Michael Chabon

MobyLives excerpts a letter in which New York Magazine editor Adam Moss dwells on the importance of finding “wonderful new voices who will keep the magazine fresh and moving forward.” Which prompts MobyLives to ask a good question: “Who are the most exciting young critics currently writing?

Your new book is coming out soon: Design a cool book cover, self-publish, and print-on-demand. Easy! Now you just need to figure out a way to sell them.

Obama is to be the subject of a new work of fiction titled O: A Presidential Novel, due in stores on January 25. Though the author is Anonymous, various reports state that the author is “someone with ‘vast personal experience’ about what President Obama needs to do to win re-election.” Everyone, of course, is comparing the new book to Primary Colors, the novel based on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, which was also attributed to Anonymous. That book’s author, political reporter Joe Klein, was unmasked in 1996 by Vassar College Shakespeare professor Donald Foster, who had developed a computer program that could accurately identify the author of a text. One wonders how long it will take for Foster or some other textual specialist to reveal the O author’s identity.

The new issue of McSweeney’s, which includes a “fragment of Michael Chabon’s lost novel,” comes in a box with a head drawn on it.


Jami Attenberg

According to an entertaining article in the New York Observer, it’s a good time to find a job as a writer or an editor—if you’re “talented,” that is! But don’t expect to be lavishly wined and dined: Today’s biggest hires happen over a beer or a cup of coffee.

When is author Shalom Auslander's editor going to get around to reading his manuscript?

Mark Twain scholar Alan Gribben is distressed that Huckleberry Finn has been pushed out of schools because of the book's use of a racial epithet. So, he's creating a new edition of the novel that expunges the slur. Gribben says: "After a number of talks, I was sought out by local teachers, and to a person they said we would love to teach . . . Huckleberry Finn, but we feel we can't do it anymore. In the new classroom, it's really not acceptable.” Meanwhile, Cindy Lovell, executive director of The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum says "The book is an anti-racist book and to change the language changes the power of the book. . . . He wrote to make us squirm and to poke us with a sharp stick." Discuss.

“What was African-American literature?” A podcast with professor and author Kenneth W. Warren.

New Yorkers: Jami Attenberg’s excellent novel The Melting Season is now out in paperback, and she’s throwing a party at Brooklyn’s Word bookstore tonight. On hand to help her celebrate will be artist Emily Flake, and authors Rosie Schaap, Lisa Hanawalt, Emma Straub, Sarah Glidden, Jason Diamond, Renata Espinosa, Maris Kreizman, and Ron Currie, Jr.


Chad Post

Open Letter publisher Chad Post engages in "wild speculation" over the inflated prices of two books that rival publisher (and Post’s former employer) Dalkey Archive Press is releasing in 2011. Post writes: "This switch from a $12.95 to (the unsellable) $34.95 feels like some sort of punishment or retaliation or something. But where is this punishment directed?"

Many critics have complained about James Frey’s “fiction factory.” Here’s a taste of its product: A film trailer for a recently published book, I Am Number Four, which Frey co-wrote with a Columbia MFA graduate.

The Millions has posted its list of the “most anticipated” books of 2011. Read it, and consider yourself informed. Bonus: The UK’s Guardian looks forward to the new year in books.

James Franco, who is directing a forthcoming film version of Stephen Elliott’s memoir The Adderall Diaries, is carving out an impressive chunk of literary cinema in the near future. He’s directing Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying (from his own screenplay), and is working on a deal with producer Scott Rudin to do Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.


Sam Anderson

You heard it here first: Next month, McSweeney’s Press will reportedly publish a compact and shocking novel titled Donald, which, though fiction, will feature events based on the crazy life of Donald Rumsfeld. The authors are said to be Eric B. Martin, author of Winners, and Stephen Elliott, the primary force behind The Rumpus, and the author of the amazing memoir The Adderall Diaries (soon to be a movie directed by James Franco). Elliott is also a seasoned political writer, so this novel should be legit. That said, this information was—like many good scoops—gleaned over drinks at a bar near New York’s Union Square, and might or might not be completely reliable.

What’s up with the New Yorker's recent lack of women authors?

Following in the footsteps of editor Hugo Lindgren, book critic Sam Anderson has left New York magazine for the New York Times Magazine.

In an ominous sign for the beleaguered book-chain, Borders has been forced to delay payments to some publishers. Moby Lives asks: Are we about to become a one-bookstore-chain country? (Meanwhile, Barnes and Noble report their biggest sales ever.)

Three newly unearthed stories by Zora Neale Hurston have scholars Glenda R. Carpio and Werner Sollors revisiting the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance legend.


One of Artist and librarian Rachael Morrison's book-smelling ledgers.

Those were the days: GalleyCat rounds up the top ten publishing stories for each month of 2010.

We love the smell of books in the morning, as does artist and MoMA librarian Rachael Morrison, who spends her lunch-break sniffing each book in MoMA’s library and cataloging her impressions (such as “armpit,” or “cigar smoke and tea”) in an accounting ledger. So far, she’s chronicled the scent of one hundred and fifty tomes out of the library’s three hundred thousand volumes. (via The Rumpus).

Amazon has announced a breakthrough in the Kindle’s software that allows users to lend an e-book.

While catching up on the vast number of "best books of 2010" lists that have flooded literary channels lately, a sense of panic is sure to set in: So many Great books, so little time. Where to begin? The Guardian has posted the perfect starting point: “Five best lines from the year's best books.” And, the list has a great litmus test for those still debating whether or not to read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. We're sure the line from that little-known novel will strike you as either soulfully profound or laughably pretentious: “There's a hazardous sadness to the first sounds of someone else's work in the morning; it's as if stillness experiences pain in being broken.”


Deborah Baker

It seems like only yesterday that we were breathlessly speculating about the first iPad, but apparently it is already time for rumors about the iPad 2, which may be released as early as February 2011. Meanwhile, iPad magazine sales have dropped.

Blogger and Brooklyn bookseller Adam Wilson has landed a book deal with Harper Perennial for his debut novel, Flatscreen, which will be published in 2012. Acquiring editor Michael Signorelli explained the deal: “We became aware of Adam through his blogging and his stellar bookselling at BookCourt. Acquiring Adam’s novel is like a last-minute present to myself. This and last week have been so quiet, hardly anyone’s around to tell me ‘no.’”

The Rumpus has announced its latest book-club selections: You Think That’s Bad by Jim Shepard (February), The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch (March) and The Convert: A Fable of Islam and America by Deborah Baker (April).

The Met’s Department of Asian Art Chairman, J.C.Y. Watt, takes exception to Eliot Weinberger’s review of a recent exhibition, writing that the piece “brings to mind an Englishman a long time ago who, when taken to a fine Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong, could not wait to show off his sophisticated knowledge of Chinese cuisine and ordered egg Fuyung and sweet-and-sour pork.”


W. G. Sebald

In a fascinating literary homage, photographer Rick Poynor visits the town of Terezin in the Czech Republic and returns with an essay about W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, complete with contemporary versions of the photographs that appear in Sebald’s book.

At the Village Voice, rock writer Rob Tannenbaum names (and interviews) the best music critic of the year—well, “names” isn’t quite right. The award winner is anonymous; He files brief reviews on Twitter as @Discographies. Though short on words, his evaluations pack an expansive, acidic humor.

Novelist Benjamin Percy talks about his intense work ethic, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, grizzly bears, and his take on human beings: “I write about the man in wild and wild in man. I'm interested in these jarring intersections between civilization and wilderness. In a way, we are all hairy on the inside. So a lot of the stories are men and women on the edge, one wheel in the ditch, three on the road, trying not to lose control.”

The Feminist Press at CUNY is closing out their fortieth anniversary year with a fundraiser, and they’re two-thirds of the way to reaching their goal. Can you help put them over the top?


Denis Dutton, the author, philosopher, and founding editor of the pioneering web digest Arts & Letters Daily, is dead at age 66.

Denis Dutton

The third-generation Kindle has become Amazon.com’s bestselling product of all time, edging out the humble print version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos is touting the Kindle as the ultimate reading machine, saying of competitors such as the iPad: "Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies and web browsing, and their Kindles for reading sessions."

Christopher Hitchens denounces his old nemesis Henry Kissinger (and his apologists) in Hitchens’s new column for Slate, “Mr. Kissinger, Have You No Shame?”

2011 will mark the one-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and there will surely be a flood of books published on the subject. We’ve seen an early copy of the Library of America’s The Civil War: The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It, a collection of first person narrative accounts, and we think it will be among the best of the new year. At Salon, Civil War historian Glenn W. LaFantasie picks his “Top 12 Civil War Books Ever Written.”

Jacket Copy offers “Five Literary Treats to Last All Year Long,” a collection of their favorite bookish websites, apps, and other delights, which have quickly become our favorites as well.


Julian Assange

New details of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s book deal have surfaced: The pact is reportedly worth 1.5 million dollars (with the majority of the fee being paid by his American publisher, Knopf, which is allegedly kicking in $800,000). However, it isn’t a tome that Assange relishes writing. As he insists: “I don't want to write this book, but I have to.”

Charles Baxter says the “most common mistake new writers make” is “vanity:" "They don’t realize that what has been blazing in their minds does not necessarily make it to the page.”

Did you think the holidays were (finally) over? You haven’t experienced the true spirit of the season until you listen to filmmaker Werner Herzog read this perennial Christmas classic: “‘Twas the night before Christmas, a season ruled by all-consuming desire or for the ‘perfect family experience,’ whatever the specifics, existential thirst is the engine that drives the holiday machine . . . ” (Via Harriet)

American Psycho, the musical?(!) According to the New York Post, Bret Easton Ellis’s once-controversial satire—about an impeccably groomed Wall Street serial killer with hilariously bad taste in music (unless, you like Huey Lewis and the News)—is heading for Broadway. We have just one modest request: Please dramatize the scene in which Patrick Bateman attends a U2 concert and hallucinates that Bono is Satan.

Advertisement