Since 2010, Russian publishing professionals estimate that “as many as 20% of [all] Russian book stores have closed.” Each year, they fear, the number of “dedicated readers in Russia declines by 2%.” To remedy these trends, the Russian government has recently approved a $100 million stimulus package for the nation’s book industry – running the gamut from investment in new bookstores, to tax incentives for small presses, and also to more international book fairs – to be dispersed through 2018. Recently, Emily Parker noted in The New York Times that Russia’s literary problems might be blamed on its lack of “good protest literature.”
Vanity Fair’s latest cover is proof that we live in an era in which men have the privilege of being just as objectified as women. Nominally a celebration of the 2010 World Cup that kicks off in South Africa in June, the magazine’s gay porn-ish cover features soccer superstars Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast and Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo in nothing but their flags, photographed by Annie Leibovitz. Within (oh, my stars & stripes!) you can behold the U.S.’s Landon Donovan, as well as Brazil’s Kaká, Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, England’s Carlton Cole, Germany’s Michael Ballack–all in their undies. Cheers to you, Vanity Fair: Your enterprising shamelessness truly knows no bounds.
Last week I asked “What about J.T. Leroy?” I was wondering when the Leroy hoaxers were going to come forward. Now, one of them has. Warren St. John of the New York Times got Geoffrey Knoop to come clean on the record. Knoop also said that he didn’t think Laura Albert, who wrote the Leroy books, would ever come forward: “‘For her, it’s very personal,’ he said. ‘It’s not a hoax. It’s a part of her.'”Meanwhile, PopMatters put together a special section about Leroy and James Frey. I enjoyed The Rake’s related comments on why Frey can’t hold a candle to Charles Bukowski.I saw Brokeback Mountain a few days ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. In an excerpt from Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay, Annie Proulx describes what it was like seeing her story on the screen: “I felt that, just as the ancient Egyptians had removed a corpse’s brain through the nostril with a slender hook before mummification, the cast and crew of this film, from the director down, had gotten into my mind and pulled out images.” (via Maud)This Boston Globe column articulates quite precisely how I feel about the strife surrounding the cartoons of Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper.