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Friday September 29

  • ESSAYING, 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

Wednesday September 27

  • HOW 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

Monday September 25

  • RABBLE-ROUSING: 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
  • STORIES 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

Sunday September 24

  • URBAN 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

Friday September 22

  • ROYAL 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

  • THE 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?" Feed 09/21/00

  • COME 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." National Post (Canada) 09/22/00

  • BOOTLEGGED 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? Wired 09/22/00 

  • JOUSTING 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

Wednesday September 20

  • CURIOUS PENGUIN? 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 09/19/00 [Real audio file]
  • SMALL 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

Tuesday September 19

  • GOOD 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
  • DARIO 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, returns." New York Times 09/19/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • FAIR 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." Inside.com 09/19/00

Monday September 18

  • RESOLUTELY 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 fix." Wired 09/18/00
  • THE 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

Thursday September 14

  • NOT 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'." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/14/00

Wednesday September 13

  • CENSORSHIP 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

Tuesday September 12

  • SHERLOCK 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
  • FIGHTING 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. Wired 09/12/00

Monday September 11

  • EGGERS 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.)" Inside.com 09/10/00

Thursday September 7

  • THE 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

Wednesday September 6

  • MARKET 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)
  • THE “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
  • PRIZED 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 international scope." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 09/06/00
  • OLD 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

Tuesday September 5

  • ATTACKING 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
  • VIRTUAL 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

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