paper trail

Ken Chen reviews “Punks,” John Keene’s new poetry collection; Mike McGonigal has sold a book on gospel

John Keene. Photo: Nina Subin

At Politico, Max Tani points out that Julie Pace and Darlene Superville’s Jill: A Biography of the First Lady, released by Little, Brown in April, sold only about two hundred and fifty copies in its first week. Pace and Superville are White House correspondents, and according to Tani, their book’s sluggish sales is just one example of how covering the White House in the age of Biden has “become a bore.” 

Another run of Matthew Gasda’s play Dimes Square, the cast of which includes book critic Christian Lorentzen, has been scheduled for late May. Tickets are available here.

At The Nation, poet-essayist Ken Chen writes about John Keene’s expansive new collection Punks, which, Chen argues, points to new possibilities in lyric poetry, which has traditionally been self-reflective and limited in scope. “The lyric seems so bound up with the individual that it’s hard to imagine what a social poetry might look like,” Chen writes. “One possible direction forward is suggested by John Keene’s new poetry collection, Punks. A languorous and nervy book, Punks tells a social history of desire, at once surreptitious and brazen. Signaling the return of the social, its poems emanate a radiant kindness. Its miracles come not so much from a glistening metaphor or the projection of self; Keene avoids such luminous tricks for an endeavor that might seem modest but is actually far larger in scope. He can actually see other people.” For more on Keene’s latest work, read his interview with Bookforum.

Music writer Mike McGonigal—music writer, editor of the quarterly Maggot Brain, and producer of the gospel radio show Buked & Scorned—has sold his book about gospel, Walk Around Heaven, to Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Willy Staley reviews Anna, Amy Odell’s semi-authorized biography of Anna Wintour. “Odell’s extensive reporting dredges up a wealth of delightful details: the time Wintour scandalized her boss by featuring a $9,000 goatskin trunk in New York magazine, where she also became known for throwing her pennies in the garbage; that Andy Warhol considered her a ‘terrible dresser’; that she would often bump into people while rounding corners at the Vogue offices because, ‘being a Brit, she used the other lane”; that after she went on a lunch date with Bill Gates, she told a colleague “how attractive she thought he was’; that ‘she once asked her photo department to retouch the fat around a baby’s neck.’”

Tonight at 6:30pm Eastern Time, Greenlight Bookstore will host a Zoom event featuring best-selling author Lev Grossman, who will discuss his new fantasy-adventure novel The Golden Swift