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Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


Book News for Wednesday, December 6, 2006

  • The Iraq Study Group Report was released today, published by Vintage Books, which won a bidding contest based on how quickly they could put the book together under total secrecy and find an editor with "security clearance."

    The Washington Post has excerpts:

    The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating...[the government] is not adequately advancing national reconciliation, providing basic security, or delivering essential services.

    There is no guarantee for success in Iraq....There is great suffering, and the daily lives of many Iraqis show little or no improvement.

    The Iraqi government cannot now govern, sustain, and defend itself without the support of the United States.

    U.S. forces seem to be caught in a mission that has no foreseeable end.

    Whew! What a relief. And here I thought we were all screwed.

    Wait, I'm being told that I should reread those excerpts... oh, okay. Sorry, I must have kept one eye closed and read sideways — now I see we're totally screwed.

    NPR has the executive summary from the report and reactions from President Bush, House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, and others.

    Conspicuously absent from the reactions was Saddam Hussein, who is nonetheless quoted elsewhere as rejecting the authority of the Iraq Study Group and insisting that he's still in charge of the country and the U.S. never invaded and he is, in fact, Napoleon.

  • The New York Times' Charles McGrath takes a walk with Will Self, author most recently of The Book of Dave.

    When Mr. Self recently traveled to New York...he did not take a taxi from his house in South London to Heathrow. He walked the whole 26 miles. Upon arriving in New York, he walked from Kennedy Airport to the nearby Crowne Plaza Hotel — a journey more perilous than he expected, because it involved a nighttime traverse of expressways with no curbs.

    The next morning Mr. Self, who is unusually tall and very thin and has a long, melancholy face that he once described as looking "like a bag full of genitals," packed his knapsack, rolled a cigarette and, puffing from a Hunter Thompson-style cigarette holder, set off on foot for Manhattan.

    This just in: the Surgeon General has issued a warning that excessive walking in conjunction with cigarette smoking can make one's face resemble a bag full of genitals. If only someone had warned Will Self...

  • Never one to be outdone by lesser mortals, Microsoft is going head-to-head with Google by launching the beta of Live Search Books, its own book search engine, today.

    Microsoft has restricted its book scanning project to noncopyright books, with publishers having the option to opt-in, if they want in-copyright publications to be scanned for the project.

    Somebody, somewhere, is very excited about this whole book-search-on-the-Internet trend. Me, not so much. But this caught my attention:

    As part of its defense in the U.S. lawsuit filed by The Authors Guild, Google has subpoenaed several other companies that have book scan projects, including Microsoft, Yahoo and Amazon. While Amazon and Yahoo have issued objections to the subpoena, Microsoft has not yet issued a formal response...

    What's that all about? It's like Dr. Doom subpoenaing Lex Luthor, Doctor Octopus, and the Joker to testify at his trial that his plot to conquer the world is no more nefarious than any other master villain's scheme.

    "It's true, Your Honor, I sought to control the Thing's mind and drive him into a bloodthirsty frenzy to kill the other members of the Fantastic Four... but that's nothing compared to what the Joker tried to do when he took control of the Batcave! Tell him, Joker!"

  • Ian McEwan's peeps are rushing to the besmirched author's aid, defending him against charges of "copying" by admitting that they've also "borrowed" from other people's books. Said peeps include Thomas Pynchon, John Updike, Martin Amis, Thomas Keneally, Zadie Smith, and Margaret Atwood.

    Yeah, sure — the small-time writers are speaking out, but where the hell are the big, important authors when you need 'em?

  • Touchstone Fireside, a Simon & Schuster division, has agreed to publish the top three winners of the controversial Sobol Award, a writing contest that offers a $100,000 top prize. According to the Associated Press:

    Numerous questions have been raised about the prize, especially its $85 entry fee and stipulation that Sobol officials would serve as literary representatives of the winners; industry policy prohibits agents from charging money to read manuscripts. Sobol has said the fees are necessary to cover administrative costs.

    The judges include author Alice Hoffman and Barnes & Noble V.P. Robert Riger. The closing date of Dec. 31st, 2006, has been extended to March 31st, 2007, to rake in even more money from suckers... er, I mean, to give more aspiring authors a chance to realize their dreams at $85 a pop.

÷ ÷ ÷

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. The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way...
    Used Trade Paper $1.00
  2. The Book of Dave: A Revelation of... Used Hardcover $8.95

4 Responses to "Book News for Wednesday, December 6, 2006"

    Dougc December 6th, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    Um, dude, like, the Joker can't be in the same trial as the others, dude, 'cause, like, he's DC and the others are Marvel...unless this is, like, a crossover series, dude, with collectible covers and stuff...

    Brockman (Post Author) December 6th, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    Oh, Dougc, you're just being silly.

    Lex Luthor is ALSO a DC villain!

    Dougc December 6th, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    aaarrggghhh...I have got to stop reading all the highfalutin' art comix and get back to superheroes!

    lisa_emily December 7th, 2006 at 11:14 am

    The smart-alecky asides inthe particular post made me laugh more than usual.

    I'll have to keep inmind to tell my smoking & walking friends about the bag of genitals threat. I wonder though, what kind of genitals that had in mind- and how big is this bag? I wonder what Mr. Self thinks of this description?

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