• Helen DeWitt
    September 22, 2011

    Bookforum talks to Helen DeWitt

    One of the most exciting literary events this fall is the publication of Helen DeWitt’s long-anticipated second novel, Lightning Rods. DeWitt, a Maryland-born polymath, is best known as the author of The Last Samurai, the story of a boy genius who sets off in search of his missing father. Sam Anderson called that book “the most exciting debut novel of the decade." Lightning Rods promises to generate even more emphatic responses: It is, among other things, a satire in which a businessman develops a service that will end sexual harassment.

    BOOKFORUM: Lightning Rods, your new novel, is not actually

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  • Ben Lerner
    September 15, 2011

    Bookforum talks with Ben Lerner

    Two pages into Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station, his protagonist, a choleric young poet on a year-long fellowship to Madrid, confesses, “I had long worried that I was incapable of having a profound experience of art and I had trouble believing that anyone had, at least anyone I knew.” This concern animates Lerner's debut novel, a wry take on the challenges of producing art in the age of technological mediation. Set shortly before the 2004 terror attacks, Leaving the Atocha Station—named after a John Ashbery poem—follows Adam Gordon as he obsesses over feelings of fraudulence, indulges

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  • September 08, 2011

    Bookforum interviews Amy Waldman

    Four years ago, Amy Waldman decided to take a break from her life as a reporter. She had just returned from a stint as the New York Times’s South Asia bureau chief and, along with her luggage, schlepped an idea home from abroad. This idea grew into her novel, The Submission, which was just published. The book follows a competition to choose a memorial for the site of a 9/11-style attack in New York City. When a committee of artists, politicians, and family members choose “The Garden,” a design by Muslim-American architect Mohammad Khan, the media latches onto the story, heightening tensions in

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  • Misha Glouberman and Sheila Heti, photo by Lee Towndrow.
    June 28, 2011

    Sheila Heti and Misha Glouberman

    Misha and I have been good friends for ten years. At the beginning of our friendship, we ran a barroom lecture series together called Trampoline Hall. Now, we are publishing a book called The Chairs Are Where the People Go. Initially I wanted to write a novel called The Moral Development of Misha, but after writing sixty pages, I threw it out. I had hoped to capture Misha’s way of being in the world and his opinions and point of view, but it wasn’t working as fiction. I realized that I preferred Misha’s words when they came from him, rather than when they were filtered through my imagination.

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  • Matthew Stadler
    June 15, 2011

    Bookforum talks with Matthew Stadler

    The future of publishing has been the subject of many debates and panels for the past five or so years, but until recently, not a lot was being done about it. That's beginning to change, thanks to newcomers such as OR Books and Cursor, Inc. Perhaps the most innovative and philosophical new independent press is Publication Studio, the brainchild of Portland-based publishers Matthew Stadler and Patricia No. In 2009, Stadler purchased a printer and an unusual perfect binder (christened “Ol Gluey”) and launched Publication Studio as a print-on-demand publisher. Since then, the independent press

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  • Patrick Dewitt, photo by Danny Palmerlee.
    June 11, 2011

    Bookforum talks with Patrick DeWitt

    In 2009, Ablutions: Notes for a Novel introduced author Patrick DeWitt as a master of corrosive comedy. That book follows a barback at an L.A. watering hole who, with alarming (and somehow hilarious) alacrity, ruins his marriage, robs his employers, and calls in a bomb threat during a shift. For all of its chaotic scenes and drunken antics, DeWitt’s debut proceeded with a raconteur’s wit and surprising control, qualities that also distinguish his follow-up, The Sisters Brothers, released this week. The new book is a Western, but it, too, is about a job of sorts: Siblings Eli and Charlie Sisters

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  • Hervé Le Tellier
    June 01, 2011

    Bookforum interviews Hervé Le Tellier

    Since joining the French literary society of the Oulipo (Workshop of Potential Literature) in 1992, Hervé Le Tellier, a former mathematician, food critic, and scientific journalist, has taken up the task of investigating what the influential novelist Georges Perec once termed the l'infra-ordinaire (the extremely mundane). A relative late-comer to the group (founded by Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais in 1960), Le Tellier has, nonetheless, produced a copious catalog of work—novels, poems, and what some Oulipians cryptically refer to as “exercises”—all the while maintaining an avuncular

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  • April 01, 2011

    Bookforum talks with Stanley Cavell

    Stanley Cavell grew up in Atlanta and Sacramento, California. He was a student in music at UC Berkeley and Juilliard before studying philosophy at UCLA and completing a Ph.D. at Harvard University. His eighteen books range from treatments of individual writers (Wittgenstein, Emerson, Shakespeare) to studies in aesthetics, film, and religion. Through his writing and almost half century of teaching—six years at Berkeley, thirty-five at Harvard—Cavell has become "one of the great philosophers," as Jay Parini wrote in the Hudson Review in 1988. Cavell served for many years as president of the

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  • February 01, 2011

    Chatting with Bookforum's Chris Lehmann about Rich People Things

    Chris Lehmann is a conspicuously over-employed editor and cultural critic. He’s a co-editor of Bookforum, an editor at Yahoo news, a columnist for the Awl, a contributing editor for The Baffler, and a guitarist and singer for the band The Charm Offensive. He’s also penned a book, Rich People Things, published by OR books. We recently caught up with Mr. Lehmann via email to discuss the how his blog column became a book, why he considers himself an economic populist, and what we talk about when we talk about class in America.

    Q: Mr. Lehmann, I can’t help notice that your name figures prominently

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  • Sara Marcus
    January 01, 2011

    Bookforum talks with Sara Marcus

    Sara Marcus’s Girls to the Front, an engaging chronicle of the early-’90s punk feminist movement known as Riot Grrrl, is being published today by Harper Perennial. Writing in Bookforum’s music issue, musician and author Johanna Fateman called the book an “ambitious and convincing book that makes narrative sense out of events that had so far been recorded only in mythic, unverified, and fragmentary form.” We recently sat down with Marcus, who is a freelancer at our sister publication Artforum, to discuss her writing process, feminism’s fate in mainstream culture, gender bias in book criticism,

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  • Frederich Tuten
    January 01, 2011

    Bookforum talks with Frederic Tuten

    Since dropping out of high school at the age of sixteen with dreams of becoming a painter, Frederic Tuten has lived in Paris; traveled through Mexico and South America; earned a Ph.D. in nineteenth-century American literature; acted in a short film by Alain Resnais; conducted summer writing workshops in Tangiers with Paul Bowles; and written fictions and essays for the artist’s catalogues of Eric Fischl, David Salle, John Baldessari, Jeff Koons, and Roy Lichtenstein. He has also written some of the slyest and most beguiling fiction ever to be described as experimental. His five novels include

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  • Eileen Myles, photo by Leopoldine Core.
    November 01, 2010

    Bookforum interviews Eileen Myles

    “If you’re interested in poetry, I’ll give you lesbianism, and if you’re interested in lesbianism, I’ll give you poetry.”

    Inferno is the latest book by poet, novelist, essayist, performer, and one-time presidential hopeful Eileen Myles. (It’s true, she ran as a write-in candidate in 1992.) Eileen did not call Inferno a memoir, even though it sort of is. Maybe one could call it a remembrance. Eileen calls it a novel. In the process of remembering, she lets go a frantic and enlightened rush of recall, impressions, and wit. Loosely modeled on Dante, the novel traces the character Eileen’s dual

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