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Posts Tagged ‘Viking’

Greg Mortenson Defended By Former Climbing Partner

Greg Mortenson‘s former climbing partner, Scott Darsney, sent an email to Outside magazine entitled “Three Cups of Tea Is Not Diminished by One Cup of WikiLeaks.” Darsney was one of the sources Jon Krakauer used to write his essay, ”Three Cups of Deceit”–an essay alleging that the author fabricated parts of his memoirs.

Mortenson (pictured, via) wrote about a 1993 visit to the village of Korphe in his memoir, Three Cups of Tea. In the email, Darsney wrote that during the 1993 climb up K2 mountain Mortenson had gotten lost but returned half-a-day later. He theorizes that it’s plausible Mortenson may have been in Korphe during that time.

Here’s an excerpt from Darsney’s email: “If Jon Krakauer and some of Greg’s detractors had taken the time to have three or more cups of tea with Greg and others—instead of one cup of tea with a select few who would discredit him—they would have found some minor problems and transgressions. But to the extent to call it all ‘lies’ and ‘fraud’? No way. They would have come to very different conclusions. It takes a lot longer than one journalistic research cycle to have three cups of tea with someone.”

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Greg Mortenson Accused of Fabricating Parts of His Memoir

A 60 Minutes report last night accused author Greg Mortenson (pictured, via) of fabricating parts of his bestselling memoirs and misusing funds from his charity, the Central Asia Institute (CAI).

The report examined three particular issues: (1) Did Mortenson first visit the village of Korphe after a mountain climbing trip as he wrote in his memoir, Three Cups of Tea? (2) Was Mortenson captured by the Taliban as he alleged in his follow-up Stones into Schools? (3) Is the CAI carrying out its charitable mission with the money it collects from philanthropists and donors? According to several sources who were interviewed, the answer is “no” to all three questions.

Former CAI donor Jon Krakauer called Mortenson’s first meeting with Korphe villages “a beautiful story” and “a lie.” Mansur Khan Mahsud denied that the Taliban kidnapped the author.  Mahsud appears in a photograph from the alleged kidnapping, but works as the research director of a respected Islamabad think tank.

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Manning Marable Has Died

Scholar Manning Marable (pictured, via) has passed away. He was 60-years-old.

Marable served as professor of history and political science at Columbia University. According to The Root, he had been working on the biography Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention for a decade. Penguin Group (USA) released it today and currently holds the #4 spot on Amazon’s biography & memoirs’ bestsellers list.

His widow, Leith Mullings Marable, shared these thoughts: “I think he would want to be remembered for having contributed to the black freedom struggle. He would want to be remembered for being both a scholar and an activist and as someone who saw the two as not being separated. He believed that both [callings] went together and enhanced each other.”

Sarah Landis Joins HarperCollins

Sarah Landis has been named senior editor at HarperCollins’ Children’s Books. She will work primarily on teen fiction titles and report to editorial director Farrin Jacobs.

Landis served as an editor at Hyperion Books/Voice for almost five years. Prior to this, she held positions in editorial and marketing at Penguin Group (USA).

At Hyperion Books/Voice, Landis edited several novels including The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff, The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan, The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeil. Some of the memoirs she has edited include Perfection by Julie Metzmoir and Just Who Will You Be? by Maria Shriver.

How Tana French Hit the Bestseller List 3 Months Later Than Expected

In these fractious publishing times, normally publishers espouse the belief that if a book doesn’t hit the list within at least the first two weeks of its initial publication, it never will. It’s not an absolute, of course – nothing is – but more and more, publishing resembles the movies in terms of books “opening big” on bestseller lists thanks to pre-orders, co-op and other machinery in place months before publication.

So imagine my surprise at checking the New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list dated September 2nd and seeing Irish crime writer Tana French‘s debut novel IN THE WOODS sneak in just under the wire, landing at #35 on the extended list. The book was published by Viking on May 17. It had, at least to the best of my knowledge, not been given extra co-op nor garnered some major media attention. Could this be a case of pure word-of-mouth, where readers who genuinely liked the book recommended it enthusiastically to their friends in chain-reaction fashion propelled a first novel to the bestseller lists months after its release date?

Yes and no, as French’s editor Kendra Harpster said in an email late yesterday afternoon. ” I do think that word of mouth has played a part here,” she said. “Nearly everyone I mention the book to, even non-publishing people, have heard something about it, which is definitely unusual for a first novel by a non-American.” But Harpster also pointed to a recent mention on NPR by Librarian to the Stars Nancy Pearl and more importantly, to the book’s selection by Barnes & Noble for its Discover New Voices program, which put it into their store promotions beginning early August and running through the end of October. So in the end, media and co-op did play a major role for IN THE WOODS, but that can happen to many books – and still not enough copies will sell to get that “NYT bestseller” tag.

The Perils of the Misblurb

Though we at GalleyCat have taken issue from time to time – okay, often – with Henry Alford‘s contributions at the New York Times Book Review, I must say up front that I quite enjoyed his recent piece on how publishers take a perfectly neutral or negative review and mine it for any and all positive words in order to fashion a blurb out of it. Take what happened to Time Magazine book critic Lev Grossman, who was “quite taken aback” when he saw a full-page newspaper advertisement for Charles Frazier‘s novel THIRTEEN MOONS that included a one-word quotation – “Genius” – attributed to Time. Grossman was confused, Alford reports, because his review “certainly didn’t have that word.” Eventually, he found it in a preview item he had written a few months earlier, which included the sentence “Frazier works on an epic scale, but his genius is in the details.” As Grossman put it, “They plucked out the G-word.”

Alford continues with many more examples (including one from his own reviewing past, when Little, Brown transformed his “tour-de-farce” about David Sedaris‘s NAKED into “tour-de-force) and explanations from the publishing world. “We get tempted and we get desperate,” Morgan Entrekin, the publisher of Grove/Atlantic, said. “We publish over 100 books a year. I know we make mistakes. But we try to obey the rules.” To him, that means not changing the wording or the meaning of reviews. Paul Slovak, the publisher of Viking, says part of what keeps the house honest is the desire to maintain “good relationships” with book reviewers. “Michiko Kakutani wouldn’t be happy if we pulled two words of praise out of a negative review,” he said, referring to the chief book critic of The New York Times.

And as for what happened to Grossman, I am sooooo not buying Random House associate publisher Tom Perry‘s denial of any misblurbing. “We were being very short and punchy,” he said. “We have limited space.” Sure, see that pig overhead? Its flight patterns don’t like misappropriated blurbs, either…

For “Mommy Book” Authors, Buzz Doesn’t Equal Sales

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The New York Times’ Motoko Rich reports on how people feel about Leslie Bennetts‘ THE FEMININE MISTAKE and other hot-button books that address the core question of whether women should stay at home with their children or work. And the surprising – or perhaps not so surprising – conclusion is that there’s a lot of chatter that doesn’t translate into sales. “There is a lot of discussion out there about this issue and that’s why we’re having these books,” said Nancy Sheppard, vice president of marketing at Viking, which last year published GET TO WORK: A MANIFESTO FOR WOMEN OF THE WORLD by Linda R. Hirshman. “But it’s mostly just a discussion.”

Rich points to low Bookscan numbers for Hirshman, Sylvia Hewlett and Caitlin Flanagan as particularly striking because these books cover a topic that raises fierce passions, as anyone who has spent time on a playground or near an office water cooler knows. But that may get at the heart of why women are not buying books about these subjects. “I always felt it was something that women didn’t want to look at too closely,” said Jonathan Burnham, publisher of HarperCollins, who was editor in chief at Talk Miramax Books when Hewlett’s book was published five years ago. “It was a problem that touched very complicated feelings, so while they read a magazine article or watched a segment on ‘Oprah,’ they didn’t want to read a whole book about it because it was such a difficult subject.”

And then there’s the question of time. “I’m home-schooling, I have three children, and my reading time is limited,” said Heather Cushman-Dowdee of Los Angeles. With many of the mommy books, she said, “I think I get their points through the articles that they’re writing without needing to delve in.” Declining to buy the books, she said, is a way to “protect your sanity a little bit.”

Pulitzer Prize Winners

The Pulitzer Prize has announced its winners in a variety of categories, and while our Fishbowl siblings will be dissecting the journalism winners, we’ll look at the book-related winners:

FICTION: Cormac McCarthy, THE ROAD (Knopf)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: AFTER THIS by Alice McDermott (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and THE ECHO MAKER by Richard Powers (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • HISTORY: Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff, THE RACE BEAT (Knopf)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005″ by James T. Campbell (The Penguin Press), and “Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War” by Nathaniel Philbrick (Viking).
  • BIOGRAPHY: Debby Applegate, THE MOST FAMOUS MAN IN AMERICA (Doubleday)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “John Wilkes: The Scandalous Father of Civil Liberty” by Arthur H. Cash (Yale University Press), and “Andrew Carnegie” by David Nasaw (The Penguin Press).
  • GENERAL NONFICTION: Lawrence Wright, THE LOOMING TOWER (Knopf)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness” by Pete Earley (Putnam), and “Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq” by Thomas E. Ricks (The Penguin Press).
  • POETRY: Natasha Trethewey, NATIVE GUARD (Houghton Mifflin)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “The Republic of Poetry” by Martin Espada (W.W. Norton), and “Interrogation Palace: New & Selected Poems 1982-2004″ by David Wojahn (University of Pittsburgh Press).
  • The upshot is that some of the smaller university presses should be proud, the big winners were Knopf, FSG and the Penguin Press – and about the only prize Cormac McCarthy hasn’t earned is beatification, but who knows, that may follow in due course…

    Vicente Fox Signs with Viking

    The AP reports (by way of the Guardian) that former Mexican President Vicente Fox is writing a memoir that will detail his ups and down with world leaders around the globe, from Cuba’s Fidel Castro to President Bush, Viking announced Wednesday. REVOLUTION OF HOPE will be published in October. The book will be co-written by Fox and his close friend, public relations consultant Rob Allyn, who spent much of December and January working with Fox at his ranch in central Mexico. “The president’s goal is to share his views about issues like immigration, the war in Iraq, globalism, free trade and the moral imperative that world leaders have to heal the global divide between wealthy countries and countries that aspire to prosperity,” Allyn said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

    More fun is when the piece gets into how much money was offered. Allyn and Viking declined to release how much the book deal was worth, although Fox’s literary agent, Jan Miller, told the AP that it was “a VERY nice deal.” Ah, but is that in Publishers Marketplace parlance, or some other scale we’re supposed to know about?

    Scene @ NBCC Finalists Announcement Party

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    When I arrived a few minutes early to Housing Works for the National Book Critics Circle‘s annual bash to announce their award finalists, I figured – like most parties – there would be a few stragglers and the food & drink stations wouldn’t even be fully set up yet. Guess again. Already packed, within ten minutes the bookstore was fully SRO, and it was impossible to move a square inch without bumping into one notable critic after another. Amy Bloom (left, pictured with independent publicist Kimberly Burns and PW’s Charlotte Abbott) was on hand to announce the fiction finalists, which was met with the usual mix of positive responses and grumbling undertone. Francine Duplessis Gray, in announcing the memoir/autobiography category, remarked that this category honored those with a penchant for self-indulgence, while Eliot Weinberger cracked that the criticism category was “the most prestigious for the most contentious.” The greatest round of applause was reserved for Alison Bechdel‘s FUN HOME, one of two books (the other Michael Pollan‘s AN OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA) voted onto the shortlist by the membership.

    Among the many, many literati making the scene were Lizzie Skurnick (who’s recently been hired on by New York Magazine), the Complete Review‘s Michael Orthofer, Viking publisher Paul Slovak, Soft Skull‘s Richard Nash, Eat the Press’s Rachel Sklar, Emily Gordon, Poets & WritersDoug Diesenhaus, and former Balakian winner Scott McLemee, on hand to announce Steven G. Kellman as the category’s newest honoree.

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