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Book News for Tuesday, February 12, 2007

  • In Memoriam: Howard the Duck and Omega the Unknown creator Steve Gerber passed away last weekend.

    Non-comics readers who only know Gerber's work from the infamous film version of Howard the Duck won't be able to appreciate his contribution to the form, but Gerber's battle with corporate megalith Marvel Comics over the rights to his creations is legendary within the industry.

    Rich Johnston offers the grim details here (scroll down to "Into the Unknown"), including Gerber's recent comments about National Book Critics Circle Award winner Jonathan Lethem scripting a new Omega series for Marvel.

  • Broken White Teeth: Zadie Smith's comments about literary prizes (remember that story from last week, when Judge Zadie refused to pick a winner for the Willesden Prize?) have sparked a semi-predictable firestorm from the establishment.

    Publishing figures were swift to disagree with Smith's critique. "Her remarks are absolutely ridiculous," said Ion Trewin, organiser of the Booker.

    "Why has she been happy to accept money from these prizes and sponsors, whom she now attacks? And I'd also like to know if her publisher is going to put her forward in future for literary awards."

    Joanna Trollope, who chaired last month's Costa awards, said: "Actually these prizes rescue some books which could simply end up on publishers' slush piles. So Zadie Smith, whom I think is a good writer, is very wrong. Also, in an increasingly philistine country the more that art and commerce can and do come together, the better."

    Woo-hooooo! That metaphorical sound you hear is the screeching of literary stools being pushed back from the bar. Fight, fight, fight!!

  • Strike While It's Hot: In case you missed it in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review, Paul Greenberg draws a line between F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Pat Hobby Stories and the perhaps-nearly-over WGA writer's strike.

    If there is tragedy in Pat, it lies outside the stories themselves, and that is where today's writers' strike and Pat Hobby intersect. While writing these stories, Fitzgerald was working out the last plot details of what would have been his best novel, The Last Tycoon. A magically driving story of a studio baron battling death, labor unions and unpredictable women, the novel has a sophistication of voice and a truly cinematic flow of scenes unparalleled in his earlier work. But with no residual income from the many films to which he contributed, Fitzgerald was forced to keep putting the novel aside and grab whatever bone floated his way, be it Esquire's story fee or his $250-a-week screenwriting fee — similar, not incidentally, to Pat Hobby's. In the rare moments he was able to get in bed and work on the novel, Fitzgerald found his only peace. "I am deep in the novel," he wrote several months before his death, "living in it, and it makes me happy."

  • Illegally Yours: The Guardian has a podcast with Booker Prize winner Peter Carey.

    Reading from new novel His Illegal Self, Carey recalls the personal experience informing his portrayal of fugitive American radicals on the run in Queensland in the early 70s; his abiding preoccupation with Australian identity; and the subjects he still doesn't feel able to touch.

    Watch for our own INK Q&A with Peter Carey, coming... sometime today, I believe. [Update: Carey's Q&A is live now. Click here to read it.]

  • Love Bites: Harlequin wants your paranormal thriller with "strong sexual, fantasy and danger elements" for its new imprint, Nocturne Bites. Submission guidelines here!

    On a related note, Achewood scores again: "Harlequin wants a romance novel centered around the organics foods craze."

    And in case you missed it, here's the pitch-perfect Achewood spoof of Chris Ware.

÷ ÷ ÷

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. His Illegal Self Used Hardcover $6.50
  2. White Teeth (Vintage International)
    Used Trade Paper $5.95
  3. The Pat Hobby Stories Used Trade Paper $8.00
  4. The Love of the Last Tycoon: A Western Used Trade Paper $4.50

2 Responses to "Book News for Tuesday, February 12, 2007"

    disappointmen artist February 12th, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Jonathan Lethem writing a comic book!? I'm there!

    Brockman (Post Author) February 12th, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Believe it, disappointmen artist! Entertainment Weekly gave Lethem's Omega the Unknown a B+.


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