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Book bits: a dark publishing day and some cheer

December 3, 2008 |  4:37 pm


The New York publishing world, which has had its own shivers of layoffs, got seriously rattled by major announcements today by Random House, Simon & Schuster and Thomas Nelson. Publishers Weekly editor Sarah Nelson is not the only one calling it Black Wednesday.  Thomas Nelson, a Christian publisher, laid off 54 people. Senior staff are leaving Random House in a "long anticipated restructuring," but the company isn't calling the departures layoffs. What happened at Simon & Schuster were layoffs -- 35 people were let go. Understanding that this is bad news, Nelson, in a blog post, still keeps her chin up: "I don't really worry, in the long run, about publishing itself."

On to other news: Tuesday was George Saunders' birthday, and someone -- I forget who -- pointed to "Sea Oak," his story about a guy whose Aunt Bernie is determined, really determined, to get her family through economic hard times. Did I mention he works as a male stripper? That Aunt Bernie tells him, "You, mister, are going to start showing your ..." Well, let's just say she does. And it's bizarre and funny and beautiful, like many of Saunders' stories. Hooray to the Barcelona Review for keeping it online.

Another wonderful literary freebie: At the litblog the Elegant Variation, author Mark Sarvas is midway through giving away 10 sets of the Paris Review  three-book interview series. He's posting excerpts, such as, "Art demands that sense of risk, of danger. But few artists in any period risk their lives. The truth is they’re not on a high enough wire." You must guess who says what to win.

And today our food blog, the Daily Dish, features a recipe (for free) for black eyed pea salad from Pierre Thiam's "Yolele! Recipes From the Heart of Senegal." The food of this chef-turned-author's first cookbook is described by our reviewer as "fascinating, adventurous and deeply flavorful."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo by Matt Callow via Flickr