Radhika Jones

  • Uncreative Writing

    If Kenneth Goldsmith were writing this column—well, for starters, he wouldn’t write it; he’d turn in a piece of found art that had nothing to do with anybody’s book collection, or he’d transcribe our conversation, with all the ums and uhs (mostly mine—he’s on the Oscar Wilde end of the articulateness spectrum), or he’d plagiarize some other column and transform it into a sound poem by singing it and then post it to UbuWeb, the on­line repository for the avant-garde arts that he founded in 1996. His position on writing is as follows: Modernism and postmodernism are over, and the literary arts

  • Talker in the City

    So,” I say to Daniel Menaker, a former fiction editor at the New Yorker and for six years a senior editor at Random House, later executive editor in chief. “How did you get into an editorial career?”

    He looks me straight in the eye and says, “How did you get into one?”

    Asking questions while unflaggingly maintaining eye contact is very much on Menaker’s mind these days. He is about to make his debut as the host of an online book show, in which he’ll be talking to four writers per episode, and my visit to his apartment, though arranged to afford me the opportunity to inquire about his library,

  • Uncommon Readers

    If I tell you that Nicole Aragi and John Freeman have not one but two rolling-track library ladders—in the living room and in the bedroom—by which to ascend to the top of their fiction-packed floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, you will understand why I was loath to leave their Chelsea apartment after visiting it on a warm Sunday morning for the purpose of writing this column. That Aragi laid on a full Middle Eastern breakfast, complete with cups of potent Arabic coffee, only made departure a sadder prospect.

    Aragi is a literary agent whose clients include Jonathan Safran Foer, Manil Suri, Edwidge

  • Grace Notes

    If Alex Ross could get his hands on a time machine, he knows exactly where he’d go: 1920s Berlin. “Such an incredible period,” he says. “There was just so much going on.” He’d check out the Berlin Festival of 1929, featuring Wilhelm Furtwängler and Richard Strauss conducting, a gala performance with Toscanini at the baton, and Stravinsky at the piano playing his own work. He’d see Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes on tour, Otto Klemperer presenting new music by Hindemith, and Bruno Walter conducting Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. There’s just one precaution he’d take, he says, in light of the events

  • Books 360

    As a young man growing up in Omaha, Kurt Andersen dreamed of moving east. His parents were big readers; his mother was an amateur Willa Cather scholar who gave talks on the Nebraska novelist at women’s groups and book clubs. Andersen wrote for his junior high school paper, and at fifteen he discovered Emerson and Thoreau. His eldest sister went to graduate school in Chicago, which suggested to him the possibility of an academic career. When Andersen got to Harvard and started writing for the Lampoon, he began thinking about the life of a writer instead. “George Plimpton was hanging around, and