Our government runs on unpaid internships. During the recent shutdown, as many federal staff members were laid off, unpaid interns filled in the gap. Although considered volunteers, they were doing the work of a five or six figure salary just for the heck of it. That exciting opportunity to work for free may sound appealing to eager college graduates wanting to climb up the career ladder, pad their resume, and avoid working at the local plastic flower factory, but from a labor perspective it’s abominable. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be paid. If the government can’t pay the people it takes to run the government, then there [...]
Publishers have always been cultural arbiters, and throughout publishing history they have used their power to harness the "classic" label—and its attendant packaging—to turn a profit. Bestowing classic status on a book has the effect of redefining a book’s history: sometimes prolonging its shelf life, sometimes uplifting it from the deep backlist. For some, this manhandling has eroded the potency of the word "classic" as a marker of timelessness, high aesthetics, or universality—words that are slippery and subject to intense debate.
"It seems reading literary fiction temporarily enhances our ability to empathise with others."
Yesterday we cornered Brooklyn Book Festival panelists and asked them: who do you like among the younger generation of writers? Some of them had great answers!Claire Messud, The Woman Upstairs
Gosh, the younger generation being under what? [“That’s up to you.”] You know, I’m a big fan of Sheila Heti. Does she count as the younger generation? She’s over thirty, though, she’s 35. [She’ll be 37 on Christmas.] Turn it off a for second, I just have to think! Because I’ve been mostly reading old and dead people, lately, so it takes me a minute to—turn that off! [The recorder is turned off. Then turned back on.] There’s a [...]
How many different translations can there be of the same classics of world literature? As the French say, un assload.
"From what I see and hear, it’s safer to bet on a new iteration of This Town replacing the old one, and things proceeding much the same way—maybe with a few stuffy old decorations renovated or replaced. Because on any night when there’s an A-list, dressy, old-fashioned, lavishly catered affair for seventy-year-olds at Sally and Ben’s mansion, there’s something else going on, a couple of miles away. There, in a Columbia Heights group house or a Mount Pleasant apartment of a youngish rising star, a different kind of get-together is in the works, where you may find make-your-own rail drinks and revelers engaging in a rousing round or two of [...]
If you've got 40 bucks burning a hole in your pocket you could do worse than drop it on the Nancy Mitford history collection from New York Review Books. I mean, they've got some other nice collections, but I'd put my money on the Mitford. You know, assuming your other book needs have already been met.
Here are a couple of reviews of Donald Fagen's Eminent Hipsters. Here is my review of Donald Fagen's Eminent Hipsters: If you are a dyspeptic Jew from the American northeast who enjoys the music of Steely Dan and spends a lot of time grumbling about how things are less authentic, more anesthetizing and increasingly unpleasant these days OR you are someone with a deep interest in the intricate details of what it is like to travel the country on a mid-level musician's tour bus you will find a lot to enjoy about this book. For a man who has spent the last 40 years in [...]
Awl pal Anna Holmes picks the five ladybooks everyone should read if they want to be Awl pal Anna Holmes. These are also very solid choices for anyone with less lofty aspirations.
In Inherent Vice, a perhaps minor novel by Thomas Pynchon, that great chronicler of history at an angle, the pothead detective Doc Sportello frequently runs into, and gets help from, some science geeks—proto-nerds who use a semi-privatized version of ARPANET to help Sportello get info on the various people he’s hazily tracking.
These are seemingly throwaway characters, just a few minor notes in the typical Pynchonian symphony of bizarre names and tangled plot strands and sinister conspiracies. But they are more than that. They are the prophets of our modern world, where everything is connected, and where not only can anyone with the right access track everyone else, [...]
"tiresome," "eye-rollingly awful," "preening," "self-absorbed," "dolorous," "solipsistic," "narcissistic," "ridiculous," "irritating," "pretentious," "cloying," "baffling," "portentous," "insufferable," "flimsy," "not remotely funny or compelling," "claustrophobic," "totally annoying" —I kind of thought Norman Rush's Subtle Bodies was pretty good, but I guess I was wrong.
Kathy Andersen, author, Change Your Shoes, Live Your Greatest Life.
If you find yourself writing a book review and publishing it on the Internet, chances are that digital marketers will track down your e-mail address and mark you for public-relations campaigns. Being marketers, they’ll know to focus most of their e-mails on books you might want to review. Being digital, they’ll assume that their audience lacks all but the most basic forms of taste and intelligence and may "Care to speak with Sheila on feeling good in the bedroom (in more ways than one)" or want to follow "a wise and wild path for navigating the dating world [...]
Remember at the beginning of the year when we were all, get on the Elena Ferrante bandwagon? Well, if for whatever reason you chose not to at the time, you should use this opportunity to take our advice and finally bandwagon it (it being Elena Ferrante), because her new one comes out soon (read the old one first) and [...]
So many books. So little time. Every day just brings more! Here's a handy guide to help you choose which new books today you should buy. All of these books are available at your local independent bookseller, including fine establishments like McNally Jackson! Or anywhere else you might care to buy books! Let's begin….
Pamela Erens' latest is a tale of two misfits at a fancy boarding school in 1979. The "heiress apparent" to James Salter, goes a blurb! This [...]
Few musical ensembles are so thoroughly synonymous with New York City’s underground scene as the Hungry March Band. Over the past fifteen years they have established themselves as the band that will play anywhere and everywhere, at any time and under all circumstances. Dedicated to “in your face” encounters with mostly unsuspecting audiences, they are a “public” marching band and frequently take to the streets with their instruments, whether they have been invited to do so or not. Once dubbed “Best Anarchist Parade Group” by the Village Voice, HMB gave performances on the streets, sidewalks, and subways of the city that are legendary. The band is large, loud, and [...]
We've all thought: hey, there oughta be a German word for that. (Have we ever.) Now here comes Schottenfreude, from our Internet pal Ben Schott—it's coming down the pike in a month. You can get it from your book vendor of choice.
And mark your calendars for what will surely be a very serious lecture at Cooper Union on November 1.
In case you found this assessment of Norman Rush's Subtle Bodies to be woefully inadequate—and it was; even woefulness wrote us asking not to be associated with such a sorry review—here are some more comprehensive considerations. For what it's worth, as someone who expressed a certain amount of ambivalence about the book in that terrible non-review, the characters have stayed with me longer than most usually do, so if that at all influences your purchasing decisions it is a nudge in the "buy" direction.
I am someone who is no longer well-disposed toward most literary fiction, having reached an age where there is very little left for me to learn about life from every fucking arrogant introvert who thinks the made-up people into whose mouths he puts platitudes and funny things he once heard someone else say are interesting enough that total strangers will devote hours of their day to spending time observing a pretend universe that is probably just as boring as the one from which they are attempting to divert themselves with a book. I mean, it's fine when you're in the first flush of youth, but the reason most people [...]
In Benjamin Anastas’s 2012 memoir, Too Good to Be True, he writes of how he viewed Farrar, Straus and Giroux when he was an unpublished writer "prone to bouts of romantic longing": "It was not just a publisher in my eyes. It was more like the Promised Land." A poet who had caught a glimpse of the office had once told him on a fire escape in Queens, "National Book Awards? They paper the fucking place. It’s like a shrine in there. You whisper."
A certain mystique, whether you buy it or not, surrounds FSG, publisher of 25 Nobel laureates since its first slate of titles appeared in 1946. [...]