“A new study offers a better sense of how much funding has been flowing to this media niche in recent years. … The results only offer a partial look at philanthropic support for these publications, since the study just tracks foundation funding. But the numbers are still illuminating for anyone who’s ever wondered how outfits like Harper’s and Mother Jones stay in business, much less the New Criterion.”
Caleb Crain: “A little more than a decade ago, I wrote an article for The New Yorker about American reading habits, which a number of studies then indicated might be in decline. … I’ll go out on a limb and say that I don’t think that I got this part wrong. But I’ve often wondered whether I was right about the underlying trend, too. Were Americans in fact reading less back then? And are they reading even less today? Whenever I happen across a news article on the topic, I wonder if I’m about to find out whether I was Cassandra or Chicken Little.” So Crain looked into the data.
“Looking ahead to its 300th anniversary year in 2024, Philadelphia’s Carpenters’ Company” – to this day the city’s union guild for carpenters – “has announced it will inaugurate the David McCullough Prize for Excellence in American Public History, to be awarded annually starting next year.”
“Besides embarrassment, I also feel curiosity. What could explain the strange fact that it took seven years for an editor to assign me a female writer? I’m a liberal critic writing for liberal publications. How did this go on for so long? I suspect there are at least two possible explanations here.”
In many ways, Joyce has been my longest long-term relationship. We met when I was sixteen and have been sweethearts ever since. I would have liked to say that about a living man, the way famous writers do in their acknowledgements of their latest novel, thanking their ‘loving husband, without whose unceasing patience and support etc,etc’. For years I thought it was their fault – the blokes. Until I realised how annoying it must be to live in the shadow of another man, and a dead one at that.
Geraldine McCaughrean was named winner on Monday of this year’s CILIP Carnegie medal for her historical adventure novel Where the World Ends, 30 years after she first took the prize, the UK’s most esteemed children’s literature award. She used her winner’s speech to attack publishers’ fixation on accessible language, which she called “a euphemism for something desperate”.
“Biotech billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong … is spending $500 million to acquire the news organizations, along with Spanish-language Hoy and a handful of community newspapers, from Chicago-based Tronc.” Reporter Meg James gives background on both the new owner, a South Africa-born surgeon, and the newspapers’ troubles over the past few years.
The highly anticipated “VIDA Count,” released Monday, has The New Yorker, The Nation and The Atlantic among those devoting less than 40 percent of their book coverage to women in 2017. Only two of 15 publications analyzed in the main VIDA count gave women 50 percent or more — Poetry magazine and Granta. Those between 40 percent and 49 percent include The New York Times Book Review and the Paris Review, from which editor Lorin Stein resigned last December amid allegations of sexual harassment.
I’ll cut to the chase: between 2003 and 2016, the amount of time that the average American devoted to reading for personal interest on a daily basis dropped from 0.36 hours to 0.29 hours. It would seem that reading in America has declined even further in the past decade. But statistics can be tricky, so let’s kick the tires a little.
When tourists go through Britain’s castles and grand houses, they’ve started asking a lot more questions about the people who made those places run. As one curator points out, “there was a time when this wasn’t considered ‘proper’ history” – but that changed, in part because of some of the books she recommends, including those investigating plumbing – and a primary document from the 1750s in which “almost nothing” happens.
Crass but necessary, perhaps? “A publisher choosing to fete authors during Book Expo — introducing them to the news media, readers and, most important, booksellers who attend the show — is a signal that the house is betting big on them. And for nonprofits both large and small, Instagram-ready parties are the best way to raise awareness as well as money.”
The novelist and essayist says it’s not the job of a writer to be an activist – but that writers are always political, and now that is deeply necessary. “Individuals are being turned into micro-fascists by so many means. It is the mobs and vigilantes going and lynching people. So more than ever, the point of the writer is to be unpopular. The point of the writer is to say: ‘I denounce you even if I’m not in the majority.'”
Novelist Kurieshi is not holding back: “It is not coincidental that at this Brexit moment, with its xenophobic, oafish and narrow perspective, the ruling class and its gatekeepers fear a multitude of democratic voices from elsewhere and wish to keep us silent. They can’t wait to tell us how undeserving of being heard we really are. But they should remember this: they might have tried to shut the door on Europe, refugees and people of colour, but it will be impossible for them to shut the door on British innovation. We are very insistent, noisy and talented.”
This is a perfect time for “Wait, what?” because … wait. Is Interview dead or resurrected or what the heck? It’s a family business that, a member of the family recently said, will rise from its ashes and still be a family business – ignoring, of course, all of the back pay owed to freelancers, the editorial director, and more.
“The khipus might seem bizarre to us, but the Inkas, who were the inheritors of a long tradition of weaving with cotton and camelid yarns, were unique and highly creative – not underdeveloped – in their approach to documenting language. Pencil and paper is not the only road to progress.”
“Such high profile cases [as those of Sherman Alexie and Junot Díaz] are far from rare as the #MeToo movement spreads across the creative industries. They come at a time when writers are facing increasingly draconian attempts by publishers to police their behaviour, calling into question centuries old assumptions about the desirability – or even the possibility in today’s networked world – of separating writers’ lives from their work.”
Jack Hitt explains the years-long scholarly feuds over the errors, large and small, in various editions of Ulysses (and why they matter); tells the story of James Kidd, the professor who prepared, but never published, the most accurate edition of Joyce’s novel yet; and finds and visits Kidd in Brazil, some 16 years after he disappeared from Boston, seemingly without a trace.
“It’s not often that an author described on his own Wikipedia page as ‘disgracefully neglected’ is awarded a €100,000 literary prize. But this is where the Irish author Mike McCormack finds himself, with Wednesday’s announcement that he has won the International Dublin literary award for his novel, Solar Bones.” The prize, formerly known as the Impac, is the richest one in English-language literature.
Orwell was right. The totalitarian regime rests on lies because they are lies. The subject of the totalitarian regime must accept them not as truth—must not, in fact, believe them—but accept them both as lies and as the only available reality. She must believe nothing. Just as Orwell predicted, over time the totalitarian regime destroys the very concept, the very possibility of truth. Hannah Arendt identified this as one of the effects of totalitarian propaganda: it makes everything conceivable because “nothing is true.”
“Three months ago, I was a normal person. Now all I think about 24-7 is the dinkus. Did you know that dinkuses is an anagram of unkissed? I did. For the uninitiated, the dinkus is a line of three asterisks (* * *) used as a section break in a text.” Daisy Alioto offers some reasons to love it.
In a furious article in The Spectator, the author of We Need to Talk About Kevin wrote, “Drunk on virtue, Penguin Random House no longer regards the company’s raison d’etre as the acquisition and dissemination of good books. Rather, the organisation aims to mirror the percentages of minorities in the UK population with statistical precision. Good luck with that business model. Publishers may eschew standards, but readers will still have some.” The publishing house responded, “We firmly believe that giving a platform to more diverse voices will lead to a greater richness of creativity and stories.”
Somewhere on the timeline between the long run of the Oldowan and the more rapid rise of Acheulean technologies, language (or what’s often called protolanguage) likely made its first appearance. Oren Kolodny and his co-author, Shimon Edelman, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, say the overlap is not a coincidence. Rather, they theorize, the emergence of language was predicated on our ancestors’ ability to perform sequence-dependent processes, including the production of complex tools.
The Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, a collaboration between the NEA and the Census Bureau, found that 11.7 percent of the U.S. adult population in 2017 — or about 28 million people — had read poetry in the last year. Which admittedly may not seem like much on the surface — until it’s compared with the 6.7 percent found during the last survey period, in 2012.
Long before anyone coined the terms “hard sci-fi” and “soft sci-fi” or used them as badges of pride or disparaging slurs, long before the “holy war” between old school pulp and the ’60s era New Wave, we have this demand from the cranky old school to the squishy new school: “Show me this metal.” HG Wells, whose social activism permeated his fiction, would no doubt claim that Jules Verne was rather missing the point. But what becomes clear from a survey of science fiction’s history is that, if there’s one thing these authors love more than cosmic wonder and terror, it’s petty fights about what constitutes “real” science fiction.
While he takes responsibility for certain actions that preceded his firing as the chair of the University of British Columbia’s creative writing department, the acclaimed author also believes that what happened to him is unconscionable – not just the abysmal, ham-fisted way in which he believes the university handled the allegations levelled against him, but also the fact that charges he’s insisted all along were groundless have left his reputation in ruins.
Michiko Kakatuni couldn’t stand the lies – the lies coming from the White House about journalists, and a lot more. She says, “It was an evolution of what I did at the Times, where I tried to take part in the conversation of ideas, both in fiction and nonfiction. This was like running a marathon instead of doing a lot of sprints.”
The NYT has 11 bestseller lists every week and five other ones that are monthly – and that’s rather a lot of work to maintain. The staff who put them together say they consult “tens of thousands” of retailers across the country. “The number of categories and rankings make the lists more useful to our readers, and also make competition between authors more fair. This way a picture book, for example, isn’t going against a cookbook or an adult fiction title.”
Wait, what? “Despite enjoying Grade II-listed status, the property is all but abandoned. The paintwork is cracked, its wooden window frames have been replaced with plastic, and graffiti is scrawled across the walls. An unsightly steel fence runs along one side of the litter-strewn lawn, and a large To Let sign hangs outside. Until recently, the only clue to its historical importance was a small bronze plaque above the entrance.”
Here’s the breakdown: “According to new NEA findings, in the past five years, the number of poetry readers in the United States has almost doubled to a total of 28 million adults. This is the highest number the NEA has seen since 2002. The largest increase in poetry readership in the past five years has come from young people ages 18–24 and African American, Asian American, and other non-white readers.”