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Archives: November 2008

John Updike, Russell Banks, and Paulo Coelho Score Bad Sex in Fiction Nominations

covered.jpgPerhaps timed to coincide with the National Book Awards, the Literary Review released the shortlist for the annual Bad Sex in Fiction Awards last week. The winner will be announced tomorrow.

Heavy-hitting nominees included John Updike, Russell Banks, and Paulo Coelho. In 2006 Iain Hollingshead won the grand prize for his two-paragraph exercise in young, bad sex from, Twentysomething. His winning passage climaxes with “a commotion of grunts and squeaks,” and is well-worth reading. The late Norman Mailer won last year.

Here’s the complete 2008 shortlist from the Guardian. Place your bets in the comments section:

“James Buchan for The Gate of Air
Simon Montefiore for Sashenka
John Updike for The Widows of Eastwick
Kathy Lette for To Love, Honour and Betray
Alastair Campbell for All in the Mind
Rachel Johnson for Shire Hell
Isabel Fonseca for Attachment
Ann Allestree for Triptych of a Young Wolf
Russell Banks for The Reserve
Paulo Coelho for Brida”

Could Typepad’s Journalist Bailout Program Save Book Reviews?

type.gifRecently Typepad announced a special Journalist Bailout Program, granting recently laid-off reporters a special coverage on their blog network. The company was swamped by applications: “We’ve gotten a flood of submissions, and hadn’t quite planned for this much of a reaction,” they explained.

GalleyCat wonders if any book reviewers or book section reporters joined that stream of applications. With the backing of Typepad’s platform, new book review sites could thrive. If you are a journalist who joined the Typepad bailout program, email GalleyCat to participate in a future feature.

Here’s the original post, if you missed it:

“While we can’t promise it’s going to replace having a full-time writing gig, it gets you up and running with your own site that you can start to benefit from.”

Random House’s Digital Push

head_tagline.pngFollowing belt-tightening pension news last week, Random House rebounded this morning with a new strategy to digitize thousands of books–bringing John Updike, Harlan Coben, and countless other writers to an e-reader near you.

The company estimates that the expansion will take a few months, but it will increase the publisher’s ebook catalog from 8,000 books to 15,000 titles. As publishers shuffle into a grim holiday season, Random House is betting that digital books will flourish in a thrifty America. As the article explained:

“Random House’s vice president for digital operations, Matt Shatz, says e-book sales have increased by triple digit percentages in 2008, thanks in part to’s Kindle reader, but he declined to offer specific number. E-books remain a tiny part of the overall market, widely estimated in the industry at 1 percent or less.” (Via HuffPo)

NoHo Literary Agents Seek Like-Minded Office Mates


The Ann Rittenberg Agency and Collins Literary currently share office space at 30 Bond Street with fellow literary agents Matthew Carnicelli, Mel Parker, and Zoe Pagnamenta—and, says Rittenberg’s fellow agent Penn Whaling, there’s room for one or two more. “An interior design firm currently rents the front two offices and the loft, but they’re moving to Williamsburg,” Whaling reports, along with sending some photos of the space, which contains a shared kitchen and a conference room. “Besides wanting to make the annual holiday party even more of a Bacchanal, we’d like to get more agents in here because it’s been really great having colleagues to ask for advice on projects. We all tend to do very different books, so there’s a real breadth of knowledge.” She adds that the space is “very clean and modern,” and the NoHo location is convenient to everything.

Interested? Contact Rittenberg Literary Agency for more info.

Stuff White People Might Like, If They Knew It Existed

carleen-brice-headshot.jpgLast week, when we mentioned the ongoing efforts to make the case that people should buy books for the holidays, we received a comment from author Carleen Brice (right), who’s putting her own spin on the campaign. She’s declared this December will be “National Buy a Book by a Black Author and Give It to Somebody Not Black Month,” and she’s started up a blog called “Welcome White Folks” to get the party started. ”

Your favorite African American authors really, really need your help,” Brice explains to her readers, playing up the marginalization of African-American literature to a hyperbolic degree: ” You, who they know and trust, can explain to white friends, neighbors, coworkers, classmates that there are books without Ebonics, and that books by black authors are much like any other book.” Oh, come now; surely the general public no more supposes every black author to write “street” than they expect every Latin American novelist to traffic in magic realism, especially since, as Brice observes, “white people already know about Toni Morrison, so please choose something else besides A Mercy.”

The authors Brice endorses directly include Martha Southgate, Lori Tharps, Bonnie Glover, Kim Reid, and Pearl Cleage. If you were to follow her example next month, which authors would you be introducing to new readers?

UnBeige: Rushdie Feted @ The Moth Ball


Stephanie Murg went to the Moth Ball, an annual fundraising banquet for the New York-based storytelling/performance program, and filed a report for UnBeige,’s design blog, on the award presented to Sir Salman Rushdie that evening for his raconteurship, focusing on the fact that the statuette was designed by Jonathan Adler. Time Out New York had a reporter in the crowd, too, and got some of the celeb guests to talk about the power of oral storytelling. As Rushdie himself puts it:

“I love reading. But you sit by yourself to read. [The oral tradition] is a way of making stories and literature into a collective act, a community act. And it lends itself more to the first person; it’s difficult to tell a third-person story onstage. So live storytelling is also personal and intimate. And there’s an edge of danger in it because there’s a chance of really dying. The teller is more vulnerable—and that is [what] makes it really exciting.”

One Last National Book Awards Roundup

dcalsticker.gifAs the publishing world recovers from the thrill of the National Book Awards, GalleyCat decided to assemble all the best news from the literary scene’s most festive week.

The NY Observer coverage included a chilling quote from Collins publisher, Steve Ross: “It’d be absolutely terrifying to be starting out now, to be young and to not have the benefit of years, if not decades, of perspective … I would have seriously considered leaving book publishing.”

New York’s Vulture blog included some literary descriptions of the NBA’s new Wall Street digs, landing a great quote from novelist Joshua Ferris who said that the old NBA venue “looks like the place where your cousin got married.”

Ed Champion archived a long series of podcast interviews with NBA nominees. GalleyCat’s Ron Hogan captured the festivities with blogged interviews and weighed readers’ predictions against the actual results.

GalleyCat also had video interviews with NBA Young People’s Literature winner Judy Blundell, Nonfiction winner Annette Gordon-Reed, Poetry winner Mark Doty, former finalist Joshua Ferris, and finally, Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell and finalist Salvatore Scibona discussed poor writers.

Is Journalism a Dead End Career?

jobs-trouby-laurel.jpgAs more layoffs rock the media industry, that’s a question many writers are asking. On Monday, Laurel Touby and a number of other media experts will discuss the journalism job market at the New York Press Club.

The panel will address some dark questions: “Is journalism as we know it a dead-end career? Will the rise of ‘citizen journalism’ and the Web mean we’ll soon get our news from journalists with day jobs in some other industry?”

The line-up is strong: Leah Moses, Justin Peters, Win Sheffield, and Sree Sreenivasan. If you are still worried,’s job listings are still adding work. The event will be held Monday, November 24th, 330 W 42 Street (8th & 9th) 33 floor. It runs from 6:30pm – 9:00pm.

Zombies Versus Unicorns at the Bookstore

htdyf.jpgZombie-lover Justine Larbalestier and unicorn-lover Holly Black sold Zombies vs. Unicorns to Simon & Schuster. They’ve already filled the roster for the 2010 YA anthology that pits unicorn writers against zombie writers.

io9 has the scoop: “[the] anthology that will be half zombie stories and half unicorn stories, with Larbalestier editing the former and Black the latter.”

As the media world endures another Bad News Friday, GalleyCat collected two more cheery links for a bit of literary escapism. Over at SF Signal, they have a brilliant YouTube roundup, “5 Disturbing Things You Didn’t Know About William Shatner.” It’s pure gold for all the fan fiction writers in the audience.

If that spacey material doesn’t float your boat, read some free short stories instead. Jacket Copy notes that it’s the 150th anniversary of the city of Denver. In tribute, Rocky Mountain News commissioned a 12-story anthology entitled A Dozen on Denver.

A Sexy Reading Turns Three-Years-Old


The In The Flesh Reading Series celebrated its third anniversary last night. GalleyCat missed the excitement, but founder Rachel Kramer Bussel passed long this photo that included some featured writers from our archives.

In the back row, they are: Jincey Lumpkin, author Trey Ellis, comedian Margot Leitman, Francis Levy (meet him in The Sexiest Book Party). In the front row: Desiree Moodie, David Henry Sterry (meet him in the Art of Agent Research), comedian Kelli Dunham, and Rachel Kramer Bussel. (Photo by Stacie Joy)

The fourth year of the sexy reading series begins on December 18, a reading with the True Sex Confessions episode. Readers will include Rachel Resnick (Love Junkie author), playwright Christen Clifford, blogger Rex Sorgatz, the Bastard Life editor Neal Boulton, and astrologer Kiki T.