• Kevin Morrissey
    December 23, 2010

    Dec 23, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    The Virginia Quarterly Review has just published its Fall 2010 issue, closing a painful chapter in the magazine’s history. The issue is dedicated to managing editor Kevin Morrissey, who committed suicide on July 30th. A subsequent investigation by the University of Virginia cleared editor Ted Genoways of allegations of workplace bullying, though it became clear that the office had become unpleasant and unduly stressful, with the audit recommending “appropriate corrective action should be taken with regards to [Genoways]." The VQR’s remembrance of Morrissey notes his key role in the magazine’s

    Read more
  • Alain de Botton
    December 22, 2010

    Dec 22, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    In the late 1990s, Saddam Hussein hired a calligrapher to write out the entire Qur’an in Hussein's blood as a proof of his piety (it took two years, and more than fifty pints of blood extracted by a nurse). Now, authorities in Iraq are wondering what they’re supposed to do with the thing.

    News that Julian Assange is publishing a memoir with Knopf in 2011 has been leaked.

    For The Awl’s “Best Women Writers that You’ve Maybe Never Read” series, Emily Gould writes about British fiction writer Barbara Comyn, finding that after reading her work “contemporary novels, with their over-deliberate

    Read more
  • Francine Prose
    December 21, 2010

    Dec 21, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    There’s been a flood of year-end best books lists lately, and we don’t blame you if you’ve stopped paying attention (especially since they mostly feature the same few books). However, there is one more list that may come in handy as you prepare for the holidays: 2010's Best Nonfiction For Winning Family Arguments.

    On Sunday, Housing Works Bookstore cafe hosted a heartwarming three-hour marathon reading of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, featuring thirty authors including Mary Gaitskill (“I think people who think [Dickens is] corny just can’t read”), Francine Prose (“Here are all these

    Read more
  • Amy Hempel
    December 20, 2010

    Dec 20, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    From the Vice fiction issue, an interview with Amy Hempel: “I never liked the term 'minimalism.' I prefer Raymond Carver’s term. He called Mary Robison and myself 'precisionists.' And that’s what he was doing too, of course.”

    It has been only a few days since Google announced their Books NGram Viewer, a tool that allows you to graph word usage over the years, drawn from millions of digitized books, and there’s already been a bit of NGram fever. Some of the most interesting inquiries have been posed by Slate’s Tom Scocca, who’s discovered when television became more popular than the bible (

    Read more
  • Sheila Heti, photo from apostrophecast.com
    December 17, 2010

    Dec 17, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    The Observer investigates the curious lack of stateside interest in Toronto author Sheila Heti’s second novel, How Should a Person Be? (recently excerpted in n+1’s new issue, and only available from the Canadian indie-publisher House of Anansi Press.) n+1 co-editor Mark Greif wonders if the sex scenes in the novel are too frank, and adds: "If I had a publishing house, the first thing I would do is publish How Should a Person Be? . . . If a book like this, that is so visibly of our moment, can't be published in America, it makes me wonder, what do we even bother with literature for?"


    Read more
  • Melissa Franklin
    December 16, 2010

    Dec 16, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    The New York Times has published a short, vaguely squeamish profile of Jaimy Gordon, whose novel Lord of Misrule was the underdog winner of a 2010 National Book Award. “Ms. Gordon, who has a graduate degree in writing from Brown but also spent time working at a racetrack and briefly lived with an ex-convict who set fire to their apartment, has never been very conventional.”

    Novelist Rick Moody—who we believe is the author of the best outer-space sex scene ever—and physicist Melissa Franklin recently participated in the Rubin Museum’s “Talk About Nothing” series, discussing Samuel Beckett (and

    Read more
  • Deb Olin Unferth
    December 15, 2010

    Dec 15, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    The new Vice fiction issue is out now, featuring new stories by Sam McPheeters, Deb Olin Unferth, and the late Terry Southern, plus interviews with graphic novelist Charles Burns, fiction writers Amy Hempel and Sam Lypsite, as well as many other literary treats.

    The Awl (which currently has a good story in which five authors talk about their Book Editors) will start paying its writers in January.

    A profile of Rumpus Editor and Adderall Diaries author Stephen Elliott shares his tips on self-promotion.

    Today at 3pm Caleb Crain will be live chatting on the New Yorker website, answering questions

    Read more
  • George Saunders
    December 14, 2010

    Dec 14, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    The incomparable George Saunders, the poet laureate of theme parks, has a new short story, “Escape from Spiderhead,” and an interview on the New Yorker’s website.

    The New York Times reports that The Atlantic is set to make a profit this year for the first time in at least a decade—how did they pull it off? The president of the Atlantic Media Company, Justin B. Smith, explains: “We imagined ourselves as a venture-capital-backed start-up in Silicon Valley whose mission was to attack and disrupt The Atlantic.”

    (Via Biblioklept) Most writers will tell you that they don’t read reviews of their

    Read more
  • Jonathan Franzen and family, circa 1975. From the Paris Review.
    December 13, 2010

    Dec 13, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    If you've ever registered on Gawker or one of its sister sites, you may have had your username, email, and password stolen. Gawker assures users that the irony has not been lost on them.

    The Onion’s AV club has apologized for running a review written by an author who clearly didn’t bother to read the book.

    Tariq Ali writes that the “neo-con” Liu Xiaobo shouldn’t have received the Nobel Peace prize this year because Liu has supported the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Korea.

    The Daily Beast has posted a few choice excerpts from the Paris Review’s interview with Jonathan Franzen,

    Read more
  • December 10, 2010

    Dec 10, 2010 @ 3:00:00 pm

    Steve Martin frustrated the crowd at the 92nd Street Y earlier this month by disuccsing his new novel, An Object of Beauty, at the expense of what the audience wanted to hear about—his wild and crazy days in show business. He had a considerably better time at a recent appearance on The Colbert Report, a tour-de-force of performance art and comedy featuring artists Frank Stella, Shepard Fairey, and Andres Serrano.

    Read more