Deborah Eisenberg

Publishers Weekly has posted the first review of David Foster Wallace’s posthumously published unfinished novel, The Pale King.

Deborah Eisenberg has won the 2011 PEN/Faulkner Award for her Collected Stories, a compilation of a quarter century of first-rate fiction.

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be edited by the top-flight professionals at the Washington Post? Yesterday, the Post accidentally uploaded a version of a story with ALL CAPS EDITOR NOTES (and typos) included.

A new website, Churnalism, can detect the difference between original journalism and regurgitated copy from press releases.

Tonight, performance art legend and NYU professor Karen Finley will read from her new collection, The Reality Shows, at the Union Square Barnes and Noble, with a special introduction by musician and artist Kathleen Hanna.


Maura Johnston

Critic David L. Ulin on nine literary earthquake books, including Haruki Murakami’s collection of stories, After the Quake, written after the 1995 Kobe earthquake: “Although in many of the pieces here the disaster plays only a peripheral part, it reverberates throughout the book like an aftershock.”

Novelist Marie Mutsuki Mockett, author of Picking Bones From Ash, writes a moving meditation on Japan. Before: “If it’s spring, the bento stalls in the station sell cherry blossom-themed meals to eat on the train . . . cakes made of mochi rice paste are cut into flower shapes.” And now: “After 36 hours, I get through to my family at the temple in Iwaki. My relatives are unharmed, but there are new fears of a catastrophic meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, just 30 miles away. . . . They assure me that they can escape at a moment’s notice.”

Rob Harvilla is leaving his post as the Village Voice’s music editor, and has announced that critic extraordinaire Maura Johnston is taking over the job.

The Observer previews a new glossy quarterly called Brooklyn Magazine that the folks behind L Magazine are launching today: “Shelter porn and foodie porn figure prominently. A recurring photo essay will follow a Brooklyn restaurant chef from the farmer's market to the kitchen to plating. Jason Marcus at Traif has the first honor. Another will drop by the domiciles of well-heeled Brooklynites, starting with Jen Menkins, owner of the Bird boutiques.” And supposedly, New Yorker writer Ben Greenman will contribute a column called the “Self-Loathing Gentrifier." Is a Portlandia-style comedy special soon to follow?

Tonight at BookCourt, we’ll be drinking in the intoxicating poetry of Nick Flynn as he reads from his new book, The Captain Asks For a Show of Hands.


Bret Easton Ellis: "You’re completely missing the point if you think the Charlie Sheen moment is really a story about drugs."

James Frey

Coverage of Japan’s earthquake and aftershocks from the London Review of Books blog: A first-person account of the quake and its aftermath by R.T. Ashcroft, and a post from Hugh Pennington, who writes today that the nuclear risk from the stricken Fukushima I power plant is more like Three Mile Island than Chernobyl.

James Frey, never shy about, well, anything really, plans to stoke the flames of controversy once again with a new novel about the second coming of Christ in the Bronx.

Is all publicity good publicity? Only if you’re an unknown writer, says a new study, which shows that a negative review in the Times increases sales by 45% for obscure authors. [Via The Millions.]

The Morning News, the site behind the amazingly entertaining Tournament of Books, has cobbled together “the greatest book review ever.” Meanwhile, at their tournament, the battles continue: The bravura novel of adolescence, Skippy Dies, was just beaten by the newly crowned NBCC winner for fiction, A Visit from the Goon Squad.

John Wyndham once noted that the British were “branded on the tongue;” citizens of the UK are highly attuned to subtle differences in accent and dialect, and the way you speak reveals important information about who you are and where you come from. Americans, meanwhile, will have to rely on the British Library’s multimedia guide to accents and dialects in the UK.


Jennifer Egan, photo by Marion Ettlinger

Last night, the NBCC announced its 2010 award winners, which included Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad (fiction), C.D. Wright’s One with Others (poetry), and Clare Cavanagh’s Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics (criticism). We were thrilled to see that Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live won the award for biography; her meditation on French essayist Montaigne is not just intelligent and engaging but probably the best self-help book we’ve ever come across.

The Rumpus Book Club has announced its May selections: Orientation and Other Stories by Daniel Orozco and Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones.

Daniel Okrent, the author of 2010’s superb Last Call, a study of American Prohibition, is writing the “Week in Culture” diary for the Paris Review’s blog, and he doesn’t even talk about drinking! But he does watch Three Sisters, meet Mark Strand (“much too tall and handsome for his own good. But at least he’s old”), and gripe about the Yankees.

At the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jay Parini examines Henry James’s legacy. “Why does James attract this attention? And will he enjoy the lasting mystique of someone like Jane Austen?”


NBCC Poetry Award Finalist Anne Carson

Many people say contemporary poetry is an acquired taste—written for people in the know. But Oprah’s O magazine is trying to change that idea. In April, it will run its first poetry issue; a concept hatched during a sleepover with Maria Shriver, who will guest edit the issue. Other contributors include Matt Dillon on Yeats, Sting on Ted Hughes, and Bono in a feature called “Poetic Souls.” [Via the Book Bench]

The National Book Critics Circle awards will be announced tonight at the New School. Here, the Washington Post rounds up the poetry finalists, whose work touches on, among other things, theology, hip-hop, sex, and the death of a brother.

The $139 price tag on the latest Kindle seems pretty reasonable, but according to Kevin Kelly, by this November, Amazon could be giving their e-readers away.

"This might hurt: Which Jonathan Franzen character are you?”

The new Triple Canopy publishes editor Sam Frank’s excellent and unclassifiable work, “The Document,” which is as engaging as the best fiction, but is shot throughout with fragments from real life. Frank’s essay is written in a quietly stunning style and includes thoughts on anxiety, failure, David Markson, fathers, Beckett, reading, writing, and more. And as always, Triple Canopy has made the most of the web’s multimedia publishing possibilities: Among the deft design elements, Frank’s essay includes a footnote that expands into two embedded YouTube videos, documenting a pair of performances based on Frank’s late father Sheldon’s wonderful text “As I Was Saying.”


Georges Perec

The new Newsweek and the redesigned New York Times Magazine: A side-by-side comparison.

Nothing can approximate the “if/then” contortions of OULIPO author Georges Perec’s newly translated volume, The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise, but this interactive flow chart hints at the book’s hilarious and inventive office-drone odyssey. Dare you ask your boss for a raise today? You’d better check with Perec first.

The 2011 Morning News Tournament of Books has begun. In the first round of competition, Teddy Wayne’s Kapitoil faced off against Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom—and lost. Judge Sarah Manguso tells you why. Today, Emma Donoghue’s novel Room takes on Marcy Dermansky’s book Bad Marie, judged by novelist Jennifer Weiner.

“Mubarak is gone. Misogyny might be a tougher foe.” The Book Bench’s Jenna Krajeski reports from the Million Women March in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

Tonight at the French Institute in Manhattan, Bookforum joins the cultural institute Villa Gillet to present a panel discussion featuring novelists Philippe Forest and Francisco Goldman entitled “Staying Alive: Surviving Survival.”


Joanna Yas

Editor Thomas Beller details the history of the recently closed literary magazine Open City, which he co-edited with Joanna Yas: “It’s a magazine, it’s over, life will go on. But there was a lot of life in it. A lot of death, too. Thirty issues in twenty years. A lot of life pressed into those pages.”

When are we going to see the much-anticipated New York Times’s paywall? The paper’s own Public Editor, Arthur Brisbane, wanted to know, but the best answer he could get was this exasperated response from the Times’s Media Editor: “We still don’t know exactly when the paywall is going up, how much it will cost readers or how many free hits readers will get before hitting the wall. Those are the critical questions we want answered—and believe me, we have asked.” Perhaps the Times is waiting to see how the new paywall at the Dallas Morning News pans out?

If you’re in New York, tonight marks the beginning of the four-night reading of There Is No Year by Blake Butler, the seemingly tireless author of cult favorites Ever and Scorch Atlas and frequent blog posts at HTML Giant. Readers participating in the tag-team marathon event include Justin Taylor, Ben Greenman, Rachel Shukert, Giancarlo DiTrapano, and the author himself.

From Moby Lives, a report on World Book Night, held this weekend in London’s Trafalgar Square.


Victor Lavalle

Here’s a fascinating document that reveals the editorial changes made to David Foster Wallace’s posthumously published story, “Backbone” (a fragment from his forthcoming novel The Pale King), before appearing in the New Yorker last week. [Via the Millions]

Jon Cotner, one of the authors behind the excellent book, Ten Walks/Two Talks, has been covering the Armory Show for the Paris Review. In the process, he managed to ask Mayor Bloomberg what he thinks of Picasso’s blue period.

Letterpress, the printing technique beloved by chapbook and limited edition art book publishers, comes to the iPad. As Andrew Gorin writes at the Faster Times: “Trying to preserve the craft of letterpress printing by making it into an iPad app is. . . . so absurd that it just might work!”

At Slate, Jack Shafer writes about the newly-added editor credits at the end of New York Times Magazine feature stories: “Try complimenting an editor sometime about a good piece in his publication, and you're certain to get this eye-rolling response: ‘You shoulda seen it when it came in!’ For this reason alone, editors should be sentenced to perpetual anonymity.”

Tonight at the 92nd Street Y, novelists Victor Lavalle and Gary Shteyngart discuss their latest work.


"Tweets were sent. Dictators were toppled. Internet = democracy. QED. Sadly, this is the level of nuance in most popular accounts of the Internet's contribution to the recent unrest in the Middle East." Evgeny Morozov reconsiders the claim that Facebook and Twitter were driving forces behind the Middle East uprisings.

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