David Mamet

If you can weather a blizzard of ALL CAPS WRITING, David Mamet's recently leaked memo to the writers of the TV show The Unit has some wise writing advice. Our two cents? Good prose begins when you release the caps-lock key.

Glen Beck's new novel, The Overton Window, is coming out this summer. Beck, a newsman known for his measured tone and fair and balanced reporting, supposedly loosens his tie a little in his fiction. We can't wait to see the fiery emotion roiling underneath his placid surface.

Sorry, print, reports of your death have turned out to be only slightly exaggerated. Rumors that Apple would use the publisher-friendly "agency model" for e-book pricing have turned out to be false. Apple, not publishers, will be dictating how much e-books cost on the iPad.

Stephen King, a diehard Red Sox fan, may have been inspired to pen his latest book after witnessing the horror of last year's Yankees' championship. He's just announced the April release of his new novella, Blockade Billy, a baseball thriller ("All great works of literature either dissolve a genre or invent one," wrote Water Benjamin). And hope springs eternal over at the Rumpus, where writer Adam Gallari says, “I think that the greatest analogy between baseball and writing, or even life, is that the game is designed for its players to fail.”

Riding high on the success of his novel Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann has sold two more novels to Random House.

 


Philip Pullman

The Austrian author Stefan Zweig, a friend of Freud, and once the most translated author in the world, has gained a lot of stateside popularity after a 2006 appreciation by Joan Acocella. Then, the backlash began, initiated by a devastating, and convincing, critique by Michael Hofmann, who wrote that Zweig's literary output was "just putrid." So we wonder, along with The Guardian's Nicholas Lezard, is there's still "a place for Stefan?"

Canongate Books's iPhone app for Philip Pullman's The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ will feature videos of the author, allow you to to email quotes to friends, and play clips of Pullman ridiculing Christians for their foolish beliefs. (Joking on that last one!)

Booksellers and the publishing industry are eager to see how Borders will settle a $42.5 million loan due to its largest shareholder by April 1. That's two days before the iPad is set to launch. Coincidence? Yes, in fact, but we just had to mention the ubiquitous 'Pad. Anyway, as Borders stores suffer misreble sales figures, the company may be forced into bankruptcy or a shotgun merger. We'd suggest a government bailout, but we know Obama prefers indie bookshops.

Novelist Colson Whitehead is judging Electric Literature's Twitter contest. And why not, he's a master Tweeter.


Virginie Despentes

As James Shapiro's new book argues that Shakespeare really did write all that great work, Oxford University Press has announced a new complete, modernized edition of the Bard's work, set for publication in 2016. Oxford's scholars will "make careful use of all the surviving original documents," and offer readers alternate versions, a choice of modern or original spelling, and both print and digital editions.

The winner of the annual Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title has been announced.

Virginie Despentes, author of King Kong Theory, wonders why Hollywood spends millions on slickly rendered violence, while pornography is banished to "an economic ghetto." Despentes's idea of "blockbuster Hollywood porn" is usually dismissed as hyperbole—or sensationalized in racy Village Voice pages—and no wonder: King Kong Theory’s polemics on prostitution, rape, and porn aren't polite. But they're more than empty provocation, and are written with unusual intelligence, wit, and conviction.

The Barack Bump: Barack Obama once plugged Joseph O'Neill's novel Netherland. Now, he's giving a boost to The Secret of Zoom by Lynne Jonell, and pulling for indie bookstores.

The finalists have been announced for the "Lost Booker Prize."


Marlon James

The Morning News Tournament of Books has us on the edge of our seats. Wednesday's competition—between the formidable novelists Hillary Mantel and Nicholson Baker—was a thrill (Mantel's Wolf Hall won by a nose). On Thursday, Marlon James edged out Victor Lavalle. And soon, we'll get to know the literary taste of motivational speaker and party rocker Andrew W.K. Place your bets now: the winner will be announced on April 5.

Referring to e-books, The Village Voice proclaimed, "OK, here comes the flood." In 2000.

Though best-known as a writer of high-minded YA fiction, Philip Pullman is also a staunch atheist. His forthcoming book, a riff on the Jesus myth, has inspired some fundamentalists to condemn him to hell (and, worse, to threaten his life).

Groups of Kindle users are gathering to protest—on Amazon, at least. Right now, they're so mad that Michael Lewis's The Big Short isn't available on Kindle yet that they've been flooding the book's Amazon page with one-star reviews—apparently without having read the book.

David Grann wanted to be a novelist, but now he's content hanging out with real-life "stick up men, sandhogs, prison escape artists, imposters, squid hunters, mobsters, FBI agents."

Thanks to nasty new memoirs about Eliot Spitzer and Martha Stewart, the "literature of betrayal" is alive and well.


In publishing, it helps to know people in high places: Vanity Fair's interactive Bookopticon sorts out how ten up-and-coming authors are connected in the industry.

Mary Gaitskill

Pomona College is trying to fill David Foster Wallace's former teaching position. The top candidates—Chris Abani, Edie Meidav, and Jonathan Lethem—have infinitely large expectations to live up to.

But out your PJs: Tonight, Bookforum contributor Wayne Koestenbaum and Jeff Dolven discuss the "poetics of sleep" from bunk beds.

From an interview with Mary Gaitskill, in which she talks about literary film adaptations, the JT Leroy controversy, and Nabokov's The Original of Laura: "it’s a travesty to have published it. Nabokov was a perfectionist. I don’t even want to read it, frankly." (At the American Scholar, Brian Boyd disagrees.) Gaitskill knows her Nabokov; listen to her read and discuss his story "Symbols and Signs."

The Atlantic has been around since 1857, but the magazine is always looking for ways to evolve. For one thing, it's selling fiction on the Kindle. And while it's hard to believe that this will bring in much money, it's nice, for a change, to see someone not freaking out about the future of publishing.

From Chapman/Chapman, e-book enhancements we actually like.

Joan Schenkar, the author of a recent Patricia Highsmith biography, has written a charming article about New Yorker writer Stanley Edgar Hyman, horror writer Shirley Jackson, and Schenkar’s experience at Bennington college before it became Bret Easton Ellis’s stomping ground: "We girls, drunk on art and life and Blue Nun Liebfraumilch, roamed the fields naked under full moons, arguing passionately about things that mattered."


Emily Gould

Emily Gould's Tumblr page is mainly devoted to cute kitties, but also contains what she swears is her last response to a book review, ever; a rebuke of Ana Marie Cox's review of Gould's forthcoming memoir And the Heart Says Whatever.

Does your favorite periodical pass the "droop test"?

Former Soft Skull Press boss and publishing guru Richard Nash's vision of the e-book future: Big publishers will disappear, but "long-form text-only narrative will continue to thrive."

OR Books has rejected Amazon's distribution offer. According to OR's Colin Robinson, "We can do a better job finding customers ourselves."


Sherman Alexie has won the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for War Dances, a collection of short stories and poems. The highlight of the collection, the title story, was published in the New Yorker in August.

Victor Lavalle

Last night's event at Brooklyn's Greenlight Bookstore bodes well for Beatrice.com Ron Hogan's new author-meets-blogger series. Novelist Victor Lavalle read from his excellent new book, Big Machine, and chatted with blog queen Maud Newton about "horror" in fiction, finding his character's voice, and his own childhood days spent skipping church to go to the arcade. We'll be back at Greenlight on Wednesday, when authors/musicians Rick Moody and Wesley Stace (aka John Wesley Harding) read from their recent work and play music.

Has the iPad been naughty? Apple has demanded that companies with early access to the tablet computer subject it to strict, dominatrix-style treatment: "The companies must agree to keep the iPad hidden from public view, chained to tables in windowless rooms." And—no suprise here—Amazon wasn't given an early iPad, though they plan to have a Kindle iPad app ready shortly after the April 3rd release date.

This morning at 10:30am, Susan Howe, BOMB’s Poetry Contest judge, will be live on the Internet.

The American Prospect explains why the National Enquirer shouldn't win a Pulitzer Prize.

The two-volume Oxford Companion to the Book, weighing in at twelve pounds, crushed our Kindle senseless and upended a precariously placed cup of coffee as it arrived on our desk with a commanding thud. Originally conceived in the mid-1990s, the tome is old-media porn, with an ornately patterned slipcase, gold embossed binding, and ribbon placeholder. We've considered covering our copy in plastic to protect it from outpourings of bibliophile drool.

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