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Archives: May 2008

McClellan v Bush: Amazon Wins

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan’s memoir, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception is all over the news today as the White House reacts to its contents. Since the book isn’t on sale till June 2, the media blitz is driving everyone to, making it the #1 book on their sales ranking, knocking The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch out of the top spot. It will be interesting to see if the media blitz keep this book moving next week when it finally hits the stores.

23/6 has a great recap of all the headlines here including my favorite from the Thaindian News, “McClellen Hits on President Bush.”

Two Questions For Curtis Sittenfeld About Her New Laura Bush-Inspired Book ‘American Wife’

curtis.JPG Curtis Sittenfeld’s third novel ‘American Wife,’ out September 2nd, is narrated by one Alice Blackwell, a former children’s librarian haunted by the memory of a tragic, random accident. Oh, and her husband is a George W. Bush-like US President. As Alice tells the story of her life, Sittenfeld allows us a nuanced, clear, almost psychic glimpse at what life might be like for one of the most public women in the world. Here, she answers two questions about the hotly anticipated book, one obvious and one random.

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PEN World Voices: Now Year-Round

PEN World Voices presents the first installment of year-round programming with a evening of conversation and reading by New Yorker debut fiction writer Uwem Akpan at Housing Works Tuesday, June 10th, at 7 pm. Akpan, who teaches at a Jesuit seminary in Zimbabwe, will read from his forthcoming story collection Say You’re One of Them and discuss his life in Africa with Vanity Fair’s Anderson Tepper.

Scene In Soho: Absinthe, Blind Squirrels

absinthe 1.JPG Last Thursday I was lured to the Drug Policy Alliance Absinthe makes the Heart Grow Fonder” benefit party to celebrate the one year appeal of the Absinthe prohibition in the States at 151 Wooster. Over 600 guests showed up to enjoy the complimentary Le Tourment Vert Absinthe including Muhammad Cohen, author of Hong Kong On Air: TV news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie; Elisabeth Eaves, author of Bare; Melissa Ditmore, editor of the Encyclopedia of Prostitution & Sex Work, illustrator Molly Crabapple; Keith Richburg, the NY bureau chief for WashPost, Sheridan Prasso, author of The Asian Mystique; and Tracy Quan, party promoter who’s currently writing Diary of a Jetsetting Call Girl.

absinthe 2.JPG

While there listening to a great speech about how the war on drugs doesn’t work, I received a summons from my sister, Gail Heidel, who was at a gallery reception for Andrea Stanislav (pictured left) down the street at Jonathan Shorr Gallery. Turns out Stanislav is working on a book project with Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Bill Foley to be published by the University of Minnisota Press with the working title “Holiday Inn Dubai: the Dystopia inside the Utopia”. Looks like everywhere I go, I run into book people.

Top Photo: Muhammad Cohen, Tracy Quan, and Dana Friedman, founder of Dragonfly Technologies.

Former ‘More’ Magazine Editor New ‘Voice’ Editorial Director, Pam Dorman Back To Viking

Barbara Jones, who joined Hyperion‘s Voice imprint from More magazine in February, will replace Pamela Dorman as that imprint’s Editorial Director. Dorman will return to Viking, where her new title will be “Vice President and Publisher of Pamela Dorman Books/Viking.” Jones will be responsible for doubling the size of Voice’s list. Per their respective press releases, Viking’s president Claire Ferraro says, “All of us at Viking and Penguin are delighted that Pam is coming home,” while newly minted Hyperion president Ellen Archer says, “I want to thank Pamela Dorman for all of her great work. I wish her the very best in her next publishing venture.” So that worked out for everyone.

Bedtime for Bush


It’s been just over sixty years since Margaret Wise Brown and illustrator Clement Hurd brought us the bedtime classic, Goodnight Moon. Now, Little, Brown is publishing Goodnight Bush: An Unauthorized Parody by California authors and artists (and Star Wars fans) Gan Golan and Erich Origen.

Upon first opening Goodnight Bush, I was struck that it smelled just like my old copy of Goodnight Moon. This is due to the diligence of the design team which painstakingly recreated the look and feel of the original down to the ink and paper. Every page is chock full of things that change over the course of the story, my favorite being the three lines of cocaine next to G W’s bed which slowly disappear one by one. Also, while in Goodnight Moon the clock runs from 7 PM to 8:10 PM, the clock next to the Bush Bed is stuck at 9:11 PM.

goodnight bush.jpgThere are also some strange connections between Goodnight Moon, the authors and the Bush admin. It is on Laura Bush’s list of favorite books on the White House web site, and during Bush’s first term, the traditional Christmas gingerbread White House included a Goodnight Moon Room. Origen and Golan met while working for Rumsfeld at a small dot-com start up and Golan unwittingly purchased Clement Hurd’s (the illustrator of Goodnight Moon) old Volvo, which he drives to this day.

I would love for Stephen Colbert to tuck me in tonight and read me this bedtime story.

Q&A with Origen and Golan on working for Rumsfeld (aka: “Rumstud”) after the jump.

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Book Keeping: Charlotte’s Husband Has Another Memoir

evan-handler-headshot.jpgEvan Handler, the actor best known for his role as Harry on Sex and the City, has published a second memoir, It’s Only Temporary, and he chats with’s Melissa Walker about why he’s dipping into that well again:

“Surviving a supposedly ‘incurable’ illness, yet still finding fault with how unnecessarily difficult it was made [as (Time on Fire) tells], is obviously an interesting story. I found equal intrigue and surprise in how difficult it was to keep those experiences from informing my life for years after I was declared cured, and how long it took me to find consistent contentment in the life I knew I was lucky just to be living. I lived my life backwards. In my 20s, when most are experiencing young adulthood, I was reduced to the state of a dying old man. Then, I lived my 20s in my 30s—which made for some comedic and embarrassing adventures. I swung drastically and repeatedly between two choices: live for the moment vs. invest in the future. With the new book, my humiliations become the reader’s entertainment.”

He also talks about what it’s like promoting a book as “someone whose image would be recognized favorably by about 10 million people… yet almost none of them know I’ve published a book in the past, or have a new one coming—and that’s in spite of a large number of articles already having been written about me.”

ag_logo_medium.gifThis article is one of several features exclusively available to AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, you can register for as little as $49 (until the rates go up next week!), and start reading those articles, receive discounts on seminars and workshops, and receive all sorts of other bonuses.

(photo: Jim Spellman/

California, Here I Come…

I’m packing my bags and heading out to BookExpo America, so no more posts from me until at least Thursday—and if you’re coming to the show, I hope you’ll consider dropping in on the panels in which I’ll be taking part, “Strategies for New Publicity Opportunities in an Expanding Media Universe” and “”The Author-preneur: Balancing Authorship and the New Business of Brand-building.” But even if we don’t see each other there, you might catch me in the audience at several other panels between Thursday and Saturday. I’m especially looking forward to learning about social networking and online communities Friday afternoon, and international literature in translation on Saturday.

Plus, of course, the cocktail parties.

(And while I’m making my way out to Los Angeles tomorrow, Writer’s Digest has an all-day conference promising “an exclusive insider’s perspective on the business, as well as the art of authorship,” with special guest Jacquelyn Mitchard.)

Scene @ Maureen Johnson’s Suite Scarlett Party


I’ve written about YA author Maureen Johnson a few times on GalleyCat, most notably when an Oklahoma mom freaked out over one of her novels. So it was a real pleasure to meet Johnson last week at the launch party for her latest novel, Suite Scarlett, where fellow YA authors Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld, and Libba Bray (among many others) came to cheer her on. The rapport among the group is strong, as you can see from this video that Johnson and Bray shot a while ago:

No, I don’t know why the Roman helmet, either.

Watchmen Pirate Spinoff Straight to DVD


Warner Brothers has announced that one week after the big-screen version of Watchmen comes out, they’ll release a direct-to-DVD edition of Tales of the Black Freighter, the comic-within-the-comic with a horrific pirate story offering pointed commentary on the main superhero narrative. According to NY Times reporter Brooks Barnes, “The DVD will also include a documentary-style film called Under the Hood that will delve into the characters’ backstories,” which undoubtedly expands upon the textual passages with that collective title which were included in the graphic novel.

The official story focuses on Warner’s attempt to revitalize flagging DVD sales by “offering retailers a meaningful opportunity to be involved with the theatrical event… [with] a product that will generate foot traffic and sales,” but a more cynical observer might suggest that it’s going to take a bonus DVD to make Watchmen fully comprehensible to potential viewers who haven’t already read the book. In fact, Warner already plans to release a 12-episode online “adaptation” called The Watchmen Motion Comic which will be nothing more than “a panel-by-panel slide show of the graphic novel narrated by an actor” for just that reason. Geez, didn’t I use to watch a TV program just like that on Nickelodeon about 30 years ago?

I’m not 100% sure of the strategy here: The “get the fanboys to spend another $15 the week the movie comes out” part I get, but I’m not yet convinced by the “get people coming out of the theater ready to spend another $15 on supplementary materials” tactic. Unless—and here’s a thought I offer to Warner Brothers free of charge—maybe you give moviegoers discount coupons for the DVD… or they could say that the ticket stub is worth a discount, maybe everywhere, maybe just with a particular retailer. If you really wanted to get fancy, you could apply the deal only to the opening weekend… Well, it’s something to think about, anyway.