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Book News for Friday, September 14, 2007

  • Read, Pray, Buy: Want to know how Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love became a surprise bestseller in paperback? The Wall Street Journal has the inside scoop.

    When Pearson PLC's Viking imprint published Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir...early last year, it printed 30,000 copies — only 5,000 more than the total U.S. hardcover sales of her previous release....Although her work was well-reviewed, Ms. Gilbert was considered a mid-list author, talented but not a proven seller.

    Then a strange thing happened: The paperback edition of Eat, Pray, Love, published in January, quickly gained must-read status. Women everywhere, it seemed — on trains, planes and exotic beaches — were suddenly entranced, making it this summer's break-out publishing hit. The book has had a 32-week run on the New York Times paperback nonfiction best-seller list, where it currently occupies the No. 1 position. Paramount Pictures acquired the movie rights for actress Julia Roberts. The author says a sequel is already in the works.

    Maybe my memory is faulty, but doesn't it seem like every single time one of these novels unexpectedly breaks out, Julia Roberts buys the film rights?

    And an article is written about the book that mentions Julia Roberts buying the film rights as a capstone to the book's surprise success?

    Considering Roberts hasn't made a film in four years or so, and is practically in semi-retirement with her babies or whatever (I don't read US Magazine but the covers are always peeking at me from the checkout line), I would say "film rights were purchased for actress Julia Roberts" is a sure sign that this film will never, ever get made.

  • Shock Jock: This promotional film for Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine was made in conjunction with Alfonso Cuarón, who directed Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men.

    Do I have to say more, or are you already watching it?

  • Dave In a Box: Dave Eggers discusses what he'll do with the $250,000 prize he won from the Heinz Foundation earlier this week. Chances are, it won't involve Disneyland.

    $250,000 is a lot of money — what do you plan to do with it?
    Well, it's not mine, the cheque is being written to 826 [Valencia]. If I got it would be taxed by half, and half would go to Iraq. And who knows what would happen then. So I just asked them to make it out to 826, and then it's being farmed out to six or eight of the writing centres, with Boston getting the largest chunk because it's the next one to open. It's a huge help, as these days the centres start with $10-20,000 sometimes and just cross their fingers.

    He also discusses his upcoming collaborative book of short stories:

    So on top of this work, you have a new book coming in America this autumn as One Hundred and Forty Five Stories in a Small Box: Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape, How the Water Feels to the Fishes, and Minor Robberies. How did that come together?
    I'd been writing those short shorts for years. I'm a huge fan of Sarah Manguso, and her work is almost short stories, some sort of combination of poetry and prose. It reminded me a little of my hero, Lydia Davis. So I asked Sarah to write more of those, and meanwhile Deb Olin Unferth sent a collection to us, and we saw that as a chance to put the three together — share our audiences and put it in a nice package.

    And if that excerpt doesn't make you feel like a greedy, materialistic monster who hasn't worked hard enough on his/her writing, well — you haven't been paying close attention.

÷ ÷ ÷

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. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search...
    Used Trade Paper $3.50
  2. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of...
    Used Hardcover $10.95

  3. One Hundred and Forty Five Stories... Used Hardcover $18.50



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