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Vanessa Williams shares dark past in new memoir

Vanessa Williams’ problems — a scuttled Miss America reign, a troubled marriage — have mostly played out in the tabloids. Until now. In her new memoir, You Have No Idea (out April 17), Williams reveals that a family friend sexually abused her when she was only 10 years old. Excerpts from the book appear in the current issue of People.

During a trip to California to visit family friends, Williams writes, the family’s 18-year-old daughter crept into the den where she was sleeping and pulled down her bloomers.“’What are you doing?’ I asked. ‘Don’t worry — it’ll feel good.’ I lay there paralyzed. What was going on? I didn’t speak. She kept at [the molestation] for I don’t know how long. She slid my bloomers back up and whispered: ‘Don’t tell anyone.'”

Williams did as she was told and kept it a secret for years. In fact, the Desperate Housewives actress says she didn’t understand what happened to her until many years later.

She tells People that she’s moved on. “I don’t dwell,” she said. Instead, she uses the tale as a learning experience for her children: Melanie, 24, Jillian, 22, Devin, 19, and Sasha, 11.

“I was verbal about it so they knew what to look for,” she said. “It was part of my journey that led me to them and to where I am today.”

Read more:
‘Portlandia’ star Carrie Brownstein to write music memoir
Kevin Smith talks about his memoir ‘Tough Sh*t’ and Liam Neeson’s nether regions
Rachel Dratch talks her new memoir, ’30 Rock,’ Amy Poehler, and her new pilot

'The Hunger Games' ignites the ALA's list of most challenged books

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The Hunger Games movie may not have had trouble earning a PG-13 rating, but many parents and educators are wondering whether the best-selling book trilogy belongs on library shelves. The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom released its annual list of most frequently challenged books of 2011 yesterday, and the increased popularity of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian saga — in large part fueled by buzz surrounding the blockbuster film — drove the books higher on the list. In 2010, only the first novel cracked the top ten at number five. In 2011, all three books occupy the number three position, and the complaints have grown more varied: “anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence.” READ FULL STORY

Socialite Dara-Lynn Weiss nabs book deal after controversial Vogue essay about her child's weight loss

Jennifer Lopez may have graced the cover of Vogue’s April Shape issue, but it’s an essay inside the magazine that’s generating the most chatter.

After writing a controversial piece about putting her seven-year-old daughter on a year-long diet, Manhattan socialite Dara-Lynn Weiss has nabbed a book deal with Random House’s Ballantine, according to MediaBistro.
READ FULL STORY

Kevin Smith talks about his memoir 'Tough Sh*t' and Liam Neeson's nether regions

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Those who have perused the current issue of Entertainment Weekly know it features a Q&A with director Kevin Smith in which he talks about his troubled working relationship with Bruce Willis on Cop Out, the 2010 incident where he was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight because of his weight, and his new memoir-cum-self-help book, Tough Sh*t: Life Advice From a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good (out tomorrow).

But is that all the voluble Clerks auteur had to say for himself? Not even close. Below, Smith ruminates further on his new tome, why he hasn’t spoken to Harvey Weinstein for over a year, and the person he would most love to have read a Liam Neeson penis joke.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve published books before that collected your articles and blog entries and podcast ruminations. This is the first time you sat down and wrote a “book” book. What was that process like?
KEVIN SMITH: Honestly? A true pain in the a–. It sounded so much easier when I pitched it. Once again, I blame Twitter. I love Twitter and I blame Twitter for everything. I was online on Twitter for maybe a couple of months doing these things called “Smonologues.” People would ask questions like, “I hate myself. I’m fat. What the f— am I supposed to do?” I just wrote this monologue by way of Twitter, 140 characters at a time. Eventually, I compiled it and put it into a blog. I had about 10 of them and they were pretty popular and I said, “You could actually compile these into a book.” Once again I was thinking, I’ve already done the work, let me just publish it. READ FULL STORY

'Big Lebowski' icon Jeff Bridges to really tie the meaning of life together with new book, 'The Dude and the Zen Master'

Last year I moderated a cast reunion of The Big Lebowski at which the mighty Jeff Bridges calmed more than a thousand crazed fans — and, frankly, saved this moderator’s bacon — by leading everyone in a group “Ohm.” So I wasn’t surprised to learn today that Blue Rider Press has acquired the world rights to a Bridges co-written tome, tentatively titled The Dude and the Zen Master, which will explore “the meaning of life, laughter, the movies and trying to do good in a difficult world.”

READ FULL STORY

Kristen Johnston talks about her drug addiction, her life-threatening illness, her recovery, and her new memoir, 'Guts.'

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In the new issue of Entertainment Weekly there is a lengthy Q&A with actress Kristen Johnston in which she talks about how her addiction to Vicodin caused her stomach to explode, her subsequent recovery, and her new memoir, Guts. But the 3rd Rock from the Sun star had far more to say than we could fit in the pages of the magazine. Below, Johnston talks further about her travails, her time on 3rd Rock, and why James Frey is not completely “full of s—.”

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Love Lessons from StoryCorps: 'All There Is' by Dave Isay

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Fickle. That’s probably the best description of my feelings about Valentine’s Day. There are years when I’m thrilled to celebrate love with chocolate, that fat little cherub, and his matchmaking arrows. Then, there are other years when it feels as if I’ve saved up all my bitterness for this one special day.

No matter what category you fall into this year, it is almost impossible not to smile while reading Dave Isay’s All There Is. The compilation of stories from Storycorps’ oral history project share anecdotes of love found, lost, and regained. The short and sweet transcriptions of conversations between two lovers, friends, or family members make you feel like you’re eavesdropping on a genuine moment. Each story only takes minutes to read, making it the perfect anecdote for an especially gloomy day. It’s sweet, sometimes silly, and often heartwarming. Mostly, it’s inspiring.

But even if you have an icebox where your heart used to be, All There Is can at least teach you a few lessons. No wonder it’s a Valentine’s Day gift “more meaningful than any box of chocolates.”

5 Lessons Even The Bitter Can Appreciate (or at least laugh at): READ FULL STORY

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announces its new 'Best American' series editors

I like anthologies — probably because I’m such a bookworm — and my favorites, by far, have always been the ones in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Best American series. The publisher has just released the names of its 2012 guest editors, and as always, it’s a pretty fascinating list:
  • The Best American Short Stories: Tom Perrotta (novelist, most recently of The Leftovers)
  • The Best American Essays: David Brooks (New York Times op-ed columnist)
  • The Best American Comics: Francoise Mouly (art editor of The New Yorker, publisher and editorial director of TOON Books, cofounder of comics anthology RAW)
  • The Best American Nonrequired Reading: Dave Eggers (editor of McSweeney’s); guest introducer: Ray Bradbury
  • The Best American Travel Writing: William T. Vollmann (author of 17 books, including Europe Central)
  • The Best American Science and Nature Writing: Dan Ariely (author of The Upside of Irrationality)
  • The Best American Mystery Stories: Robert Crais (best-selling mystery novelist)
  • The Best American Sports Writing: Michael Wilbon (co-host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption)
The short stories, essays, and Nonrequired Reading will once again be required reading for me. How about the rest of you?

Frey, Murakami make 'Bad Sex in Fiction' award shortlist

First he was infamous for fabricating his memoir A Million Little Pieces, but now James Frey is among an elite crowd that Britain’s Literary Review has nominated for another nefarious honor – the year’s worst sex writing. Frey joins Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, Australian author Christos Tsiolkas and nine others in writing the most cringe-worthy bedroom scenes of the year.

In what could be considered the Razzies of fiction, this year’s winner will be announced on December 6. Last year the award went to Rowan Somerville for lines like “Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her” in his novel The Shape of Her.

On Twitter, the London-based Literary Review @Lit_Review posted their favorite lines from this year’s finalists:

View the story “Frey, Murakami, Auel make #badsexaward shortlist” on Storify

I feel like I need a shower after reading those tweets! Have you read anything that should have been on this list but didn’t make the cut?

Shelf Life Confessional: Which books have made you lose it in public?

During the weekends, New York City is a hectic, overcrowded, energetic place to be. Throw in some great fall weather and additional out-of-town marathoners and you’ve got one even more hectic, overcrowded, energetic place to be. During these sort of weekends, a quiet moment in this city is about as reasonable a thing to expect as finding an affordable apartment.

So don’t ask me why I opted to read Mindy Kaling’s quirky, sweet new book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) in a busy, bustling park and assumed my giggle fits would go unnoticed. (They didn’t.) I knew I was in trouble when even the introduction made me laugh heartily in a public setting and I only continued to do so through her funny, relatable brand of storytelling. READ FULL STORY

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