BY EDWARD HIRSCH VIA THE PARIS REVIEW
Susan Sontag lives in a sparsely furnished five-room apartment on the top floor of a building in Chelsea on the west side of Manhattan. Books—as many as fifteen thousand—and papers are everywhere. A lifetime could be spent browsing through the books on art and architecture, theater and dance, philosophy and psychiatry, the history of medicine, and the history of religion, photography, and opera—and so on. The various European literatures—French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, etcetera, as well as hundreds of books of Japanese literature and books on Japan—are arranged by language in a loosely chronological way. So is American literature as well as English literature, which runs from Beowulf to, say, James Fenton. Sontag is an inveterate clipper, and the books are filled with scraps of paper (“Each book is marked and filleted,” she says), the bookcases festooned with notes scrawled with the names of additional things to read.
BY ROBERT D. MCFADDEN VIA NY TIMES
Nat Hentoff, an author, journalist, jazz critic and civil libertarian who called himself a troublemaker and proved it with a shelf of books and a mountain of essays on free speech, wayward politics, elegant riffs and the sweet harmonies of the Constitution, died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 91.
BY ANDREW MALE VIA THE GUARDIAN
Jim Morrison wrote a song about her, Ed Ruscha romanced her, and she played chess with Marcel Duchamp nude – but it’s her books, to be adapted for TV, that have ensured Babitz’s reputation will last Eve Babitz: the one true LA woman. Photograph: Mirandi Babitz
“Eve Babitz does not give interviews,” says her agent, Erica Spellman-Silverman, in a clipped, formidable tone, down the line from her New York office. As opening lines go, it’s more of a closer, but it makes a kind of sense. After all, Babitz is a currently a writer in demand, undergoing something of a renaissance. She doesn’t need to give interviews.
BY RACHEL SHTEIR VIA NY TIMES
By the time Katherine Ramsland and I stopped at the Copper Oven Cafe and Bakery in the Indian Hills Shopping Center in Wichita, Kan., it was well past lunchtime. It was June 2015, and Ramsland, a professor of forensic psychology and prolific author, was in this sedate city to wind up the last bit of research on “Confession of a Serial Killer,” her book about Dennis Rader, which was published this month by University Press of New England. She wore jean capris and a T-shirt and carried a favorite handbag, made of a soft black cloth and decorated with skulls.
That morning, we had begun a tour of the seven places where Rader murdered his 10 victims, the so-called kill sites. Ramsland had already had one final look at the stash of thousands of pieces of Rader’s correspondence that Jim Thompson, the lawyer representing the victims’ families, kept in his office. She was still hoping to get clearance to visit Rader, now 70, in El Dorado Maximum Security Prison, where he has been serving 10 consecutive life sentences since his arrest in 2005.
BY HANNAH ONGLEY VIA I-D
Photos courtesy of Grove Atlantic
As seminal punk saga ‘Please Kill Me’ gets a 20th anniversary rerelease, we speak to co-author Gillian McCain about why the antiestablishment genre deserves to be preserved just like any other piece of history.
As punk music celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, many people are questioning whether the antiestablishment subculture should really be commemorated with museum exhibitions and Grade II historical listing statuses. Recently, Joseph Corré, son of punk pioneers Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, announced that he would instead be celebrating the anniversary by burning his $7 million collection of punk memorabilia in protest. Voting “yes” for preserving punk as a historical relic is the seminal “uncensored oral history” of the genre’s roots titled Please Kill Me. The book was written by Punk magazine co-founder Legs McNeil and poet/historian Gillian McCain, nearly 20 years after the first Ramones album dropped. Please Kill Me is objectively the best book on punk ever written. It’s compiled from decades of interviews with the legendary figures who took punk from a dingy back room of CBGB in the last years of Andy Warhol’s NYC reign, all the way to the other side of the Atlantic.
While Legs was physically present for the wild ride, Gillian’s contribution to the book is often ignored. Whatever the reason (Gillian puts it down to Legs being more famous rather than punk’s history of ignoring women, though it’s arguably a bit of both) the co-authors are still close friends and collaborators. Recently, they compiled a book patchworked together from the raw diaries of troubled teenager Mary Rose, which Legs found in a closet at a friend’s house in Pennsylvania. After a Please Kill Me reading at NYC’s Ace Hotel last week, i-D talked to Gillian about the book’s lasting impact, the complex clockwork of teen girls’ minds, and her insane collection of found paparazzi photos. The photos used in this story are previously unpublished images from the new 20th anniversary edition of Please Kill Me.
BY SIAN CAIN VIA THE GUARDIAN
Michael Herr, the American writer and war correspondent famous for writing Dispatches, described as “the best book I have ever read on men and war in our time” by John le Carré, has died aged 76.
Born in 1940, Herr was one of the most respected writers of New Journalism, the novelistic reportage pioneered by the likes of Tom Wolfe and Truman Capote, where the journalist is as much part of the story as their subject. He practised this most famously in his book Dispatches, about his time working as a war correspondent for Esquire magazine in Vietnam between 1967 to 1969.
BY HANNAH ONGLEY VIA i-D
Photo via Khannibalism.bandcamp
It’s practically illegal to write about surprise album announcements post-2014 without mentioning Beyoncé, but this unexpected release is honestly one without any precedent whatsoever. William S. Burroughs — the Beat Gen provocateur who passed away in 1997 at the impressive age of 83 — is posthumously releasing a few shocking readings of his drugged up, non-linear 1959 novel Naked Lunch as a psychedelic spoken word album titled Let Me Hang You, reports the New York Times.
VIA NYU ALUMNI BLOG
We recently chatted with Gillian McCain, author of two poetry books, Tilt and Religion, co-author (with Legs McNeil) of Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, and co-editor of Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose (also with Legs McNeil). She is also a collector and exhibitor of found photography. She spoke about her time at NYU and her eclectic artistic pursuits. Photo Credit: Annie Watts
Do you have a favorite NYU memory?
My friend Eric Swenson and I organized a reading by Gregory Corso at the Loeb Student Center—we got a thousand people there! It was crazy. It was free, but it was still crazy. We made flyers and went to the park all the time and gave them out. We were hanging out at this rare bookstore in the West Village, and that’s where we met Gregory Corso and the some of the other Beat writers; so they told some of their friends, and it was advertised well at NYU. They were paying Corso a thousand bucks, which was pretty significant at the time. It was an exciting event. And all the friends I made are still my best friends. I met my friend Chris Simunek first day of Expository Writing class—and he is still my one of my best friends. Up until recently he was the editor at High Times. I remember I’d hang out in Washington Square Park a lot and I remember there was this girl about my age, Corene LeMaitre, she just goes: “Nice boots.” And I go: “I like your boots, too.” And she is still a friend of mine. She ended up writing a novel for HarperCollins. So everyone did pretty well. A lot of people I have lost touch with, but I should look them up on Facebook.
BY CHRISTOPHER HOOTEN VIA THE INDEPENDENT
In a new interview Woody Allen gave to The Hollywood Reporter, the director revealed a bizarre anecdote about an attempted meet with French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. It came off the back of another about a brief rendezvous with playwright Samuel Beckett.
“I chatted with him for five minutes at I think it was Les Deux Magots [a cafe in Paris],” Allen recalled. “I was there having coffee, and someone said: “Samuel Beckett is over there. Would you like to meet him?” And I said, “Sure,” and I went over and we chatted for a little while. He was very nice. “I was never a great Beckett fan,” he added. “But I wanted to meet Jean-Paul Sartre. I wanted to do that, and someone connected with him said, “It can be arranged for a price.” Clearly stunned that the Marxist philosopher and activist would charge for his social time, THR replied: “You’re joking!” “No, no,” Allen replied. “I didn’t follow up on that because the whole thing was too sinister for my psyche.”
BY LUCY DAVIES VIA THE TELEGRAPH
Author Jack London went in disguise around Whitechapel at the turn of the century and documented the poverty and drudgery he found, says Lucy Davies In 1903 – the same year the serialisation of his adventure novel The Call of the Wild brought him overnight acclaim – American author Jack London published a small account of having lived undercover for 84 days among the poor of London’s East End. The People of the Abyss was a penetrating survey of squalor and drudgery; a world away from the pomp of Edwardian England, whose Empire was then in full flower.