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Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


Book News for Monday, July 20, 2009

  • In Memoriam: Frank McCourt, who won the Pulitzer Prize for the bestselling memoir Angela's Ashes, passed away over the weekend at the age of 78.

    Mr. McCourt, who taught in [New York City's] school system for nearly 30 years, had always told his writing students that they were their own best material. In his mid-60s, he decided to take his own advice, sitting down to commit his childhood memories to paper and producing whathe described as "a modest book, modestly written."

    Reminiscences and tributes from:

    New York Times
    Boston Globe
    Los Angeles Times
    New Yorker
    Christian Science Monitor
    The Associated Press on the lingering controversy over Angela's Ashes in McCourt's hometown of Limerick
    The New York Times' Arts Beat blog invites readers to share their memories of McCourt.

  • eGads: The fallout from the Kindle/George Orwell debacle continues to rain down on Amazon, with angry and betrayed customers posting their outrage to the Kindle discussion forum.

    The official explanation is that the eBooks of 1984 and Animal Farm that were removed from Kindles (whose owners were issued full refunds) were illegal, unauthorized copies. The Rumpus, which we adore at all times, but especially now, has a lot more info on the incident.

    The Rumpus also speculates that if Amazon continues to handle similar situations this way, they're going to lose them some customers.

    You can almost hear the folks at Sony jumping up and down and cheering...

  • Raise High the Kick-ass-beam, Terminators: The Onion reports that famously reclusive author J. D. Salinger has emerged from self-imposed exile to let the world know how ass-spankingly awesome the new Terminator film is was.

    Salinger, whose fictional works featuring the Glass family are considered some of the most influential contributions to 20th-century American literature, stated that he "liked Terminator 3 okay," but that it was, in his opinion, "nowhere near as cool as the new film." In fact, the latest installment has so far exceeded his expectations that he has reversed nearly half a century of shunning the media.

    [...] Although the sole film made from Salinger's work, My Foolish Heart, based on his short story "Uncle Wiggily In Connecticut," was considered by Salinger to be such a bastardization of his prose that he never agreed to another adaptation, he now states that "if McG wants to do any of my stuff — 'A Perfect Day For Bananafish'; Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters; hell, all of Nine Stories — he has my complete permission. Anything. Anything he wants."

Book News Round-up:

  • The Book Beast sinks its teeth into a gigantic new book, Norman Mailer: Moonfire, designed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing.

    Taschen will print only 1,969 copies of the book — each will be signed by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and the final 12 will contain a chip of extremely rare moon meteorite. As a package, the project is an achievement worthy of the subject it celebrates.

    You can, as always, preorder your copy from us.

  • Here's some news to make eBook haters' blood run cold:

    In separate announcements, a coalition of four university presses have received a planning grant to study the feasibility of a collaborative scholarly e-book program, and the University of Chicago Press announced a multi-faceted program to make 700 e-books available immediately.

    Here's how the future works, folks: college students get hooked on a certain way of doing things, and that becomes the standard for every generation thereafter. But the prevalence of eBooks doesn't have to mean the demise of the original book; we really can just get along.

  • NPR Weekend Edition Sunday spoke with music journalist, sex columnist, and former MTV2 veejay Jancee Dunn about her latest book of essays, Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo?: And Other Questions I Wish I Never Had to Ask.

    In the case of her mother's tattoo, the whole family was up in arms: "This is a woman who wears pink cable-knit sweaters. She's a member of the garden club and the women's club in her community," Dunn says. "And I thought — a giant black raven right on your wrist? It clashes with the cable-knit. But she was determined."

  • The Unofficial Apple Weblog says don't look for Barnes & Noble to take the eBook reader movement by storm. Evidently, its iPhone app is "a festival of frustration."
  • And speaking of, here are some eBook strategies for publishers "initiated by the Sourcebooks experiment holding back an ebook from simultaneous publication with an upcoming hardcover."
  • The Wall Street Journal interviews Dave Eggers on his new work of nonfiction, Zeitoun:

    "Anyone that thinks that the novel is dead, or books are dead...I think that's directly contradicted by the provable impact these books can have," Mr. Eggers said...

÷ ÷ ÷

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. George Orwell's Animal Farm New Trade Paper $19.25

  2. Nine Stories
    Sale Trade Paper $7.98
  3. Angela's Ashes: A Memoir Used Mass Market $3.50
  4. 1984 (Signet Classics)
    Used Mass Market $3.50
  5. Animal Farm
    Used Mass Market $1.95

  6. Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo?:... Used Trade Paper $6.50
  7. Zeitoun
    Used Hardcover $11.50

One Response to "Book News for Monday, July 20, 2009"

    DeniseB July 20th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Rest in peace, Mr McCourt.

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