paper trail

The London Review of Books opens its archive; Vox media freelancers to lose jobs

Patricia Lockwood. Photo: © Grep Hoax

Critic Peter Schjeldahl has been diagnosed with lung cancer. In a new essay for the New Yorker, he reflects on his Midwestern upbringing, alcoholism, and learning to be an art critic in public. This personal essay is “an exception” for Schjeldahl, who has never kept a diary and hasn’t done any writing “for myself” in some thirty years.“When I write,” he explains,“it’s to connect.” In this piece, he tells jokes (“Swatted a fly the other day and thought, Outlived you.”) even as he leaves us with a firm recommendation: “Take death for a walk in your minds, folks. Either you’ll be glad you did or, keeling over suddenly, you won’t be out anything."

The London Review of Books has redesigned their website and made the entire site—with more than 17,000 articles—free for the next month. In their new issue, Colm Tóibín writes about Elton John and Jenny Turner reviews Debbie Harry’s new memoir. It’s easy to get lost in the archives: Try starting with Terry Castle on Susan Sontag, Jenny Diski’s memoirs, or Patricia Lockwood’s already canonical 2019 essay on the internet.

Forty-nine journalists were killed in 2019, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Hundreds of freelancers at Vox media will lose their jobs as the site prepares to comply with a new California bill designed to protect gig-economy workers. The law prohibits independent contractors from submitting more than thirty-five articles a year. John Ness, the executive director of SB Nation—where most of the layoffs will occur—wrote in a “bittersweet note of thanks” that the contractors can apply for full- or part-time jobs, and can continue to write, though they “need to understand they will not be paid for future contributions.” Ness added: “We know this may be a difficult decision, so we’re giving everyone affected 30 days to decide what works for them.”

The Morning News has announced the shortlist and judges for its 2020 Tournament of Books.

New York Times critic Dwight Garner compiles his favorite “reading moments” of the year. Included on the list was Vladimir Nabokov’s quip from 1974, recently unearthed in Think, Write, Speak, a new collection of essays, letters and interviews: “I don’t even know who Mr. Watergate is.”