"For the first half of a new book, maybe you want your back against the wall. Gunslinger style. Nothing can sneak up on you except your own bad sentences," Colson Whitehead said. He and four other authors discussed where they like to write in The New York Times. Bonus: See where our writers work.
A professor at Clemson University believes he’s identified the fugitive slave who was harbored for one night in the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Moreover, the professor believes that the man was “an inspiration for the novel [Uncle Tom’s Cabin]. I think his pain touched [Stowe] and helped her to act.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan is working on abandoning the "slightly exaggerated pastiche of himself as narrator" that's driven most of his essays so far.
“Bertelsmann’s 7% decline in 2016 revenue was due entirely to a drop in sales at Penguin Random House. The lack of a big new bestseller hurt results at the company, and it divested some smaller divisions in the year.” For those interested in inside baseball, Publishers Weekly takes a look at how the world's 50 largest publishers are faring. (TL;dr: Although their total revenue topped $50 billion, more than half of the list's publishers reported sales declines – oh, and Harry Potter still really, really sells). As a counterpoint to all that capitalism, read our own Edan Lepucki's survey of self-published authors.
Meanwhile, in the commonwealth of Virginia, HB 516 is currently sailing through state legislature. What began as one mother's outraged response to her 17-year-old son's AP English assignment–reading Beloved by Toni Morrison–has morphed into a bill which would require school districts to do three things: flag any "sexually explicit" assigned material, allow parents to review all assigned readings to assess perceived levels of sexual explicitness, and finally, require teachers to provide alternate readings/avenues of study for any students whose parents deem particular content too inappropriate.