On the Books: Lena Dunham discovers Alice Munro

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Image Credit: Peter Kramer/Getty Images

Lena Dunham wrote an essay about discovering Alice Munro for Zoetrope, the literary journal run by Francis Ford Coppola. “I came to Alice Munro after her Nobel Prize win, like a girl discovering Maroon 5 circa 2014 and deciding they are an indie band,” she wrote. “Because, new as I am to her, and sure as we all are that she is the queen of her form, I still feel that Alice Munro is mine. I am the perfect audience for her brand of quiet, seething feminism.” The essay is titled “Hateship, Loveship, Viewership, Readership,” riffing on the title of the Munro’s classic story “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage,” which is reprinted in the magazine. [Zoetrope All-Story]

Barnes and Noble is splitting its retail and Nook operations into two separate companies. Though there’s no guarantee that the split will be successful, the company hopes to complete the process by the first quarter of 2015. As it is, Barnes & Noble isn’t doing to0 well—retail sales are down 6 percent this year, Nook hardware sales are down 45 percent, and digital content sales are down 21 percent. Earlier this year, Barnes & Noble announced that it would invest fewer of the company’s own resources into the Nook division and would instead partner with Samsung to develop a tablet. Hopefully, one of the companies will be called “Barnes” and the other “Noble.” [Publishers Weekly]

Hachette is buying Perseus Books, the sixth-biggest trade publisher. The purchase would substantially diversity and stabilize Hachette’s library, which currently has stronger fiction imprints. Perseus, on the other hand, is a major nonfiction publisher. Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch said the merger isn’t related to Hachette’s ongoing contract negotiations with Amazon. However, if the merger goes through, Hachette will have a bigger library of books, and therefore more leverage. Amazon, the thinking goes, wants to sell a lot of titles on its website, and wouldn’t want to turn down Perseus books in addition to Hachette’s. Hachette and Perseus plan to close the deal by the end of July, if regulators approve. [The New York Times]

Meanwhile, German book publishers—also in contract negotiations with Amazon—are seeking government intervention. The publishers asked the German government to investigate whether Amazon violates competition and antitrust laws in that country. “Amazon’s business conduct not only affects those publishers involved,” reads the complaint, “but poses a danger to all who offer e-books in Germany.” [The New York Times]

Newsweek has profiled Gordon Lish, the legendary editor of Don DeLillo, Cynthia Ozick, and dozens of other writers at Knopf. He’s most famous for editing Raymond Carver’s stories, substantially changing them from Carver’s drafts—at first to great acclaim, and later to much controversy. The story is a good read, and Lish has much to say about the contemporary literature scene—especially about which writers he thinks are worthwhile: “‘[Philip] Roth is full of sh–,’ he says without hesitation. Jonathan Franzen is undeserving of his reputation, as is Jonathan Lethem. The postmodernist Lydia Davis is ‘ridiculously overrated.’ Paul Auster, too: ‘I can’t read him anymore.'” [Newsweek]

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