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Book News for Friday, November 20, 2009

Today's Bits: oprah calls it quits. new moon rises. lost in february. and more.

  • Au Revoir, Oprah: In news that's guaranteed to send publishers into convulsions of horror, Oprah Winfrey is announcing on today's episode that she is folding up her talk show.

    Wipe away those tears, Oprah fans: she's turning her attention toward an entire cable network.

    The show will end on September 9, 2011, as its 25th season draws to a close....In 2008, Winfrey announced that beginning in 2009, the Discovery Health Channel would be named OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. The network is "a multi-platform media company designed to entertain, inform and inspire people to live their best lives," according to Oprah.com. Harpo Productions has also grown to include Harpo Films.

    Still, there's no telling what impact this could have on the book industry, which has relied on Oprah's Book Club to launch sometimes-unknown titles into the bestselling stratosphere. Will an entire network of Oprah mean more viewers (and sales), or will fewer people tune in when they can get all-Oprah, all-the-time?

  • Moon River: Today is opening day for New Moon, the second film in the Twilight saga. About a year and a half ago, posting the trailer for Twilight on this very website, I scoffed at how terrible and cheesy it looked, and postulated that the film would soon be on its way to DVD.

    Which it was — but only after the entire world backed a dumptruck full of money to its front gate.

    The trailer for the second film looks every bit as awful to me. But there's no deterring the mega-fans who are mesmerized by unspeakably bad dialogue and skinny, vapid actors casting blank stares of starvation longing (and also half-naked pasty English boys and half-naked buff Native American boys). I won't say "teen and pre-teen girls," since I know plenty of adults who will be there — hey, maybe we can get Martha drunk and send her for another hilarious report! (And it's not as if teen and pre-teen boys watch anything better.)

    Even if their opinions fall mostly on deaf ears, the critics are weighing in, with the film receiving a Metacritic score of 45 (just below average). Some critical bites:

    "May be one of the most fun-free, angst-ridden teens we've seen on the big screen in a long time." — St. Louis Post-Dispatch (yes, that's a favorable review)

    "Despite melodrama that, at times, is enough to induce diabetes, there's enough wolf whistle in this sexy, scary romp to please anyone." — Washington Post

    "More solidly crafted and insults its audience quite a bit less than its predecessor, and it sets up several nice emotionally complicated cliffhangers for the next installment. I hope its target audience has a blast." — The Oregonian

    "Let's just say it: It's great there's a movie that makes teenage girls scream. Half the movies Hollywood makes are designed to make teenage boys scream, and those boy movies are just as ridiculous and a lot nastier than New Moon." — San Francisco Chronicle

    "It's a cheap, shoddy piece of work, one that banks on moviegoers' anticipation without even bothering to craft a satisfying experience for them. Its pandering is an insult." — Salon.com

    "Chaste, oddly bloodless, and nearly plotless saga." — Village Voice

    "The Twilight Saga: New Moon takes the tepid achievement of Twilight (1988), guts it, and leaves it for undead." — Roger Ebert

    I almost forgot this movie is supposed to be about werewolves and vampires. Who would have imagined there would ever be a series of books and films that would make Anne Rice's swoony vamps look bad-ass by comparison?

    (Click the following to buy New Moon or Twilight)

  • Eating His Words: In the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani takes a huge, meaty chomp out of Jonathan Safran Foer's new book about veganism, Eating Animals.

    Because "Eating Animals" remains heavily indebted to Mr. Pollan's book [The Omnivore's Dilemma], along with Peter Singer's Animal Liberation and the work of various reporters, Mr. Foer's chief contribution to the subject seems to lie in the use of his literary gifts...to give the reader some very visceral, very gruesome descriptions of factory farming and the slaughterhouse.

    [...] An earnest if clumsy chronicle of the author's own evolving thinking about animals and vegetarianism, this uneven volume meanders all over the place, mixing reportage and research with stream-of-consciousness musings and asides.

    However, the Christian Science Monitor has a far kinder reaction:

    Throughout, one is struck by Foer's eloquence. As a novelist, he has turned his formidable powers of expression to the seemingly infinite problem of animal suffering. Yet "Eating Animals" is not "a straightforward case for vegetarianism."... "Eating Animals" makes the plaintive case that if history and tradition are not exactly trumped by animal suffering, they certainly ought to be informed by it. After all, nothing enhances fellowship like a little moral ambition.

    It is interesting to note, I think, that the book maintains what shall henceforth be known as "the J. S. Foer cover design." You could set Eating Animals, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Everything Is Illuminated side-by-side on a bookshelf and feel a keen sense of deja vu.

    (Click here to buy Eating Animals — or order a signed edition here)

  • Land of the Lost: ABC has announced that the next — and final — season of Lost will begin airing on February 2nd, 2010.

    I wish we could be as confident that we'll have J. Wood back to blog for us, but we just don't know yet. If not, expect much frustrated head-scratching among fans.

Book News Round-up:

  • Well, you can't say HarperCollins wasted its money on Sarah Palin — at least, in economic terms. According to the Daily Beast, her memoir, Going Rogue sold more than 300,000 copies in its first week.
  • In the wake of the gigantic success of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books and their film versions (see above), you can't blame publishers for seeking out the next Twilight series. (Look how well that worked for things like "the next Harry Potter" and "the next Dan Brown.") The Daily Beast has some candidates.
  • NPR looks back on 21 years of The Onion. Check out the new book Our Front Pages for a hilariously big (literally — it's about a foot tall) retrospect.
  • Choosing an E-Book Reader for Christmas. For Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and non-denominational holidays, I guess plain old books will do.

B

÷ ÷ ÷

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. Animal Liberation
    Used Trade Paper $6.95
  2. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural...
    Used Trade Paper $9.00
  3. Everything Is Illuminated
    Used Trade Paper $7.50
  4. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close:...
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  5. Eating Animals
    Used Hardcover $6.95
  6. Our Front Pages: 21 Years of... Used Hardcover $7.95
  7. Going Rogue
    Used Hardcover $3.50
  8. Twilight (Twilight Saga)
    Used Mass Market $0.95
  9. Twilight Saga #2: New Moon [With Poster] Used Trade Paper $4.95





One Response to "Book News for Friday, November 20, 2009"

  1.  
    Melissa November 21st, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    I'd like to suggest a must have for this Christmas Season. Cancel Christmas by author Rocco Leonard Martino. Satire, romance, but more importantly, a message that effects us all. Rocco gives us a snapshot of how powerful individuals, organizations and institutions can use politicians as pawns and puppets in an attempt to enrich themselves. We are reminded that the “Greed is Good” philosophy needs our vigilance in a world that should care for the needs and rights of the individual. He offers hope in a distressed world.

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