Book Reviews

NYTimes Lauds 'Overdue' and Its Subject, Librarians

In no less than the New York Times Sunday Book Review...a rave for Marilyn Johnson's "This Book is Overdue : How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All”. Critic Pagan Kennedy writes:

Johnson ushers us into the American Kennel Club Library and introduces us to the inevitable graying librarian in a boiled-wool jacket with a Scotty pin. She also teleports over to a Las Vegas “gentlemen’s club” called the Library, where ladies wearing spectacles (and not much more) slide their way down stripper poles. She peppers the book with lots of random instructions, like how to remove odor from an old Graham Greene paperback. (Use a sheet of Bounce fabric softener.) This is one of those books, in the vein of Mary Roach’s “Stiff” (about human cadavers), that tackle a big topic by taking readers on a chapter-by-chapter tour of eccentric characters and unlikely locations. Given Johnson’s attractions to wild tangents, the journey often dissolves into a jumble. It is a testament to her skill as a writer that she remains fascinating, even in the throes of A.D.D.


Book Review: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians is a new twist on the young adult fantasy genre. Instead of integrating magical elements into a modern story world, the book is written to inform us that our modern world (and even our history) is an illusion that librarians want us to believe.


New Owner For Kirkus Reviews/now Kirkus Media

Looks like Kirkus Reviews will live another day to praise — and skewer — authors, but with some rather unorthodox owners for a publication with a long literary pedigree.

Herb Simon, the owner of the Indiana Pacers, the NBA team, and chairman emeritus of Simon Property Group, a shopping mall developer, has bought the venerable journal of prepublication book reviews from the Nielsen Company, which announced in December it was closing the magazine. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Mr. Simon, who is co-owner of an independent bookstore in Montecito, CA, Telecote Books, has appointed Marc Winkelman, chief executive of Calendar Holdings, owner of several chains of seasonal retailers, to be chief executive of what will be re-named Kirkus Media. Mr. Winkelman is also taking a small stake in the company.

NYTimes Media Blog.

Warren Beatty Biography, "Star"

Sounds like a good beach/vacation read.

Vanessa Grigoriadis reviews Peter Biskind's biography of Warren Beatty-- "Star; How Warren Beatty Seduced America" in Sunday's New York Times. Presumably Beatty first agreed to cooperate in the creation of the book but later renegged on his offer.

From the review:

For a relative unknown, dating an actress like [Joan] Collins was a coup, but Beatty was more interested in platonic seduction of those higher on the food chain: writers and directors. His first scalp was the (gay) playwright William Inge, author of “Come Back, Little Sheba” and “Picnic,” who hoped to cast him in the part of a man so sexually confident that “he feels a wreath has been hung on his penis.” Soon, he secured an audience with Clifford Odets at Romanoff’s restaurant on Rodeo Drive, and bonded with Elia Kazan, who gave him his first big break, “Splendor in the Grass.” He impressed them with his intelligence, but he liked playing the pretty boy too. From a young age, he maintained a diet of soy burgers and carrot juice, washed his hair with a six-pack of beer, and even separated his eyelashes with a pin before shooting a scene (for sex, he pumped up his thyroid with vitamins) — and he didn’t care who knew it. Carly Simon has never explicitly admitted that Beatty was the inspiration for “You’re So Vain,” but he likes to think so.

Book Magazine Kirkus Reviews Lives to Write Another Day

Book Magazine Kirkus Reviews Lives to Write Another Day

Details here


What's the Point of Book Blurbs?

If you believed them then you'd think every book published is, like, really amazing. From The Guardian:

There's a lot of received wisdom in the publishing world – for instance, if you write non-fiction, your book needs a subtitle. Never mind that fiction doesn't require that extra bit of explication (Crime & Punishment: Murder and Redemption in the Empire of the Tsars anyone?) if you write non-fiction you simply must spell out what you're up to for prospective readers! This may be a wise policy or it may be nonsense, nobody knows.

Then there are blurbs, the more of which you can plaster on your paperback the better. Do these blurbs – many of which could be transferred from book to book without great difficulty – actually sway readers? Usually these are from newspaper reviews reduced by your sales people to a string of superlatives here, a comparison to somebody more famous than you are there. If the blurb comes from a review by a famous person, then they may just run with the name of the celebrity alone ("The Da Vinci Code is f*cking awesome!" – Salman Rushdie).

Booklist senior editor Keir Graff on the future of book review publications.

Interview with Keir Graff
Written by Edward Champion

Posted on December 11, 2009
Filed Under Book Reviewing, Publishing

In the wake of Kirkus Reviews’s folding, I asked Booklist senior editor Keir Graff a few questions on the future of book review publications. He was very gracious and offered considerable answers.


The End of Kirkus and What Will Happen to Advance Reviews

Analysis of yesterday's news story by Jerome Kramer, an independent publishing consultant in his blog, Publishing Perspectives.


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