When it comes to digital marketing for book publishers, it’s still the Wild West: most efforts have all the liveliness and aesthetic beauty of desert scrub. But every now and then someone strikes gold. Here are two recent projects that blew my socks off.
Where Is Danny Torrance?
Get out a pen and piece of paper. Free associate the words that come to mind when you hear “author website.” I’m guessing they aren’t terribly positive. Compounding this is the growing sentiment that “destination sites” have become antiquated as literary discovery moves to social media. (Your friend’s tweet about her favorite new novel is worth a hundred book sites.)
Which is to say: Scribner’s site for Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep is fucking unbelievable. It uses of-the-moment browser and mobile sync to enhance engagement. It creates an inviting, immersive narrative without giving away the book’s plot. It shows serious commitment and effort from its creators, which the user immediately intuits. It’s the kind of website that makes you forget you’re looking at a website. And like all good stories, you can go very, very deep. Continue reading
Filed under industry, mobile
I love end of the year lists, and I love lists of end of the year lists. So I thought I’d share a few of the books I read and loved these past twelve months.
Because I started the year at FSG and now work at The Penguin Press, the list leans heavily towards their books. (What can I say? I’m lucky I get to work with great books.) Continue reading
Typically you have to wait until September and October for a surfeit of literary events. Lucky for us New Yorkers there’s an absurd amount of great programming in the next week alone.
- Thursday, March 1st: Maud Newton and Ellen Ullman (author of By Blood), BookCourt
- Tuesday, March 6th: The FSG Reading Series with Rosecrans Baldwin (Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down) and Davy Rothbart (My Heart Is an Idiot), The Russian Samovar
- Wednesday, March 7th: Vol. 1 Brooklyn presents The Greatest 3-Minute Movie Stories Ever (I’ll be speaking at this one, buffeted by several more talented people), Le Poisson Rouge
- Wednesday, March 7th: National Book Critics Circle Awards Finalist Readings, The New School
- Friday, March 9th: John Jeremiah Sullivan (Pulphead) and Geoff Dyer (Zona), 192 Books
If that’s not enough, get thee to Book Boroughing for more.
December is the best and worst month to recap my year in reading. On the one hand, I can simply scroll through my Goodreads reviews to pick out favorites. On the other hand, I usually discover several books from perusing Best Of lists elsewhere; I’ll end up reading great 2011 novels in the first months of 2012, rending the titles below provisional at best.
So read the following with a grain of salt. (This is a cross-post with Work in Progress, where 22 editors and authors listed their favorite 2011 reads as well.)
Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan
Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
The Road to Somewhere by James Reeves
The Chairs Are Where the People Go: How to Live, Work, and Play in the City by Misha Glouberman and Sheila Heti
Otherwise Known as the Human Condition by Geoff Dyer
Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age by Bohumil Hrabal
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
A Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews
Suicide by Édouard Levé
Sam at McNally Jackson asked if I’d write about a funny novel for their Tumblr. I said sure. Then I went home and promptly forgot about it. Weeks went by. Then, in a moment of alcoholic clarity I remembered my promise. And so I wrote something about Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer.
“Over the years I had come across several places that offered the ideal conditions to work. The room in Montepulciano, for example, with the lovely wooden bed and white sheets, the window gazing out over the Tuscan countryside, the terrace formed by what had once been a little bridge connecting our building to the one next door. Or the house in Lauzun with the room overlooking a field of wheat, facing west so that in the evenings the paper on the desk was bathed red. Or my apartment on Rue Popincourt with the floor-to-ceiling window from which you could see right down Rue de la Roquette, as far as the Bastille almost.
“What they all had in common, these ideal places for working, was that I never got any work done in them.”
You can read my full write-up here.
At a recent event for Harper’s, an interviewer asked Zadie Smith whom she counts among her favorite contemporary book reviewers. She immediately replied with one name: Geoff Dyer.
If you haven’t read Dyer, it’s likely you have a friend who is incredulous at such an omission. Dyer tends to incite fervor in readers: “You have to read this, now. Take my copy. Call in sick. Go to jury duty tomorrow.” I admit I am one such friend. And in the case of this month’s Work in Progress, I hope his essay “Reader’s Block” wins a few more converts.
The strange thing about this is that at twenty I imagined I would spend my middle age reading books that I didn’t have the patience to read when I was young. But now, at forty-one, I don’t even have the patience to read the books I read when I was twenty. At that age I plowed through everything in the Arnoldian belief that each volume somehow nudged me imperceptibly closer to the sweetness and light. I readWar and Peace, Anna Karenina, Ulysses, Moby Dick. I got through The Idiot even though I hated practically every page of it. I didn’t read The Brothers Karamazov:I’ll leave it till I’m older, I thought—and now that I am older I wish I’d read it when I was younger, when I was still capable of doing so.
Now go read the rest of it. Then read Out of Sheer Rage.
The other piece I’m excited about is Tristan Garcia’s interview in BOMB Magazine, which they’ve offered to post online for WIP subscribers. Garcia’s novel Hate: A Romance appeared and then quickly disappeared last fall, unfortunately. While it’s cliché to say it’s a novel unlike any I’d read before, I stand by it. Continue reading
In no particular order, here are the best books I read this year. You’ll notice some are reissues and some are from previous years; this is more of a survey of my favorite reads than anything pretending to be comprehensive of the literary scene in 2009.
Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter (NYRB Classics)
A beat book before the Beats. Thrilling reading, tragic characters, and every conceivable mid-century American taboo deftly covered through the prism of the down-and-out crowd.
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon)
The best graphic novel in ages. I thought this would top everyone’s lists this year, but it remains sadly underrated. Supposedly Mazzucchelli spent ten years working his tale of a failed architect and professor in the post-divorce doldrums. To be read and reread and reread.