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Posts Tagged ‘David Mehegan’

Two Literary Reporters Laid-Off at Boston Globe

16172651.JPGMore than 20 Boston Globe staffers have accepted buyouts, including Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Gail Caldwell and publishing reporter David Mehegan.

According to the Boston Herald, the newspaper had hoped 50 employees would accept buyouts, so layoffs may loom in the future.

Here’s Caldwell discussing her work during happier times: about her work: “I love my job. But I am always amazed at the people who say, ‘You mean you get paid to lie around and read novels all day?’ I read differently, obviously, when I am reading for review. I have a marathoner’s pace. I have been doing this for 18 years. So what I usually say when people say that is, ‘It’s like being an English graduate student for the rest of your life. And you have a paper due every Monday.’” (Via Read&Breathe)

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The Philosophy of a Bestseller

The Boston Globe’s David Mehegan spotlights what may well be the most surprising bestseller this year: Dan Klein & Tom Cathcart‘s PLATO AND A PLATYPUS WALK INTO A BAR: UNDERSTANDING PHILOSOPHY THROUGH JOKES. Released in the spring, the 200-page book jumped onto the New York Times bestseller list and stayed for five weeks; it’s still no. 32 on the 35-title online list (the printed list has 15 titles). The book’s career so far demonstrates at least one point: Writers shouldn’t give up too soon on a book they believe in.

Crammed with 143 jokes and an occasional cartoon, PLATO AND A PLATYPUS is a 10-chapter course on the classic categories of philosophy, written in a Marxist style (Groucho’s), paced by the frequent appearance of Dmitri and Tasso, a comic two-man Greek chorus. The chapter titles — “Metaphysics,” “Logic,” “Epistemology,” “Ethics,” “Existentialism,” and “Philosophy of Language” — are serious, but the content that follows is anything but. It helps that the two men, friends for 50 years, have differing perspectives: Klein is a former TV writer while Cathcart eventually became chief operating officer of Mercy Hospital in Portland, Maine.

The idea came about after a 2004 vacation, and after less-than-enthusiasm from Klein’s longtime agent they approached Julia Lord, who “loved it” and proceeded to collect almost 3 dozen rejections before Abrams picked it up. Everyone is surprised by the book’s success, but not enough to stop Klein and Cathcart from concocting a sequel. ARISTOTLE AND AN AARDVARK GO TO WASHINGTON: UNDERSTANDING POLITICAL DOUBLESPEAK THROUGH PHILOSOPHY AND JOKES is due out next winter — just in time for the election season, when we can all use a laugh.

Appealing to the Boys’ Set

Just because it’s difficult to find books that boys want to read, doesn’t mean there aren’t initiatives to create a new market for them. So posits the Boston Globe’s David Mehegan in profiling Steven D. Hill and Peggy Hogan, whose newly founded Flying Point Press attempts to disprove conventional wisdom that boys aged 10 to 15 won’t read non-fiction.

They had noticed there’s a strong nonfiction market for men — adventure books such as Sebastian Junger‘s “A Perfect Storm” or Jon Krakauer‘s “Into Thin Air.” But, said Hill, “it was clear that publishers were ignoring adventure, history, and nonfiction for 10-to-15-year-old boys.” Hogan said, “If you look at what men read, there was no springboard for boys. If they want to read the kind of books they will read as adults, there is nothing to lead them into that area.” But then Hill remembered the 1950s and 1960s- era Landmark Books, which were narrative non-fiction, mostly history and biography. With most long out of print, Hill decided to bring them back, with funding aid from Sterling Publishing.

“A single book is not going to make a difference,” said Hogan, 65, “but a series for children is a powerful concept, as it was with Landmark. The idea is to have a list of all the titles in each book, so that if you like one, you know you can find something similar.” But many are skeptical the idea will work. “I don’t do well with nonfiction of any type, even for girls,” said Ellen Richmond, owner of the Children’s Book Cellar in Waterville, Maine. Other booksellers said much the same, but some remain optimistic. “Boys are a tougher audience to reach,” said Portsmouth, NH librarian Michael Sullivan. “But when you give them books they like, they react as well as girls do. Everybody loves a good story.”