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Thursday, July 29

Real Names Up The Amazon "After mounting concern about abuse of its open door policy regarding feedback, Amazon has begun a new system, Real Names, which requires reviewers to provide their credit card details before posting a comment." The Guardian (UK) 07/30/04

Khouri Defends Verity Of Her Book Norma Khouri is continuing to deny that her poignant book Forbidden Love was fabricated. Her publisher defended her, saying "we spoke with her today and impressed upon her that it was imperative to provide evidence. She said she is working on it." Meanwhile, the government of Australia is "investigating her for making false declarations in her application for an Australian residence visa." The Age (Melbourne) 07/29/04

It's Not Wickthistle, It's Just A Plant! Why is it that characters in modern literature always seem to have an extensive knowledge of plants, shrubs, and trees? A girl can't turn around in a book these days without gazing upon some collection of milkweed, sopwort, and bladder campion, but honestly, who knows the names of these greenish things in the real world? Russell Smith is a bit jealous of the breadth of such characters' knowledge, but he's also more than a bit suspicious of the literary license being taken. "It just doesn't make sense, unless she is a botanist or a farmer. I still think it's just showing off." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 07/29/04

Wednesday, July 28

Publishers Cancel Khouri Book "The U.S. and Australian publishers of a best seller in at least 15 countries about a Jordanian honor killing have canceled the book, questioning the story's authenticity. Norma Khouri's Forbidden Love had been the subject of an extensive newspaper investigation." Rocky Mountain News (AP) 07/28/04

  • Previously: Is Khouri's Story A Fake? Norma Khouri's frightening story of fleeing her Middle Eastern homeland in fear for her life became a worldwide bestseller. But now she is being attacked and her story branded a fake. "Far from being a Jordanian who fled her home in the late 1990s after the "honour" killing of her best friend, Khouri is accused of being an American passport-holder who lived in Chicago from the age of three." The Guardian (UK) 07/26/04

Smiley's Letter-A-Day NYT Habit Novelist Jane Smiley has had nine letters to the editor published in the New York Times in the past four years. Considering the Times gets about 1000 letters a day, that's quite a record. How does she do it? "Depending on what's going on in the world, I send them a letter every day. Some days I send two." Slate 07/28/04

Tuesday, July 27

Poetry And The Presidential Candidate Improbably, US presidential candidate John Kerry has been reciting poetry oon the campaign trail. "Although there isn't a strict separation between the worlds of presidential politics and poetry, they don't collide with great frequency these days. And Kerry's use of Let America Be America Again, a poem written by the late Langston Hughes, represents a head-on collision." CBC 07/27/04

9/11 Report Is Bestseller America's 9/11 commission report has become an instant bestseller. "At least 50 million hits have been recorded on the Web site of the Sept. 11 commission. Meanwhile, another 200,000 copies of the book version of the commission's report on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have been ordered, bringing the total in print to 800,000." Yahoo! (AP) 07/27/04

Monday, July 26

Australian Publishers Withdraw Khouri Book The Australian publishers of Norma Khouri's controversial book, Forbidden Love, have withdrawn the book from sale and advised booksellers to do the same after doubts surfaced about whether the bestseller's tale is true as claimed... The Age (Melbourne) 07/26/04

  • Is Khouri's Story A Fake? Norma Khouri's frightening story of fleeing her Middle Eastern homeland in fear for her life became a worldwide bestseller. But now she is being attacked and her story branded a fake. "Far from being a Jordanian who fled her home in the late 1990s after the "honour" killing of her best friend, Khouri is accused of being an American passport-holder who lived in Chicago from the age of three." The Guardian (UK) 07/26/04

A Real Look At Realism - Where Is It? Considering their importance in literary history, there's relatively little scholarship being done on realist authors. Postmodern suspicion of any claim to be able to represent reality is only part of the problem. "Realist works tend to be forthright and explicit, so there's less of an overt challenge for scholars to 'crack' them. Nor is it that easy to get students to crack the novels." Chronicle of Higher Education 07/26/04

A Post-"Partisan Review" View A new magazine "n+1" launches. “They’re pushing literary fiction … in ways that aren’t obviously commercial but are simply based on exquisite writing and writerly insight. The magazine is dissatisfied with the coarsening public discourse. 'We live in a time when a magazine like Lingua Franca can’t publish, but Zagat prospers'.” New York Sun 07/26/04

Sunday, July 25

Ruminating On An Institution's Demise Ruminator Books, a Twin Cities institution and a nationally known indie bookseller, is closing its doors forever this week, but the man who has steered it for its entire 34-year life insists that he isn't despairing. In fact, David Unowsky admits that it wasn't competition from big chain bookstores that drove the store into insolvency, but a series of business mistakes and good ideas implemented at the wrong time. "One of his problems was running a 21st-century bookstore on 30-year-old ideals." St. Paul Pioneer Press 07/25/04

Microsoft Puts Slate On The Block One of the original online magazines is for sale. Slate, the web-only mix of politics, news, arts, and humor which was created by Microsoft in 1996, isn't actually losing money, but in a year in which Microsoft's MSN business division, which includes Slate, is looking to tighten up operations, the company is listening to offers for the first time. Microsoft is stressing that Slate will continue to be published, regardless of whether a buyer is found, and there will not be a sale just for the sake of a sale. Wired 07/23/04

The Stooges Get A Literary Pedigree "Screenwriter David Sheffield won this year's Faux Faulkner contest by imagining what it would have been like if William Faulkner... had written for the Three Stooges. Sheffield's 550-word script, "As I Lay Kvetching," has Moe, Larry and Curly renovating a home with the eye-gouging, nose-twisting slapstick guided by plenty of Faulknerian stage directions: 'At last it is Curly who picks up the plank, rough hewn and smelling of sweet gum, and -- feeling the weight and heft and fiber of it -- swings it innocently (bending to retrieve the tool, the ball-peen hammer dropped casually on Larry's toe) and feeling the awful force of the blow as it (the plank) catches Moe upside his head.'" Washington Post 07/24/04

You Mean There Are People Who Don't Like Bill Clinton? Bill Clinton's 900-page memoir may not be a critical favorite, but it has been a runaway bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. But critics recently noticed that the version of "My Life" being enjoyed by readers in the UK differs in several important respects from the stateside version. The changes, which are almost all in passages in which President Clinton pointedly criticizes Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, are due to the differing libel laws in the two countries. Whereas the burden of proof in a libel case falls on the complainant in America, UK law forces the defendant to prove the veracity of contested statements, which Clinton's people feared could have opened the door to a Starr lawsuit. The New York Times 07/24/04

Smugglers Are Better Role Models Than Wizards? So you're a good parent who wants your children to experience the wonder of reading exciting books featuring heroic children and supernatural enemies, but you're also a devout Christian who is convinced that Harry Potter is a witchcraft-dabbling heretic who will cause your offspring to turn away from God? Fear not: a new bestseller written by an Anglican vicar is "deeply imbued with Christian imagery and set on the 18th-century Yorkshire coast in Britain with its rugged cliffs, hidden caves and smuggler's legends. It is about an evil vicar, Obadiah Demurral, who tries to take over the world but is thwarted by three teenagers and a smuggler." The New York Times 04/24/04

Thursday, July 22

Books, Books, Books! Everywhere! (Too Many?) A new study says America is reading less. But the number of books being published is soaring. "In a market where people are reading less, not more, there are 20 books published every hour in the day, every day. Why the outpouring of books? For some reason, everybody thinks they can write a book, and book publishing seems glamorous to them. But there's no way the market can absorb all those books." Chicago Sun-Times 07/22/04

Wednesday, July 21

The Robot Librarian "A group of robotics researchers at University Jaume I in Spain is working on a robot librarian which could deliver the promise of a helpful bot. The prototype has cameras, sensors and grippers so it can locate and collect a book. The hope is that one day teams of service robots could work in libraries." BBC 07/21/04

The Oprah Factor, Classics Edition "A recent poll suggested that Americans are reading less. But since Oprah Winfrey picked Anna Karenina as her book club choice on May 31, Tolstoy's Russian novel, rich with characters, relationships and details about blizzards, samovars and mazurkas, is flying off the shelves." Philadelphia Inquirer 07/21/04

Dummies And Idiots And Boneheads, Oh My Who knew you could make millions by insulting your customers? "Today, the "For Dummies" series has 125 million books in print, with an estimated 68 million buyers in the United States proudly proclaiming themselves to be dummies. Now a global phenomenon, the books have been translated into 39 languages and are easily recognized by their black-and-yellow covers and the "dummy" character in geeky oversized glasses guiding readers along." Fort Worth Star-Telegraph 07/21/04

Tuesday, July 20

Diving On A French Author/War Hero "Antoine de Saint Exupéry was the author of 'Le Petit Prince' and, in France, a war hero. But 60 years after his mysterious death, the wreckage retrieved from his watery grave is threatening to destroy his reputation." The Telegraph (UK) 07/21/04

Unmasking Chaucer's Sloppy Scrivener "A scribe - who until the weekend was known to history only as Adam the scrivener - so infuriated Geoffrey Chaucer with his carelessness that the poet threatened to curse him with an outbreak of scabs. Now alert academic detective work has unmasked the sloppy copyist of the words of the father of English literature as Adam Pinkhurst, son of a small Surrey landowner during the 14th century." The Guardian (UK) 07/20/04

Poll - The Diversity Of "Must-Haves" A poll of 500 readers last month came up with a list of "must have" books. "What has made me so relieved is that these very diverse books are practically all serious, accomplished, ambitious and original works of fiction. It takes a bit of thought to discover them, read them and respond to them. Most are contemporary, but they are not brand-new bestsellers or spin-offs from movies or TV shows. It was word of mouth, not hype, that got them on to this bookshelf." The Age (Melbourne) 07/18/04

Monday, July 19

America - Where We're Encouraged To Do Anything But Read Why aren't we reading more, asks Carlin Romano? Our media encourages us not to. "We're left with a general media environment in which the readerly commit a kind of cultural suicide in pursuit of the less readerly. In magazine and newspaper offices across the country, well-educated editors stuff their publications with pieces about trash movies, hip-hop hotties, reality-TV spinoffs, and ingénue profiles -- then go home and read a book. As print people drive their hordes toward nonprint media, TV folks -- supposedly a dimmer breed -- cleverly ignore the competition, rarely acknowledging what's in the local papers and almost never devoting a minute to a nonpresidential book." Chronicle Of Higher Education 07/19/04

  • Did Dr. Seuss Take The Fun Out Of Reading? "When you can point the finger at televisions, and now computers, as the obvious hijackers of the reading habit, why focus on a favorite book? Because the arrival of the cat marked the moment when the traditional line between primer-reading and pleasure-reading began fading rapidly—and along with it a crucial prerequisite (as well as product) of being a real reader: a sense of privacy..." Slate 07/19/04

  • Look How Many People Are Reading! Last week's NEA study that reported the decline of reading in America suggested that an amazing number of people still read. "For example, if one were to ask most of my conservative friends to name the percentage of Americans who read fiction, poetry or plays, they'd likely have guessed 25% at most, not the actual 46.7%. Extrapolating its data to actual readers, the Endowment finds the number of people reading or listening to poetry in 2002 was 30 million. Thirty million! What are they reading? If only 20,000 of them read John Donne, Wallace Stevens or Yeats just for the pleasure of their company, the nation's mental health is more certain than we imagined. Seven million read plays. That seven million Americans would read a play for pleasure is astonishing." OpinionJournal.com 07/16/04

Poll: Agatha Christie Is Tops At Detective Fiction A British poll places Agatha Christie as the country's most popular detective story writer. "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, came second in the poll of 1,500 people, followed by the United States writer Patricia Cornwell, who was voted into third place for her novels about the forensic psychologist Kay Scarpetta." The Scotsman 07/19/04

'Lolita In Teheran' Is Not Current History Azar Nafisi's memoir 'Reading Lolita in Tehran' of life and book groups after the Iranian revolution may be a huge bestseller in the United States, but it has yet to be translated into Persian. As a result, almost no Iranians have even heard of the book. Fewer still have read it. Among those who have, however, reactions might fairly be described as mixed." Washington Post 07/19/04

Sunday, July 18

Criticism As Blunt Force Trauma John Leonard is tired of Dale Peck. "This isn't criticism. It isn't even performance art. It's thuggee. However entertaining in small doses -- we are none of us immune to malice, envy, schadenfreude, a prurient snuffle and a sucker punch -- as a steady diet it's worse for readers, writers and reviewers than self-abuse; it causes the kind of tone-deaf, colorblind, nerve-damaged and gum-sore literary journalism that screams ''Look at me!'' The rain comes down -- and the worms come out -- and just what the culture doesn't need is one more hall monitor, bounty hunter or East German border guard." The New York Times 07/18/04

The Poetry Police The secretive operators of the website Foetry (www.foetry.com), a self-described "American poetry watchdog," are out to clean up poetry. They promise, from behind a cloak of anonymity, to uncover scandals among the publishers of contemporary poetry, dishing dirt on "fraudulent `contests,"' as their homepage has it, "tracking the sycophants," "naming the names," and generally cleaning house. Boston Globe 07/18/04

Thursday, July 15

His Post-Pulitzer World At 53, Edward Jones had his first novel published. It was greated with acclaim and won a Pulitzer Prize. But though the book has been optioned for a movie and, as Time magazine says he is "on top of the world," Jones lives a minimalist lifestyle. The Guardian (UK) 07/14/04

Wednesday, July 14

Making Room For Fiction An NEA study on how much Americans read "confirms the predilection for fiction but doesn't explain it. We say that, even though media coverage is not the only factor, it's a big one. That which receives media attention is more likely to be read. Any book publicist will tell you that it's easier to get press or broadcast coverage for non-fiction books because they come with pictures and flesh-and-blood characters. Even C-SPAN's "Book TV" steers clear of fiction. Which leaves us with the question: Do the media have some responsibility to help keep fiction and poetry alive?" Book Babes (Poynter) 07/14/04

Tuesday, July 13

Nests Of Baby Rowlings JK Rowling has sold a lot of books. But that's not her only accomplishment. "The catalyst of a fantasy renaissance, she's the unmistakable force behind a boomlet in precociously youthful (and successful) writers." Slate 07/13/04

Re-Dissertation In A Time Of Plagiarism A professor discovers that a colleague at another university has plagiarized her dissertation. "Is cheating so pervasive that even someone who seeks a career in academe will violate the fundamental principle of giving other scholars credit for their work? If so, what hope do I have of inculcating that principle in students eager to escape quickly with their B.A. in hand?" Chronicle of Higher Education 07/12/04

Minority Opinion "Every black writer has a piece about the special challenges of being black. Every Latino writer has a piece on growing up Latino or speaking Spanglish. Native American writers lament their treatment at the hands of Caucasian police or describe journeys they made to rekindle their lost heritage. Chinese American and Korean American writers have pieces about the difficulties their Asian-born parents have living in America. And so on. Please don't misunderstand me. I rejoice at these honest and exciting essays, and I teach some of them in my classes every semester. But it seems that writers who happen to be members of minority groups are getting pigeonholed." Los Angeles Times 07/10/04

Monday, July 12

Town Of Books, Town Of Dreams It's been a year since "Blaenavon, the small coal and iron town in South Wales, launched an audacious experiment - to build a new prosperity based on second-hand books in a post-industrial graveyard of dead jobs. The town's steep main street is a hill of dreams. The new booksellers have put behind them stalled lives, broken marriages, stifling jobs, and invested not just money but passionate hope." So how's it going? The Guardian (UK) 07/13/04

A Book Printed, Then Hastily Withdrawn Why was a book about composer Rebecca Clarke sent to reviewers last month, then quickly withdrawn? "A tangle of alleged copyright infringement and mutual recrimination -- hitched to rising scholarly interest in the late Anglo-American composer Rebecca Clarke -- lurks behind the dueling letters and the book's withdrawal from circulation last month." Chronicle of Higher Education 07/12/04

The Text-Message Novel A Chinese author has written a novel for text-messaging phone. "Qian Fuchang has reduced his novel Outside the Fortress Besieged into 60 chapters of 70 characters each, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported. Described as a steamy tale of illicit love among already married people, the novel will be available exclusively to mobile phone users." BBC 07/12/04

NYT To Serialize Fiction This summer the New York Times is serializing fiction - starting with The Great Gatsby. "Unlike the way newspapers usually dabble with literature, the Times' plan originated in the paper's marketing sector, not among its editors. Each 16-page installment - sandwiched between the book's cover art and a full-page ad for the series' sponsor - comes as a tabloid-sized pullout." Hartford Courant 07/09/04

Cheap Online Books Worry Publishers "Publishers, particularly textbook publishers, have long countered used-book sales by churning out new editions every couple of years. But the Web, particularly sites like Amazon and eBay, have given millions of consumers an easy way to find cheap books - often for under $1 - without paying royalty fees to publishers or authors. Mass-market publishers are not certain the used-book phenomenon is a problem worth addressing, but others in the industry have already made up their minds." The New York Times 07/12/04

Sunday, July 11

Got The Picture? "The number of illustrated books for older children and adults seems mysteriously to have dwindled in recent years. Publishers argue, very reasonably, that it makes books more expensive. Readers of fantasy fiction have their imagery packaged for them in the all-powerful special effects of the big screen. But there are signs now that the illustrated novel, which aims to elicit a more leisurely, intimate response, is due for a comeback." The Guardian (UK) 07/11/04

Readers = Involved Active Citizens (And Non-Readers?...) This week's survey by the National Endowment for the Arts "indicates that people who read for pleasure are many times more likely than those who don't to visit museums and attend musical performances, almost three times as likely to perform volunteer and charity work, and almost twice as likely to attend sporting events. Readers, in other words, are active, while nonreaders — more than half the population — have settled into apathy. There is a basic social divide between those for whom life is an accrual of fresh experience and knowledge, and those for whom maturity is a process of mental atrophy. The shift toward the latter category is frightening." The New York Times 07/10/04

Friday, July 9

Report: Why Americans Don't Read A National Endowment for the Arts report documents the decline of reading in America. "The NEA, like many other observers of trends, blames technology. In 1990 consumers spent 6 percent of their leisure spending on audio, video, computers and software. Now, according to the report, those items account for 24 percent of recreational spending. Book-buying hasn't done that badly, standing at 5.7 percent in 1990 and 5.6 percent in 2002." Washington Post 07/09/04

Thursday, July 8

Fusilli: Why I Quit Book Reviewing Jim Fusilli quit his job reviewing crime fiction for the Boston Globe. "Writing that monthly column for the Globe was easily the worse job I've ever had, and this coming from a man once responsible for the nightly hamburger run for a dock's worth of Teamsters. The assessment has nothing to do with the Globe or Boston, which, one could argue, is the epicenter of American crime fiction." Why was it so bad? Too many books... Wall Street Journal 07/05/04

New Saddam Novel Published Portions of a new novel by Saddam Hussein have been published in London. "The manuscript was found in Iraq's Ministry of Culture after the U.S. military overran Baghdad. The newspaper said it had received its copy from Saddam's physician, Alla Bashir, who fled the country following the war." CBC 07/08/04

Defusing The Diffusion Of Grammar (Our Most Common Mistake) What's the most common grammar mistake in English? "Misuse of "diffuse" or "defuse" (as in "A coach can diffuse the situation by praising the players"). Research for the new Concise Oxford English Dictionary, published today, found that this word crime was committed in some 50% of examples on the database. It is now rated as the commonest in the language." The Guardian (UK) 07/08/04

Writing Off Mr. Peck Reading critic Dale Peck on criticism, one gets to know what motivates him. "Loving and liking are as much a part of criticism as are hating and hacking; and that the impulse underlying good criticism ought to be affection for literature rather than animus toward writers. After his novels, after his memoir, and especially after Hatchet Jobs, we know pretty well whom Peck has hated, and why. Now it's time to say goodbye. The serious critic, after all, is measured—and judged—as much by what and how he praises as by what and how he blames; and he should be as stimulated by the pleasure he gets from his reading as he is by the pain." New York Review of Books 07/08/04

LA Times Replenishes Critics' Ranks After the New York Times raided the LA Times' culture section for critics, the LAT moves quickly to find replacements. "The newspaper named recently hired TV critic Carina Chocano as its new movie reviewer, and show-biz columnist Paul Brownfield to be Chocano’s replacement as TV critic. Meanwhile, Los Angeles magazine’s star writer Amy Wallace confirmed to L.A. Weekly that she is being considered for the key entertainment industry beat position vacated by the NYT-defecting Michael Cieply." LA Weekly 07/08/04

Law: Public Libraries Must Enforce Anti-Porn Act On Computers In the US "public libraries must begin taking steps to prevent child pornography and other harmful content from reaching the eyes of youngsters using their PCs under the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which went into effect July 1. If they don't, the libraries will lose critical technology funding from the federal government." SearchSecurity.com 07/08/04

Wednesday, July 7

Study Confirms "Our Worst Fears About American Reading A new study on American reading habits by the National Endowment for the Arts paints a glum pitcure. "Among its findings are that fewer than half of Americans over 18 now read novels, short stories, plays or poetry; that the consumer pool for books of all kinds has diminished; and that the pace at which the nation is losing readers, especially young readers, is quickening. In addition it finds that the downward trend holds in virtually all demographic areas." The New York Times 07/08/04

A (Dale) Peck Of Petty Epithets Why is critic Dale Peck so mean? "Peck is hardly the first writer to enlist a congenial cultural form in the effort to repair injuries and redeem losses: Transforming such experiences and emotions into other idioms and forms is part of what makes culture emotionally resonant. But when a writer bends existing genres to suit such purposes, the critical question—and perhaps a larger question for criticism itself—is this: At what point does transformation fail, leaving a writer mired in psychodrama and family repetition?" Slate 07/07/04

Tuesday, July 6

1000-Year-Old Stolen Iraqi Book Recovered A thousand-year-old Iraqi book stolen in 1995 has been recovered by police and will be returned. "The £250,000 book turned up in a London auction room last year, but auctioneers were suspicious and called police." The Guardian (UK) 07/07/04

Irish "Devil" Magazine Provokes Protests "The publication of alleged 'devil worshipping' articles in the current issue of the arty-and-alternative magazine The Vacuum has caused a stir within Belfast City Council. The magazine features an interview with an exorcist and an article called I peed in church, and has been deemed blasphemous by certain city councillors. The fact that The Vacuum was granted £5,000 of Belfast Coluncil Arts Committee funding has no doubt added more fuel to the controversial 'hell' fire." Recirca 07/06/04

Monday, July 5

Relatives Protest Auction Of Joyce Letter Descendants of James Joyce are condemning a plan to auction an intimate letter he wrote. "In the letter, missing for nearly a century until it was found tucked inside a book, Joyce writes to his lover, Nora Barnacle, of a sexual encounter similar to the couple's first on 16 June, 1904, when Nora opened his trousers and 'made a man of him'." The Observer (UK) 07/04/04

Catching The Code - In Search Of The Da Vinci Code The Da Vinci Code has spurred interest in places and things mentioned in the book. Tourist visits at the Roslyn Chapel in Scotland are up, and visitors to the Louvre are asking questions... The Observer (UK) 07/05/04

The Rap On Rap In School English Classes "Since his death eight years ago, there has been a stampede to include Tupac Shakur on American college syllabuses: not just the "we take anyone" community colleges, but institutions such as Harvard and Dartmouth solemnly cogitate on the inner meaning of Tupac's lyrics and the printed volume of his verse, The Rose that Grew from Concrete. Universities can get away with putting Hit 'Em Up alongside Othello. Undergraduates are adults; school pupils are not. A huge fuss has been kicked up this year since education authorities put The Rose that Grew from Concrete on summer readingsyllabuses for sixth- and seventh-grade children." The Guardian (UK) 07/05/04

Moveable Feast - US History Through Lenses Of Self-Interest History belongs to those who choose to write it, right? "Extracts in ''History Lessons: How Textbooks From Around the World Portray U.S. History'' tell us two things: historical narratives are biased and untrustworthy; and America's impact on the world cannot be underestimated. Interesting history is interested history, so the secondary school texts excerpted here generally relate international events as they reflect local concerns." The New York Times 07/05/04

Thursday, July 1

The Tale Of The Failed Lit Prize Zoo Press decided to stage a fiction prize patterned on its successful annual poetry prize. But a year after the prizes were announced, both contests were canceled — no winners were chosen, and no entry fees were refunded. The storm of protest was predictable... Poets & Writers 07/04

Did Reviewers Actually Read Clinton Book? (Was It Even Physically Possible?) Bill Clinton's 957-page book wasn't released to reviewers until 24-48 hours before it was published. "The 24- to 48-hour turnaround of these reviews poses the question of whether a barge-size book like My Life can be read in its entirety in such short order—let alone reviewed. How long might it take to read My Life? Slate assigned one-third of My Life to three staffers and they recorded 27 man-hours of reading and note-taking. Surely a full-fledged review of My Life by one person would require somewhere in the neighborhood of 27 hours for reading, plus sleep breaks, and maybe another couple of hours for composition..." Slate 06/30/04

Times (NY) Raids Times (LA) For Culture Writers "In the past week, the NYT captured three high-profile entertainment/culture writers from the LAT — film critic Manohla Dargis, music business writer Jeff Leeds and architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff. Already in the dumps over parent company Tribune Co.–ordered layoffs, the LAT newsroom was in a bunker mentality anticipating the dampening effect the NYT’s body snatching would have on its Pulitzer-pumped national prestige. And someone needs to argue with the LAT’s bean counters that the year-old controversial subscription model for its online Calendar coverage may be sending at least some of its superstar scribblers into the arms of the enemy." LA Weekly 07/01/04

The Magazine Boom (Will It Ever Bust?) When will there be enough magazines? Not anytime soon, apparently. "Consider Plenty, coming in November, for upscale conservationists who are into hybrid cars." Or what about Conceive, dedicated to the singular subject of, well, conception (the kind that involves babies)? "Then there's Justine, a pun on 'just teen,' which came out in April, targeting a demographic of hip, wholesome girls who don't want headlines about sex tips on a magazine cover lest they die of embarrassment in front of their fathers or boyfriends." It's all about niche marketing. Philadelphia Inquirer 07/01/04

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