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Archives: February 2005

Pink-Slip Journalism Boots Rawlison

booted2.jpgThe Pixel Gods haven’t been kind to today, and, on behalf of “booted” PW editor Nora Rawlison, we’re calling it divine retribution. The woman who only a month ago merited Publisher’s Lunch first ‘letter to the editor’ — a letter of praise from a higher-up at Reed Business Information following Rawlison’s departure and Sara Nelson’s hire — is now, thanks to the Book Standard, a victim of the passive voice (“Nora Rawlinson, who was abruptly fired last month from her role as editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly …”) and a time-travelling pink slip.

(Incidentally, GC’s previous post about imaginary firings also included Penguin’s logo. Please note how much better it looks when not run through Photoshop’s “distressed karma” filter.)


Noting that sales of Jose Canseco’s much-hyped memoir are off to a surprisingly slow start, PW wonders if ” the media’s questioning of Canseco’s credibility might be holding back some buyers.” Personally, GC prefers Conversational Reading‘s phrasing:

You’re making me choose between believing Canseco or believing Bush–shit!

White Girls Can’t Write

He’s answered to Puff Daddy, P. Diddy and Sean “Puffy” Combs, but to Random House he’s D. Fendant.

Fonts & Conservative Responses

Usually, literary alarmism (“Sales are down, authors are despondent …”) is earnest and idealistic; even when it’s fueled by rage, it shakes off the world-weary self-recognition that accompanies most cliches. Which is why today’s article in the Guardian, first sounding the alarms (“Sales are down, authors are despondent …”) and then chiding us for hearing them ( “… salons are closing and literary lunches have become drab affairs.”), seems not just unfair but hostile.

But, if the article’s opening paragraphs betray hostility towards the conventions of the literary alarmist piece (and, by extension, those who read them too acceptingly), the article’s closing — ostensibly about Penguin’s new mass-market format — reads as an example of codgery “back in my day” conservatism:

The innovation [ed. -- meaning, Penguin's new format] will also come as a relief to those authors who may have mistakenly felt that people were not buying their books because of something they had written.

Rather than being concerned about such old-fashioned literary gimmicks as plot, character and the careful choice of appropriate language, they must now recognised [sic] that the key to successful writing is to change the font size setting on their computer and to invest in some heavyweight paper at the stationers.

Riiiight. And every time Chip Kidd designs a cover, you know the editor’s given up on content. Good books, in fact, are only printed on dot matrix printers; bound with silver duct tape; and — just in case superficial readers still aren’t deterred — doused in spaghetti sauce and water.

We Interrupt Your Scheduled Galleycat

Galleycat is feeling under the weather at the moment and is not quite well enough to blog. She promises to return shortly.

Release Date: 2.15

Some books enrich culture.
Today, we look at those that won’t.

milk.jpgMilk : A Novel, Darcey Steinke (Bloomsbury USA)
Why it might be bad: Characters include a word-slamming poet and a pedophilic priest. Sentences include “what [word-slammng] Mary wanted was technically impossible: to feel God’s touch physically manifested.” But Western civilization doesn’t need more rape-fantasies about God from girls named Mary.

chronicledarkness.jpgChronicles of Ancient Darkness #1: Wolf Brother, Michelle Paver (HarperCollins)
Why it might be bad: An customer review likens the book’s sensibility to “the blackface minstrel show/stage Oirish/Me Tonto school of bad Hollywood racial and cultural stereotypes.” Another reader calls it “an utterly cynical exercise to cash in,” and notes its reliance on New Age phrases like “world spirit.”

joshuatroubled.jpgJoshua in a Troubled World : A Story for Our Time, Joseph Girzone (Doubleday)
Why it might be bad: It stars a modern-day Jesus Christ who, while evading brutish FBI agents, finds the time to convince Sharon and Arafat to draft and sign a new Oslo Declaration. And, then, there’s this review, from the usually amiable PW: “The characters are one-dimensional, the dialogue is stilted, the plot is tedious and the conclusion is entirely predictable.”

Reading Immaterial

People in book publishing have a big problem — books.

More precisely: people in e-book publishing have a big problem — books.

DisneyWar, Redux

Covering the same ground as Slate, the NY Times wonders if DisneyWar “[signals] a return of a longtime industry staple: the best-selling business narrative.” Meanwhile, New York‘s Intelligencer column reports on Eisner’s too-little-too-late attempt at saving face:

A source close to the author says Eisner spent January 26, 27, and 28 on the phone, muscling Stewart to make extensive changes. He acquiesced to some, but by that Friday, the day final changes were due, Eisner wouldn’t let up. “It started in the mid-afternoon and went until almost ten,” the source says. As it happens, much of what Eisner was denying came straight from his own autobiography. Among Eisner’s other quibbles: an anecdote where he allegedly raised his voice at then-ABC honchos Susan Lyne and Lloyd Braun during a discussion of the future of Eight Simple Rules after John Ritter’s death (Eisner wanted the TV wife to become pregnant, which they felt raised taste issues).

(Note to self: get Vogue on the phone, confirm dead men’s fake babies = tacky.)

Break-Up Book in Time for V-Day

usweekly.jpgNew York magazine’s Alex French talks to Mara Reinstein and Joey Bartolomeo, Us Weekly staffers and authors of Brad & Jen: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Golden Couple, due out today:

How did you write so quickly?
M.R.: I still don’t know.
J.B.: We looked like we’d been on some bizarre drug binge.
M.R.: Bob Wallace, the head of Wenner Books, said it had to be 40,000 words, which I didn’t really understand–all I knew was that an Us Weekly cover story is, like, 1,300 words, so I knew it would be a lot.
J.B.: We had eleven chapters, and the editor said, “You need more.” We had to get creative. There was a chapter on the month of December and one on their style.

We’d say we hate them, but they look like the kind of girls who never got used to not having braces.

Also — we wouldn’t mind getting invited to book parties that hand out wallets as party favors.

Making Michiko’s Reviews Look Gondsent

Is Harry Potter doing it with Ron Weasley?
You might well ask
… if you’re NAMBLA. Fan fiction might be the more appropriate medium for NAMBLA (short for the North American Man/Boy Love Association), but the website mostly occupies itself with book reviews that — like a twisted session of Recovered-Memory Therapy — unearth authors’ “repressed” storylines, buried desires, and bested intentions.

Thank God I’m not a guy, because the thought of NAMBLA reviewing my semi-autobiographical debut would never let me write one.