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Posts Tagged ‘Laura Miller’

Suzanne Collins Is Best-Selling Kindle Author of All Time

Hunger Games trilogy author Suzanne Collins is the best-selling Kindle author of all time, according to Amazon.

Over at Salon, Laura Miller took an in-depth look at the series’ success: “With the right title, a kid’s publisher can deploy something the world of adult publishing can only dream about: a large, well-oiled and highly networked group of professional and semi-professional taste makers who can make that book a hit even before it’s published.”

In June 2011, Collins became the first children’s books author to sell more than one million Kindle books. For the last ten weeks, the Hunger Games trilogy has occupied the top three spots on the USA Today best-seller list. In addition, the trilogy currently holds the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list (children’s series category) after 81 weeks on the list.

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Free eBooks That Inspired David Foster Wallace

wallace.jpgTo celebrate the 50th birthday of the great David Foster Wallace, we’ve collected free eBook editions of seven books that inspired the late novelist.

Follow the links below to download the books.

We adapted the list of books from Laura Miller‘s long interview with Wallace for Salon in 1996.

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Laura Miller Calls National Book Awards ‘Irrelevant’

The National Book Award finalists were unveiled yesterday and many readers instantly started drawing lists of influential authors who didn’t make the list. Over at Salon, Laura Miller took the most dramatic stance in her essay “How the National Book Awards made themselves irrelevant.”

She cited four popular novels that the judges passed over: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and The Submission by Amy Waldman.

Here’s more from the essay: “the National Book Award in fiction, more than any other American literary prize, illustrates the ever-broadening cultural gap between the literary community and the reading public. The former believes that everyone reads as much as they do and that they still have the authority to shape readers’ tastes, while the latter increasingly suspects that it’s being served the literary equivalent of spinach. Like the Newbery Medal for children’s literature, awarded by librarians, the NBA has come to indicate a book that somebody else thinks you ought to read, whether you like it or not.”

George R.R. Martin Sells 298,000 Copies of ‘A Dance with Dragons’ on First Day

Novelist George R.R. Martin reportedly landed the highest first day sales of a fiction title this year, selling 298,000 copies of A Dance with Dragons. That figure included: 170,000 hardcovers, 110,000 eBooks and 18,000 audiobooks.

Martin had this comment: “It took me longer than anyone would have liked. But now that the book is here, I hope my readers will conclude that it was worth the wait. The turnout at my signings has been extraordinary, and I’m delighted to have the chance to meet so many of my fans, both those who have been with me all the way and those who have come to the books through the terrific new HBO television series.”

If you want to read more about Martin’s long road to publishing the fifth book in his Song of Fire and Ice fantasy series, check out this New Yorker essay by Laura Miller.

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Jennifer Egan Wins 2011 Tournament of Books

Today A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan has won the 2011 Tournament of Books at The Morning News–a round robin competition that pits books against books every March.

A team of literary judges decided each round of the competition, and all the judges voted on the final two books: Jonathan Franzen‘s Freedom and Egan’s novel. Egan earned nine votes; Franzen earned eight.

Andrew Womack concluded the contest with this vote: “How fortunate to find two books in the championship so comparable—both spanning decades (or beyond) and heavily centered on music. For me, this decision comes down to pacing, and Franzen is the Pink Floyd to Egan’s Sex Pistols; by the end of Freedom I couldn’t take another meandering guitar solo, while I was dazzled by how much Goon Squad packed into such a compact space.”

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Howard Jacobson Analyzed by Book Critics After Booker Win

Yesterday critics from around the Internet weighed in on author Howard Jacobson (pictured) and his Man Booker Prize win. This GalleyCat Reviews editor actually predicted another winner–so we spent the evening reading reviews of Jacobson’s Booker-winning novel, The Finkler Question..

Ron Charles, the Washington Post‘s fiction editor, wrote:  “The Finkler Question is really a series of tragicomic meditations on one of humanity’s most tenacious expressions of malice, which I realize sounds about as much fun as sitting shiva, but Jacobson’s unpredictable wit is more likely to clobber you than his pathos.”

Laura Miller, the book critic at Salon, tweeted: “Confession: I bailed on The Finkler Question due to boredom (and cuteness). Take my hat off to @roncharles for his perseverance.”

Alex Balk from The Awl wrote “Howard Jacobson’s new novel, The Finkler Question, is getting some of the best reviews that this underappreciated author has received in his career. If it’s even half as good as The Mighty Walzer—a personal favorite—I’m sold. If you’ve never heard of him and are curious, start with this profile. He also writes a very good column for the Independent.

Carolyn Kellogg from Jacket Copy tweeted: “All due respect to Jacobson, I would have been happy to see Tom McCarthy take the Booker. And with all that betting? I’m not alone.”

Gary Shteyngart Creates eBook Dystopia

absurd.pngLast week’s issue of the New Yorker was loaded with dystopian fiction.

In his New Yorker story this week, “Lenny Hearts Eunice,” comic novelist Gary Shteyngart (author of most recently, Absurdistan) imagined a world where digital books have replaced print books and teenagers hate the smell of moldy text. A few pages later, Laura Miller wrote a great essay about dystopian YA fiction.

Here’s an excerpt from one character’s blog, in Shteyngart’s story: “What kind of freaked me out was that I saw Len read a book. (No, it didn’t smell. He uses Pine-Sol on them.) He came home from work looking really down, and I guess he didn’t even notice that I caught him reading. And I don’t mean scanning a text like we did in EuroTrash Classics with that ‘Chatterhouse of Parma,’ I mean seriously reading. … I sneaked a peek and it was that Russian guy Tolesoy he was reading (I guess it figures, cause Lenny’s parents are from Russia). I thought Ben was really brain-smart because I saw him streaming ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ in that cafe in Rome, but this Tolesoy was a thousand-page-long book, not a stream, and Lenny was on page 930, almost finished.”

Do you believe this kind of illiterate society is part of our digital future?

Book Review Sparks Online Conversation about Hyperlinks

lauramiller.jpgOver at Salon.com, book critic Laura Miller (pictured) created a sprawling argument between tech experts about the future of hyperlinks.

Author Nicholas Carr summed up the debate neatly: Check it out: “Miller, in her Salon review of The Shallows, put all her links at the end of the piece rather than sprinkling them through the text. She asked readers to comment on what they thought of the format. As with Gillmor’s early experiments, Miller’s seemed a little silly on first take. The Economist writer Tom Standage tweeted a chortle: ‘Ho Ho.’ But if you read through the (many) comments her review provoked, you will hear a chorus of approval for removing links from text.”

How do you like to read? Should hyperlinks be sprinkled inside of an online book review or saved for the end? Here are the links cited in that post:

Salon review
Neuorethics at the Core post
Standage’s tweeted chortle
The Shallows site

Bad Writing Makes Good Headlines

salon-books_bigger.jpgOur literary remix contest made a cameo appearance in a Salon.com article by Laura Miller, our experiment landing squarely in the middle of a debate about the usefulness of reading bad writing.

Check it out: “This confirms the secret weapon of many writing workshops. Students often don’t get much helpful advice from critiques of their own work, as more than one teacher has confided to me. Instead, they learn the most from identifying the mistakes made by others. Sadly, if bad writers have one thing in common it’s that they’re all firmly convinced that they’re good writers. Really good writers.”

What do you think? This editor believes that we can learn a lot from the tortured sentences of other writers. Besides sponsoring the literary remix contest, we’ve celebrated a bad writing documentary and bad writing contests. After the jump, read some Alger excerpts.

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Several Figures Directly Included in Speech

One wouldn’t necessarily think that essayist and thinker Susan Sontag could generate fresh news – what with her having died recently – but as the Observer’s Michael Calderone reports, a 2004 speech just published in a posthumous collection by FSG has sparked some controversy for the discovery that a section on hyperfiction owes a great debt (almost word for word) to a New York Times Book Review piece by Laura Miller in 1998. The similarities were discovered by John Lavagnino, a senior lecturer in humanities and computing at King’s College London, who wrote a short letter to the editor published in the Times Literary Supplement:

“Shortly after personal computers and word-processing programs became commonplace tools for writers, a brave new future for fiction was trumpeted,” Miller had written in the lead of her New York Times Book Review piece.

“Ever since word-processing programs became commonplace tools for most writers-including me-there have been those who assert that there is now a brave new future for fiction,” were the words Sontag delivered in the 2004 lecture.

Miller also wrote: “Hypertext is sometimes said to mimic real life, with its myriad opportunities and surprising outcomes…”

Sontag wrote: “Hyperfiction is sometimes said to mimic real life, with its myriad opportunities and surprising outcomes…”

FSG publisher Jonathan Galassi said that Sontag “didn’t prepare the speech for publication” but that if the allegations prove true, a correction will be added in future printings. Meanwhile, Miller said to Calderone that she initially thought that Sontag “lifted my research” – committing what might amount to a literary misdemeanor. “When I actually sat down and read it,” she said, “it was more than that. The kind of irony is that it was in a lecture on morality and literature.”