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Archives: February 2008

The Most Award-Nominated Story You’ve Never Heard Of

ellison-yourgrau-headshots.jpg⇒OK, one more twist on the “nominated for an Edgar and a Nebula” meme, and then I swear we’re done: I told you about Michael Chabon‘s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, then I learned about Jeffrey Ford‘s The Girl in the Glass, and now Ellen Datlow emails to remind me of the Harlan Ellison novella “Mefisto in Onyx,” which she published in Omni nearly 15 years ago—after which it was nominated for an Edgar, a Nebula, a Hugo, and a World Fantasy Award, and won both the Bram Stoker award for horror and a fan poll held by Locus. (Obviously, when I call it “the most award-nominated story you’ve never heard of,” I’m not counting fantasy/sci-fi, mystery, and horror fans among “you.”)

⇒Remember how Japan’s hottest new fiction is ‘published’ on cell phones, and how Barry Yourgrau became one of the new genre’s stars? Now The Millions interviews Yourgrau, who says keitai “might be part of the future of the novel,” but “the ‘old novel’ still has lots of life.” Ben Vershbow has additional commentary at if:book about how such stories have migrated from the phonescreen to print, and sometimes from there to film adaptations:

“A story need not be bound to one particular delivery mechanism, be it a cell phone, web page (or book). In fact, the ecology of forms can make a more comprehensive narrative universe. This is not only the accepted wisdom of cross-media marketing franchisers and brand blizzardeers (Spiderman the comic, Spiderman the action figure, the lunchbox, the movie, the game, the Halloween costume etc.), but an age-old principle underlying the transmission of culture.”

(photo of Ellison from that YouTube clip that made the rounds during the writer’s strike; Yourgrau sent me that photo of him ages ago for a Beatrice Q&A)

Dutton’s, LA Literary Fixture, to Close in April

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Last year, this blog posted frequent updates on the status of Los Angeles indie Dutton’s Brentwood Bookstore, beginning with property owner Charles T. Munger‘s plans to redevelop the location to the efforts to save the building by getting recognition as a cultural landmark to Munger’s willingness to give the store a reprieve. Unfortunately, in a statement released this morning, store owner Doug Dutton revealed that the past year’s travails had “crippled the store’s ability to provide the kind of immediate service and depth of inventory that our customers have come to rightly expect” and, “given our situation as it now stands, the pride we feel in our past achievements, and the vagaries of the current book market, shuttering our doors seems the only realistic solution.” The store will close on April 30 (which could mean one last hurrah during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books weekend), and though many hope it might reopen in Munger’s new development, or somewhere else in the neighborhood, “any plans to reopen or relocate will have to await a real offer in a real situation,” says Dutton, “combined with a sober assessment of the realities of the book world.” (Other Los Angeles booksellers know exactly what he means.)

I’m particularly saddened by this news because, as some of you know, clerking at Dutton’s was the first job I ever had in the book business, and it was through working there at the same time that I discovered the World Wide Web that I was inspired to launch Beatrice.com and begin writing about books and writers. So, in a way, without Doug and everybody else at the store, there would be no GalleyCat. I haven’t lived in LA for over a decade, but returning to Dutton’s was one of the major highlights of each visit, and I’m going to miss those long browsing sessions…

(photos from Yelp [storefront] and Iconoclast Books [Doug])

Another Fantasy-Mystery Double Literary Threat

jeffrey-ford-headshot.jpgWhen I said Friday that Michael Chabon was the first writer nominated for a Nebula and Edgar for the same novel, I was wrong: While The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is the first book nominated in the “best novel” category for both awards, Jeffrey Ford (left) won the “best paperback original” Edgar in 2006 for The Girl in the Glass, which was also up for a Nebula for best novel. Thanks to Michael Walsh for pointing that out!

Which reminded me that I had an ARC of Ford’s latest novel, The Shadow Year, sitting near the top of a stack in front of my bookcase, so I found it and set it aside for a closer look before its official release next month… PW hates it but Kirkus loves it to the point of starring the review, so now my curiosity is well and truly piqued.

(photo: Beth Gwinn/Locus)

PW, Other RBI Mags on Market: Your Thoughts?

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So last week, while announcing a $4.1 billion acquisition of ChoicePoint, Reed Elsevier revealed its intention to divest itself of Reed Business Information, which you don’t need me to tell you should be of particular interest to the publishing industry because RBI is the company behind Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. The PaidContent blog plucks out some key details in RBI’s financial performance: Advertising accounted for 60 percent of the company’s revenue last year; also, 30 percent of the revenue derived from RBI’s online business, which is sharply outpacing the print division. The Times of London is already suggesting a private equity group might make an offer, while United Business Media has already declared it doesn’t care about “orphaned print products.” Continuing in that vein, PaidContent speaks to an unnamed source who says the proposed sale comes “a year too late.”

David Rothman, who like me has contributed frequently to Publishers Weekly, poses some interesting questions about the business, including the possibility that PW might migrate to an online-only format. He also notes that the magazine is “an important part of the publishing ecosystem on which many independent bookstores depend.”

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Michael Chabon Wows Peers Across Two Genres

chabonpix.gifLast April, I suggested Michael Chabon‘s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union “had an equal chance of winning… the Hugo AND the Edgar,” and, well, it’s getting a lot closer to happening. The novel is already nominated for an Edgar, which is presented annually by the Mystery Writers of America, and while the Hugo nominations are still being sorted out, the Science Fiction Writers of America have announced the shortlists for the Nebula, sci-fi’s other big award, and Chabon’s in the best novel category there, too. Granted, he’s got strong competition in each field, but at least he’s the first novelist ever nominated by both organizations for the same novel. (Jack Vance won a Nebula and an Edgar, but for different works.)

“I would say it’s a dream come true,” Chabon responded when I emailed him this morning, “except that I would never have dared dream it was remotely possible. A very old and lasting ambition has now been satisfied. And it means so much to me that both the Edgar and the Nebula are awarded by my colleagues and peers in the respective fields. They’re both tough crowds.”

CORRECTION: GalleyCat reader Michael Walsh reminds me that Jeffrey Ford‘s The Girl in the Glass was nominated for the best novel Nebula and won the best paperback original Edgar in 2006. (Ford also has a Nebula for the novellette “The Empire of Ice Cream.”)

Elsewhere on mediabistro.com: JT Leroy, Bugs, Kristin Harmel

14sqcover_4.jpgFishbowlLA checks out the LA Weekly cover story on Laura Albert, and gets a quote from reporter Nancy Rommelmann about how it came together:

“It was easy not to judge her; harder, was to take all this information and let it find its form. It took a long time, like, five effing months. I have a big thing about wanting not to betray those who’ve spoken to me. I’m fairly certain Laura won’t see it this way, but, I did my best to let her tell me the story as she saw it, and then build into that what I found.”

(Mike Libby).jpgMeanwhile, UnBeige learns more about Mike Libby, the artist who meticulously places antique watch parts on dead insects to create strange new mechanical creatures, as we spotted last week on the cover of The New Weird.

harmel.jpgFinally, a reminder that Monday night mediabistro.com is throwing a book party for Kristin Harmel to celebrate her two latest novels, The Art of French Kissing and When You Wish. It’s an “all-media” party, so send in your RSVP and get ready to mingle!

DC Unveils Sandman Anniversary Bookends (& Lots of Action Figures) @ Toy Fair

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Technically, the 20th anniversary of Neil Gaiman‘s The Sandman isn’t until 2009, but DC Comics is jumping the gun with a set of matching bookends depicting Dream (above) and his sister Death set to go on sale in early September. The limited-edition figures were designed by Mark Buckingham, one of the many artists who worked on the series during its seven-year run, and then sculpted by Mike Locasio.

At $295, the bookends were among the most expensive items in DC’s room at this week’s International Toy Fair. Mostly there were a lot of action figures, including several variations on Batman and the Joker (although not the infamous Heath Ledger version, which is a Mattel product). But there were a few other high-end collectibles tucked away in one corner, including a life-sized replica of Superman’s cape (complete with a hidden pocket in the lining to hold Clark Kent’s folded clothes) and a miniature Bat-signal powered by a halogen bulb.

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Beth Lisick Puts Her Life In the Hands of 10 Strangers

When Beth Lisick came to New York last month to promote her new book, Helping Me Help Myself, I brought my friend Gretchen Rubin along to the interview: After all, I figured, Lisick’s book is about a year spent following the advice of various self-help gurus, and Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a blog that documents her efforts to follow the best inspirational advice from all of history. (HarperCollins will publish the book in 2009; since Lisick is published by William Morrow, the meeting would be doubly synergistic.) It turned out that Lisick already knew about Rubin’s blog; a life coach had mentioned it to her last year, “but I didn’t think I should read it while I was writing this book,” she explained.

Despite the similarities between their two projects, neither author felt territorial about their subject matter. “Bring it on. There’s room for everyone,” Rubin said, noting that Lisick’s book brought her into more direct contact with the advice-givers she writes about, while her own book has a more historical component. “Everybody should have their own happiness project, and they will all be different.” Lisick agreed that they’re operating in a field of abundance, rather than scarcity: “Everybody will find their own audience.” (Rubin wrote about this in her account of the meeting.)

Soon, Rubin and Lisick’s publicist were bonding over Fascinating Womanhood, while Lisick explained to me how a San Francisco-based spoken word artist and memoirist (Everybody Into the Pool) winds up attending Steven Covey seminars and taking a fitness cruise with Richard Simmons. “It’s hard to write about this without feeling really weird for using words like mindfulness,” she conceded. “I was confronting my snobbery about self-help the whole time… Self-help is not cool. Nobody’s bragging about their self-help program.”

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Scene @ Jacob Weisberg’s Book Party in LA

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FishbowlLA blogger Kate Coe got to go to the book party for Jacob Weisberg, held last night at Arianna Huffington‘s Brentwood estate, with plenty more of the photos that Stefanie Keenan shot for Patrick McMullan. Celebs on hand to celebrate the publication of Weisberg’s The Bush Tragedy included Adrian Grenier, Matt Groening, Christine Lahti, and Tracey Ullman.

The Mediabistro Circus Is Coming to Town

mediabistro-circus-lineup.jpgThe “Mediabistro Circus,” a two-day conference on “the digital platforms and trends that are changing media,” will be held in New York City on May 20-21, with passes starting at $495. The “unconventional gathering of high-impact content delivered in a dynamic setting” is geared towards senior level professionals in every corner of the media world and promises to cover a wide range of topics:

“…the world of the multi-platform magazine to the multi platform broadcaster; what to know and how to use critical technology platforms such as online video, social networking, widgets and more; the evolving role of the editor-into-producer; the growing integration of content and what role the customer is playing in the changing flow of media, the ubiquitous nature of mobile technology and more.”

Periodic updates on the lineup, which already includes Robert Scoble and Anil Dash, among others, will be available on the Circus blog.

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