paper trail

Bari Weiss's book deal; Caitriona Lally wins the Rooney prize

Caitriona Lally

New York Times opinion columnist Bari Weiss has signed a book deal. The New Seven Dirty Words will take “a deep look at our new culture of censorship and censoriousness and makes the case for reviving the virtues that are essential for an open society.” The book will be published by Henry Holt in 2020.

New York Times deputy Metro editor Amy Virshup is taking over as the paper’s travel editor.

The Washington Post reports on Caitriona Lally, who just won the Rooney Prize for literature from Trinity College Dublin. Lally, who also works at the college as a janitor, was surprised when she got the news that her book, Eggshells, had won the coveted award: “At that moment, I couldn’t figure out what a Rooney was.” 

Wesley Morris argues that culture is now judged more for its correctness than its quality: “The real-world and social-media combat we’ve been in for the past two years over what kind of country this is—who gets to live in it and bemoan (or endorse!) how it’s being run—have now shown up in our beefs over culture.”

Rumaan Alam profiles Diane Williams, the short-story writer and editor of NOON, who has a comprehensive new collection of work coming out. Williams is reluctant to explain her stories, which are often no more than a couple pages long, telling Alam: ““I’m not willfully trying to be obscure or difficult. Maybe I also am. At the moment I said it, I thought, ‘Is that a lie?’ So there’s something to think about.”

The Atlantic reports on Ross Goodwin, a writer who has created an artificial-intelligence machine that generates poetry, screenplays, and is now in the process of “writing” a travel novel. Goodwin is driving from New York to New Orleans with the computer, a laptop with a receipt printer attached. As Brian Merchant reports, “Along the way, the four sensors—the camera, the GPS, the microphone, and the computer’s internal clock—would feed data into a system of neural networks Goodwin had trained on hundreds of books and Foursquare location data, and the printer would spit out the results one letter at a time. By the end of the four-day trip, receipts emblazoned with artificially intelligent prose would cover the floor of the car.”