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Archives: January 2008

Bloggers Rally Online to Support Patry Francis

patry-francis-headshot.jpgThe paperback of Patry Francis‘s debut novel, The Liar’s Diary, is being released today, just two months after she was diagnosed with cancer, and has been undergoing surgeries since then. Throughout early January, hundreds of authors and other bloggers contacted each other to orchestrate a one-day swell of attention for Francis and her book—LitPark has a full list of particpants, from Patti Abbott to Crystal Zevon. As the Backspace blog observes, “Authors aren’t in competition with one another… [They] understand that all those volumes lining bookstore shelves and crowding for space on amazon that seem to be crying, ‘Buy me!’ are actually helping one another.”

In addition to all the bloggers chipping in, Circle of Seven Productions created this promotional trailer for the novel:

“Written Nerd” Gets $15K Biz Grant

dailynews-stockton-bagnulo.jpgCongratulations to fellow bookblogger Jessica Stockton Bagnulo (far left) on winning the Brooklyn Public Library‘s annual business plan competition with her proposal for an independent bookstore, a dream she’s long nurtured and discussed on her Written Nerd blog—which is where she posted a first-person account of the awards ceremony last week. “The Citibank rep responsible for creating the contest and the head judge told me that it was my presentation that made the difference,” she recalls, “that the judges were skeptical about the wisdom of opening an independent bookstore given all they’d heard, but I sold them on the idea with my data and my passion.” Rock on. Now if we can just get somebody with her passion in Queens!

(photo of Stockton Bagnulo with Brooklyn Public Library executive director Dionne Mack-Harvin: NY Daily News)

No Secret to Charles Bock’s Media Blitz

jynne-martin-headshot.jpgAfter this morning’s post on all the attention the NY Times is lavishing on Charles Bock, a few of you emailed suggestions as to how the one-two punch of the long Sunday magazine profile, soon to be followed by a front-page NYTBR review, came about. Those answers ranged from the silly (“Chip [McGrath], God bless him, probably just wanted to go someplace warm”) to the plausible (“find out whether Dan Menaker was involved”), but Occam’s razor gives us a very elegant solution: The common thread that runs between Bock, Benjamin Kunkel, and Curtis Sittenfeld is assistant director of publicity Jynne Martin (right).

That still leaves our question about the NYT magazine’s last feature on a woman novelist unanswered, though, so if you can remember when it happened, feel free to fill me in!

Oprah’s Next Book Club Pick Comes Tomorrow

Michael Cader reminds us in this morning’s Publisher’s Lunch that tomorrow’s the day Oprah Winfrey makes her new book club selection. “The metadata currently on the web is inconsistent,” he notes, which is a polite way of saying the listing shows the book’s length at 1 page. A suspicious person might think that was a deliberate attempt to throw off GalleyCat readers who’ve become experts at figuring out her selections before they’re announced. But Cader offers another clue: “It’s a book for which Penguin also has unabridged audio rights.”

As you’ll recall, according to our info the book should be not just a “Penguin” paperback, as currently listed on Amazon, but a Plume title. Earlier this month, I considered some likely candidates, but the “unabridged audio rights” clue may render many of them irrelevant. Bookselling This Week says it’s not just Plume, but specifically Hudson Street Press. I’m pretty sure it’s not the John O’Hurley or Danica McKellar books, but, beyond that, anybody want to make a last-minute guess?

Oh God, Not Another Power Ballad Writing Contest

rock-on-bookcover.jpgIt was almost one year ago exactly that Barrelhouse invited readers to create their own power ballad, and while the literary magazine has moved on to roller derby, Algonquin Books has picked up the fascination with the songs. The independent publishing company is teaming up with Shelf Awareness on a bookstore-themed songwriting contest, where contestants are instructed to “[show] us how you can spew out your angst-ridden, bookseller heart.” The winning entry gets one of the vinyl toys that’s on the cover of Dan Kennedy‘s Rock On, plus T-shirts for all his or her coworkers.

Why is it always power ballads? Why not polkas, waltzes, schottishes… you know, the kind of tunes that people like to hear?

“Greatest American Novelist” Dies, Almost Unnoticed

theodora-keogh-fascinator.jpgI’ll admit it: I’ve never read any of Theodora Keogh‘s nine novels, and chances are, given what little I know about the demographics of this blog’s readership, you haven’t, either. But Ned Rorem has said Keogh, who died earlier this month in North Carolina, was “our best American writer, certainly our best female writer,” and the descriptions of her early work in the obituary in London’s Telegraph sound like a cross between Dawn Powell and Jim Thompson, two great tastes I never would have imagined tasting great together (with the possible exception of American Psycho, though I don’t know that Bret Easton Ellis would embrace either comparison). Sadly, Keogh’s work is out of print, and appears to have been published primarily as pulp fiction, so the libraries probably aren’t going to have copies lying around…

So far, if Google News is anything to go by, the only American newspaper to mark her passing was The Charlotte Observer, which published an all too vague appraisal last week, hinting at more knowledge than it’s willing to share. The Telegraph, despite being on the other side of the Atlantic, offers much more biographical detail, including this bittersweet closer: “Theodora Keogh, who died in North Carolina on January 5, spent her final years in a house set in 19 acres. She loved cats, but gave up keeping chickens as they were eaten by coyotes.”

Oh For the Love of Bock

charles-bock-headshot.jpgA couple people emailed me yesterday after reading Charles McGrath‘s profile of Charles Bock for the NYT Sunday magazine and wanted to know, as one reader put it, “Who’s Charles Bock’s damn rabbi?” Clearly Random House put a lot into promoting Beautiful Children, which comes out today, and focused much of that effort on the Times: Liesl Schillinger‘s going to discuss the book on the front page of the NYT Book Review this weekend, too. I don’t think I’ve seen the Times lavish this much attention on a debut novelist in such a compressed timeframe since… well, since Random House published Benjamin Kunkel back in 2005.

Although there was also the ten-day stretch earlier that year between the NYTBR review of Prep (not on the cover, though) and the profile of Curtis Sittenfeld—in the arts section, not the magazine. Which actually raises a good question, the answer to which I frankly don’t have the time to look up myself: Anybody remember the last time the Times magazine published a feature about a woman novelist? (For the purposes of this discussion, Deborah Solomon interviews don’t count; it’s got to be an actual profile).

As for Bock, I haven’t seen Beautiful Children, so I have no opinion about that, but I have to admit I do like what he told Sarah Weinman about writing his novel, even though it makes me feel slothful:

“Truth is I worked on this novel for 10 years. Not ten years of watching Seinfeld at 11 PM. Ten years of a high priority in my life. When I was dating the woman who is now my wife, I would only go out with her two nights a week because I couldn’t give more time to that.”

(photo: Eric Ogden/NYT)

Captain America, Is That You?

new-captain-america.jpgA little more than ten months after Marvel killed off Captain America, the search for someone to don Steve Roger’s costume ends with the new issue, on sale tomorrow, and the winner is… his former teenage sidekick during the Second World War, Bucky. (It’s complicated: Basically, they were both frozen in ice, but found separately; Bucky was discovered by the bad guys and brainwashed into becoming an assassin, but was kept cryogenically frozen between missions, so he didn’t age much, and then his memories came back in a fight with Cap, and now he’s out ffor revenge.) The Daily News wants to make a big to-do about the fact that the new Captain America’s going to run around shooting people; whatever.

Series writer Ed Brubaker provides more detail on why Bucky got the callup in an interview with Newsarama:

“The death of Cap was not on my list of things I had to do with Captain America, but I did want to do a moment where Cap put down the shield… There was always going to be a void that needed to be filled, of some kind, whether that was going to be a death or him going to prison or him disappearing or something… but I had no clue until I wrote issue #26 or #27 that Bucky was actually going to end up taking the mantle. It didn’t occur to me that it was the next evolution of where Bucky was going. I knew all along that we would also have a redemption of Bucky storyline. So once I realized how big this story was getting, I realized I needed someone back in the costume with the shield eventually. And Bucky fit so perfectly into that.”

Literary Magazine Takes Roller Derby As Muse

roller-derby-artwork.jpgBarrelhouse is looking for your best writing about the roller derby: “fiction, essays, poems, whatever you got.” The finalists will see their work printed in the magazine’s next issue, with the winner receiving an original work of art from Cory Oberndorfer, which will be just as roller-derby themed as the picture at left but inspired directly by whatever it is that person has written. “This essentially means that you will become immortalized in two formats: your roller derby writing will appear in the pages of Barrelhouse, and will also be celebrated in or serve as inspiration for Cory’s work,” the editors explain. “Which will also be the cover of the next issue of Barrelhouse. So essentially we’re offering to make you a stone cold Mona Lisa style roller derby literary god or goddess whose roller derby writing will live on for all eternity.”

Well, geez, who can turn down an offer like that? I might just have to bust out my old research notes on the ’70s flick Kansas City Bomber

One Step Closer to Adapting Entire Novels on YouTube

This clip has been sanitized by the producers, but people walking past your computer might be a little curious about that string of bleeps towards the end…

Television actresses Autumn Reeser and April Bowlby do a scene from Celebutantes, a forthcoming Hollywood novel from Amanda Goldberg and Ruthanna Hopper, under the direction of McG. How’d so much expensive talent get roped into a two-minute promotional video for a debut novel? Well, in McG’s case, it might have something to do with the fact that Goldberg’s father is Leonard Goldberg, producer of both Charlie’s Angels movies…

According to the Entertainment Weekly “Pop Watch” blog, three more shorts are on the way, with Mike Vogel and Wilson Cruz. As celebrity-studded marketing gimmicks for pop novels go, I have to admit, this is a hell of a lot better than that godawful rap video for The Manny last summer.