In 2006, Peter Beinart proclaimed that liberals were the only ones who could "Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again," putting a lefty gloss on the neocons' war plans, but oddly he didn't mention Israel's role in America’s “War on Terror.” Now, in an essay in the New York Review of Books, Beinart writes that "morally, American Zionism is in a downward spiral," thanks to its uncritical support for Netenyahu's hard-right coalition government in Israel, against the express wish of most American Jews—especially younger ones—to re-engage the Palestinian peace process.
Writing from Tel Aviv, Jim Sleeper responds to Beinart's essay, applauding much in it, but judging it "an apostate's over-compensatory ardor against the American Jewish establishment's self-destructive efforts to align public opinion and policy with Israel's ugliest gambits." And in a preview from Bookforum's summer issue, Sleeper reviews Beinart's forthcoming book, The Icarus Syndrome, filling in the backstory of Beinart's blinkered "History of American Hubris." Tablet has posted an interview with Beinart in which he defends his essay's most controversial points. And, at the Daily Beast, Beinart continues to parry with his detractors, writing "Love Israel? Criticize it." The former magazine wunderkind who rarely dissented from the conservative Zionism of Marty Peretz, The New Republic's publisher during Beinart's tenure, now sounds like the sadder and wiser voice of experience.
In an effort to tame the overwhelming BEA experience, eBookNewser has assembled a BEA Digital Toolkit; one tool, Net Galley Buzz, is especially appealing for bookworms too timid to tussle with the sharp-elbowed crowds who swarm booths for galleys—the service allows you to download digital galleys from home.
Last weekend's hyped 48HR magazine found an apt critic in Andrew Losowsky of Stack America, who editorially directed an edition of Colophon magazine produced in two days. Losowsky is disappointed in the finished product: "it simply feels like the worst of both worlds: a slick-looking magazine that feels rushed." At the Times, David Carr calls it a "remarkable artifact," (as the Times itself may soon be). CBS has sent a cease-and-desist letter to 48HR, noting that the network owns the "rights [to] the award-winning news magazine television series." We'd suggest that the publication accelerate its production schedule, but 60 Minutes, is, of course, off limits. We'll have to see what comes of CBS's attempt to pulp the magazine, but in the meantime, you can pick up an issue at MagCloud.
Encrypt your data and watch your back: Lisbeth Salander returns.
The book world is buzzing over next week's new Stieg Larsson novel, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Knopf has unveiled a flashy book trailer, dubbing Larrson's heroine Lisbeth Salander "a one woman vengeance machine." At Salon, Laura Miller writes that Larsson's prose is "as flat and featureless as the Scandinavian landscape," but that the underlying drama, between the flawed order of institutions and a Lisbeth-like anarchy, is "a contest that still captivates us because we all feel those warring impulses within ourselves." At Time, Lev Grossman details the battle over Larsson's legacy (he died in 2004), a "public soap opera in Sweden, with all the elements of a literary thriller: a star-crossed romance, a missing will, a house divided and a mysterious manuscript."
With the World Cup imminent, host nation South Africa will be in the spotlight; The Guardian has rounded up South African authors for a discussion of the country's current scene.
The finalists for the best and worst book trailers have been announced at MobyLives. The Moby crew waded through more than four hundred submissions; this Thursday the winners will be revealed at a gala event at The Griffin. Our favorite nominee is infamously publicity-shy author Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice trailer—in which the author appears only in voice-over—making us nostalgic for his appearance on The Simpsons, and causing daydreams about seeing Pynchon in a tux and a paper bag mask at the ceremony.
Tonight at Bluestockings Books, Kerri Walsh, editor of the Letters of Sylvia Beach, will read from the correspondence of the maven of modernism, who ran Paris's Shakespeare and Company, published Ulysses, and exchanged letters with all of the literary lights of her day.
As the labyrinthine BEA conference comes to New York next week, the array of events, tables, and booths at the Javits center (as well as the off-site parties) will be a little easier to navigate with the BEA To Go mobile app, which, contra Apple, will work on any web browser. Aside from schedules and maps, the app will have news, twitter feeds, and audio and video, among other handy features.
Penguin Books is celebrating seventy-five years in the biz. We wonder: What will the next seventy-five look like? Perhaps health-care (of all things) can shed some light on the future of publishing. Undoubtedly, the iPad, or a similar device, will be a big part of the story, and Wired wants to know: Is the iPad driving e-book piracy, and does it matter?
Frankly, we don't give a damn about our looks: Seventy years since the film Gone With the Wind has propelled the novel to sell more than thirty-millions copies, the Harry Ransom Center archives has unearthed production photos of Scarlett O'Hara, Rhett Butler, Belle Waiting, and the rest of the cast, offering a striking view of the Technicolor characters in mug-shot-like black-and-white.
Two thumbs up: Roger Ebert, the subject of a recent unforgettable Esquire profile, has inked a deal with Grand Central publishing for a 2011 memoir, detailing his battle with cancer and his relationship with buddy and co-host Gene Siskel.
Remain alert and have a safe day.
Slouching towards Williamsburg with a Macbook and a book deal: The "hipsterati" and those who hate them have created a vortex of satire and meta-satire that book publishers love to throw money into.
Russian lit is safe for toddlers, as long as it is in Touch 'n Feel form, ("Run your hand over Raskolnikov's scratchy face. He is feverish and pale") but Moscow subway stations decorated with Dostoevsky's gloomy visage could cause people to hurl themselves onto the tracks.
Triple Canopy's Molly Springfield profiles the Mundaneum, an early twentieth-century Internet, and its visionary creator Paul Otlet. Now with Otlet's scheme realized, tech-writer Nicholas Carr claims to prove that the Internet is rotting your brain.
But perhaps cellphones aren't (a new study is inconclusive); CellPoems has just won an award from the National Book Foundation. The journal texts (and posts) work by poets like Billy Collins and Charles Simic, who write playful poems in which every letter counts—just hold the phone away from your head as you read.
Tonight at Housing Works the Slate Gabfest podcast is going live, with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner conversing about books and culture, and engaging literary wallflowers with an audience-participation drinking game.
Jorge Luis Borges
Sloane Crosley, author of the hit memoir I Was Told There'd be Cake, has been promoted to deputy director of publicity at Vintage. Crosley is taking two weeks off from her new gig this summer to embark on a tour for her forthcoming essay collection How Did You Get This Number?, observing first-hand the rigors of on-the-ground book promotion, and picking up tips for her clients as well as plenty of fodder for future volumes.
Little Orphan Annie has survived many hardships, but has become the latest victim of newspapers' decline.
Novelist Rebecca Goldstein writes as Jorge Luis Borges, penning a story about how the study of literature has turned into an "amalgam of bad epistemology and worse prose," known as Theory; at the LA Times, Carolyn Kellogg imagines Borges "sneaking onto Wikipedia and seeding circular entries designed to perplex, mislead, and amaze." And in a turn of events that might delight Borges, readers can now create books from their favorite Wikipedia articles.
Lost in translation: Books are usually given completely different covers abroad, often with puzzling results—like the Everything is Illuminated cover that turned from a monochromatic scrawl in the US to a raunchy watercolor in France; The Guardian asks the designers to explain.
A long-awaited galley is a signifier of literary cool that outranks all others (at least on the F train); this week in New York, publishing biz insiders will nod knowingly at this hot lit accoutrement, disdaining the lowly iPad—at least for now. Style points aside, we're hoping to find a read so gripping that we miss our subway stop.
Next month, the New Yorker will publish its double fiction issue, in which it will ordain twenty writers under age 40 as the next great American authors—the first such list the magazine has compiled since 1999. The writers on the shortlist will learn if they made the cut this weekend, which may explain the overflow of young chain-smoking scribblers haunting Brooklyn coffee shops and bars, staring at their cell phones—though they tend to do that anyway. Here's who won't make the cut: the too old, the downmarket, the moonlighters, and the disgraced.
What to do about negative reviews? As the lone editor at Time's shrunken book section, Lev Grossman feels an "obligation to champion good literature"; while at Salon, Laura Miller chooses what books to cover in her column and usually shelves books she doesn't like. But without the possibility of a substantive critique, why review books at all?; as Bookforum editor Albert Mobilio points out, literary and non-commercial authors shouldn't get points just for showing up.
Buddhist writer Stephen Prothero, author of God Is Not One, knows he should "sit back and enjoy the ride . . . careening into a new age of media convergence," even when forced to appear in a YouTube video.
I think I feel a terrible cold coming on.
A writing studio designed by Andrew Berman
A room of one's own: Andrew Berman creates the ideal private library and writing studio, but with all that foliage in view, who could get any work done?
Would Jane Austen wear Prada? "Most readers and writers would admit clothing is pretty important in literature as well as in film and drama. There’s a lot of dressing-up going on in the arts," writes Helen Barnes-Bulley. In the 1930s, Nancy Drew had some sexy secrets, including "dainty lingerie," but implored a partner-in-crime to tone down her feminine wiles: "We are going to use strategy, but not charm, so put that frilly frock away."
"Use your blog to connect. Use it as you. Don’t 'network' or 'promote.' Just talk,” writes Neil Gaiman, winner of the Twitter prize at the Author Blog Awards. Gaiman's American Gods was chosen as the book for One Book, One Twitter, a plan to get "a zillion people all reading and talking about a single book," which started last week. If all this tweeting has got you a-twitter, you need to see "who's got pull in the Publishing Twitterverse."
In an interview at The Comics Reporter, Ben Schwartz, the editor of The Best American Comics Criticism, says "a lot of smart people are thinking about comics in a lot of different ways”; and his volume proves it. It features Schwartz's review of the first volume of the Complete Little Orphan Annie, a book that lets us "reappraise [Harold] Gray, one of the most controversial cartoonists of his generation—and, via his career, American conservatism." (Conservative comics connoisseurs may want to peruse Bluewater publishing's forthcoming issue on Baroness Margaret Thatcher.) The growth of comic book culture continues; the old-fashioned comic-book shop, "a vestige of Norman Rockwell America . . . [is] building actual physical communities, not virtual ones," while comic geeks are also plotting for world domination via the iPad. Meanwhile, there was gloomy news in Manga land, as VIZ media has laid off staff in San Francisco and closed its New York office.
Tonight at the Strand, book designer Chip Kidd discusses Art in Time: Unknown Comic Book Adventures, 1940-1980, with comics critic and Picturebox publisher Dan Nadel.
The 48 Hour Magazine team is still a bit groggy from this weekend's editorial drag race, but the project has been deemed a success, though the WSJ blog wrinkles its brow in consternation at the thought: "Creating a magazine from start to finish in two days sounds like an insane, nearly impossible task." The end product, a sixty-page first issue called (what else?) Hustle, will soon be available for purchase on magcloud. The editors have posted a blog of inspiring YouTube clips that helped them along the way—certain to come in handy when you're up against a tight deadline—as well as a list of contributors and a wrap-up of the project. They've also shared their financial plan: 25% "Investment," 25% "Socialism," 25% "Meritocracy," and 25% "Crazy Stunt;" a model contemporary publishing may want to emulate.
Today's the birthday of the world's oldest book, the Diamond Sutra, a sixteen-foot Buddhist scroll published in the year 868. So far it has survived 1,142 years without a battery change or a firmware update, and its message of non-attachment to "this fleeting world" is perhaps the handiest app yet invented.
Philip Pullman, author of the The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, speaks tonight at the NYPL. Pullman, who once said "My books are about killing God," has written a fable in which Mary gives birth to twins, one a Jesus you could bring home to Mom, the other, "Christ," who turns out to be a Judas figure. With such provocative subject matter, we hope the event's moderator Paul Holdengraber leaves plenty of time for audience questions.
The classic One Thousand and One Nights may soon be banned in Cairo. One of the foundations of Middle Eastern literature—certainly not without its share of naughty bits—the book was recently translated by Malcolm C. Lyons, who rendered this racy passage: "It is her custom, when heated by dance and wine, to undress naked and not to give herself to her lover until she has been able to examine his bare limbs, his rampant zabb, and the agility of his running."
Allen Ginsberg saw the best minds of his generation pose rakishly, and snapped many of the era's defining pictures. An exhibition of his photographs, which opened last week at the National Gallery, features the usual suspects; a shot of Neal Cassady under a movie marquee heralding The Wild One and Tarzan the Ape Man looks staged as the Beat apotheosis—or perhaps a scene from this year's film Howl, starring James Franco as the bearded bard. Franco, recently caught napping during a lecture at Ginsberg's alma matter, must have been channeling the poet's truant spirit—Ginsberg spent his Columbia days contending with the college's "dilettantes" by writing graffiti on dorm windows.
Gen X grows up: the self-christened slacker generation is apparently having a very baby-boomer-like mid-life crisis, while its successors learn to be careful on the net; after all, "People worse than pedophiles lurk outside the living room walls—people like the Eighties metal band Dokken," a threat that the Xers remember all too well.
Let's all pitch in and put out a magazine: The American Spectator is appealing to readers for money to keep on spectatin'. According to the stalwart conservative publication, their $26,000 shortfall was caused by the "perverse incentives of the liberal agenda."
Gabbing about Gotham: New York, “the huge jagged city,” as Henry James called it, “lies looking at the sky in the manner of some colossal hair-comb turned upward.” For Dawn Powell, it was “the city of perpetual distraction,” and Federico Garcia Lorca saw “crowds stagger through the boroughs / as if they had just escaped a shipwreck of blood.” Last week's PEN festival event led by Edwin Frank delved into the enduring literary fascination with the city.
On the heels of last year's redesign—the equivalent of a cry for help—Newsweek is up for sale, leading to earnest proclamations that the end of the newsweekly era is upon us. Editor Jon Meacham is scrambling to round up bidders to buy the magazine. In an interview with Jon Stewart, a long-faced Meacham talked about the future of reporting, "in a time when people don't want to pay for news," (here's part 2). An inevitable Meacham backlash is beginning, with media commentators like David Carr, Jack Shafer, and James Fallows piling on the beleaguered editor, while Fishbowl NY rounds up the 5 ways the story is being told.
Recently axed journalists can get a byline this weekend at the 48 Hour Magazine, "Here's how it works: Issue Zero begins May 7th. We'll unveil a theme and you'll have 24 hours to produce and submit your work. We'll take the next 24 to snip, mash, and gild it. The end results will be a shiny website and a beautiful glossy paper magazine." While you brew your coffee and sharpen your pencils in preparation, read an interview with the magazine's masterminds (you'll need to be good at multitasking).
To the lit-minded, Donald Judd's sculptures resemble bookshelves. Perhaps that's why his foundation in Marfa, Texas has spent many hours photographing the late artist's personal library of 13,000 books (including 2,200 duplicates). The result is a digital embalming of Judd's reading preferences, an extravagantly illustrated bibliography, and a portrait of the artist as a book collector.
David Foster Wallace obsessives found David Lipsky's Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself to be a too-brief glance at the author, but perked up at a few intriguing mentions of a little-known 1996 Details profile of Wallace. Blogger Craig Fehrman has toiled in the very unwired world of interlibrary loan to unearth the piece and post it on his blog, complete with a reproduction of the "Details-shot" that made Wallace wary of future photographers. The piece was the first to cover Wallace's Infinite Jest, and rightly predicted that the "literary world [would] bow down before him."