When our own Mark O’Connell reviewed Edouard Levé’s Autoportrait, he wrote that the book compels you to keep reading because “the more Levé says, the more facts he sets down, the more you realize he hasn’t said.” But what if at the end, you’re meant to reread the book, too? Over at Words Without Borders, Jan Steyn says “the only way to get a better idea of how [these sentences] fit together is to keep reading, and reading, until the end, and then perhaps to read the book again.”
Harold and the Purple Crayon is a classic children’s book. Is it also a writing guide? In an essay for Bookslut, Mairead Case explains why she re-reads it whenever she’s finishing a project: the main character’s need to create a room for himself is a corollary to the writing process.
“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.
NY Press has a long look at the history of iconoclastic indie press Soft Skull, which recently shuttered its New York office, effectively ending the publisher's run as a standalone press and making it just an imprint of California-based parent (and, it should be noted, rescuer from financial straights) Counterpoint. Incidentally, I've had a front row seat for all this, as, for the book I'm co-editing, I was initially working with the good folks in New York and then everything was suddenly (and thankfully without a hitch) transferred to the folks in Berkeley. (Thanks, Craig)
Celebrate literary journal Asymptote's third anniversary in New York City later this month. The event will feature Eliot Weinberger, Jeffrey Yang (translator of Liu Xiaobo), Paris Review poetry editor Robyn Creswell, Idra Novey (translator of Clarice Lispector), and Daniella Gitlin (translator of Rodolfo Walsh). They will come together for a panel discussion on translation and readings. The event starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 21 at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe.
Don't expect to hear from Alan Moore anytime soon. He is withdrawing from public life after accusations that his comics include racist characters and too much sexual violence toward women according to an interview with Pádraig Ó Méalóid. He also took the opportunity to disparage society's obsession with superheroes, which probably won't win him any more fans. "To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children's characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence."