Friday, October 12, 2007

Weekend Links
(It's really just another way of saying 'Book News, In Brief,' isn't it?)

Hot trend alert: Lately, more and more mom and pop bookstores are housing homeless cats in a misguided attempt at marketing their 'indie street cred.' I want to warn these stores, and any other shops currently considering treading down a similarly paw printed path, that you just might be doing the very thing that that the corporate 'fat cats' at Borders and Barnes & Noble want you to do. One of the feline community's many magical powers (used just as often and proficiently as their ability to make single women feel whole and their natural knack for trapping breath-stealing trolls) is smelling like cat urine. And believe it or not, folks: no one likes their books to smell of cat urine. Statistically, it's pungent, pee stained books -- not shopping-at-home convenience -- that drives most people to
(Special thanks to Galleycat for the urgent 911!)

Just in time to have fallen off of the radars of all of you, Banned Books Week people, a British teen has been arrested for owning The Anarchist Cookbook. Apparently, the powers that be still frown on this sort of thing six years, three nationally televised telethons, two major motion pictures, and countless country tribute songs after 9-11. What 'The Man' seems unwilling or unable to realize is that everyone heals in different ways. One man's Anarchist Cookbook is another's Chicken Soup For The Soul. Oh, no. Wait a minute. The article goes on further, doesn't it? Police who searched the 17 year old's bedroom reportedly found 500g of potassium nitrate and 250g of calcium chloride. That certainly raises some questions, no? Not the least of which is: How much does this kid get for allowance?
(Shout-outs to Readers Read for the bold -- and some might say anti-establishmental -- reporting. You're the real heroes.)

Bookslut's 'weekly interview feature from Elizabeth Merrick' this week features an interview with Neal Pollack. Among Pollack's other accomplishments, he is shepherd to a flock of hipster parents over at Offsprung, author of Alternadad, and a former cog in the wheel of (Oh, crap. I already used the word hipster in this sentence!) trendmaster and tastemaker boutique publisher, McSweeney's. Not that you asked, but I personally find Pollack to be one of the funniest writers writing today. He doesn't come off like a pretentious ass or a pretentious ass trying his damnedest not to come off like a pretentious ass, and these days, that's some of the highest praise someone of my stature can give.

Book du Jour: M is for Metal

At last, a baby book made especially for the children of carnies, Dungeon Masters, and Gene Simmons' 3000 groupies. Billed as 'The loudest alphabet book on Earth,' I'm currently using it to re-teach my older brother (a former meth addict and mosh pit casualty) to read -- and it's working! When he's not licking the brightly colored pages, he's mumbling along to such catchy rhymes as:

Z is for Zeppelin,
we followed, they Led,
stairway goes to heaven,
then off to bed.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

SF Author Doris Lessing Wins Nobel Prize For Literature!


"British author Doris Lessing has been awarded this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. The 87-year-old has been honoured with the 10m kronor (£763,000) award for her life's work over a 57-year career. Her best-known works include The Golden Notebook, Memoirs of a Survivor and The Summer Before the Dark. Lessing said she was 'very glad' about the honour - particularly as she was told 40 years ago that the Nobel hierarchy did not like her.

She told BBC Radio 4: 'I've won it. I'm very pleased and now we're going to have a lot of speeches and flowers and it will be very nice.'

She recalled that, in the 1960s, 'they sent one of their minions especially to tell me they didn't like me at the Nobel Prize and I would never get it. So now they've decided they're going to give it to me. So why? I mean, why do they like me any better now than they did then?'

The author, who turns 88 on 22 October, said she thought she had become more respectable with age. 'They can't give a Nobel to someone who's dead so I think they were probably thinking they had better give it to me now before I popped off,' she said.

Lessing is only the 11th woman to win the prize, considered by many to be the world's highest accolade for writers, since it started in 1901."

For Wikipedia's bio on Lessing, click here.

Book News, In Brief

Publisher's Weekly has a brief interview with Walter Mosley (Devil In A Blue Dress, Maximum Fantastic Four) about his new Easy Rawlins novel, Blind Faith. One question that's asked, but never definitively answered: Is this the end of Easy?

An old library copy of the the first edition of the first Harry Potter book is going up on the auction block. Although the book is being described as having "a few minor defects," estimates for the final price range from the ridiculous $15,000 to the ludicrous $20,000. Interested children are advised to get a cash advance on their allowance, a reeeaaally profitable paper route, or immediate adoption into the Jolie-Pitt family.

Martis Amis put both of his handmade, Italian leather loafers into his mouth recently with a few less-than-loving comments he made towards the Muslim community. Amis apparently called for strip-searches for people who "look like they're from the Middle East," and constant 'suffering' until they "get (their) house in order."
As-Salāmu `Alaykum, you ignorant bastard.

This is why I only ever send anonymous, an**rax tainted letters to politicians: A book of over 300 fan letters written to Hitler is being published this year in Germany. Yikes. Can you imagine the questions you'd have to answer in the office if your dad or granddad ended up having one of their gushing missives to Der Fuerhrer published for all the world to see? My sister used to dress like Boy George back in the eighties, and I'm still trying to live that down.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's Not Considered Propaganda When It's Done In Pastels

Not content with simply shoving religion down your children's throats? Why not add a pinch of politics to their social scarring! According to, "A slew of children's political books has crowded US booksellers' shelves as partisan authors peddle their opposing liberal and conservative beliefs to an audience that is much too young to vote." The most recent (and most heavily hyped) is Jeremy Zilber's Why Daddy is a Democrat, the sequel to his 2006 tome, Why Mommy is a Democrat. Hmn...sounds to me like Zilber needs to branch out a little. Democrats are supposed to be a progressive people, right?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Terry Pratchett on BBC4

Monday, October 8, 2007

Everyone Goose-steps?

When I first heard about Joseph and Chico: A Cat Recounts the Life of Pope Benedict XVI -- the upcoming children's book that uses a poorly drawn cat to tell the story of the new Pope -- I was slightly curious as to how it was going to address his Holiness' years spent as a member of the Hitler Youth. I cynically assumed that they'd simply skip over that portion of his life. I mean, they'd have to, right? Nope. A recent press release promises prospective readers that the feisty little tabby is gonna don the jackboots for at least a couple of pages. Now I don't know about y'all, but I'm crazy-curious to know how the writers/publishers/Pope are going to handle this. Do they dare talk about the millions of people killed in concentration camps at the hands of the Nazi party, or will it be put to the kids via more of an 'everyone makes mistakes' angle, ala Everyone Poops?

NYTimes Best Sellers: Fiction
(now with excerpts)

To read the first chapters (or, in the case of stingier authors and/or publishers, brief excerpts), simply click the titles.

1. Playing For Pizza by John Grisham

2. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

3. You've Been Warned by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

4. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

5. Shoot Him If He Runs by Stuart Woods

6. Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo

7. The Orc King by R.A. Salvatore

8. Run by Ann Patchett

9. Dead Heat by Dick Francis and Felix Francis

10. Making Money by Terry Pratchett