August 24, 2016
August is quiet, but the book world rolls on…
by Melville House
MobyLives is on hiatus this August, which is why you haven’t seen as many bylines as usual — although there have been some phenomenal ones, like Curtis White’s demonological look at Donald Trump, Liam O’Brien’s umlaut-rich travelogue through Iceland with Viking Economics, and Jessica Yung’s excellent and sustained coverage of the media crackdown currently unfolding in Turkey. We’ve also spent some ink (well, pixels) following the exploits of superhero journalist David Cay Johnston, which seems only natural, considering that after he had the good sense to write the book of record on the news story of the summer, and we (pardon our modesty) had the good sense to publish it, booksellers (thank you, we love you) and the book-buying public (thank you, we love you) had the good sense to turn it into a New York Times bestseller.
Still, we’ve been keeping a comparatively low profile this month. We’re excited to bound into autumn on the strength of some fabulous books and some mighty good writing; in the meantime, here are some updates to stories we’ve covered recently.
- Back in May, Julia Fleischaker reported that women had swept the Nebula Awards. It was, among other things, a ringing rejoinder to the Sad and Rabid Puppies, two groups of right-wing trolls that had been engaged in an organized effort to overtake science fiction’s other major awards, the Hugos. This past weekend, the 2016 Hugos were awarded, and guess what? Women, and especially women of color (or, as the Puppies call them, “special snowflakes”), swept even bigger. Top prizes went to N.K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, Naomi Kritzer, and Hao Jingfang, among others. Dr. Chuck Tingle, surely the most delightful of the Puppies’ nominees, was characteristically gracious in defeat.
- In June, Simon Reichley wrote that, while book publishing had shed 25,000 jobs over the last twenty years, this situation seemed pretty rosy compared with the plight of newspaper publishing, which had hemorrhaged close to 300,000 jobs over the same period. At the same time, internet publishing had enjoyed a chipper ascent, adding more than 150,000. Now, in twin pieces published at Medium and the blog of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, Milou Klein Lankhorst and Ernst-Jan Pfouth, respectively an editor and co-publisher at Dutch news site De Correspondent, are arguing that more news publishers should get into the book business. Which sounds great, as long as they leave that losing-300,000-jobs mojo at the door.
- We’ve been known, occasionally, to report on Amazon, the internet behemoth that would be both prized childhood sled and consuming fire to pretty much all of humanity’s retail needs, and one of the only public forces so nasty that it’s made Donald Trump fleetingly correct on an issue or two. Most recently, we reported on the possibility that the company’s army of drones might one day rise up and kill us all. The BBC has recently paid a visit and shot some footage to help us all get to know our faithful robot companions and would-be overlords.
- Last month, Ryan Harrington wrote about North Carolina’s Dave Hemingway, who—in his seventh year participating—had finally won the annual Ernest Hemingway Lookalike Contest at a Key West restaurant called Sloppy Joe’s. The Hemingways in question were not related, but the more famous of them was again in the news this week, this time in connection with gonzo journalist and false beer promiser Hunter S. Thompson. It seems that in 1964—three years after Hemingway’s death—Thompson, visiting the author’s Idaho home on assignment for the National Observer, did what any of us would like to believe we’d do unchaperoned in Ernest Hemingway’s house: stole a mounted elk skull, complete with antlers. The story has finally come to light because now, more than half a century later, Thompson’s widow Anita has returned it.
- Shortly before our hiatus began, Taylor Sperry wrote about the beginnings of an autobiography by Fox News founder Roger Ailes (the man HBO’s John Oliver memorably called “a sexually rapacious hard-boiled egg”). Sperry also noted that, immediately after his ouster from the network he had created, Ailes became the subject of curiosity as to whether he “might team up with Donald Trump and advise him in some capacity.” It is speculation no longer, even as allegations against Ailes continue rolling in and increasing in ferocity (a new lawsuit by former Fox News personality Andrea Tantaros, for instance, alleges that the network under Ailes was run as “a Playboy Mansion-like cult”). Incidentally, Trump’s running mate, Indiana governor Mike Pence, has his own checkered history with “fair and balanced” journalism, which is not all he and Trump have in common.
Enjoy the last, languorous weeks of summer! Get some reading done!