paper trail

Peter Kaplan dies at age 59; How to steal the world's most valuable books

Peter Kaplan

Longtime New York Observer editor Peter Kaplan died on Friday at the age of 59. In a New Republic profile from last fall, Nathan Heller said of Kaplan, “Much of New York’s journalism world has come to regard Kaplan as a distant but endearing uncle—quirky, steeped in lore, and something of a daemon of the trade.” Longform has a nice selection of articles by and about Kaplan, including an oral history of the Kaplan era of the Observer, written when Kaplan left the paper in 2009.

As the sale of the Bay Psalms book for $14.2 million last week reveals, the rare-book business is a lucrative one. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Marino Massimo De Caro, the former director of the Girolamini Library in Naples, has been accused of stealing thousands of volumes from the collection, including editions of Aristotle, Descartes, and Machiavelli. De Caro himself is a character worthy of fictional treatment: A self-taught librarian without a college degree, he came, through political connections, to be in charge of some of the world’s most valuable books. He argues that he stole in part to “raise money to restore the library.” He has also admitted to creating several fake copies of Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius, and cites Borges when explaining the quality of his forgeries.

Three previously unpublished J.D. Salinger stories—"The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls," "Paula," and "Birthday Boy"—have been leaked online.

The Dutch writer Arnon Grunberg is currently writing a novella while wearing electrodes that measure his brain waves, as well as sensors tracking his facial expressions and measuring other vital signs. After the book is published next fall, some readers will measure their physical responses, and researchers will comb through the data in hopes of making sense of it all. Literature, meet the “quantified self” movement.

Tonight at Housing Works bookstore in New York, authors Mike Albo, Choire Sicha, Emily Gould and others answer the age-old New York question: Is living in the city worth it?