Those who watch the book deal emails from Publishers Lunch know that Chad Harbach, an editor at n+1, recently sold his first novel, The Art of Fielding, but a Bloomberg article today reveals it went for an eye-popping $650,000. The book centers around baseball at a fictional Wisconsin college, and Bloomberg pegs the deal as “one of the highest prices for a man’s first novel on a topic appealing to a male audience.” Possible buried lede: n+1 compatriots Benjamin Kunkel and Keith Gessen saw their first novels sell 48,000 and 7,000 copies respectively, according to Neilsen BookScan.
Legendary jazz musician and composer Cal Massey receded from active performance in the 1950s in order to concentrate on composition. His works went on to be recorded by John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and many other greats. To honor his indelible mark on jazz music and African-American culture, Fred Ho and Ben Barson will present a series of concerts in Harlem’s Red Rooster restaurant. Barson also wrote a lengthy introduction to Massey’s life and legacy.
Nick Stockton wonders why writers are such bad proofreaders of their own work. He argues that it is hard to catch typos because our brains arrive at meaning faster by taking shortcuts. Also enjoy this skit of Strunk & White in conversation with the grammar police.
Though excellent fiction has been staged in restaurants (Richard Russo’s Empire Falls comes to mind, as well as YA novel Hope was Here), I have to admit Rebecca Makkai at Ploughshares has a point that dining-in-public scenes are getting a bit old. “All the unfolding of napkins and poking at the French fries… it’s filler.”
A Mississippi school district has decided to pull Harper Lee‘s To Kill a Mockingbird from its junior-high reading list because it “makes people uncomfortable.” The novel, which frequently tops the American Library Association’s “Frequently Challenged Book” list, tackles racism. See also: an essay on the symbolism of mockingbirds.
Get to know the ins and outs of bookstore reading etiquette with this helpful guide (featuring none other than Jonathan Franzen) illustrated by Kate Gavino. Gavino, whose book Last Night’s Reading: Illustrated Encounters with Extraordinary Authors is out now, got her start with a wildly successful Tumblr account.
The literary it-boys Katie Roiphe described last week in her provocative New York Times essay may say a polite “no, thank you” to sex, but not Legends of the Fall author Jim Harrison. No, sir. His lusty men of all shapes and sizes (octogenarians, clubfooted teens) take second helpings with gusto in his new collection The Farmer’s Daughter.