The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sold the rights to his memoir to HarperCollins, the publishing house announced Tuesday. The book will be “a full and frank look at his public and private life — from his formative years in Queens, New York, his long record of fighting for justice and championing government reform, his commitment to public service, and his election and service as the 56th Governor of New York State,” according to a statement. The New York Times quoted an anonymous source at HarperCollins claiming that the publisher is now trying to drop a biography of Cuomo by New York Post columnist Fredric U. Dicker because of a potential conflict of interest. Asked about the Times‘ report on Dicker’s book, HarperCollins spokesperson Tina Andreadis said in an email that “All I can say that right now [is that] we have a book under contract.”
- Richard Brody explains “Why The Great Gatsby Endures” in a New Yorker article: “The Great Gatsby is, above all, a novel of conspicuous consumption — not even of appetite but of the ineluctable connection between wealth and spectacle.”
- A lost poem by Vita Sackville-West — the English writer most famous for her love affair with Virginia Woolf — was discovered when it fell out of a book as scholars were doing conservation work in her library. A love poem written in French, it is addressed to her mistress, the writer Violet Trefusis. According to a translation printed in The Guardian, it reads in part: “I tear secrets from your yielding flesh/Giving thanks to the fate which made you my mistress.”
- Caspar Henderson writes about the (unexpectedly fascinating) history of the octopus in Western literature: “Appetite, loathing, and lust have certainly played big parts in human imaginings of these beasts. But we should take a cue from the Minoans who portrayed them in images that, even after 3,500 years, almost sing out loud in celebration of their strangeness and beauty.”
- For The Millions, Michael Bourne looks at the changing role of literary critics: “However critics rise to the challenge of the information overload facing readers today, rise we must, because as much information there is on sites like Amazon and GoodReads and the rest, there is too often precious little real intelligence. This is the paradox of the information age: the proliferation of data points makes smart criticism more relevant, not less.”
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