Manly Book Clubs, Demystifying Publishing, and More


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:

The New York Times ran an article yesterday about the Man Book Club, a group of sixteen men in their mid-fifties based in Marin County, California. The book club’s cardinal rule? “No books by women about women.” Fast Company and literary Twitter responded to the article by suggesting man-themed book titles with the hashtag #manlybookclubnames.

The Life of a Book, a new series on Penguin Random House’s blog the Perch, presents a behind-the-scenes look at the process leading up to the June publication of best-selling author Chuck Klosterman’s latest book, But What If We’re Wrong? The series hopes to “demystify the publishing process” by featuring interviews with authors and editors, notes on the cover design process, and conversations with marketers.

To improve the way Google products respond to users, and to make its apps more conversational, Google had its Artificial Intelligence engine “read” 2,865 romance novels, then write its own sentences based on what it had learned. Google software engineer Andrew Dai said that romance novels are good training tools because their plots are the same, so the AI engine is able to pick up on the nuances of language, and create a more natural response.  (Next Web)

Joan Didion’s notes about California, which she wrote while on assignment to cover the trial of Patty Hearst for Rolling Stone in 1976, are published for the first time at the New York Review of Books.

In advance of the publication of his latest poetry collection, Commotion of the Birds, poet John Ashbery discusses his life and work. (Brooklyn Rail)

The winners of the 2016 Best Translated Book Awards in poetry and fiction have been announced. A $5,000 prize is given to both the book’s author and its translator. The winners in fiction are Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman; and the winners in poetry are Angélica Freitas’s Rilke Shake, translated from the Portuguese by Hilary Kaplan.

Fertile, unruly, in need of tending…from sex to politics, gardens in literature offer a wide range of symbolic representations. (Financial Times)