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Wednesday Book News: New Catwoman, Obama “Insider” Novel Review, and More

  • O My: The Washington Post's trusty Ron Charles posts a review of O: A Presidential Novel, the inside-the-Obama-White-House novel by "Anonymous" that is causing flashbacks for everyone who was around for Primary Colors in the '90s. And guess what? He actually says some pretty sort of mostly decent things about it...

    The publisher is being coy, claiming it was written by someone who "has been in the room with Barack Obama," which means we can rule out Kim Jong Il, but just about everybody else is still fair game. In any case, trust me, it's far too earnest for Christopher Buckley.

    [...] O's dramatization of a presidential race may shock an eighth grade student council member somewhere in Kansas City, but most of us will wish that the author had pursued his themes with a little more satiric bite. Nonetheless, he describes the typical campaign with documentary accuracy, and he's particularly good at the dynamic between old and new journalism.

    On the plus side, the novel offers some genuine hope for our future:

    Sarah Palin, "flaunting that whole lusty librarian thing," has decided not to run.

    But, before you start cheering too loudly:

    "But I'm not going away," she says in a brief, barely parodic appearance. "I'll be keepin' an eye on our candidates."

    Well, come on — the world can't be perfect, right? We still need villains. And at least she isn't inside the White House. Let's take our partial victories where we can find them.

    According to this story, the White House will run with the slogan "Promises Made. Promises Kept." That's a little flat, but it feels about right for what we're about to endure over the next 22 months. If you want to get a jump on all that — the ads, the debates, the op-eds, the speeches — here's a blueprint that's probably pretty close to the mark.

    I don't imagine that will end up being a blurb on the cover of the paperback. Then again, if that's the kindest review it gets, maybe it will. We'll keep you posted.

  • The Bat, the Cat, the Bane: Co-writer/director Christopher Nolan (who's getting an Oscar nod for Inception, trust me) has unveiled some crucial casting info on his third Batman film, titled The Dark Knight Rises. (I was hoping for Dark Knight of the Soul — oh, well.)

    He has set Anne Hathaway to play Selina Kyle, who has a double identity as Catwoman, and Nolan has also acknowledged that his Inception star Tom Hardy will play the villain role of Bane, an abnormally strong escaped prisoner who was pumped with the drugs that created Venom. Bane is known as "the man who broke the Bat" after he broke Batman's spinal cord in the comics storyline.

    And yes, I'm a big enough comics nerd to insert a correction: the drug injected into Bane is called Venom. But I can see the confusion if you don't follow this stuff, since Spider-Man has a villain named Venom who stank up the third film in that series. Let's hope Bane doesn't bring that stench to Nolan's first-rate Batman series. And, while we're at it, let us pray that Hathaway's Catwoman fares far better than Halle Berry's. Ugh.

  • Bad Mother Good at Self-Promotion: The Wall Street Journal looks at ways authors use social media to promote their work.

    To gin up sales for her 2009 essay collection Bad Mother, Ayelet Waldman rewarded those who preordered the book with such lagniappes as a donation to a scholarship fund or a copy of a novel by her husband, Michael Chabon. "I think all of that got 'Bad Mother' on the New York Times best-seller list," Ms. Waldman said.

    [...] "I find the process of self-promotion excruciating," said Ms. Waldman, who, frankly, seems approximately as shy as a Kardashian. "I'm sure there are plenty of people who think 'she's so tacky.' And I say: 'I have four children to feed. I wish I had the luxury of not being tacky.'"

    I'm not sure how Waldman feeds those kids, what with their bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning father and all. Bet their pantry is well-stocked with Ramen and boxes of Hamburger Helper.

  • There Will be Food: Did you know that kick-ass, Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis has a sister named Tamasin Day-Lewis who is a famous English chef and has a new book out called Supper for a Song: Creative Comfort Food for the Resourceful Cook? Now you do.
  • A Sheen-Estevez Joint: Father-and-son actors Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen are writing a "joint memoir" called Along the Way, which the publisher describes as "a story of family, faith and friendship."

    Charlie Sheen will not be writing it with them, but will very likely be at the book release party, probably unconscious and surrounded by hookers.

  • Prairie Homeward Bound: Is Garrison Keillor leaving Lake Wobegon? And will it be for good this time? And how many more guest hosts will he employ while he decides? Guy Noir is on the case.
  • iPower: Apple sold 7.3 million iPads in the final quarter of 2010, for a total to date of 13.8 million since the launch last April. But don't cry for Amazon:

    36% of books purchased by iPad owners in the month prior to the survey were e-books (compared to 46% for Kindle owners)....The Codex survey found that only 29.4% of e-books for the iPad were acquired through the iBookstore, while the Kindle store accounted for 40.3% of e-books acquired for use on the iPad.

    If Amazon can just get a Kindle store onto Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader, they can buy a top hat and a monocle and skip blithely past "Go."

  • Decaf Currency: Starbucks has declared war on money as we know it. Can Amazon (and the rest of the internets) be far behind?

÷ ÷ ÷

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. Batman: Knightfall Part 1: Broken Bat Used Trade Paper $9.50
  3. Catwoman #01: The Dark End of the Street Used Trade Paper $8.50
  4. Catwoman New DVD $5.97
  5. O: A Presidential Novel Used Hardcover $9.95
  6. Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics Used Trade Paper $8.00
  7. America by Heart: Reflections on...
    Used Hardcover $1.75
  8. Supper for a Song: Creative Comfort... Used Hardcover $9.50
  9. Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal... Used Trade Paper $5.95

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