paper trail

Edward Snowden's Memoir; Edmund White Receives NBA Lifetime Achievement Award

Edward Snowden’s memoir, Permanent Record, will go on sale on Tuesday. Metropolitan Books has—no surprise—kept the contents of the book very secret, but two critics have managed to get their hands on advance copies. Jennifer Szalai reviews the memoir for the Times (she calls it “a riveting account and a curious artifact”), and Christian Lorentzen reviews it for the London Review of Books. Both writers note that in the book’s acknowledgments, Snowden thanks novelist-critic Joshua Cohen “for taking me to writing school." They also note that Cohen’s 2015 novel Book of Numbers features a character named Joshua Cohen who is hired to ghostwrite the memoir of a tech billionaire who has gone off the grid.

The National Book Foundation has announced that it will give its 2019 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, a lifetime-achievement award, to novelist, critic, and biographer Edmund White. The medal will be presented to White by filmmaker and author John Waters at the NBA ceremony on November 20.

Last week, Lawrence Lessig—the Harvard law professor and author of America, Compromised—wrote an essay about Joi Ito, formerly at MIT, who had accepted contributions from Jeffrey Epstein. Many criticized Lessig’s remarks, particularly his comments about keeping donations from morally harmful people anonymous (Anand Giridharadas called Lessig’s essay a “disappointing moral crumpling”). This weekend the Times ran an interview with Lessig, which opens with a line by the article’s writer, Nellie Bowles: “It is hard to defend soliciting donations from the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. But Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law professor, has been trying.” Yesterday, Lessig posted a rebuttal to that framing: “My essay is not defending. It is attacking. It is not arguing that Joi did something right. It’s attacking the scapegoating that was happening last week.”

A.A. Dowd chronicles his experiences of rereading Stephen King’s It as an adult.

Jeanine Cummins’s novel American Dirt, due out in January of next year, was purchased in 2018 in a competitive auction for seven figures by Flatiron books. Last week, Flatiron bought a second novel by Cummins for a rumored seven-figure sum.