USA Today’s Bob Minzesheimer compares numbers on fiction and non-fiction published since 9/11 that happen to focus in some way upon the event. 1,036 non-fiction titles – most notably the 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT – have found their way to bookstores in the past six years according to Books in Print, with a mere 30 fiction titles available. The Book Report’s Carol Fitzgerald says fiction can’t compete with the “visual images that dominate our memories. We don’t need to create stories around the event. There were enough stories there from the start.” Scribner editor Nan Graham says sales are “fantastic for serious literary fiction” such as her own FALLING MAN by Don DeLillo and she expects more, especially if it’s taught in college courses. She’s not surprised readers were attracted by non-fiction to try to answer questions: “What happened? Could it have been avoided?” Fiction “comes later as people ask, ‘How has it changed the way we think and act and remember?’
Posts Tagged ‘Bob Minzesheimer’
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USA Today’s Bob Minzesheimer meets Melissa Plaut, the woman behind the blog New York Hack and author of HACK: How I Stopped Worrying About What to Do With My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab. One of only about 200 female cabbies in the city (out of more than 40,000) Plaut calls herself “sort of an anomaly.” She’s also gay and Jewish. “This is the only perspective I’ve ever had,” she tells Minzesheimer. “It doesn’t really affect my driving or my social skills.”
The college graduate foundered for a few years before stumbling into the world of taxi-driving. And there she found her niche. Her book describes why she began driving a taxi, what she has learned and passengers she remembers. One told Plaut she was a dominatrix and complained about her Wall Street clients. Plaut knew just the type: self-important “masters of the universe” who are lousy tippers. She told her passenger, “I’d rather have dominatrices and escorts – or even hookers and pimps – in my car over those guys.” And with that, she writes, “we arrived at a nice doorman building, she tipped me generously, and she got out.”
Plaut doesn’t plan on driving a cab forever but when she doesn’t she finds she misses it. Does she think of herself as a cab driver who writes or as a writer who drives a cab? “A little of both. The sad thing is, it’s easier to get behind the wheel of a taxi than it is to write something other people want to read.”
So Conn and Hal Iggulden‘s DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS is proving to be quite the success over here after its popularity took the UK by storm last year. And because of this, reports USA TODAY’s Bob Minzesheimer, we’re about to see a slew of copycats, some of which are geared towards girls (as evident by the covers you see here.)
Collins executive Margot Schupf says similar books are “inevitable. Any success breeds copies.” It also raised the question, “What about girls?” although boys are a tougher market for publishers. Such manuals, Minzesheimer writes, strike “a chord among parents who have a nostalgic/retro longing to share with their own kids the same kind of good, old-fashioned creative play, both indoor and outdoor, that they grew up doing.
USA Today’s Bob Minzesheimer looks at roman a clef novels that the authors swear are anything but. Meghan Daum wonders if memoirists should even bother documenting their self-absorbed lives when they can walk into Starbucks and see Ishmael Beah‘s book for instant, sobering perspective. And SF Chronicle Book Editor Oscar Villalon wishes publishers would stop blurring the lines between fact and fiction because, he says, “all this legerdemain over categorizing books implies that there’s something second-rate about writing and reading fiction.”
Or, recognizing that this may be a distinct market, we could just come up with a brand new name for a brand new category of books that straddle the line, that present facts in a blurry way, with clear narratives but enough deviation to satisfy novel and non-fiction junkies alike. Blurry Books seems a bit over-the-top, and Crossover has other connotations altogether. I like Not Quite True (or NQT for the acronym happy) but suggestions are always welcome…
I’ve said all along that to treat James Patterson like any other author – and hold him to the same standards – is an unwise move. He used to run an advertising agency, and the model he’s concocted is clearly based on having a CEO come up with big ideas, and creative mouses scurrying around to flesh them out with backbreaking deadlines. (Or as Little, Brown publisher Michael Pietsch puts it, Patterson is effectively “developing a studio system for writers.” That’s contrary to the image of “the lonely writer in a garret,” Pietsch says. “But a lot of great popular entertainment, even great and serious art, comes out of collaboration.”) As it happens, USA TODAY’s Bob Minzesheimer gets a clearer look at the working life (and success) of Patterson thanks to the author, his newest co-writer and other publishing insiders. Michael Cader at Publishers Lunch calculated that if Patterson were treated as a publishing house unto himself, he’d be tied for fourth for most No. 1 best sellers in 2006 â€” ahead of all of HarperCollins, a major publisher. Exactly.
Minzesheimer also discovers how Patterson’s newest co-authorship with Michael Ledwidge came about. The latter had written three novels that yielded big advances but sold a combined total of 20,000 copies. He’d known Patterson in his doorman days, and the bestseller helped land an agent. When Ledwidge asked Patterson to look at a draft of what he hoped would be his fourth novel, Patterson had a counteroffer: Would he be interested in collaborating on a novel Patterson had in mind? Ledwidge says he agreed “at about the speed of light.”
Patterson had the outline, Ledwidge fleshed him out and the younger author seems very happy with the arrangement, since he can now write full-time. “It’s like a dream; to have one job, not two…If you look at the newsletter of the Mystery Writers of America, everyone is always talking about how to market yourself, not the writing part. Now I don’t have to worry about that.”