by Marshall, April 18, 2008 12:10 PM
- I'm Not Worthy: Yesterday's, ahem, very frank blog post by my talented co-worker Kevin Sampsell is a hard act to follow (insert sexual innuendos here... hard? insert? jeez, I just see every word differently now, and I may never eat another donut!), but I will just have to try.
So, without further delay, the Post-"Taternuts" Book News!
- Yer fired! You can hardly read news blogs anymore, as the deafening noise of Katie Couric's "failure" as a news anchor is so loud. Rumor has it that she might be taking Larry King's (another very relevant journalist) job when he retires, or she might be paid millions to write her memoir.
I'm sure her former gang life and recovery from drug addiction will make for a facinating read!
- Kartoffelnuts! And speaking of the mainstream news media, holy pointy hats! The Pope is here!
All the major news outlets have been awash in minute-by-minute coverage of his arrival and appearances. What they are not mentioning is that Pope Benedict has long been a prolific author!
But it's much more fun to watch Jon Stewart poke fun (oh, crap, here I go again!) at the television coverage of His Holiness on U.S. turf:
- It all comes down to this...
Oh, jeez. I need a weekend to recover from all this
by Marshall, April 17, 2008 11:40 AM
- Three Days of the Condor:
That was fast. Closing arguments were delivered yesterday in the copyright infringement trial of the year ? J. K. Rowling and Warner Brothers vs. publisher RDR Books. The proposed RDR publication of a Harry Potter "encyclopedia" based on the popular website, The Harry Potter Lexicon, is now on hold indefinitely and the judge has urged both sides to settle. Rowling is accusing RDR of feasting on the carcass of her story ideas and wit. From Publishers Weekly:
Rowling then took the stand for rebuttal and offered impassioned words in support of her rights, though the questions and answers were frequently objected to by the defense as not directly addressing earlier testimony. (At one point Cendali asked Hammer, "Are you trying to suppress Ms. Rowling?" to which he replied, "That seems to be impossible.") Rowling contended that because the "fictional facts" in her series are of her own invention, the need to protect the manner in which they are used was all the more important. "These things have no existence outside my language and turns of phrase," she said, later adding, "Are we or are we not the owners of our own work?"
When asked if she felt that the Lexicon had any entertainment value, Rowling replied, "I think there are funny things in there, and I wrote them." She also objected to the idea that her fame somehow meant she had less of a right to her own creative content. "Somehow because my work is successful, I've weakened my own right to copyright?" she asked. "This would inevitably lead to a slippery slope."
...the parties agreed on the May 9 deadline for filing additional documents. Before adjourning the trial, Judge Patterson quipped, "I may need a reference guide to this case."
I'll bet money that J. K. Rowling is somewhere muttering, expulso... evanesco!
- Lists, lists, and more lists:
The web site Reading Group Choices, arbiter of all that is discussable over tea, announced their reader's top Book Club Picks of 2007.
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
- The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
- A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
- TIE: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
- Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
- The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
- Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
A bit predictable, but I feel so bewildered! Are women the only ones doing the book club thing? Pretty much, says Diana Loevy, author of The Book Club Companion, in an interview on the blog Future Perfect Publishing.
Next year, I'm stuffing the ballot box. And tapping a keg at my next book club
by Marshall, April 16, 2008 1:18 PM
- Whines More Than Dobby?: Harry Potter Lexicon creator, Steven Vander Ark, broke down on the stand yesterday as he testified in the trial pitting author J. K. Rowling and Warner Brothers against publisher RDR Books for copyright infringement over a proposed bound version of the popular website, The Harry Potter Lexicon. From the Wall Street Journal:
But the most telling part of Vander Ark's testimony came at the end of Hammer's direct examination. Asked whether he still considered himself a part of the Harry Potter fan community ? those that, in Vander Ark's words, devote most of their free time to all things Potter ? he choked up, and said, "I did." But then, when pressed on it, he changed his answer. "I do," he said, breaking up.
Hammer then asked him why the question was so "emotionally-charged." Regaining his composure, and trying hard to look past J. K. Rowling, whom the plaintiffs counsel positioned directly in front of the witness stand, Vander Ark said, "It's been difficult because there's been a lot of criticism and that was never the intention. I understand where that comes from, but it's difficult. The lexicon has been an important part of my life for the last 8 or 9 years, and now, to have it turn into this...."
Dobby will have to punish himself most grievously for coming to see you, sir. Dobby will have to shut his ears in the oven door for this...
- The Big Dictionary in the Sky: Eugene Ehrlich, a self-educated lexicographer who wrote 40 dictionaries, thesauruses, and phrase books for the "extraordinarily literate," not to mention people just hoping to sound that way, died on April 5 at his home in Mamaroneck, N.Y. He was 85. From the New York Times:
Mr. Ehrlich ? who wrote from three million to five million words about words ? made it clear that he thought defining everyday words with familiar meanings was a waste of time. In his preface to the "extraordinarily literate" dictionary, he said his higher mission was being the antidote to the "effects wrought by the forces of linguistic darkness."
Linguistic darkness? I would describe myself as speaking with colloquial luminosity.
- You Go, Girl: Yesterday, judges for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, awarded annually to a work of science fiction or fantasy that engages the subject of gender in new and thought-provoking ways, selected Sarah Hall's Daughters of the North as their 2007 winner. From Galley Cat:
Daughters of the North is one of several recent novels from authors regarded as "literary" to engage the science-fictional theme of an apocalyptic future; think Cormac McCarthy or Jim Crace. At least in America, such novels tend to be marketed in ways that downplay the SF aspects, although HarperPerennial does play up comparisons to The Handmaid's Tale in the blurbs. (Of course, Margaret Atwood's relationship to the genre was famously contentious.) Hall happily describes her novel as "speculative fiction," though, and speaks with enthusiasm about the research that went into creating a plausible disaster-struck society.
Sounds like a fun
by Marshall, April 14, 2008 12:19 PM
- Better than Quidditch! Author J. K. Rowling is in New York to testify in the biggest publishing trial of the 21st century (so far). In October Ms. Rowling and Warner Brothers filed suit against publisher RDR Books for copyright infringement over a proposed bound version of RDR's popular website, The Harry Potter Lexicon. Says the New York Times:
Ms. Rowling has supported much of the fan output, doling out awards to Internet sites and granting interviews to Web masters. But when RDR Books, a small publisher in Muskegon, Mich., announced it was planning to publish a print version last fall of a popular fan Web site called “The Harry Potter Lexicon” (hp-lexicon.org), Ms. Rowling and Warner Brothers, the movie studio that has adapted her books into films, balked. Their objection is that the book merely repackages Ms. Rowling’s work and, unlike the free fan sites, is intended to make money for its publisher.
David Hammer, [a] lawyer representing RDR Books, said he believed that Ms. Rowling was acting out of vanity. “She wants to be the only one to write this encyclopedia about Harry Potter,” he said. “She’s determined to write it, and she doesn’t want competitors.”
But Galley Cat brings up the interesting point of how this case will affect all other printed mediums that refer to other people's works, like say... blogs or book reviews.
If Warner and Rowling win, it could set a dangerous precedent for authors to invoke copyright infringement on any work, from reviews to companion guides that they don't agree with. Just imagine the New York Times being sued for a negative review because it cites material contained within a novel, and the author wants to be compensated for loss of revenue because of it. It's a 1984 double plus good scenario, but stranger things have happened.
I'm holding my breath...
- And speaking of plagiarism: Lonely Planet travel writer Thomas Kohnstamm says he plagiarized or made up portions of the popular travel guidebooks he wrote and dealt drugs to supplement poor pay. CNN reports from the Australian newspaper interview he gave:
Thomas Kohnstamm, who has written a book on his misadventures, also said he didn't travel to Colombia to write the guidebook on the country because "they didn't pay me enough," The Daily Telegraph reported. "I wrote the book in San Francisco [California]," he is quoted as saying in the Telegraph. "I got the information from a chick I was dating -- an intern in the Colombian Consulate."
Lonely Planet is scrambling to review and possibly edit his work, the news wires have picked up the story, and Kohnstamm's own book, Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?: A Swashbuckling Tale of High Adventures, Questionable Ethics, and Professional Hedonism, is on deck for release next week (no shameless promotion by Kohnstamm here -- I'm sure he was just dying to let the truth out and this just seemed like a perfectly good time to do it!).
Hoaxoir? You be the
by Marshall, March 12, 2008 11:56 AM
- Cock-a-doodle-ouch!: Today is Round 4 of the 2008 Tournament of Books, and lets just say our judge, Jessica Francis Kane, um... doesn't love either book.
I will call today's face-off the Book I Hated the Least round, as it slams both Jonathan Lethem's You Don't Love Me Yet and Stephen L. Carter's New England White straight to the mat.
...I will choose a winner of this round even though I didn’t care for either book.... So, two disappointing novels but the Rooster must go on! For me it comes down to this: I will read what Lethem writes next. I would not encourage Carter to write another work of fiction.
Er, ouch? Although I know I have played spoiler here, read Kane's reasoning and vote on her results here.
- Book News: Client-9 Edition: In the wake of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's recent sex scandal, books related to the topic have been springing up like mushrooms after a rainfall. For example, this week the Today Show has paraded a string of authors with mild to moderate expertise on the subjects of prostitution, infidelity, sex education, marriage, and public life.
Wanna know what's it's like to be the Governor's wife when he cheats on you? Why, Dina McGreevey's written a book about it!
How about what it's like to be a Madam with a stable of very exclusive, high priced call girls? Or what about the perspective of the call girl herself? Well, Natalie McLennan, former call-girl and autobiographical author of a 1995 article in New York Magazine came on to the show to talk about the subject and , you got it, also announce that she is... wait for it... writing a book about it!
She is writing a memoir with a working title of The Price about her experiences during the year that she worked for the agency. It is scheduled for fall release by Phoenix Books.
I'm writing a book about the life of a person who likes to read about high-priced call girls and my sister's writing a book about being the sibling of a person who likes to read about high-priced call girls. My boss is writing a book that tells the tale of a person who unknowingly employs a person who likes to read about high priced call girls.
Now if we can just get the books finished before this scandal fades
by Marshall, March 5, 2008 4:56 PM
More on the Margaret Jones debacle:
To quote Galley Cat on the subject...
Maybe Jennifer Joseph of Manic D Press is right when she emails that this whole fake memoir trend points to a dysfunction at "New York commercial houses." As she analyzes the situation, "Bookselling is all about categories, and the Memoir category sells better than Fiction. Agents know this, Editors know this, Publishers know this. Authors learn this... Blame it on reality TV shows which give the illusion (though they're scripted) that 'true stories' are somehow more appealing than fiction." (That said, it should be conceded that Misha Defonseca's phony Holocaust survival story was published by an indie press.)
I don't know about where you live, New York publishers, but you can hire a private investigator in Portland for about $600 bucks. Then you could advance your author $99,400 and call it
by Marshall, December 3, 2007 2:18 PM
- Oh, Charlie!: My favorite comment about Amazon's new Kindle wireless reading device is from Chip Kidd, prolific book jacket designer and author of The Cheese Monkeys and February 2008's The Learners. He describes the impact that it will have on book design as "none," but then goes on to say:
The printed book as a piece of technology has yet to be improved upon, and won't. Certainly not by something that looks like a prop from Charlie's Angels and has, are you ready, a whopping ONE typeface. For everything! Yay!
The perfect gift: If you have some cash to spend this holiday, how about buying your honey the Guinness Book of Records? No, I mean the whole dang publishing imprint. Reported by the Sunday Times:
the arbiter of thousands of the biggest, smallest and daftest achievements, has been put up for sale by its owner, Hit Entertainment, with a price tag close to £60m.
Sounds like something my eleven-year-old nephew would