• Stephen Burt
    July 30, 2010

    Jul 30, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Salman Rushdie, Noam Chomsky, Jennifer Egan, and other writers have signed a letter pledging to boycott Arizona until it revokes its new SB1070 immigration law.

    Last May, David Biespiel wrote an article for the Poetry Foundation arguing that poets should assume a stronger role in the "the life of American Democracy"—maybe even run for office. Now, Stephen Burt (the author of the excellent Close Calls with Nonsense) offers a rousing reply, explaining why this would be "bad for our poetry," and "bad for our politics."

    "I quit being a Christian," says a Facebook post by bestselling author Anne

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  • Eileen Myles
    July 29, 2010

    Jul 29, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Agent Andrew Wylie's new ebook imprint, Odyssey Editions, is making publishers angry. Random House is severing ties with the agency, nixing all new book deals, while Macmillan US's chief executive, John Sargent, said he was "appalled" by the deal. Author Matt Stewart gives the most sensible analysis of the battle we've seen: He calls Random House thieves and Wylie a "vicious negotiater," and builds on this point: "Both parties are behaving like assholes." 

    If you're in New York tonight, Granta magazine is celebrating the release of its latest issue with a reading by Netherland author (

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  • Andrea Levy
    July 28, 2010

    Jul 28, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Novelist and critic Tom LeClair has some advice for contemporary writers: Treat your interviewers well. They read your books, and they may have the final word.

    “To Jeff Bezos and everyone else who brings books to the world I say: thank you,” concludes Ruth Franklin, writing "In Defense of Amazon" at the New Republic, a response to Colin Robinson’s recent article in The Nation, "The Trouble With Amazon." 

    The 2010 Man Booker Prize for fiction's longlist has been announced, and apparently, the Booker judges are feeling wistful for the past. There's a distinct batch of historical fiction in the

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  • Stan Lee
    July 27, 2010

    Jul 27, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Novelist David Markson, who passed away in June, was a fan of the Strand Bookstore. Recently, the Strand started selling the author's heavily annotated personal library, which has been "scattered among the stacks." Alex Abramovich reports, while scooping up many of the treasures.

    In school we learned that the English novel was born in the hands of Daniel Defoe and Samuel Richardson. In his new book, The Novel, Steven Moore, a longtime editor at Dalkey Archive Press, offers an alternate history, tracing the form back more than a thousand years. He finds that "Petronius's Satyricon ... [looks]

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  • David Means
    July 26, 2010

    Jul 26, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Ron Rosenbaum, fresh from the fight over the posthumous publication of Vladimir Nabokov's unfinished novel The Original of Laura, steels himself for the "next Nabokov controversy." This time, it is over the poem within Nabokov's novel Pale Fire, ("written" by character John Shade), which Ginko Press plans to publish as a standalone in a lavish edition this fall, blessed by both Nabokov's son Dmitri and biographer Brian Boyd. Rosenbaum is all for it, writing: "I think the Gingko Press edition will provoke an important argument, and more importantly get people to experience the pleasures of the

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  • Louise Erdrich
    July 23, 2010

    Jul 23, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    To-do list: New Yorker indie-rock and poetry fans, sell your soul to try to gain admittance to the poetry reading by the amazing Silver Jews frontman David Berman, whose cult-classic book Actual Air was one of Open City Books's first publications (along with Sam Lipsyte's classic Venus Drive). Aside from a few poems he published in The Believer, and the cartoons collected in the book The Portable February, Berman has been quiet as a published author for more than a decade. Here's your chance to hear what this armchair surrealist has been up to outside of the studio, where his lyrics,

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  • Franz Kafka
    July 22, 2010

    Jul 22, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    The Trial: On Monday a delegation of important-looking men representing powerful bureaucracies pried open safe-deposit boxes in Tel Aviv containing a trove of mysterious writings, while an heir laying claim to the boxes shouted, "It's mine, it's mine." Now there's a tangle of legal wrangling to be sorted through in court, and the materials, which happen to be a batch of unpublished Franz Kafka writings (reportedly containing letters, drawings, and manuscripts), may not see the light of day for many years. Apparently, there's only one word to describe the situation (beginning with "K"

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  • Thomas Frank
    July 21, 2010

    Jul 21, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    At The Paris Review, recently hired editor Lorin Stein and poetry editor Robyn Creswell are rejecting some poems that their predecessors had accepted. Daniel Nester is reporting on the debacle, which he's dubbed "The Great Paris Review Poetry Purge of 2010," over at the blog We Who Are About to Die. (Meanwhile, Blake Butler pens a satirical list of Paris Review rejects, and the Poetry Foundation scratches its chin while pondering the matter.) For a glimpse of some authors Stein does like, check out his spirited appraisal of five books that should be in any reviewer's library.  

    When your

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  • Anthony Doerr
    July 20, 2010

    Jul 20, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    This fall the Los Angeles Review of Books will launch an online only review headed by Tom Lutz, chair of the UC Riverside creative writing department. Two years in the making, the Review has signed up some tony contributing editors, including T. C. Boyle, Carolyn See, and Marisa Silver (among others), and Lutz vows it will be "the best-paying book review outlet around." Until he can launch a print edition, that is. The first issue promises Jane Smiley writing about Jessica Mitford and James Ellroy on Beethoven.

    Amazon reports that ebooks outsold hardcovers for the first time over the past

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  • Christopher Hitchens
    July 19, 2010

    Jul 19, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Christopher Hitchens recently canceled the book tour for his new memoir, Hitch-22, in order to undergo a round of chemotherapy treatment for esophagus cancer. So what does the devout atheist think of people praying for him to get well? In a recent interview, Hitchens says, "I think that prayer and holy water, and things like that are all fine. They don’t do any good, but they don’t necessarily do any harm. It’s touching to be thought of in that way." 

    Jimmy Carter: President, Nobel Peace Prize winner, peanut farmer, and . . . erotic poet

    Amazon.com built its online business around easy

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  • July 16, 2010

    Jul 16, 2010 @ 5:00:00 pm

    Tonight at Brooklyn's BookCourt bookstore, David Mitchell reads from his new novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, reviewed in the latest issue of Bookforum by William Deresiewicz, who writes that after the pyrotechnics of Mitchell's first four novels, "The wunderkind—forty-one by now—is ripening, it seems, into a middle period of subtler effects and sustained emotions."

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  • James Franco as poet Allen Ginsberg (Photo Credit: Sundance Film Festival 2010).
    July 16, 2010

    Jul 16, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Former poet laureate Billy Collins dislikes the havoc that is wreaked on poems when they are converted to ebooks: "The critical difference between prose and poetry is that prose is kind of like water and will become the shape of any vessel you pour it into to. Poetry is like a piece of sculpture and can easily break."

    Allen Ginsberg wasn't shy about promoting "Howl" as “an all-purpose cultural barometer,” as John Palatella observed in Bookforum in 2006, the fiftieth anniversary of the book's publication. In 1967, when asked if his poems would survive, Ginsberg told a packed Berkeley lecture

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