Monthly Archives: August 2012

Waterstones Autumn Book Club titles

The Waterstone’s Book Club has four lists per year — one for each season — where the retailer picks 12 new “eclectic, intelligent and readable” titles to be promoted in stores with discounts, and gives customers the promise that if they don’t like any of the books, they can have their money back. It launches in stores today.

According to the Bookseller, Hachette has four titles in the club over autumnThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (Headline); The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (Orion); Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton (Orion); and Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell (Orion). Random House Group has three titles in the ‘club’, The Man Who Forgot his Wife by John O’Farrell (Transworld); The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore (Cornerstone); and The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen (Vintage).

Also in the line-up are Boomerang by Michael Lewis and Is that a Fish in Your Ear? by Alex Bellos (both Penguin); When She Woke by Hilary Jordan and Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles (both HarperCollins); The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd (Simon & Schuster).

Keep track of the book club here.

 

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Bin Laden book to come out early

Only five days ago this blog reported that Mark Owen’s account of his Navy SEAL mission to capture Osama Bin Laden was a bestseller, due to be published on 11th of September. However, Penguin’s Dutton imprint has moved up the publishing date.

GalleyCat says: “Originally slated for an October release, No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden was then supposed to come out on September 11th, but will now be out on September 4th.”

Publishers Weekly has more:

Dutton announced the additional publication change. In a statement, the publisher said the publication was moved up “in response to the overwhelming excitement in the marketplace,” and Dutton “now feels it is important to put No Easy Day on sale and let the book speak for itself.”

The book is getting coverage all over the country for the new details it reveals, including that Bin Laden was already dead when the SEALs entered his bedroom in the compound. The publisher and author have also been criticized for not providing the government with a copy of the book before announcing it on August 22.

The first printing of the book is now 575,000 copies, up from the original 300,000.

The book is still No. 1 on the Amazon Bestselling Chart.

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The Writer Magazine is back!

Just over a month ago, this blog reported that the Writer Magazine was on hiatus after 125 years in business. (The Writer magazine was founded in 1887 by Boston Globe reporters Robert Luce and William H. Hills who outlined nine goals for the magazine, including, notably: “To collect and publish the experiences, experiments and observations of literary people, for the benefit of all writers.”)

Editor Jeff Reich sent an email to his subscribers to break the news: “I’m sorry to announce that The Writer magazine will go on hiatus after the October 2012 issue, which is in production now. Kalmbach Publishing Co., which owns The Writer, is currently looking for a buyer for the magazine, and our hope is that The Writer will re-emerge under the careful stewardship of a new owner.”

Yesterday, Publishers Weekly announced that, ‘[a]fter a dozen years with Kalmbach Publishing Co. in Waukesha, Wisc., The Writer magazine will return to Boston, where it has been acquired by Madavor Media.

‘In addition to The Writer, Madavor acquired BirdWatching. “We are excited to include these brands in our lineup and to find innovative ways to expand them in new markets,” said v-p, group publisher Susan Fitzgerald, “We will continue to deliver the quality and authoritative content readers and advertisers expect.” She is committed to keeping the print edition of the magazine, and Madavor is retaining both Jeff Reich and Elfriede Abbe from Kalmbach as consultants. It will also follow through with a book of The Best of the Writer, to be published by year’s end.’

As reported by GalleyCat, authors who have graced the pages of the magazine include: Ray Bradbury, Patricia Cornwell, Jonathan Franzen, Gail Godwin, Pete Hamill, Stephen King, Sinclair Lewis, W. Somerset Maugham, Terry McMillan, Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Perry, May Sarton and John Updike.

The magazine’s website is full of resources and writing aids, such as writing prompts, tips on getting published,  advice for the many common stumbling blocks of bad writing, and support in not losing hope.

Click here for The Writer Magazine website.

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Banville’s pseudonym gets a TV series

 

GalleyCat yesterday reported that Benjamin Black (alternative penname of John Banville) is set to make his screen debut on BBC One.

“Actor Gabriel Byrne will star as the leading character, Quirke, in the three-part series of 90 minute episodes based on the books. Screenwriters  Andrew Davies and Conor McPherson have adapted the story.”

Here are more details from the release: “The series is a co-production between BBC Drama Production and Dublin-based companies Element Pictures and Tyrone Productions.  It is 3X 90 minutes and filming begins in Dublin later this year. The Executive Producers are Jessica Pope for the BBC, Ed Guiney for Element Pictures and Joan Egan for Tyrone Productions.  Lisa Osborne is the BBC Producer and John Alexander is the director of the first film ‘Christine Falls’.”

Meanwhile, Banville, as Benjamin Black, is currently working on reviving Raymond Chandler’s Detective Philip Marlowe, a story which is slated for publication in 2013.

According to the BBC Media Centre, Banville said: “I am very excited by the prospect of seeing my character Quirke incarnated by Gabriel Byrne, a perfect choice for the part.  I know both Quirke and Benjamin Black will be wonderfully served by Andrew Davies and Conor McPherson, two masters of their craft.”

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TLS: Hollywood’s Cold War


The following post has been reblogged in full from the Times Literary Supplement website. The article was originally written by James M. Murphy, and can be found on the TLS website here.

 

The fallout from a political scrimmage can last a long time. One example was the confrontation in 1947 between a Congressional committee claiming to represent beleaguered Americanism and the yet more beleaguered of Hollywood’s left wing: at issue, protecting the Saturday matinee from surreptitious agitprop – itself something of an oxymoron. A number of writers and performers were outed as Communists and some (the Hollywood Ten) cited for Contempt of Congress and sentenced to prison. Others were blacklisted by studio executives fearful of public reaction at the box office. Even after a generation which had seen 10 million or more innocent bystanders murdered by ideologydriven despotism, this episode became an iconic reference for political victimization: it can still kindle outrage, and not only at Tribeca dinner parties or Hollywood award ceremonies. As for the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover, he never seems to run out of biographers – the latest by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tim Weiner (reviewed in the TLS of June 1, 2012).

As John Sbardellati tells us here perhaps too often, Hoover’s hostility towards Communism dated from his entry into government service under President Harding and only increased with age. Yet, for the most part, the FBI’s role seems to have been to hold a watching brief on likely Communists in Hollywood, rather than make an attempt to assess or curb their ability to influence the movies themselves. There were, in any case, plenty of amateur censors around to detect politically charged double entendres without help from the G-men. Ginger Rogers’s mother, one of the most contentious of them, detected such a cunning hint of communitarianism when her daughter’s dialogue encouraged people to “share and share alike”. Apart from the nuance police, however, Communists had plenty of enemies among liberals and socialists, whom they called “social fascists” and worse at various twists of the party line. Although he resented Congressional inquisitors trespassing on his turf, it was Hoover who possessed a database of identified party members which was vital to committee plans to purge Communists from access to film production.

Sbardellati deserves credit for the energy with which he has tackled a mountain of FBI documentation – and also commiseration: those familiar with the Bureau’s communications know it to be a foreign tongue only deceptively reminiscent of English and usually employed to say no more than is required to forestall a reply. According to the jacket, his book began as a PhD dissertation, and it shows some of the scar tissue often acquired on that academic obstacle course. For research itself can get out of control and sometimes even confound the scholarship it is supposed to nourish, particularly when faced with something like the Bureau’s archives. Many of the carefully preserved exhibits there are reports and alarms from unidentified and probably uninformed “informants” – an unanalysed litter of gossip and trivia whose preservation is owed to Hoover’s Stakhanovite demand that his team pile up overtime in order to show their dedication. Taking them too seriously can distract one’s attention from something more promising.

To take one example, the author makes only a passing reference to the Hollywood visit of Otto Katz, who, using the pseudonym André Simone, was welcomed by movie society as a veteran of anti-Fascist resistance. Katz was a colleague of Willi Munzenberg, the inventor of “front organizations” (he called them “idiots’ clubs”) and the leading Comintern activist in Europe. It would have been interesting to know how the Bureau followed up this episode. Welcome also would be more attention to the attempt by the Communist screenwriter Albert Maltz to find some wriggle room within the doctrinaire restraints which the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) put on its literary cadres. Hoover and Andrei Zdhanov, founder of the Cominform for the dissemination of Soviet propaganda, seemed to agree on one thing: art can be a weapon in the ideological struggle. Hoover aimed to disarm it and Zdhanov meant to use it. Maltz had gingerly raised the question of whether one had to bow to this dilemma; the party’s ideologists quickly set him straight.

A monograph is a special kind of scholarly exercise: it normally addresses a narrow subject and produces limited conclusions appropriate to it, rather than exports its insights to larger issues, what Sbardellati might call other “discourse”. It seems, therefore, rather going too far to argue, as he does, that Hoover’s anti-Communist crusade “brought to an end a brief, though vibrant, period of filmmaking in which liberal reform and social criticism from the left found its way onto American screens”. After all, a vast assortment of influences tempered popular culture during these Cold War years in America – 10 million servicemen re-entering civilian life, revelations of Soviet espionage, unprecedented economic growth and wealth accumulation which changed public attitudes towards leisure and work, the relentless growth of the mass media – to name only a few. Whatever Hoover’s many bureaucratic sins, it is a stretch to indict him for Doris Day’s escapist comedies or Annette Funicello’s beach parties.

While it is a commonplace to say that movies can manipulate public taste, moreover, it is well to remember that the businessmen who make them go to great lengths and with grim determination to find out what the moviegoer wants, and then to give it to him: they would regard it as a sin against commercial piety to impose their views on an audience who will not pay to hear them. J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the Movies once again raises the question whether the book editor has gone the way of the iceman and the typesetter. Writing a book, even a short one, is not easy, and the result is seldom perfect. Publishers once shared some responsibility for the product they offered to the public, and helped authors when they patently needed it, as here, to iron out tangled arguments, unintended solecisms, varying standards for citations and similar infelicities. Reader and author alike will profit from the return of those who work at the margins in publishing: they have been missed.

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Unpublished Bin Laden Raid story already a bestseller


Penguin is set to publish a first-person account of the mission which killed Osama Bin Laden, the Bookseller announced yesterday.

The book is titled No Easy Day: The Only Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden, and is written by the pseudonymous Mark Owen, a Navy SEAL who was among the first to enter the Abbottabad compound where Bin Laden was hiding.

It will be released on September 11th. Penguin describes it as “an essential piece of modern history”.

Despite the anonymity of the author, Fox News reported that they discovered his real identity — a 36-year-old from Alaska. The US Penguin imprint Dutton, which will be simultaneously publishing the book there, asked the media to withhold his name claiming it risked his personal security. US Military officials confirmed they had not vetted the contents of the book before its release was announced.

GalleyCat reported that the title is already shooting up the charts from presales: “It is currently the No. 1 bestseller on Amazon, ahead of all of the Fifty Shades of Grey titles and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.”

According to Amazon, “No Easy Day puts readers alongside Owen and the other handpicked members of the twenty-four-man team as they train for the biggest mission of their lives. The blow-by-blow narrative of the assault, beginning with the helicopter crash that could have ended Owen’s life straight through to the radio call confirming Bin Laden’s death, is an essential piece of modern history.”

Pre-order it here.

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Wolf Hall to be BBC2 Drama


After the success of the Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning ITV show Downton Abbey, it seems BBC2 is following suit with the promise of a new production of Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall and her new novel Bring Up the Bodies.

It will be adapted by Peter Straughan, the man who brought Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to the big screen. Wolf Hall, a novel charting the rise of Tudor politician Thomas Cromwell, will become a six-part series for BBC2. It is expected to be broadcast in late 2013.

As reported yesterday by the Guardian, the third part of Mantel’s Tudor trilogy, the yet-to-be-published The Mirror and the Light, might form a standalone drama at a later date.

Stressing the channel’s commitment to drama in the face of cuts that from the new year will ravage the daytime schedule, BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow – who named Wolf Hall as among her favourite books of recent years – said the novels were “right in the cross hairs of what BBC2 viewers will enjoy”.

“I think there is a cumulative, mounting hunger for the [dramas] that we do,” said Hadlow. “That doesn’t mean that all of them will be massive audience drivers but I think what drama injects into the channel is of such value … something so powerful that you’d want to protect that at all costs.”

Other new dramas for BBC2, which will air Tom Stoppard’s eagerly awaited adaptation of Parade’s End starring Benedict Cumberbatch tonight at 9pm, include spy thriller The Honourable Woman by Hugo Blick, who wrote and directed the channel’s recent opinion-splitting drama “The Shadow Line”.

Hadlow also spoke about BBC adaptations of Shakespeare and French and Russian classics — for more, see here.

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