POST BRAT PACK: "There was a time when Jay McInerney
was the toast of Manhattan. He was compared to Fitzgerald. He
posed for pictures with Tama Janowitz and Bret Easton Ellis. He
regrets the photographs now. He didn’t need the Brat Pack."
The Scotsman 09/29/00
ARE WE GOING TO MAKE MONEY? Electronic book conference begins
in Washington. "Publishers at the show were looking for ways
to make e-books simple to download but difficult to copy. Librarians,
hoping to stretch their small budgets and offer a greater variety
of e-books to their patrons, expressed alarm that the e-book technology
of today may be obsolete tomorrow."
Washington Post 09/27/00
Stephen King portrays himself as a giant-killer fighting the publishing
industry. "If King's publishing history were one of enslavement
and injustice, you could understand him wanting to disturb the
sleep of his persecutors. But Big Publishing just happens to have
published, distributed, and marketed 225-million copies of his
thirty-eight books, helping to hoist him up the scale of absurdly
rich American entertainers."
Saturday Night 09/23/00
TO TELL: Is the short story an endangered artform? A conference
debates the question: "Society's view of literature's importance
has shifted. It is no longer shameful to be ignorant of it. Teachers
of literature apparently believe that one book cannot be judged
as better than another, that evaluation is an impossibility -
the sort of people rug dealers dream of having as merchants."
National Post (Canada) 09/25/00
INSPIRATION: Salman Rushie has moved to New York from London.
"London did not spur his imagination. 'I think it speaks
for itself that, for somebody who lived in England for as long
as I did, relatively little of my work has dealt with it.' New
York holds more promise. 'There's so much stuff just asking me
to write it down here,' he says." The
Observer (London) 09/24/00
WRITER: England's Elizabeth I had a lot of drama in her
life. But she was also a gifted writer, and new publication
of her work argues for study of her ouevre. "People are only
beginning to realize what a good writer she was. A lot of her
success in government had to do with her skill at writing. When
she put people down, they stayed down." Chronicle
of Higher Education 09/21/00
WORLD'S LARGEST LIBRARY: In 1996 Brewster Kahle launched
an effort to gather up all the information on the internet.
"In just three years we got bigger than the Library of Congress,
the biggest library on the planet," he says, arms outstretched,
smiling. "So the question is: What do we do now?"
HERE, MY PRETTY: This month marks the hundredth anniversary
of the publication of "The Wizard of Oz". But "if
you only know the story from the Judy Garland MGM movie of 1939,
you've missed a few bricks along your yellow brick road."
Post (Canada) 09/22/00
BOOKS: While Napster is driving the music industry crazy,
bootleggers have been making complete texts of books available
for downloading. Is this a threat to publishing?
WITH GORE: Writing a biography of Gore Vidal proves to be
a fight for control of the biographer's art. "I'm also
fond of you and your megalomaniacal ways," I wrote to Gore
the next day. "Alas, your fax of yesterday is mean and
meretricious. And it's filled with false statements. Also, it's
an attempt to go back on your word."
Lingua Franca 10/00
A manuscript by the creators of the "Curious George"
series was found long after the authors’ deaths in a university
library. Houghton Mifflin will release the new tales this fall,
about an adventurous penguin who was actually invented before
Curious George but never published. NPR
PRESS, REVISITED: Up-and-coming literary magazines are moving
into the world of book publishing - and bringing new business
models, not to mention a rare optimism and sense of fun, with
them. “While they're not the first literary magazines to try their
hand at book publishing, these three [‘Open City,’ ‘McSweeney’s,’
and ‘Fence’] bring a new sensibility - and a new urgency - to
the pursuit.” Village
Voice Literary Supplement 09/00
TIMES FOR BOOKS: New study says good times are ahead for the
publishing industry. "The study projects that by '04 electronic
books (defined as e-books, print on-demand titles and materials
downloaded from the Internet) will comprise 26% of all unit sales,
and that consumer spending will hit $5.4 billion, up from a projected
$367 million in spending in 2000."
Publishers Weekly 09/18/00
RETURNS: Harvard finds two long lost poems by Rubén Darío
considered by some to be "the greatest Latin American poet
of all time." The find is causing a big stir in Spanish literary
circles. "At a time when Latin America is plagued by violence
and economic problems, Rubén Darío, who dreamed we would be improved,
New York Times 09/19/00
(one-time registration required for entry)
GAME: "From Amarillo, Tex., to Wooster, Ohio, from Seattle
to St. Petersburg, Fla., the season's regional book festivals
are increasingly showing prime-time potential - and racking up
hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of sales every year."
OLD-WORLD: Why don't The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Talk
magazines have their stories on the web? "In an age when
people are becoming more and more tech-savvy, these publications
are placing their bets that readers will be content to go to their
local bodega for their latest literary or high-society gossip
SOUND OF POETRY: "Poetry readings are now a major part
of our literary landscape. Most American poets reach wider audiences
at readings than through publishing. In the days before poetry
readings became so ubiquitious, however, some of our best poets
recorded their work."
Public Arts 09/18/00
ABOUT THE FAME: Canadian poet Anne Carson is a recluse, not
given to public contact with the outside world. So you have to
piece together her life from other sources: "it's known that
she teaches classics at McGill University; that she won the 1996
Lannan Award, the 1997 Pushcart Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship
in 1998, among others, and that earlier this year, she received
the McArthur Foundation 'Genius' Award worth $500,000 (U.S.).
Michael Ondaatje says she is 'the most exciting poet writing in
English today'. Susan Sontag puts her in a 'less-than-fingers-on-one-hand
group of writers'."
and Mail (Toronto) 09/14/00
LIST: Harry Potter, Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged
Bird Sings", J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye",
John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" and Mark Twain's
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" were among the
most-singled-out books adults wanted removed from American library
shelves in the 1990s says the American Library Association.
Ottawa Citizen (AP) 09/13/00
HOLMES, KILLER? Did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle conspire to deny
Fletcher Robinson recognition for devising the plot and supplying
much of the local detail for "Hound of the Baskervilles,"
one of Sherlock Holmes' greatest adventures? A new book makes
the charge and also "claims to have found circumstantial
evidence that Conan Doyle may have murdered his former friend
when he became worried that the deception might be exposed."
Sunday Times (London) 09/10/00
BACK: Independent bookstores have discovered that the internet
offers them a way of fighting back against the big superstore
retailers. Turns out personal service counts on the web as well.
SUED BY FORMER AGENT:
Author Dave Eggers, author
of the bestselling memoir "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering
Genius" is being sued by his former agent. The suit contends
that Eggers "broke his contract to pay a 15 percent commission
on sales of the book and any future sale of movie rights. (Eggers
has been maintaining that he is not interested in a movie deal.)"
AGITATION OF COGITATION: Muddy, brilliantly insightful,
and often wildly impenetrable, 18th century German philosopher
Hegel has been called the "the hardest to understand of the
great philosophers.” But after spending hundreds of hours of reading
The Phenomenology of Spirit or The Philosophy of
Nature, what do you really have to show for it? A new biography
examines the difficulties of reading in a Hegelian world. The
New Criterion 09/00
TIMING: Summer vacation is over and in France publishers are
ready. In this 2-3-week period at the beginning of September 557
new books are due to be published to coincide with the annual
back-to-work. "Editors, booksellers and critics agree that
the market cannot absorb the flood of new books, that many are
doomed to sink even before they appear. But the tradition goes
on: since 1991, the wave of fiction has grown by 50 percent, with
a new record being set this year." New
York Times 09/06/00 (one-time
registration required for entry)
“CHORUS EFFECT” in publishing is a well-known phenomenon,
when a rash of books on the same theme are released at the same
time. This month’s coincidence? “Veteran writers who are bombarding
the bookshops with tomes on how British culture is going down
the tubes.” The
Guardian (London) 09/06/00
POETRY: A new prize for poetry, worth $80,000 (CDN) annually
is created in Canada. "The Griffin Poetry Prize will rank
as one of the most valuable literary awards to originate in Canada
and certainly the Canadian English-Canadian prize with the most
The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/06/00
SCORES: Jane Campion won an Oscar in 1993 for her original
screenplay "The Piano." But should she have? "The
fine print in the recently published Oxford Companion to Australian
Film suggests otherwise. In its entry for The Piano, the volume
notes that the film was in fact 'based on the novel, The Story
of a New Zealand River, by Jane Mander,' though the book was 'uncredited.'
It's a bold and controversial charge, and one that has stirred
up a considerable storm Down Under."
Lingua Franca 09/00
ONE OF OUR OWN: The New York Times Book Review ran a scathing
review of Canadian writer Margaret Atwood's new book over the
weekend. Canadians are taking it personally. "[The
Times Book Review is] fairly erratic and tends to be very much
tied into the New York publishing scene. There's sort of a decision
that somebody's going to be praised and important at one point
and a decision that somebody's going to be taken down a peg at
another. Generally, they don't exert pressure on their reviewers,
but they may have said, 'Great it's time somebody did this.' It's
hard to know exactly what the politics are."
National Post (Canada) 09/05/00
FAIR: For decades the Frankfurt Book Fair has been the place
where anything of import in the book publishing business gets
discussed and largely decided. But this year the fair (and publishers)
are setting up e-alternatives. "This 52nd Frankfurt will
be confronting a virtual fair that (or so the ads tell
us) is replacing face-to-face, buttonholing meetings by clicks.
It shouldn't be necessary for publishers and agents to sit in
bars and hotel lobbies till the wee hours, to carry manuscripts
back to hotel rooms, to field midnight messages and 6 a.m. wake-up
calls. Or will it?
Publishers Weekly 09/04/00