“We’re going to prove that I can sell more books than Amazon,” Stephen Colbert announced during his show this week. And he’s going to do it by encouraging his audience to purchase California, the new novel by Millions staffer Edan Lepucki. On his website, Colbert has partnered with beloved Portland-based indie Powell’s Books to offer not just Edan’s novel, but also a downloadable pack [PDF] of stickers proudly proclaiming “I DIDN’T BUY IT ON AMAZON.” (For your part, you can also order the book on Barnes and Noble, Word Brooklyn, or your local bookstore and the stickers will still apply.) (Bonus: You can read the first chapter of the book over here.)
"If you ask around, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a really bad novel easily enough. I mean a novel by someone who has spent isolated years writing a book they are convinced is a great work of literature. And when you’re reading it you’ll know it’s bad, and you’ll know what bad truly is." What makes bad writing so bad? Toby Litt at The Guardian investigates.
New York Review Books is having a Summer Sale, featuring heavily discounted works by Mavis Gallant (who we've reviewed and whose books appear in several of our articles), Balzac and many others. There's even a Bird Lovers' collection, for anyone wanting to read all about falcons and something called a goshawk.
New Directions announced they will publish Irish author Keith Ridgway’s novel, Hawthorn & Child, which was originally published by Granta books in 2012. Look out for the book this September. As a way to entice prospective readers, Tom Roberge does not mince words. “This is absolutely a New Directions book, and we think those of you who've fallen in love with Javier Marías or Roberto Bolaño or László Krasznahorkai as much as we did will agree,” Roberge writes.
L.A.-based readers won't want to miss this weekend's Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, held this year on the USC campus. Millions staff writer Patrick Brown will be moderating a panel discussion about bookselling, "From the Front Register," on Saturday at 12:30 pm. At 2:30 that same day, I'll be on a panel facilitated by Lizzie Skurnick called "Fiction: The Long and Short of It." My fellow panelists are Yiyun Li and occasional Millions contributor Victoria Patterson. Go here for details and to order panel tickets (just $1 each)!
...meanwhile, quondam neighbor Jonathan Lethem has packed up for California (to take over the Pomona College position last held by David Foster Wallace). Just in time for Halloween, he raps with New York Magazine about the move...and about his new, book-length treatment of John Carpenter's They Live.