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Book News Wednesday: Mark Twain Revised! Indiespensable Exposed! More Exclamation Points!!

  • The "C Word": A new edition of Mark Twain's perpetually controversial classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn intends to eradicate all 219 references to the "N word" that has caused the book no end of troubles, inserting "slave" in its place.

    The book isn't scheduled to be published until February, at a mere 7,500 copies, but [Twain scholar Alan] Gribben has already received a flood of hateful e-mail accusing him of desecrating the novels. He said the e-mails prove the word makes people uncomfortable.

    "Not one of them mentions the word. They dance around it," he said.

    Another Twain scholar, professor Stephen Railton at the University of Virginia, said Gribben was well respected, but called the new version "a terrible idea."

    The language depicts America's past, Railton said, and the revised book was not being true to the period in which Twain was writing. Railton has an unaltered version of "Huck Finn" coming out later this year that includes context for schools to explore racism and slavery in the book.

    The reportage for this story reminds me of this (NSFW):

    (FYI: That concluding barrage of epithets makes much more sense in the context of the whole comedy special.) I'm beginning to think Louis CK has a great stand-up routine for every modern problem. Like this one, which applies almost every single day.

  • Inside Indie: The blog My Friend Amy has an interview with our resident Indiespensable project manager, Heidi Mager (whose byline you might have noticed gracing our own Book News). What goes into the selection and shipping of our Indiespensable picks? Glad you asked.

    What is the process of putting together an Indiespensable box and how long does it take?

    Heidi: The entire process for each installment takes about six to eight weeks, and there are a lot of moving parts and challenges each time -- though it's a labor of love, of course!

    The first step of the process is choosing the perfect book. The members of our Indiespensable team are always keeping an eye out for great upcoming titles to present to the group. Sometimes there's some pretty heated debate (though never fisticuffs, I assure you). It's always tough to choose the right book, but the group's literary tastes cover a wide spectrum, so we feel like we get a pretty unbiased take on each selection.

    In case you missed it, the newest Indiespensable title is Hannah Pittard's The Fates Will Find Their Way, about which our own Megan Zabel raves:

    Pittard's novel is an eerie, perfectly pitched recounting of adolescence that skillfully captures the blurred line between the tangible and the imagined. Through melodic, purposeful prose, the story is told from the collective perspective of a group of neighborhood boys who obsess over their missing 16-year-old classmate, Nora Lindell. Fixated on the mystique of her absence, they reimagine the past and can't help but factor her void into their own lives, willfully allowing it to define the men they grow up to be.

    Have you still not signed up for Indiespensable? No excuses — do it now!

  • Past, Presents, and Future: Got a holiday gift card from burning a proverbial hole in your proverbial pocket, but don't know what to buy? The Onion AV Club has posted its list of the best books of 2010 — there's bound to be some good reading to catch up on!

    If you feel like saving up for something yet to be published, the AV Club also features a list of their most anticipated entertainments of 2011, including such books as Adrian Tomine's Scenes from an Impending Marriage (March 1st), Sarah Vowell's Unfamiliar Fishes (also March), and the English translation of Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 (September).

    Other book-related events to mark on your calendar include April's debut of the HBO series Game of Thrones, based on the novel by George R. R. Martin; Martin Scorsese's (!!) adaptation of Brian Selznick's award-winning children's book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (TBD); and the Stephen Spielberg-directed, motion-capture-animated Tintin feature, The Adventures Of Tintin: Secret Of The Unicorn (December).

  • Bird Cloud in the Hand: The New York Times' Dwight Garner is of two minds about Annie Proulx's newest book, a memoir called Bird Cloud:

    The angel on my right shoulder suggests something like this: “Bird Cloud” is a mildly animated and knotty book about displacement and loss, about a late-life longing to carve out a place that’s truly one’s own. Ms. Proulx, who is in her mid-70s, finds that longing frustrated at almost every turn. Admirers of her fiction will find much of this memoir to be not uninteresting.

    The devil on my left shoulder whispers this: “Bird Cloud” is an especially off-putting book about a wealthy and imperious writer who annoys the local residents (she runs off their cows), overwrites about nature and believes people will sympathize with her about the bummers involved in getting her Japanese soaking tub, tatami-mat exercise area, Mexican talavera sink and Brazilian floor tiles installed just so. “Bird Cloud” is shelter porn with a side of highbrow salsa. When Ms. Proulx’s house turns out to be a bit of a folly, its roads impassable in winter, you feel that a bell somewhere has been struck, and justice served.

    I'm curious whether the paperback edition will contain the brightly colored cover blurb, "NOT UNINTERESTING!" Or, better yet: "Shelter porn with a side of highbrow salsa!" I'd buy a book with that blurb, sure thing.

  • Checking In: The New York Public Library's list of the most-checked-out books of 2010 is topped by — no surprise here — none other than Stieg Larsson, whose Millennium trilogy takes up three of the five top spots for Adult Fiction. James Patterson and Jonathan Franzen duke it out for the remaining spots, which is just... really, really strange.

    Click here to see what else was popular.

÷ ÷ ÷

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

2 Responses to "Book News Wednesday: Mark Twain Revised! Indiespensable Exposed! More Exclamation Points!!"

    Doug January 6th, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Nice to have you back, Chris.

    Chris Bolton January 6th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks, Doug!

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