New British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her Cabinet Wednesday.

Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Martinis And Manuscripts: Publishing In The Good Old Days

Aug 17, 2013
Originally published on August 19, 2013 9:06 am

Elissa Schappell is the author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls.

In the good old, bad old days of book publishing, screaming matches happened in public, not online; the boss' philandering was an open secret never leaked to the press, and authors actually had to turn in their manuscripts in order to get money out of their publisher.

Reading Boris Kachka's enormously entertaining "Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus & Giroux" makes one yearn for that bygone era and its larger than life players.

Chief among them Roger Straus, the famously pugnacious, aristocratic New York Jew, known for his ascots and acid tongue, and Robert Giroux, the proper, working class, closeted New Jersey Catholic, who becomes, in his role as FSG's editor-in-chief, the company's answer to Maxwell Perkins, and the perfect foil for Straus.

From the beginning these men shared a vision. Unlike Random House or Simon & Schuster, what Straus would have dismissively called "commercial publishers," FSG insisted on publishing only books of the greatest literary merit, damn the remainder bins. This premium on prestige was what mattered at FSG; the company cared for nothing as sordid as profits. And from 1978 to 1995, "FSG published the work of ten out of the eighteen [Nobel Prize] winners."

FSG did indeed bring together some of the biggest literary rock stars of the post-war publishing world. The universe Kachka recreates seems — no, is — glamorous by publishing standards. The tales he tells are the literary equivalents of Led Zeppelin's trashed hotel room stories. Here is a hopped-up Jack Kerouac unleashing the On the Road scroll in front of the stone-faced Giroux (who Kachka suggests had a crush on Jack). Here is Straus making Isaac Bashevis Singer's wife ride in coach as they all fly to Stockholm to accept the Nobel. Here is Giroux, earlier in his career, furious and crestfallen at being forced to go back on his promise to J.D. Salinger to buy Catcher in the Rye. Here is Straus suggesting angrily in an interview that agent Andrew Wylie, aka "The Jackal," had "seduced" Phillip Roth away from him.

Like the host of the most exclusive book party in the world, Kachka, a contributing editor at New York magazine, does an excellent job of pointing out the most important players in the room at any time in FSG's history. FSG made Jewish writers such as Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth and Singer stars; brought along Southern writers such as Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy; added fuel to "El Boom," the wave of excitement over Latin American literature that rocketed Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa and Pablo Neruda onto the scene; and set fire to American letters with the New Journalism and its torchbearers Joan Didion and Tom Wolfe.

FSG was most certainly a hothouse when it came to talent. Kachka's recounting of Giroux's ministering to to writers such as the tortured John Berryman and Flannery O'Connor provide rare moments of tenderness.

You could also call it a hothouse for wanton behavior. Or, as Dorothea Straus, Roger's wife, affectionately labeled FSG in the '60s and '70s — "a sexual sewer." In pop-culture shorthand, FSG was the publishing word's version of Mad Men.

It wasn't uncommon, Kachka reports, for Straus to grab a nooner with any of a number of female staffers. "The rumor," Kachka writes, "went that the man who delivered the clean towels to the office on Fridays ... also provided Roger with fresh sheets."

Perhaps the most intriguing bit of dish Kachka serves is the depiction of Straus' relationship with Susan Sontag (He suggests they may have once had an affair), a bond both symbiotic and paternal. Sontag was allowed to treat the offices of FSG as her own, was advanced cash when she wanted, and was given health insurance. Straus relied on her opinions of other writers, especially when it came to European literature. It was Sontag who told him to pass on Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose in favor of Salvatore Satta's The Day of Judgment, which would sell 2,000 copies to Eco's 50 million worldwide.

It shouldn't be surprising that the final chapters of the book, devoted to Jonathan Galassi's tenure as publisher, lack the zing and fire of the earlier years. At these times Hothouse feels less like a rollicking social history , and more like a magazine feature — a little too inside-baseball for those on the outside, a little yesterday's-news for those in the know. We are all intimately acquainted with the Franzen-Oprah flap, and some of us couldn't care less.

In the end, Kachka acknowledges that there is no way the present-day FSG or any publishing house can possibly compare to that Golden Age: "The old, aristocratic order of Roger Straus has given way to a world of uniformity and accommodation. No longer do emperors roam the halls of Midtown or Union Square, taking their droigt du seigneur and yelling, 'F--- the peasants.' "

Even so, with Hothouse and a gin martini in hand, it's not hard to imagine those good old, bad old days of publishing.

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