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Posts Tagged ‘Dave Eggers’

Michiko Likes Fiction Again!

A few months ago I did an impromptu search through the New York Times archives to find empirical evidence that lead book critic Michiko Kakutani has, indeed, developed a distaste for fiction. And for all of 2006, the only two novels she liked were Dana Spiotta‘s EAT THE DOCUMENT and Dave Eggers‘ WHAT IS THE WHAT. But 2007 must be a better year already because Michiko’s in a much better reviewing mood of late: this month alone, she’s alloted rave reviews (you know it’s a rave when “stunning” and “dazzling” are overused) to Richard Flanagan’s THE UNKNOWN TERRORIST and Michael Chabon‘s THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN’S UNION. Earlier, she had good things to say about Lionel Shriver‘s THE POST-BIRTHDAY WORLD (about “an idiosyncratic yet recognizable heroine about whom it’s impossible not to care”) Lauren Fox‘s STILL LIFE WITH HUSBAND (“a delightful new voice in American fiction”) and Martin Amis‘s THE HOUSE OF MEETINGS (“arguably his most powerful book yet”). Of course, the crank-meter was still way high for reviews of books by Yasmina Reza, Howard Norman and Jane Smiley, but even in those pieces the vitriol seemed somewhat muted.

What’s going on? Could Michiko be changing her tune about fiction? Is her editor giving her better books to read? Because this happy critic mood is a little unnerving, frankly…

Katherine Taylor Falls Into Chick Lit Bait Trap

In reading debut novelist Katherine Taylor ‘s interview with the New York Observer’s Spencer Morgan, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the first time James Frey made headlines, long before any charges of fake writing and fabrication were levied his way. No, I’m talking about the interview where he railed against Dave Eggers‘s A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS in particularly profane terms, and then it turned out that Frey, like so many men of his generation, is a casual f-bomb dropper without any real malice attached to it. So where do you think that first interview, the one that got Frey in so much trouble, ran? The New York Observer, of course!

So what is up with the salmon tabloid charming opinionated (at best) or incendiary (at worst) from young, impressionable writers? In Taylor ‘s case, perhaps it’s the constant dangling of the chick lit carrot what with her novel – published by FSG this May (and an early theorized candidate for the Starbucks slot occupied by Ishmael Beah) – set amidst glamorous New York surroundings and adorned with the chicklit-standard cocktail glass, cigarettes and pink lettering. “But I love it,” she said. “It works, and I love that [the cover] looks like an old film still and that it’s an old-fashioned cocktail glass and that the woman is wearing dark nail polish, not something bright.” Besides, one has to cut Taylor slack if only for her closing comment: “Indecision [by Benjamin Kunkel] was ridiculously simple, I thought. And had it been a girl who’d written it, it would have had the pinkest cover in the world. It would have been the pinkest of all-time pink covers.” Can’t argue with that…

Today in AMS: PGW Conference Calls, Bankruptcy Court Hearings

Publishers Lunch reports that Publishers Group West clients were explained in a conference call yesterday he details of the offer being formulated by Perseus Books Group, which has already secured distribution rights for Avalon Publishing Group and its imprints. The rough plan is for Perseus to pay 70 cents on the dollar of what clients are owed up to the date of the bankruptcy filing. PGW would continue operating as is for the next six months before clients accepting the Perseus offer would move over to their distribution facility. Though other offers could still be tendered, 70 cents on the dollar is a lot higher than what PGW clients were expecting.

So on the face of it, this looks like Perseus could well be PGW’s savior – or is it? Never mind that already the company is responsible for CDS and Consortium clients, and adding the full roster of PGW clients would give it a gigantic stake in independent publishing, with the ramifications and consequences still very much up in the air. Never mind that there’s no word on which of PGW’s clients were included in the conference call, as grumblings have reached GalleyCat‘s ears of “musical chairs”-like prioritization, potentially leaving some struggling independent publishers out in the cold, with little recourse but to shut up shop. In other words, the news sounds good – but optimism is far from guaranteed.

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