Friday, September 14, 2007

James Frey is a liar - but do I care?

Wow. After I left work yesterday, emily gould posted a scathing response to the news that James Frey was back in the book biz with a 7-figure deal to Harper. On one hand, she's totally right. It's crazy that this dude could deceive millions of people, make Oprah look like an idiot, and still manage to come out on top. Plus, I totally had the hots for the bad boy image he created, and after seeing him reduced to a pathetic shell, I totally lost my hard-on (or lady equivalent of) for him. Hmm, although, thinking about it now, it was a pretty badass move to play O. Lying to Oprah - that takes balls.

On the other hand, I fucking loved A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard. And I'm totally curious to see what Jimmy-boy can come up when writing actual fiction, rather than a fictionalized account of his own life. So, yeah, I'm guilty of the "oooo, it's a train wreck. I must watch" effect that makes so many unworthy people famous. But the difference between Frey and say, Miss Teen South Carolina, is this - Frey became famous for writing something that people loved. Sure, his fall from grace made him even more so, but at least he's coming back into the spotlight with a piece of work that could be a shot at redemption. As opposed to hitting up Fashion Week and smiling for the cameras.

So for now, I'll reserve judgement until I can get someone at Harper to send me a free copy of the book. Because, after all, Frey was the man that once said "I don't give a fuck what they think of me. I'm going to try to write the best book of my generation and I'm going to try to be the best writer." Maybe this is his chance...


Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Blogs-an open letter to Peter Sacks

Dear Peter:
A mutual fan asked me to comment on your remarkably insightful essay published on The Huffington Post. It was honest, to the point, and illuminates many of the problems with the industry as a whole, and our country of illiterates as well. (Also, I'd like to note that I was impressed you apologized for "the bitch" remark. Afraid of the Imus effect?) Regardless, take heart. There are avid non-fiction readers out there and you do have an important subject to educate us on.
However, what I found fascinating was that you never once mentioned the title of your book in that essay: Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education.
So, I'd like to give you a bit of advice.
1) Always mention your book! When you're being interviewed or writing something call back to your book with the simple phrase "As I say in my book...". I noticed one of the commenter's was wondering what the title of your book was. You got them interested, which is great. But how many readers left without asking what the title was or taking the time to read your bio?
2) You're a writer and writers write, not to publish bestselling novels. If it happens, great, but if not, you at least got published and paid for something you obviously love to do. While there are very few authors that make it to the elusive New York Times best seller list, there are thousands of would-be authors receiving rejection letters every month. The majority of authors I work with have a day job, and write because they love to or they have something to say. Remember why you're writing. Remember your message. If you keep these up front, and express them, everything else will come in time.
3) Sadly, you're with a University Press. While I'm not familiar with the University of California Press, and I've seen some University Presses get some great ink for their authors, books, and have a nice reputation for their lists, they don't have the gravitas of a major house. Publicists are only as good as their contacts, and if major media isn't beating down their door on one book, which opens it and gives them a chance to pitch their other authors and books, it's tough to get the attention of Oprah, or a morning show, or the other press you've lamented missing.
4) Shelf Life. Your book was published in May '07. Really, there's only a solid month of publicity that can be done around publication time that ties into your book while it is timely. However, your subject matter is something that is timeless (at least until we find ourselves in a Utopian society). Troll the news, the blogs, find anything that relates to your book and contact them. Tell them you're an expert on the subject and would be happy to comment.
5) 3 Letters: NPR. Ask your publicist to work with you to craft a great pitch letter to send to National and Local NPR producers. NPR listeners are great literate folk and the backbone of book sales. Your subject is perfect for many of their shows like Conversations from Wisconsin Public Radio or Talk of the Nation.
Well, I hope this helps. Currently your Sales Rank is: #47,067. Lets see if we can get that into the 4 digits together. If we do, you owe me a bottle of scotch.
Best of luck to you, Peter.

BTW, in your essay you said "We are all bloggers who produce "content," and content is now a commodity." What you should know is that I write for this blog because I love to write, and I think I have something to say about the industry after all my years in it. This is my voice. I don't get paid for expressing my opinion. I do so simply because I can, I want to, I need to, and best of all, because you're listening even if you don't agree.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Roe V Tupe

Could this surpass Californication as the literary event of the month? The smack down between Rosie (Fish Roe) O'Donnell and Donald (The Tupe) Trump has found new life as Trump enters the ring again swinging. As reported by Extra (Dear Lord, I'm getting my lit news from Extra? Someone please shoot me!) The Tupe said: “Rosie is a loser and her book is terrible. She attacks Barbara Walters and she attacks me…she’s not a smart person. If her book does as poorly as her magazine and Broadway shows, it will fail." Evidently some pages were leaked to Page Six which reported that Roe "calls Donald Trump 'a torn scarecrow' and 'a slug'" in her new book, Celebrity Detox. Evidently The Tupe has a book coming out next month too titled Think Big and Kick Ass (I can't even comment on that title) and Page Six goes on to quote from Trump's masterpiece that "Rosie is a loser, a very sad case - unattractive both inside and out. I'll make a little wager my book sells a lot more than hers."

I wonder how much that wager would be? For all our sakes, it would be that the loser removes themselves from the public eye... forever.

Why can't they just admit they're in love with each other?


Monday, September 10, 2007

PLUG-The Bat Segundo Show

The latest five installments (Shows #134-138) of The Bat Segundo Show, a literary podcast featuring interviews with today's contemporary writers, are now up. These shows include a rare and comprehensive interview (over two days -- in two parts!) with the novelist Rupert Thomson (#137-#138), a discussion on email pranks with Welcome Back, Kotter star Gabe Kaplan (#136), a conversation with the acclaimed writer Marianne Wiggins about Edward Curtis and photographic manipulation (#134), and a talk with Antoine Wilson, who unearths an unusual connection between Knight Rider and Don Quixote (#136).
In the meantime, Mr. Segundo continues his regrettable attempts to find a paramour or, at least, someone who can be persuaded to warm his dingy bed at the Motel 6. He has begun learning how to paste heads onto bodies using Photoshop and, since Vanessa Hudgens has spurned his advances, he has shifted his seduction efforts to wooing Marianne Wiggins. Alas, there has been no reply from Ms. Wiggins. Mr. Segundo's difficulties may have something to do with a regrettable morning many years ago, in which he encountered a handlebar moustache. Nevertheless, we wish him well in his efforts, however ill-advised they may be.

-The Bat Segundo Crew

THE RAG HAS A MAG - Publicists rejoice

In a hostile environment that has seen review coverage cut entirely at some papers (Atlanta Journal Constitution I'm looking at you) and slashed at others (L A Times, tut-tut) publicists, authors and readers will rejoice to hear that New York's premiere tabloid will expand their coverage. Abby Wisse Schachter, editor at the New York Post will be heading up the new review section that will run in the Post's Sunday magazine that debuts on 9/23. And get this, as opposed to the Post Opinion reviews she ran, we'll be seeing a good selection of fiction titles covered as well.
Thank you for reinstating our faith in book coverage. Bravo Post!
Keep those news tips coming!

do tell,
the editor

Does Tehran have a B&N?

Press TV an international Iran-based news network reports that "A fictional story of an Iran-Israel nuclear war is the main theme of the latest novel by American political thriller author Vince Flynn. The delusional book [titled Protect and Defend] will be published by Atria Books on October 30 and is categorized in literature as a fiction and thriller genre."
"Delusional?" Are they living in the same Middle-East I keep hearing about?
keep those news tips coming!
do tell,

-the editor

Sunday, September 9, 2007


Am I the only one confused by Rosie O'Donnel's latest blog lashing against
her publishing house for a dust jacket typo? I'm not talking about the poor taste in which she chose to lambaste Grand Central, nor the fact that she makes it clear how she feels about the book. As reported by Access Hollywood Rosie wrote: “this book has been more of a pain in the a** than it was worth.” (However after reviewing Rosie's blog, it looks like she removed that line from her post). No, the real head-scratcher is her threat: "I want to scream NO ONIONS at every one"

What exactly does "No Onions" mean? Is that kind of like "bad dog, no biscuit?" or is it something stronger and more sinister.

A commenter on Defamer are scratching their heads too:

"'No onions'? Could someone make English of this for me?"

But we might have an answer from the Entertainment Blog which writes:

"We think the reference to onions had something to do with her tantrum-throwing idol, Jeff Lewis of Bravo's Flipping Out, though that footnote won't likely provide much comfort to the employees of Grand Central Publishing when a rampaging O'Donnell storms their headquarters and shouts, "NO ONIONS!" directly into their faces. Sadly, sometimes loudly quoting dietary restriction catchphrases from obscure reality TV shows is the only way they'll learn. We only hope the comedian's strong reaction doesn't end up backfiring, however, resulting in the revised book flap reading, "in 1973, Rosie O'Donnell forced her mother to eat so many onions she gave her cancer. This is her story."

I like the image of a rampaging O'Donnell storming the Grand Central Headquarters, shouting "NO ONIONS"! and her editor doing one of those head-cocking motions a confused dog makes with the sound "wruerh?"

Looking forward to what Rosie does next to derail the success of her book, and her career.


Ian McKellen is...impressive

So, I guess the new run of "King Lear" at BAM this month technically falls into the theater category. But I think since it's Shakespeare, we can certainly bend the rules and include it as a literary event. Especially since Ladyton managed to secure herself some tickets and is aching to write about it.

First off, the venue. The BAM Harvey Theater is lovely - although when you're running late and unsure of where to go, you do get a bit frustrated that it's not by the spinning letters sign at the main BAM building. I mean, sure, they provide directions when you buy the tickets, but come on, who looks at those? But, once we arrived, we were efficiently sent up to our seats up in the gallery to sit. A little word about the gallery - it's TERRIFYING. For those of you familiar with sitting up high in a theater or at a baseball game, I'm sure you recall that slight vertigo feeling of looking at the steep rows of seats before you - the irrational fear that if you leaned slightly forward, you would somehow sail straight down over them to an untimely death. No? Perhaps that's just me. Anyway, Harvey had that. Only worse. The seats, you see, were not normal theater seats. They were glorified bar stools. Oh sure, they had backs and arm rests, but they were narrow, hard, and high off the ground. Which, while optimal for viewing the stage, horrific for the nerves. Thankfully the seats were bolted in place, or I would have spent the whole show in fear of tipping over.

Now, I had read the play before, but never had the pleasure of seeing it on stage. Despite the fact that it was a bit lengthy (we arrived at 7:30 and left at 11:15), it was magnificent. And - for you non-theater folks (which I very much am) - there were a couple other familiar faces as well. The chick from "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" (come on, you watched it too) was Cordelia, and that dude from Titanic (you know, the one that sneaks into a life boat like the coward that he is) plays the Lord of Kent. Excellent. Although, I did have a hard time buying Kent's loyalty and bravery. I kept waiting for him to be like, ho, hum, Lear's insane. Nothing I can do. Might as well jump in a boat to some nicer kingdom. Other than that, a whole bunch of people who are probably famous Shakespearian actors, but that was lost on me. One guy had been in an episode of HBO's Rome, a show I really liked, so kudos to him.
First of all, I love Sir Ian McKellen. Love him. If he weren't gay and a bit too senior for me, I would marry him in a heartbeat. And this only made me love him more. I had to resist the urge to throw myself over the balcony into his arms. He transformed himself from the self-assured, mighty Magneto and the all-powerful Gandalf into an old man who seemed to disintegrate before the audience's eyes. The shaky hands, the hunched walk; the moments of complete innocence in his madness or utter despair in sanity - I found myself worried that McKellen himself was going to keel over and die. I fell in love with him the first time I saw "Gods & Monsters," and he hasn't let me down since.

Just one more aspect in which McKellen truly awe-inspiring. When he dropped trou. I had read that there was a pants dropping scene, but for some reason, I didn't put it together that we were talking full frontal. And at first thought, ew, who wants to see Lear naked? But, after the initial shock of seeing Gandalf's penis, a new shock set in - Sir Ian is hung. And I was in the next to last row people.
Well done, good sir.