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Tuesday, December 31

Spiegelman Leaving New Yorker. Yes, Again. Cartoonist-and-so-much-more Art Spiegelman is leaving The New Yorker, as he has several times before, citing differences with the direction the venerable magazine has taken since 9/11. Spiegelman, who has never hesitated to express unpopular ideas in his work, praises editor David Remnick, but says that "the place I'm coming from is just much more agitated than The New Yorker's tone. The assumptions and attitudes [I have] are not part of The Times Op-Ed page of acceptable discourse." New York Observer 12/31/02

Monday, December 30

Protesting The Patriot Act Two thirds of Vermont's independent bookstore owners have signed a letter protesting the Patriot Act. "The Patriot Act gives the government the power to seize bookstore and library records to check customers' and patrons' reading lists. A gag order in the legislation prevents bookstore owners and librarians from telling anyone about the seizure." Publishers Weekly 12/30/02

In Print We Trust In this day of instant information on the internet, is there still a place for the printed encyclopedia? Surprisingly, yes. "Publishers are rediscovering how to reach the customer who thinks a printed book is still the best source of knowledge. After a four-year hiatus, Encyclopaedia Britannica, based in Chicago, has almost sold out the new edition it released this year and is planning a revision for next year. Libraries remain the best customers, but there is still a core of people who want that row of books at home." Boston Globe 12/30/02

Sunday, December 29

Fighting Saddam, Reading Shakespeare "According to the Pentagon, war — at least the impending war in Iraq — is Shakespeare, the 5th-century BC Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu and two modern bestsellers about heroism and wartime correspondence. Before Christmas the US Defence Department began distributing free, pocket-sized copies of these books to its troops, to ensure that soldiers are improving their minds while removing Saddam. More than 100,000 copies have been given away so far." The Times (UK) 12/28/02

The Poet As Suicide Bomber? Was 17th Century poet John Milton a terrorist? Since September, the pages of a venerable British Times Literary Supplement have rung with the charge: "that Milton's verse play 'Samson Agonistes' is 'an incitement to terrorism' and that its hero, the blind Israelite champion, who pulled down the pillars of the Philistines' temple, killing himself along with thousands of citizens, 'is, in effect, a suicide bomber'." The New York Times 12/28/02

Saturday, December 28

What Ever Possessed Them - Tales Of Bad Publishing Choices The way it works is this - people get paid by publishing houses to sort through the crap and figure out which book ideas are good and which aren't. Paid real money. To have judgment. Make informed choices. And then, books like these always seem to end up in print... What were they thinking? Toronto Star 12/28/02

Friday, December 27

Crusading For Classics Harold Bloom has written another book crusading for literature's days of yore. "The reason he sells books in their tens of thousands is that he has set himself against the tendency of universities to talk in relativist terms about literature, to promote cultural studies and to analyse books as part of a progressivist political project. Bloom loathes all this and in the past few years has done everything he can to reclaim the classics of literature for the general reader. This has involved a paradoxical restatement of the need for tradition and literary evaluation." Sydney Morning Herald 12/27/02

Tuesday, December 24

What Kinds of Books Were Published Last Year - A List... The book industry published almost 115,000 titles last year. Fiction was by far the biggest genre - accounting for almost 16,000 of those titles. But the next biggest category is a bit of a surprise - Sociology and Economics - accounting for almost 13,000 titles. Here's a chart that breaks down what was published... Bookwire 12/02

Sunday, December 22

Frankfurt Book Fair's Big Changes The Frankfurt Book Fair is under new management. And new management has plenty of ideas about making changes. Among the biggest would be moving the fair to Munich, in part to thwart Frankfurt hotels who gouge attendees with jacked-up rates. "A move would be revolutionary—the book fair has been in Frankfurt for more than 50 years. 'It's not our goal to make that move. But if it's necessary, we would not back off from it'." Publishers Weekly 12/23/02

Precious Argentine Library In Peril Victoria Ocampo collected one of the finest collections of Latin American books. "Before her death in 1979, Ocampo donated her magnificent villa in San Isidro, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, and its library to Unesco to create a literary and cultural center. But the project has remained a dead letter, the villa has deteriorated into serious disrepair, and as many as a thousand books may have disappeared. " How to save them? The New York Times 12/22/02

Running Conflicts - Choosing Books For TV The "Today Show" TV bookclub was born when Oprah canceled her popular hit-maker. But Today's twist - inviting well-known writers to pick books for the show invites conflicts of interest. Some writers want to pick work by their friends (and why wouldn't they?). But the show says it wants to rule out blatant conflicts of interest. Okay, but... The New York Times 12/23/02

Writers Who Passed In 2002 Who died this year? MobyLives has a list of writers whose lives ended in 2002. Their work....? MobyLives 12/23/02

Friday, December 20

The Book Industry's Impressive Gains A new study prepared by a fellow at Columbia's National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, takes a serious look at the evolution of the book industry in America. This is not a story of doom and gloom. "The number of new books published annually in the United States increased about 300 percent between 1975 and 2000, to 122,000 from 39,000. More people are buying better books than ever before - they're also purchasing more books of questionable merit, but hey...
The News & Observer (Raleigh) 12/15/02

Frankfurt Book Fair To Munich? It's difficult to imagine the Franffurt Book Fair not being in Frankfurt anymore. But that's just what might happen, say the fair's organizers, who are thinking of moving it to Munich. "In October fair management made a very public effort to get the Frankfurt hotels to revamp their often outrageous pricing policies. During the fair, most hotels double and triple rates and require six-day minimum stays." Publishers Weekly 12/20/02

Thursday, December 19

Libel Even In Distant Lands You might publish something on your server in New Jersey, but if it can be downloaded in, say, Australia, can Australians sue you? Apparently. "Suddenly, libel law is a speed bump on the information superhighway." How can you protect yourself as a publisher in all the countries of the world? Nando Times (AP) 12/19/02

March Of The First-Timers America's publishing houses are putting out record numbers of books by first-time writers. "Selling any novel is not easy, but rookie novels are an easier sell than most people would suppose. Publishers and editors are always searching for that new writerly voice. The hunt may be as important as the back list, for in the end the new voice, they hope, becomes a steady voice and eventually that's what makes up the all-valuable back list — those books that bring steady sales to a publisher year after year." The New York Times 12/19/02

Mistry Gets Some U.S. Support More than a month has gone by since Canadian author Rohinton Mistry cancelled the remainder of his U.S. book tour after being repeatedly singled out for "security searches" at American airports. In the U.S., it didn't cause much of a stir, but in Canada, there was national outrage at the lengths to which the U.S. appears to be going to enhance "national security." Now, a San Francisco bookstore which had scheduled a Mistry reading has gone ahead with the event, with local authors reading from Mistry's work, in an effort to bring more attention to the author's protest. San Francisco Chronicle 12/19/02

Wednesday, December 18

Why Tracking The Bestsellers Might Not Be Good For Business One of the frustrations of tracking the book industry has been getting accurate sales data. BookScan offers a solution and "allows publishers to improve their marketing efforts, while also managing their stock more effectively." It'll transform the publishing industry, many say. Yes it will, writes one refugee from the music world, where SoundScan revolutionized the tracking of music sales. But it might not be a good thing for those who love books... Publishers Weekly 12/16/02

From The Big Screen To The Bookshelf People who value literature have often lamented the dominance of movies and television in today's popular culture, fearing that such passive entertainment would eventually bury forever reading as an entertainment. But in the last few years, blockbuster movies such as Lord of the Rings and The Talented Mr. Ripley have sent moviegoers scurrying to bookstores in search of the titles that inspired the films. Publishers, naturally, love the trend. Denver Post 12/18/02

Honor In Not Reading Okay - so everyone's mad at Michael Kinsley for admitting he didn't read all of the 400 books he was asked to judge for this year's National Book Awards. Come on. Is it really such a big deal? I mean, who needs to read everything? The book that was supposed to win actually won, didn't it? "Well, thank God we live in a country where admitting you're ill–read and proud of it makes people buy more of your books!" MobyLives 12/17/02

Monday, December 16

The Sagging Old Guard So the dependable crankers-outers of blockbuster bestsellers are seeing their book sales sag. Your Tom Clancys, your Stephen Kings, your John Grishams - "the old guard is visibly sagging. Like childbearing, delivering blockbusters every year takes it out of you. King's latest reads suspiciously like a Christine retread (old cars with strange powers). Clancy (with his fantasia of papal assassination) bet the store on John Paul II dying, and the pontiff perversely didn't (despite Cardinal Law's best efforts). So, too, with Turow's and Grisham's legal thrillers. It's all deja lu; been there, read that." The Guardian (UK) 12/16/02

  • Down Down Down... So why are blockbuster sales down? "One explanation is that traditional bookstores are suffering because the big supermarket chains have moved into bookselling. Another is that all the big releases were bunched together to avoid the anniversary of 11 September, and with only so many book buyers to go round it was inevitable sales would drop. Price could also be a factor, with hardback novels in the US costing $25 or more - steep in these recessionary times." The Observer (UK) 12/15/02

Dr. Seuss, Deconstructed "The Cat in the Hat" transformed the nature of primary education and the nature of children's books. But it wasn't just a simple story that became phenomenally popular. It was a product of its time and made an impact on American education all out of proportion to its simplicity. Louis Menand parses the good doctor's layers.
The New Yorker 12/16/02

Apres Oprah - How The TV Book Clubs Are Faring In the heyday of Oprah's Book Club, the lucky author whose book was picked for the club hit the jackpot. After Oprah stopped her club, it seemed like every other TV show on the air started its own club. How have the clubs fared? They're no Oprah, but they help - the sales increase for a selected book is "about 20 percent of what an Oprah would do." The New York Times 12/16/02

Off The Rack The magazine business is changing in a big way. The pace is speeding up, and new titles spout as older ones fall away. "Publishing has become like show biz. There is no longer the wait-and-see attitude that there used to be. If advertisers think something is connecting with consumers, they will jump right in." The New York Times 12/16/02

Sunday, December 15

Observing 2002's Favorite Reads Lots of poetry, books on war, and biographies published this year. Some two dozen critics from the pages of The Observer tick off their favorite reads of 2002. The Observer (UK) 12/15/02

Saturday, December 14

Bellesiles Stripped Of Prize Historian Michael Bellesiles has been vilified by the political right, ostracized by his colleagues, and forced out of his professorship since charges of falsified research in his controversial book on America's "gun culture" hit the front pages several months back. Now, Columbia University is stripping Bellesiles of the prestigious Bancroft Prize it awarded him when the book was originally published. For the record, Bellesiles continues to stand by his research. Washington Post (AP) 12/14/02

Friday, December 13

Support Is Wasted On The Young? Everyone agrees young writers need whatever help they can get. But really... for the older writer looking on (probably just as much in need of some help), this obsession with ferreting out the young is dispiriting. "Anyone who wanted seriously to improve the state of British writing could start by endowing half-a-dozen bursaries for pensioners and sponsoring a Best of British Senior Novelists award. There are other decent talents out there whose only fault is that they happen to be the wrong side of 50, scribbling on in undeserved obscurity." The Guardian (UK) 12/13/02

NJ To Abolish Poet Laureate Job? New Jersey's governor tried to fire him, the state legislature has been debating ways to remove him. New Jersey lawmakers are angry at state poet laureate Amiri Baraka for his poem that "implies Israel had advance knowledge of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center." After trying to oust him, now legislators are working on a plan to abolish the post of poet laureate altogether... Yahoo! 12/13/02

Thursday, December 12

Have Western, Will Travel The American Western is such a staple of the culture, and "so taken for granted that the western novel's centennial has passed with hardly any fanfare, and little seems planned for the 100th birthday of the film western. But academic critics are not letting the Virginian, and those who followed in his trail, slip out of town unacclaimed. Chronicle of Higher Education 12/09/02

Potter Clue Sells For Heavy Price A 93-word teaser describing the next installment of the Harry Potter series and written on a notecard by JK Rowling was sold at auction for £28,680 in London this week. "The fan site www.the.leaky.cauldron.org managed to raise £15,240 to buy the card, but were outbid by an anonymous US bidder." BBC 12/12/02

Don't Read Books? Maybe It's Because We Want Better Stories Why is it that many educated people aren't reading books anymore? Is it because our brains have forgotten to function in longform? Not really, writes one critic. Today's literary writers - at least those in Canada, anyway - want to write about states of being, rather than action in the real world. "I think this disconnect, more than the slow and inexorable frittering away of our collective intelligence, explains why we don't read much any more. It's not our brains that have turned to mush, it's the books." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/12/02

  • Previously: The Educated Unread Was a time that if you were educated you read. Seriously. Now you can be educated and not have to read. "We are, as the experts like to say with a horrified sense of wonder, aliterate - able to read, and read well, but disinclined to do so. We can blame time and tiredness, changing technologies and altered priorities; still, a reluctance to read is not all that different from an inability. As Mark Twain observed, in that terribly trenchant way of his, 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them'." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/07/02

The Are No Small Movies, Just Small Books... Where does Hollywood get many of its ideas? Why from books of course. But the pipeline of movie-worthy books seems to have dried up. "For book scouts-those literary eyes and ears of A-list Hollywood bosses like Tom Hanks and producer Wendy Finerman, who plumb the publishing world for movie material-it's tough going these days." New York Observer 12/11/02

Wednesday, December 11

War And Peace And Literature Does war really spur writers to churn out great works, as conventional wisdom holds? "Closer examination reveals precisely the opposite to be the case. The library of war writing is so vast as to be beyond the comprehension of any single reader, critic or scholar, but the amount of it that can be called literature is astonishingly small." Washington Post 12/11/02

"Walter The Ripper" Doesn't Have Quite The Same Ring To It Novelist Patricia Cornwell knows who Jack the Ripper was. Or she says she does. Others may disagree, ('others' being defined in this case as 'every criminologist in the UK,') but Cornwell insists that British painter Walter Sickert can be conclusively linked to the notorious killing spree in late-19th century London through letters and other written material previously dismissed as hoaxes. Chicago Tribune 12/11/02

Must Reads The 25 best books of the year? The Village Voice Literary Supplement has a list... Village Voice Literary Supplement 12/10/02

Tuesday, December 10

Blockbuster Names W/O The Blockbuster Sales Big publishers count on big blockbuster fiction to make their profits - your Tom Clancys, your John Grishams - their megasales are what puts the shine on a bookseller's holiday season. Except this year. The big pop fiction isn't selling like it usually does..."Crichton appears down. Clancy is down. The Turow is not making its numbers. All the big-ticket fiction has been suffering the last six to eight months." Washington Post 12/10/02

Poetry - Writing On Without The Millions... Of course the hundreds of small poetry publications that struggle on year after year would like a piece of the $100 million Ruth Lilly recently gave Poetry magazine. But it's not all about the money. "They write because they love it with no expectation of making money. Even the big poets don't make much. While novelists or even some non-fiction writers can fantasize about a possible movie contract, for poets, there's the cold reality that winning a multi-state lottery is more likely." Chicago Tribune 12/10/02

Monday, December 9

The Educated Unread Was a time that if you were educated you read. Seriously. Now you can be educated and not have to read. "We are, as the experts like to say with a horrified sense of wonder, aliterate - able to read, and read well, but disinclined to do so. We can blame time and tiredness, changing technologies and altered priorities; still, a reluctance to read is not all that different from an inability. As Mark Twain observed, in that terribly trenchant way of his, 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them'." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/07/02

The Secret Bestsellers Yes there's the prestigious New York Times Bestseller List. And the names that appear on it are generally known to one and all. But talk to the people who are actually in the bookstores selling books, and you hear about an entirely different list... Are these the "real" bestellers? MobyLives 12/10/02

Sunday, December 8

Style Over Substance? Was Michael Kinsley unethical as a judge for not reading all the nominees for this year's National Book Awards? "The job of a book-awards judge starts with bookicide. Once you've decided a nonfiction book could not possibly win - because, say, its first 50 pages stink - you're free to toss it. There's no further reporting obligation. Kinsley appears to have leaped way over the line if he didn't read even the opening pages of many nominated books... Philadelphia Inquirer 12/03/02

Saturday, December 7

Enlisting America's Writers For Propaganda The Bush administration has recruited prominent American writers to "write about what it means to be an American writer" for a State Department anthology to promote America culturally around the world. "Although the State Department plans to distribute the 60-page booklet of 15 essays free at American embassies worldwide in the next few weeks, one country has already banned the anthology: the United States. The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, renewed when the United States Information Agency became part of the State Department three years ago, bars the domestic dissemination of official American information aimed at foreign audiences." The New York Times 12/07/02

Thursday, December 5

Lesson For The Day - Stealing's Okay If It's Educational JK Rowling and Warner Bros. have lost an expensive lawsuit in Germany. A publisher of textbooks had used the Harry Potter character in printed homework assignments, so Rowling sued. "The judge in the case agreed with the publishing house’s argument that they did not need to obtain copyright for school books because they were for educational purposes. The practice of using images on German schoolbooks is apparently commonplace. According to the publishing house, authors are happy to be targeted because it gives them free publicity and even boosts sales of the original book as it means children have to buy them so they can complete the homework." The Scotsman 12/06/02

I Just Called To Write I Luv U A love poem has been declared the winner of this year's Guardian "Text Message" Poetry Contest. The poetry is composed for mobile phones and "the text message format puts a limit of 160 characters on each poem, which tests the ingenuity and creativity of the poets. Combining poetry, one of the oldest literary forms, with texting demonstrates just how creative text messaging can be." The Guardian (UK) 12/06/02

Why Do Books Cost So Much? "Consumers are often baffled at the price tag attached to what appears to be little more than a mass of paper, cardboard and ink. A whole host of factors, including the size of the book, the quality of paper, the quantity of books printed, whether it contains illustrations, what sort of deal the publisher can make with the printer and the cost of warehouse space, all affect the production costs of a book. But, roughly speaking, only about 20 percent of a publisher's budget for each book pays for paper, printing and binding, the trinity that determines the physical cost." Salon 12/03/02

Big Publisher Settles With Upstart Internet Publisher Publishing giant Random House and online publisher RosettaBooks have settled RH's lawsuit against the upstart internet publisher. Rosetta has been selling electronic versions of books that predate the internet by authors such as Kurt Vonnegut and William Styron. Rosetta claimed its editions as new publications and made deals with the authors and not the original publishers. "But the settlement announced Wednesday leaves the issue unresolved. The two sides essentially agreed it was better to work together than to fight." Nando Times (AP) 12/04/02

Where's The Buzz? Book sales seem slow this holiday season. Is it because of the economy? "I suspect there is another reason that there seems to be so little fun in book publishing and selling now: there's no buzz book, no book that people talk about or at least hear about, even if they don't read it. Book talk is great for book selling." The New York Times 12/05/02

You Have To Leave To Get Respect? Canadian writers are hot these days - all over the world. But why does it take international acclaim before the folks at home pay you any respect? "We parade our multiculturalism - but our posturing cannot camouflage our grudging embrace of the best our culture produces." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/03/02

Wednesday, December 4

Ooh Baby Baby... Wendy Perriam has won "one of the least coveted prizes in literature" - the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, awarded by the Literary Review. The prize is for the worst literary description of sex in a novel, and some of the literary world's best-known authors have been nominated. "Robert Posner of the Literary Review said Perriam's book stood out from the rest because 'they had never before heard of pin-striped genitalia', although he admitted the committee of judges were confused as to what it actually meant." BBC 12.05.02

Troupe Forced To Resign Quincy Troupe, who was forced out of his appointment as California's first Poet Laureate this fall after it was discovered he had misrepresented his credentials on his resume, has had to resign his teaching post at the University of California, San Diego. "I very much regret my lapse in judgment and the problems it has created for my department and the broader UCSD community," Troupe said. SFGate.com 12/03/02

Troupe Faces Reporters Troupe told a colleague last week that "he decided to step down after the university decided to suspend him for a year without pay or benefits." Troupe told reporters that he is a person who faces up to his mistakes, but while some of Troupe's supporters were angry that the university didn't stick up for the poet, others seemed relieved that the affair is over. "I am relieved he chose to do the honorable thing by resigning. He's a great poet, but he needs to be a great poet somewhere else." San Diego Union-Tribune 12/04/02

  • Previously: ART OVER RESUME: Poet Quincy Troupe lied on his resume about having graduated from college, and when it was discovered, lost his appointment as poet laureate of California. Now there is pressure to remove him from his teaching job at the University of California, San Diego. But lost in the furor is a proper appreciation of his contribution to San Diego's cultural life, writes the arts staff of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Since his arrival in San Diego in 1991, Troupe has proved so popular a professor, so prolific an author and so generous a contributor to the city's quality of life, that no one – including the UCSD administration that hires in the arts based on performance, not paperwork – could possibly care whether he ever received an undergraduate degree. His deception was unnecessary; the cachet of a B.A. played little if any role in his success." San Diego Union-Tribune 11/01/02
Tuesday, December 3

Magazines On Magazines "This month, two prominent magazines have published dishy articles about nefarious doings at other prominent magazines: Vanity Fair covers the absurd rise and pathetic fall of Rosie, while GQ covers the reign of terror unleashed by a despotic honcho at the magazines published by the mega-conglomerate now known as AOL Time Warner." Navel gazing? Maybe. Schadenfreude? Sure. But it's worked for television for years, so corporate types may be banking that it'll sell copies. Washington Post 12/03/02

Bridget Jones' Groupies Why are so many of the most popular female characters among American readers so... well... British? From Bridget Jones to Kate Reddy to Hermione Granger, there seems to be something about the UK's women that's attracting their colonial counterparts. "[Writer Allison] Pearson believes the British gift for pessimism and irony has served her -- and her countrymen -- well in print. She says, ' 'Bridget Jones' and Nick Hornby's books and mine have extreme irony in common. And irony isn't the normal American mode.'" Chicago Tribune 12/03/02

Monday, December 2

FBI Tracked Greene For 40 years, the FBI had author Graham Greene under surveillance, according to documents recently obtained by The Guardian newspaper. US officials went to "extraordinary lengths" to track Greene, believing he was anti-American. " 'Unsurprisingly, Greene's views on the United States government policies and actions are not flattering,' a cable to Washington said after the novelist gave an interview about Latin America in 1984." The Guardian 12/02/02

Publishing As Corporate Stew in One Very Tall Building : By early next year, "all 100-plus imprints and the more than 1,000 employees of Random House, the world’s largest trade publisher" will be moved out of the various office buildings and into a new 48-story skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan. "The new $300 million building will fulfill chief executive Peter Olson’s grand vision of a unified company under a single roof: one big happy family, with German parent Bertelsmann as patriarch." But "for many publishing people, there’s a visceral resistance to the idea of lumping dozens of book-publishing cultures—from the fusty highbrow aura of Knopf to the mass-market commercialism of Bantam Dell—into one midtown conglomerate monstrosity." New York Observer 11/28/02

Defending Kinsley (And Book Prize Judges Everywhere) "If you do the maths, it's obviously impossible to read them all," says a judge of the 1999 Booker Prize. "The convention is to lie, but no one puts it that way because they are too genteel. There's a certain kind of phoniness, but everyone's too good-mannered to point out the obvious." The Guardian (UK) 11/30/02

  • Previously: CONFESSIONS OF A JUDGE: Michael Kinsley ought to have known what was expected of him when he agreed to be a judge for this year's National Book Awards. "It served me right when the books started rolling in and I realized with horror that I was actually expected to read them: 402 in all. Three FedEx men and our local UPS woman had been retired on full disability by the time all these packages were lugged up our front steps. If you lined up all these books end-to-end, you would just be putting off having to open one and get cracking. Who are you trying to kid?" Slate 11/21/02

Wolcott To Franzen - Get Over Yourself Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections sold more than 2 million copies last year. James Wolcott thinks that for that reason and many others, Franzen should stop whining. "Franzen's book presents the portrait of a man who can't leave being alone well enough alone. For someone who repeatedly strikes a Garbo pose in print, he puts a lot of low-key effort into refining his identity." The New Republic 12/02/02

Sunday, December 1

Reimagining Buffy "Fan fiction" is "a potent underground genre" where fans of fictional pop culture figures weave new stories from their own imaginations. "Cult TV series such as Smallville, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Star Trek inspire wild tangents of fancy and fornication" and the internet has given the genre a serious following. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/30/02

Learning To Play The Game "For countless authors, movies have proved a fatal temptation, savaging great novels from The Naked and the Dead to Portnoy's Complaint, and corrupting F. Scott Fitzgerald and others who lived out their Hollywood years in drunken decline." But in recent years, prominent writers have been finding success on the screen, "both by carefully choosing those who would adapt their books and by participating in the filmmaking process themselves." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/30/02

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