Melville House publisher Dennis Johnson is withdrawing his imprint's books from the Best Translated Book Award (which Melville House won last year), because Amazon is now sponsoring the prize. Johnson cites the web giants's "predatory and thuggish practices,” and writes, "Taking money from Amazon is akin to the medical researchers who take money from cigarette companies."
Cultural critics fond of the long form, take note: Condensed reviews are gaining momentum. At the Huffington Post, Kimberly Brooks has introduced "Haiku Reviews," which is, we have to say, false advertising, since the reviews so far aren't true haikus, just somewhat brief. (A more accurate title would be "Fairly Short Reviews.") Meanwhile, over at the Michigan Quarterly Review, the superb poet D. A. Powell and Randall Mann have started the accurately titled "The One Sentence Review," which, as the title suggests, boils down reviews (of poetry) to a single sentence. This isn't easy, but so far it's good.
Kate Bernheimer and Maria Tatar have written an open letter requesting that the National Book Award remove its bizarre current ban on "collections and/or retellings of folk-tales, myths, and fairy-tales." With the NBA's support or not, Bernheimer has been producing a steady stream of fantastical fiction—as an author (see her new story collection Horse, Flower, Bird) and as an editor of the Fairy Tale Review and the excellent new anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me (which includes stories by Joy Williams, Brian Evenson, Chris Adrian, and others).
Bill Morris reflects on the rejection letter in the age of e-mail: "The electronic burps I’m getting today are, for the most part, shallow, cursory and absolutely useless to me as a writer. Sad but true, the rejection letter, like so many things in book publishing, is a shadow of what it used to be."
NYC author events this weekend: Zadie Smith is reading tonight at NYU; her recent collection of essays, Changing My Mind, is a critical tour-de-force, astutely critiquing E. M. Forster, Cary Grant, Kafka, Barak Obama, David Foster Wallace, and more. On Saturday, the New Museum is hosting a discussion with Eileen Myles, Renee Gladman, and Laurie Weeks on "the apparitional quality of the female figure in literary history."