Shelf Life Book news, reviews, trends, and talk

Bill Cosby biographer will not revise his book, for now

-Bill Cosby biographer Mark Whitaker has decided that as of now he will not revise Cosby: His Life and Times, published in September, to include the numerous recent allegations of sexual assault against the comedian. Whitaker’s bio paints a sunny picture of Cosby. Last week he told the The Daily Beast that future editions may be revised. “Well, look, obviously the story has changed, and I’m going to have to address that in future editions of the book, if not sooner,” he said, adding, “If it happened, and it was a pattern, it’s terrible and really creepy.”

Yet Whitaker also appeared to defend his subject, citing his age and the scandal’s damage to his career. “He’s routinely called a rapist everywhere. That’s a big price.” On Monday, David Carr named Whitaker in a New York Times piece calling out Cosby’s “Media Enablers.” Whitaker tweeted in reponse: “I was wrong to not deal with the sexual assault charges against Cosby and pursue them more aggressively,” and “I am following new developments and will address them at the appropriate time. If true the stories are shocking and horrible.” [Publishers Weekly]


'Strong in every sense of the word': A Q&A with the creators of 'Strong Female Protagonist'


Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag had a problem. They were tired of the ways female characters were being portrayed in the majority of comics and science fiction/fantasy literature. They wanted to deliberately shatter some stereotypes with a story of their own—a story about a young woman who is strong in every sense of the word.


On the Books: Daniel Handler donating $110k to 'We Need Diverse Books' campaign

- Author Daniel Handler, better known by his pen name Lemony Snicket, announced his donation of a huge sum of money to the We Need Diverse Books Indiegogo campaign after apologizing for racially offensive comments he made while hosting the National Book Awards last week. Handler promised a $10,000 donation to the organization in a series of tweets—plus matching funds for donations made in the following 24 hours, up to $100,000. After apologizing for his “monstrously inappropriate” and “racist comments on Twitter, Handler wrote: “It would be heartbreaking for the conversation to focus on my behavior instead of great books. So can we do this?… Let’s donate to to … Brown Girl Dreaming is an amazing novel and we need more voices like Jacqueline Woodson.” Handler’s $100k pledge did not go unnoticed—donors rallied and amassed the funds within 24 hours.

- A new e-content partnership between HarperCollin Publishers and JetBlue is taking flight on Nov. 26—the day before Thanksgiving, and a notoriously busy travel day. Fly-Fi Hub, JetBlue’s new inflight Wi-Fi program, will offer passengers excerpts from HarperCollins’ current bestsellers, with the option to purchase the full ebook. The selection of titles will fluctuate with book sales; the first batch of samples will include Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton’s Endgame: The Calling. [Publishers Weekly]

- CBS Films has hired a new screenwriter for the film adaptation of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Alvin Schwartz’s classic series of terrifying tales. John August (Big Fish, Frankenweenie) will write the script based on the three bestsellers, written by Schwartz and memorably illustrated by Stephen Gammell: Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (1981), More Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (1984), and Scary Stories 3: More Tales To Chill Your Bones (1991). August, who frequently works with Tim Burton, “is going back to the source material for his take,” Deadline reports. No director is attached yet.

- Coffee House Press’ founding publisher Allan Kornblum died of complications from leukemia on Sunday at the age of 65. Kornblum was “one of the leaders of the small press movement that emerged out of the 1960s-era passions for social change,” Publishers Weekly writes in its obituary. He established Coffee House as a nonprofit independent publisher in 1984. Under his guidance, Coffee House became one of the most highly regarded small American presses—a nurturer of literary talent and a supporter of authors of color, most notably Asian Americans. A number of critically acclaimed and award winning works have emerged from Coffee House, including Somewhere Else by Matthew Shenoda (2006), Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith (2008), and Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner (2011). Kornblum’s successor, Chris Fischbach, released a statement on the publisher’s website, which is excerpted below.

For 42 years he championed new voices and new publishers and fought tirelessly to get them the attention they deserve. It was a lifetime of service not only to literature but also to the field of publishing, of which he was a devoted scholar. Whether it was choosing just the right font, navigating the changing marketplace of bookselling, or understanding the historical pattern of the changes in printing technology, his wisdom and devotion were unmatched. [Publishers Weekly]

Books of my life: Tavi Gevinson

Writer-editor-actress Tavi Gevinson is probably tired of discussing her age, but it’s worth noting that the 18-year-old is by far the youngest author to take EW’s Books of My Life survey. Jonathan Franzen and Hilary Mantel have done it in the past, and Gevinson, who is also featured in an EW Lightbulb interview this week, more than holds her own. Read on to learn what books have most influenced the phenom, editor of the newly published Rookie Yearbook Three, and star of Broadway’s This Is Our YouthREAD FULL STORY

(Updated) Chris Colfer to continue 'Land of Stories' series with new novels, picture books

UPDATE: Chris Colfer tweeted out the titles for his Land of Stories companion books–The Mother Goose Diaries and Queen Red Riding Hood’s Guide To Royalty–and wrote that the picture books will be about the characters Curvy Tree and Trollbella.

ORIGINAL STORY: Though Glee‘s story may be coming to a close, Chris Colfer is hard at work on expanding another one of his stories.


On the Books: Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket, apologizes for racist comments

- Daniel Handler, the author best known by his pen name Lemony Snicket, has apologized for a racially insensitive joke he made while hosting Wednesday’s National Book Awards. After Jacqueline Woodson, a children’s author who is black, accepted young people’s literature prize, Handler mentioned she had once told him she was allergic to watermelon—and then he started riffing on that fact.

“Just let that sink in your mind,” said Handler, elaborating that he told Woodson to put it in a book, who then told Handler to put it in his book. “I said, ‘I’m only writing a book about a black girl who’s allergic to watermelon if I get a blurb from you, Cornel West, Toni Morrison, and Barack Obama saying, ‘This guy’s OK.'” [Washington Post]

- Barbie dolls are tenuous role models at best. Mattel has occasionally made strange marketing decisions when promoting its iconic toy over the last five decades, including a 1965 doll that came with a fake scale set to an absurd 110 pounds and a 1992 “Teen Talk Barbie” that made declarations like “Math class is tough!”

Now author and blogger Pamela Ribon has uncovered another problematic Barbie product. On her blog, Ribon recounts discovering a book called Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer through a friend. The title might sound innocuous, but in the book Barbie accidentally downloads a virus that crashes her computer, before unwittingly transferring it to her sister Skipper’s and eventually calling in two male characters to fix the mess.

Mattel posted an apology to its Facebook Wednesday, claiming that since the book’s original 2010 release, “we have reworked our Barbie books” and “Barbie titles moving forward will be written to inspire girl’s imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character.” It also has pulled the title for good. Try to forget the disheartening thought that apparently Mattel did think this characterization of women was appropriate just four years ago, and enjoy one of the book’s many parodies, including a “feminist hacker” version where users can rewrite the story’s text themselves. [L.A. Times]

- Earlier this year, the U2-scored musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark ended its two-and-a-half year run on Broadway. If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, the relationship between the Irish rockers and comics continues to grow. Bluewater Comics has released a biographical graphic novel about Bono (presumably in his pre-cycling injury state). “In writing the comic, I wanted to convey the legendary performer as the ultimate Everyman,” said author Michael Frizell. No word yet on whether the e-book edition will suddenly appear on every iPad in America. [Mediabistro]


See the cover for Carrie Ryan's latest YA novel


Mark your calendars: On June 2, best-selling author Carrie Ryan is returning to YA with a Revenge-esque thriller titled Daughter of Deep Silence. EW‘s got an exclusive first look at the cover (above).

Daughter of Deep Silence is a revenge thriller and a romance, but it’s also a sharp and painful examination of identity,” Julie Strauss-Gabel, Vice President and Publisher of Dutton Books tells EW exclusively. “What does it mean to rebuild your life as a lie? How much is left of the awkward, shy-girl narrator Libby has cast off and buried away in anger?” READ FULL STORY

The EW pull list: The best comics of November (so far)

Welcome to the EW Pull List, a regular selection of some of the most interesting comics and graphic novels available. 

At first blush, The Wake—winner of this year’s Eisner award for best limited series—looks like a horror comic. And for a while, it is. But only for a while.

Written by Scott Snyder with art by Sean Murphy, The Wake begins with Dr. Lee Archer, a marine biologist called down to examine a monster at a secret undersea base. What starts as Alien many leagues below the sea becomes something grander in scope, a story about beginnings and endings and survival.

Bringing that story to life is Sean Murphy’s dense, moody linework. Murphy is absurdly talented—his work is instantly recognizable and worth the price of admission alone. That it’s paired with the work of superstar colorist Matt Hollingsworth makes it all the better. Scott Snyder’s story is fantastic too—perfectly paced, it’s both sweeping and personal; a wonderful piece of genre fiction with a real beating heart. READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Beach Boy Mike Love inks a memoir deal

- Beach Boys founding member Mike Love, 73, has inked a book deal with Penguin Random House imprint Blue Rider Press. Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy will hit shelves in the summer (when else?) of 2016, the Associated Press reports. “I’ve had an incredible life with a lot of triumphs, my share of heartbreak and some pretty amazing experiences,” the “Surfin’ U.S.A.” singer said in a statement issued by Blue Rider. “There are a lot of things I haven’t shared before, and I’m looking forward to opening up about my life and my work in this book.”

In Good Vibrations, Love will open up about the times he didn’t vibe so well with cousin and Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson—the two conflicted over creative issues and songwriting credits. Biographer James S. Hirsch, who has penned books about baseball player Willie Mays and boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, will help Love write the book. [Associated Press via Yahoo! News]

Check out a video clip of Love and his fellow Beach Boys performing their biggest hit on The Dick Clark Show, below.

- The Oxford University Press must be feeling some of those good vibes too—”vape” is officially the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year. Oxford Dictionaries defines the word on its official blog as “an abbreviation of vapour or vaporize… the verb means ‘to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device,’ while both the device and the action can also be known as a vape.” Casper Grathwohl, president of the Oxford’s Dictionaries Division, said that “This year ‘vape’ also served as an insightful window onto how we define ourselves,” reports NPR.

The blog announcement also explains that “vape” was chosen for its rapid proliferation in the English language in 2014: “You are 30 times more likely to come across the word vape than you were two years ago, and usage has more than doubled in the past year.” The trending verb joins the words “overshare” and “photobomb,” the Chamers Dictionary and the Collins English Dictionary’s words of the year, respectively.

- Ebook subscription service Oyster is launching its own online literary journal called The Oyster Review, “a modern literary magazine about a life well read.” The journal will publish original essays, humor pieces, book reviews and interviews about the best reads available—from publishers big and small, and authors past and present. Oyster seeks to tackle what editorial director Kevin Nguyen terms “the dilemma of the modern reader,” our ever-growing to-read lists, by curating the best reads for ambitious bookworms. “Think of it as a field guide to a life well read, a place of literary exploration and discovery… Here at Oyster, we believe the best book discoveries come from reading outside of your comfort zone.” An advisory board comprised of novelist Megan Abbott (The Fever), scholar and writer Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist), and YA author Lauren Oliver (the Delirium trilogy) will serve as a liaison between Oyster and the writers they publish. [Publishers Weekly]

'ODY-C' writer Matt Fraction talks about creating a comic epic

Think of Homer’s classic tale, The Odyssey. Now think of The Odyssey, but re-imagined as a gender-bent sci-fi space adventure—and in comic form. Sound intriguing? That’s the premise of Image Comics’ Ody-C, from writer Matt Fraction and artist Christian Ward.

As the Eisner Award winning genius behind acclaimed titles such as Sex Criminals, Hawkeye and The Invincible Iron Man, Fraction is no stranger to crafting narratives that are as smart as the are compelling. But gender-bending one of the most complicated classics ever written? Well, that’s an entirely new challenge altogether.

In advance of the comic’s debut next week, EW spoke with Fraction about bringing ODY-C to life, a little book called Sex Criminals, and that darn half-marathon he just ran.


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