Bloomsbury Publishing

Gilbert Rogin

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The New Yorker has been so good for so long that it’s not uncommon for the magazine’s forgotten writers to be discovered again. (At Bloomsbury, I publicized Backward Ran Sentences by Wolcott Gibbs, organizing this event at the New School with three Gibbs fans: Mark Singer, Kurt Andersen, and the anthology’s editor Thomas Vinciguerra.) In the new Lowbrow Reader anthology that has just been published by Drag City, founder and editor Jay Ruttenberg included pieces celebrating and written by Gilbert Rogin, now in his early 80’s, the novelist and longtime managing editor of Sports Illustrated. Rogin published over thirty (fiction) stories in The New Yorker, along with three books: a short story collection The Fencing Master (1965) and two novels, What Happens Next? (1971) and Preparations for the Ascent (1980). John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, and Mordecai Richler were all fans of Rogin’s work, and in the Lowbrow Reader essay “Hidden Citizen: Rediscovering the Brilliant, Funny Novels of Gilbert Rogin,” Jay Jennings writes:

Read today, Rogin’s books seem fresh, the author possessed of a turn-of-the- 21st century comic sensibility more than a fundamentally Jewish one similar to his peers from the 1960’s and 1970s….the criticisms above – that Rogin is merely recording movements or that nothing changes in his books – are identical to descriptions of Seinfeld.

Rogin’s two novels were reissued by Verse Chorus Press as a single edition in 2010, featuring Jennings’s excellent piece as the introduction.

Books on Inequality

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Sadly, Tony Judt did not live to see Occupy Wall Street, a movement he cried for in Ill Fares the Land, the first of three books he wrote as he was dying from ALS. (Along with The Memory Chalet and Thinking the Twentieth Century.) Judt would have been energized by the massive protests against the rampant economic inequality in our country and the irresponsibility of the financial industry which lead us into ruin. These were two of Judt’s chief concerns, and they will be explored at greater length this spring in three books which will more closely examine the causes of the recession and also speak to the protests that rose up in response to it: Inequality and Instablity by James K. Galbraith, The Great Divergence by Timothy Noah, and Twilight of the Elites by Chris Hayes. In 2010, when I was employed by Bloomsbury Press, I publicized the US launch of an important book on inequality called The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, who also run the Equality Trust. Wilkinson and Pickett’s extensive research is often the basis for any discussion on the corrosive effects of inequality, as they analyzed data from the World Bank, United Nations, and others to establish the correlation between inequality and a host of social ills. (Explained better by the manic marionnettes in the video above.) Nicholas Kristof wrote a column for the New York Times about The Spirit Level, and the book was featured on PBS’s NewsHour, Bill Moyers’s Journal, WBUR’s On Point, and Wilkinson recently gave a TED talk that’s been viewed nearly 1 million times. I created this Facebook page for The Spirit Level and updated it with all news and commentary related to inequality which kept Wilkinson and Pickett’s online audience informed not just about their work throughout the recession and Occupy Wall Street movement, but also the larger issues they championed.

The Newt I Knew

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After I learned that Newt Gingrich spent his younger days as a professor at the University of West Georgia, where the historian John Ferling taught for 33 years, I wondered if he knew Mr. Speaker personally. Indeed, John joined the university in 1971, and for his first year, shared an office with Gingrich, who had already begun to consider politics, unbeknownst to his colleagues. (Gingrich first ran for Congress in 1974, but lost that contest and the next, before winning a seat in 1978.) I suggested to John that he write an op-ed called “The Newt I Knew,” but John demurred, as he faces a looming deadline for his next book, on Hamilton and Jefferson, due to be published by Bloomsbury Press in 2013. (“If he winds up getting the nomination, I wouldn’t be surprised to get a call from a journalist or two.”) Last year, I designed John’s website, which showcases all his work and has connected him with many readers who might not have found him otherwise.