Biographer and critic Hazel Rowley has passed away at the age of 59. She wrote biographies of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre (Tete a Tete), Richard Wright, and Christina Stead, as well as the 2010 first-couple study Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage. Rowley was an accomplished essayist and frequent contributor to Bookforum, in which she wrote about Wright and the 1950s culture wars, Beavoir’s 1960 trip to Brazil, and Paris’s legendary Village Voice bookstore.

Hazel Rowley, photo by Mathieu Bourgois.

Theodore Ross has a funny—and wise—article called “Drinking off the Job,” detailing how his life has changed after his recent departure from Harper’s magazine: "The past few weeks the better part of my social life has revolved around drinks. I can’t speak to the cultural mores of other industries, but publishing tends to liberally grease the runners of those it transports out the door."

This April, OR Books is publishing Tweets from Tahrir, a collection of pivotal mini-dispatches from the epicenter of the Cairo uprising—telling the story of the Egyptian Revolution as it unfolded 140 characters at a time.

At HTMLgiant, Danielle Dutton, whose novel Sprawl was recently nominated for a Believer Book Award, eloquently wrangles with an ever-elusive question: “What is experimental literature?”

Media reporter Michael Calderone is leaving Yahoo for AOL.

New Yorkers: Throughout the day, CUNY is hosting a conference called “The Scandals of Susan Sontag,” with participants including Susie Linfield (author of The Cruel Radiance), Elaine Showalter (A Jury of Her Peers), Laura Kipnis (How to Become a Scandal), and others.


Terry Castle

Apple guru Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance to unveil the new iPad (he is currently on sick leave). Apple has also announced that Random House will begin offering titles through the iBookstore, which has sold one hundred million books since its launch.

Open City, the literary magazine run by Tom Beller, Joanna Yas, and others, is closing. The journal, which introduced us to voices such as Sam Lipsyte, and published vital work by many excellent authors for two decades, will be much missed. Luckily, the Open City Books imprint will continue.

Literary critic Terry Castle’s smart, hilarious, and occasionally brutal collection of personal essays, The Professor, was one of our favorite books last year. Scott McLemee provides a thoughtful consideration, finding that "in Terry Castle's hands, the autobiographical essay becomes both a kind of cultural history and a challenge to the reader: Here are my obsessions and the things I would forget if I could. Do you dare to confront your own?"

Scribner has announced Stephen King’s next novel, which will be published this fall. Called 11/23/63, the thousand-plus-page book features a protagonist who travels back in time to attempt to stop the JFK assassination. King is probably wishing he had a time machine so he could travel back to 2002, and undo his announcement that he was retiring—he's written at least a half-dozen books since.

More changes at the New York Times Magazine: The publication will start crediting editors at the end of features (there’s currently no masthead in the magazine). And the popular “On Language” column is now in limbo. Can Facebook save it? Hope springs eternal, as editor Hugo Lindgren sent this encouraging tweet earlier this week: “The column is not part of the mix for right now, but it is not dead. Please stay tuned.”


Frank Rich

The new issue of The Believer includes the 2010 editors' shortlist for their annual Book Award (GalleyCat has assembled a collection of links to the finalists), as well as a new Poetry Award.

In Tunisia and Egypt, books banned by the recently ousted regimes are back on the shelves.

New York magazine’s Adam Moss has lured New York Times stalwart Frank Rich away from the paper after a long career. Rich says of the appointment by his old buddy Moss: “The role Adam has created for me at his revitalized New York Magazine will allow me to write with more reflection, variety, and space than is possible within the confines of a weekly newspaper column.” Meanwhile, the Times has been busy revamping its Sunday Magazine, with recenly hired editor Hugo Lindgren at the helm—the result will debut this weekend. Lindgren says he’s hoping to lend the magazine “a little bit more of an improvisational, we-just-did-it-this-week kind of feeling;" Yahoo News’ Cut Line blog has a preview of what’s new.

Shelley Jackson’s Skin project, which has been ongoing since 2003, asks people to tattoo a word from a Jackson story on their body, and nearly 1,500 volunteers have participated so far. Yesterday at the Berkeley Art Museum, Jackson unveiled an intriguing sub-plot: A video version of a new story made by editing together video footage of some of the tattoos, one that anyone can remix and rewrite using clips from YouTube.


Steve Erickson

Here’s a cheerful thought by Rudolph Delson, from the forthcoming anthology The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books (edited by the folks at The Millions and including an all-star lineup of contributors): “Most of the best books will be written only after you and I are both dead.”

Via the Paris Review, an intriguing exchange between PR poetry editor Robyn Creswell and a blogger known only as the “Angry Arab,” about Egyptian literature.

Last week, Elif Batuman gave a lecture at the British Museaum about literature and accounting, as the Granta blog explains: “She set up writing and life as a 'credit/debit' relationship: writing takes time, but you need to take time away from writing to have something to write about. So how do writers negotiate their time-accounts?”

Steve Erickson’s next novel, These Dreams of You, will be published by Europa Books in 2012.

Comedian Michael Showalter (Mr. Funny Pants) will be reading tonight at BookCourt. Laughs—perhaps even hijinks—are almost certainly guaranteed.


Lorin Stein, photo by Deidre Schoo for The New York Times

Famed blogger Andrew Sullivan is leaving The Atlantic to move to the Daily Beast/Newsweek.

Paris Review editor Lorin Stein gets the luxe treatment in the Times weekend Fashion and Style page, which lovingly details the retro Rolodex and “neat bowel of paper clips” on his desk, follows Stein through a busy night of socializing, and deems him “an unlikely sex symbol” (helpfully noting that “among New York’s literary crowd, being pale, thin and occasionally bespectacled doesn’t count against you”). Style points aside, the Review has never been better: The spring issue is arriving on newsstands now.

We were excited to learn that Laurie Week’s much anticipated novel Zipper Mouth—stuck in limbo since its original publisher Alyson Books reorganized—will be published by the Feminist Press this fall.

Christopher Hitchens’s mother used to say “The one unforgivable sin is to be boring”, and Hitchens’s Memoir, Hitch-22, is anything but. As part of the National Book Critics Circle’s 31 Books in 31 Days, critic Eric Banks reviews Hitchens’s remembrance, a strong contender in the NBCC award’s best autobiography category.

Tonight at Barnes and Noble, novelist Sam Lipsyte discusses author Stanley Elkin with Elkin biographer David Dougherty.


Letter from an Unknown Woman

“Poverty is poverty and it sucks and it sucks so much more when you have a child. There is no romance in getting up at 5 am to write your poems and coming home at night when the young boys are just going out to their bars.” Sandra Simmons writes about the challenges of being a “poor poetry mother.”

In April, Sarabande Books plans to publish a new chapbook by Lydia Davis titled The Cows, which reprints a story that first appeared in the journal Electric Literature. This news reminded us of Donna K’s excellent, strange video, which riffs on a single Lydia Davis sentence: “Does she prefer the company of that cow, or does she prefer that corner, or is it more complicated.”

At the Millions, Sonya Chung considers writers who “who dare to leap the imaginative chasm of gender.”

The New York Times is increasing its online coverage of children’s books.

If you’re looking for us tonight, we’ll be at the Philoctetes Center for a screening of Max Ophuls’s Letter from an Unknown Woman, which will be introduced by Tom McCarthy, the author of C and the founder of the General Secretary of the International Necronautical Society. Tomorrow, Feb 26, we’ll be at the launch party for Washington Square, which will feature readings by Adam Wilson and Timothy Donnelly, who has written, among many other great things, a poem about the Patriot Act that incorporates lyrics from Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” For real!


Christian Hawkey

Robert Silvers of The New York Review of Books, David Remnick of The New Yorker, and other editors respond to the recent discussions about the “dearth of female bylines.”

Apple is planning to unveil the iPad 2 on March 2, leaving less than a week for breathless speculation about what the new features will be. We’re pretty sure that whatever they come up with will be dubbed “revolutionary.”

In anticipation of David Foster Wallace’s forthcoming The Pale King, you can listen to the BBC’s recent radio doc about the novelist (via Flavorwire), which feature interviews with Don DeLillo, Rick Moody, and others. “This isn’t Sylvia Plath, this isn’t someone who just created this work around a melancholy, this is someone who created something almost Joycean,” says author Mark Costello of Wallace’s work. “So you have to be very reductive” to look at Wallace’s work only in terms of his suicide.

Harper’s Bizarre”: The New York Observer gives an overview of the magazine’s saga.

NYC to-do list: Tonight at the New School, the National Book Foundation presents “Lineage: American Poetry Since 1950,” a panel including Elizabeth Alexander, Tony Hoagland, and the excellent poet-critic Stephen Burt, who will discuss some of the best poets from the past sixty years. If you want to hear some actual poetry, we suggest heading out to Queens’s Space Space, where Dara Wier, Christian Hawkey, and Douglas Piccinnini will read their work.


Kenneth Slawenski

Kenneth Slawenski, the author of an acclaimed new J. D. Salinger biography (and the great website Dead Caulfields), is a bit like his hero: There’s no author photo on the book, a minimal “about the author” note, and he’s granted only a few interviews. But Salinger fans, rest assured, Slawenski is no phony: “I know it's inevitable that they are going to draw a correlation between me and Salinger, but this isn't a stunt . . . This is just the way I am."

From The Guardian: A list of the top ten fictional poets, (and their fictional feuds). (via Harriet).

Why is James Franco planning to adapt Faulkner’s novel As I Lay Dying for the screen? Doesn’t the actor/author/Oscar host/college student have enough to do (and some sleep to catch up on)? We’d like to ask him, but we’ll settle for the next best thing: Christian Lorentzen’s “Internal Memo,” James Franco edition.

Yesterday the 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists were announced, leading us to play the old “one of these things is not like the other” game: Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids—which takes place decades ago—is oddly shoehorned into the “current interest” section along with an Obama biography, a book about Afghanistan, and two books about the recent financial crisis.

Tonight at the CUNY Graduate center, professor, critic, and author Marjorie Perloff will deliver a lecture, “The Madness of the Unexpected: Marcel Duchamp and the Survival of ‘High’ Art.”


Jonathan Safran Foer

Thanks to McNally Jackson Books' always enlightening Twitter feed, we’ve discovered the New Yorker’s primary documents digital archive, which contains fascinating reading material from recent articles, including a trove of “Documents From Legal Cases Involving Scientology,” an excerpt from Teju Cole’s novel Open City, and a heavily annotated draft of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address.

Note: We’re going to miss marginalia.

Do you know your Joshua Ferris from your Jonathan Safran Foer? Show your stuff with The Guardian’s Brooklyn books quiz.

We’re looking forward to the 2012 Olympics in London—and not just for the chance to see the weirdest Olympic mascots in the Games’ history in action—because they’re planning an international literary event in addition to the usual sports. The Globe theater is performing each of Shakespeare’s thirty-eight plays in a variety of languages, including The Taming of the Shrew in Urdu, The Tempest in Arabic, and Love’s Labour's Lost in sign language.

The Morning News’ Tournament of Books kicks off in two weeks: The slate of sixteen books from 2010 includes heavyweights such as Freedom, A Visit From the Goon Squad, and the Booker Prize winner, The Finkler Question, as well as some lesser known sleeper titles competing head-to-head, NCAA Basketball style. May the best book win.

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