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Book News Tuesday: The Dark Side of Dickens, Glenn Beck Gets Pwned, and More

  • Tales from the Dark Side: Christopher Hitchens — who recently published his memoir, Hitch-22 — takes a look at the dark side of Charles Dickens.

    I mean, that's what the headline says, but you have to get about halfway through a Hitchens piece before it stops being about Hitchens. (I think it's a sort of review of David Slater's biography Charles Dickens, but Hitchens never comes out and says this — and never precisely reviews the book, either.) Eventually, however, you find bits like this:

    [W]hat is to excuse Dickens's writing to Angela Burdett-Coutts, about the 1857 Indian rebellion, that if he had the power, he would use all "merciful swiftness of execution to exterminate [these people from] the face of the Earth"?...Nor will it do to say that such attitudes were common in that period: when Governor Eyre put down a revolt in Jamaica with appalling cruelty in 1865, it was Dickens and Carlyle who warmly applauded his sadism, while John Stuart Mill and Thomas Huxley demanded that Eyre be brought before Parliament.

    Sounds like Dickens needed a visit from a certain trio of ghosts...

  • Window Pain: The Washington Post reviews conservative talk show host Glenn Beck's new novel work of "faction," The Overton Window.

    Of course you know they dismantle it. And isn't that part of the fun? Let's check out some highlights:

    Thrillers often are marred by laughable prose, but few have stumbled along with language as silly as this one...

    The suspense of "The Overton Window" comes largely from wondering when the thrills will begin...

    In place of thrills, we get entire chapters in which characters lecture on the rightness of their viewpoints...

    The danger of books like this is that radical readers may take the story's fiction for fact, or interpret the fiction — which Beck encourages — as a reflection of a reality that they must fend off by any means necessary.

    Which is all fun and games, but there's a certain chilling truth to the piece's opening salvo:

    If the book is found tucked into the ammo boxes of self-proclaimed patriots and recited at "tea party" assemblies, then Beck will have achieved his goal.

  • It Is to Laugh: Comedian, talk show host, and American Idol judge Ellen DeGeneres will have a third book coming out this fall, which is described as "a look at her life through her humor."

    "I found that between my talk show, 'American Idol' and my late-night blogging, I didn't have enough ways to express myself," Ms. DeGeneres said in a statement.

    In case you missed them, her first two books were My Point...and I Do Have One and The Funny Thing Is.... Both of which also appear to be looks at her life through her humor.

Book News Round-up:

  • Congrats to the winners of Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award.
  • David Nicholls's novel One Day is going in front of the cameras this summer, with Anne Hathaway in the lead.
  • Michael Pollan has launched a website. Definitely worth a look.
  • As much as the sentence "It's the time of year when that novel-reading itch kicks in" makes me want to throw up a little bit, it's always fun to look at a list of five hot summer novels, right? (Especially when one of them is written by the subject of the latest interview.)
  • Another Oz film is being made — also a musical, like the classic original — this time computer-animated and in 3D! Titled Dorothy of Oz, this one "picks up the action the day after Dorothy Gale's original trip to Oz, where she must return in search of the missing Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion."
  • Always remember, folks: condiments belong on food, not in library drop boxes. You can go to jail for it. Seriously. (You're welcome.)

÷ ÷ ÷

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 $8.50
  2. The Overton Window
    Used Hardcover $3.95
  3. Charles Dickens Used Hardcover $23.00
  4. My Point...and I Do Have One
    New Trade Paper $14.00
  5. Hitch-22: A Memoir
    Used Hardcover $9.50
  6. The Funny Thing Is...
    Used Trade Paper $3.95
  7. One Day (Vintage Contemporaries)
    Used Trade Paper $4.50

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