by Campbell Geeslin
When wintry days whistle in, it’s time to reach for Nicolai V. Gogol’s The Overcoat. Next to a warm fire, there’s nothing more satisfying than a vodka-sized shot of Russian literature.
The boisterous wind “cut his face like a knife, covering it with lumps of snow, swelling out his collar like a sail.”
A priest told Gogol that he must renounce his literary work and enter a monastery. He replied, “Not to write means the same to me as not to live.”
We were struck by the appearance in today’s New York Times of two prominently placed stories about media in transition. Both are well worth reading.
Dave Streitfeld explores the enduring appeal of the traditional book in the digital era.
“Even as the universe of printed matter continues to shrivel, the book — or at least some of its best-known features — is showing remarkable staying power online. The idea is apparently embedded so deeply in the collective unconsciousness that no one can bear to leave it behind.”
Writing that “efforts to reimagine the core experience of the book have stumbled,” Streitfeld notes that a number of tech startups that have tried to incorporate social networking or multimedia into books have either gone out of business or been forced to change their business model.
David Carr looks at plans to cut New York magazine’s frequency to bi-weekly and what it says about the changing economics of media.
“Along with the closing of the printed Newsweek and the planned spin-off of Time Inc., which includes the weeklies Time and People, the move to bi-weekly publishing represents the end of an era and underscores the dreary economics of print and its diminishing role in a future that’s already here.”
Carr quotes New York’s publisher as saying digital revenues—which have been growing at a rate of 15 % a year–will surpass print advertising revenues in the coming year. Carr adds, “But part of the reason those lines are crossing is that print revenues are plummeting.”
This week’s recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, Allan Cole, Michael Connelly, Christine Duval, C. Herbert Gilliland, Debbie Levy, Jacquelyn Mitchard, James Muench, Andrea M. Nelson-Royes, Deborah Raney, Doreen Rappaport, Albert Russo, Marilyn Singer, and Kevin Underhill. Titles under the jump.
by Campbell Geeslin
David Orr, author of Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry, writes a column for The New York Times Book Review.
He wrote, “At any given moment, millions of people in this country are happily not reading poems, and dozens of poets are happy to say they don’t care.”
Does one have to study poetry to become a fan? Orr quotes Philip Larkin, “Oh, for Christ’s sake, one doesn’t study poets! You read them, and think, that’s marvelous, how is it done, could I do it? And that’s how you learn.”
Orr concludes: “When we talk about accessibility, we should remember that poetry, unlike churches and fortresses, has never loved a wall.”
First the Jerry Siegel heirs, in February; now the Joe Shuster heirs. The lawsuits over the rights of the heirs of Superman’s co-creators may be over. The Shuster heirs appear stuck with a 1992 agreement paying a “pension” of $25,000 per year. The Siegel heirs fared much better: their 2001 agreement included $3 million up front and an ongoing 6% of gross revenues.
Last Thursday, an appellate court effectively affirmed DC Comics’ ownership of the copyright for Superman in what may be the final chapter in a long, complex and ultimately losing struggle by the heirs of Superman co-creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to regain their rights to the iconic superhero.
On Friday, attorneys for the heirs of Malcolm X told a federal court in Manhattan that The Diary of Malcolm X was available for sale online, in violation of the court’s November 8th temporary restraining order blocking sales of the work. Judge Laura Taylor Swain wasted no time, warning the defendant that it could be held in contempt of court if it disregards her order, and extending the order blocking the sale of the book until a court hearing in January, according to the Associated Press.
The Diary of Malcolm X, which was scheduled to be published earlier this month by Chicago-based Third World Press, is based on journals written by Malcolm X in 1964 as he traveled to the Middle East and Africa. Those journals have been on loan from the civil rights leader’s estate, X Legacy, to the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center since 2003. X Legacy had filed a copyright infringement suit earlier this month asserting that it had the sole right to publish his diaries.
This week’s recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Tom Clavin, Joe Cottonwood, Jordan Dane, Nicholas Delbanco, Carl Deuker, Karl Taro Greenfeld, R.Z. Halleson, Alden Jones, Laurie Loughlin, John Schulte, Pat Silver-Lasky, Louise Steinman, and James L. Swanson. Titles under the jump.
Today’s obituary for Herbert Mitgang in The New York Times goes into much more detail than we did yesterday. For example, we wrote about Herb’s work for Stars and Stripes in World War II. The Times tells you he did much more than that during the war, serving as an Army intelligence officer, parachuting into Greece, and earning six battle stars.
The Times highlights Herb Mitgang’s 1988 book Dangerous Dossiers: Exposing the Secret War Against America’s Greatest Authors, which he wrote using FBI, CIA, and other files he obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
We’ve just learned that our dear friend Herbert Mitgang died this morning at the age of 93. Since joining the Authors Guild in 1957, Herb had been a stalwart supporter of the Guild and its organizations. He served as president of the Authors Guild and the Authors League Fund, devoting countless hours in the service of his fellow writers.
Herbert Mitgang began his distinguished writing career as an army correspondent for Stars and Stripes during World War II; he would soon become managing editor, first for the paper’s Oran-Casablanca edition, then for its Sicily edition.
This week’s batch of contests includes prizes for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Deadlines range from Dec 23-31.
The Anisfield-Wolf Awards recognize books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures. Books must be written in English and published in the previous year (books published in 2013 are eligible for the 2014 prizes). Awards are given for both fiction and nonfiction. Works of poetry are eligible for the fiction prize. Plays, screenplays, unpublished manuscripts, and self-published books are not eligible. The winners will receive $10,000 and will be honored at an awards ceremony in Cleveland. Deadline: December 31, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.