being inspired by a trip across the U.S., Englishman Simon Goode is opening Britain’s very first centre for book arts.
This June, Christian Wiman will leave his post as editor of Poetry magazine to teach at Yale. Wiman has spent the past ten years at Poetry, and during that time, he tripled circulation, and oversaw a complete redesign of the magazine.
An especially ardent fan of the indie rock outfit The Mountain Goats has launched a campaign petitioning the government to name lead singer John Darnielle as the next U.S. Poet Laureate. "John Darnielle is an American institution," reads the petition. "An inspiration to poets, artists and sundry other human beings both in America and world-wide." The campaign needs 25,000 signatures by the end of the month to reach its goal; right now it has 3,345.
After abandoning the internet to finish her previous novel (The Flamethrowers, which is out in April) Rachel Kushner’s literary resolution for 2013 is to “submerge myself in all sorts of Internet memes and consumer culture and, basically, the current instantiation of our neoliberal world. I will plumb and plumb until either I've died from empty entertainment (is it like feeding the brain only Fritos?) or until I get to the bottom of various crucial American mysteries: Like, is the rapper Riff Raff a hilarious baller or an idiot poseur? Is it difficult to talk with an ice tray in your mouth? Is Riff Raff a perfect example of American self-invention?” This and other literary resolutions are up on the Los Angeles' Times Jacket Copy blog.
New Yorkers: if one of your New Year’s resolutions included reading some of the great books, you’re in luck—the Brooklyn Institute has unveiled its roster of Spring classes. The three courses on offer are Politics of the City I: Plato and Aristotle (about the foundations of western philosophy and political philosophy), Avant-garde in Theory and Practice (on avant-garde art during the first half of the 20th century) and an introduction to the Frankfurt School.
Eileen Myles’s Snowflake/Different Streets, Matvei Yankelevich’s Alpha Donut, Kevin Young’s Ardency: A Chronicle of the Armistead Rebels, and Joyelle McSweeney’s Percussion Grenade are among the poetry books singled out by John Yau and Bookforum editor Albert Mobilio as the best of 2012.
For the New York Times Magazine’s annual “Lives They Lived” edition, Wild author Cheryl Strayed remembers poet Adrienne Rich: “the ferocity of her vision was matched only by the tenderness at its root. She might write about the private intricacies of two women talking or arguing or making love, but her grander intentions thrummed beneath the consciousness of every word.”
New York Times Magazine book critic Sam Anderson shares his year-in-reading marginalia.
Not only is Grantland writer Rafe Bartholomew writing a book on the New York City bar McSorley’s, but, as the Observer discovers, he also comes from literary stock: Rafe’s father, McSorley’s bartender Geoff Bartholomew, has written two books of poetry about the legendary establishment. (Which was also canonized by New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell). The McSorley Poems, volumes I and II “sell for $10 a pop behind the bar, and around the corner from the bar at St. Mark’s Bookshop. “‘Otherwise, you have to order them online,” the elder Bartholomew told the paper. “I don’t think I’ll quit my day job.’”
A new Pew Research Center breaks down how Americans read today, based on where they live and whether they own e-readers. One interesting observation: people are more likely to read if they live in (or near) a city.