paper trail

The memoir Bush never wrote; Plagiarism in the poetry world

Justin Taylor

The Washington Post’s book critic Carlos Lozada reads through George W.H. Bush’s books, letters, and diaries to imagine the memoir the ex-president “seemed to avoid.”

Last week, the organizers of the Pushcart Prize—which honors writers who have published with small journals and independent presses—named this year’s nominees. Among them was Ailey O’Toole, who had been nominated for her poem “Gun Metal.” Now, poet Rachel McKibbens has posted on Twitter that O’Toole plagiarized a poem that appeared in McKibbens’s book blud. Here’s one of McKibbens’s lines: “Hell-spangled girl / spitting teeth into the sink, / I’d trace the broken / landscape of my body / & find God / within myself.” And here is O’Toole: “Ramshackle / girl spitting teeth / in the sink. I trace the / foreign topography of / my body, find God / in my skin.” After McKibbens’s Tweets, at least three additional poets—Hieu Minh Nguyen, Wanda Deglane, and Brenna Twohy—said that O’Toole had plagiarized them as well. O’Toole’s forthcoming poetry collection has been canceled.

It’s no surprise that Michelle Obama’s Becoming gave bookstores a big boost in sales at the start of the holiday season.

The New York Times looks at the books that Donald Trump has been promoting lately. Perhaps not surprisingly, all of the books are by writers who support the president. “At least six books, presumably in the running to line the conspiracy theory section of the future Trump presidential library, have titles like Spygate: The Attempted Sabotage of Donald J. Trump and The Russia Hoax,” writes Katie Rogers. “The authors are supporters like Jeanine Pirro, a longtime friend whose book Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy, has, according to the president, aptly explained ‘the phony Witch Hunt.’”

Book deals: HarperPerennial has bought a newly discovered story by Sylvia Plath. And in a pre-emptive deal, Random House bought Bookforum contributor Justin Taylor’s second novel, Riding with the Ghost.

At GQ, George Saunders interviews Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy.