“A few weeks ago, I texted my writing group, ‘All I really want is to be just famous enough to have my own celebrity book club.’ I was kind of kidding. But I kind of wasn’t. Because, like portion-packaged organic snacks delivered to your door, isn’t book club ownership one step closer to having it all?” Laura Briskman on the faux intimacy of celebrity book clubs, as more and more celebrities start their own post Oprah.
We give up a book for many reasons: it was too long, the writing was dull, it was written by E.L. James. Goodreads has charted just when and why we abandon books. Catch-22 is the number one abandoned book. (Confession: I didn’t finish it either.) Also, see our article on the pressures of finishing novels in the age of literary social media.
In 2002, the psychologist Daniel Kahneman, a Princeton professor and expert in judgement and decision-making, won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his research in behavioral studies. At the LARB, K.C. Cole ties his work to The Fate of Our Species, a new book by Fred Guterl.
“Kill ‘Em and Leave is [James] McBride’s own testament to [James] Brown’s philosophy. It’s a stunningly unorthodox book, indifferent to the conventions of biographical nonfiction … The book is a hybrid of forms, largely a telling of Brown’s life story and partly a telling of McBride’s search for that story, with digressions about the author’s own life, essayistic ruminations on Brown and his music, and free, looping riffs that have the energy of improvisation.” On James McBride’s unusual, unorthodox biography of the unusual, unorthodox James Brown.
“The findings revealed that across the board, nearly 80 percent of those surveyed who worked in publishing self-identified as white. In Marketing and Publicity, 77 percent were white. These are people who make decisions on how to position books to the press and to consumers, and if and where to send authors on tour — critical considerations in the successful launching of any publication. For writers of color, the lack of diversity in book publicity departments can feel like a death knell.” On the lack of representation in book publishing and publicity campaigns.
Emdashes notes that the New Yorker is issuing an update disk for its Complete New Yorker DVD-ROM set. She also spotted the Complete New Yorker being sold on a portable hard drive.At the Washington Post, an academic writes in defense of the Google Book Search Library Project: “Only a small fraction of the huge number of books published today are printed in editions of more than a few thousand copies. And the great works of even the recent past are quickly passing into obscurity. Google has joined with major libraries to make it possible for all titles to remain accessible to users.”At the SF Chronicle, a report that somebody is finally holding the folks behind the JT Leroy hoax responsible: “Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Mary Jane Skalski of Antidote Films, an independent film company that bought the rights to JT LeRoy’s novel, Sarah, have sued LeRoy and/or Laura Albert (who was LeRoy) and Judi Farkas, Hollywood manager of the writer. The New York Times reports that in the suit, filed in New York, the filmmakers want $45,000 they paid in options and $60,000 in costs they paid in developing the project.” You’ll recall that back in January I asked What about JT Leroy? (via Ed)The corporate-sponsored literary popularity contest The Quills is back. Here are the many, many nominees. I don’t have much to add to what I wrote about The Quills last year: “If we are dissatisfied with the Booker Prize or the National Book Award or the Pulitzer, the Quills, which casts the net very wide and relies on voting from the reading public, have been presented as a populist alternative. The results are less than satisfying. It is not news to anyone that the reading public likes Harry Potter and books by Sue Monk Kidd and Janet Evanovich. I hold nothing against those bestsellers, but naming them the best books of the year does little to satisfy one’s yearning to be introduced to the best, to have an encounter with a classic in our own time. We like those bestsellers because they entertain us, but while monetary success is the reward for those entertaining authors, awards have typically honored books with qualities that are more difficult to quantify.”Another book banning attempt: The Miami-Dade School Board has sided with a parent who wishes to remove Vamos a Cuba (A Visit to Cuba) and 23 other books from school libraries. The pro-book banning contingent contends that the books fail to give an accurate picture of life in Cuba under Castro. The Miami Herald has the latest.
“I’ve been writing about ‘real’ characters and placing them in a shaped, or fictional, world. Writing TransAtlantic, there was never really a plan, at the early stages, to question the line between fiction and nonfiction. I just went on instinct, and then these worlds started to braid.” The Rumpus interviews Colum McCann.