paper trail

Michael Schur writing first book; Cathy Park Hong on comedy and writing

Cathy Park Hong. Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

For Ssense, Thessaly La Force talks to Cathy Park Hong about poetry, Richard Pryor, and her new essay collection, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning. Hong said that her “obsession” with Pryor’s comedy was part of the inspiration for her book. “I have never been able to directly and honestly write about race,” she said. “I thought, how can I write honestly about race that feels as immediate and urgent and real as what Richard Pryor was doing with stand-up comedy?” A poet by training, Hong landed on the essay form, which does similar work to stand-up. “With comedy, you’re making an argument, right? . . . There is a kernel truth they’re trying to get at, but they also know if they throw the truth at you, you’re not going to listen,” she explained. “Tommy Pico says he uses comedy like a Trojan horse. The punchline has this element of surprise. Comedy, as an argument, is trying to convince you of some unpleasant truth that you wouldn’t otherwise face.”

The Good Place creator Michael Schur is writing his first book. How to Be Good: A Definitive Answer for Exactly What to Do, In Every Possible Situation “will take readers on a journey through the 2500-year discussion of ethics, explaining and poking fun at these grand ideas, and sketching a roadmap for how we ought to act.” How to Be Good will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2021.

At The Outline, Maris Kreizman looks at the recent walkout at Hachette Books, which led the publisher to cancel production on Woody Allen’s forthcoming memoir, and what it means for the publishing industry at large. “The cancellation of Allen’s book signals a sea change in a notoriously hierarchical industry in which management traditionally made decisions, and workers were expected to comply,” she writes. “By simply listening to and evaluating the concerns of lower level employees . . . publishers have the opportunity to avoid making bad business decisions before contracts are even signed. And, if those employees are valued more, both in their opinions and their salaries, the publishing industry has a better shot at retaining them and becoming more diverse at higher levels.”

“The amplification of questions about Biden’s fitness for office has demonstrated the reach of the pro-Bernie media world, with widely followed lefty journalists and podcast hosts sharing clips and claims to millions,” writes Vanity Fair’s Tom Kludt. “But the campaign also highlights the limits of an alternative media apparatus.”

“I think it’s great if you have a splashy debut and lots of opportunities come your way, but to be honest, especially if you get published on the younger side, you might not be ready for those opportunities,” Before and After the Book Deal author Courtney Maum tells the WMFA podcast. “You might not know what to say no to. That’s sort of a skill that’s developed over time.”