paper trail

Franzen talks about meaningful environmentalism; Should we be sad about the decline of the novel?

Zia Haider Rahman

“Should the demise of the literary novel trouble us?” asks novelist Zia Haider Rahman. “I think the answer is ‘yes,’ but not nearly as much as some literary novelists would have you think.” As she points out, we now have better television.

Even amid ample evidence of Donald Trump’s megalomania, Michael Wolff’s Trump book Fire and Fury continues to shock. As Jack Shafer points out: “President Donald Trump could have saved himself a lot of grief if he—or one of his people—had read Michael Wolff’s 2008 book, The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch, before permitting the writer seemingly unfettered access to the White House and his underling Steve Bannon.” The Times notes that Wolff is well-known as a “prime piranha,” raising more questions about why the author was given so much access to the White House.

In a blog post, Twitter explains why it won’t block any world leaders. It did not mention any leader by name, but to most, the figure being referred to was obvious.

Bird-loving author Jonathan Franzen tells the New Republic that he hopes Trump’s extreme anti-environmental stances will help spur conservation projects, and lays out his view of meaningful environmentalism: “I can devote myself to reducing my carbon footprint, or I can devote myself to going down to the local wetland and pulling out invasive weeds and trying to restore a degraded natural space. If I reduce my carbon footprint, there is zero practical effect. No one could ever measure it because it is meaninglessly small. Whereas if every Sunday I go down and pull weeds at that little half-acre scrap of land, the next year I will see fewer invasive plants. And suddenly a bird that has not nested here since it became degraded is back. I made a difference to that bird. And that is intensely meaningful.”

At Book Riot, Nancy Snyder expresses her anger over the recent lawsuit brought against Emma Cline, author of The Girls, by her ex-boyfriend, who is claiming, among other things, that Cline plagiarized him. Snyder points out that the ex’s lawyers, Boies Schiller Flexner, has also recently represented Harvey Weinstein.

In memory of Fred Bass, Tom Verlaine of the legendary rock band Television remembers working at the Strand Bookstore, where he got a job in 1968. “I never saw him lose his temper,” Verlaine says of Bass, “even with his dad, who was an incredibly loud, impatient, insulting porcupine of a man…though no workers took him seriously. He was a source of comedy—a book of anecdotes about him would be very funny.”