Longtime readers of the Review will recall our 1997 interview with Barney Rosset, the irrepressible publisher of Grove Press and the Evergreen Review. In the fifties and sixties, Rosset brought scores of ostensibly obscene books to the U.S., often to the gross offense of the era’s leading fuddy-duddies. The unexpurgated Lady Chatterley’s Lover? A Grove title. Tropic of Cancer—also Grove. American editions of Waiting for Godot, Our Lady of the Flowers, Naked Lunch, Last Exit to Brooklyn—all Rosset’s doing. Even I Am Curious (Yellow), everyone’s favorite X-rated Swedish art-house flick, was a Rosset import. As he says in his Art of Publishing interview, all this illicit material came with its share of trouble—some of which he sought out willingly. When he published Chatterley, for example, Rosset was so eager to strike a blow against censorship that he used the book as bait, getting himself hauled into court: Read More
- Barney Rosset, the “the downtown pugnacious outré rebel” (read: publisher of provocative texts), spent his final years immersed in an artistic experiment—transforming one of the walls of his East Village apartment into an elaborate mural. Now there’s a movement to preserve this mural, even if it’s “an art critic’s worst nightmare. For an esteemed literary publisher to leave behind a final work so unpredictable—and so large—has understandably baffled those who survived him. David Rose, editor-in-chief of Lapham’s Quarterly, typifies most people’s reactions to the wall. ‘It’s the most unexpected thing I would have associated with Barney Rosset,’ he said. ‘Of course he would do this, because it makes no fucking sense whatsoever.’ ”
- The evolving (devolving?) art of songwriting in the streaming age: If everyone’s using Spotify to listen to music, and Spotify pays artists only after their songs have been streamed for thirty seconds … then why bother to write songs that are longer than thirty seconds? “Now that streaming has taken off, will song form react? Will it just be three choruses and nothing else? Is it the return of the ABAB song form, where the sections have a balanced weight and there are no sections dedicated to ‘setting up’ another section? … And bridges? Bridges to what, exactly? Who has time for a bridge? You’re either there or you’re not there. Why get stuck in transit from one section to another?”
- The Sketchbook Project is “a collection of crowdsourced sketchbooks that is, according to its staff, the largest in the world. The project was founded in 2006, when Steven Peterman and Shane Zucker, two art students living in Atlanta, began mailing blank Moleskines to anyone who wanted one for a small fee, and then archiving whatever came back.” The project, which now comprises some thirty-four thousand books, is currently mounting its final world tour.
- “Whenever you introduce a character, you don’t have to specify that they are wearing pants. Most readers will just assume that they are wearing pants unless you say otherwise.” Finally, some useful advice from your favorite established authors.
- The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is many things, most of them reprehensible—but its fixation on capital and cosmetics is arguably instructive, and it has lofty origins. “There’s something weirdly High Tory about the Beverly Hills Housewife profile, more Trollopian dowager than spirited arriviste.”
- In the Evergreen Review he founded, a moving tribute to Barney Rosset.
- The best-read cities in America.
- Cooking Cather.
- Mike McGrady, perpetrator of sexy sixties literary hoaxes, has died. To quote the Los Angeles Times,“Inspired by popular best-sellers by the likes of Jacqueline Susann, McGrady challenged his newsroom buddies to write their own terrible, trashy, sex-filled best seller. McGrady and 24 other writers each took a chapter; in every badly written one, Penelope Ashe engaged in fantastical sexual exploits.” The rest is (sort of) history.
- Odd couples, indeed: famous literary roommates!
- Swamplandia! author Karen Russell wins the NYPL’s Young Lions Fiction Award.
On Tuesday, April 3, The Paris Review will honor two of our favorite young writers.
Amie Barrodale will receive the Review’s Plimpton Prize for “Wiliam Wei,” which appeared in our Summer issue.
Adam Wilson will receive the second Terry Southern Prize for Humor for his story “What’s Important Is Feeling” and his contributions to The Paris Review Daily.
The Plimpton Prize for Fiction is a $10,000 award given to a new voice published in The Paris Review. The prize is named for the Review’s longtime editor George Plimpton and reflects his commitment to discovering new writers of exceptional merit. The winner is chosen by the Board of the Review. This year’s prize will be presented by Mona Simpson.
The Terry Southern Prize for Humor is a $5,000 award recognizing wit, panache, and sprezzatura in work published by The Paris Review or online by the Daily. Perhaps best known as the screenwriter behind Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider—and the subject of an interview in issue 200!—Terry Southern was also a satirical novelist, a pioneering New Journalist, and a driving force behind the early Paris Review. Comedian David Cross will present this year’s award.
The honoree of this year’s Revel is Robert Silvers. Zadie Smith will present Silvers with the 2012 Hadada, the Review’s lifetime achievement award recognizing a “strong and unique contribution to literature.” Previous recipients of the Hadada include James Salter, John Ashbery, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton (posthumously), Barney Rosset, Philip Roth, and William Styron.
Come help us celebrate our honorees and our two hundredth issue—and support the Review. Buy your Revel tickets now!
- R.I.P. Jan Berenstain.
- Pulp fiction.
- Bad blurbs.
- Retaining reading.
- The case of the Agatha Christie estate.
- Garden & Gun vs. The Oxford American.
- Jackie Collins takes matters into her own hands.
- Gillian Anderson takes on the lost Brontë.
- “A guide to Estonian socks, an examination of the role of the fungus in Christian art, and a celebration of the humble office chair” are just a few of the entries in the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year.
- Our man in Vienna.
- Levity for Leap Day!
- Barney Rosset to get the posthumous treatment?
- A man’s world?
A cultural news roundup.
- R.I.P. Barney Rosset.
- Judy Blume’s Oscar picks.
- Paramount makes the Puzo Estate an offer it can refuse?
- Surely you’re joking, Mr. McCarthy.
- A site of one’s own.
- A room for one’s books.
- Wodehouse’s wartime legacy.
- The Master Book of All Plots?
- A truly beautiful library.
- Forget Washington. Things to do for Wallace’s birthday.
- “Fans trek across the country for the chance to see Wallace’s underlined paperbacks, his early drafts, his e-mails to tax experts. The staff has even received a request for a scan of Wallace’s handwriting, for use as a tattoo.”
- He fought Wikipedia, and Wikipedia won.
- Lin(coln) Towers.