Friday, November 16, 2007

Book News, In Brief

The Wu-Tang Clan's most surreal member, Ghostface Killah, is set to release a book this January. The book, The World According to Pretty Toney, is billed as the "ultimate guide to life" for "the modern day hustler," and covers everything from "livin'and hustlin'" to "lovin' and eatin'." Sounds mmn, mmn good!

Marvel Comics has begun offering their comics online, at a price considerably less than retail. Over at ICv2, Ilan Strasser of Fat Moose Comics Shop explains why it may lead to the death of comic book shops, and comic book/trade paperback sales in general. For those of you who might think that Strasser is overreacting, call your local record store and ask them how online sales have effected their business...if their phone is still connected.

Travis Smiley, the thought provoking media personality behind the highly successful -- and self-published -- The Covenant With Black America, is expanding his publishing a big way. Smiley recently announced books by Cornell West and Iyanla Vanzant in the coming year, with plenty more to follow.

Bonus! Ghostface Video!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Book News, In Brief

Surprise, surprise! Anti-war, government-critiquing books win big at The National Book Awards. Does this mean that the notoriously right-wing art world is finally expanding their horizons? What's next -- gay-themed movies winning Academy Awards? Asian chefs winning Iron Chef competitions? The times they are a-stagnant.

It's tasteless and tacky and I'm actually a little miffed that someone else beat me to it: A recent poll finds Kurt Vonnegut to be America's Best Loved Recently Deceased Author. Apparently, most folks found (find?) Mailer's work lacking in "staying power." (Keep in mind, these are the same folks who respond to such random, idiotic queries as, "Who's your favorite dead author?")

Dave Roman, editor and illustrator over at Nickelodeon Magazine, offers up a slew of tips for aspiring freelance artists. Wannabe writers and basement bloggers should also take a look. Roman's tips regarding editors, effectively marketing yourself, finding local outlets for your work, creating a memorable business card, and online self-promotion can easily be applied to your fields, as well.
(A tip of the hat to Publisher's Weekly and The Beat for the initial head-up.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In Defense of Third Person Omniscient

Yesterday, a customer asked me if I could find him some recent fiction written in the third person omniscient point of view. ('T.P.O.' as I'll refer to it from here on out, is when a story is told from the perspective of a god-like narrator who can see every character's actions and thoughts.) My initial reaction was, damn, what a stupid way to find something new to read. Then I set off around the store to find one. But you know what? I couldn't. Not one. It seems that the majority of the novels being published today fall into one of two p.o.v. camps: first person ("I did this," "I went there," etc.) and third person limited (a character's name is used instead of "I", but chapter to chapter, scene to scene, we get to 'hear' the thoughts and 'see' the observations of whichever character is being featured).
So what the hell happened to T.P.O? Looking around online, the majority of folks seem to deride it, calling it "head-hopping," or "lazy writing." Another common claim is that publishers frown on it because it "creates...distance between the reader and the story," while "making it hard to form any emotional attachments to the characters."
Well, I say mother-eff those folks. T.P.O. is the Robert Altman of fiction -- a unique and exciting way to experience the lives of a wide variety of characters, all at the same time. And to call it "lazy" is ludicrous. Switching back and forth between the p.o.v. of a group of characters in a manner that never confuses...that's anything but easy. Jane Austen used to use the T.P.O., and she's no slacker. J.R.R. Tolkien did, too, and he was a literature professor. Hell, even your mother and/or father used T.P.O. when they told you bedtime stories, and that supposed 'distancing' never stopped you from peeing the bed in terror, did it?
In closing, let me pass on this quote from Molly Maquire, herself quoting Stephen Koch. The two of them sum it up perfectly:

"Whenever arguments over the sanctity of certain POV protocols arises, I think of Koch's take on the furor:

'Too often, this rather fussy doctrine pointlessly constricts writers’ options and narrows their range. As for the claim that the reader can’t follow multiple or shifting points of view, it is simply false on its face. The whole history of the novel is testimony to the contrary, from Jane Austen to Thomas Pynchon. In masterpiece after masterpiece, the narrative point of view readily changes from page to page, or even from sentence to sentence and only delights as it does so. In fact, one of prose fiction’s grandest strengths, which it exercises for once in effortless superiority over all other narrative media, including the movies, is its ability to dart in and out of any character’s mind at will. To forgo this splendid artistic advantage in the name of some pallid academic theory is really madness.'
–Stephen Koch, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop, page 90"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

2 News Bits, 1 Photo

Australia is buzzing about a hot new book that features hundreds of candid photos of sex, jealousy and betrayal...under the sea.

Do the often lurid and embarrassing covers of fantasy books actually hurt their sales? When even their regular readers think so, it may be time for the industry to re-think its approach.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Book News, In Brief

I had no idea that the Miami Book Fair was such a big deal. It makes sense, though, considering the state's reputation as a retirement mecca. Those wealthy old folks do nothing but read and reminisce and find new ways to conceal their old racist ideologies. I kid, I kid...I love old people. My grandparents were old. So was Gandalf. Anyway, for a complete review of the MBF, video clips, and some Rosie O'Donnell gossip, head on over to the Miami Herald, MiamiTV 4, and the official website. Oh, and don't forget your reading glasses. None of these sites currently offer large print versions.

Andrew Morton, dirt-disher extraordinaire, is set to publish a new biography about every woman's dream Lamaze partner, Tom Cruise. According to Morton, the book offers so much dirt on Cruise's personal life, sexuality, religious beliefs, etc, that he has had to go into hiding for fear of losing his life. "I have received threats from the Scientologists, and things have become pretty heavy - to the extent that it's almost more than my lawyers can handle. I've sold my flat and I'm not telling anyone where I'm moving to. I intend to disappear for a while."
(Note to Morton's publishers: He told me to tell you to just go ahead and send his checks here, care of me. We all feel that for now, it's safer that way.)

Norman Mailer is dead at age 84. Listed below are are a slew of links to various tributes, obits and career summaries.
New Yorker Magazine
New York Times obituary
San Fran Chronicle
Publishers Weekly
Time Magazine
Mailer on The Charlie Rose Show
Recent interview with The UK Guardian