paper trail

Reeves Wiedeman and Lila Shapiro investigate the manuscript phishing scheme; Claire-Louise Bennett’s new novel

Claire-Louise Bennett. Photo: Conor Horgan

At Vulture, Reeves Wiedeman lays out everything he and Lila Shapiro have uncovered about the scammer who has spent years impersonating publishing industry professionals over email in order to get early copies of book manuscripts. Wiedeman and Shapiro have gathered a lot of information—the thief’s “favorite emoticon was ;)”—but the culprit’s motives remain inscrutable. “Was the pointlessness the point?” Wiedeman wonders. “The one thing that seemed to tie all these tiny acts of deception together was a sense that the thief was in it for the pleasure of the act itself. Whoever they were—a disgruntled scout, a basement full of hackers laughing to themselves—they cared enough to keep at it for years, devoting countless hours to sending endless emails—all seemingly for nothing.” Nevertheless, the scheme seems to be expanding to Hollywood.

For The Guardian, Leo Robson reviews Checkout-19, Claire-Louise Bennett’s second book. Here, Robson writes, “engaging with literature is presented not as a distraction from ‘life’ but as a guide and complement—a form of action, and a spur to it.”

This past spring, Alan MacLeod wrote for, a national media watchdog group, about “humanitarian imperialism” and case studies of how establishment news often helps “manufacture consent for regime change and other US actions abroad among left-leaning audiences, a traditionally conflict-skeptical group.” In April, MacLeod followed up with an outline of common tropes (“We have to save democracy!”) used by media that make US attacks and interventions appear more progressive to some readers.

Werner Herzog is writing a memoir and a nonfiction book about Hiroo Onoda, the Imperial Japanese Army officer who did not surrender at the end of World War II, instead remaining at his post in the Philippines for twenty-nine years.

At the Washington Square Journal Magazine, Sophie Haigney reports on the market for uncorrected advance copies of popular books. For example, an uncorrected proof of Jonathan Franzen’s forthcoming novel Crossroads was listed on eBay recently for $165. It’s relatively common to sell rare early copies of the classics, but early copies of newer books are marked “Not for sale” when circulated to critics and publications. Whether their sale is allowed after publication remains a murkier issue. Style is another consideration; Christine Smallwood, author of The Life of the Mind, tells Haigney, “If we really cared about style then we probably would only circulate finished books. What does it mean about publishing that the industry is saying the galley is good enough?”

Applications are open now through November 15 for the C. L. R. James Research Fellowship of the African American Intellectual History Society.