Timothy McSweeney has been invited to the Salon.
Why is good erotic writing so hard to pull off? It's icky, funny, or at best, boring. The Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award always gets a lot of play (see this year's winner), but Canadian novelist Russel Smith thinks it's "a mean-spirited exercise in playground mockery and repression." And speaking of bad sex: Granta, we need to talk about this cover.
I like f'ing (filing, that is): New York University's Fales Library has started a Riot Grrrl collection, preserving the history of the fierce feminist movement—and it goes way beyond zines. Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna has donated a trove of photos, set lists, art, and zine flats, because, she says, "I am horribly nervous about feminist erasure." Hanna's materials will share shelf space with other grrrls, and with downtown artists and writers such as David Wojnarowicz and Richard Hell, as well as tweedier bedfellows from 18th and 19th century English literature.
The Atlantic's fiction issue is out now, among the many must-reads is a conversation with Paul Theroux on "Fiction in the Age of E-books."
What Cheever was to commuter country, Deborah Eisenberg is to Manhattan malaise. Her underrated short stories are a veritable taxonomy of urban dysfunction. Tonight, she reads from her new volume, Collected Stories, at Chelsea's 192 Books. Cult-celebrity spotters should scan the audience for her longtime partner, Wallace Shawn, who lately has been stealing scenes in contemporary drama's most gripping panorama of unhappy uptowners, Gossip Girl.
It is National Library Week, and the gray lady wants you to pipe down: "when did libraries become a cacophonous combination of cafe, video store, music store, computer lab, and playground?" At Lapham's Quarterly Colin Dickey muses On Bones and Libraries: "Every librarian, every book collector, finds him or herself between . . . two mythical places—the Perfect Library of God and the Infinite Library of Babel, the one transcribed by Jerome, the other by Borges;" for bookworms stuck elsewhere, here's the Huffington Post's slide show of America's Most Amazing Libraries.
Cuban blogger Yaoni Sanchez's book, Cuba Libre, was confiscated because, as the authorities wrote, "Physical inspection of the package found documents whose content goes against the general interests of the nation." Western readers can see what that means early next year, when Melville House publishes an English-language version of her work.
Pulitizer Prize winner Paul Harding is trying very hard not to say "I told you so."
The giddy highs and woeful lows of a quarter-century of punk publishing, as seen by Jennifer Joseph of Manic D Press.
How do you like your canon served, and how do you pick up the check? That's the central question behind Open Letter publisher Chad Post's peeved reaction to Newsweek writer Malcolm Jones's critique of the Library of America. Jones asks if the LOA has "jumped the shark," because they devote volumes to the likes of Philip K. Dick and (special Newsweek shudder of disapproval) Shirley Jackson. Does Jones think that those handsome volumes of Melville and Wharton arrive from the book fairy? They're likely funded by the first Dick collection—the LOA's fastest-selling volume—because, as Post says, "a lot of readers are sick of the predictable and unchangeable American Canon.'"
Bookforum favorite Rae Armantrout's Versed has won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, while Paul Harding's Tinkers has won the fiction prize. Harding's novel was missed by many this year; the New York Times calls it "the one that got away," though Tinkers got brief mentions in the LA Times and the New Yorker, and a lengthier review in the Boston Globe and one in web zine The Quarterly Conversation. Powell's Books in Portland picked up the novel early on, releasing a special edition, and interviewing Harding, who says, "I didn't think the book would ever get published."
"First come, first saved." As extremist groups thrive in America, author Shalom Auslander gets uneasy laughs at Tablet by imagining hiding in an attic sanctuary; it ain't easy to find a crawl space roomy enough to accommodate his wife, two young children, and two large dogs.
At The Rumpus, Steve Almond recaps this weekend's AWP conference in "Things To Do in Denver When You're Braindead," and sensibly suggests that we worship George Saunders for his dignified bearing, flirt, and "lament."
In a world full of bias, bunk, and super-sized opinion, these anonymous scribes find the facts, and save face, for the world's most trusted publications.
A report from this weekend’s AWP conference, on indie publishers' electronic-book plans: Graywolf Press will have them this fall, Coffee House Press is also taking the plunge, while Melville House reports that its first Kindle title, Every Man Dies Alone, has been a "shocking" success. Meanwhile, the debate still rages over the ethics of pirating digital-lit, while the Christian Science Monitor reports that North Koreans are perusing Western e-books, including—in a twist of irony that Cervantes would savor—Don Quixote.
Tonight at McNally Jackson Books, Russian author Olga Grushin reads from her novel, The Line, a story of squabbling among characters in a queue for concert tickets, based on Stravinsky's 1962 return to Russia.
This weekend, book lovers should flock to downtown Brooklyn's 177 Livingston, where Triple Canopy is hosting West Coast indie publisher Publication Studio. They'll be making books by day (10-4, Saturday), and hosting a discussion and party tonight and Saturday night. Art, live music, industry speculation, and cheap drinks are secondary seductions to lure you to the real prize, the Studio's extraordinary books.
“Are You Absolutely, Positively, and Wholeheartedly Ready to Publish Your Novel?” You can find out here.
On April 30, the PEN World Voices Festival is hosting a panel discussion called "A New World of Yesterday: Stefan Zweig’s Utopian Nostalgia." It will feature Zweig enthusiasts Klemens Renoldner, the director of the Stefan Zweig Centre at the University of Salzburg, and George Prochnik, who has written about Freud's trip to America and the importance of silence (he is now writing a book about Zweig). Here's the kicker: the panel will also feature Michael Hofmann, whose resume includes translating Thomas Bernhard, writing poetry, discovering (for us, at least) Lydia Davis, and making anyone who praises Stephan Zweig feel angry (he calls the author "the Pepsi of Austrian writing," in one of his gentler moments). Renoldner responds to the latter attack here. We happen to like Zweig's Beware of Pity, and are excited for this lively debate.
They don't cover "Zweig" (zvIg), but California's Diesel Bookstore has produced a handy chart that tells you how to pronounce authors' names. Print it out and tape it on the wall next to your desk, aspiring book nerds! And trust us, don't rely on this Village Voice guide: it got us into serious book-party trouble when it came out in 2003 (back when literary greats George Plimpton and John Updike still walked among us).
Malcolm McLaren, the man behind the Sex Pistols, is dead at 64. Here's what Greil Marcus said about him in his 1989 book on punk rock and the Situationist, Lipstick Traces: he realized the fact that rock songs such as "Stairway to Heaven" were "oppressions." "Thus [McLaren and the Sex Pistols] damned rock 'n' roll as a rotting corpse: a monster of moneyed reaction, a mechanism for false consciousness, a system of self-exploitation, a theater of glalmorized oppression, a bore." (page 57)
Motoko Rich is leaving her post as the New York Times's publishing-beat reporter. In May, she will begin writing for the Business Day section.
Mark E. Smith
A university exhibit and new book highlight David Foster Wallace's life and work, and Scott McLemee visits the relics: "A writer who kills himself runs the risk—and he must have known this—of having his life and work turned into one long suicide note."
Scholar Tariq Ramadan returns to the U.S. for the first time since he was barred from the country by the Bush Administration in 2004. He chats with author Ian Buruma, Slate editor Jacob Weisberg, and war reporter George Packer tonight at Cooper Union's "Secularism, Islam, and Democracy: Muslims in Europe and the West."
Performing songs like "Coca Cola Douche" won't preclude you from being covered by the Wall Street Journal: if nothing else, poet, Fugs member, and all-around countercultural juggernaut Ed Sanders has proven that much.
Big news for spy-novel fans: The Mysterious Bookshop owner Otto Penzler is auctioning off part of his 60,000-volume collection; there's never been a better time to brush up on your William Le Queux.
Don't get us started about mix tapes. All of our teenage lust, angst, and ungodly passion for jangly, jagged music was channeled through said ninety-minute analog wonders, and rambling about them now just makes us feel old. So we were dismayed to see Flavorwire's ten-song mixtape for "English majors and other word nerds." We don't care about the New Yorker-endorsed tykes Vampire Weekend, the glorified jam-band Built to Spill, or a slightly past-their-prime Magnetic Fields. But the last song on the list, The Fall's "Repetition," is worthy of a mention for its literary merits alone—singer Mark E. Smith's lyrics deserve a Booker award or two, or, at the very least, the undiluted adulation of bloggers everywhere. But forget tape hiss and old song lists; Flavorwire isn't all about nostalgia—they also provide a very handy list of 10 Book Types You Should Follow on Twitter.