off the record
Not so long ago, John Freeman, the former president of the National Book Critics Circle and until recently the editor of Granta, was very likely the most prolific writer about books on the planet. By his estimate, he would file as many as six articles per week—reviews or author profiles—and had a “220-spoke universe of newspapers” that he would syndicate his articles to, a pre-recession ubiquity that he admits would be impossible to maintain now.
“I was just working nonstop,” he said in an interview at his apartment in Manhattan. He gave off an air of fastidiousness, even in a T-shirt and jeans. “It was great, because I felt like a book factory. Books arrived at my door, I sat down and read them, I’d write about them, I’d get them out to people. It was just like this conveyer belt, which sounds really unromantic. But everything I did was somehow related to what I was reading or what I was writing about. I felt like this head attached to a machine.”
only in new york kids
Last Friday night, a slew of literary luminaries gathered at a cocktail party in an Astor Square penthouse to celebrate the launch of Narrative 4, an organization co-founded by authors Colum McCann and Luis Alberto Urrea to promote social change through storytelling.
“It’s like a United Nations for young storytellers,” Mr. McCann, clad in his signature skinny scarf, told Off the Record, standing on a balcony overlooking downtown Manhattan. “The whole idea behind it is that the one true democracy we have is storytelling. It goes across borders, boundaries, genders, rich, poor—everybody has a story to tell.”
The Eight-Day Week
INT. MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY — EVENING CINDY ADAMS is standing with a friend among a crowd of hundreds, surveying the black-tie attendees at the PEN Literary Gala, who include Philip Roth, Zadie Smith, Jay McInerney, Jennifer Egan, Candace Bushnell, Joanna Coles and Peter Godwin.
Ms. Adams is wearing a splashy, graphic print jacket and a bun atop her head. A stream of partygoers greet her. She is approached by the Transom and asked how to work a room.
See banned The Satanic Verses author and now screenwriter Salman Rushdie premiere his film Midnight’s Children, adapted with director Deepa Mehta from his best-selling novel. Mr. Rushdie and Ms. Mehta will then discuss the movie, about a pair of kids growing up in an India that is gaining independence from Britain and is nothing like Read More
Notes From The Underground
In 2012, a slew of rock-star writers published disappointing novels, and a bunch of actual rock stars wrote crappy memoirs. There were some bright corners, but let’s begin with the aging rock stars. Time is not on their side.
The lights dimmed and mood music began to play as Salman Rushdie walked to the stage at PowerHouse Arena in Dumbo the other night as part of a week of events to launch his new memoir, Joseph Anton.
The title of the book is the pseudonym that Mr. Rushdie used while he was in hiding after Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling for the author’s death following the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1989. The book, which is written in the third person, focuses mostly on the period when Mr. Rushdie was in hiding before the fatwa was lifted in 2002.
Mr. Rushdie stood at the microphone in a slightly baggy, somewhat wrinkled gray suit and a blue shirt unbuttoned at the neck.
Occupy Wall Street
Poor Salman Rushdie: there seems to be a social networking fatwa against his digital presence. First there was that incident where he tried to claim his Twitter handle, only to find out there was someone already squatting on @salmanrushdie. Humiliated, the Satanic Verses author was forced to claim @salmanrushdie1 until he gained enough support to push out the faker and reign over his rightful tweets.
To add insult to injury, Facebook deactivated his account yesterday, thinking he was an imposter. Then they refused to let him back under the name “Salman Rushdie.”
As support for Occupy Wall Street grew in recent weeks to include all kinds of professional associations and trade unions, the writer Jeff Sharlet thought that some writers might eventually band together and circulate a statement — and maybe even sign it.
“I was waiting for the letter to happen,” said the author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. “I was thinking probably somebody will do this.”
Congratulations to Salman Rushdie, who finally gained his official Twitter handle after shaming another person off of it. Mr. Rushdie joined Twitter this week but had to take the handle @SalmanRushdie1 because some goofball had already been tweeting out from @SalmanRushdie. As of yesterday, it was still being reported that Mr. Rushdie was verified at @SalmanRushdie1, but had sent a message to the faux-tweeter: “Who are you? why are you pretending to be me? Release this username. You are a phoney. All followers please note.”
On a rainy Thursday, guests braved the traffic mess created by President Obama’s visit to New York and streamed into Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater in a blur of gowns and tuxes. High-profile attendees from the worlds of fashion (Hamish Bowles, Donna Karan), literature (Salman Rushdie), rock ’n’ roll (Ric Oscasek, Paulina Porizkova and Read More