Friday, October 22News That Matters

Tag: Writing and Writers

Paradise Was Lost. She’s Telling Its Stories.

Paradise Was Lost. She’s Telling Its Stories.

Technology, World
Images of the wildfire that devastated Paradise, Calif., in 2018 are hard to forget. Known as the Camp Fire — after Camp Creek Road, where it started — the disaster killed at least 85 people and essentially destroyed the entire town. Lizzie Johnson was a reporter at The San Francisco Chronicle at the time, and her new book, “Paradise,” is a vivid ticktock account of the disaster, told through the stories of those who experienced it. Johnson, now a reporter at The Washington Post, talks about the fire as a turning point, how the scope and structure of her book changed over time and more.When did you first get the idea to write this book?The book came about a lot earlier than the Camp Fire itself. I’d been writing about wildfires for a while, and there wasn’t much being written about the lon...
An Acclaimed Playwright on Masks and the Return to the Stage

An Acclaimed Playwright on Masks and the Return to the Stage

LifeStyle
Greek masks in ancient theater were both practical and ritualistic; they allowed performers to change roles and genders, and also to let an immortal howl out of a face that became more than mortal with artifice. From African masks in theater and dance, to Tibetan masks in ceremonial traditions, to commedia dell’arte masks in 15th-century Italy, masks were thought to unleash an almost supernatural power in the actor. But masked theater in the West is now rare, and the particular genius of most New York actors is they can make us believe that they are revealing themselves fully while they are in fact masked by a role. So, two weeks ago, we in the audience sat in actual masks, in reverent silence, seeing the actors’ naked faces once again, feeling the incredible warmth of communal theater.Fin...
An Erotica Pioneer Goes From Hero to Villain for Dozens of Authors

An Erotica Pioneer Goes From Hero to Villain for Dozens of Authors

Business
Under pressure from authors, Blushing has offered more transparency, and says that it is now providing monthly royalty payments, and that since the first quarter of 2020, it has used an automated royalty tracking system to generate payments.A lawyer for Ms. Wills said that she “believes she has fulfilled her contractual duties to her authors and continues to do so” and that “Blushing wishes to move on from this small group of past authors and disgruntled past employees and put its energy into focusing on the talented and passionate authors they have the privilege to represent.”The enormous appetite for erotica, a nearly $1.5 billion industry, has stoked a feeding frenzy among publishers for new content. Romance sales exploded in the past 15 years, following the rise of e-books and self-pub...

Stanley Tucci’s Passion Was Acting. Now, It’s Food.

Travel
Recovering from the tumor seems to have affected some of those rituals. He cooked a risotto Milanese for his co-star, Colin Firth, when they worked together on the movie “Supernova,” released earlier this year. In an email, Firth said that it was the best he had ever had, but Tucci “was convinced it tasted awful and was mortified.”“He simply wasn’t tasting what we were,” Firth said. “One was left to imagine how distressing this was, because most of the time he put on a very brave and matter-of-fact face.”During his recovery, Tucci watched cooking shows, “which was weird because even the smell of food then would just make me want to throw up,” he said. “But I liked watching them. I just wanted to learn more, live vicariously through them. It was a way I was going to have that once again.”Th...
The Beet Grows On

The Beet Grows On

Technology
As my first gardening season in many years draws to a close, I am confronting the weighty question of when to harvest my beet.If you have a crop of beets, pulling them from the ground is not emotionally loaded. My tomato harvest reached into double digits, if you count the cherry tomatoes, and I picked them with abandon. The same with the green beans. I harvested more than a dozen. Beans.To be fair to myself, it has been a strange year. There’s the pandemic, which is why I am gardening at all. Otherwise I would have spent that time commuting. Also, I am about to semi-retire. I’ve been looking for the right word to describe it. After 28 years as a full-time staff member (editor, columnist, reporter, video host) of The New York Times, I’m leaving to cultivate my garden. And write about it. I...
Broadway Is Brimming With Black Playwrights. But for How Long?

Broadway Is Brimming With Black Playwrights. But for How Long?

LifeStyle
In addition to “Chicken & Biscuits,” this season’s plays by Black writers include a long-slighted classic (“Trouble in Mind”), an autobiographical reminiscence (“Lackawanna Blues”), two naturalistic dramas (“Clyde’s” and “Skeleton Crew”) and two more formally adventuresome works (“Pass Over” and “Thoughts of a Colored Man”).“They are seven different plays that examine fundamentally different aspects of the Black experience,” said Lynn Nottage, whose “Clyde’s,” about a truck stop sandwich shop owner managing a staff of formerly incarcerated people, begins previews Nov. 3 at the Hayes Theater.Nottage is the most celebrated of this season’s playwrights: she is a two-time Pulitzer winner, for “Ruined,” which infamously never made it to Broadway despite a repeatedly extended Off Broadway ru...
Richard Powers Speaks for the Trees

Richard Powers Speaks for the Trees

Technology, World
During a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts one weekend, he saw a 1914 photograph of farm boys in Germany, and started thinking about the birth of the machine age. Inspired by the figures in the photo, he quit his programming job and started writing his 1985 debut, “Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance.” It was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, the first in a river of accolades, including a MacArthur “genius” grant and a National Book Award.For much of his career, Powers has used fiction to probe humanity’s relationship to technology, and how our creativity and ingenuity has come to define and ensnare us. He’s been labeled “our pre-eminent novelist of ideas,” “our greatest living novelist” and “the best novelist you’ve never heard of.” In his books “The Gold Bug Variations...
Why Our Monsters Talk to Michael Wolff

Why Our Monsters Talk to Michael Wolff

Business
I couldn’t write about these kind of blurred journalistic lines, of course, without disclosing my largely friendly relationship with Mr. Wolff. I first encountered him in 2009, when he profiled my then-employer, Politico, and wrote in passing that I was a “total dweeb” who was “the only one as interested in what his sources are doing as they themselves are.” I felt both insulted and pretty much seen.After that, I sought him out for occasional career advice, which he gave generously. In 2014, he invited me to a dinner with executives at Uber, and neglected to ask me to agree that it was off the record. When I published one executive’s explosive suggestion to me that the company dig up dirt on the journalists who had been covering the company, Mr. Wolff, then a columnist for USA Today, blast...
Salman Rushdie Is Now on Substack

Salman Rushdie Is Now on Substack

Technology
“I mean, if I were publishing a book, I’d get more money,” he said.He still plans to hold back his big swings for the traditional outfits and is at work on a novel to be published by Random House.Daily Business BriefingUpdated Aug. 30, 2021, 5:48 p.m. ETSubstack has cash to burn. It has raised nearly $83 million at a valuation of $650 million, and it recently acquired Cocoon, a social media app that is driven by subscriptions and does not include any advertising.Mr. Rushdie has always been a maximalist, on the page and in life. His fiction is a highly stylized blend of magical realism and meta-theatrical storytelling, stories within stories told by multiple narrators. He has had an adventurous personal life and has been married several times. In many ways, Substack seems a natural ven...
‘It Was Like I’d Never Done It Before’: How Sally Rooney Wrote Again

‘It Was Like I’d Never Done It Before’: How Sally Rooney Wrote Again

LifeStyle
With her closest friends, she’ll exchange ideas about climate change, economic inequality and who broke up with whom, all in the same breath. “It would be artificial to try and reproduce some kind of compartmentalization that I don’t feel in my real life,” she said.For Rooney, the intimate and the ideological go hand in hand. That is, you can’t fully understand Felix and Alice’s relationship, or Eileen and Simon’s, without understanding their relative positions within the social order around them.So, yes, she does have opinions on Dublin’s housing crisis, but even if she didn’t, “as a novelist,” she said, “I simply have to engage with the reality of the housing market, because the characters have to live somewhere. They have to go home, put a key in the door and live.”Rooney thinks it’s a ...