The Los Angeles Times book review laid off its entire staff of freelance book reviewers.
Steve Almond treks deeper into familiar territory in the latest issue of The Baffler, wherein the essayist takes on “our lazy embrace of [Jon] Stewart and [Stephen] Colbert,” an undoubtedly strong “testament to our own impoverished comic standards.” Indeed, Almond notes, our satirists and comics today remain “careful never to question the corrupt precepts of the status quo too vigorously.”
You may have read some of our pieces on graphic novels and comics. The form is increasingly seen as an indispensable genre of literature. At Slate, a team of judges select the nominees for their third annual Cartoonist Studio Prize, including Here by Richard McGuire and Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast.
Lots of new books out this week: Where Mortals Sleep, previously unpublished short fiction by Kurt Vonnegut, with a foreword by Dave Eggers; A Life, one of what will be several biographies of J.D. Salinger arriving over the next couple of years; Stanley Fish tells us How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One; Brian Greene introduced the masses to string theory with The Elegant Universe, and now he's back with The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos; Julie Orringer's The Invisible Bridge is out in paperback; and finally, from Penguin Classics, The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime: Forgotten Cops and Private Eyes from the Time of Sherlock Holmes.
Jacob Silverman tackles the niceness epidemic besieging literary criticism at the moment. Where have the hatchet jobs gone? Is social media’s “communalism” robbing critics of their fangs? Each time a publication refuses to print a negative review, the act amounts to “a victory for a publicist, but not for readers,” he writes. (Just a few notes: Silverman's piece is based on a blog post he wrote recently; Emma Straub has responded on her own blog; and, for what it's worth, our own Michael Bourne’s recent review of Richard Ford’s Canada was pretty toothy.)
“The findings revealed that across the board, nearly 80 percent of those surveyed who worked in publishing self-identified as white. In Marketing and Publicity, 77 percent were white. These are people who make decisions on how to position books to the press and to consumers, and if and where to send authors on tour — critical considerations in the successful launching of any publication. For writers of color, the lack of diversity in book publicity departments can feel like a death knell.” On the lack of representation in book publishing and publicity campaigns.