paper trail

May 15, 2012 @ 5:48:00 pm

The New Yorker relaunches Book Bench as Page Turner.

Prolific Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes died at a hospital in Mexico City on Tuesday at the age of eighty-three. One of the most influential members of the Latin American Boom movement, Fuentes was the author of over thirty books, including The Death of Artemio Cruz, The Old Gringo, and The Crystal Frontier, as well as a political columnist and essayist. Though he was never granted a Nobel Prize, France did give him a National Order of Merit, the highest award available to civilians, in 1997, and in 1994 Spain gave him a Prince of Asturias Award for literature.

Despite a Twitter hoax claiming the contrary, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is still alive.

A new study suggests that contemporary writers are paying less attention to their predecessors than they are to their peers. Looking at 7,733 books, essays, and poems that were written after the year 1550, Dartmouth mathematicians found that certain stylistic tics were good indicators of what writers were reading. Their takeaway was that “while authors in the 18th and 19th centuries are still influenced by previous centuries, authors writing in the late 20th century are instead 'strongly influenced' by writers from their own decade.”

Journalist and literary prankster Mike McGrady died this week at the age of seventy-eight. McGrady was best known for publishing the 1969 “suburban sexcapade” Naked Came the Stranger under the pseudonym Penelope Ashe, though the book was actually written by two dozen Newsday reporters. "It was great," McGrady told the Los Angeles Times after the scheme had been revealed. "Everybody sat down and wrote his chapter in one night. It was terrific for morale at the paper. We would all pass our chapters around to see how bad everybody else was writing. The only problem was that we had to send several back for rewriting. They were too good." The following year, McGrady published his second book, this time under his real name. It was titled Stranger Than Naked: Or, How to Write Dirty Books for Fun and Profit.

New York didn’t even crack the top twenty of the country’s best-read cities this year, according to the second annual Amazon ranking. The list was based on total Amazon sales of books, magazines, newspapers, and e-books in cities of more than 100,000 people. While Berkeley, California, and Cambridge, Massachussets, nabbed the second and third spots, Alexandria, Virginia was named the country’s most literary city—as well as the biggest market for romance novels.

The New Yorker has relaunched its literary blog with a new name and logo: Page-Turner. According to its mission statement, the blog is dedicated to “criticism, contention, and conversation about the most important books of the moment.”