Friday, August 24, 2007

News Bits, In Brief

Today's capitol-b Book News is a lot like those old Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ads -- you know, the ones where two jerks bump into one another and say, "You got chocolate in my peanut butter" and "You got peanut butter on my chocolate." Except, instead of combining two delicious flavors of questionable nutritional value, it's a mash-up of the two most over-hyped personalities in recent publishing publicity: Oprah and O.J.
Via Publisher's Weekly: "On September 13 Fred and Kim Goldman will appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show along with Denise Brown to discuss the publication of the controversial O.J Simpson fictional confessional If I Did It to be published by Beaufort Books." offers this unique way out of debt: "Now that the movie's out, and Laura Linney embodies the icy socialite Mrs. X, Nanny Diaries producer Harvey Weinstein (according to the New York Post) was overheard offering some 'well connected socialites' $100,000 to unmask the 'real Mrs. X.'"
(Editor's note: You rich people suck. Haven't you ever heard of the 'Stop Snitchin', Stop Lying' campaign?)

According to The Associated Press, one in four adults read no books at all in the past year. According to me, 1/3 of the 75% of the adults that claimed to have read books really did not, but lied so as not to appear stupid. Another third only read the new Harry Potter.

And now, a classic News Bit (from a 3 year old BoingBoing post)
How Fanfic makes Kids Into Better Writers
"FictionAlley, the largest Harry Potter archive, hosts more than 30,000 stories and book chapters, including hundreds of completed or partially completed novels. Its (unpaid) staff of more than 200 people includes 40 mentors who welcome each new participant individually. At the Sugar Quill, another popular site, every posted story undergoes a peer-review process it calls "beta-reading." New writers often go through multiple drafts before their stories are ready for posting. "The beta-reader service has really helped me to get the adverbs out of my writing and get my prepositions in the right place and improve my sentence structure and refine the overall quality of my writing," explains the girl who writes under the pen name Sweeney Agonistes?a college freshman with years of publishing behind her.
Like many of the other young writers, Agonistes says that Rowling's books provide her with a helpful creative scaffolding: "It's easier to develop a good sense of plot and characterization and other literary techniques if your reader already knows something of the world where the story takes place," she says. By poaching off Rowling, the writers are able to start with a well-established world and a set of familiar characters and thus are able to focus on other aspects of their craft. Often, unresolved issues in the books stimulate them to think through their own plots or to develop new insights into the characters. "

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Free First Chapters!

To test the Top 10 Books on the NYTimes Best Sellers List (Hardcover Fiction), click the links below.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Devil May Cry by Sherrilyn Kenyon

The Quickie by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Sandworms of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva

Spook Country by William Gibson (audio version, read by Gibson!)

High Noon by Nora Roberts

The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke

Waking With Enemies by Eric Jerome Dickey

Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

News Bits, In Brief

Attention stoners and/or senior citizens: Is there a long-lost book whose title you've been racking your brains to recall? For just $2, you can submit a description to Stump The Bookseller, and their staff will try to reunite you with that favorite tome. At last, a website designed for rapidly deteriorating memories like yours.

So much for doctor/patient confidentiality. The Bellevue Hospital -- one time care provider for such celebrities as Tupac Shakur, Courtney Love and John Lennon's assassin, Mark David Chapman -- is about to launch its own publishing imprint, The Bellevue Literary Press. From the AP article: "Among the first titles of the Bellevue Literary Press, released this spring, are a novel interweaving themes of sickness and recovery into a 1940s family drama, a collection of editorial cartoons by an accomplished physician-artist and an experimental nonfiction work that explores the mind-set and meaning of awkwardness. The press plans to release four more books, including another novel, in the fall."

Real cyberpunks only listen to their podcasts on 7" vinyl. has just posted their newest podcast, and their special guest is author William Gibson.

Go, Read...Nicholas Gurewitch's Perry Bible Fellowship comic strips. Not only are they not religious, they're free for online perusal! Oh, and the book collecting them, The Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories, comes out next month.

If Christianity Is Correct, This Post Better Buy Us Some Slack Come Judgement Day

The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy is currently receiving stellar reviews, a TIME Magazine cover story, as well as a place on the New York Times bestseller list. Here's an old interview with the good Reverend...conducted by the agnostic Woody Allen!

A few Billy Graham fun facts, care of Wikipedia:

1. He has not completely allied himself with the religious right, saying that Jesus did not have a political party.

2. Graham opposed segregation during the 1960s and refused to speak to segregated auditoriums, once dramatically tearing down the ropes that organizers had erected to separate the audience. He paid bail money to secure the release of Martin Luther King from jail in the American South during the 1960s civil rights struggle; he invited King to join him in the pulpit at his 16-week revival in New York City in 1957.

3. Graham would not allow himself to be seen or photographed in public with his daughters (or any other women) without his wife, Ruth, present. He did not want to give any sort of impression of marital infidelity. When then-First Lady of Arkansas Hillary Clinton invited him to lunch as he arrived in Little Rock for a crusade in 1989, Graham declined and said, "I don't eat with beautiful women alone" and met her in a hotel dining room instead.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rowling's Reported Mystery? It's Been Solved.

The only topic getting more media coverage than Oprah's next book club pick is what J.K. Rowling is up to now that the Potter series is done. Speculation reached its zenith during the Edinburgh book festival, when Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin reported that his wife, Miranda, had seen Rowling "scribbling away" in an Edinburgh café, supposedly hard at work on a detective novel set in the Scottish capital. This anecdote was immediately reported that night in an early edition of The Sunday Times, after which it was picked up by The Associated Press and spread like celebrity sex tape footage through the rest of the world. The only problem? Rankin was kidding. According to the Guardian UK, Rankin has confessed, "This is a joke that got out of hand."
Whoops. Nice fact-checking, folks.
So what is Rowling up to?
Your guess is as good as ours (and The Times' and The Associated Press').

Monday, August 20, 2007

Poetry News and Reviews, In Brief

An Edgar Allan Poe fan has taken credit for creating the writer's 'graveyard visitor' legend. But there are those who would claim that this raven old lunatic's heart tells false tales.

At long last, the world will finally know what sorts of cartoony goth characters Sylvia Plath used to doodle on her jeans. Paintings and drawings by the Bell belle, many of which have never been seen before, are to be published in October to mark the 75th anniversary of the birth of the American poet and novelist.

"I married the girl I loved, yet poisoned her life
Lies began to coil in my heart and call it home."

The Los Angeles Times reviews Raymond Carver's collection of poetry, All of Us, here.

"What kind of spring is this,
Where there are no flowers and
The air is filled with a miserable smell?"

The New York Times holds court on the recently released, Poems From Guantánamo. Their verdict?
"The bulk of these poems are so vague, their claims so conventional, that they might have been written at any point in history by anyone suffering anything."
An anonymous source at the Pentagon agrees.

Don't Forget This Wednesday's Author Event!

This Wednesday, August 22, at 7:00 PM the Inkwell Bookstore will host a reading and Q&A with Thomas Cathcart, one of the two authors of Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar...Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes. This is, without a doubt, the funniest book we've had the pleasure to promote at our store. Not only that, reading it might make you smarter (although the author offers no money back guarantees).

For a bit of back story on the book (care of, click here.

For a few reviews: The Writing Doctor, Harvard Magazine, Lancaster Online

And to hear the NPR interview with the here.