At the New Yorker Festival on Friday night, acclaimed American writer Don DeLillo offered his thoughts on America's gun violence problem, which was fitting, since DeLillo’s novels are known for story lines that comment upon threats to American society. He speculated on the motivation of lone shooters like the one who murdered nine people in an attack on Umpqua Community College in Oregon this past week.
Amy Schumer has mastered the art of leaning all the way in: Her new multi-million-dollar book deal apparently didn't always come with such a hefty price tag. Two years ago, according to the New York Times, she signed a similar deal with HarperCollins for a book of humor essays to be written with help from The New Yorker's Patricia Marx. At the time, Schumer was like any other emerging comedian with a lot of buzz, and so they offered her a $1 million advance. Schumer eventually canceled that deal and returned the check because she was "too busy" (likely launching Inside Amy Schumer) to write a book. She told GQ earlier this summer, "I had a whole deal, but I decided to wait — I thought I would make more money if I waited."
One rom-com, an Emmy, and #squad with Jennifer Lawrence later, and Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books bought the publishing rights to Schumer's book of essays at an auction last week for a cool $8 million. That number, if accurate, would be more than the advances reportedly offered to Lena Dunham, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Amy Poehler for their respective books. So in the span of two years, Schumer has negotiated a $7 million pay increase. Not too shabby!
Thirty years ago this fall, The Cosby Show debuted on NBC, and its star was catapulted into the comedic stratosphere. The timing is prime, then, for the release of a sprawling biography. Written by former Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker, Cosby: His Life and Times documents the man’s rise from the Philadelphia projects, while also detailing the creation of his family sitcom and the murder of his son Ennis in 1997.
The book is notable, however, for its complete avoidance of sexual abuse allegations that have dogged Cosby for more than a decade. In a statement to Buzzfeed's Kate Aurthur, Whitaker says, "I didn’t want to print allegations that I couldn’t confirm independently." Regardless, their absence is glaring. Consider the following timeline an appendix to the book.
Lovable little Dobby and his goofy magic have evidently inspired London, as some Harry Potter fans have attempted to free him from Leavesden's Warner Bros. Studio Tour IRL. Friends of the house elf have festooned one of his exhibit cases with their socks, a nod to both Dobby's HP story line, as well as the fact that house elves are granted independence if they are given an item of clothing. Pictures of the honor began circulating via social media this week — even catching the eye of J.K. Rowling, who retweeted because how could you not? This is off-the-charts cuteness:
“In general, life on the road is not easy. Yesterday I saw a family of Roma camping on a cement-parking place. The children had tired, old faces and were smoking cigarettes,” writes formerly Berlin-based musician and multimedia artist Danielle de Picciotto in her graphic diary, We Are Gypsies Now, which was published by Amok Books in August. “The romanticized myth of the gypsy lifestyle is quite different in reality. Anybody who has experienced not having a home knows that it is no joke.”
We Are Gypsies Now, de Picciotto’s second published book, is wondrously illustrated with the author's inky drawings, and features cover and layout design by the Jesus Lizard's David Yow. The diary recalls the planned 18-month nomadic journey de Picciotto and her husband, Alexander Hacke, a musician best known as part of post-punk industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten, undertook after putting all their stuff in storage and leaving their longtime home in Berlin in search of a more fulfilled life elsewhere.
That year-and-a-half-long itinerary has since stretched into five years of trekking from art residency to band gig, all the while couch- and apartment-surfing. Their grand tour brought the couple to the U.S. in September for a series of multimedia performances, which featured readings and animated scenes from the book paired with songs from de Picciotto’s companion album, Tacoma, named for the city of her birth. The couple's upcoming album, Perserverantia, due out later this year, was also being played.
It’s not until we’re at the bottom of the 30-foot ladder, necks craned up at the bright West Texas sky, that Eileen Myles casually mentions that she’s afraid of heights. The rusty ladder is the only way to get to our destination, an old spring-fed railroad tank off a ranch road. Myles recently bought a small stucco house in Marfa, about 20 miles from here, and splits her time between rural Texas and the East Village apartment she’s lived in for four decades. Fortunately, the 65-year-old poet doesn’t seem inclined to let fear slow her down. She grips the railing and begins clambering up. Once at the top, she drops into the water and emerges wearing a broad, satisfied grin.
Follow your passion is the clichéd advice often given at college graduations, and it’s gotten quite a bit of backlash lately, which is understandable. For one thing, not everyone is lucky enough to have a passion that easily leads to gainful employment; for another, the notion ignores the fact that plenty of people work so that they can earn money for food and housing, not so that they might find some kind of existential fulfillment.
Amy Schumer is writing a book, and unlike most people who write books, it's going to make her very rich: EW reports that the winning bid for the project has landed somewhere in the high seven figures. (The lucky publisher is still unknown.) Even though details are being kept under a strict NDA, Publishers Weekly says the book will deal with Schumer's "childhood, how she got her big break in comedy, her family, and feminism." But, like, of course that's what Amy Schumer's book is going to be about. Don't overthink this!
J.K. Rowling has long been a fan of family trees, and for the redesign of her Pottermore site, she's debuted a new essay that delves into the Potter family's ancestry. First, we learn that the boy who lived's surname was supposed to be Potterer, but over time it became Potter, a name so Muggle-sounding that it's part of the reason the Potter family was left off the elite Sacred Twenty-Eight list of pure-blood families. The name dates all the way back to the 12th century, with Linfred of Stinchcombe, an "eccentric" wizard whose magical cures for the common cold and broken bones paved the way for the Skele-gro and Pepperup potions now taught at Hogwarts. And that's where Harry Potter (and the generations of Potters before him) got all that gold from. Mystery solved!
This week, the Cut reflects on self-reflection with a series of stories devoted to the art of memoir.
Did you sew it? I’m just trying to imagine where you got it. There was no such thing as Amazon yet and I’d never seen one, except on Tarzan.
Your loincloth. Did you use fabric from an old couch? You didn’t have a couch. Maybe you liberated a square of fabric from your tepee or stitched together some burlap bags that once held hydroponic fertilizer.
British novelist Jackie Collins, whose licentious fiction romps through glamorous night lives have sold more than 500 million copies in 40 countries, has died of breast cancer at 77. Collins earned notoriety in 1968, with the publication of her novel The World Is Full of Married Men. The prolific romance writer Barbara Cartland, who wrote over 700 novels (!) in her life, called the book disgusting; it was banned in several countries and subsequently sold very well in America. Her next book, The Stud ('69), announced her as the more lurid, female-oriented foil to Philip Roth, whose masturbation-centric classic Portnoy's Complaint came out that same year. Collins wrote about the lascivious side of Hollywood with the Hollywood series ('83–'03) and the seedy world of organized crime with the Santangelo novels, the last of which, the 600-page The Santangelos, came out this June. Collins began writing for film in the '70s, and several of her books were made into movies. Her older sister, Joan, saw a career renaissance with her performance in the soft-core adaptation of Jackie's The Bitch, which led to her being cast in Dynasty a year later. The prodigious writer scrawled her novels out in longhand on yellow legal pads or blank computer paper. Thirty-two of her books landed on the New York Times best-seller list. In the six and a half years since she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Collins wrote five books, which makes James Patterson look lazy by comparison.
The Man Booker Prize announced its short list just a few days ago, which means it's time for its Yankee brethren, the National Book Award, to jump into the game with its long list. The one book that made it on both? A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, who spoke to Vulture about the process of writing the book. The NBA fiction short list will be released October 14, with the winners themselves announced on November 18. Good luck to all these nominees, and better luck to their frustrated, less-famous friends.
Deadline reports that Stephen King's Mist has inspired a TV series-in-the-making, penned by Rita creator Christian Torpe. The Weinstein Company's Dimension Television is working on developing the project, which will "tell an original story about a seemingly innocuous mist that seeps into a small town but contains limitless havoc," according to the blog. The Mist previously saw some pretty weird screen time as a movie, courtesy of Frank Darabont in 2007. "The terror and drama in Stephen King’s novella are so vast that we felt serialized television is the best place to explore them in greater depth," Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of TWC and Dimension, said in a statement. "With this show, Christian has created a fascinating band of characters and a story with infinite scares." In other words: Meet your next potential guilty King pleasure — rife with opportunities for cameos.
You've seen the long list, now see the short list for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, which was announced today at a press conference in London. This is the second year the prestigious literary prize has been open to American authors, but fears of Yankee domination may have been unfounded; though the 13-book long list featured five Americans and only three Britons, both nations now have two books in the pared-down list. (One of the American choices is A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, who described how she wrote the book for Vulture.) Here's the complete list — get reading!
“Self-absorption is general, as is self-doubt.” That’s the first line of Joan Didion’s 1979 broadside on Woody Allen. The sentence unites her ostensible target, Allen, the audiences that were lining up to see his films, and the Zeitgeist of which both seemed, like real linen and vegetarianism and not smoking (then a novelty), to be essential parts. In the New York Review of Books letters page, three Allen partisans shot back at Didion, and she issued a two-word reply: “Oh, wow.” None of them had suggested that Didion belonged to the class she was deriding, but in hindsight, of course, she did.
The music business is and has always been just that: a business. But for a time — specifically, between the birth of rock-and-roll radio and the digital uprising — the record industry was virtually peerless at generating and wantonly spending unseemly amounts of money. Below are select excerpts from music-business memoirs that perfectly, salaciously capture some very different times in this radically changed industry.
Did Thomas Pynchon Write a New Secret Novel That He Published Under a Psuedonym to Punk the Literary Press? (Probably Not)By Nate Jones
At Harper's, Art Winslow unveils the literary conspiracy theory of the decade: Did Thomas Pynchon release a new novel under a pseudonym as a way of simultaneously escaping and critiquing the cult of personality that surrounds his writing? That secret Pynchon book, Winslow theorizes, is Cow Country, an obscure novel published earlier this year by the author Adrian Jones Pearson. The book itself freely admits that "Pearson" is a pseudonym, and its publisher Cow Eye Press appears to be a front; it was founded in 2014, Winslow writes, "apparently for the express purpose of issuing Cow Country and perhaps related follow-ons."
As an interview in the book's promo materials attests, Pearson's entire career is intended as a prank on the literary Establishment. "I’ve always had a severe distaste for all the mindless biographical drivel that serves to prop up this or that writer," Pearson tells his interviewer. "So much effort goes into credentialing the creator that we lose sight of the creation itself, with the consequence being that we tend to read authors instead of their works." In protest, the person currently known as Pearson chooses a new name for each project. "By forcing readers to focus solely on each book, I'm pretty much ensuring I will have an utterly disjointed and fruitless literary career," he explains. "But I feel good about my decision because I'm not forced to become complicit in a false and dishonest system I don't believe in." The orchestra of crickets that greeted Cow Country's release, then, would appear to be exactly what its anonymous author hoped for.
The Winds of Winter is not coming out in 2015, but could it possibly be coming in 2016? George R.R. Martin has stated that he wants to have the next book in his Song of Ice and Fire saga out before the premiere of Game of Thrones' sixth season, and now, an interview with Martin's Spanish publisher confirms that next year is the target release date. Speaking to Spanish radio show "El Mon RAC1," editor Alejo Cuervo told the host (in Spanish; the English is a rough translation by Watchers on the Wall) that TWOW is "expected next year." Martin has set release dates and pushed them back before, but Cuervo says the publishers are "confident" the book will arrive in time. But, he cautioned, there are no guarantees: "A meteor could fall." If it comes out next June, we deserve some kind of prize.
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