The gorgeous paperback edition of our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s A Field Guide to the North American Family is now out. Also new and noteworthy are Francisco Goldman’s New Yorker excerpted story of the death of his young wife Say Her Name, Meg Wolitzer’s The Uncoupling, Ann Packer’s Swim Back to Me, Blake Butler’s There is No Year, and Phillip Connors’s intriguing debut, Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout. Elsewhere, we’ve got Tina Fey’s raved about memoir Bossypants and a new and long in the works biography of Malcolm X, whose author, Manning Marable died just last week on the eve of the book’s publication. Finally, now out in paperback is the fiction blockbuster The Help.
The embattled film version of Michael Lewis’ baseball bestseller Moneyball, once set to be directed by Steven Soderbergh, is now back on track with Bennett Miller, director of Capote, set to helm. Brad Pitt is still lined up to play Oakland A’s G.M. Billy Beane.
Recently Salman Rushdie spoke at a conference in Delhi. He had been scheduled to appear with the Pakistani politician Imran Khan, who later pulled out of the event citing the “immeasurable hurt” that The Satanic Verses had done to Muslims. Rushdie, who had earlier been prevented from attending the Jaipur literary festival for fear of his presence inciting a riot, dismissed Khan’s claims: “The chilling effect of violence is very real and it is growing in this country.”
The Social Network writer Aaron Sorkin has signed on to adapt a biopic about Steve Jobs (not to be confused with the Ashton Kutcher one) which will be based on Walter Isaacson’s biography of the same name. Meanwhile, as the news was announced, Sorkin gave a memorable commencement address at Syracuse University.
“In publishing, we see this play out in a number of ways. Marginalized writers are told by white editors, we need your stories now more than ever, as if we have not always needed them urgently. We are told our experiences are timely, exotic, and trendy. We are told our stories are not authentic if our characters do not suffer, as if the only way to prove that we are human is to bleed.” Natalia Sylvester on the erasure that comes when marginalized writers are constantly being told by the publishing industry and others that your book about your marginalized identity is ‘timely’.
On The Nervous Breakdown this week, J.E. Fishman considers the book review practices of The New York Times: “My view is very much eastern, very much old school, where a book review from the Times was the only sure sign that an author had arrived. But maybe it’s time to rethink that, and this rethinking has been long overdue.”
Perhaps the best mashup of highbrow and lowbrow to grace the cultural ether in recent years is this innovative scratch-and-sniff guide to becoming a wine expert. The book, which is exactly what you think it is, declares that “not all oaks are created equal” and includes a diagram of “all the smells in the world.” (Related: literary tourism at Suttree’s High Gravity Beer Tavern.)