paper trail

Famed NYC bookseller Michael Seidenberg has died; Mary Gaitskill on #MeToo fiction

Michael Seidenberg. Photo: Elizabeth Crawford.

After Jeffrey Epstein was arrested for the alleged sex trafficking of minors on Saturday, journalist Vicky Ward claimed that her 2003 profile of Epstein for Vanity Fair had been edited to remove credible allegations of sexual misconduct. Ward says that then-editor Graydon Carter cut the testimony of two women and a corroborating witness. Ward tweeted on Monday, “I have thought often about the fact that if my piece had been published in full—with the names and stories of these women—the FBI may have come after Epstein sooner and perhaps some of his victims would have been saved.” Carter emailed the New York Times disputing Ward’s assertion, writing, “If we had had three people on the record willing to stand up for us in court if Epstein had chosen to sue, we would have run it. Period. End of story.”

Michael Seidenberg, the owner of the famed New York bookstore Brazen Head Books has died. In 2008, Patricia Marx wrote about Seidenberg for the New Yorker, attending the reopening of Brazen Head as a secret, appointment-only shop run out of an apartment. Seidenberg told Marx that he wanted Brazen Head to be more of a hangout than a commercial operation: “I had this idea of telling customers they couldn’t buy anything the first time they came, so that they’d believe me when I say nobody is obliged to buy anything.”

At Lit Hub, Jonny Diamond looks at Politico’s list of what the 2020 candidates and other “political heavy hitters” are reading this summer. As Diamond writes, “The only thing more painfully balanced than these choices is Politico’s need to include ‘both sides.’”

The Times reports on twenty-eight murals and other works of public art at the Dr. Maya Angelou Community High School, all of which honor the writer.

Mary Gaitskill discusses her new novella, This is Pleasure, which was published by the New Yorker this week. The story is a response of sorts to #MeToo, centered on a flighty, maddening book editor named Quinn and his friend Margot, who is appalled—but also conflicted—by Quinn’s over-the-line behavior with female colleagues. Gaitskill tells New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman, “Women have been abused and disrespected as women—that is plain. . . . I’m glad that that’s changing—if it actually is. Women have been right to finally speak out. But I feel for the situation of men now, too. I feel that masculinity is being demonized and that sex is being demonized, that physical touch is viewed with inordinate suspicion. That seems dangerous to me, in a different way.”