Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who served as publisher of The New York Times and as chairman and chief executive of The New York Times Company, died yesterday at the age of 86. Over at The New Yorker, you can check out an interesting round-up of recent articles they’ve done about Sulzberger and his 34-year-long tenure with the paper of record.
In his column in the Chicago Tribune today, Eric Zorn describes a particularly ugly incident that occurred at a library not far from where I live. Somebody set fire to a number of books at the John Merlo branch of the Chicago Public Library. Making matters worse, it appears as though the arsonist targeted the gay and lesbian books section of the library, which itself is located in a neighborhood with a large gay population. From Zorn’s column: Staffers detected the fire quickly and used an extinguisher to put it out before anyone was hurt. The library remained open, and if you visit there today, the only reminders of the incident are gaps on several shelves where destroyed books used to sit.But the location makes it a bigger event. For both symbolic and safety reasons, the idea of arson in the stacks, no matter how relatively unsuccessful, is chilling. Public libraries are not only embodiments of liberty but, with all that paper, prospective tinderboxes.More chilling still to many is that the unknown arsonist chose to set the fire in the heart of the Chicago area’s largest unified collection of gay and lesbian-oriented books.Zorn explores the topic further at his blog explaining why he decided to devote his column to what was, admittedly, a very minor fire, wondering “Do we not, in some ways, magnify the power of a hate crime when we publicize it?”I’m glad he decided to write the column. Coming on the heels of a book-banning attempt in a nearby school district, it’s been a rough couple of months for books in the Chicago area.Update: It turns out it wasn’t a hate crime. As Eric Zorn explains, they caught the culprit, a 21-year-old homeless woman who set the fire because “she was angry at library staff for being rude to her.”
A couple weeks back, Jonathan Callahan published a crackerjack essay here on Volume 2 of Karl Ove Knausgaard‘s My Struggle. Little did we know that, even as he was writing it, he was being interviewed about his own literary debut, The Consummation of Dirk, by none other than…Rick Moody.
Back in April, our own Sonya Chung linked to an excerpt on Bloom of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer, then featured on the cover of the Sunday Times Book Review. At Bookforum, Lisa Locascio reads the book, drawing comparisons to Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker and Hari Kunzru’s The Impressionist.