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Archives: June 2007

HarperCollins to Adopt Dog Novel for $1.2M?

garth-stein.jpgLooks like the auction for Garth Stein‘s new novel may have gone quite well indeed: Before checking out for the weekend, the Vulture bloggers intimated that HarperCollins is paying $1.2 million for what’s been described as the next Marley & Me (though they suggest “the true model for Stein’s novel seems to be mega-selling Mitch Albom“). What we hear from our sources is that Stein and Folio are still mulling over the offers that came in for The Art of Racing in the Rain, but that doesn’t necessarily rule out the HarperCollins angle. I guess we’ll find out for sure next week!

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Scene @ Saira Rao’s Chambermaid Party

Kirsten Neuhaus Saira Lauren Wein.jpg

While Sarah and I were holding the fort at the first GalleyCat book swap Tuesday night, chief Laurel Touby ventured uptown for a party celebrating the publication of Chambermaid, a Devil Wears Prada for the judicial branch, written by former Cleary Gottlieb associate Saira Rao (flanked in the photo above by her agent and editor, Kirstin Neuhaus of Vigliano Associates and Grove/Atlantic‘s Lauren Wein). Laurel brought along a photographer, so there’s plenty more photos where that came from.

michaelbierut-laureltouby.jpgUPDATE: Turns out that wasn’t the only party our boss went to that evening—here she is with Michael Bierut at the Madison Square Park tent party for his Seventy-Nine Short Essays on Design, each of which, we hear, is laid out with a different font. Bierut’s design firm, Pentagram, has plenty more of Federico Rodriguez-Caldentey’s pictures, including boldface-named guests like Kurt Andersen, Chip Kidd, and Harvey Lichtenstein.

Yet Another Book Trailer Big Battle!

This week: Wacky Renaissance comedy that breaks the fourth wall, a Da Vinci Code chaser, and avant-garde filmmaking with Latin subtitles!

Leonardo’s Shadow, Christopher Grey:

Tree of Life, Chris Loveway

Let’s Pretend We Never Met, Nathaniel G. Moore:

Ellison, Fantagraphics Agree to Play Nice

Science-fiction writer Harlan Ellison‘s defamation lawsuit against Fantagraphics Books was resolved yesterday. According to an email sent out by Fantagraphics head Gary Groth, “the parties are not at liberty to discuss the terms of the resolution at this time.” Funnily enough, Ellison’s website has the exact same message, only with one critical detail changed: “The parties are not at liberty to discuss the terms of the resolution. At this time.” Oooooooooh.

McCafferty Enlists Darling Fans for Promotion

megan-mccafferty-headshot.jpgIf you’ve ever watched a book trailer and said “I could do that,” now’s your big chance: Megan McCafferty is inviting fans to create a video that summarizes the plotlines of Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, and Charmed Thirds in three minutes or less. The videos should “bring new and forgetful readers up to speed on the action leading up to Fourth Comings,” the next book installment in the Jessica Darling series, which goes on sale in August. “I’ll blog about the most entertaining videos as they come in,” promises McCafferty (left), and the final winner will receive a tote bag filled with signed books.

UK’s New PM Takes Cue from JFK

gordon-brown.jpgBritain’s new prime minister, Gordon Brown (left), has just landed an American book deal for Courage: Eight Portraits, as Weinstein Books picks up the U.S. rights from Bloomsbury, who published the book just before Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer in Tony Blair’s administration for the last ten years, was given the nod to move into 10 Downing Street. Weinstein will publish the book, which includes short biographies of men and women who made “brave decisions in the service of great causes” like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Aung San Suu Kyi, in May 2008.

Actually, even with the similarity in their titles, the comparison in our headline between the prime minister’s book and Profiles in Courage is a bit simplistic. For one thing, Brown has already published several books of political history; for another, there’s no reason to believe he didn’t write them all himself.

Can You Hear the Readers Sing?

We told you earlier this week about Sandy Dijkstra‘s saber-rattling at San Diego Union-Tribune management over the paper’s plans to eliminate a stand-alone book review section and fold literary coverage into the Sunday arts pages. The A-list agent has been leaking her side of the correspondence she’s conducted with the paper over the issue, so we know just how intently she refuses to back down. “You probably already know that a storm of concern and of protest is gathering,” Dijkstra tells U-T editor Karin Winner. “I cannot predict how large it will grow, but I do hope that you will listen to your loyal readers, who are also booklovers, like you and me.”

After politely rejecting a undetailed “compromise… for future book coverage” (no doubt a recap of the paper’s announced plans), Dijkstra complains, “I am not alone in worrying that over time, books will get shorter and shorter shrift, and IF newspapers like yours continue to shrink their national and international coverage, books will become even more essential, and you readers will need to know what is being published. And, then there are the novels that won’t be reviewed.” Then she tries cajoling Winner, suggesting the Union-Tribune is a “cash cow” that should easily be able to afford a book review section with only one permanent staffer. (Even with the competition from Craigslist, Dijkstra insists, “you virtually OWN San Diego, which is a HUGE market.”) And then, she lays down her ace card—no, not the threats of funeral performance art and “read-ins” that she tossed around earlier in the week:

“IF you would be willing to reconsider your decision, I would be willing to take the initiative to contact the Association of Authors’ Representatives, and I’m sure that they will want to reach out to major American publishers, urging them to guarantee a certain level of advertising, so that they can to continue to experience the benefits of Reviews such as the U-T’s. I cannot promise a positive response, nor can I gauge what level they might offer, IF they do that. But, we can certainly make them more aware that they need to step forward.”

Because there’s nothing publishers love more than agents telling them they aren’t buying enough ads, right?

The Online Buzz That Blurs Reality

metal-assassin.jpgI’ll admit it: If you tell me there’s a website that carries the fictional world of a novel over into the real-life Internet, I’m probably going to take a look. Like the MySpace page for the band Metal Assassin, featuring “title tracks” from the imaginary albums Moist & Delicious and Drop in the Bucket. If you didn’t know that Mark Haskell Smith‘s new novel, Salty, is about the band’s bass player, you might just be able to convince yourself you were listening to a real band. Well, I suppose in a way you would be, but you know what I mean. (And, no, they’re not exactly Spinal Tap, but then who is?)

Then there’s the home page for the New York Daily Herald, the newspaper that employs the lead character in Nicholas Kulish‘s Last One In, a gossip columnist who gets sent to the front lines of Iraq. The headlines from March 2003 pokes fun at early optimism among conservatives about the war’s outcome, celebrating “Donald Rumsfeld, The Man With the Plan” as “the noose tightens” in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. There’s even a blind item joke trying to identify the unnamed rock star from A Million Little Pieces, the one James Frey wanted to beat up for his wild, unrealistic stories about drug addiction. Well, with everything we’ve learned since then, I suppose there’s no reason it couldn’t have been the lead singer of Metal Assassin…

This Headline Has the Word Autochthonous

logorrhea-anthology-cover.jpg“I’ve always looked to see what the winning word for the national bee was,” says Electric Velocipede editor John Klima, “and when ‘autochthonous’ won a few years ago, I felt like I had to do something. I went and checked on the last ten years’ winning words, and saw a whole list of words that I didn’t know the definition to or how to pronounce.” So he put out a call for submissions on a message board, inviting writers to submit stories based on the winning words, and wound up publishing two of the stories he received in his science fiction magazine. He mentioned the idea again at the 2005 World Fantasy convention and got verbal commitments from even more writers. The following year, an encounter with Bantam Spectra editor Juliet Ulman led to a deal offer.

The resulting anthology, Logorrhea: Good Words Make Good Stories, features 21 stories from many of speculative fiction’s rising stars, including Jeff VanderMeer, Alan De Niro, and our bookblogging pal Matthew Cheney, as well as seasoned pros like Michael Moorcock and Alex Irvine, even the mainstream literary author Michelle Richmond. “I let the authors chose their own words,” Klima says of the setup, and though not everybody named their stories after their words, most did, leading to titles such as “Vivisepulture” and “Appoggiatura.” (Clearly having fun with the concept, Leslie What named her story, based on the word psoriasis, “Tsuris.”) “There are more than 70 winning words at this point, and I knew I would have about 20 contributors,” Klima adds. “With the writers choosing their own words, it let them find something that really spoke to them.” And that still leaves enough for two more sequels!

From a University Press Catalog to Random House’s Book Club Roster

betool-khedairi.jpgRandom House editor Judy Sternlight has a lot of international contacts—in addition to commissioning and acquiring translations for the Modern Library, she tracks down reprint possibilities for Random. So when she spotted Absent, a novel by Iraqi-Scottish journalist Betool Khedairi (left), in an American University in Cairo Press catalog, she was intrigued enough to order a copy. “Khedairi’s great sense of humor, and her vivid portrayal of a handful of people living in a Baghdad apartment building in the 1990s pulled me right in,” Sternlight recalled in a recent email message. “A lot of North Americans are hungry to learn more about the Middle East and the people who live there, and a novel like Absent is a very intimate and accessible way into a different world.”

By the time Sternlight brought Absent up at an editorial meeting, she’d already gotten several of her colleagues to read the novel. “They agreed with me that this funny and poignant story about life in Baghdad between the Gulf War and the current conflict was truly compelling and well suited to a North American audience,” she reports—so, just as HarperPerennial had done last year with another AUinC title, Egyptian novelist Alaa Al Aswany‘s The Yacoubian Building, Random picked up Absent as a trade paperback original. Further demonstrating their belief that the book would appeal to an mainstream audience, the imprint added it to the “Readers Circle” program, designating it as book club-friendly. “When Betool Khedairi wrote Absent, she wanted to give Westerners a better sense of Iraqi people from different layers of society,” Sternlight wrote. “I can’t wait for North American readers to discover this captivating novel about life in Iraq, the importance of family and community, the hardships of living in a war torn part of the world, and on a basic level, the yearnings of one very intriguing young woman who needs to decide what to do with her life.”