It is not easy to get news out of the North Koreans. It took the CIA to basically break the story of Kim Jong-Il's stroke; as an expert pointed out in today's Washington Post: "We don't know diddly about what is going on inside that closed country."* But it turns out Kim Jong-Il likes publicity! "I know I'm an object of criticism in the world," he told Madeline Albright one time. "But if I'm being talked about, I must be doing the right things." (Hey, think we've identified Spencer Pratt's PR role model??) Anyway, every year the hermit kingdom invites a few journalists to bask in its glorious spectacle of self-reliance, and every year we read the resulting works of journalism and think "Well who in the name of Engels let that guy in?" After the jump, find out how the likes of Parade, Vice and a random graphic novelist infiltrated the Stalinist hermit state.
The New York Review of Books, highbrow home of Joan Didion letters and occasional epic literary feuds (or "nerd fights") today undertakes it greatest challenge: explaining "blogs" to its million-year-old readers. The author assigned to the task? Journo (and cartoonist!) Sarah Boxer, who has assembled a little print anthology of blog "writing." Which means that her task is two-fold, actually: explaining blogs to old people and justifying collecting them into a book to herself. How does she fare? Hilariously!
Have you ever made it all the way through an issue of the New York Review of Books? Of course not! But did you realize that the septuagenarian crowd is getting totally rowdy back there, carefully crafting literate, occasionally randy personals for potential hookups? (Remember, they don't know how to use Craigslist). Actual example: "Manhunt for literate 70 y/o gay men!" Examples after the jump! (Totally SFW).
Critic, biographer and novelist Elizabeth Hardwick, co-founder of the New York Review of Books, has died. In a response to a letter from screenwriter and New Yorker columnist Penelope Gilliatt that complained about Hardwick's trashing of Lillian Hellman in 1968, Hardwick wrote: "Perhaps Miss Gilliatt doesn't yet understand all there is to know about New York and the literary and intellectual world here. When we remember the number of unjustified slams and unwarranted raves, the way convictions sometimes cross uncomfortably, it is astonishing that relations remain as humorous, slap-dash, unparanoiac, and, above all, as pleasantly disorganized as they really are." [NYO]
Last week, the NYT Book Review gave a page to MuggleNet's What Will Happen In Harry Potter 7. Today, as discussed, they reviewed the autobiography of Ron Jeremy. It is a fun little paper, the NYTBR. But the professors over at The New Republic's education blog are not amused. America, they say, is in urgent need of a new book review. Who will review Richard Rorty and Pascal Engel's What's the Use of Truth? Who will meditate on Dale Zacher's The Scripps Newspapers Go to War, 1914-18? Whoooo?