February 24, 2018
A week in the knees
by Melville House
February’s winding down, and we all know what that means: reaching out to the village astrologer—a rascal with no respect for knights—to learn whether it’s leap year!
It also means that time continues its inexorable march forward, with the year now fifteen percent over. We’re doing this, people — and not a moment too soon, as, besides all the very real and very terrible news we’re processing, there’s also some positively deranged stuff going on, and it’s starting to feel like 2018 is irretrievably off the rails at this point.
In the meantime, though, duty beckoned and we’ve answered its call. Here’s what’s been shaking on the blog this week:
- Taylor Sperry continued her recent coverage of the relationship between books and inmates with a look at Curtis Dawkins, the convicted murderer who sold a short story collection for $150,000 — prompting the prison to demand that he pony up to cover the cost of his own confinement.
- Simon Reichley peered into a recent study examining gender representation in fiction over the past two hundred years. The upshot? It’s gotten worse.
- Susan Rella tore James Woods a new one, the prick. James Woods should find another way to spend his time.
- Alex Primiani covered a recent federal court decision that might have serious implications for copyright law in the US.
- Ryan Harrington wrote about years of ghoulish work J. Edgar Hoover put in to fucking with black bookstore owners, and their clientele.
- Nikki Griffiths laughed hard as Milo Yiannopoulos’s preposterous lawsuit against Simon & Schuster—who did everything they could to publish him, but were no match for his pedophilia-praising public nincompoopery—turned to ash, right in front of everyone. Time to celebrate: crank the volume, everyone, get on your feet, and do the moron.
- Ian Dreiblatt really went all-in on the whole secret-sperm-in-the-Obama-portrait story, with special guest appearances by everyone’s favorite sperm-image-hider, the one and only Walt Whitman. It was… complicated, in a good way.
- Stephanie DeLuca wrote about the new mega-Man-Booker, an prize that will be awarded by the folks behind the Man Booker Prize to the best Man Booker Prize-winning book of all time!
- Peter Clark caught Amazon doing something—you’re not going to believe this—self-serving and horrible for publishers.
- Michael Barron sat in on the PEN America Literary Awards and reported his findings to the literary community.
We were also most delighted to publish:
- This timely, Billy Graham-themed excerpt from The Money Cult, Chris Lehmann’s good-as-hell look at the special relationship between American capitalism and American Christianity. “He commonly referred, for instance, to the Garden of Eden as a joyful place afflicted with ‘no union dues, no labor leaders, no snakes, no diseases.’”
- The latest installment in our continuing series, The Week in Impeachment, in which Barbara Radnofsky, author of A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment, offers a straightforward list of actions taken by the president over the past seven days for which he can be impeached. On a not-wholly-unrelated note: are you registered to vote in November? Are your friends and family?
There were, of course, a couple stories we just didn’t get to cover:
- We’ve written a whole lot about the disappearance of Gothamist and its family of -ist publications. So we were very excited to learn yesterday that a trio of public radio affiliates have bought up Gothamist, DCist, and LAist, and will be restoring them to glory! Hooray for radio!
- Back in November, we covered the story of scholarly publisher Springer Nature, which had been happily censoring its content to appease authorities in the People’s Republic of China. Now, according to reporting by Shawna Williams in The Scientist, academics around the world are organizing a peer-review boycott of publishers who refuse to stand up for basic principles of speech in the face of state suppression.
- In the small town of Orange City, Iowa, local ghouls have been coming together to fight the presence of books on LGBTQ themes in public libraries. “We are shocked that tax money is being used to push this agenda even further,” said Sacha Walicord, homophobe and pastor of the Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church. “We have rolled over for far too long. This ends now.” At the risk of editorializing, these ghouls are wrong, and should sit down and shut up immediately.
- In the United Arab Emirates, a country that provides dedicated reading time for employees during the work day, a new age classification system will be applied to virtually all media, including books. “This will ensure balanced and responsible media content that respects the privacy of individuals and protects the various segments of society from the harmful effects of any creative and media works,” according to Rashid al Nuaimi, executive director of media affairs at the Emirates’ National Media Council.
- In Morocco, journalist Taoufik Bouachrine has been convicted of criminal defamation and fined forty-five million centimes (about US$49,000) after two government ministers brought suit over a story Bouachrine had published alleging they had persuaded the nation’s prime minister to transfer control over a federal development fund to them. The Committee to Protect Journalists was quick to express concern.
Finally, it’s Saturday, the morning when cartoons rule the earth. Here’s an earthly cartoon that pretty much rules: from Jim Reardon, who would go on to help make The Simpsons what it is, among other things, we
are proud have somewhat mixed feelings to present: Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown!
So there’s that, then! Sleep in, breathe easy, and we’ll catch you right back here Monday morning.