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Book News for Monday, November 9, 2009

  • Just Review It: In the New York Times, Janet Maslin rules that tennis superstar Andre Agassi double-faulted in his memoir, Open: An Autobiography.

    The ease with which Mr. Moehringer slips into telling someone else's story is both consummate and spooky. As for Mr. Agassi, he uses his writing partner in the same way he uses his tennis support staff: as talented individuals in a universe where he, Mr. Agassi, is the one and only sun.

    [...] Welcome to Mr. Agassi's world. As described in "Open" it is lively but narrow, since Mr. Agassi's curiosity does not extend far beyond tennis, more tennis, the misery of tennis, the way sportswriters misunderstand tennis and the irritating celebrity that tennis stardom confers.

    I just hope Maslin doesn't write anything like the above for books by John McEnroe or Serena Williams. She's liable to get a tennis ball jammed somewhere really uncomfortable.

    Meanwhile, USA Today interviews Agassi about his book, tennis, and his other favorite subject (according to Maslin): himself.

  • Write Hard: The Wall Street Journal asked a bunch of writers — including Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Diaz and recent Man Booker Prize-winner Hilary Mantel — how to create a great novel.

    Behind the scenes, many of these writers say they struggle with the daily work of writing, clocking thousands of solitary hours staring at blank pages and computer screens. Most agree on common hurdles: procrastination, writer's block, the terror of failure that looms over a new project and the attention-sucking power of the Internet.

    BookNinja offers a more succinct suggestion: "How about this one: stop fetishizing the process and get 'er done." He may actually be quoting Larry the Cable Guy.

Book News Round-up:

  • Oh, those saucy Brits with their saucy literary feuds! This time it's Martin Amis versus somebody named Katie Price, who's also named Jordan and appears to be a spray-tanned, half-naked British model who evidently has books ghost-written in her name.

    Or, as Amis wrote about the very popular (in Britain, at least) public figure: "all we are really worshipping is two bags of silicone." Don't forget the spray-tan.

  • The Daily Beast marks the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's tumbling down with four great books on the Cold War.
  • Barnes & Noble is warning customers that demands is so great for its e-reader, the Nook, that shipments on new pre-orders will be delayed until Dec. 11th. Whoa, I'm having flashbacks to the Kindle launch.
  • An interview with Michael Hart, former editor and founder of Project Gutenberg, whose mission (according to their website) "is to encourage the creation and distribution of digital books."
  • This one's for all the editors and downsized newspaper staff in the house.

÷ ÷ ÷

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. Open: An Autobiography
    Used Hardcover $7.95




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