Your weekend longread via Vanity Fair – let’s talk about publishing

Image via Vanity Fair.

In my professional life I spend lots of time thinking about things like print vs. digital pricing and the survival of traditional publishing models. If you’re a writer or a reader, you’ll want to check out Keith Gessen’s excellent piece in Vanity Fair about Amazon, ebooks, publishers, and what it all means for our literary future.

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‘The mockingbird next door’ or ‘Notes on wringing out a dry sponge’

indexWriters sure have devoted a lot of ink to documenting the life of Harper Lee, a woman who has repeatedly asked that she not be written about. That Marja Mills may have had the consent of the Lee family is perhaps the most interesting fact offered in The mockingbird next door, a book that otherwise says very little that is new about its subject.

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All the jerks in Joanna Rakoff’s My Salinger Year

indexJoanna Rakoff knows a lot of jerks. Or at least she did in 1996, the year she spent working as an assistant to J.D. Salinger’s literary agent in New York. The “wannabe writer working as assistant with proximity to literary legends who goes on to write a book about it” has gotten to be a familiar trope (Janet Groth’s The Receptionist comes immediately to mind) but Rakoff exceeds the expectations of her genre and gives us a well-woven tale about love, disappointment, reading, and finding her feet as a writer. Salinger is only a secondary character in Rakoff’s book as the reader’s attention is dominated by the amazing array of assholes that Rakoff manages to entangle herself with in the space of a year.

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Mockingbird gets messy

What happened between those last meetings between the Lees and Mills and the present dispute is very complicated, as captured in a ream of conflicting letters and statements

We’ll be covering Marja Mills’ The Mockingbird Next Door in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, head over to Gawker and read Michelle Dean’s excellent breakdown of the controversy surrounding Harper Lee’s authorization of the biography. Compelling stuff.

A modest proposal in light of bad news

Bad news in Toronto today as we were told that The Grid, an excellent alternative weekly, will be shutting down effective immediately.

Novelist Michael Hingston has a suggestion:

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The Book On Publishing: the story of The Art of Fielding via Vanity Fair

The Book On Publishing: the story of The Art of Fielding via Vanity Fair

Mosey on over to Vanity Fair to read Keith Gessen’s account of The Art of Fielding‘s ten year journey towards publication. It’s an inside look at modern publishing that scores bonus points for making those of us who didn’t publish our first best-seller by age twenty-five feel a wee bit better about things.