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Book News: New Editor Named At 'New York Times Book Review'

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Pamela Paul has been named editor of The New York Times Book Review. She'll replace Sam Tanenhaus, who is "taking on a new assignment as a writer at large," according to a Times memo. Paul began as children's book editor in 2011 and is the current features editor. The Oxford American asked Tanenhaus in a 2009 interview, "[W]hat line have you published during your reign ... that has given you the most pleasure?" and he answered, "I've mentioned, or dropped, many big name contributors. I left out Kinky Friedman, author of the single most memorable lead written in my five-plus years at The New York Times Book Review. Here it is (from November 28, 2004): 'There is a fine line between fiction and nonfiction, and I believe Jimmy Buffett and I snorted it in 1976.' "
  • David Axelrod, the formerly mustachioed former Obama strategist, is writing a memoir, his publisher announced Tuesday. Penguin Press said in a statement, "Over the past 30 years as a journalist, political consultant and senior adviser to the President, David Axelrod has had a front row seat to our political process at every level." An anonymous source told The New York Times that "the book had bids at least as high as $1.5 million."
  • Jason Merkoski, one of the original creators of the Kindle, compared Amazon to "the mean stepmother in a fairy tale" during an interview with The New York Times. He added, "I think we've made a proverbial pact with the devil in digitizing our words."
  • The Interestings author Meg Wolitzer talks about gender bias in a Salon interview: "If you've written a powerful book about a woman and your publisher then puts a 'feminine' image on the cover, it 'types' the book. Serious books with 'dreamy' covers — many with women in water, floating or swimming, as though what's contained within is a kind of dreamy inessential thing — the covers themselves are off-putting." It's territory familiar from her brilliant 2012 New York Times essay.
  • American Dream Machine author Matthew Specktor explains the purpose of literature to Interview magazine: "to illuminate that gap between our secret selves and our more visible and apparent ones."
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