paper trail

What went wrong with St. Mark's Bookshop; Ferrante tourism

Ada Calhoun

Justice Antonin Scalia’s death inspired quick, informative, and eloquent responses from Supreme Court scholar Ian Millhiser (austhor of Injustices), who looks at how Scalia’s absence could affect the Court’s docket; Jonathan Chait, who argues that Scalia’s death will change “everything”; and Dave Holmes, who writes, in response to Scalia’s aggressively antigay stances: “It is a curious feeling when a man who devoted a significant chunk of his career to your oppression dies.” Some of those paying homage to Scalia—the man who provided the title “Irreparable Harm” to Renata Adler’s analysis of Bush v. Gore—have done so perhaps a bit too quickly: On Twitter, former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann calls him “Anthony Scalia,” and likens Scalia’s written dissents to Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Speaking of Shakespeare, the Oscar-winning actress Glenda Jackson has been cast as King Lear, “considered one of the crowning roles in any actor's career,” in a new production of the play.

Ada Calhoun is the author the 2015 book St. Marks Is Dead, a history of the fabled East Village throughway. This week at the New Yorker, she writes about the demise of another historical part of St. Marks Place—St. Mark’s Bookshop. The bookstore has been struggling for years (in 2014, it moved to its fourth and latest location in attempt to survive in the increasingly high-rent neighborhood), and last week it seemed to be on the verge of permanent closure (the store owes more than $60,000 in back rent, for starters). Calhoun, a longtime customer, pays tribute to the bookstore, “a polished jewel in the scuzzy crown of the East Village,” a place where “smart if sometimes snooty clerks could talk your ear off about Roland Barthes” and where “the zine collection was impeccably curated.” But she also points out that the store “has also seemed frustratingly unwilling to seek out new streams of revenue. The former employees I’ve spoken to have mentioned various innovations that were floated over the years by friends of the store: offering deeper discounts, as the thriving Strand does; investing in advertising, or opening an in-store café like McNally Jackson.”

Laynie Browne offers a heartfelt tribute to the recently deceased poet C. D. Wright.

Rolling Stone is looking for new ways to reach a larger audience and generate revenue: The magazine is reportedly developing a docu-series with the Showtime network. “The magazine, like its rivals, is in the process of trying to ramp up its digital and live events business under heir apparent Gus Wenner,” WWD reports. “But insiders said that drumming up new advertisers for Rolling Stone has been a challenge in light of recent controversies,” such as its discredited article on rape at the University of Virginia and Sean Penn’s extended report on his meeting with El Chapo.

“Ferrante fever” has caused in a surge in tourism in Naples, as The Guardian reports in an article about Elena Ferrante’s popularity (which has also resulted in a new television series based on her Neapolitan novels).