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Book News for Monday, March 23, 2009

Hey, it's spring! Somehow I missed that Friday was the Equinox. Congratulations on getting through another cold, wet winter. Here's to smaller, tighter clothing in the months to come.

  • Size Matters: The third match of Round 2 in this year's Tournament of Books finds Aleksandar Hemon's The Lazarus Project going cover-to-cover against Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country.

    Judge C. Max Magee (creator and editor of The Millions blog) starts off by comparing size:

    At the weigh-in, these books appear mismatched: The Lazarus Project is a wiry 15.2 ounces versus Shadow Country, a brick in my shoulder bag at 2.2 pounds. But once in the ring, they have a surprising amount in common.

    [...] In plot and theme, too, the books go blow-for-blow. Each opens with its protagonist dying at the hands of other men (perhaps wrongfully? Well, it's complicated.) Each boasts a gut-punch ending. Both books take on the American struggle between progress and the people whose sweat and toil made that progress possible.

    Even from the cheap seats, it's clear both combatants are the product of obsession. Matthiessen first began work on his "Watson project" more than 30 years ago. He initially turned in a 1,500-page manuscript which, when his publisher balked, he crudely hacked into three books. All three chunks were published and well-received, and yet he couldn't leave Watson, a complicated and magnetic suspected murderer, alone. He spent "six or seven" more years sewing the three severed books back together, molding them into a new, trimmer whole.

    To find out which one gets the edge, check out today's match.

  • The Girl with the Most Cake: Live through This author Debra Gwartney did double duty on NPR over the weekend, first appearing in this interview on Sunday Morning Edition.

    Then (directly afterward on Oregon Public Broadcasting), Gwartney and her daughters told their harrowing stories on This American Life.

    Lest we forget, Gwartney contributed both a Q&A and an original essay to Powells.com. We also have a few signed editions left.

Book News Round-up:

  • The Dallas Morning News has details of a panel at the Christian Book Expo that pitted God Is Not Great author Christopher Hitchens against a quartet of Christian apologists for a "spirited two-hour discussion" about a subject none of those involved can possibly know for certain until they die.

    According to reports, the evening ended with someone making the definitive pronouncement, "I'm rubber, you're glue. Now, let's hit the bar and get PISSED!!"

  • According to the New York Times, Nicholas Hughes, the 47-year-old son of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, committed suicide last week at his home in Alaska.
  • Tintin turns 80 — and he's ready to storm movie theaters, thanks to a film-in-progress that's being co-directed by Hollywood titans Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson.
  • USA Today reviews War in the Boardroom by Al and Laura Ries:

    Managers tend to be left-brain dominant, focusing on logical and analytical ways of dealing with the world. Marketers tend to be right-brain dominant, getting their ideas more intuitively and holistically. This bifurcation leads to divergent ideas of what constitutes a good campaign. The conflict creates a War in the Boardroom...

    It's really more of a feature than a review, come to think of it. The review part consists of exactly this sentence: "The book is a good place to start lessons."

÷ ÷ ÷

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.


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