• Mark English's illustration for John Cheever's "The Geometry of Love."
    June 02, 2010

    Jun 2, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    From the archives of American angst: The Saturday Evening Post has digitized and posted the 1966 John Cheever story "The Geometry of Love." Though the story appears in Cheever's Collected Stories, it is edifying to see a story by "the suburban squire" presented in its original context—a vividly illustrated Post spread, with its eyebrow-raising tag line: "How convenient to reduce your marital difficulties to a mathematical formula! How convenient—and how dangerous!" Though the Post jumped at the chance to publish the story, it was only after the New Yorker passed on it, with New Yorker editor

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  • June 01, 2010

    Jun 1, 2010 @ 12:47:00 pm

    Peter Beinart continues to assail Israel's leadership and its American supporters in an article condemning yesterday's flotilla raid, which killed nine people and resulted in the arrest of more than six hundred activists (including Swedish writer Henning Mankell). Israel and American Zionism are topics conspicuously absent from Beinart's new book The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris (reviewed in Bookforum by Jim Sleeper), but Beinart has had a lot to say about them recently.

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  • Nay Phone Latt
    June 01, 2010

    Jun 1, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Blogging can be dangerous, at least according to Burmese authorities, who have imprisoned Nay Phone Latt for his posts; poets are still suspect, too—Saw Wei, who was locked up in Burma for writing a poem, has finally been released after more than two years in prison for "inducing crime against public tranquility" with his verse, which had “General Than Shwe is crazy with power” encoded within the poem.

    I got a scheme—for a magazine! The beginnings of what Philip Roth dubbed "an imaginative assault upon the American experience" are detailed in an excerpt from a new history of Commentary, showing

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  • BEA rolls out of town
    May 31, 2010

    May 31, 2010 @ 10:00:00 am

    As BEA wrapped up last week, Carolyn Kellogg observed that at an Expo aglow with iPads, it was "telling that the hot trend for fall books is dystopian fiction." Why is the dystopian novel experiencing a renaissance in Western literature after its absence for the past few decades? In an essay in Bookforum's summer issue, Keith Gessen tracks dystopia from Orwell and Huxley to Tumblr and Facebook (including a saga that peaked on the web platform Plurk), writing that the Internet has "brought into being one of the fears common to most dystopian novels and developed with some detail in 1984: that

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  • May 28, 2010

    May 28, 2010 @ 9:08:00 am

    The march of Penguin: the publisher has finally reached an agreement with Amazon to get their books on the Kindle. 

    As BEA ended yesterday, the Expo's director announced that it will go back to a three-day format next year. That's good news for international attendees, who find that two days just isn't enough time, and good news for those fed up with the crammed main aisles, though there was one place to get away from the jostling crowds—the eerily quiet Digital Book Zone. At New York magazine's Vulture blog, Boris Kachka detected a "dystopian mood of the attendees and the panels," but the

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  • The Javits Center, home of BooxExpo America, from  Publishing Perspectives BEA Flickr collection
    May 27, 2010

    May 27, 2010 @ 9:20:00 am

    Despite spotty Wi-Fi, anxiety about publishing's future, and the appearance of an aged Rick Springfield, BEA was bustling on Wednesday. In the cavernous Javits center, galleys were distributed, deals were struck, catalogs thumbed through, and business cards swapped, with Wiley providing cups of free beer to help grease the wheels. The New York Times noticed a "certain frenzied feel," about the conference, while GalleyCat made the rounds at the day's book parties, affirming Harold Underdown's much repeated tweet: "After two hours of pushing through the crowds at #bea10, I have reached a simple

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  • May 27, 2010

    May 27, 2010 @ 9:05:00 am

    "Some of us have wondered whether university presses were going to survive in the digital age," writes Stan Katz in The Chronicle of Higher Education, "but most universities have not abandoned their presses." Southern Methodist University Press suspended its operations, but others, such as Princeton University Press, are thriving. Inside Higher Ed's Scott McLemee reports that while many university presses are at this year's BookExpo, others are "rethinking how they approach the publishing industry's biggest shindig," noting that The University of California PressTemple University PressMIT

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  • Sign of the times: a look at BEA banners from GalleyCat
    May 26, 2010

    May 26, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Exit Index: Total number of editors jettisoned 

    from Harper's in 2010: no less than 5. The magazine has announced the departure of two more top-of-the-masthead staff.

    GalleyCat prowled the halls of the Javits Center on Tuesday, wrapping up the day's BookExpo events, while its companion blog eBookNewser detailed the conference's digital news. The Constant Conversation sent this downbeat dispatch to booksellers: "we’re not asking you to save us; we’re asking you to save yourselves," while Publisher's Weekly reported from BEA's DIY conference. At the LA Times Jacket Copy, Carolyn Kellogg summed

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  • Greil Marcus kills scare quotes dead.
    May 25, 2010

    May 25, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    BEA can blur past faster than a Kindle page-turn, leaving the bookish with the uneasy feeling that they've missed something, but now they can map the three day publishing maelstrom in advance with My BEA Show Planner.

    "We" would like to "inform" you that scare quotes are "frightening," just "say" what you "mean." Greil Marcus, who recently co-edited the exhaustive A New Literary History of America, found scare quotes—"a narrative disease"—scattered throughout the more than two-hundred essays in the collection, and sees them as "a matter of a writer protecting himself or herself." When Marcus

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  • J. G. Farrell
    May 24, 2010

    May 24, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Bookforum's new summer issue maps utopia, and though the word means "no place" in Greek, that absurdity hasn't inhibited a great many dreamers and schemers: History is littered with attempts to realize some portion of heaven on earth, and literature is rife with depictions of worlds gone right and worlds gone very wrong. 

    When he died in 1979, J. G. Farrell was hailed as his generation's greatest historical novelist. Thirty years later, the view still holds, at least among the judges of the "lost" Booker award, who granted the prize to Troubles, his wicked 1970 satire of Anglo-Irish relations

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  • Robert Walser's microscripts
    May 21, 2010

    May 21, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    The new City Lights catalog cover seems to be saying "Smash your Kindle," according to eBookNewser, but in a long letter in response, publisher Elaine Katzenberger says they've got it all wrong.

    Rock, paper, Twitter: Christopher R. Weingarten plans to be the Last Rock Critic Standing, but it sure isn't easy. Weingarten tweeted more than one thousand reviews last year, wrote for the Village Voice and rollingstone.com, produced a book, and often contributes to online music message boards, though he thinks the Internet is diluting serious music and criticism: "We all wanted to democratize art.

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  • Peter Beinart
    May 20, 2010

    May 20, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    In 2006, Peter Beinart proclaimed that liberals were the only ones who could "Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again," putting a lefty gloss on the neocons' war plans, but oddly he didn't mention Israel's role in America’s “War on Terror.” Now, in an essay in the New York Review of Books, Beinart writes that "morally, American Zionism is in a downward spiral," thanks to its uncritical support for Netenyahu's hard-right coalition government in Israel, against the express wish of most American Jews—especially younger ones—to re-engage the Palestinian peace process.  

    Writing from

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