There were a number of reasons to be skeptical when I arrived at a very expensive bar in Fort Greene to talk with Benjamin Kunkel about Utopia or Bust, his new collection of introductory essays about contemporary leftist theorists, ranging from the literary critic Fredric Jameson to the anthropologist and prominent Occupy personality David Graeber. The most obvious reason to be skeptical was that we were meeting at a very expensive bar in Fort Greene to talk about Marxism. “An important part of Marxism is blaming others,” Kunkel said—explaining that this bar was the suggestion of a friend. “At least, in good proletarian fashion, we’re just eating French fries.”[...]
You are being tracked. Besides comprehensive government spying, there are hundreds of data brokers compiling and selling information about you: Phone records, texts, phone location, computer location, web history, social networking use, background checks, credit history and now even entrance to some retail stores, with facial recognition linking you to your online data.
Julia Angwin, a reporter for ProPublica who was on a Pulitzer-winning team [...]
2014 has been called the Year of Reading Women; it should also be the Year of Reading Muriel Spark. Just short of a hundred years since her birth, and nearly 60 since the publication of her first novel, Spark remains as essential as ever. She cannot be reduced.
But that’s not to say a little facelift wouldn't hurt. New Directions will be revamping and re-releasing eight of her novels here in America later this year, including Man Booker favorites The Driver’s Seat and Loitering with Intent. (My favorite part about the new editions is that when you line up all of the spines together, they make a [...]
"I was supposed to fly to Afghanistan today but my body armor didn't arrive in time," was something Willem Marx said to me one of the first times we met. He says things like this on a not infrequent basis. Marx currently works at Bloomberg TV and has reported from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uzbekistan, the Arctic Circle, and other less trodden parts of the world.
In 2009, he spent time [...]
In November, Knopf bought a 900-page debut novel by Garth Risk Hallberg for almost $2 million. It’s a tremendous gamble, regardless of the book’s quality, if one that many publishers were happy to make: more than 10 houses bid more than $1 million, according to the Times. Predicting a novel’s fate in the commercial or critical marketplace is a fool’s gambit, as indicated both by works like the first Harry Potter novel, which was repeatedly rejected before becoming, well, Harry Potter, and by expensive flops like Charles Frazier’s Thirteen Moons. The novelist Curtis Sittenfeld said, "People think publishing is a business, but it’s a casino."
But what if publishers [...]
"Scientists have developed an algorithm which can analyse a book and predict with 84 per cent accuracy whether or not it will be a commercial success," and Jennifer Weiner has already accused them of sexism.
In addition, Minter is appearing tonight, November 13th, at 6 p.m. at the New School.
It's a book one might call “a lifetime in the making.” For the last dozen years, Adam Minter has lived in Shanghai, writing about the global scrap industry, the fortunes it created, the lives and environments it's ruined and how its fortunes paralleled those of the pre- and post-crash global economy. The result is Junkyard Planet, [...]
Katherine Dunn worked on the book for more than a decade. She also worked as a waitress, a bartender, and a house painter. In 1981, she started writing about boxing for local newspapers. (A collection of her boxing essays, One Ring Circus, was published in 2009.) Dunn also wrote an advice column for a local newspaper and did some radio and local TV commercial voice-over work. (Her voice is a scotch n’ cigarette alto that resonates warmly.) Occasionally she’d tell friends about her work in progress, Geek Love. “They would groan and say, ‘For Christ sake, Dunn, no one’s going to publish that, no one’s going to want to [...]
#1: Don't apologize for being late with a Starbucks latte in your hand.
— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) December 19, 2013
Last night, the author of the "parody twitter account" (*shudder*) called @GSElevator—that's short for Goldman Sachs Elevator, you see—was escorted out of the closet by Andrew Ross Sorkin.
To anyone who'd ever met anyone who worked at Goldman Sachs, it was obviously fiction, as in, made-up, invented, concocted. So was his writing on fashion and manhood at Business Insider: It was sometimes hilarious but almost never had the ring of truth. In recent times, the account has grown quieter and less specific, although apparently it [...]
Amazon’s entry into publishing has created an awkward divide, giving some book people a second or a third chance in an imperilled industry while tainting them in the eyes of others. The literary agent, contemplating the future of the editors currently at Amazon, said, “You’d have to consider the time you spent with Vichy when you’re looking for work after the occupation.” Benjamin Anastas, a novelist who couldn’t find an American publisher for his third book, told a friend that he was going to publish his fourth, a memoir called “Too Good to Be True,” with Amazon. The friend, a novelist who had once worked at Harcourt—the house that [...]
Marked the momentous occasion of finishing Middlemarch with a refreshingly candid souvenir photograph. pic.twitter.com/bxiLoSj8
— Marieke Hardy (@mariekehardy) August 24, 2012
Results from a new survey say that, if you are an Average American, two-year-olds read more often than you do. And if you read literature at all, that’s something, because 28 percent of U.S. adults did not read a single book in 2012. If there has ever been a sure sign of the collapse of civilization, it is numbers like these.
So let’s get this straight: I’m not telling you to completely avoid George Eliot’s 1871-ish (it was [...]
It had been six months since I quit, but I still managed to bring up the blog within 15 minutes of meeting Lauren.
We were at my go-to first date spot, a subterranean bar with shuffleboard and ping-pong in case the conversation flagged. When she asked what I did for a living, I dispatched with my day job in a few sentences before admitting, with false embarrassment, that I was also an aspiring writer.
The required follow-up question—"What kind of stuff do you write?"—was barely out of her mouth before I slipped into my spiel: "It’s a little embarrassing, but I used to be a dating blogger for Glamour [...]
PT Cruiser is a user of Twitter, but not your average user. When online, she tweets a rapid stream of consciousness, at least in part to meet her goal of 300,000 tweets by year's end. She is also now an author. Her first book, cruisin to the finish line: speed secrets, was self-published last month, under the name "tcot," or Top Car on Twitter. This fall she gave a rare interview, explaining that she lives about 45 minutes outside of New York City, wakes up very early to go to work unpacking freight, and only watches VH1 Soul. She also blogs irregularly on the [...]
With the writers abuzz with talk of securing Amtrak Residencies, Tom Zoellner's concisely titled Train comes at a good time. The Los Angeles writer rode the rails in six different countries on three continents to research his new book. He also traveled from New York to Los Angeles on our often-embattled national carrier.
Amtrak appears to have recently scored a rare PR win, after managing to turn an offhand remark from Awl-pal Alexander Chee into an as-yet-unnamed but perhaps-soon-to-be-formalized program aimed at giving writers free or low-cost rides. Writer Jessica Gross has already done such a rolling residency; Chee will take to the rails [...]
Kevin Roose's Young Money, in which he spend a couple years with the bright young things from fancy schools who end up populating the analyst desks at Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs and the other sad and storied firms of Wall Street, is out today, and you may enjoy it! It is a tale of millennials wrestling with greed, sexism, stupidity, New York City, expectation, dumb-ass bosses, the rising lure of Silicon Valley, privilege and the meaning of life. Like all books, you can find it at Amazon, McNally Jackson, B&N, a bookstore near you. This is not a sponsored message, this is just [...]
Have you heard of the Voynich Manuscript? Otherwise known as the best manuscript-based mystery in the entire world? If you haven't, read the Wikipedia page, which in its own right is a stellar #longread, but if you want a #shortread, okay, here it is, so you can beef up before learning about the newest plot twist in this mystery.
There is a passage early on in McKenzie Funk’s book, Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming, that ticks through so many world-gone-crazy anecdotes that maybe aren’t but probably are related to a changing climate that the mind boggles. Drought-crazed camels would soon rampage through a village in Australia, a manatee would swim past Chelsea Piers in New York City’s Hudson River…. Armadillos were reaching northeast Arkansas. Wolves ate dogs in Alaska. Fire consumed fifty million acres of Siberia. Greenland lost a hundred gigatons of ice. The Inuit got air-conditioning units…. In retrospect, this was the moment that we began to believe in global warming—not in the abstract science [...]
It’s difficult not to romanticize a link between writing and drinking. Wisdom hurts, so the more wisdom a writer has, the harder the writer will try to drown it with alcohol. Or maybe it isn’t wisdom that needs to be drowned; it’s the inner editor. Or maybe the great passion that leads to great writing also leads to great drinking. Or maybe… anyway, there must be some connection, so can we please put down our horrible manuscripts and pour ourselves some bourbon already?
There is no romanticizing in The Trip to Echo Spring, British journalist Olivia Laing’s new group biography of six alcoholic writers—Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams, [...]
"The often-reliable Soul Jazz Records label has recently issued another mahoosive tome dedicated to record sleeve imagery, in particular punk, new wave and U.S. garage-rock. Entitled 'Punk 45 – Kill The Hippies! Kill Yourself!', the hefty volume weighs 2kg, comes dressed in an eye-catching orange cover and includes over 350 pages of punk-singles cover art from 1976-80, all edited and forwarded by Jon Savage and Stuart Baker." —How am I just hearing about this now? [...]