With the full trailer out for the upcoming James Bond release, Skyfall, I have to confess I’m totally obsessing over British spy stuff of late. Luckily there are some supplements to scratch that itch: Tina Rosenberg’s new story for The Atavist, D for Deception, about a real British spy writer who became a spy himself; Bee Wilson’s fascinating review of Ben MacIntyre’s outrageous but true investigation of WWII double agents, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies; Alexander Cockburn’s recap of the time George Orwell supplied “a list of the names of persons on the left who he deemed security risks” to the IRD; the story of Ernest Hemingway’s lousy espionage; and the video Her Royal Majesty’s recent skydiving escapade with 007.
Literary Hub has an excerpt of an essay by Chris Jackson, Editor in Chief of Random House’s One World imprint on how we can actually achieve diversity in the publishing industry. “What’s the payoff of having a more diverse workforce? Well, there’s obviously the moral case to be made—and that’s a case that I think applies to any industry. But in book publishing, I think we have a special obligation, given our central role in shaping the culture.” And he shares the origin story of how he started to work with Ta-Nehisi Coates.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Zone One author Colson Whitehead says the distinction between “literary” and “fantasy” genres “have no use for me in my day-to-day work experience.” Whitehead is just one of the recent high-profile authors to foray into genre fiction, however, as Kim Wright explored in a piece for us last month.
As John Steinbeck’s classic Travels With Charley nears the half-century mark, a writer has retraced the author’s cross-country journey and come to the conclusion that the resulting book was full of inaccuracies and outright fabrications. The journalist Bill Steigerwald, whose article appears in the current issue of the libertarian quarterly Reason, says he didn’t set out to trash the Nobel laureate. “As a libertarian, I kind of liked the old guy,” Steigerwald tells the New York Times. “He liked guns; he liked property rights.”
One of the biggest literary releases of the year is out today, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. Read the book’s opening here. Another literary heavy hitter out today is The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst. One of Albanian writer Ismail Kadare’s masterpieces, The Palace of Dreams, is now back in print in English, and Blake Butler’s memoir Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia is now on shelves.
Nathaniel Rich, who seems to have endured his 47-hour train trip without descending into madness, describes one of his favorite historical attractions in New Orleans: the Pharmacy Museum. “There are few things in life more terrifying than antiquated medical devices,” he writes.