There is a curious disclaimer in the colophon of It’s No Good (n+1/Ugly Duckling Presse, 280 pp., $16), the first comprehensive collection of translated writings by the Russian poet Kirill Medvedev to appear in English: “Copyright denied by Kirill Medvedev, 2012.” After achieving a degree of success in the Moscow literary world as a poet and translator in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Mr. Medvedev announced a retirement of sorts in 2003: he would continue writing, but he would no longer take part in any of the other activities typical of the “professional” poet, refusing to give readings, accept awards or, most importantly, publish his work through conventional channels.
In a statement published on his website that year, Mr. Medvedev described what he saw as an oppressive cultural situation in which the artist was necessarily compromised by governmental and commercial interests. He renounced all copyright to his work, declaring in his 2004 “Manifesto on Copyright” that any future print editions of his writings would be “PIRATE EDITION[S], that is to say, WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR, WITHOUT ANY CONTRACTS OR AGREEMENTS.” He began posting poems and essays on his personal blogs and, more recently, on his Facebook wall, instead of in books and literary magazines. This was not, he insisted, a “heroic pose, or ‘PR’ stunt,” but rather an earnest attempt to posit an alternative to the circumstances faced by contemporary artists and writers, suggesting that such a position might offer a way toward a “more honest, uncompromising, and genuinely contemporary art in my country.”
“They’re the precursor of this kind of synthesis of extrainstitutional intellectualism, native to the Internet, native to the city dweller,” said the author of Chronic City, referring to a group of hyper-literate N+1 types running The New Inquiry in an article for The New York Times. Oy.
Occupy Wall Street
Update: We now have video footage of Mr. Gessen talking while handcuffed, via ABC 7 News.
Sacrebleu! Boyfriend of Emily Gould and N+1 founder (in that order) Keith Gessen has been arrested on the mean streets of the financial district this morning during the march commemorating the two month anniversary of the Occupation. It’s like that time he went to Russia all over again! Plus…
British GQ gave Keith Richards its “writer of the year” award for his autobiography Life. The award was presented to Mr. Richards by Johnny Depp, whereupon Mr. Richards disclosed that Life was being made into a film. This is funny because there really is only one actor who might be qualified to portray Keith Richards in a film.
After the Alexander Wang show last Saturday, The Observer talked to photographer Ryan McGinley, who used a novel point of reference to size up the designer’s collection: “There were some pieces that reminded me of Blade Runner,” he told us.
We nodded because yes, some of the looks did have that 80s-vision-of-the-future feel to Read More
Booze & Books
Last night n+1 and Harper Perennial celebrated the release of Diary of a Very Bad Year: Confessions of an Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager. The book compiles Keith Gessen’s interviews with a financial man of mystery, whose work The Observer has also published.
We spent most of the party standing over Read More
The New York Times ran an incendiary letter over the weekend, written by a 17-year-old from Birmingham, Ala., named Alec Niedenthal, who wanted to tell the editors of the Sunday Book Review that the future of literature belongs to him. Mr. Niedenthal, who graduated from high school last week and is preparing to Read More
Back in January, The Observer (okay, well, not the whole staff, just this reporter) profiled comedian and blogger whipping-boy David Cross. At the time, Mr. Cross had been caught up in a nasty spat with his so-called fans over his decision to take a role in Alvin and the Chipmunks. ("He’s digging his own Read More
ALL THE SAD YOUNG LITERARY MEN
By Keith Gessen
Viking, 242 pages, $24.95
The hazy golden specter of F. Scott Fitzgerald looms over all first novels by young white male Ivy League graduates, but it looms especially large over this one, by Keith Gessen, a limpid-eyed, sensual-mouthed founding editor of the intellectual journal Read More