“When the French would go to serve, they often said, Tenez!, the French word for ‘take it,’ meaning ‘coming at you, heads up.’ We preserve this custom of warning the opponent in our less lyrical way by stating the score just before we toss up the ball. It was the Italians who, having overheard the French make these sounds, began calling the game ‘ten-ez’ by association. A lovely detail in that it suggests a scene, a Florentine ear at the fence or entryway, listening.” Whether it’s David Foster Wallace or John Jeremiah Sullivan writing about tennis, I’m reading it. Another three-namer, Jonathan Russell Clark, reviewed The David Foster Wallace Reader for The Millions.
The Times has announced its long-awaited (and -feared) digital subscription plan: “Under the plan, which begins on March 28, visitors to NYTimes.com will be able to read 20 articles a month free. The most frequent users will pay $15 a month; print subscribers will have unlimited access.” A letter to readers about the plan from Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.
Theoretically, it pays to get a novel on Amazon’s best seller list. In reality, though, a bestselling novel doesn’t make as much in cold hard cash as you’d think.
“Bestselling self-published authors attract producers because they have a proven track record if they stay on Amazon sales charts over time.” The Guardian considers the Hollywood success of writers such as Andy Weir, E. L. James, and Mark Dawson. And just last year our own Bill Morris wondered why literature was enjoying such a good run out in LaLa Land: “Four novels as source material for Oscar-nominated screenplays? What happened? Did some pixie slip a vial of smart powder into the L.A. drinking water?”
In the early eighties, when the writer James Lasdun was working in publishing, he rejected a book by a writer who turned out to be a pen name for Doris Lessing. The fallout? He couldn’t bring himself to read her work until this year. (Related: our own Mark O’Connell’s interview with Lasdun about his latest book.)
Chad Harbach‘s The Art of Fielding is ubiquitous. We tapped it in our Second Half of 2011 Preview. n+1 bundled it with year-long subscriptions. The Awl interviewed the author. The New Yorker‘s Book Club picked it as their September book. It was reviewed in The New York Times. Now Keith Gessen‘s expanded his Vanity Fair piece on the novel’s development into a standalone e-book. In light of all this hype, McNally Jackson’s Tumblr provides a poignant list of baseball puns for reviewers to start avoiding.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Stonecutter. In the most recent issue, you’ll find our own Lydia Kiesling’s essay on cigarettes and literature; in Issue #2, you’ll find Mark O’Connell discussing Roberto Bolaño’s Between Parentheses. You read that correctly: 50% of all Stonecutter issues feature Millions staffers.