Oh, ghostwriter: that poorly-paid name snuck into the “Acknowledgements” section somewhere after agent’s agent and ex-wife’s third cousin. In the middle ground between Michael D’Orso, who spoke to The Millions of job satisfaction as a hired pen, and Sari Botton, whose reminisces are full of horror stories, Andrew Croft, author of 80 books that sold 10M copies under other people’s names, offers a circumspect take in his Guardian profile. “The ghost is advised never to forget that, at the end of the day, he or she ranks somewhere between a valet and a cleaner.”
The Ripped Bodice (the only bookstore in the United States dedicated solely to romance books) released a report looking at the state of diversity in 2016 romance novels. Last year there were only 7.8 published romance novels by writers of color for every 100 books from 20 major romance publishing companies. “Of particular concern is the suggestion, as revealed by the study, that publishers are not reflecting their readership base with any kind of parity. According to Pew Research, black women with college degrees are more likely to read a book than any other group. Since romance readers are approximately 84 percent female, this suggests there is a large swath of the population who don’t see themselves represented in authors or protagonists.” Entertainment Weekly highlights some major takeaways from the survey, read the rest of the appalling stats and then go support romance writers of color.
In her “Classic Russian Writers: For Teh Internets” column at McSweeney’s, KA Semënova “updates classics of Russian literature with modern technologies to see if the insights of those writers hold up today.” Her first two pieces explore Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Dog” and Vsevolod M. Garshin’s “The Signal.”
To give context to a new William Vollmann essay about reading his own FBI profile (available to subscribers only, sadly), Harper’s Magazine published a few pages from Vollmann’s file online. Among other things, they reveal that the FBI considered Vollman “exceedingly intelligent and possessed with an enormous ego.” (For a taste of the Harper’s essay, you can read this WaPo article on Vollmann’s connection to the Unabomber.)
Two hotly anticipated collections of stories are out this week: Nathan Englander’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank and Dan Chaon’s Stay Awake. Also new this week are Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Ramona Ausubel’s No One is Here Except All of Us, which she wrote about here recently, Dalkey’s new edition of The Recognitions by William Gaddis, and a new volume of William S. Burroughs’ letters.
Lynn Shawcroft is comedian Mitch Hedberg’s widow, and she curates MitchHedberg.net. In a series of tweets this week, Shawcroft alluded to the possibility that she’ll be releasing Hedberg’s notebooks in the near future, perhaps as part of a book. Of course some excerpts from Hedberg’s notebooks are already available online, such as this fantastic sketch which explains the trouble with mingling before a comedy set.