April 1, 2017
by Melville House
Well, that was a week! As you strive to put the manic Monday, Tuesday heartbreak, Wednesday evening blues, Thursday’s children, and shimmy coco of Friday behind you, here are a few of the stories we’ve been chasing, in case you missed ’em, and a couple things we didn’t quite get to:
- Peter Clark asked, in the event that some of us should prove unable to live forever, how many books we’ve got time left to read. (Pro tip: More time for books if you read at the gym.)
- Ian Dreiblatt wrote about some confusion involving Amazon UK, historian Peter Snyder, his UK publisher The Bodley Head, the adult coloring book craze, and, you guessed it, Russian hackers.
- Chad Felix is ready for the apocalypse. (Space in his bunker is limited, though, so this might be a good time to impress him?)
- Julia Fleischaker has a modest proposal: don’t burn books, ok? (Seriously. If your English-Americanese dictionary should be reduced to ash, you’ll have no way of keeping up with the news.)
- Ryan Harrington is keeping tabs on the
prisonersemployees of the Wall Street Journal, who are demanding increased newsroom diversity. (Moz, you might wanna tune in for this one, too.)
- Kait Howard wrote about one thing libraries in the Minneapolis area are offering up besides books: free access to counseling services. Goes great with a Juicy Lucy and some enlightened political leadership.
- Simon Reichley updated us on the latest stupid bullshit from OG Sad Puppy Vox Day.
- Susan Rella had the week off (listen, making books is hard, and it’s flu season; besides, Susan wishes you had every week off), but her piece from last week on the Oxford comma covers some interesting details of punctuation, making sense of labor regulations and gang warfare.
- Taylor Sperry covered the sale of the film rights to George Saunders’s debut novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, to Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, power couple of American comedy and terrestrial awesomeness.
We also featured excerpts from a few of our past, present, and future books:
- Becoming Leonardo: An Exploded View of the Life of Leonardo da Vinci, by Mike Lankford
- First Love, by Gwendoline Riley
- Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto, by Steve Almond
- The Man Who Designed the Future: Norman Bel Geddes and the Invention of Twentieth-Century America, by B. Alexandra Szerlip
As well as notes from a couple of our authors:
- Christopher Boucher wrote about his experiences editing Jonathan Lethem’s More Alive and Less Lonely, which we published last week.
- Mike Lankford wrote about what led him to write his heterodox biography of Leonardo. (Spoiler alert: the essay opens with the words, “The book was an accident, I swear.”)
There were a couple news stories we just didn’t get to this week:
- The great and beloved William McPherson, novelist, Pulitzer-winning book critic, and chronicler of his own slide into poverty, has died at eighty-four. If you haven’t read him, you should. Thanks, Maestro.
- Souq.com, the so-called “Amazon of the Middle East,” has been bought by Amazon, a herd of shitheads averting their eyes from countless immiserated employees. Unconfirmed reporting values the deal at $700 million. Souq, there are easier ways you could’ve done this.
- Greak Shakespearean Deaths: The Card Game. C’mon, like you were doing something really important before you saw this?
- The AP has approved the usage of singular “they” at last.
- Last week, we didn’t quite get around to covering the death at 101 of George Braziller, legendary publisher of improbable books by the likes of William Caxton, Catherine of Cleves, and longtime friend of the blog Publius Ovidius Naso.
Likewise, we did not quite make it to sharing news of the passing at eighty-seven of Bob Silvers, legendary founder and editor of the mighty New York Review of Books. Famous for his intellect, dogged attention to detail, and willingness to champion obscure writers, Silvers edited every word the publication printed for the more than fifty years he spent running it. We reached out to Barbara Epler, publisher of New Directions, who knew Silvers well, and shared some wonderful memories:
The wonderful thing about Robert Silvers was everything. The great hub of a great wheel, incredibly good-natured, wonderful at putting people at ease, witty, almost prankish, as if winking and letting you in on a joke, but the joke was the fun of it all.
I’d vacillate idiotically between addressing him as Mr. Silvers (out of awe) and calling him Bob (since he was such a sweetheart). Generosity seemed the soul of his mind. In fact, he gave me the feeling that kindness might be the highest form of intelligence. We’ll always miss him.
Will Evans, publisher of Deep Vellum and more recently co-founder of Cinestate, wrote us to say that Braziller and Silvers departing in the same week “is doubly painful. We’re losing the leaders of that generation of engaged, deep thinkers who considered literature and writing integral to the vitality and progress of our society —not just in arts but in everything. I hope to emulate that generation of New York publishing, which I admire deep in my core to this day, in all I do.” Well said, Will.
Meantime, that fluttering feeling in your chest is because we published three new books this week:
Finally — since you’re still in your peejays, here’s a Saturday morning cartoon for ya. A classic, in fact: