paper trail

Masha Gessen to discuss Surviving Autocracy tonight; Writers and editors pay tribute to John Homans

Masha Gessen. Photo: Lena Di

John Homans, frequently referred to as “a writer’s editor,” has died. A number of people who worked with him at New York magazine and Vanity Fair have paid tribute. Writes Joe Hagan, author of Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine: “He’s the last of a breed, a vision-quest editor: He gave you a mandate when you were going to write a story, in this sort of oracular style that was hard to describe, to motivate you. He would often say, when I was at my low ebb—tired, depressed, demoralized, as we can all get sometimes—he’d say, oh, this is the sport of kings, man! We’re lucky! We get to go out and do this! This is the great fortune, the world is ours to go have fun with!

At Pairagraph, philosopher Joseph Bottum, author of the book The Novel in Decline, exchanges a series of letters with Phil Klay to ponder the health of contemporary fiction.

W. W. Norton has announced that Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth, which will be 880 pages, will be published on April 6. “Our association was sometimes complicated, but rarely unhappy and never dull,” Bailey said of working with Roth, in an interview with the Associated Press.

At the New York Times, Concepción de León profiles Raven Leilani, whose debut novel, Luster, is out tomorrow. “I wanted to write a story about a Black woman who fails a lot and is sort of grasping for human connection and making mistakes,” Leilani says. “I didn’t want her to be a pristine, neatly moral character.”

In an online event tonight at 7 PM EST, Masha Gessen and Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri will discuss Gessen’s new book, Surviving Autocracy.