paper trail

May 13, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

Stephen Prothero

A long-awaited galley is a signifier of literary cool that outranks all others (at least on the F train); this week in New York, publishing biz insiders will nod knowingly at this hot lit accoutrement, disdaining the lowly iPad—at least for now. Style points aside, we're hoping to find a read so gripping that we miss our subway stop.

Next month, the New Yorker will publish its double fiction issue, in which it will ordain twenty writers under age 40 as the next great American authors—the first such list the magazine has compiled since 1999. The writers on the shortlist will learn if they made the cut this weekend, which may explain the overflow of young chain-smoking scribblers haunting Brooklyn coffee shops and bars, staring at their cell phones—though they tend to do that anyway. Here's who won't make the cut: the too old, the downmarket, the moonlighters, and the disgraced.

What to do about negative reviews? As the lone editor at Time's shrunken book section, Lev Grossman feels an "obligation to champion good literature"; while at Salon, Laura Miller chooses what books to cover in her column and usually shelves books she doesn't like. But without the possibility of a substantive critique, why review books at all?; as Bookforum editor Albert Mobilio points out, literary and non-commercial authors shouldn't get points just for showing up.

Buddhist writer Stephen Prothero, author of God Is Not Oneknows he should "sit back and enjoy the ride . . . careening into a new age of media convergence," even when forced to appear in a YouTube video

I think I feel a terrible cold coming on.