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Book News Wednesday: Carter Hospitalized, MacArthur “Genius” Grants, and More

  • Hale to the Chief: Former President Jimmy Carter has been hospitalized with a stomach ailment in the midst of the tour for his latest book.

    About 500 people had waited in line Tuesday afternoon at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in suburban Cleveland, where Carter was scheduled to sign copies of his new book, White House Diary. The event was later canceled, as was a Tuesday night appearance at the Regulator Bookshop in Durham, N.C., according to his publisher.

    "It's crazy for an 85-year-old guy to fly ... just to sign some books,'' said Regulator Bookshop co-owner John Valentine. "He's a brave guy. His health is most important.''

    Now, that's dedication. I expect to find him signing copies from his hospital bed.

  • Mac Attack: Dang! Another round of MacArthur Genius Grants awarded — and none with my name on it! (Nor yours, I'd wager.) Well, there's always next year. And the year after that. And every year until the one where they put us in the ground... er, for the last time.

    Among this year's crop of winners is fiction writer Yiyun Li, author of the novels The Vagrants and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, and the short story collection A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. According to the MacArthur folks, the 37-year-old writer "dramatiz[es] the myriad effects of late-twentieth-century China's sweeping social changes in a deeply moving, yet quietly understated, style of storytelling."

    Check out her interview here.

    Another winner this year is David Simon, the acclaimed creator of The Wire and Treme. Hard to argue with that.

  • Pulp Nonfiction: This being Banned Books Week, the Pentagon has chosen to celebrate in its freedom-loving way:

    The Defense Department says it has paid $47,000 to destroy 9,500 copies of a former Army intelligence officer's war memoir that the Pentagon contends threatened national security.

    Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said Monday that military officials last week watched as St. Martin's Press pulped the books to be recycled.

    The publisher had planned to release on Aug. 31 Anthony Shaffer's book "Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan — and the Path to Victory." Shaffer's lawyer, Mark Zaid, says the Army Reserve cleared the manuscript beforehand but the Defense Department later rescinded the approval, claiming the text contained classified information.

    Well, at least they're recycling, right? Back in the dark days of Dubya, they would have just burned the books, and maybe clubbed a baby seal for oil to start the fire. That's some kind of progress.

    Predictably, author Shaffer is not happy about this matter.

  • Wind It Up: Lev Grossman's interview with Paolo Bacigalupi, author of the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel The Windup Girl, is just, plain, flat-out, awesomely inspiring.

    For me I actually knew that I had a great deal of talent. I knew that I was a really great writer in high school. My writing teachers were amazing. When I went to college I could write essays and all that stuff — really tight, clean stuff. And having the raw ability… it was meaningless, ultimately. It was the willingness to write four novels and fuck them all up and keep going that was the definer. It wasn't the ability at all.

    Whether you're a writer, painter, photographer, chef, or just a blog reader, I recommend printing that part out and taping it to your wall for the next time you're struggling.

Book News Bits:

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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 $7.95
  2. A Thousand Years of Good Prayers:... Used Trade Paper $8.95
  3. Gold Boy, Emerald Girl
    Used Hardcover $10.50
  4. The Vagrants
    Used Hardcover $8.50
  5. The Windup Girl
    Used Trade Paper $9.95
  6. White House Diary
    Used Hardcover $5.50
  7. A Common Pornography: A Memoir
    Used Trade Paper $5.50

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