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Friday, February 28

Menaker To Head Random House Daniel Menaker is Random House's new editor-in-chief. He's a "literary insider who left Random House to edit books at rival HarperCollins in 2001, has been reaching out to authors and expressing confidence he can halt an exodus of writers to Penguin Group USA." Prominent RH writers have been leaving the imprint since Anne Godoff was fired last month. New York Daily News 02/28/03

  • Menaker - Good Eye, But Inexeperienced In Business Side Menaker spent "26 years at The New Yorker, beginning as a fact-checker and concluding as a senior editor, mainly in its fiction department. His years in the magazine's singularly influential fiction department give him outsize literary credentials, and as a book editor he is best known for his eye for sophisticated fiction." The New York Times 02/28/03

Thursday, February 27

Heavy Reading (How Do They Do It?) So you're a book editor and it's your job to read books. But there are so many of them. So you go through maybe ten a week - a good 400+ in a year... "So how do professional readers get through the required reading for their 'plum' jobs? It is a given that most people in the industry have to read (manuscripts) outside of work hours, in their own time. There's too much going on otherwise."
The Age (Melbourne) 02/28/03

How Do You Make A Poet Laureate? (They Want To Know) "With their public profiles growing, the role of poets laureate is being called into question. In April the nation's first conference for state poets laureate will convene in Manchester, New Hampshire, where they will discuss poetry and their responsibilities as public representatives of their art. The goal of the conference is for poets laureate to meet each other, discuss the ambiguities and perceived responsibilities of being a state-endorsed poet, and explore what happens when poetry intersects with politics, education, and community." Poets & Writers 03/03

Oprah To Start New Book Club A year after shutting down her popular TV book club, Oprah is starting a new book club - this time for classic books. "Winfrey plans to make a classic selection three to five times a year, in shows originating from a site connected with the book or the author." Yahoo! (Reuters) 02/27/03

National Book Critics Circle Awards " 'Atonement,' Ian McEwan's unlikely best seller about the meaning of fiction, was among the winners Wednesday night of a National Book Critics Circle prize. In the general nonfiction category, which included William Langewiesche's controversial 'American Ground,' Samantha Power won for 'A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide'." Yahoo! (AP) 02/27/03

Hip Hop - Not Just The Music Anymore "The billion-dollar music genre, which already has the advertising and fashion businesses bouncing to its beat, has now infiltrated one of pop culture's less-frequented markets — book publishing. Ranging from pricey coffee-table eye candy to practical reference and history books, the tomes are an effort to preserve hip-hop culture in more than just CDs and music videos." New York Daily News 02/27/03

Wednesday, February 26

Small Edinburgh Press Wins Publisher of The Year Prize Scotland's Canongate press hit the big time last year when Yann Martel’s Life Of Pi took the Booker Prize. Last night Canongate's ascendency to the major league was "confirmed in spectacular fashion as Canongate won Publisher of the Year at the British Book Awards." The Scotsman 02/26/03

  • Life Of Pi Beaten By Stupid White Guy Satirist Michael Moore picked up the top prize at this week's British Book Awards, winning for his indictment of conservative U.S. policy, Stupid White Men. Moore beat out a strange field of competitors including Booker-winning author Yann Martel (Life of Pi) and a star player for the Manchester United soccer team, who wrote a best-selling autobiography. The award carries no prize money, which is probably all the same to Moore, who has also been carrying home prizes by the truckload for his last film, Bowling For Columbine. Calgary Herald 02/26/03

Monday, February 24

Is Random House Unraveling? Some of Random House's biggest writers are considering leaving the publisher "after the ouster five weeks ago of its publisher and editor in chief, Ann Godoff, who soon began seeking to lure many of them to a new imprint. The shake-up is raising questions among authors, agents and critics about the future of the venerable Random House imprint, the home of William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren and Truman Capote, and an important institution in modern American letters." The New York Times 02/24/03

One Book, No Interest Several cities around North Ameria have embraced the "if everyone read the same book" idea. Not in Pittsburgh. Since the launch of that city's porogram, "several activities - including a theatrical presentation of the book's rape trial at the Hazlett Theater, North Side, and classes sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Lifetime Learning - have been canceled for lack of interest." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 02/20/03

Salon Scrutiny Is Unusual For A New Magazine So Salon magazine is on the financial ropes. But Salon's publisher says the online mag's finances are not unusual for a magazine. " 'Being a public company has been a huge burden. How long does the average magazine take to reach profitability? Sports Illustrated — 12 years. USA Today — 10 years.' But these publications were developed inside corporations big enough to hide the years of losses in a dark corner of the accounting department. Salon does not have that luxury. Every expenditure drops directly to the bottom line, where it's paraded past the investment community." Los Angeles Times 02/24/03

Holiday Book Sales Languished Barnes & Noble reports that last quarter's book sales were sluggish, with growth coming only in newly-opened stores. And "according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, total bookstore sales fell 3.2% in last year's fourth quarter, to $4.42 billion." Publishers Weekly 02/24/03

Tolkien Vs. Tolkien Simon Tolkien, the grandson of J. R. R. Tolkien, is a successful barrister, and he has a book contract in Britain and America. But five years ago he had a fallingout with his father over the movies to be made from his grandfather's books. Seems the Tolkiens had no control over the movies since JRR had sold them years ago. Simon's dad wanted mothing to do with the movie-makers, but Simon... The Telegraph (UK) 02/24/03

Of Book Critics Who Don't Read... "Reviewing books is not a particularly well-paid form of journalism and it takes time. A book of any more ambition than a thriller can't be read for review at a rate of more than 40, or at most 60, pages an hour. Some books are only 120-pages long and can comfortably be digested in a couple of hours. Others, though, are 400, or 600 pages, or, in some dreadful instances, even more, and they can easily take days to get through. The reviewer's fee, however, usually remains the same. So, shocking as it may seem, the truth is that some reviewers skip some books. And there are a few who skip through all the books..." London Evening Standard 02/24/03

Sunday, February 23

Bridging The Canadian Culture Gap Publisher Pierre Turgeon has started a new English-language publishing house, and the more he talks about it, the more people he convinces that there may be a way to bridge the gap between the French and Anglo worlds of Canadian culture. Never one to shy away from controversy, Turgeon is attempting to sell the notion that French Canadians have an interest in Anglo-Canadian culture, and vice versa, a theory which has seen richer men to the poorhouse. Still, if anyone can bridge the gap, say the experts, it's Turgeon, and if the new house is a success, it could also provide a much-needed shot in the arm to the rest of the English-language publishing industry. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 02/22/03

Friday, February 21

Bellesiles Back In Business Less than a month after the Alfred Knopf pubishing house took Michael Bellesiles's controversial book on guns in America off the market, the volume has found a new, albeit somewhat less prestigious, publisher. "Soft Skull Press of Brooklyn, N.Y., which calls itself 'a small, radical, independent publisher,' will republish a revised edition in October. The book will have a new introduction and what a Soft Skull statement called 'several clarifications concerning research.'" Bellesiles lost his job at Emory University last year when claims surfaced that much of his research for the book was falsified. Boston Globe 02/21/03

  • Previously: 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

Roiling Politics At Writers' Union The controversial president of the National Writers' Union abruptly announced his departure from the post last week, but the infighting which has plagued the NWU in recent days doesn't appear to be waning with Jonathan Tasini's resignation. "Some in the anti-Tasini faction Your Union said they expect next fall's election to be intense," and nobody appears to be above taking shots at Tasini as he leaves the premises. Publishers Weekly Newsline 02/18/03

Thursday, February 20

A Book A Day...Creating The Instant Book Forty German authors are hoping to set a new world record by conceiving, writing and printing a book in 12 hours. The team of writers will get their topic at 7.45 a.m. on April 23, World Book and Copyright Day. "They aim to have the finished book on shop shelves in 10 German cities by the evening of that day." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02/21/03

Big Ambitions For New Culture Mag A new magazine on culture out of Los Angeles has attracted some high profile writers - among them Douglas Rushkoff, Kristine McKenna, Spike Jonze - despite not being able to pay high-profile fees. The magazine is called Arthur, and it's distributed free with a print run of 40,000 "Arthur's success in gathering talent comes in part from a promise that writers will be lightly edited, and that underground artists and controversial subjects will be championed. 'I know all this stuff sounds pompous. But there is no money here. This is an activist magazine. I have a clear idea of what's wrong with this culture and this world. This is the stuff I'm interested in, this is the work that's gratifying to me'." Los Angeles Times 02/20/03

Gregerson Wins Kingsley Tufts Poet Linda Gregerson has taken home a $100,000 prize from the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for her collection "Waterborne." The award is the largest of its kind in the US. Gregerson is a profesor at the University of Michigan, and the former poetry editor of The Atlantic Monthly. Boston Globe 02/20/03

Can Good Writing Be Taught? Judging by the number of writing courses offered, the answer for many is yes. But "a quick glance at the bestseller lists will tell you it's hard enough to find something halfway decent to read at the best of times, so no great synaptic leap is required to intuit that most writing courses produce writers who are only going to be read by those unlucky enough to be friends, family or fellow course mates. So there is a lurking feeling that many creative writing courses are driven by market forces rather than any altruistic desire to release untapped genius." The Guardian (UK) 02/18/03

Can Salon Survive? Can Salon magazine survive past the end of February? "The company has already been through several rounds of layoffs and cut everyone's pay by 15 per cent. It now employs fewer than two dozen staffers." But its remaining employees are loyal: "Our impending non-existence has been predicted in the press for so long and with such conviction that we considered adopting 'die another day' as a marketing slogan until the Bond franchise beat us to it." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/19/03

Wednesday, February 19

Another High-Tech Mag Goes Belly-Up "Citing economic woes in the technology sector, Multi-Vision Publishing Inc. announced yesterday that Shift magazine, the Canadian journal of digital culture, would cease publication. Just over two years ago, MVP was the proverbial white knight that saved Shift when it acquired the magazine out of bankruptcy... The decade-old publication had ceased production once before and, on another occasion, was saved by employees who agreed to buy it." National Post (Canada) 02/19/03

Tuesday, February 18

What's Up With These Poets? Poets have been much in the news of late. Poets are suddenly controversial (again). "Why poetry, why now? The answers might not be particularly mysterious. We are now into the second year of a period when words are being policed with particular vigor, hemmed in by off-the-record advisories as much as by Patriot Acts and Total Information Awareness. But such measures can't help but suggest that words themselves matter, now more than ever. Poets have been saying that all along." Village Voice 02/18/03

Blocked By Indulgence What's up with writers with writer's block? "You have to be able to afford to be blocked because, if you are a writer, not writing is a very expensive business - and it becomes more so by the hour. Therefore, it tends not to happen on Grub Street. I myself have written three novels and averaged 2,000 words of journalism a week for 15 years without ever experiencing the kind of bank balances where a block becomes a serious possibility." London Evening Standard 02/17/03

Monday, February 17

Poets Gather To Protest War A group of American poets who were to have performed at the White House before the event was canceled, gathered Sunday in Vermont for an event called "A Poetry Reading in Honour of the Right of Protest as a Patriotic and Historical Tradition." "About 600 people gathered at a church in Manchester, Vermont to protest a war with Iraq. BBC 02/16/03

The Magic Of McSweeney's Dave Eggers' McSweeney's is a literary magazine with the kind of buzz most publishers can only dream of. "The magazine's occasionally dense text and quaint line drawings make it look like a nineteenth-century literary journal - with a well-devel oped sense of the absurdly modern. Issue 4 came as a series of booklets in a box, the cover of each booklet designed by its author. Issue 6 was published with its own soundtrack, with songs to accompany each article. The spine of issue 3 contained a short story by David Foster Wallace. Then there is its openness to new writers..." The Observer (UK) 02/16/03

Sunday, February 16

Salon Magazine Near Closing If Investor Isn't Found The online magazine Salon said Friday that it might have to close by the end of the month if it's not able to raise more cash. The magazine reports it has only $169,000. "In the filing Friday, Salon also disclosed that it stopped paying rent for its headquarters in
December." The company's landlord has demanded a payment of $200,000.
San Francisco Chronicle 02/15/03

Writers On Writing, For Writers There has never been any shortage of writers willing to hold forth about what good writing is, and how one might go about it. Two new installments in the writers-on-writing genre have recently appeared, penned by Norman Mailer and Pierre Berton. The advice they give, and the style in which it is presented, has Philip Marchand wondering why it is that so many writers seem to disagree on nearly every facet of the subject. Is writing a science or an art? Is it work or play? And do we write for ourselves, or for our readers? Great minds think nothing alike. Toronto Star 02/15/03

Friday, February 14

A Call For Self-Review The case of the New York Times Book Review running a review of a book by a reviewer who doesn't appear to have read the book prompts Alex Good to propose a solution. Since the regular reader of book review sections can be reasonably sure that some of the reviews are written without reading the books, "have authors write their own reviews. Sir Walter Scott did it. Poe and Whitman did it. And Anthony Burgess did it, prompting Gore Vidal to remark approvingly 'shouldn't there be at least one book review in all of England written by someone who had actually read the book'?" GoodReports 02/10/03

Reading Of Love... What are the ten most romantic books of all time? The Guardian's John Armstrong made a list... The Guardian (UK) 02/14/03

Thursday, February 13

Where's Billy? Poet Laureate Speaks As poets have weighed in against or for an American war in Iraq, one voice has been conspicuously quiet - current poet laureate Billy Collins. So LA Times reporter Tim Rutten emailed Collins and asked. Collins replied: "I have tried to keep the West Wing and the East Wing of the White House as separate as possible because I support what Mrs. Bush has done for the causes of literacy and reading. But as this country is being pushed into a violent confrontation, I find it increasingly difficult to maintain that separation."
Los Angeles Times 02/12/03

Online Competition Sinks Rand McNally Competition from online map services has helped sink the most prominent roadmap publisher. Rand McNally has filed for bankruptcy, hoping to reorganize in a way better able to compete with the online competition. The company was the first - in 1917 - to produce a road map using numbered highways. Yahoo! (AP) 02/13/03

Library Of Congress Gets Digital Money The Library of Congress will get $100 million collect and preserve digital information, including images, CD's, Web pages and electronic journals. The Library has been "lagging in the task of archiving electronica: scholarly journals, books and magazines that are 'born digital'; CD-ROM's; digital photographs, music and films; and millions of miscellaneous pieces of Internet-based material. Digital technology "has spawned a surfeit of information that is extremely fragile, inherently impermanent, and difficult to assess for long-term value." The New York Times 02/13/03

Wednesday, February 12

Protesting Poets - Tradition or Knee-Jerk Reaction? "The belief that poets are naturally rebellious and 'progressive' is a fairly recent one. It is equally naive to think that poetic talent confers on its bearer some special grasp of political wisdom. Just in the past hundred years, renowned poets have supported some very bad causes, including communism and fascism. Today, the literary community is overwhelmingly left of center. Is this groundswell of antiwar sentiment among poets driven by well-considered opposition to the war, or is it a knee-jerk reaction?"
Reason 02/11/03

Books Based On Video Games? Better believe it. Games are big business. "Video game sales surpassed movie sales last year, with a staggering $9.4 billion take. Mario, the plucky plumber and star of an 18-year-old series of games, has brought in twice as much revenue as all five Star Wars films combined. The Sims, a digital family whom players manipulate through every stage of life, has sold nearly 20 million units. So it's no surprise that book publishers are turning to video game novels. Yes, novels." Publishers Weekly 02/11/03

Tuesday, February 11

The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name? (For Kids?) "Books for younger children about gay relationships are rare. A recent book "Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin" has caused a big debate in England. "Is homosexuality such a tricky subject for parents that they must tactfully broach it through books? I doubt it. I remember my older son asking when he was eight or nine, unprompted by any book, whether love could exist between people of the same sex. And when I said it could, he was curious, unjudgmental. Unlike adults, children accept the world as they find it." The Observer (UK) 02/09/03

New Harry To Get 6.8 Million First Printing At more than 1000 pages, the new Harry Potter - due to hit stores in June - is already big. And it sports a big price too - $29 for a children's book. The first print run will also be huge - 6.8 million copies are being printed. "J.K. Rowling's previous Potter novel, 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,' came out in July 2000 with a first printing of 3.8 million. It sold out within 48 hours and now has over l6 million copies in print." Nando Times (AP) 02/11/03

The Next Children's Book Phenom? An English woman and her daughter are being touted as the next children's book phenomenon. "Lionboy, the tale of a boy who talks to cats, has been created by Louisa Young and her 10-year-old daughter Isabel. Publisher Puffin, the children's arm of Penguin, has signed the pair in a 'substantial' three-book deal said to be 'in the high six figures'. The amount dwarfs the £2,000 paid to J K Rowling for her first Harry Potter tale, The Philosopher's Stone." BBC 02/11/03

Another Large Publisher Moves To Unload Unprofitable Division McClelland & Stewart, which used to bill itself as "the Canadian Publisher," is selling off a small but prestigious press it bought three years ago. "If no buyer can be found, the rights to its backlist of some 60 titles — as well as future projects already in the works — will revert to McClelland & Stewart and MW&R's core employees will lose their jobs. Non-fiction (MW&R's specialty) has been an increasingly hard sell, and the company "blames the loss of book review space in newspapers and magazines, new book-unfriendly programming by the CBC, and fewer and more tough-minded booksellers for the failure of many good non-fiction books to find their intended audience." Toronto Star 02/11/03

Monday, February 10

Poetic Justice - American Poets Speak Out Against War American poets are becoming an unexpectedly vocal opponent of a war with Iraq. "On Wednesday, in the kind of coordinated grass-roots action unseen since the Vietnam era, poets and writers will stage more than 50 readings in bookstores, libraries, churches and meeting houses across the country, inspired by poet and Copper Canyon Press publisher Sam Hamill, who in an e-mail late last month asked 50 friends and colleagues to dedicate the day to 'Poetry Against the War.' How did one e-mail launch a nationwide protest movement that will stage events through the month and beyond? Los Angeles Times 02/11/03

The New Women Literary Publishers A new generation of women running British literary publishing imprints is making a big success of them. "So what differentiates these women from the men who came before them? Perhaps the fact that they represent 'joined-up' publishing. The new hierarchies comprise editors who understand business, or business people who appreciate books. Unlike their predecessors, they can safely be introduced to an author without saying anything embarrassing." London Evening Standard 02/10/03

Amazon Dumps Ads - It's Prices, Not Ads That Inspire Customers Amazon has decided to dump its TV and print advertising. "Last year, the company spent just under than $50 million on its TV campaign, mainly in big cities right before Christmas. But it ran ads most of last year in Minneapolis and Portland, Ore., to see whether advertising increased sales in those areas." The results? The ads helped push business, but only a bit. Reducing prices was much more effective in driving sales... The New York Times 02/10/03

A Book Reviewer Who Failed To Read The Book... The American book industry is buzzing about a review that ran in The New York Times Book Review January 26 of Whitewater figure (and Clinton friend) Susan McDougal's new memoir. What's amazing about the review, notes Gene Lyons, is that it's quite obvious the reviewer never read the book. "Assuming minimal competence, Lowry simply cannot have done so." MobyLives 02/10/03

Sunday, February 9

Librarians Protest Porn In Libraries Young men in Ottawa public libraries are logging on to hard-core porn in full view of other library patrons. "The beleaguered librarians, feeling they have been left to deal with the problem by see-nothing, do-nothing managers, have filed grievances through the Canadian Union of Public Employees. And they're not alone. Behind it lies a major philosophical dispute about what libraries are for. Management, whose views are reflected in the stance of the Canadian Library Association, see this as an intellectual-freedom issue. They are afraid that censoring even the worst pornography will start a slippery slope, and eventually all sorts of Internet content will be banned, including a good deal that is legitimate and essential." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/10/03

A Writing Life On Screen? A new series of movies about writers raises the question: "Can famous writers work as fictional characters without the fictional characters getting in the way of their work? Dramas about authors are encouraged by the high sales of biographies and tend to concentrate on their lives rather than their writing. But this isn't just because of a cultural preference for gossip over substance, fact above fiction. The process of turning thoughts into prose is passive and private, and the metaphors for it - balled-up foolscap, scrunched-up brows - have rightly become derided movie cliches." The Guardian (UK) 02/08/03

Thursday, February 6

Poets Uprising "Poets may rightly grumble that they aren't read or paid enough, but in times of crisis it's the poets, of all the artists in all countries, who suddenly seem the most important. Robert Lowell was a face of protest during the Vietnam war. Rupert Brooke and Robert Graves were among those who, writing from the trenches in World War I, best conveyed the anguish of war in what was not protest but patriotic poetry. So now, hardly surprisingly, we have our poets stepping forward to protest war, at what appears a fairly late moment. Why are poets the leading dissenters?" The New York Times 02/06/03

Eggers And His Movement "Most observers see Dave Eggers and his fans as existing outside politics. But Eggers' literary superstardom is prompting an alternative culture that has grown up around him over the last five years. It is a San Francisco- and Brooklyn-based community of writers, artists, designers and, increasingly, children - with a growing national following. They are the readers, contributors and designers of the literary journal-cum-Web site McSweeney's (first published in 1998) and McSweeney's Books. They are, especially in the last year, the audiences at McSweeney's-sponsored conferences, readings and concerts across the country. They are idealistic about education, sentimental about children and impatient with the homogeneous culture that corporations produce." American Prospect 02/03

Harry - A Record Cover Price For A Children's Book The new Harry Potter book could weigh in at more than 1000 pages. But it will also sport a heavy price. "Scholastic Children's Books, the U.S. publisher of J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix', announced Thursday a suggested retail price of $29.99. 'That's definitely the highest price for a children's novel we've ever seen'." Nando Times (AP) 02/06/03

Books Are Dead...Good Riddance "Books suck. Most books are dopier than television or movies or even advertising (many books tend to be just collateral promotions or the lesser offspring of dopey television, movies, and advertising). Even if there are precious exceptions, the overwhelming number of big-money, industry-sustaining books are incontrovertibly dum-dum things. More cynical, more pandering than any other entertainment product. Working at a magazine where every day random books come flying in by the bushel you get a sense of the magnitude of the wasteland. Books may be the true lowest-common-denominator medium. What’s more, in the book business, you have to work in really deadening conditions..." New York Magazine 02/05/03

Booknotes - Keeping It Simple C-Span's "Booknotes" is a serious place to talk books. Host Brian Lamb has a big following, but the appeal of the show is in its simplicity. "This is not a show done for intellectuals. A lot of people thought it was in the beginning. They started to hear me ask some very basic questions, and they'd say: 'Oh, my goodness, why is he asking those stupid questions?' So: Why is he asking those questions? 'I want to know the answer'." Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette 02/06/03

The Film Of Pi Fox Pictures has purchased the film rights to author Yann Martel's Booker award-winning novel, The Life of Pi. The book, which briefly caused a bit of trouble for the author after Martel revealed that he had appropriated the basic concept from a review of a Brazilian novel which he'd read years before, may prove challenging to adapt for the screen, since it is largely metaphorical, and focuses on a young Indian boy stranded at sea with a Bengal tiger. Edmonton Journal 02/06/03

Wednesday, February 5

Indie Booksellers Push States To Collect Online Sales Taxes Independent booksellers are lobbying states to collect taxes from online book stores that have a physical presence in those states. That would mean that books ordered through Barnes and Noble's online store would have to collect sales tax. "The issue remains whether or not online stores and their real world namesakes have a business relationship that would trigger a tax liability." Publishers Weekly 02/04/03

Tuesday, February 4

Poetry In Times Square A young poet goes to Times Square to read poetry on the street. And people stop to listen. "The American public's relationship to poetry is complicated. At best, poetry seems to be perceived as a rare salve to be applied in the wake of national tragedy; at worst it's an elite parlor game. Much of the blame for such perceptions can be placed squarely on American poetry itself, which has privileged difficulty over clarity—in the process taking itself right out of public view. I don't exactly fault modern American poetry for being difficult. The sensory experience of Times Square is as difficult as any poem and still we live within it. The power of great modern poetry is that it takes the monstrosity of Times Square and locates the human being at its heart." Poets & Writers 02/03

Protesting The Protesting Poets Roger Kimball was looking forward to going to the White House next week for lunch with Laura Bush and a symposium on "Poetry and the American Voice." Then he heard the event had been cancelled after Copper Canyon Press founder Sam Hamill had organized an anti-war protest around the event. "What about the many distinguished poets who believe Sam Hamill is a publicity-craving nonentity who spoiled their chance to celebrate American poetry at the White House? They, of course, have not been mentioned much. 'Poets for Responsible U.S. Foreign Policy' is not news." OpinionJournal.com 02/05/03

  • Previously: Those Pesky Poets Get Into More Trouble The White House "postponement" of a planned poetry event in February because of a planned protest by some of the invited poets is rousing lots of speculation. Some poets wanted to protest the war and resented the possible appearance of their support for war policies by their attendance. Plans to speak out againt a war with Iraq worried the White House and so the event was put off. Says one poet: "It tells you how little they understand poetry and poets, including the poets under discussion. It's a way to co-opt people, makes them look like they are interested in the arts without bothering to understand the arts." Boston Globe 01/31/03

Vatican Gives Blessing On Potter The Vatican has given its blessing to Harry Potter. Why should the Vatican even care? Some evangelical groups have protested the books for "glamorizing magic and the occult." But a spokeman for the Vatican says: "If I have understood well the intentions of Harry Potter's author, they help children to see the difference between good and evil. And she is very clear on this." Yahoo! (AP) 02/04/03

Monday, February 3

Library Use Soaring As Economy Slips Unemployment is bad in New York, and people have time on their hands. So they go to the library. "Use of public libraries here has climbed almost 10% since the summer of 2001 and that circulation is up 12%. Computer use just for resume writing at Mid-Manhattan increased 128% over the last year. On the fourth floor of that charmless branch on Fifth Avenue, there isn't an empty seat on a snowy afternoon..." Los Angeles Times 02/03/03

Great Books Of All Time - Harry By A Nose? After the success of its "Great Britons of all time" poll, the BBC is going to apply the formula to books. Viewers will nominate 100 books. "In November, the top 10 books will be announced - and the case for each one will, as with Great Britons, be made in a one-hour special programme, presented by a celebrity, or at the very least a personality. Finally, before Christmas, there will be another giant vote. The result? It's almost certain that 'The Lord of the Rings' will triumph over 'Harry Potter', in a tightly fought contest. Or vice versa." London Evening Standard 02/03/03

Did HG Wells Plagiarize From Toronto Woman? Did HG Wells plagiarize his "The Outline of History," published in 1920, from a 50-year-old Toronto woman named Florence Deeks? Deeks spent a good part of the the middle and later part of her life trying to prove that Wells had based his work on a manuscript she had sent to Macmillan publishers in 1914. A new book takes up her case in an attempt to win justice... Los Angeles Times 02/02/03

Kids - Forgetting The Classics? Are kids losing touch with the literaryt kids' classics? A survey in Britain reports that only three percent of children had read "Little Women." "Only 12% had actually read Alice in Wonderland, only 2% 'Swallows and Amazons', and only 6% 'The Secret Garden'. By contrast, 81% had read 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'. 'The Lord of the Rings' scored 31%." The Guardian (UK) 02/01/03

Sunday, February 2

Books - It Is After All, A Business Should we be surprised when a major publisher ousts a popular literary editor when sales goals aren't met? "In the fat times of the late '90s and into 2000-2001, publishers signed up the biggest author names for mega-millions in much the same way major-league baseball owners paid superstars in amounts equating to Monopoly money. The tough economy caught up to major-league baseball, and it's apparently hit the book business, too." The Star Telegraom (Fort Worth) 02/02/03

New Look Classics Last year Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" sold 2 million copies, big business for a book that has been around for a long time. The classics are big business for publishers, and classic editions of those books are getting facelifts. "The classics ain't what they used to be – in some cases, they're New and Improved. All this 're-branding' activity, all this new ink and paper, is going on in a corner of the bookstore that is widely seen as deservedly stuck somewhere behind the coffee bins. Who, after all, gets excited about a new edition of Herodotus?" Dallas Morning News 02/02/03

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