President Obama

David Maraniss, the biographer who has chronicled the lives of Bill Clinton, Roberto Clemente, and Vince Lombardi, among others, turns his attention to President Obama in a forthcoming biography. The new Vanity Fair has an excerpt from the book that focuses on the future president’s days as a Columbia grad in 1980s New York. And while the article’s headline highlights Obama’s “most serious romance yet,” pundits and political opponents will likely seize on his comments about T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland: “There’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism,” Obama wrote. And, as if on cue, Adam Kirsch opines in the Times: “Mr. Obama speaks respectfully of Eliot’s ‘reactionary’ stance, because he sees that ‘it’s due to a deep fatalism, not ignorance.’ That is, Eliot, like so many of the greatest modern writers, thinks of liberalism as an inherently shallow creed.”

“Your so-called ‘baby’ is most likely an immigrant... who doesn’t contribute to her family’s income and gives terrible, poor-people gifts like HD-DVDs and sand.” Megan Amron impersonates Ayn Rand in a new advice column.

Did you miss Pynchon-in-Public Day? Last Sunday, in honor of their patron saint’s birthday, fans around the world made the distinctly un-Pynchonian move of taking to the streets to read Pynchon novels and engage in activities inspired by his books. Alas, no “screaming came across the sky.”

Ohio State University researchers have found that reading fiction can actually influence real-life actions—although the results (of this study, at least) are pretty local. The study of eighty-two undergrads found that after reading first-person stories about voting, 65 percent of participants voted on election day after reading a story by a fellow university student, whereas only 29 percent voted after reading a story by a student of another university.

UK authors Abigail Tarttelin and Samantha Shannon—who are 24, and 20, respectively—both netted six-figure book deals with US publishers at the London Book Fair last week.

Researchers at the Publishers Weekly blog have discovered that Madame Bovary is 5 percent “ornery countryfolk”; their entire breakdown can be explored in this informative pie chart.

Cheryl Strayed

The Irish National Library has digitized rare James Joyce manuscripts and put them online for the first time. The papers, which were closed guarded by Joyce’s son, James, entered the public domain last January, and consist of three main parts: The Circe episode of Ulysses, drafts of Finnegans Wake from 1923, and a collection known as the Joyce Papers which span 1903 to 1928. And the Irish Times has already provided footnotes: “A reader may well be relieved to learn that the Finnegans Wake documents can be safely ignored, or at least left for much later attention; they are mostly page proofs with some pretty modest corrections... It is in the other two categories, the “early notes” and the Ulysses notes and drafts, that the real meat of the collection is to be found.”

Cheryl Strayed talks with Bookslut about her heroin use, mother's death, the subsequent thousand-mile hike, and what it's like to have Reese Witherspoon buy the rights to your memoir.

Salman Rushdie, Art Spiegelman, Jonathan Lethem, and seven hundred other writers, scholars, publishers and artists have sent the New York Public Library a letter letting library officials know that they’re not happy about the $300 million renovation of the 42nd Street flagship branh.

Rock stars die at 27; publishers die at 82 (Note the sidebar).

A public memorial for Barney Rosset was held at Cooper Union on Wednesday. Red Lemonade publisher Richard Nash tweeted the blow-by-blow.

Congratulations to Parul Sehgal for landing a cool new job at the New York Times Book Review.

The Buenos Aires Book Fair—the largest fair in Latin America—closed on Monday after attracting 1.3 million visitors. Publishing Perspectives has the full report.