George Whitman in Paris, Alfred Kazin's Journals, and More

Evan Smith Rakoff

Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—from publishing reports to academic announcements to literary dispatches—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today's stories:

George Whitman, famed American bookseller in Paris, who was a fast friend to many traveling writers, has passed away at 98. Whitman opened Shakespeare & Company in 1951 during a time when Paris was teeming with expats, such as William Styron, Norman Mailer, and George Plimpton. (Salon).

Continuing the year-end lists as we approach the holiday: Longform gives its choices (and links) for best essays, with Colson Whitehead and John Jeremiah Sullivan at the top of the heap; editor Tina Brown and a roundup of Daily Beast/Newsweek contributors pick their favorite books of 2011; Vol. 1 Brooklyn adds its eclectic mix of favorites; and NPR details its ten best novels of 2011, with Karen Russell's Swamplandia! in first place.

To find a community of writers (rather than pursue an MFA) Courtney Maum relocated from a small town in the Berkshires to New York City and has attended over two hundred readings since April. She writes of what she's learned for Tin House.

The New York Observer examines the now competitive trend of literary agents trawling popular blogs and twitter feeds for potential books.

Elliott Carter, America's most distinguised classical composer, who is 103, recently premiered a new composition “Three Explorations," built on stanzas from T. S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets.” (New York Times)

In this review of Best American Short Stories 2011, and Ladies and Gentlemen by Adam Ross, Prospect magazine explores the rising popularity of the once out-of-fashion short-story genre.

With Alfred Kazin's Journals recently published by Yale University Press, Democracy revisits the life of the literary critic and intellectual. "My parents still lived in the same Brownsville tenement…. They were as poor and isolated from America-at-large as the day they had met. They lived where they had always lived, and more and more they lived without hope."

If you're curious how London looked when Charles Dickens walked its streets and alleys, now there is an app. (BusinessWorld)