Young John Ashbery

Readers! Update your bookmarks! Paper Trail is now here: http://blogs.bookforum.com/paper/

What’s Jonathan Lethem reading? “Russell Hoban’s Turtle Diary and Edward St. Aubyn’s Melrose books and Lydia Millet’s Magnificence just now, while at the bedside table and on trains and airplanes I’m grinding away at monsters over a period of months, if not years: Robert Musil’s Man Without Qualities and Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle.”

In our age of “entrepreneurial journalism,” when writers are under pressure to be their own brands, what happens when business and journalism collide? At the Atlantic Wire, Alexander Nazaryan reports on the ongoing lawsuit between Zealot author Reza Aslan and his former fiancee and business partner Amanda Fortini, who, in the mid-2000s, co-founded a company called Aslan, Inc. Last year, Fortini filed suit against Aslan (who recently became a bestselling author with Zealot, his account of the life of Jesus), claiming that she deserves a cut of the profits for having “contributed so much, in all respects, to where he is today.” With more and more people navigating the “treacherous, oft-combustile mixture of business, the media and personal relationships,” Nazaryan writes, this sort of dispute is becoming more and more common.

At The Nation, Scott Sherman looks at the renovation of the New York Public Library and wonders, “Why did one of the world’s greatest libraries adopt a $300 million transformation without any real public debate?”

A new collection of John Ashbery’s translations of French poetry is forthcoming from FSG. Edited by Rosanne Wasserman and Eugene Richie, the collection will include his versions of work by Pierre Reverdy, Max Jacob, and Arthur Rimbaud, among others.

With everybody from journalists to their sources away on August holiday, French newspapers have become more inventive about how to fill space. When there’s no news, they often just make things up: “Articles on offer this summer starred the Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire and that most golden of monarchs, Louis XIV, as well as a series of ‘interviews’ with long-dead composers, and ventures into somewhat esoteric historical fiction like ‘what if the oil embargo of 1973 had gone on longer?’”

Since it is the last week of August, we recommend you read Jenny Diski’s essay in the New Statesman about learning to enjoy free time and how to respond to the odious question: “What do you do?”

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