Dumbing down American readers

Harold Bloom's Column says the decision to give the National Book Foundation's annual award for "distinguished contribution" to Stephen King is extraordinary, another low in the shocking process of dumbing down our cultural life.

"Today there are four living American novelists I know of who are still at work and who deserve our praise. Thomas Pynchon is still writing. My friend Philip Roth, who will now share this "distinguished contribution" award with Stephen King, is a great comedian and would no doubt find something funny to say about it. There's Cormac McCarthy, whose novel "Blood Meridian" is worthy of Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick," and Don DeLillo, whose "Underworld" is a great book."


Tempest in a tearoom over plan to market Jane Austen beverages

Charles Davis writes "The UK Telegraph reports on an attempt to use Jane Austen as a marketing tool. It's not so much Pride and Prejudice as Pride and PG Tips. A row has broken out over plans to market a range of "Jane Austen teas and coffees" in a move
that the author's admirers claim is an offensive
exploitation of her name.
Julian Abraham, the proprietor of the Sally Lunn's
most famous works, will register a Jane Austen Office. The trademark will be the first time that the name of Austen, whose novels are famous for their depictions of genteel English country life, has been used to promote consumable products.
Mr Abraham says that his intention is to benefit
Austen fans by allowing them to sample what he
claims will be distinctively 19th century-flavoured drinks. Literary enthusiasts and academics have, however, expressed concern that the author's image will be tarnished by the "needless commercialisation" of her name"


Don Novello's a man of many words

Here's An Interesting SFGate Piece on Don Novello (a.k.a. Father Guido Sarducci) and the strong collegiality and enthusiasm among writers that often leads to collaboration in the bay area these days.
Litquake being a prime example.


New writing prize aims to raise the quality of Christian fiction

The Christian Science Monitor has a Short Article on Paraclete, a Christian multimedia company, is offering a new award to encourage writers of Christian-themed literary fiction.

The 2004 Paraclete Fiction Contest, open to new and emerging novel writers as yet unpublished by major houses, will be judged by Lief Enger, author of the widely acclaimed "Peace Like a River." Paraclete hopes the award will attract authors "writing thoughtfully about the landscape of faith." The publisher cites as examples Christian fiction writers like Mr. Enger, Ron Hansen ("Mariette in Ecstasy"), and Sue Monk Kidd ("The Secret Life of Bees"), as well as writers of books involving interfaith dialogue like Yann Martel ("Life of Pi") and Chaim Potok ("My Name is Asher Lev").


Madonna's kids' book lands with a thud

The Toronto Star Says Some buyers of the book have already posted reviews on Madonna fan Benjamin Davis of London gave the book five stars while U.S. poster Michael E. Walker gave it only one, saying "Please do not purchase this. It is totally unacceptable. This is just her way of cashing in on motherhood."
San Francisco Chronicle is slightly less forgiving, Madonna's kids' book lands with a thud says it yields an extremely personal, almost confessional glimpse into the author's raw feelings. Unfortunately, those feelings bespeak a persecution complex so narcissistic that she ought rather have paid readers $100 an hour than charged them 50 cents a page.


Letters reveal romance of 'Great Gatsby' author

Charles Davis writes "A diary and letters written by the debutante regarded as F Scott Fitzgerald's first love have been donated to
Princeton University.
The writings were given by descendants of Ginevra King, often viewed as the model for such characters as
Rosalind Connage and Isabelle Borge in This Side of Paradise and Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby.

Don Skemer, curator of manuscripts at the Princeton University Library, said: "For Fitzgerald, she was more of
an archetype: the representation of the wealthy, cool, aloof woman who was key to the American dream."
More at
The Independent"


King honored with National Book Award

Maine Today, The NYTimes, And The AP are reporting Stephen King, master of the horror story and e-book pioneer, is receiving this year's medal for Distinguished Contributions to American Letters from the National Book Foundation. "This is probably the most exciting thing to happen to me in my career as a writer since the sale of my first book in 1973," King said in a statement yesterday.
"I'll return the cash award [$10,000] to the National Book Foundation for the support of their many educational and literary outreach programs for children and youth across the country; the Medal I will keep and treasure for the rest of my life."


Oh! Ye Jigs and Juleps

Lee Hadden writes: "Virginia Cary Hudson was only ten years
old in 1903-1904 when she wrote a series of essays of her life. One of
these essays was on the local public library.
These essays were collected by her teacher in an Episcopal boarding
school, and turned eventually into a book published in 1962, entitled "Oh!
Ye Jigs and Juleps." You can read her essay on the public library and enjoy
life and people as seen through the eyes of a pre-adolescent at
turn-of-the-century America. Hudson had "a refreshing lack of reverence"
for life around her.
Read more about it at: Here, The Library is covered in Chapter 7


Bedtime stories from Madonna

CNN Reports "The English Roses" -- the first title in Madonna's five-book series published by privately held Callaway Editions -- comes out Monday in what is expected to be a headline-grabbing release.

However, publishing industry insiders aren't waging any bets -- yet -- on her latest venture, even though they agree its welcome publicity for the children's book market.

They say the pre-order sales indicate it will get a very strong reception.


How do you celebrate the reprint of your novels?

Robin Blum from over at InMyBook spotted This One on Novelist Sarah Bird. 30 years ago she had a grad-student job cataloging White House items in the the LBJ Library and Museum.
She's happy about the reprinting of her first three hilarious Central Texas-based novels: "Alamo House" (1986), "The Boyfriend School" (1989) and "The Mommy Club" (1991) by Ballantine, a division of Random House. A groundswell of requests from librarians and independent booksellers convinced the publisher the books are in never-ending demand.



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