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Book News for Tuesday, August 11, 2009

  • Pynchon Me, I'm Dreaming: Famously reclusive author Thomas Pynchon returns to bookstores with his new novel, Inherent Vice.

    And Pynchon's devoted fans will be pleased to learn the author himself makes an appearance (of sorts) in the book trailer. The Wall Street Journal spills the beans:

    [T]he publisher put out a cool video trailer featuring a narrator whose slow, lazy cadence sounds suspiciously like that of Pynchon's, as evidenced by a guest appearance on "The Simpsons" and this clip from what appears to be a German TV spot. Inquiries by GalleyCat and others as to whether Pynchon is the guy channeling the novel's main character, beach bum private eye Doc Sportello, have been met with "no comment" from Penguin Press and the video's producers, Meerkat Media. And, of course, the man himself is mum (Would Pynchon fans expect anything else?).

    Well, Penguin Press just sent an email confirming it really is his voice. So, get an earful of real, live Pynchon:

  • I Go Where Hugo: The Hugo Awards were announced last weekend at the 67th World Science Fiction Convention. The winners:

    Best Novel
    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

    Best Novella
    "The Erdmann Nexus" by Nancy Kress (Asimov's Oct/Nov 2008)

    Best Novelette
    "Shoggoths in Bloom" by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov's Mar 2008)

    Best Short Story
    "Exhalation" by Ted Chiang (Eclipse 2)

    Best Related Book
    Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998–2008 by John Scalzi

    Best Graphic Story
    Girl Genius Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colors by Cheyenne Wright

    Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

    Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
    Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog

    Best Editor, Short Form
    Ellen Datlow

    Best Editor, Long Form
    David G. Hartwell

    Best Professional Artist
    Donato Giancola

    Best Semiprozine
    Weird Tales edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal

    Best Fanzine
    Electric Velocipede edited by John Klima

    The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
    David Anthony Durham, for Acacia, Book One: The War with the Mein

    Congratulations to one and all!

  • Symbolism: The Dan Brown juggernaut is all set to roll through the book industry countryside, tearing up the meadow and ripping down the forests, crunching a path (the industry hopes) to gigantic sales figures.

    The new book, The Lost Symbol, blasts into bookstores on September 15th. Other authors and publishers are quickly scurrying for cover.

    To those who work at Doubleday, Brown's publisher, the September 15 publication date of The Lost Symbol, the please-let-it-be-a-blockbuster followup to The Da Vinci Code, is a make or break day, or at least the beginning of a make or break month. They're responsible, and the proverbial heads could roll if the book, which is said to have a first global English-language printing of 6.5 million, doesn't sell well. Those on the outside — other agents, publishers and writers — consider it a new sort of D-Day.

    Such heavyweight authors as Larry McMurtry and Joseph Finder have had their publication dates pushed up to avoid the large shadow of Dan Brown. Which is shaped very much like a huge dollar sign.

  • Gotta Go Back In Time: Just in time for the film version of Audrey Niffenegger's bestselling novel The Time Traveler's Wife, NPR's Monkey See blog examines the Ten Most Annoying Things About Being A Time Traveler's Wife.

    Oh, sure, this one looks like Eric Bana, and it's all very romantic when he pops up out of nowhere — and the fact that you're separated by time and space at least allows you your alone time for reading.

    But would being married to someone who can travel through time actually be enjoyable? I believe it would not be, and these are only the first 10 things I thought of that could potentially go wrong.

    And here's the eleventh reason: overload of excessive slow-mo schmaltz. It's like living in a Coldplay music video.

  • Uh-oh, It's... Magic? NPR considers all things about Time magazine book critic Lev Grossman, author of the new Harry-Potter's-all-growed-up novel The Magicians.

    The Magicians is Grossman's third novel, but it's his first fantasy book. The author says he used to care about being a "literary novelist," but now all he cares about is telling a good story.

    "There's a strong tradition in the 20th century that is against storytelling," he says. "I wanted to move past that. I wanted to write something that was pure pleasure. ... and I felt that in doing so, you didn't have to give up the kind of beautiful, lyrical self-aware literary language that we associate with literary novels."

    He may be on to something, as Elizabeth Hand called the novel "beautifully written, with well-drawn, believable characters" in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine. No word yet on whether Harold Bloom thinks it's a pile of crap, however.

Book News Round-up:

  • The Los Angeles Times calls Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading "a great little trip down memory lane."

    The piece opens with: "Twilight, shmilight. Any self-respecting Gen-Xer will tell you, with a certain nostalgic twinge: The books we read as kids were better." If that statement makes you cheer, definitely pick up the book!

  • Um, speaking of which: Twilight Barbie dolls. Strange thing is, the plastic dolls emote better than the "actors" in the movie.
  • How does Amazon compute its famed bestseller list? MSNBC takes a "not-so-pretty" peek behind the curtain.
  • Does Facebook's acquisition of FriendFeed represent a clear and present danger to Twitter? Tweet about it while you still can!

÷ ÷ ÷

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. The Graveyard Book
    Used Hardcover $9.95

  2. Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of... New Trade Paper $25.00
  3. Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog (Full... New DVD $14.24
  4. Acacia, Book One: The War with the Mein
    Used Mass Market $5.50
  5. Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics... New Trade Paper $14.99
  6. Twilight (Twilight Saga #1)
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  7. The Time Traveler's Wife
    Used Trade Paper $6.50
  8. The Lost Symbol
    Used Hardcover $6.95
  9. The Da Vinci Code
    Used Mass Market $3.50
  10. The Magicians
    New Hardcover $26.95
  11. Inherent Vice
    Used Hardcover $11.95

One Response to "Book News for Tuesday, August 11, 2009"

    DeniseB August 11th, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    "And here's the eleventh reason: overload of excessive slow-mo schmaltz. It's like living in a Coldplay music video."

    Lord, you crack me up, Brockman.

    Way to soldier on.

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