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Archives: March 2005

“Sardonic”: Best Suited for Reviews, Not Voiceovers

As Prozac Nation finally surfaces, premiering “without fanfare” on the Starz! cable channel, Slate‘s Dana Stevens pauses to reflect on the reasons for its (only mild, she says) badness:

Granted, Prozac Nation is an extremely silly movie, but let’s face it: self-dramatizing middle-class girls who stay up for days on end writing Harvard Crimson articles about Lou Reed (“I feel his cold embrace, his sly caress”) are inherently silly people. [...] On her first day at Harvard, Lizzie sits down on a cardboard box to strategize with her roommate about their college personae: “We’ll be like these beautiful literary freaks … brilliant and dark and sexy.” As they laugh and puff reflectively at their cigarettes, she adds in a sardonic voiceover, “The trouble is, I was deadly serious.”

Moody Re-Backs TPR

I didn’t think there was much left to say about The Paris Review‘s choice of editor, but the Observer‘s write-up of the regime change flushes out some new, intriguing details. Among them: Slate editor Meghan O’Rourke was Philip Gourevitch’s co-front-runner for the job, and Rick Moody unofficially broke up with the mag over Brigid Hughes’ departure. According to the Observer, Moody, “a longtime contributor and financial backer” of TPR,

was so outraged over the circumstances of Ms. Hughes’ firing that he sent a “resignation” letter to the magazine several weeks ago, declaring that he would have nothing more to do with it after Ms. Hughes’ final issue. He rushed to complete a 50-page novella, called The Omega Force, for the April magazine, which will be Ms. Hughes’ last. But now, with the new editor revealed, Mr. Moody is reconsidering his resignation, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Moody did not respond to requests for comment.

Ha Jin Wins PEN/Faulkner

jin.jpgJust in off the wire: Ha Jin has won his second PEN/Faulkner for War Trash, the story of a Chinese POW set during the Korean War. Jin’s last PEN/Faulkner win came in 2000 for Waiting.

Also up for the prize were Edwidge Danticat for The Dew Breaker; Marilynne Robinson for this year’s NBCC winner, Gilead; Jerome Charyn for the misleadingly titled The Green Lantern; and Steve Yarbrough for Prisoners of War.

Baron Resurfaces

Like a time-lapsed game of Whack-a-Mole, Carole Baron ducked out of sight last month only to reappear this week as Bookspan’s new VP. Leaving Penguin, where she served as President of Putnam and Dutton, she was — as PW put it — “non-committal” about her future plans.

“It’s time for me to let go of the day-to-day detail and concentrate on taking a look at the larger picture of our industry,” [Baron] wrote. “I look forward to being involved in publishing in a way that will take advantage of my years of experience and at the same time always allow me that exquisite pleasure of working with writers.”

In her new role, Baron will be performing such vague duties as “[maintaining] and [building] Bookspan’s strong relationships within the publishing community,” negotiating with book club editors, and “[strengthening] Bookspan’s editorial strategy, specifically [addressing] new approaches to promoting books and improving cross-club usage.”

Prep Rally

prep.jpgGiven Prep‘s momentum — 49,000 copies sold and counting — Paramount’s recent purchase (third item) of the film rights doesn’t come as much surprise. The real question now — besides whether or not the film’ll actually get made — is which actress will play Curtis Sittenfeld (aka, Lee Fiora).

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Hypnotist Secures Million Dollar Book DealIn Other News, Hypnotism Finally Proven Effective

mckenna.jpgI’ve never heard of Paul McKenna, but, as of Monday, he’s become the highest paid nonfiction writer in Britain, thanks to a £3m advance (~$5.6m) from Transworld publishers.

In the past year, “celebrity hypnotist” McKenna’s “street value has rocketed,” the Independent reports; his lifestyle guide Change Your Life in Seven Days sold 400,000 copies, and its sequel, I Can Make You Thin, 350,000. “Publishing sources reckon his new books will follow a similar format, and deal with four new areas: confidence, intelligence, wealth and quitting smoking.” But, apparently, when it comes to Paul McKenna’s brand of hypnotism, the real trick to be learned is how to do it. Whether or not McKenna knows how to help you quit smoking-while-losing-weight-while-making-millions-while-cumming, he knows how to get publishers to think you think he does (or, at least, might), which means he’s either a) a very smart fraud, or b) doing something right.

Mary Matalin to Head New S&S Imprint

matalin.jpgMary Matalin has been tapped for a new, political and conservative imprint at Simon & Schuster, the AP reports.

“I think we’re on the threshold of a whole new way of looking at politics and policy and there’s something vital about getting those ideas down in book form,” Matalin told the AP earlier today.

Beginning in 2006, the imprint will be expected to release 6 to 10 books annually. No authors have yet been named.



  • A freelance writer drops his plagiarism suit against Kitty Kelley “after realizing that he was likely to lose because he had failed to register his copyright with the United States Copyright Office.” [NY Times]

  • Mary Mapes, the CBS News producer fired over “Memogate,” signs a six-figure deal with St. Martin’s to write The Other Side of the Story. [Crain's New York]
  • mb’s David Hirschman interviews new Paris Review editor Philip Gourevitch. []
  • The Independent takes a look at the mounting competition to Lynne Truss’s upcoming etiquette rulebook, Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of Everyday Life, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door. [Independent]
  • After pulling out of a film “in order to write his autobiography,” Sean Connery cancels the autobiography, including the deal with the ghostwriter slated to write it. [London Times]

Peterson Jurors May Team Up For Book

FT Writes the Random House Brochure

Ask Peter Olson what book he would like to have published, and the Random House chief executive immediately cites The Purpose Driven Life.

But Random House hasn’t needed Rick Warren’s (hostage-approved) bestseller to make profits. The Financial Times breaks down what sets Random House apart: a business model borrowed from the company’s German parent, the specialization afforded by its imprints, and “getting the balance right” between “[finding] high-quality new authors while controlling advances for big-name titles.”