• A.L. Kennedy, on U.S. book jackets, in the U.K. Sunday Times:

    “American cover copy must give away any important plot twists immediately and all covers the world over must display a dozen quotes on the lines of ‘A book so good I married it’, ‘Will cure world poverty overnight’, ‘Read this or die horribly’, along with reviews for books other than the one you’re holding.” (Sorry, no link available.)

  • Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the New York Times Book Review, answers questions about the paucity of fiction reviews this way: “There’s a lot more nonfiction published these days than there used to be. We do our best to do fiction; our cover review for this Sunday is a novel and it is for the next week after that as well.”
  • “America and Russia are battling for the domination of the world. . . . What else have nations ever battled for?” said the incomparable James Baldwin in a letter to his editor and former classmate, poet Sol Stein. Their letters are collected in a new volume, discussed in an essay published in the July/August issue of Poets & Writers.
  • Nicholson Baker, author of a controversial novel featuring a presidential assassination plot, outs himself as a recent, former neocon. (Via The Literary Saloon.)
  • When I first saw “The Art of Not Writing Books,” I thought, if that’s not the story of my life, I don’t know what is. I was wrong. Turns out it’s not about writer’s block but a collection of “imaginary novels and incredible stories.”
  • There’s a new George Saunders story in the latest New Yorker. (Via Moorish Girl.)
  • The New York Times devotes a story to Operation Homecoming, a program “aimed at preserving stories from the battlegrounds of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
  • U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft issued (and then rescinded) an order that would have compelled destruction of the texts of two federal statutes held in public libraries.
  • “Teensploitation,” “pleather,” “body wrap,” “MP3,” and “information technology” will be included in the annual update of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Bookninja‘s holding out for “Bushism.”
  • Ed Park argues in the Village Voice that the problem with the male answer to chick lit isn’t so much a “gender-based marketing oversight (men don’t read about men having dating problems, and women don’t care),” but that most lad lit sucks. Meredith Brosnan’s Mr. Dynamite is an exception, he says.

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