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Archives: February 2005

World’s Most Easily Disproved Lies, Installment 1

Via the Boston Globe:

Yes, Ralph Lauren despises unauthorized biographies. But no, the designer did not forbid the Museum of Fine Arts from stocking Michael Gross ‘s bio during the museum’s show of his collectible cars. At least that’s what the fashion mogul said when reached at his home in Jamaica. “That question has never, ever come up,” said Lauren, asked if his peeps, as reported in the New York Post and elsewhere, demanded the book be kept off the MFA’s shelves. Lauren did add: “Any unauthorized biography is as good as nothing.”

Ralph, a tip: When establishing credibility, try not denying the existence of the question you’re answering.

‘Psychic Author Claims Not to See Ghost Writers’& Other Fake News Stories

browne.jpgAs bloggers, we have to occasionally wonder if our critiques of stupid articles help deter them, or if our links only help them procreate. Either way, I feel the need tonight to link to PW‘s absolutely absurd adverticle for Secrets and Mysteries of the World by psychic Sylvia Browne.

Partly, I’m taken aback by the piece’s tone, a perfect on-paper recreation of the Home Shopping Network (including one “Wait, there’s more!”). But, mostly, I’m flabbergasted by the disingenuousness (or gullibility) evinced by this sentence (as well as those that follow it):

According to publisher Hay House, veteran bestselling author and psychic Sylvia Browne’s latest book, Secrets and Mysteries of the World, had “the mother of all launch parties”–a seven-day Mexican cruise that kicked off a truly unusual 25-city tour.

What PW fails to mention (or understand) is that Browne — besides (we’re guessing) not being psychic — is a cruise ship “regular,” and that passangers regularly pay $1,000+ to attend Browne’s “psychic cruises” — or, as PW calls them, tours and “launch parties.”

Read more

‘Grandmother’ Wins First Novel Competition

Last September, GC reported that Richard & Judy, building on the success of their book club, would host a first novel competition — its winner almost certainly guaranteed a red carpet stroll up the UK’s bestseller lists. Now, four months later, we finally learn who that lucky winner is: Christine Aziz, or — as the Independent and Guardian choose to name her in their ledes — ‘a 52-year-old grandmother‘ from Bournemouth.

Both papers go on to establish Aziz’s life as hard-knocked-and-miniseries-ready, listing Aziz’s previous, often low-paying, occupations: dental receptionist, singer, cleaning lady, factory packer, etc. And, in case readers missed the point, the Independent drops both the amount of Aziz’s advance (£50,000) and the age she left school (15) into the same sentence, for extra-special contrast.

Unreported, however, are Aziz’s many successes as a journalist, with regular bylines in the Independent and other well-known publications. But a good resume just doesn’t have the cue the talk show’s Muzak-punch of ’52-year-old grandmother,’ does it?

Unauthorized Biographer Authorizes Interview

Jerry Oppenheimer, author of Front Row: The Cool Life and Hot Times of Anna Wintour, drops in at The Black Table for an interview … that, as far as I can tell, amounts to a two-part sales pitch for his backlist. Still, readers may find some of Oppenheimer’s gossip interesting or shocking (Leftist activists tricked a senile Rock Hudson into outing himself … Barbara Walters’ first love was Roy Cohn … Ethel Kennedy used the N-word regularly…), even if the biggest surprise — for me, at least — was seeing Barbara Walters’ name where Ernest Hemingway’s used to be on the Scribner classics I grew up with.

HST, Dan-Browning Amazon.com

In a coup d’etat fueled by nostalgia, Hunter S. Thompsons’ books have taken over Amazon.com’s bestseller list. Current sales ranks, as of 1:31 pm:

#15 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
#38 Hey Rube
#39 Hell’s Angels
#42 Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail
#66 Kingdom of Fear
#87 Fear and Loathing in America
#111The Rum Diary: A Novel
#123 The Great Shark Hunt

Unsurprisingly, the Criterion Collection DVD of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas also ranks high on Amazon.com’s DVD bestseller list (#35). Less popular, however, are HST’s Gonzo Papers, with Volumes two and three coming in at #2,185 and #7,863, respectively.

Inside Deep Throat …

… was Alice Mayhew.

Mayhew told Ambrose that the first manuscript of All the President’s Men contained no references to Deep Throat and that she told [Woodward & Bernstein] the book needed a stronger plot device. D.T. was the result.

Scrapbook

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  • Anne Rice writes the forward; Amazon.com reviewers are forewarned to stay away.

  • New York’s terrier alert level goes down to yellow, thanks to Libby Pataki’s court-friendly agreement to stop writing about ‘New Yorkie.’
  • NY Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn compares Prada’s fall collection to “the chilling clarity of Elfriede Jelinek.” In related news, Bookslut’s Michael Schaub promises that, once elected President, he will “round up the nation’s fashion writers and make them sell NASCAR t-shirts at Wal-Mart.”
  • Four years ago, HarperCollins rolled out a “Narnia Without a Christian Lion” and “believers … cried to the heavens.” Hoping to “capture the largest possible audience” for its upcoming adaptation and innumerable spinoffs, Disney reverses HarperCollins’ course and hires Motive Marketing, the PR firm that handled The Passion of the Christ (that lil’ controversy-killer…).

GC Gets Herself a Hitlist

hitlist.jpgInaugural Entry: Steven Zeitchik, PW reporter
Reason for Inclusion: “Judith Regan’s Juice,” Feb. 21, 2005.
Detailed Report:
• Zeitchik describes Juiced as a potent syringe of a memoir. That just doesn’t make sense.
• Line 10 reads, By now, [Regan's] publishing method is so widely reputed that having a real conversation about it–let alone detecting in it any subtle shifts–is close to impossible. Steve: a word of advice. Never apologize for an article’s banality. That only gives the reader (i.e., me) someone to blame (i.e., you).
• Towards the article’s middle, Zeitchik notes that St. Martin’s offered Canseco a deal in the “solid six figures,” but that Canseco turned it down in favor of self-publishing. After that, Z. writes, “the details get a little cloudy.” After that? What about before & during? We know St. Martin’s can be skanky, but self-publishing pushes parallel analogies into the realm of daytime TV.
• GC can’t think of any good excuse for ending something — other than a D & D club charter — with the word “indeed.” Ditto times 8 plus 4 for the phrase, The future is here, indeed. That phrasing and “the future” are well-known to be mutually exclusive.

Po’ Bronson

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A day in the life of advice-guru-cum-novelist Po Bronson, via the Wall Street Journal‘s “Work Spaces” column (sub req’d):

Desperate to drive off distraction, this best-selling author takes his notes, laptop and kitchen timer into a 3-by-4-foot “isolation chamber” made of poured concrete. He shuts the accordion-style door, flicks on the space heater and dons his headphones — hitting the repeat button to blast the same song over and over again. Finally, he sticks cellophane tape to his eyebrows, so he won’t absent-mindedly pluck them out.

“Anything is easier than writing for extended periods of time,” explains Mr. Bronson, who wears flannel to keep warm. “Anything can break your concentration.”

Hmm. Maybe we came down a little hard on the guy last month. As an apology, we have some lovely eyebrow pencils we could send him.

UPDATE: According to our readers, Po claims to suffer from trichotillomania, an impulse control disorder associated with the porn industry obsessive hair removal. Thanks, WSJ, for providing the quote without any un-freak-ifying context.

Bedtime for Gonzo: Remembering Hunter S. Thompson

thompson&wolfe.jpgTwo days after Hunter S. Thompson’s suicide, mb’s Morning Newsfeed rounds up newspapers’ reflections & reactions:

WaPo: Thompson’s style was wildly and vividly his own and brought him cult-like status and widespread recognition. LAT: Thompson remembered as “larger than life.” NYDN: More Thompson books still on the way. USAT: In Thompson’s literary legacy, his work competes with his antics. Salon: Thompson blasted through the world like a big-finned rocket of defiance and revulsion. He leaves a big burned hole and a safer, duller world. Salon: Sonny Barger, Rosalynn Carter, Ben Fong-Torres and others remember the wild life and times of Hunter S. Newsday: Thompson requested that his ashes be shot out of a cannon. AJR: A longtime Thompson admirer ventures into his Colorado redoubt in 1996 with a six-pack of beer. LAT: Thompson was new journalism’s dark prince. SFC: Thompson’s career was more than just a party. His gonzo legacy began with writing and transcended persona, writes Michael Taylor .

Also of note: Tom Wolfe’s recollections in the WSJ (“Hunter’s life, like his work, was one long barbaric yawp…”); Ralph Steadman’s homage in the Independent (“Maybe he is the Mark Twain of the late 20th century. Time will sort the bastard out.”); and one very strangely worded opening paragraph in the Business Standard (“Hunter S Thompson shot himself this week, before I could slide over to his ‘fortified farm’ outside Aspen, complete with peacocks and an awesome collection of rifles, shotguns, and revolvers, and say thank you.”)

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