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FEBRUARY 2002

Thursday February 28

READING ALONG: American book sales were flat in 2001. "Following a year that benefited from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, sales in the children's hardcover segment fell 22.7% in 2001 to $928.6 million. Paperback sales, however, had a second consecutive solid year with sales ahead 17.9% to $887.6 million. In addition to paperback editions of Potter books, segment sales were boosted by tie-ins to the Lord of the Rings movie." Publishers Weekly 02/26/02

E-BOOKS - NOT QUITE AS DEAD AS WE THOUGHT: "The theme at this year's annual meeting of the Association of American Publishers seems left over from the dot-com boom: "Protecting Intellectual Property in the Digital Age." The recent shutdown of electronic imprints at Random House and AOL Time Warner Inc. makes e-books look like a dying fashion. The e-market continues to expand, nevertheless. While annual numbers for individual publishers remain small - in the tens of thousands of copies sold - Simon & Schuster, St. Martin's Press, HarperCollins and others report double-digit growth over the past year." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (AP) 02/27/02

WHY PLAGIARISM MATTERS: Why is so much attention being paid to the plagiarism by historians Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin? "No one would care about this if Goodwin and Ambrose were obscure assistant professors laboring in some academic backwater. Both, however, are best-selling authors and TV pundits, which is why this literary scandal has generated so many headlines during the past two months. The controversy has touched off a national debate about what constitutes ethical behavior among writers and researchers, especially now that the Internet has made it so easy to copy passages electronically and insert them into a text." Forbes.com 02/28/02

  • MORE AMBROSE: Yet more passages from books by historian Stephen Ambrose are found to have been plagiarized from others. "Several more passages from the historian's current best seller, The Wild Blue, have been found to closely resemble the works of others, among them the autobiography of former Sen. George McGovern." Washington Post (AP) 02/28/02
  • GOODWIN OFF NEWSHOUR: Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin has acknowledged using other writers' work "without sufficient attribution." She's left - or been dropped from - the PBS newshour program. The University of Delaware has cancelled an invitation to speak at commencement. Isn't that enough punishment? Maybe not. Boston Globe 02/28/02

TOUGH READ: Who knew choosing a book for all New Yorkers to read at the same time would be so tough? "It was working in Seattle, Milwaukee, and California. So why couldn't it work in New York? How anyone could ever have thought it would work in New York seems a more pertinent question now, as the plan to select a single novel to embody the spirit of the most spectacularly diverse city in America degenerates into arguments and recrimination." The Guardian (UK) 02/27/02

HIGH COST RETURNS: The Beardstown Ladies investment club claimed high returns and parlayed the club's wisdom into a publishing juggernaut, selling millions of books. "But claims of a 23.4 percent return on their investments over the 10-year period between 1984-93 turned out to be false. The club revised that number to 9.1 percent still well below the 15 percent annual return of the overall stock market, with dividends reinvested, over the same period." Now the first reader lawsuits have been settled, and anyone who can prove they bought the books will get $25 vouchers from the publishers. Yahoo! (AP) 02/26/02

Tuesday February 26

THE WIFE OF BATH, ONLINE THIS SUMMER: The 1476 William Caxton edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is being digitized at the British Library, and will be available on-line late this summer. It was the first book published in English, and only 12 copies are known to remain. The library recently digitized the Gutenberg Bible, which drew a million hits in its first six months; Canterbury Tales is expected to draw even more. The Guardian (UK) 02/26/02

POETRY IN THE PASSING LANE: Editorial writers like to claim, without a lot of evidence, that 'poetry is on the move.' They rejoice that Beowulf is a best seller at last. Does this mean that poetry and democracy have come face to face? That poetry is no longer stuck under the thumb of the learned or even the literate? It might. With recent developments in technology; with poems traveling around the world on the Internet without price, tariff, or tax; with cyberwatchers able to encounter a fresh poem every day of the year, selected from new books and magazines, at poems.com, poetry may be gaining lots of customers." The Atlantic 03/02

I'D LIKE TO TEACH THE WORLD TO SING... So what's wrong with the one city/one book idea where every citizen is encouraged to read the same book? What's the point of it? The idea seems to promise so many things, like making the world a better place, like peace and understanding ... but really - the reality is that the books that are chosen don't really promote that at all... MobyLives 02/24/02

Monday February 25

GRAND THEFT HISTORY: Last Friday, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin admitted that her plagiarism of material was more extensive than she'd admitted before. Three of her books contain material stolen from others, and her publisher will destroy remaining copies. Why are historians stealing one another's work? "The apparent epidemic of plagiarism is surely attributable in part to the new style of historical writing - the breezy, informal, anecdote-laden work that can't bother itself with pesky distractions such as footnotes and proper sourcing." Chicago Tribune 02/25/02

TOO SOPHISTICATED TO READ TOGETHER? As New York struggles to find a book that the entire city might read, some of the city's intellectuals have dumped on cities like Chicago that have had success with the one city/one book idea. New Yorkers, they say, are too independent to go for gimmicks that might work in less sophisticated cities (like Chicago). Chicagoans strike back: "They're missing the point. What we found with our program is that it brought people from so many different backgrounds together." Chicago Tribune 02/25/02

THE CURSE OF THE VANITY PRESS: Universal publishing might seem to be a good idea, but really... have you seen what people really want to have published? "All that stands between us and this nightmare vision of total authorship is the publishing industry itself, especially the major houses, trading on their power not to publish. By not publishing a lot of tat each year, these giants keep the storytelling hordes at bay." The Observer (UK) 02/24/02

BURIED IN SLUSH: "Some publishers consider reading slush a waste of resources and no longer accept it; some bribe their assistants to read it by throwing slush-and-pizza parties (presumably figuring that nothing makes cheesy fiction go down easier than a little cheese and pepperoni). My publisher welcomed all slush and handed me the reins. Thus for two years, in addition to fulfilling my normal editorial duties, I hired freelance readers, generated form rejection slips, evaluated the rare promising submission and fielded phone calls from every would-be Frank McCourt with a manuscript in his drawer and an Oprah's Book Club Pick in his dreams. I wish I could say that serving as a conduit between the publishing elite and the uncorrupted masses taught me valuable lessons in compassion and grace. Instead, it convinced me that the world is full of lunatics." Salon 02/25/02 

Sunday February 24

YOU MEAN THE ENRON SCANDAL ISN'T FICTION? "Whatever happened to fiction -- any fiction -- in actual newspapers and magazines? Sure, everyone does some special issue, once a year. But nobody does what the general-interest American magazines do: Harper's, The New Yorker, the Atlantic and Esquire all run at least one short story, usually a piece of serious literary fiction, every month. No one even attempts it here [in Canada]; even Saturday Night had not had a regular fiction section for years before its demise." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 02/23/02

HOW GOOD WAS STEINBECK? The debate has raged for decades, from the East-centric halls of Academia to the small towns of the plains. Was John Steinbeck one of the great writers of the last 200 years, or a good-not-great writer of only regional interest? Whichever side you come down on, you've probably never considered for a moment that the opposite opinion might be the case. But there are compelling arguments for each conclusion. Dallas Morning News 02/24/02

  • BELATED TRIBUTE: At the time it was written, The Grapes of Wrath did not do wonders for John Steinbeck's image in his California hometown, as the book painted locals as foul-mouthed, abusive extortionists and brutal oppressors of the Okie protagonists. But time heals many wounds, and this month, the 100th anniversary of Steinbeck's birth will see him honored in the same town that once reviled him. The Age (Melbourne) 02/22/02

Friday February 22

THE SAME READ: Getting everyone in a city to read the same book is an idea that is catching on big time. Why? "In an age of multimedia menus, with 24-hour cable TV and movies on demand, it might seem anachronistic that the low-tech book is occasioning this sudden civic interest. But some believe the surge of popularity for communal reading - not just by cities but also by book clubs and at bookstore events - is a direct response to the essential loneliness of modern life, an antidote to the 'bowling alone' syndrome coined by Harvard University's Robert D. Putnam to describe the recent downturn in civic participation." Los Angeles Times 02/17/02

Thursday February 21

THE ELECTRONIC LIBRARY: E-publishing may have slowed with the dot-com bust, but libraries are starting to get into the electronic book business. A library system in California is jumping online. "By clicking on links that are integrated into the library's own catalog, computer users will be able to read the full text of any book in Ebrary's database, a collection of about 5,000 titles. The system enables people to search electronically through a book and read its pages on the screen, while ultimately encouraging them to check out a physical copy when they want to read it in full. No option is available for downloading the books to portable devices." The New York Times 02/21/02

FIXING TO READ ONE BOOK: Did one of the judges choosing a book for the One Book, One New York program - in which everyone is encouraged to read the same book - trade his vote in an Olympic ice dancing-type scandal? Publishers Weekly 02/20/02

Tuesday February 19

WORDS WORDS WORDS: Britain's poet laureate has written words for a hymn to mark Queen Elizabeth's jubilee this year. Indeed, the poet laureate writes words for every official occasion. But why? "The whole concept of the poet laureate is completely ridiculous and they shouldn't have one. When the idea of it started, poets had to have aristocratic and royal patrons in order to survive, but everything is different now. The masses are not interested in what the queen wants anyway, so it's all a farce. And the forced subjects are bound to make the poetry worse." The Guardian (UK) 02/19/02

COPYING IS SOMETIMES A VERY GOOD IDEA: The recent exposures of plagiarism by successful writers have obscured an important fact of writing: One good way to develop a style is deliberately to copy someone else's, as painters do with great works of art. That seems to have been exactly what was going on with The Bondwoman's Narrative, a nineteenth-century American manuscript which may have been the work of a runaway slave. The New Yorker 02/18/02

THE EMPEROR'S NEW HORROR STORY: So Stephen King says he's going to retire. Maybe it's not a bad idea. "King's retirement may be unlikely, but it's not a bad idea. In fact, it's a great idea. Truth is, King hasn't reached the point of recycling; he's been recycling for years. His fans may not want to admit it, but Stephen King's most recent books are dull, dreary, repetitive, unoriginal, uninspired hack work. And the best thing - perhaps the only thing - that King can do about it is to stop writing." Salon 02/19/02

Monday February 18

WHAT PEOPLE READ (HAVE READ): Michael Korda's new book traces the history of best-selling books over the past century. The lists, he reports, haven't changed much over the years: "These kinds of books can be easily categorized: dieting, self-help advice (financial or personal), celebrity memoirs, popular fiction, scientific or religious revelations, medical advice (sex, longevity, child-rearing), folksy wisdom, humor, and the Civil War." But, writes critic Jerome Weeks, if you check the lists carefully, there's quite a difference in what sells now from what used to sell. Dallas Morning News 02/17/02 

LESS THAN THE MERITS: What is it with authors lately? Caught plagiarizing, they've not exactly acted gracefully. Then there's historian Caleb Carr, who responded to negative reviews with some boneheaded self-promotion. Thing is, some of his complaints may be justified, but the vitriol with which he defended himself negates any sympathy he might have earned. MobyLives 02/18/02

Friday February 15

NEXT HE'LL BE PRAISING MICROSOFT! Critic Johnathan Yardley recently touched a nerve when, in the course of writing a column on the state of bookselling, he dared to posit the heretical notion that the big chain bookstores (Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, etc.) are not only not evil, but actually superior in many ways to small independents. A firestorm of responsible opposing viewpoints has descended, and several of them got together for a little conference-call Yardley-bashing. Holt Uncensored 02/08/02

VICTOR HUGO AT 200: The French (and a lot of other people) are celebrating the 200th birthday of Victor Hugo - not without a bit of ambiguity. The webpage for the Education Ministry, for example, presents him as an exemplar of the values on which the Republic is founded. "This is a risky thing to say about a man who began as a court poet, became the ringleader of the young Romantics, cosied up to three monarchies and managed to be a hero to socialists at the same time." The Economist 02/14/02

GOOD CITIZENSHIP OR SNEAKY MARKETING? The literary magazine Book has been making strides in the publishing world recently, and the glossy, high-impact look it favors has been attracting attention from some big-money types. But a controversy has arisen over Book's newest benefactor, and despite protestations of editorial independence from all sides, some observers are worried that the magazine will soon become little more than a Barnes & Noble promotional tool. Philadelphia Inquirer 02/14/02

Thursday February 14

ARE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN... When police came into one of the largest independent bookstores in the country with a search warrant demanding to know what books a client had bought, the store said no. "Although many people aren't aware of it, in the eyes of the law buying a book is different from buying a bicycle or a pack of cigarettes. Through the years, the protections accorded materials covered by the First Amendment, such as books and newspapers, have evolved to protect the institutions that provide those materials as well. So when law enforcement officials say they just want information about the books a suspect purchased, booksellers and civil rights advocates see the demand as something that could erode book buyers' privacy and First Amendment rights." Salon 02/13/02

IN PRAISE OF SMALL PRESSES: "Everyone knows book publishing is an easy thing to do, just as everyone knows he can run a baseball team or put out a newspaper. The business model for these small houses permits them to produce print runs of 3,000 or 4,000 or 5,000 copies and still have a chance for profit. Larger houses need minimums of 12,000 or 15,000 copies, virtually eliminating the likelihood that they will take a chance on the experimental. Would one of today's conglomerate publishing houses be the first to publish Joyce's Ulysses? Not likely." The New York Times 02/14/02

THE GO-TO GUY OF PLAGIARISM: Thomas Mallon is a distinguished writer in his own right, but people most want to talk to him about plagiarism. That's because he wrote the book: "We can't make up our minds just how serious a lapse plagiarism really is. The confusion comes from an aura of naughtiness, a haze that shakes like a giggle: people think of plagiarism as a youthful scrape, something they got caught doing at school. We often, and mistakenly, see plagiarism as a crime of degree, an excess of something legitimate, `imitation' or `research' that got out of hand." Chicago Tribune 02/14/02

STICKY SITUATION: For months someone has been pouring syrup in the book return boxes of Tacoma, Washington-area libraries. The goop has ruined about $10,000 worth of books, videos. Now a 56-year-old man has been arrested. He has a previous record of damaging library books. Yahoo! (AP) 02/13/02

Wednesday February 13

CRITICAL DISCONNECT: Last week author Caleb Carr sent an "enraged" letter to Salon.com complaining about reviews of his book. He "bitterly attacked reviewer Laura Miller and New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani, implying that they should stick to writing about 'bad women's fiction'." Not surprisingly, the comments didn't go well with readers, and now Carr has apologised. "Meanwhile, Amazon.com has pulled Carr's self-review of Lessons of Terror. The author had given himself the highest rating, five stars, and stated, 'Several reviews have made claims concerning my credibility that are, quite simply, libelous, and will be dealt with soon'." Baltimore Sun (AP) 02/13/02

ANOTHER HISTORIAN INVESTIGATED: Emory University is investigating the work of its award-winning historian Michael Bellesiles. Bellesiles "won last year's prestigious Bancroft Prize, the most coveted award in the field of American history, for his book The Arming of America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture. But the book drew intense criticism from researchers who said they could not find the data upon which he said he based his thesis." Chicago Tribune 02/13/02

Tuesday February 12

THE DISAPPEARING AUSTRALIAN: Only two of Australia's Top 10 best-selling books last year were Australian. "Interest in Australian writers, it seems, is waning fast, leaving our culture in danger of either being swamped by globally marketed mega-sellers, or disappearing up its own, scarcely regarded, fundament. The figures don't lie, but perhaps the root of the problem rests not in a lack of interest, nor in disregard for our own history by publishing houses. Perhaps it lies in the practical application of those two awful words: 'Australian' and 'literature'." The Age (UK) 02/12/02

CLUBBING: It's a common perception in the book industry that book clubs divert retail sales rather than add new readers. But a new industry study concludes that "the clubs serve as powerful promotional vehicles that stimulate sales through a wide variety of channels." Publishers Weekly 02/11/02

Monday February 11

NEXT GENERATION LIBRARY: A new Irish library is pulling in the crowds. It was built right next to a busy shopping center, its librarian hands out carnations, and it projects a different tone than traditional temples of books. "Here are the people who have nowhere else to go, people who would go demented sitting at home, people who have a thirst for knowledge and a dearth of funds to satisfy it, people with an inquiry no bookshop could deal with and people relieved, finally, to find a space where they are no longer refugees but library users." Irish Times 02/07/02

COMMISSION INCREASE: "The largest literary agencies, William Morris and International Creative Management, have both quietly raised the commissions they charge authors to 15 percent of their advance and royalties from 10 percent." The New York Times 02/10/02

WRITING WITHOUT A NET: There has been a recent rash of publishing "restored" versions of "classic" novels "novels put back together the way the writer originally had them before some demented editor got his or her filthy hands on them and ruined them." Wait - it isn't a bad thing - about that 1200-page dream sequence that was cut... MobyLives 02/11/02

Sunday February 10

THE LIBRARY PROBLEM: Libraries are having difficulty getting people through their doors, as more and more research is done online. "Ironically, although library visits nationwide are on the decline, library resources are being used now more than ever, librarians and students say. The new digital library gives students and faculty 24-hour access to databases and catalogs from nearly anywhere in the world. Users, who can search through years of materials with the click of a mouse, are swamping librarians with e-mailed reference questions." San Francisco Chronicle 02/10/02

Friday February 8

OF COPYRIGHTS, HOBBITS, AND PARODY: How far do copyrights extend, anyway? Does an author own not only the sequence of words in his/her work, but the characters and events as well? Almost a year after the controversy over a parody sequel to Gone With the Wind, another legal storm is brewing over a companion book to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Coincidentally, Houghton Mifflin, the publisher which defended the Wind parody, is the group suing the author of The Lord of the Rings Diary. Boston Globe 02/07/02

A POEM AS LOVELY AS A... "The Academy of American Poets yesterday named Tree Swenson its executive director, succeeding William Wadsworth, whose departure after a dispute with the organization's board last fall provoked angry protests from some prominent poets. Ms. Swenson, 50, is the director of programs for the Massachusetts Cultural Council. From 1972 to 1992, she was co-founder, executive director and publisher of Copper Canyon Press in Port Townsend, Wash., which became an important nonprofit poetry publisher." The New York Times 02/08/02

GRASS WON'T KEEP OFF THE TABOOS: "German novelist Guenter Grass has broken two national taboos this week, calling for the publication of Hitler's Mein Kampf, and raising the delicate subject of German wartime refugees fleeing from the Red Army. He called for basic information on National Socialism to be made available, and for public discussion of the phenomenon. He said that would help young people who may be fascinated with Nazism, but do not understand the reality behind it." BBC 02/08/02

Thursday February 7

WON'T YOU BE MY POET... "California's newly established poet laureate program has run into a problem. Not enough poets - just seven - have thrown their hats into the ring as nominees for the two-year office that was established last year to promote poetry in the state. 'I wouldn't say we're in a panic,' said Adam Gottlieb, spokesman for the California Arts Council, 'but we're close'." Sacramento Bee 02/06/02

A MATTER OF LANGUAGE: Maxine Kumin could easily rest on her laurels as a Great Writer. But she's still writing poetry, and still worrying about the new generation of writers. "The thing that's depressing is teaching graduate students today and discovering that they don't know simple elemental facts of grammar. They really do not know how to scan a line. Many of them don't know the difference between lie and lay, let alone its and it's. And they're in graduate school!" The Atlantic Monthly 02/06/02

DULL OR NOT, THE ESTATE IS WORRIED: "A one-man publishing house has been ordered not to publish at least for now his The Lord of the Rings Diary, which puts J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy in chronological order." In his defense, the author of the book says, "To be honest, Diary makes for dull reading. It isn't exciting and it isn't literary and it wasn't intended to be. It's like a dictionary, it packages facts about Rings in the most useful possible format." Washington Post 02/07/02

Wednesday February 6

WANNA READ A GOOD FIGHT? When it comes to slinging words and hurling phrases, lightning adjectival jabs and roundhouse predicates, a roomful (or a pageful) of cantankerous poets is where you'll find world-class vituperation. Look at what broke out after one poet won the Eliot Prize, and another complained about it. The Guardian (UK) 02/02/02

  • Previously: THE DIFFICULT POET: Poet Anne Carson has won most of the major prizes. Yet she has a host of detractors. "Some are afraid of her poetry, condemning it in the most vitriolic terms. Some are afraid of her reputation and will only voice their doubts about her poetry under the mask of anonymity." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/02/02

A NEW E-PUBLISHING PLAN: A company called Chapter-A-Day is trying to hook readers on buying its books by e-mailing them the first parts of a book over several days. For free. But if you get hooked, you've got to buy the rest of the book. Some 90,000 people have signed up for the daily installments. And sales are good. Wired 02/05/02

FRANZEN IN 4,934 PAGES: A booklover takes Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections with him to Europe as an e-book. Prepared to be skeptical of reading on a little screen (The Corrections measures out in 4,934 pages in e-form) he finds all sorts of advantages to e-reading. Publishers Weekly 01/31/02

SPIKE-BOZZLE? TOO BAD WE LOST THAT ONE: You don't know what Eurocreep is? How about bed-blocking, or MVVD? Don't feel bad. They're brand new words this year; dictionary editors are still trying to figure them out. For comparison, consider words that were new a century ago. Several from the 1902 list are still in use - cryogenic, suitcase, floosie. And several are not, such as spike-bozzle and maffick. The Guardian (UK) 02/04/02

NORMAN MAILER'S LITERARY HEIR: No such animal. "You get very selfish about writing as you get older," he says. "You've got only so much energy and you want to save it for your own work. I'm much more interested in being able to do my own work than bringing a wonderful new writer into existence. Because my feeling is that if he or she is truly a wonderful new writer, they're going to come into existence on their own." The Guardian (UK) 02/05/02

Monday February 4

MORE PLAGIARISM: Waht is it with historians. Yet another has been caught up in charges of extensive plagiarizing. Historian Robert M. Bryce has accused the 91-year-old eminent historian Bradford Washburn, the director emeritus of the Boston Science Museum of "lifting vast chunks of text, facts, syntax and even errors from Bryce's 1997 biography of polar explorers Robert Peary and Frederick Cook" for a book called The Dishonorable Dr. Cook. Washington Post 02/04/02

Sunday February 3

TO THE AUTHOR WHO STICKS WITH IT: There aren't many places to publish fiction anymore. That hasn't stopped people from writing it though - The Atlantic gets about 250 short stories a week submitted by hopeful authors. That works out to one story published for every 1000 sent in. Even if you get rejected though - keep trying. The Atlantic has rejected writers for years before finally publishing them. Those "who just keep writing sooner or later find a workable voice and form, in ways that are unconscious." Hartford Courant 01/31/02

TOLKIEN RULES CANADIAN PUBLISHING: What was the biggest selling book in Canada last year? Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings series and its prequel, The Hobbit, which sold 1.5 million copies. "That's more than the combined number of books Canada's medium-sized publishers sell in a year. A bestselling book in Canada usually accounts for 70,000 copies (a John Grisham or Danielle Steel, for example)." So much for the Canadian book business. Toronto Star 02/02/02

THE DIFFICULT POET: Poet Anne Carson has won most of the major prizes. Yet she has a host of dtractors. "Some are afraid of her poetry, condemning it in the most vitriolic terms. Some are afraid of her reputation and will only voice their doubts about her poetry under the mask of anonymity." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/02/02

Friday February 1

THEY BUY POTTER, BUT THEY BORROW POOH: When Britons go to the library, they go for AA Milne. The author of Winnie the Pooh is the most-borrowed British author, well ahead of JRR Tolkien in second place. Beatrix Potter is in third place, Jane Austen fourth, and Shakespeare fifth. JK Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter series, is in 57th place. The Guardian (UK) 02/01/02

STEPHEN AMBROSE COMES CLEAN. SORT OF: "There are something like six or seven sentences in three or four of my books that are the sentences of other writers. I know they are, and now reporters know they are, and now the whole world knows they are because I put footnotes behind those sentences and cited where I got this from. What I had failed to do and this was my fault, my mistake was to put quotation marks around those six or seven sentences." Washington Post 02/01/02

  • THE COMPUTER MADE ME DO IT: You might think electronic data banks and sophisticated word processing programs and instant Internet access would simplify research, making it ever easier to keep track of who wrote what. But no. Computers apparently complicate the matter of attribution. Then there are the demands of publishers and, oh, lots of things. What's a poor writer to do? One answer: "When in doubt, throw a couple of quotes around it. Slap on a footnote." Christian Science Monitor 01/31/02

POUNDING OUT A DAILY 5000 WORDS: Sinclair Lewis was the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and his reputation has gone steadily downhill since. A new biography may partially rehabilitate him: "Lewis's foremost virtue comes across as his brute industry: he was heroically able to rise, in whatever unhomey shelter his wanderlust had brought him to, through whatever grisly thickness of hangover, and go to his typewriter and pound out his daily five thousand words." The New Yorker 02/04/02


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