paper trail

The religion of Denis Johnson; Publishing's uneasy dependence on books about Trump

Denis Johnson

At The Point, Aaron Thier examines the themes of addiction, recovery, and god in Denis Johnson’s work. “Whatever ‘God’ meant to Johnson in his private life, ‘God’ in his fiction is a way of referring to those aspects of human experience that seem excessive or out of scale,” he writes. “It is the extra something—the charge that passes between a human being and the universe.”

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has called for an international investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

New Republic editor J.J. Gould is leaving the magazine.

Vulture’s Lila Shapiro looks at the publishing world’s uneasiness about the industry’s financial dependence on books about Trump in 2018. “On the one hand, there was a sense of relief that, in a relatively flat sales environment where no fiction had sold more than a million copies since 2015 (when Trump descended the golden escalator), a few nonfiction chronicles had tent-poled the industry,” she writes. “But there was also an unmistakable air of embarrassment over these riches—and a sense of loss for the sleeper hits that might have been, if there had just been a little more media oxygen in the world.”

At Harper’s Magazine, Janine di Giovanni reflects on life as a female war reporter, the late Marie Colvin, and Matt Heineman’s new movie about Colvin’s life, A Private War. “Since I began reporting from conflict zones in the early 1990s, I had been asked dozens of times whether women reported war differently from men. ‘No,’ I would bristle, annoyed by the question,” di Giovanni remembers. “I went to the front lines with soldiers and embedded with rebel armies. I lived for months in the field or the bush; I did not wash; I carried the dead and wounded out of trenches. I did everything my male colleagues did, and tried to mirror their emotions. At least I thought I did.”

Tonight at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, Jonathan Lethem and Lauren Groff read from their recent books.