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Book News for Friday, May 12, 2006

  • Ruth Gay, author of such books as Safe Among the Germans: Liberated Jews After World War II and The Jews of Germany: A Historical Portrait, died on Tuesday at the age of 83.
  • With the Da Vinci Code film just a week away, expect a full-court press from studio publicists, the publisher, and all the stars... as well as the Christian leaders who are threatening to boycott the film. In Slate, Kim Masters wonders why Sony hasn't screened the film for the press or critics or... well, anyone so far.

    Meanwhile, Tom Hanks slaps back at the film's critics, telling London's Evening Standard newspaper:

    If you are going to take any sort of movie at face value, particularly a huge-budget motion picture like this, you'd be making a very big mistake. And that goes for my hair. Don't take my hair too seriously. That would be a very, very big mistake.

    Okay, I made up the hair part. But he should have said that.

  • The new trade paperback release of James Frey's My Friend Leonard includes an author's note acknowledging Frey's use of, shall we say, a bit of creative license:

    To call this book pure nonfiction would be inaccurate. It is a combination of fact and fiction, real and imagined events.

    Among those "inaccuracies" is the opening scene, in which Frey is in prison, being hit in the head by a man named Porterhouse. Frey admits, "I did not spend ninety days in jail, and Porterhouse is a fictional character."

    He doesn't clarify whether or not he was actually hit in the head, but I'm betting he just slipped in a puddle of water and landed really hard on his noggin — which, incidentally, might explain why he thought it was a good idea to open a memoir with an entirely fictional incident.

  • Following the high of 195,000 new titles published in 2004, the Book Standard reports, 2005 saw only 172,000 new titles hit shelves. And of those I read maybe... six, seven new books?
  • Let's all breathe a huge sigh of relief for the children of the Salmon, Idaho, School District, whose board members wisely rejected a request to ban Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War from a freshman English curriculum. I honestly don't think I would have survived adolescence without that book.
  • File this one under Truly Bizarre: according to Shelf Awareness, tonight's edition of The Charlie Rose Show features guest Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink, interviewed by guest host Brian Grazer — yes, Brian Grazer, the spiky-haired, one-time surfer and producer of such films as The Da Vinci Code, and recently estranged husband of author Gigi Lavangie.

    In addition, a second guest host, Salman Rushdie, will interview filmmaker Deepa Mehta about her new film, Water.

  • Edward Champion offers this intriguing possibility:

    Nixon, November 1973: 27% Approval Rating

    August 1974: Nixon resigns nine months later.

    Bush, May 2006: 29% Approval Rating

    February 2007: Bush resigns nine months later?

    I think he's on the right track, but I say his vision is too limited. Let's take this a step further:

    December, 1995: Anthony Hopkins plays the title character in Oliver Stone's Nixon

    December, 2015: Will Ferrell plays the title character in Oliver Stone's Dubya

÷ ÷ ÷

Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.

The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.


Books mentioned in this post


  1. Jews of Germany Used Trade Paper $30.50
  2. The Da Vinci Code
    Used Mass Market $3.95
  3. My Friend Leonard Used Trade Paper $0.95
  4. The Chocolate War
    Used Trade Paper $5.50
  5. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without...
    Used Hardcover $3.95



One Response to "Book News for Friday, May 12, 2006"

  1.  
    Michael May 15th, 2006 at 11:38 am

    I did watch the Gladwell-Grazer strange hair fest on Charlie Rose. The Bride of Frankenstein would have fit right in.

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