paper trail

Former poet laureate Philip Levine dies

Jonathan Franzen

Former US poet laureate Philip Levine, the winner of a Pulitzer prize and two National Book Awards, died on Saturday at age 87. Levine, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, was born in Detroit, and many of his poems were inspired by the city’s auto factories and working-class families.

On Friday, Dan Lyons announced that he will be leaving his post as the editor of Gawker media’s Valley Wag, though he claims he may still contribute to the site. Lyon cites his new book deal as one reason that he’s leaving the position: He just sold Disrupted, “a memoir of my ridiculous attempt to reinvent myself and start a new career as a marketing person inside a software company during the second tech bubble.”

At the Guardian, author Alex Preston describes his experiences as a participant at the Karachi literary festival. “There are obvious security challenges in organising a literary festival in a country where people get killed for the things they write. Only a few months before my arrival, the dean of Islamic studies at Karachi University, Shakeel Auj, was assassinated for daring to suggest in one of his books that Muslim women ought, like their men, to be able to marry outside their religion.” Indeed security was tight—Preston rides in an armored car, and waves to a security sniper watching over the festival. But as Ameena Saiyed OBE, the founder of the KLF tells him: “I think it’s very important to prove that Karachi is open for business. We want people to feel that Karachi is more than just bombs. And the answer to bombs is books.”

Jeff Bridges has been cast to play the role of Murray Thwaite in the film adaptation of Claire Messud’s novel The Emperor’s Children.

Booth journal has posted a new interview with Jonathan Franzen, and the annoyed responses are already rolling in. Franzen says: “Most of what people read, if you go to the bookshelf in the airport convenience store and look at what’s there, even if it doesn’t have a YA on the spine, is YA in its moral simplicity.” To which Flavorwire’s Sarah Seltzer replies: “it’s my belief that the best, most popular YA and genre novels are very directly concerned with morality in a way that literary fiction has all but abandoned. I’m talking epic, Shakespearean moral sweep, less about good vs. evil and more about characters facing big, fatal choices and impossible dilemmas with very high stakes.”