off the record
The Observer reached veteran New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris last week at Rockaway Beach, where she was taking a deserved vacation. She had, after all, just sold a book.
After three decades of red-pencil duties, Ms. Norris has, of late, been punchily defending the peculiarities of the storied weekly’s punctuation and house style for its Page-Turner blog. From these posts, which range in topic from the dreaded diaeresis (seen in coöperate and reëlect) to the mag’s prudish-but-evolving stance on the F-word, her forthcoming book, Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, was born, with development help from her agent, David Kuhn.
Matt Weiland announced yesterday that he will be leaving his job at HarperCollins imprint Ecco to take a position as senior editor at W.W. Norton on October 24. It’s an exciting move for Mr. Weiland, whose books at Ecco have included Padgett Powell’s conceptual novel The Interrogative Mood and Philip Connors’s nature memoir Fire Season. A native of Minnesota and a Columbia alumnus, Mr. Weiland came to Ecco in 2008 by way of The Paris Review and Granta Books in London. He fills a vacancy left by Robert Weil, whom Norton tapped earlier this year to revive its dormant imprint Liveright & Co.
“I’ve just loved it these past three years at Ecco,” said an exuberant Mr. Weiland on the phone with The Observer yesterday. “[Publisher] Dan Halpern and everyone at Ecco are the best colleagues I’ve ever had and I’d never imagined leaving.” He said the unexpected offer from Norton “feels like some crazy good bank shot.”
Sasha Frere-Jones, pop music critic for The New Yorker, got his first email from a publisher about doing a book on Michael Jackson half an hour after the singer died. “The mental process at first was, ‘A Michael book? Hell no! That’s gross! Come on!’” Mr. Frere-Jones told The Observer today. But as he went Read More
Tomorrow will be Matt Weiland’s last day as an editor at The Paris Review. On November 10th he’ll report for duty at the Ecco Press, the distinguished boutique house at HarperCollins that has been enjoying a massive year thanks to the breakout success of David Wroblewski’s dog novel The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. Read More
Later this month, Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey will publish a book called State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America (Ecco), a collection of 50 essays, each one between 3,000 and 5,000 words long: Jhumpa Lahiri wrote about Rhode Island, William Vollman wrote about California, Jonathan Franzen wrote about New York, and so forth. Read More
It could be a movie: After years of struggle, four writers, close friends and allies from their days working together in the early ’90s on a small but highly influential magazine of politics and culture, are all suddenly enjoying varying degrees of success in the world of American letters. Matt is an editor at The Read More