Bookforum contributor Gary Indiana has organized a reading of the Marquise de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom, which will take place on Saturday at 2:30 at Participant Gallery. The event will be hosted by novelist Patrick McGrath and will feature writers Lynne Tillman, Max Blagg, Dale Peck, Laurie Weeks, Rhonda Lieberman, Glenn O’Brien, and Richard Hell. Also at the gallery is Indiana’s latest exhibition of photographs and video work, Gristle Springs.
There are American novelists and there are female American novelists—at least according to the gendered logic of Wikipedia. There are 3,837 novelists in the “American Novelist” category, and as Amanda Filipacchi pointed out in the New York Times recently, somebody has begun the process of moving all the women in that category into the “Female American Novelist” subcategory. They’ve gotten as far as the As and Bs, but given the internet outcry, here’s hoping it doesn’t go much further.
In the most recent issue of the Baffler, Bookforum columnist Heather Havrilesky does a late-capitalist reading of Fifty Shades of Gray.
In the wake of the arrest of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Gawker digs deep into the disturbing rise of websites championing his innocence (many created by teenagers girls who have dubbed him “the world’s hottest terrorist”) and what the site describes as the “collision of conspiracy and fandom” on the Internet.
A week in the reading and cultural life of a professional Slavicist.
New York Magazine rounds up the best (i.e. worst) lines from Brian Stelter’s Top of the Morning, a book about the “nefarious network morning show wars” that’s already been panned by The New York Times. (Which is also Stelter’s employer). Here’s our favorite clunker: “Curry's on-air comebacks to Lauer during her first month as cohost were just plain weird — the conversational Hacky Sack often fell thudding to the rug or, figuratively speaking, wound up in the saucepan put out for Al Roker's cooking segment.”
In a bid to direct the upcoming adaptation of the wildly popular Fifty Shades of Gray novels, director Gus Van Sant has shot a sex scene starring actor Alex Pettyfer as fictional billionaire Christian Grey. Focus Features and Universal Studios haven’t chosen a director yet, but Van Sant is hoping that the scene—which reportedly depicts the moment in which “the impressionable Anastasia Steele loses her virginity to Grey”—will prompt them to make a decision.
Sloane Crosley—the author of two collections of personal essays, I Was Told There'd Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number—has sold her first novel, The Clasp, to FSG.
After five years at the helm of literary magazine Granta, editor John Freeman is leaving to teach and write in New York.
Frustrated at what he perceives as a lack of fight in publishing surrounding the industry's declining fortunes, James Patterson took out full-page ads in Publishers Weekly, the New York Times Book Review, and Kirkus that ask, "Who will save our books? Our bookstores? Our libraries?"
Gary Shteyngart’s next book will be a memoir, his publisher announced this week. According to Random House, Little Failure, which will be released in January 2013, is a “candid and deeply poignant story of a Soviet family that comes to America in 1979 to find its future.”
After sixteen years, husband-and-wife “celebrity translation team” Richard Peavear and Larissa Volokhonsky have finally finished translating all of Tolstoy. And that’s not all they’ve been working on: “Their output, spilling over tens of thousands of pages and encompassing the hundred-fifty-year golden age of Russian literature, rivals even their most prolific forerunners in both quality and quantity.”
John le Carré
How does a book end up reviewed in both the New York Times Book Review and the newspaper’s Arts section, while the the book’s author is writing essays for the paper (and sometimes even being profiled for it)? New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan explains how Times fiefdoms divide their assignments: “The Times’s three staff book critics—Michiko Kakutani, Janet Maslin and Dwight Garner—make their own decisions about what to review. They do so without regard to, or knowledge of, what the editors of the Sunday Book Review, a separate entity, may have assigned or have planned.”
Boris Kachka sits down for dinner with James Wood and Claire Messud, and the couple shares their views on literature, child-raising, and the nation’s capital: “I had been the one saying, ‘We need to move to the United States,’ ” Messud says, mocking her own complaint in a whining, mousy voice. “But I didn’t mean Washington! And I was miserable there, miserable.”
At the UC Berkeley English Department blog, TV critic and seventh-year graduate student Lili Loofbourow talks about how she started blogging about gender in media, and what academics could learn from internet writing.
Despite being the paper’s media critic, Brian Stelter gets ripped apart in a New York Times review of his first book about the morning-TV talk-show wars.
Here’s a fun detail that’s easy to miss in Dwight Garner’s profile of John le Carré: the novelist “recalls opposing Jeremy Irons for the lead role in the 1990 film of his novel The Russia House — the part went to Sean Connery — on moral grounds, because of an incident in a London park. ‘Irons’s vicious dogs,’ le Carré said, ‘attacked my smaller dogs. He never stooped to apologize.’”
How the invention of the paperback radically democratized book-buying.
At The Millions, Ben Greenman explains how he often comes to understand his own book projects by discovering paintings that share the book’s spirits.
In celebration of World Book Night, the publishing industry will give away 500,000 books including Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaiden’s Tale, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and Willa Cather’s My Antonia at selected events across the country tonight.
Instead of heading to the William Gaddis archives at Washington University to dig through the writer’s papers, Matthew Erickson decided to go hunting for Gaddis’s ‘realia’—”that archival category of physical, three-dimensional objects.” What he founded included a zebra-skin rug, a pair of white womens’ heels, and an early twentieth century player-piano roll for “Foxtrot for Player Piano.” This isn’t a scholarly endeavor, Erickson explains—he just “wants to take a starry-eyed stroll through the museum of mundane objects.”
Choire Sicha recommends that we all read a new book called Plane Queer: Labor, Sexuality, and AIDS in the History of Male Flight Attendants, which he claims is probably the “SINGLE MOST 80s BOOK TITLE OF OUR TIME.”
A man who bought a hardcover edition of Martin Luther King’s biography for $4.50 off Amazon was delighted to discover that the book contained a personalized message to the previous owner that appears to have been written by King himself. The buyer took to Reddit to confirm the inscription, and a number of commenters positively compared the writing to King’s verified signature. “Definitely not thinking of selling it,” wrote buyer Captain-fishy. “It’s one of the luckier things that’s ever happened to me if it is real.”
Children’s book author E.L. Konigsberg died over the weekend after suffering a stroke last week. The two-time Newbery Medal winner was the author of The View from Saturday and The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, among many other books. At the Atlantic Wire, Jen Dolls pens a nice remembrance to the beloved author.
New York independent bookstore Singularity & Co.
Was Amanda Knox a cunning murderer, a “mouse in a cat’s game,” or simply a young American who was ensnared by the labyrinthine Italian legal system? The new memoir by the American exchange student who was convicted of murdering her roommate while studying abroad in Italy is both a case for her innocence and a bildungsroman, writes Michiko Kakutani.
Benjamin Schwarz, who has edited the Atlantic's books and ideas section since 2000, has left the magazine, and been replaced by longtime Slate editor Ann Hulbert.
At Poetry, Laura Sims introduces a feature in which she will publish selected postcards and letters from her seven-year correspondence with David Markson.
After the London Review of Books published an essay by James Lasdun in 2007, the magazine received a letter from his stalker threatening them not to repeat the act: “His writing is boring and doesn’t sell. Stop publishing that hairy-nosed Jewish wanna-be-Protestant bore of a boar. His wife’s cunt smells of dead rabbits. His girlfriends are the most hideous.”
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg tries his hand at poetry.
Time Out has a nice roundup of the city’s best new independent bookstores.
Shelley Wanger recalls what it was like being an assistant at the New York Review of Books in 1975: “In the morning, it was usually rather quiet until Bob dashed in—a tornado of energy—around 10 or 10:30, having already been up at dawn calling Europe from home or pulling an all-nighter on some review not in good shape.”
Anne Waldman and Ted Berrigan
Last week, Gary Shteyngart announced to the world via Twitter that he had finally finished Middlemarch. “I DID IT!!! I FINISHED MIDDLEMARCH!!! All you haters out there said I couldn't finish a book that long, but I did! HA HA HA! DOROTHEA 4EVER! P.S. Next I might read another long Britishy book like David Copperstein or whatever.” When interviewed about the accomplishment for the Daily News, Shteyngart told the paper, “I am never going to the Midlands.”
The Digital Public Library of America—which “brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world”—is now live.
High school teacher Matthew Thomas sold his 700-plus page debut novel We Are Not Ourselves to Simon and Schuster this week for a seven-figure advance. The novel, which was nicknamed the "the Irish epic," at the London book fair, is "a sprawling portrait of [an] Irish-American Leary family... as they move from Jackson Heights, Queens to Bronxville, New York in pursuit of the American dream.” It’s slated for publication in 2014.
A recording of Anne Waldman and Ted Berrigan reading their excellent collaborative poem “Memorial Day” at the Saint Mark’s Poetry Project in 1971 has been found among the late poet Robert Creely’s “massive collection of reel-to-reel tapes.” You can hear it now at PennSound.
At Slate, Mason Currey publishes part of his in-depth study of the daily work habits of writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers. What has he found so far? “A large number of novelists and poets, for instance, wake up early in the morning and try to get some words on the page before other obligations kick in. Composers, I've found, almost invariably take a long daily walk. And if you suspect that caffeine is the real engine of a good deal of creative activity, well, you may be on to something.”
Mina Loy, Walt Whitman, Frank O’Hara are all featured in a new self-explanatory tumblr called Poets Without Clothes.
Flavorwire has posted the first page of Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, Bleeding Edge.
It’s been a good week for Zadie Smith. In addition to making Granta’s list of the Best Young British Novelists and getting shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Smith was just shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje prize.
David Mamet is going to self-publish his next book.
For reasons nobody can explain, government officials in George Orwell’s birthplace of Bihar, India, are turning the writer’s former home into a monument—for Mahatma Ghandi. The house in Motihari City was damaged in an earthquake in 1934 and has long since fallen into disrepair. According to the AFP, while Ghandi’s movement also began in Bihar, it had no ties to the former Orwell home.
Book Riot debates Meg Wolitzer’s claim that “men with very few exceptions, won’t read books about women. Something nebulous and thought-based—a book of ideas—people seem much more willing to have that from a man than a woman.”
Brian Wilson may have already put out one memoir (which he claims he never finished reading) but that isn’t stopping him from preparing a second. The seventy-year-old former Beach Boy is currently working on I Am Brian Wilson, which is slated to come out with Random House Canada in 2015.
Just in time for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the LAT has rolled out an interactive map of literary Los Angeles.
There’s stiff competition this year for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize). The shortlist includes Barbara Kingsolver, Kate Atkinson, AM Homes, Maria Semple, and Zadie Smith.
The Boston police weren’t the only ones to consider the Boston Marathon as a possible terrorist target. In 2002, novelist writer Tom Lonergan published Heartbreak Hill: The Boston Marathon Thriller, which came with this description: “The trouble with most terrorists is they think too small. This is the message Boston police receive days before fifteen thousand runners and two and a half million spectators descend on the city for the marathon. Even bin Laden only killed thousands. What if the target was larger? What if millions were at risk?”
Hey Michael Pollan, what did you eat when you were a kid? “Often I would have toaster waffles for breakfast growing up. Or Pop-Tarts. All that crap. My mother was, and is, a very good cook, but she was not a monastic eater and we had our share of junky products. I would come home from school and polish off a box of Yodels. Remember Yodels? Foiled-wrapped cylinders of chocolate cake and cream. They were excellent. I don’t know if they’re around anymore.” New York Magazine interviews the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and more recently, Cooked, which Bookforum reviews in our April/May issue.
Are American univesity departments allergic to political activists? Christopher Shea considers why anthropologist, author (The Democracy Project), and Occupy organizer David Graeber has been unable to get an academic job in the U.S.
Ned Beauman, Zadie Smith, Adam Thirlwell, and David Szalay—as well as newcomers like Jenni Fagan, Xiaolu Guo, Joanna Kavenna and Ross Raisin—make Granta’s once-in-a-decade list of the Best Young British Novelists.
Simon and Schuster is teaming up with the New York Public Library to launch an e-book lending program that will allow the library complete access to the publisher’s archive of e-books.
The London Book Fair starts tomorrow, and to celebrate, the Guardian singles out design trends in this season’s book covers.
If controversy is indeed the fastest way to increase sales, 2013 will be a good year for books. The American Library Association released their list of “frequently challenged books” this week, and “the office said it received 464 reports in 2012, up from 326 in 2011.”
After having the Green Lantern and Batwoman come out of the closet in recent issues, DC Comics broke another milestone this week by having Batgirl’s roommate, Alysia Yeoh, come out as transgender.