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Feuds

Stephanie Barron Defends Jane Austen at Conference

As a controversy rages about the literary legacy of Jane Austen, novelist Stephanie Barron has written a special dispatch from the Jane Austen Society of North America conference.

Barron (pictured) is the author of the Jane Austen Mysteries series. Last week Oxford University professor Kathryn Sutherland made headlines for her analysis of more than 1,000 handwritten Austen pages, uncovering a trail of writing errors.

We’ve reprinted her entire literary op-ed below. Barron wrote: “It’s Sunday afternoon, and the end of the annual Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual General Meeting–which was rife, this year, with outrage. Six hundred and fifty Janeites in one Portland ballroom, all venting about the same thing: that Kathryn Sutherland’s attempt to promote her online database of Austen manuscript pages has gone decidedly wrong.”
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Sherry Argov Files Lawsuit Against Group Planeta

Author Sherry Argov has sued the Spanish publisher Group Planeta for copyright infringement and breach of contract while publishing Spanish-language editions of two of her books.

Publishers Weekly reported on the lawsuit:  “[Argov alleges] Planeta and its Editorial Diana Mexicana subsidiary have under paid Argov by at least $1 million by engaging in a number of practices that included: assigning the book to unknown entities without Argov’s permission; deceiving the author by paying royalties based on paperback rather than hardcover prices; selling editions in England and Europe with acquiring the rights; and concealing publication and sales of different editions of the books.”

Argov is the author of Why Men Marry Bitches: A Woman’s Guide to Winning Her Man’s Heart. At the moment, fans are waiting for the audio book version of Why We Love Bitches: Uncensored. It will not be available anywhere except for the official series website store.

Tea Party Coloring Book Publisher Fields Death Threats

According to Fox News, the publisher behind The Tea Party Coloring Book for Kids! has received death threats.

Really Big Coloring Books president Wayne Bell said he had sold thousands of copies of the coloring book, but stressed that his company also publishes books about less conservative topics, like The Rockettes and President Barack Obama. The article quotes a few threats, but does not quote the actual death threats.

Here’s more from the article: “Bell said he has received messages containing ‘horrible, nasty, vitriolic stuff,’ including a desire for someone to place him in a “chloroform headlock” since its publication. ‘It was like a crescendo,’ Bell said of the messages. ‘We’ve locked our front door and put a sign on the door that says, ‘please knock.””

Writing Professor’s Email Generates 75,000 Hits on Gawker

jth_pic.gifYesterday Gawker published the complete text of an email written by author and Columbia professor Janette Turner Hospital (pictured, via). They called it “the world’s haughtiest email,” sparking a debate about relations between MFA programs around the country.

The email invited University of South Carolina students to attend writing events at Columbia University, but angered USC students in the process. Go to Gawker to read the complete text. What do you think?

Here’s Gawker’s take: “She sent MFA students at her old school, the University of South Carolina, the following note about their inferiority. It is amazing. Hospital sent this note to all of the MFA students on the University of South Carolina listserv. More than one of them forwarded it to us. ‘We’re all enraged,’ one MFA grad from USC tells us.”

Parenting Book Deal Inspires Barrage of Commentary

New+York+Magazine+cover+7+10.jpgYesterday we reported that Jennifer Senior landed a book deal with Ecco after her New York magazine cover story, “All Joy and No Fun: The Parent’s Paradox,” earned 1.5 million hits on the magazine’s website.

Gawker wrote about our story, wondering: “Could this be the start of an anti-parenting cultural backlash?” That post spawned nearly 200 comments. What do you think? Is parenting worth it? Will you read the book?

Our Facebook readers had plenty to say. Cat Robinson had these thoughts: “I think the direct correlation is that we lose bits and pieces of ourselves in the titles we carry. We are someone’s wife, someone’s husband, someone’s parent, and it’s that loss of identity that brings along unrest with life. Rediscovering it is painful, but will bring a new joy. It’s an interesting premise.”

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Ann Coulter Readers Confuse Michael Gross & Michael Joseph Gross

michaelgross23.jpgYesterday conservative author Ann Coulter bashed author Michael Gross for his “gossip-girl digs at Sarah Palin” in a Vanity Fair article. In reality, the journalist Michael Joseph Gross wrote the profile in question, and the Coulter column buried Michael Gross under piles of misdirected hate mail.

Michael Gross wrote a letter to Coulter, asking for a correction: “You made a whopping big (though seemingly small) mistake in your column yesterday and I’m paying for it and I’m disgusted and so I am writing to ask you to help me stop the wave of sewage you’ve caused to wash up in my in-box. Your mistake was one that no one with a byline should make … your mistake has been compounded by the right-wing-nuts who read your column, and before that, by others whose reading skills apparently ain’t that great. So all month, I’ve been getting hate mail meant for Michael Joseph Gross.”

What do you think? Does the column merit a correction? Earlier this year, we interviewed Michael Gross about an embargoed review copy. (Via Gawker)

Thomas Pynchon Defends Ian McEwan Against Plagiarism

pynchonletter.jpgIn 2006, the reclusive novelist Thomas Pynchon rose to the defense of Ian McEwan during a controversy over alleged plagiarism in McEwan’s novel, Atonement.

Pynchon mailed a typewritten letter to the novelist’s British publisher, declaring: “Writers are naturally drawn, chimpanzee-like, to the color and the music of this English idiom.” The excellent Letters of Note site has a copy of the letter, where Pynchon dismissed the scandal and urged readers to be grateful for the book.

Check it out: “Memoirs of the Blitz have borne indispensable witness, and helped later generations know something of the tragedy and heroism of those days. For Mr. McEwan to have put details from one of them to further creative use, acknowledging this openly and often, and then explaining it clearly and honorably, surely merits not our scolding, but our gratitude.” (Via The Millions)

Do Literary Writers Deserve More Review Coverage Than Bestselling Authors?

authorp.jpgOver at the Huffington Post, novelist Jason Pinter interviewed authors Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult about a recent debate about review coverage–do white men get more review coverage than women?

Read the whole interview to join the debate. Earlier this week, we covered Weiner’s Twitter push for Franzenfreude, trying to find literary alternatives to Franzen’s work. The HuffPo post also generated a passionate response from novelist Jennifer Vanderbes (pictured, via Eamon Hickey).

Vanderbes wrote: “Literary writers need review attention. Picoult and Weiner sell enough books so that their publishers can take out ad space when their novels hit stores; places like like Target will automatically stock their hardcovers; this is simply not the case for most literary writers. In targeting Franzen, they found one of the few literary writers who does sell lots of books and probably didn’t even need one NYTimes review.”

What do you think? Read Weiner’s response below…

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Paul McCartney’s Pro-Library and Anti-Bush Comments Cut by PBS

According to Mediaite, when PBS airs a television special about Paul McCartney‘s White House performance in June, they will cut the 20-second clip embedded above–where McCartney criticizes the library skills of former President George W. Bush.

At a ceremony where he was awarded the the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song by President Barack Obama, the former Beatle concluded: “After the last eight years, it’s good to have a president that knows what a library is.”

Libraries have made headlines for the last month, as we spotlighted library card art, found the best library feeds on Twitter, and highlighted the Old Spice guy’s love for libraries. (Via

Eric Alterman on Journolist: “Many of Us Could Barely Stand One Another”

Ericalterman-330.jpgLast week political blogs around the country focused on Journolist, an exclusive 400-member email list where political journalists shared ideas and thoughts. Following a few leaks of the off-the-record emails, the email list was shut down.

Since then, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart has offered $100,000 to anyone who could turn over a complete copy of the Journolist emails–hoping to see inside what he called the “Democrat-Media Complex.”

Today author Eric Alterman (pictured) admitted he was an actual member of the list and described it for The Nation. “Many of us could barely stand one another,” he wrote, dismissing those who saw the list as a liberal conspiracy.

What do you think? Here’s an excerpt: “Personally, the list offered me the opportunity to simultaneously sharpen my ideas, improve my expertise, locate knowledgeable sources and bullshit about baseball. The cost was occasional aggravation and a lot of lost time. (If I had a Proustian masterpiece inside me somewhere, J-List is to blame for its continued nonexistence.) As a collective we held people’s feet to the fire, encouraged excellence, bemoaned administration wimpiness and took numerous opportunities to remind New Republic editors and authors that they work for a reactionary racist lunatic.”

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