paper trail

Donald Antrim wins "Genius" grant, Dante the insomniac

The decision of Goodreads to enforce a policy prohibiting users from commenting on authors’ behavior—only their books—has already generated seventy pages of comments and cries of censorship from angry users.

Simon and Schuster has signed journalist Eleanor Randolph to write a “major biography” of outgoing mayor Bloomberg. According to the press release, the book will be about the “extraordinary career and legacy of Bloomberg, who revolutionized business reporting, who has been a powerful and innovative mayor of New York City for the last 12 years, and who has become a public figure of national significance.”

Novelists Donald Antrim and Karen Russell were among this year’s crop of winners of the MacArthur “Genius” grant. (See Justin Taylor's Bookforum essay on Antrim's three novels.) Why was Dante so obsessed with sleep in the Inferno? A scientist at the University of Bologna believes it’s because the Italian author was an insomniac. In an article for Sleep Medicine Journal, Giuseppe Piazzi argues that Dante “depicted narcolepsy with cataplexy (NC) in his literary works as an autobiographical trait... It appears to be a plausible hypothesis that Dante's sleep, dreams, hallucinations and falls are all clues to a lifelong pathologic trait, and that Dante either knew of or had this rare central nervous system hypersomnia."

In an interview with Hazlitt, novelist David Gilmour detailed the kinds of books he won’t be teaching to his University of Toronto students: anything by Canadians, women, or Chinese writers. Instead, he said that “what I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.”

At the New Yorker, Rebecca Mead writes about how a Lena Dunham tweet spurred interest in George Eliot’s sexual proclivities.