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Book News: Hiroshima Hoax, Writers’ Rules, and More

  • Bombs Away: A new book about the Hiroshima bombing, Charles Pellegrino's The Last Train from Hiroshima, is under fire for some questionable facts from a deeply unreliable source.

    That section of the book and other technical details of the mission are based on the recollections of Joseph Fuoco, who is described as a last-minute substitute on one of the two observation planes that escorted the Enola Gay.

    But Mr. Fuoco, who died in 2008 at age 84 and lived in Westbury, N.Y., never flew on the bombing run, and he never substituted for James R. Corliss, the plane's regular flight engineer, Mr. Corliss's family says. They, along with angry ranks of scientists, historians and veterans, are denouncing the book and calling Mr. Fuoco an impostor.

    Facing a national outcry and the Corliss family's evidence, the concedes that he was probably duped. In an interview on Friday, he said he would rewrite sections of the book for paperback and foreign editions.

    Which creates an interesting conundrum for the interested reader: do you pick up the hardcover edition hoping it will be a collector's item, and then skip the fabricated parts? Or just wait for the corrected paperback?

  • Let the Write One In: Inspired by Elmore Leonard's invaluable 10 Rules of Writing, the Guardian asked several other writers for their own "dos and don'ts."

    The polled include Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, and Neil Gaiman — any one of whom you'll want to listen to.

    Some tasty nuggets:

    Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. (Neil Gaiman)

    Jokes are like hands and feet for a painter. They may not be what you want to end up doing but you have to master them in the meanwhile. (David Hare)

    You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You've been backstage. You've seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up. (Margaret Atwood)

    But, wait — there's more! An entire second page of advice from authors including Hilary Mantel ("Are you serious about this? Then get an accountant."), Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Proulx, and others.

  • eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Books: Still think that eBook nonsense is just a fad that'll burn out fast? Maybe... but it doesn't appear to be burning out anytime soon. Publishers Weekly reports that, in a year of woefully flat book sales, eBooks jumped 176%!

    E-book sales from the 13 publishers that report figures to the Association of American Publishers soared 176.6% in 2009, to $169.5 million, the AAP reported Friday. The jump in e-book sales coupled with a slight decline in sales of print trade books increased e-book's share of trade sales from 1.2% in 2008 to 3.3% in 2009.

    Advice for "real" book lovers: go home tonight and embrace your beloved books. Hold them close, let them know you still care, and whisper encouraging words into the wee hours.

Book News Round-up:

  • The Associated Press reviews Ralph Ellison's unfinished second novel, Three Days Before the Shooting..., calling it "stirring" and "essential."

    This is a deeply complex, even epic, story. And it's rendered as majestically as you would expect from Ellison....Three Days offers manifold insights into Ellison, his writing process and his decisions as a writer. As an unfinished work, this is as much a quasi-primary source document as it is entertainment.

  • Expect even more Dennis Lehane at a theater near you. Shutter Island opened to an estimated $40 million this weekend — the best opening yet for both director Martin Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • The Book Beast talks to Ariel Gore about her new book, Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness, which seeks to answer the question "What do women want?" that keeps so many mulleted stand-up comedians in business.
  • Macmillan is introducing software called DynamicBooks, which "will allow college instructors to edit digital editions of textbooks and customize them for their individual classes." Expect an outcry in three... two... one...
  • NPR is having a Three-Minute Fiction contest. The rules: "Write a short story based on a photograph. The catch: It must be short enough to be read on the air in three minutes or less. That's about 500 words."

÷ ÷ ÷

Chris Bolton co-created the all-ages webcomic Smash, which will soon be published by Candlewick Press, and created the comedy series Wage Slaves. His short story "The Red Room" was published in Portland Noir from Akashic Books.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Portland Noir (Akashic Noir)
    Used Trade Paper $9.95
  2. Bluebird: Women and the New...
    Used Hardcover $14.50
  3. Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing Used Hardcover $9.00
  4. Shutter Island
    Used Mass Market $2.50

  5. The Last Train from Hiroshima: The...
    Used Hardcover $30.00

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