Dorothy Parker

Was Shakespeare a stoner?

Oxford ditches the comma, deeply annoying the spirit of David Foster Wallace. “[Wallace] is the only writer ever to convince (or even try to convince) the famously stubborn Times copy desk that we should temporarily ignore the paper’s famous serial-comma rule—the paper doesn’t use them; this really drove David nuts.”

Chris Suellentrop quits NYT Magazine to join Yahoo News.

On July 2, the Publication Studio is throwing a “collaborative event” at the Brooklyn Grange Farm, “a zero chemical input commercial urban farm located on a New York City rooftop.”

Penguin goes iTunes classics.

On Facebook, Parul Sehgal revisits a classic missive from Dorothy Parker: “This is instead of telephoning because I can’t look you in the voice...”


Simon Reynolds

Members of the Village Voice’s union shop are prepared to strike if a new contract with company management is not agreed upon by midnight on Thursday. We doubt it will come to that (Voice contract negotiations have historically involved threats of a strike), but if it does, the union says that it will launch an alternative website.

In Chicago, retired engineer Malcolm O'Hagan is planning the American Writers Museum. The city has a long literary history, with authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Saul Bellow, and Raymond Chandler calling the windy city home, as well as hosting contemporary authors such as Aleksandar Hemon and Stuart Dybek, who discussed the city for Granta’s 2009 Chicago issue.

The Chicago Tribune checks in with Poetry Magazine to see how it has changed since winning a $200 million grant in 2002. It has inspired an investigation by the Illinois AG office and built a new, $21.5 million home. It has changed editorially too: It has “run harsh criticism of Garrison Keillor, tore into acclaimed, normally untouchable Pulitzer Prize-winning poets such as Robert Hass, and simply wouldn't publish the submissions of others, including Pulitzer winner Franz Wright, who wrote angry letters.” [via htmlgiant.]

Simon Reynolds, author of the seminal post-punk history Rip it Up and Start Again, and the more recent book, Totally Wired: Post-Punk Interviews and Overviews, discusses pop-culture’s obsession with the past in his forthcoming book Retromania. At the blog Pop Matters, Reynolds says that perhaps someday innovation will trump nostalgia again: “Perhaps one just has to have faith that the really musical people will find a way to swim in this clogged data ocean and to make meaningful new patterns out of all this stuff.”

At the New York Review of Books blog, Bookforum contributor (and former editor) Eric Banks is writing a diary about his experiences at this year’s Venice Biennale.


Thomas Beller

Philip Roth says he no longer reads any fiction at all. Why? “I wised up,” he reports.

Thomas Beller—the author, Open City editor, and mastermind behind the website of urban writing Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood—has written an entertaining article about following a Google Street View car in New Orleans.

The Paris Review website has a post about Tom Bean and Luke Poling’s feature documentary, Plimpton!, which details the rich life of editor, writer, fireworks enthusiast, bon vivant, and sometime baseball player George Plimpton (he also sparred with boxing legends Archie Moore and Sugar Ray Robinson, among other adventures). The directors are currently seeking money to license archival footage to flesh out Plimpton's incredible life story.

Amazon releases its "Best Books of the Year So Far" lists.

Tonight at McNally Jackson Books, Lydia Davis reads from her recent chapbook, The Cows, and Kathleen Ossip reads from her latest, The Cold War.


Deborah Eisenberg

The New York Review of Books has published a new story by master short fiction writer Deborah Eisenberg. In the story, a young boy named Adam looks through his family’s photo album and finds an exciting revelation.

This weekend’s New York Times Magazine story by Jose Vargas, in which he confesses to falsifying documents to illegally work as a US journalist for years, has been met with sharply conflicting reactions in the media world.

Elizabeth Bishop refused to be a token woman in all-male poetry anthologies, and didn’t want to be in all-female collections, either, writing: “Undoubtedly gender does play an important role in the making of any art, but art is art, and to separate writings, paintings, musical compositions, etc., into two sexes is to emphasize values in them that are not art.”

In Elizabeth Gumport’s n+1 essay, “Against Reviews,” she expresses her misgivings about the form in the hyperbolic voice of a weary reviewer who has marched through one plot summary too many, culminating in a quote sure to be muttered by young freelancers everywhere: “Like hazing, reviewing is inflicted by the old and popular on the young and weak, who are told that before they can succeed at their chosen pursuit they must endure certain traditional trials.” At the Los Angeles Review of Books, editor Tom Lutz responds.

Tonight, the Crosby Street Hotel is screening the 1994 film Pulp Fiction, as part of their “Writers on Film” series. The film’s treatment of time was an important influence on Jennifer Egan’s 2011 novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad. Egan will discuss the film with Michael Maren after the showing, and sign copies of her Pulitzer-Prize winning book.


Tao Lin

Last month, the New York Times gave Jon-Jon Goulian the triple-crown treatment, devoting three articles to the literary-party mainstay whose memoir, The Man in the Gray Flannel Skirt, was set to make him one of “the season's publishing darlings.” But according to the Awl and the New York Post’s Page Six, Goulian’s book, for which Random House paid a reported $700,000 advance, has sold only 957 copies in the first month.

NPR's Fresh Air remembers historian Tony Judt.

Christopher Frizzelle, editor of the alt-weekly The Seattle Stranger, claims that novelist Tao Lin and his publisher, Melville House’s Dennis Loy Johnson, “aren’t really speaking to each other.” The problem, Frizzelle quotes Lin as saying, is that Johnson “didn't approve of the relationship” in Lin’s most recent novel, Richard Yates.

David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas—a book in which “six interlocking narratives spanned centuries and continents, each one written in a voice so convincing and distinctive it could have supported an ambitious novel of its own”—will be filmed in Berlin.

Only connect: Galleycat lists the ten most prominent social networks for readers, including the newcomer InReads.

Word Bookstore in Brooklyn launches its literary karaoke series.

At New York Magazine, A Visit from the Goon Squad author Jennifer Egan reflects on her controversial quote about chick lit, gives props to Emma Donoghue’s Room, and reveals what she listens to while running (“a lot of Eminem”).


Siddhartha Deb

A hoax website claims that Slavov Zizek and Lady Gaga are close friends, and the New York Post falls for it.

In February, Caravan Magazine published an excerpt from Siddhartha Deb’s forthcoming book about contemporary India, The Beautiful and the Damned, published by Penguin in India. The excerpt, “Sweet Smell of Success: How Arindam Chaudhuri Made a Fortune Off the Aspirations—and Insecurities—of India’s Middle Classes,” is a critical take on Arindam Chaudhuri and the business approach of Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM). Now, the IIPM is suing Caravan, its proprietor the Delhi Press, Deb, Penguin India, and Google India for “grave harassment and injury.” The Beautiful and the Damned is scheduled to be published in the US by Faber & Faber this August.

Indie bookstores find a new source of revenue by charging admission at author events.

A new chapbook includes a chapter from Richard Hell’s forthcoming memoir, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp. (Bonus material: Valencia author Michelle Tea interviews Hell here. "I am a Libra which I guess means that I am enough of a prig and a snob that I can’t take seriously anybody who asks me what sign I am.")

Ray Nagin, the Katrina-era mayor of New Orleans, has self-published a book that blames much of the havoc caused by the hurricane on President Bush. Can you blame him? He’s trying to make a living as a “disaster consultant.”

Celeb book news: Keanu Reeves’s book of poetry is a “gentle tease about how we cope with life’s sorrows.” (Excellent or bogus?) 50 Cent pens a young-adult book against bullying.


Ai Weiwei—the artist, blogger, and activist who was arrested in Beijing on April 3—has been released on bail.

2011 Roger Shattuck Prize winners Lila Azam Zanganeh and Marco Roth.

In an article about what the editors and staff of n+1 are reading this summer (Houellebecq, Echols, Maupin, Woolf, and more), the journal’s co-founder Marco Roth writes of experiencing a Proustian epiphany in France: Perhaps it was a sign that he would be awarded the 2011 Roger Shattuck Prize (along with Lila Azam Zanganeh) from The Center for Fiction, an honor named after one of Proust’s most astute critics. They’ll be celebrating the prize tonight at The Center, but we assure you that critic Dale Peck won’t be there.

The New York Times remembers A. Whitney Ellsworth, the first publisher of the New York Review of Books, who died this weekend at the age of seventy-five.

Deciding on a title may be the most difficult part of finishing a book. At The Awl, four authors explain how their books were named. Is Naked Love a good title or a bad one? Discuss.

Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, are going to write a memoir.

What can mainstream journalism learn from the New York Public Library? The qualities of Patience and Fortitude, which also happen to be the names of the lion sculptures that guard the front of the building.


Paula Bomer

Soho Press has announced that it will publish Paula Bomer’s debut novel, Nine Months, in 2012. We’re still reeling from Bomer’s brilliant and savage story collection, Baby, which Minna Proctor described in this winter’s Bookforum as “punk rock for the roundly domesticated.”

The British Library and Google are digitizing more than 250,000 books, spanning the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

Coffee House Press’s founder and publisher, Allan Kornblum, is retiring from the imprint he founded in 1973, with Associate publisher Chris Fischbach taking over the top position [via Publishers Lunch].

Could a mother get away with writing a book like the best-selling faux bedtime story, Go the F*ck to Sleep?

The NBCC has queried its members about their favorite comic novelists, and in the first installment of their “NBCC Reads” series, four eminent critics chime in on the comic genius of Evelyn Waugh. As Morris Dickstein writes of Waugh’s A Handful of Dust, “The people in it are grasping and hypocritical, yet so over-the-top that the result is funny, but sad-funny.”


On the Road, the app.

What kind of book makes for good e-reading? Two of the most popular iPad book apps offer examples of what the fledgling art of the e-book could become. TS Eliot’s The Wasteland has a wealth of features annotating the poem, offering curious readers (or puzzled students) new insights into the allusive text. The digital version of Jack Keroauc’s On the Road is jazzed-up with audio recordings, notes detailing his route, biographies of the real people his characters were based on, and a collection of documents from the Viking archive. The Road iPad app isn’t for those Kerouac fans who are, as the author wrote of his favorite people in the novel's most famous passage, “mad to live, mad to talk,” but it certainly would appeal to readers “desirous of everything at the same time.”

Novelists Michael Kimball and Justin Taylor discuss their craft, with Taylor telling Kimball: “In the end, all the characters are versions of myself. Open the novel to any page, any line, and you will find me hiding there.”

The new issue of FSG’s blog Work in Progress includes an interview with John Waters, whose book about his idols, Role Models, was recently released in paperback. Young people looking for their own role model need look no further than Waters, who says: “Everybody, no matter what—even the most deranged homeless person—has taste. They know which bottle they want to collect more, which shopping cart they want to fill. Everyone has taste and it’s how you define yourself against the world.”

Tonight, BookCourt hosts memoirists Kelle Groom and Nick Flynn.

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