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  • Posted 11/25/14 at 9:08 AM
  • Primer

A Timeline of the Abuse Charges Against Bill Cosby [Updated]

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.

"Tamara Green, a lawyer, alleges that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in the 1970s." »

  • Posted 11/23/14 at 8:00 PM
  • Books

The Strand’s Stand: How It Keeps Going in the Age of Amazon

Walk into the Strand Book Store, at East 12th and Broadway, and the retail experience you’ll have is unexpectedly contemporary. The walls are white, the lighting bright; crisp red signage is visible at every turn. The main floor is bustling, and the store now employs merchandising experts to refine its traffic flow and make sure that prime display space goes to stuff that’s selling. Whereas you can leave a Barnes & Noble feeling numbed, particularly if a clerk directs you to Gardening when you ask for Leaves of Grass, the Strand is simply a warmer place for readers.

In the middle of the room, though, is a big concrete column holding up the building, and it looks … wrong. It’s painted gray, and not a soft designer gray but some dead color like you’d see on a basement floor. Crudely stenciled signs reading BOOKS SHIPPED ANYWHERE are tacked to it. Bookcases surround the column, and they’re beat to hell, their finish nearly black with age.

This tableau was left intact when the store was renovated in 2003. Until then, the Strand had been a beloved, indispensable, and physically grim place. Like a lot of businesses that had hung on through the FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD years, it looked broken-down and patched-up. The bathroom was even dirtier than the one in the Astor Place subway. You got the feeling that a lot of books had been on the shelves for years. The ceiling was dark with the exhalations from a million Chesterfields. There were mice. People arriving with review copies to sell received an escort to the basement after a guard’s bellow: “Books to go down!” It was an experience that, once you adjusted to its sourness, you might appreciate and even enjoy. Maybe.

Why is there still a Strand Book Store? »

  • Posted 11/20/14 at 2:50 PM
  • Books

Amazon Jokes and Escapist Fantasy: The 2014 National Book Awards

Not since 1974, the year a disheveled comic pretended to be Thomas Pynchon and a streaker ran across the stage, has the National Book Awards ceremony felt as radical-chic as it did last night. Some of it had to do with the best emcee in years, Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket), whose edges were as sharp as his timing. Maybe too sharp: His joke about African-American children’s-lit winner Jacqueline Woodson’s actual allergy to watermelon was roundly castigated today, and he’s issued an apology.

Fantasy versus reality. »

  • Posted 11/20/14 at 9:55 AM
  • Books

Here Are the 2014 National Book Award Winners

In a ceremony that NPR tells us was "packed as much with jabs at Amazon as with jazzy entrance music," the National Book Foundation announced this year's National Book Awards Wednesday night. The winners, each of whom received $10,000 and probably a big blue ribbon to show their parents, are in bold below.

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  • Posted 11/19/14 at 10:00 AM
  • Obits

Alice Lee Kept a Line Open From Her Sister, To Kill a Mockingbird’s Harper Lee, to the Public

If Alice F. Lee didn’t happen to be Nelle Harper Lee’s sister, lawyer, and roommate, the AP might not have run an obituary on the occasion of her death on Monday at the age of 103. But one of the most remarkable things about Alice is that the AP's piece hardly mentioned Harper Lee. Alice retired from the law firm she had inherited from her father, A.C. Lee (the model for To Kill a Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch), at the age of 100, which made her Alabama’s oldest working attorney at the time. She was such an important part of the Southern Methodist Church (where she quietly led its move away from institutional racism) that there’s an award named for her. She was a community pioneer, a generous advocate of equality and justice, and a guardian of collective memory.

She was also the public ambassador of one of the most private authors in the country. »

  • Posted 11/18/14 at 11:00 AM
  • Books

Can the Book World Build Its Own Art Basel?

If you happen to be in Miami this week and run into a crowd of thousands thronging varicolored tents, please be advised that Art Basel has not arrived two weeks early, relocated inland, and doubled in size. It’s just the Miami Book Fair International, the country’s largest and one of its oldest, and if you don’t know about it, you probably will soon. Under the new leadership of Tom Healy — poet, gallerist, fund-raiser — it enters its 31st year with a growing budget and a plan to expand into a year-round institution that would make Miami as indispensable to the book business as it’s become to art collectors on the make.

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  • Posted 11/17/14 at 12:50 PM
  • Books

Jonathan Franzen’s Next Book Is Coming in 2015

Gravitas is about to make its return to American literary life: Jonathan Franzen has a new novel, and it's coming out in September 2015. The book's called Purity, which is the name of the main character and also a metaphor, probably. Like The Corrections and Freedom, Purity will tell the story of multiple generations of one American family — unlike those earlier books, this new one will find the author experimenting with something close to magical realism. "It’s not strict realism," Franzen's publisher told the New York Times. "There’s a kind of mythic undertone to the story." We've got 10 months to find out exactly what that means, but you can start loading your think pieces now.

  • Posted 11/14/14 at 3:05 PM

R.A. Montgomery, Choose Your Own Adventure Founder, Dies at 78

R.A. Montgomery, the publisher and author who created the Choose Your Own Adventure series of children's books, died Sunday at his home in Vermont. He was 78 years old, and his cause of death is unknown. Montgomery co-founded Choose Your Own Adventure in the early '80s after stints at Columbia University, the Peace Corps, and Clark Abt Associates, a Massachusetts think tank; in all these stops, he explored the role-playing concepts that would form the heart of the CYOA series. Breaking with publishing tradition, Montgomery allowed all the subsequent Choose Your Own Adventure authors to be credited under their own names. The 200-plus installments in the franchise have collectively sold over 250 million books, and 20th Century Fox is currently working on a film adaptation of the series

Bryan Cranston Is the Perfect Narrator for You Have to Fucking Eat

Is there anyone better to play the exasperated father in Adam Mansbach's book "You Have to Fucking Eat" than Bryan Cranston? If the kid wouldn't listen to Samuel L. Jackson (who read Go the Fuck to Sleep), who better than the looming voice of Walter White to help straighten him up? Eat the food, kid. Or else.

  • Posted 11/11/14 at 3:45 PM

Dear White People: Reality TV Is the New Blackface

Have you seen Justin Simien's acclaimed racial satire Dear White People in theaters, and has it left you in the mood for even more sorely needed truth bombs? You're in luck, because Simien has written a companion book by the same name, and it's chock full of provocative essays and clever charts and graphs. Below, check out a Vulture-exclusive chapter from Dear White People that will have you looking at all your favorite guilty-pleasure reality shows in a very different way.

Read it! »

Dave Holmes Is Writing a Book

Here's some exciting news from one of Vulture's own: Dave Holmes, TV personality and our “Somewhere in Time” columnist, has signed a deal to write a comic memoir. Set to publish in the spring of 2016, the book is tentatively titled Party of One. Read the full synopsis below. Mazel tov, Dave!

Charting Holmes’ painfully hilarious trip through a life lived on the outside, desperately trying to get in — from his youth as the artsy kid in a sportsy family to his time as a closeted gay kid in a conservative Catholic school, through his experience losing the first “Wanna Be A VJ” contest on live television and subsequent career as a big fat grown man at MTV in the eye of the teen pop hurricane, up to his life as a man in his 40s who has finally learned to accept himself, simply because he’s tried everything else — Party of One will detail every wrong turn that’s led him to the right place, and will take the reader on a nostalgic ride through the music and pop culture of the '80s, '90s, and '00s that shaped his journey.

  • Posted 11/11/14 at 11:20 AM
  • Books

The Wit and Wisdom of George R.R. Martin

For our recent Encounter piece, we spent the better part of three days with Game of Thrones mastermind George R.R. Martin. During that time, the author, who has just released The World of Ice and Fire, a faux-historical compendium, was in a particularly voluble mood. Martin touched on a vast range of subjects. His thoughts about Westeros and his eagerly awaited The Winds of Winter have already been well documented. Here, we’re collecting the man’s thoughts on a wider, more idiosyncratic range of subjects. 

Boardwalk Empire vs. Downton Abbey »

Lena Dunham Responds to Accusations of Abuse

Lena Dunham has released a statement regarding the recent controversy surrounding a section of her book about her relationship with her younger sister, which some say depicts Dunham as a child molester. In her statement to Time, Dunham says she is "dismayed" by the outcry.

First and foremost, I want to be very clear that I do not condone any kind of abuse under any circumstances.

Childhood sexual abuse is a life-shattering event for so many, and I have been vocal about the rights of survivors. If the situations described in my book have been painful or triggering for people to read, I am sorry, as that was never my intention. I am also aware that the comic use of the term “sexual predator” was insensitive, and I’m sorry for that as well.

As for my sibling, Grace, she is my best friend, and anything I have written about her has been published with her approval.

Bob Hope’s 10 Best Jokes

He had a million of 'em, literally. Bob Hope kept nearly every joke ever written for him — the good, the bad, the keepers, and the rejects — in a voluminous joke file locked away in a vault in his Toluca Lake, California, home. He was America's unofficial comedian-laureate for more than half a century, wisecracking about everything from presidential politics to Dean Martin's drinking. Today, Hope's comedy is often dismissed as dated and corny — not to mention the product (in the old-fashioned way) of writers, rather than the comedian's own ideas, experiences, and neuroses. But Hope's topical monologues were the foundation stone for all modern stand-up comedy; no one ever delivered a one-liner better, and some of his gags remain classics. Richard Zoglin, author of Hope: Entertainer of the Century (on sale today), picked ten worth remembering.

"The country is behind you, 50 percent." »

7 Books You Need to Read This November

Each month, Boris Kachka will offer nonfiction and fiction book recommendations, and you should read as many of them as possible.

Imagine In Cold Blood written not by Capote by an Australian. »

What You Learn About George R.R. Martin After Hanging Out With Him for 801 Minutes

Day 1: Thursday, October 23.
Providence, Rhode Island.

“I thought this would be spookier,” admits George R.R. Martin, the author of the Game of Thrones series, as he stares down at the grave of H. P. Lovecraft. We’re at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, final resting place of the horror writer whom Martin numbers among his inspirations. “Is this the cemetery where there are ghouls underground eating the dead?” he wonders aloud.

There’s no sign of malevolent spirits, but a slight drizzle does add a little eerie atmosphere. Lovecraft, who died in 1937, is interred with his parents in a family plot. Fans have added a headstone of his own, at which they have left tributes: shells, bugs in boxes, a plastic watermelon slice. “I should leave him an offering, but I don’t have anything cool,” says Martin, who is wearing his trademark fisherman’s cap and suspenders. “I should have brought some Westeros coins. I usually have some in my pocket.”

“I particularly dislike the question about who’s going to finish the books after I die. I told a Swiss journalist to F-off for that one.” »

Tom Hanks Will Write a Whole Book of Short Stories

Big (get it?) news: After his short-story debut in The New Yorker, Tom Hanks is planning to write a whole book. A real book! Full of short stories "loosely connected to photographs of typewriters from Hanks’ personal collection." Wait, what? More typewriter stuff? Tom, you gotta ditch the typewriter. Have Chet teach you how to use a MacBook or something.

  • Posted 11/3/14 at 9:28 AM
  • Books

Conservative Magazine Gets Around to Reading Lena Dunham’s Book, Accuses Her of Child Abuse

Late last week, in the conservative publication National Review, Kevin D. Williamson wrote a takedown review of Lena Dunham and her memoir Not That Kind of Girl. In the piece, Williamson focuses on two passages from the book, which he uses as evidence that a young Dunham was guilty of sexually abusing her younger sister, Grace. As he writes of Dunham's parents:

"The sort of thing that gets children taken away from non-millionaire families without Andover pedigrees and Manhattanite social connections." »

  • Posted 10/31/14 at 10:40 AM
  • Books

J.K. Rowling Wrote 6 New Harry Potter Stories

Just in time for Halloween, which is like Christmas for wizards (they celebrate Christmas, too, but that's more of a cultural thing), J.K. Rowling has put up six new stories on Pottermore (registration required), including a detailed character study of Ministry of Magic official Dolores Umbridge. In the essay, Rowling reveals that she based Umbridge's love of all things pink and whimsical on a former teacher she particularly disliked. "I have noticed more than once in life that a taste for the ineffably twee can go hand-in-hand with a distinctly uncharitable outlook on the world," she explains. "[Umbridge's] desire to control, to punish, and to inflict pain, all in the name of law and order, are, I think, every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil."

Read More  »

Your Complete Ebola-Quarantine Reading Guide

I have seen some pretty oddball acts of book flakkery in my tenure as literary critic. There was the Fifty Shades knockoff that arrived at my door packaged with lingerie and a lipstick-smudged note; the pitch letter that impugned the intellect of any reviewer who declined to cover the book in question; the loon who implored me, weekly, to join her in discussing her novel in her private chateau in France; the book trailer for Nelson DeMille’s Wild Fire.

But all of these, and many more, were handily trumped in brazenness and bad taste by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s impromptu act of book promotion yesterday. At a press conference about New York and New Jersey’s poorly conceived, poorly executed, much-criticized Ebola quarantine policy, the governor veered weirdly off-message — or on it, from that all-consuming perspective of, you know, the ego. “I'm asking those people who were in contact with infected people: Stay at home for 21 days. We will pay,” the governor said. “Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, read a book, read my book.”

Read More  »

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