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Book News for June 17, 2008

  • Angels and Demons and Popes, Oh My! Dan Brown just might have the perfect material for his next thriller.

    Variety reports that the filming of Angels and Demons has been interrupted by a powerful cabal of shadowy figures:

    Angels & Demons has been prevented by the Vatican from shooting in Rome churches, a Vatican official confirmed on Monday, saying the Da Vinci Code sequel is incompatible with religious sentiment.

    Sony's Ron Howard-directed thriller toplining Tom Hanks, which started rolling in Rome June 5, had last year requested permits from Rome authorities to shoot in the monumental church of Santa Maria del Popolo and the smaller Santa Maria della Vittoria, where key scenes in the eponymous Dan Brown bestseller are set.

    Under Italy's treaty with the Vatican both the Italian government and the Vatican needed to grant the permits, and the Vatican balked.

    Would this be the same Vatican that is pretty much blamed for the greatest global conspiracy of all time in The Da Vinci Code? Oh, I smell a cover-up!!

    Except, in this book, Brown will have to change the description of his protagonist from "looking like Harrison Ford" to "resembling an older, chinless Tom Hanks with a bad mullet."

  • Guilty Pleasures: A funny thing happens when you work for Powell's Books. You get to read a lot of books (as you might imagine) and develop a sense of what's out there, what's hip and what's catching fire in the literary realm. So you think you have a pretty good feel for the readership and the business.

    Then you look at the bestseller list for some other online bookseller, where names like Danielle Steel and Jackie Collins pop up right at the top. And you think: Wait, are they still around? They still publish books? People still READ them??

    The answer to all of the above is yes.

    Jackie Collins marks 40 years of "guilty pleasures." And readers mark 40 years of guiltily hiding her paperbacks anytime someone else enters the room.

    Meanwhile, Danielle Steel writes about helping the homeless for Newsweek. I was going to make a comment about her invisible eyebrows or some such, but the first paragraph deflated all my snark:

    The reality of homelessness landed squarely in my lap one dark December day 10 years ago. Despite all our efforts to prevent it, after three previous attempts, my much-loved 19-year-old son had committed suicide three months before, after suffering from bipolar disease all his life. My husband left me shortly after, and despite the enormous blessing of eight wonderful surviving children, I was devastated.

    Ouch. I guess selling a trillion novels a year can't insulate you from all of life's brutal beatings.

  • And You Thought I Was Cranky: 82-year-old Gore Vidal proves to the New York Times that age doesn't always mellow a person out.

    What do you think is your own best novel? I don’t answer questions like that. Ever. And you ought not to ask them.

    Well, it was a great pleasure talking to you. I doubt that.

    On a related note, the new website is currently taking requests for those who want to have their very own Gore Vidal liven up any function — dinner parties, weddings, funerals, brises. Better sign up now before his schedule's completely booked!

  • The Republicans Are Gonna Party Like It's 2004: Forgive me a moment's lapse into politics. This morning I was roused from sleep by an NPR report on the first same-sex weddings held in San Francisco's City Hall last night, one of which involved a lesbian couple in their eighties who've been together for over fifty years!

    It's a pretty extraordinary report. And when it ended I thought to myself:

    Awesome. McCain just won the election.

    Remember 2004? When there was a big gay marriage movement that was later mostly rolled back by the courts? And in the resulting backlash, one of the least popular Presidents in U.S. history was re-elected?

    Just to be clear: I think gay marriage is a great idea. (Well, actually, I think marriage is a horrible idea, period — but why shouldn't the gay community share in its awfulness?) I just wish the same-sex marriage movement could be advanced on a non-election year so the Christian Right doesn't get all up in arms and send whole congregations to vote for the protector of their "endangered" belief system.

    If I may indulge in a bit of paranoia, does it seem like a coincidence to anyone else that the governor of California is a Republican and the California State Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage just as the presidential election is heating up?

    [Start whistling the X-Files theme now.]

    The flashback to 2004 just got a little more vivid, as Michael Moore is putting out a new book in August that takes aim at presidential politics.

    The tome, titled Mike's Election Guide, a manual of mockery for the 2008 presidential election, will be published Aug. 19 by Grand Central Publishing....Promotional material for the book reads: "Perfectly timed to coincide with the national political conventions — and to capitalize on massive campaign coverage."

    Let me be the first to congratulate Senator McCain on his victory.

÷ ÷ ÷

Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the 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. What's the Matter with Kansas?: How...
    Used Trade Paper $6.50
  2. Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for... Used Trade Paper $4.95

  3. Rogue
    Used Hardcover $3.25
  4. Dude, Where's My Country? Used Trade Paper $3.95
  5. Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir... Used Trade Paper $7.50
  6. Angels and Demons
    Used Mass Market $0.50

2 Responses to "Book News for June 17, 2008"

    barb h June 17th, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    oh dear, brockman...i was with you in all astute empathies and antipathies...until you "informed" me of all actions and books that will lead sen mc_______ to ... to... "victory"... no!

    Brockman (Post Author) June 17th, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Barb, I sure hope I'm wrong.

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