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Author Archive: "Marshall"

Holy First Ladies, Batman!

Curtis Sittenfeld, the author of two best-selling books, Prep and The Man of My Dreams, is about to release a very controversial book called American Wife. It's a thinly veiled novel based on Laura Bush's life that is sure to send the White House into a fury. American Wife tells the story of Alice Blackwell, a quiet librarian whose husband Charlie becomes the, um... intellectually challenged president of the United States. It is being marketed as a fictional examination of the life of the First Lady that mixes real facts and incidents from her life with an author's wild imaginings and sometimes sexually charged prose. Says RadarOnline.com, "The result is a masterful highbrow-lowbrow mash-up that satisfies as ass-kicking literary fiction and juicy gossip simultaneously."

On the gossip side, Sittenfeld uses Alice Blackwell to titillate: discovering that her grandmother is a lesbian, killing her high school crush with her car at age 16 (This incident is based in fact. Laura Bush was involved in a fatal car accident at that age), having sex with the future leader of the free world's brother, getting an ...

Book News for Friday, April 18, 2008

  • 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


Book News for Thursday, April 17, 2008

  • 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


Book News for Wednesday, April 16, 2008

  • 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


Book News for Monday, April 14, 2008

  • 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,”


Book News for Wednesday, March 19, 2008

  • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that. Visionary science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, author of more than 100 books, inventor, futurist and icon, died yesterday in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He was 90 and best known for his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey and his collaboration with Stanley Kubrick on the film of the same name.
  • Freaks and Nerds, Unite! Stephen King's apocalyptic novel The Stand is being adapted into a graphic novel by Marvel.

    Quoth The Comic Wire:

    They're done kicking around the idea and are ready to move forward. In an interview with NPR's Talk of the Nation radio program last Wednesday promoting the release of the latest chapter of "The Dark Tower" to come to comics, "The Long Road Home," King confirmed what many fans have been hoping for.

    "I did go to Marvel and ask them if they would have any interest in adapting 'The Stand' as a graphic novel and they are going to do that,"


Book News for Wednesday, March 12, 2008

  • 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.
    Kane writes:

    ...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


Book News for Wednesday, March 5, 2008

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 good.

Book News for Monday, December 3, 2007

  • The Cheese MonkeysOh, 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!


  • Guinness World Records 2008The 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


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