As part of a project for the Stockholm museum Magasin 3, for the next twenty weeks, anybody can sign up to receive free weekly emails from Miranda July on topics ranging from love to personal finance. Though the emails are sent by July, each contains forwarded messages written by participants (including Catherine Opie, Lena Dunham, and Kareem Abdul-Jabar) to friends and acquaintances, giving the project an intimate and strangely voyeuristic feel. The first installment was sent out on July 1, and it included correspondence between Sheila Heti and Helen Dewitt, and between Etgar Keret and a man known only as “Pierre.” Explaining the project, July remarked, “I’m always trying to get my friends to forward me emails they’ve sent to other people....How they comport themselves in email is so intimate, almost obscene ....WE THINK ALONE has given me the excuse to read my friends’ emails and the emails of some people I wish I was friends with and for better or worse it’s changed the way I see all of them.”
Last year, a young writer got international attention after sharing an anecdote about how Philip Roth advised him to give up writing in the Paris Review; this week, memoirist Periel Aschenbrand has also tried to cash in on Roth by publishing an account in Salon of how she almost—but didn’t—sleep with the New Jersey novelist. We’re with Flavorwire’s Jason Diamond in his response to the Rothomania: a blog post titled “Nobody Cares About Your Philip Roth Memories.”
Most people have been busy focusing on the Department of Justice's e-book price-fixing suit against Apple (which Laura Miller has very lucidly analyzed over at Salon), but this week many were reminded of a lawsuit against Google Books, in which the Author's Guild has attempted to stop Google's massive library-scanning project. On Monday, Google won a significant victory, when federal appeals court rejected the decision to give the Authors Guild's suit class-action status.
The Rock Bottom Remainders—a '60s cover band made up of Stephen King, Amy Tan, Dave Barry, and other name-brand writers—broke up in 2012, but they’re immortalizing their work together with an interactive e-book.
Not long after laying off it’s entire photo department, the Chicago Sun-Times has axed its books section. Books editor Teresa Budasi says that the paper will continue to cover books, but will focus more on local authors.
And in other depressing book news, one of Los Angeles’s oldest bookstores, the Williams’ Book Store, is closing after 104 years in business, because the owners can no longer afford to keep it open.
A protestor walking towards Tahrir Square in Cairo
Random-Penguin, Penguin-House—whatever you want to call it, the merger of two of the world’s biggest publishers is officially complete. The company, headquartered in New York, now employs over 10,000 people and will publish roughly 15,000 books a year across 250 different imprints.
Is it still worth a writer’s time to publish in print journals when it’s so easy to post your work online? At HTMLGiant, novelst Shane Jones (Light Boxes) poses the question to “a literary agent at a reputable firm” (who preferred to remain anonymous) and concludes that, contrary to his initial suspicion, “publications do matter, according to this agent, who I respect and has published authors I respect.”
Actors and authors may be struggling to make a living wage, but a recent New York Times article notes that professional audiobook readers seem to be doing fairly well. The Times profiles a classically trained actor who has managed to make ends meet by reading two audiobooks a month: gigs that net her anywhere from $1,000 and $3,000 a book, and allow her to pursuing acting jobs on the side. The field also seems to be growing fairly quickly, and in unusual ways: recent surveys show that audiobook sales been “rising by double digits annually in recent years,” and two years ago, the University of Pennsylvania offered the first audiobook-only course on British fiction and “the rise of the audiobook format.”
As protests once again sweep Egypt, we recommend following @monaelthahawy, @Haithamtabei, and @patrickkingsley on Twitter. And for something more literary, revisit Tom Meaney’s Bookforum essay on literature in exile, the Arab Spring, and Egyptian novelist Albert Cossery.
He’s already got the rights from David Foster Wallace’s estate, and now all director Francesco Marchione needs is $27,000 to adapt one of the late author’s stories into a 25-minute film. (He’s already raised $3,000 of a $30,000 goal on Kickstarter.) If you want some insight into Marchione’s take on “Oblivion,” he describes the story as “a marital conflict over snoring [that] results in sleep deprivation, hallucination, and ultimately revelation.”
In the wake of the mass layoffs at Granta—including the departure of longtime editor-in-chief John Freeman—publisher Ingrid Rausing takes to The Bookseller to explain the recent shake-ups, Granta’s future, and her desire for a “leaner structure” for the magazine.
Moby Lives suggests that Barnes and Noble is selling fewer books because they’re stocking fewer books in their stores.
Since his death, the big question surrounding J.D. Salinger has been whether he kept writing after he stopped publishing, and, if he did, what that writing was like. When some of Salinger’s letters were exhibited at the Morgan Library recently, Slate’s Ron Rosenbaum noticed something he believes might be a clue about the author’s output during his so-called Silent Years: correspondence between Salinger and his guru, the late Swami Nikhilananda.
Social critic and The Pursuit of Loneliness author Philip Slater died two weeks ago at his home in Santa Cruz, California. Slater published the book, a cult work of criticism about the dangers underlying American individualism, in 1970, and subsequently resigned from academia in accordance with the book’s message. In addition to writing several more books of sociological criticism, Slater “took up acting, wrote novels, and began culling his personal possessions down to the two boxes he left when he died.”
James F. English, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, and Alexander R. Galloway convene a symposium to discuss Franco Moretti’s new book, Distant Reading, and to question whether big data has a place in critical approaches to literature. For more on the Stanford English professor’s thoughts about the digital humanities, a Financial Times review provides a little background.
Since a group of interns won a lawsuit against Fox Searchlight several weeks ago, the legality of internships, particularly unpaid internships, has become a big question. In the work of magazines and media, a number of former interns have filed suit against places like Gawker, Conde Nast, Hearst, and the Charlie Rose Show. And for those interested in the issue, ProPublica is tracking the status of all these suits.
Buzzfeed profiles Glenn Greenwald, a journalist who, in addition to breaking the Edward Snowden story, was a former “underage South Florida politician, a lawyer at a high-powered corporate firm, Kips Bay’s most combative tenant, and even the legal arm of his business partner’s gay porn distribution company.”