The story of how a publishing house began is the definition of literary inside baseball, but this piece by Jonathan Galassi — in which the FSG president responds to an upcoming book on the heyday of his company — does a pretty nice job of spurring a general reader’s interest. Among other things, it reveals that First Wife Dorothea Straus once called the company’s office “a sexual sewer.”
For years, one of the best ways to make a living as a writer (if you didn’t want to go into academia) was to become an ad copywriter. They heyday of print was flush with opportunities to make bank off billboards and publications. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Piepenbring looks back on the ad copy of Fay Weldon, who gave the UK, among other things, the slogan “Vodka makes you drunker quicker.” (Related: Hope Mills on working for a creative agency.)
The University of Texas at Austin has recently acquired Kazuo Ishiguro’s archive. The collection reveals early drafts, a pulp Western novel that Ishiguro thought had been lost, and his early attempts at songwriting. “For many years,” he said, “I’ve been in the habit of keeping a large cardboard box under my desk into which I throw, more or less indiscriminately, all papers produced during my writing that I don’t want to file neatly and take into the next stage of composition: earlier drafts of chapters, rejected pages, scraps of paper with scribbled thoughts, repeated attempts at the same paragraph, etc.”
Colson Whitehead says “Wow, Fiction Works!“The LA Times has a clip from the movie version of David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, directed by The Office star John Krasinski. (via)Carolyn writes about the real-life connection between Walker Percy and Bruce Springsteen.The Village Voice shows off the final results of its highly scientific system of determining New Yorker cartoonists’ batting averages.Cambridge Information Group, which owns Bowker, AquaBrowser, ProQuest, Serials Solutions and RefWorks makes an investment in LibraryThing.Vote in The 2009 Tournament of Books Zombie Poll.A book that has turned out to be so wrong it has become a collectors item (check out the prices): The Bush Boom: How a Misunderestimated President Fixed a Broken Economy
“There was an inefficient system in place, and what I did was subvert it by an external rotation of reluctant holly jollies. Nasally, I came to understand that light is a thing that is produced through the collision of particulates, and boy isn’t that the truth.” As part of their year-end review, McSweeney’s republished their ten most popular pieces of 2014, including the above. Its title? “Donald Barthelme Narrates the Progress of the Reindeer.”
“Because I now know that the man who had come to the door was my mother’s stalker, I’ve injected the memory of his arrival at my childhood home with more detail than I actually possess.” From Catapult, the latest installment of “After a Fashion,” writer Esmé Weijun Wang’s monthly column examining articles of clothing she owns and the stories behind them. Consider also our review of Women In Clothes, an anthology resulting from the collaboration of authors Sheila Heti and Heidi Julavits.
“In a genre that has long been dominated by white men and Western mythological tropes, Ms. Okorafor’s stories, which feature young black girls in starring roles as superheroes and saviors of humanity, have been hailed as groundbreaking.” The New York Times shines a spotlight on Nnedi Okorafor and other African American science fiction and fantasy writers building on -and popularizing-a tradition of African and African American folklore in the sci fi and fantasy genre.
After reading through two new biographies of Sylvia Plath — American Isis and Mad Girl’s Love Song — Terry Castle concludes that “nothing about her life or legacy seems wholesome or resolved.” (Related: our own Hannah Gersen talking with Pain, Parties, Work author Elizabeth Winder.)