Kenji Fujimoto, Kim Jong-Il's personal chef
In 1936, James Agee, accompanied by Walker Evans, took a commission from Fortune to write a long essay about sharecroppers in the rural South. The piece came in late and long—it ended up being around 30,000 words—and was never published, though it became the basis for Agee’s 1941 classic Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. After being lost for decades, the manuscript was discovered, and is being published this week in its entirety by Melville House. For more on the book as a literary and journalistic artifact, read John Jeremiah Sullivan’s masterful essay on Cotton Tenants in the summer issue of Bookforum.
Military sniper and former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle was killed by another veteran while at a shooting range last February, but that hasn’t stopped the release of Kyle’s second book, American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms, which was released this week. For more on Kyle’s death, and his trajectory from military hero to bestselling author to gun-rights icon, read Nicholas Schmidle’s essay on him in the New Yorker.
Alexander McCall Smith, the bestselling author of “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” mysteries, has purchased a small chain of islands off the coast of his native Scotland. The author discovered the islands, known as the Cains of Coll, while on a sailing trip, and paid roughly $460,000 for them. "I intend to look after them and do nothing with them," Smith said. "I am going to protect them for what I hope will be forever."
Only six months after The Millions launched its digital publishing initiative, Boing Boing, the blog and “directory of wonderful things” has announced its own e-book imprint. The first Boing Boing title will be cultural critic Mark Dery’s All the Young Dudes: Why Glam Rock Matters.
This summer, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento will host a show about San Francisco Renaissance men Robert Duncan and Jess Collins (a/k/a Jess, no last name), highlighting Duncan’s poetry, Jess’s visual art, and the poets and artists that surrounded them in the Bay Area during the '50s.