Notes from Bloomsbury

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Oct 25

E-book bargain bin: October edition

From now until November 10, the e-book versions of the 21 titles listed below, published across many of the Bloombury imprints (Bloomsbury, Walker & Co, Bloomsbury Press, and Bloomsbury Kids) are heavily discounted from all e-tailers for your Kindle, Nook, iPhone, Android, etc. Prices range from $1.99-$3.99. Click on the jackets for more information!



Oct 21
David Rothenberg at the launch party for his new book SURVIVAL OF THE BEAUTIFUL (Bloomsbury Press) last night at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery where the”Evolution in Action” exhibit runs through October 29. David is standing in front of Norman Lewis’s Players Four (1966).

David Rothenberg at the launch party for his new book SURVIVAL OF THE BEAUTIFUL (Bloomsbury Press) last night at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery where the”Evolution in Action” exhibit runs through October 29. David is standing in front of Norman Lewis’s Players Four (1966).

Oct 19

Audio: Jesmyn Ward reads a passage from Salvage the Bones

Listen to National Book Award finalist Jesmyn Ward read the opening chapter from her novel Salvage the Bones.

"The peacock’s tail made Charles Darwin sick!" —- SURVIVAL OF THE BEAUTIFUL by David Rothenberg (@whybirdssing @BloomsburyPress) #fb

Oct 17

Wolcott Gibbs: “the highest compliment I can pay it is to say that I don’t see how it can possibly be made into a moving picture”

Though it seems to me that Arthur Miller still has a tendency to overwrite now and then, his “Death of a Salesman,” at the Morosco, is a tremendously affecting work, head and shoulders above any other serious play we have seen this season. It is the story of Willy Loman, a man at the end of his rope, told with a mixture of compassion, imagination, and hard technical competence you don’t often find in the theatre today, and probably the highest compliment I can pay it is to say that I don’t see how it can possibly be made into a moving picture, though I have very little doubt that somehow or other eventually it will. The acting, especially that of Lee J. Cobb, as the tragic central figure, Mildred Dunnock, as his loyal wife, and Arthur Kennedy, as a son whose character he has lovingly and unconsciously destroyed, is honest, restrained, and singularly moving; Jo Mielziner’s set, centering on the interior of a crumbling house somewhere in Brooklyn but permitting the action to shift as far away as a shoddy hotel room in Boston, is as brilliant and resourceful as the one he did for “A Streetcar Named Desire;” Elia Kazan, also, of course, an important collaborator on “Streetcar,” has directed the cast with the greatest possible intelligence, getting the most out of a script that must have presented its diffi culties; and an incidental score, by Alex North, serves admirably to introduce the stretches of memory and hallucination that alternate with the actual contemporary scenes on the stage. Kermit Bloomgarden and Walter Fried, to round out this cata logue of applause,
are the fortunate producers of “Death of a Salesman,” and I think the whole town ought to be very grateful to them.

The happenings in Mr. Miller’s play can hardly be called dramatic in any conventional sense. Willy is sixty- three years old, and he has spent most of his life as the New En gland representative of a company that I gathered sells stockings, though this point was never exactly specified. Recently the firm has cut off his salary and put him on straight commission, and the income from that is obviously not enough for him to get along on, what with a mortgage, and insurance, and the recurring payments on an electric icebox, an ancient contraption about which he remarks bitterly, “God, for once I’d like to own something before it’s broken down!” In addition to his financial troubles, his health and his mind are failing (he has been having a series of automobile accidents, basically suicidal in intent), and his two sons aren’t much comfort to him. Long ago, he had had muddled, childish dreams for them both— the elder, in par ticular, was to be a famous football star, greater than Red Grange— but things didn’t work out, and now one is a stock clerk, not interested in much except women, and the other, when he works at all, is just an itinerant farmhand. Willy’s deep, hopeless recognition of what has become of him, of the fact that, mysteriously, society has no further use for him, has reduced him to a strange borderland of sanity, in which fantasy is barely distinguishable from reality. The only remaining hope he has, in fact, lies in some crackbrained scheme the two boys have for making a fortune selling sport goods in Florida, and when that collapses, too, there is clearly nothing left for him but to kill himself, knowing that at least his family will manage somehow to survive on the money from his insurance.

That is the rough outline of Mr. Miller’s play, and it doesn’t, I’m afraid, give you much idea of the quality of his work, of how unerringly he has drawn the portrait of a failure, a man who has fi nally broken under the pressures of an economic system that he is fatally incapable of understanding. There are unforgettable scenes: the interview in which he is fired by the head of the firm, a brassy young man, who plays a hideous private recording in which his little boy names the capitals of all the states, in alphabetical order; a sequence in the Boston hotel, when his son fi nds him with a tart and his love turns to hatred and contempt; a dream meeting with his brother Ben, who has made a fortune in diamonds in the Kimberley mines and stands, in his mind, as the savage, piratical symbol of success; and, near the end of the play, a truly heartbreaking moment when Willy at last comes to realize that he is “a dollar- an- hour man” who could never, conceivably, have been anything more.

“Death of a Salesman” is written throughout with an accurate feeling for speech and behavior that few current playwrights can equal. It may not be a great play, what ever that means, but it is certainly a very eloquent and touching one. The cast, besides Mr. Cobb, Miss Dunnock, and Mr. Kennedy, includes Cameron Mitchell, Thomas Chalmers, Howard Smith, Don Keefer, and Alan Hewitt. They are all just what I’m sure the author hoped they’d be.

-First published in The New Yorker, February 19, 1949. Reprinted this month in Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs from The New Yorker edited by Thomas Vinciguerra.

Oct 7

With the #OccupyWallStreet protests, @RepMikeHonda & @demos_org’s panel on inequality could not be more timely

Rep. Honda, senior member of the House Budget and Appropriations Committee and lead author of the People’s Budget, is hosting a panel discussion to highlight the growing income inequality in the United States, its effect on our society, and what the Federal Government can do to address it.

Briefing: Federal Budgets, Family Budgets:
Income Inequality and the US Economy

Brought to you by
Congressman Michael Honda
Budget Taskforce Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus

Friday, October 7, 2011, 10:00 – 11:00
House Budget Committee Hearing Room
Cannon House Office Building 210

Richard Wilkerson, Author of Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger
Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
Chuck Collins, Program Director, Program on Inequality and the Common Good Institute for Policy Studies

Moderator: Heather McGhee, Director, Demos, Washington DC Office

Richard Wilkerson
In The Spirit Level, Mr. Wilkinson shows how America’s income inequality, the highest among the world’s richest countries, correlates with a host of health and social problems. Wilkinson makes the case that this inequality is corrosive: America has the highest inequality and the worst rates of life expectancy, social mobility, violence, infant mortality, obesity, literacy, homicides, incarceration, teenage pregnancy, mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction.  Wilkinson shows how the cost to society is financially unsustainable.

Maya MacGuineas
Maya MacGuineas is the President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Additionally, she is the Director of the Fiscal Policy Program at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank. Maya testifies regularly before Congress, advises the administration and has published broadly, including articles in The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Financial Times and the Los Angeles Times. Once dubbed “an anti-deficit warrior” by The Wall Street Journal, Maya comments often on broadcast news and is widely cited by the national press. In the spring of 2009 Maya did a stint on The Washington Post editorial board, covering economic and fiscal policy.

Maya has worked at the Brookings Institution and on Wall Street. As a political independent, she has advised numerous candidates for office from both parties, and works regularly with members of Congress on health, economic, tax, and budget policy. She serves on the boards of a number of national, nonpartisan organizations and received her Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Chuck Collins
Chuck Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and directs IPS’s Program on Inequality and the Common Good. He is an expert on U.S. inequality and author of several books, including Economic Apartheid in America: A Primer on Economic Inequality and Insecurity, co-authored with Felice Yeskel. (New Press, 2005). He co-authored with Bill Gates Sr. Wealth and Our Commonwealth, (Beacon Press, 2003), a case for taxing inherited fortunes. He is co-author with Mary Wright of The Moral Measure of the Economy, a book about Christian ethics and economic life.

He is co-founder of Wealth for the Common Good, a network of business leaders, high-income households and partners working together to promote shared prosperity and fair taxation.

In 1995, he co-founded United for a Fair Economy (UFE) to raise the profile of the inequality issue and support popular education and organizing efforts to address inequality. He was Executive Director of UFE from 1995-2001 and Program Director until 2005.

Moderator: Heather McGhee
As the Director of Demos’ Washington office, Heather develops and executes strategy for increasing the organization’s impact on federal policy debates in Washington. Previously, she was the Deputy Policy Director, Domestic and Economic Policy, for the John Edwards for President 2008 campaign, and a Program Associate in Demos’ Economic Opportunity Program.

Her writing and research on debt, financial services regulation, retirement and inequality have appeared in numerous outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Detroit Free-Press and CNN. She is the co-author of a chapter on retirement insecurity in the book Inequality Matters: The Growing Economic Divide in America and its Poisonous Consequences (New Press, 2005).

She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.

Oct 6

Delivering Ha-Joon Chang’s 23 THINGS (@BloomsburyPress) to #OccupyWallStreet

We sent several of our books to the Occupy Wall Street post office box earlier this week but managed to overlook the economist Ha-Joon Chang’s 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, so we hand delivered it yesterday. (We’re disappointed but not shocked that Professor Chang is not on anyone’s short list for the Nobel Prize in Economics this year.)

The library is just inside Zuccoti Park at the corner of Broadway and Liberty. The shelving system seemed to be remarkably democratic; we found a great spot for Ha-Joon Chang’s latest book next to Tim Winton’s book and the collection Inequality Matters, published by our friends at Demos.

The spot for the book was so good, in fact, that it quickly caught the eye of a young woman who picked it up and started reading immediately!

She walked off with the book…but fortunately we brought a second copy.

Oct 5

Dava Sobel “A More Perfect Heaven” (by BloomsburyUSA) #fb

Dogs Make Us Human (by Art Wolfe and Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson) — our new dog book! Available 10/4/11.

Sep 30

#fridayreads Wolcott Gibbs: “Nobody knows anything about what’s going on”

@NewYorker (1941) - The great paradox about this age of perfect communication, of course, is that nobody knows anything about what’s going on. We ourself read six newspapers every day, listen interminably to the radio, and spend a good deal of our time talking to industrious prophets who have just flown in from the warring cities and the capitals and the battle fronts. Our guess is that we know rather less about the state of the world than an ancestor of ours who lived in Connecticut and depended for his information on old copies of The Federalist delivered occasionally by a man on a horse. He got his news late and in fragments, but in the end the picture in his mind was probably clear and sensible; we hear about everything the minute it happens, in staggering detail, and, generally speaking, it just adds up to balderdash.

This is not only because the stage these days is too big for any man to comprehend, or because an event described by ninety- five eyewitnesses is apt to be less satisfactory than the same thing reported on by one, or even because the current government spokesmen are sometimes apt to be rather coy about their facts. It is caused mostly by our own frantic state of continual reception. We are too busy listening to hear anything in particular, too overwhelmed by the parts to see any outline of the whole. History, to be understood at all, should be absorbed a very little at a time, in solitude, and always a step or two behind the actual march of events.

If we had the organization of this magazine to do over again, we would employ an elderly hermit to lie on a couch in a small, quiet room, perhaps eating an apple. He would read exactly one copy of the Times every month and then, whenever our editorial way grew dark, we’d drop in for a minute and ask him what the hell was really up.

-Wolcott Gibbs, Talk of the Town, first appeared in The New Yorker on June 7, 1941. Reprinted in the new anthology Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs from The New Yorker edited by Thomas Vinciguerra.

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