- Renowned American poet Galway Kinnell died of leukemia last week at the age of 87. Kinnell received numerous accolades throughout his career, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for 1982’s Selected Poems—as well as a MacArthur genius grant, a poet laureateship in Vermont, a chancellorship at the American Academy of Poets, and, most recently, the 2010 Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement. The World War II vet, anti-Vietnam War activist, and civil rights champion infused his verse with the gritty social issues pervading the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. The Los Angeles Times writes that the Kinnell is celebrated for his “forceful, spiritual takes on the outsiders and underside of contemporary life,” and how he “blended the physical and the philosophical, not shying from the most tactile and jarring details of humans and nature.” His work reflects the influence that Walt Whitman and friend W.S. Merwin had on him. Kinnell—who also taught at New York University, Sarah Lawrence College, and Reed College before retiring in 2011—is survived by his wife, two children from a former marriage, and two grandchildren.
Tag: John Grisham (1-6 of 6)
The defense attorney in John Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill, is returning to the courtroom.
Grisham’s new book, Sycamore Row, will be published Oct. 22, the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group announced Wednesday. Like A Time to Kill, it will feature Jake Brigance as a lawyer in a small Mississippi town. Knopf Doubleday promises a trademark Grisham tale of “intrigue, suspense and plot twists.”
A Time to Kill was published in 1989 and sold modestly. But after The Firm and other thrillers made Grisham a brand name, his first book was reissued and became a best-seller. A Time to Kill, in which Brigance successfully defends a man accused of murder, was later adapted into both a movie and a stage production.
On the Books July 28: Bernie Madoff book (maybe) in the works; Grisham makes lawyers look cool, as per usual
++ John Grisham wins the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, an award for “exemplifying the positive role of lawyers in society,” for The Confession, USA Today reports. Meanwhile, there’s no word on whether The Lincoln Lawyer‘s Michael Connelly plans to appeal.
++ British newspaper The Daily Telegraph published a sneak-peek excerpt from Stephen King’s introduction to a new edition of The Lord of The Flies. King ruminates on the nature of childhood and name-drops Terrence Malick.
++ And speaking of the Telegraph: According to the Los Angeles Times, a UK court ordered the British broadsheet to pay the equivalent of $100,000 in damages to art writer Sarah Thornton, who claimed she was libeled in a review of her bestseller Seven Days In The Art World. Let this serve as a cautionary tale to us all—Canadian contemporary art critics are not to be messed with.
++ And, on the Un-Googleable Book Releases front, Little, Brown has announced that “Untitled,” by Anonymous, will hit shelves this fall, the New York Times reports. There’s speculation that the title of the 320-page nonfiction text will change to something a little snappier containing the words “Bernie Madoff”: An internal company database at Little, Brown’s parent company lists freelance writer Catherine Hooper, fiancée of the former NASDAQ chairman’s younger son, as a co-author.
John Grisham has long written about legal eagles getting themselves into harrowing situations, but this will be the first time his intrepid lawyerly protagonist is only thirteen years old. EW has the exclusive premiere of the trailer for the bestselling author’s upcoming YA novel, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer. Watch the short, but intriguing, clip of a soap-sculpting inmate with an apparent vendetta below and let us know what you think.
Though it didn’t sell as strongly as The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol moved more than 5.5 million copies to dominate Publishers Weekly‘s just-unveiled list of the best-selling hardcover books of 2009. A few other expected author names populate the Top 15, including John Grisham (No. 2 and No. 6), James Patterson (No. 5), and Patricia Cornwell (No. 12 and No. 14). Stephenie Meyer landed in the ninth spot with her 2008 sci-fi novel The Host, but the lack of a Twilight book was evident, particularly in the ascendancy of two entries from P.C. Cast’s Twi-lite House of Night series, which rose up to fill a vampire-shaped hole. The real surprise, though, is Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, which itself was helped by tremendous word of mouth to become the fourth best-selling fiction book of the year with 1.1 million copies sold. On the nonfiction side, it was politics, mainly conservative, that got the cash register ringing. Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue capped the list, but books by Glenn Beck, conservative radio host Mark Levin, and the late Edward Kennedy all made it into the top five.
Whereas sales of albums and movie tickets are tallied virtually in real-time, the figures for the publishing industry are often as closely guarded as the Colonel’s secret recipe, so PW’s yearly ranking offers one of the best snapshots of the literary marketplace. And while the top contenders on both the fiction and nonfiction lists sold millions of copies, the overall list reveals a far less rosy picture of book sales. The number of titles that sold at least 100,000 copies is down by significant double-digit percentages from 2008 in both fiction and nonfiction.
E-book sales figures weren’t included this year (they will be for 2010), but since digital editions rarely exceed 5 percent of a book’s total sales it’s unlikely that the 2009 sales list would have received a big boost from their inclusion. Here are the top selling books of 2009 (since some publishers did not provide PW exact sales figures, several titles’ rankings are based on estimates or sales figures provided in confidence for the purposes of ranking):
1. The Lost Symbol: A Novel, Dan Brown (5,543,643 copies)
2. The Associate: A Novel, John Grisham
3. Tempted, P.C. Cast (1,141,818)
4. The Help, Kathryn Stockett (1,104,617)
5. I, Alex Cross, James Patterson (1,040,976)
6. Ford County, John Grisham
7. Finger Lickin’ Fifteen, Janet Evanovich (977,178)
8. Hunted, P.C. Cast (931,219)
9. The Host: A Novel, Stephenie Meyer (912,165)
10. Under the Dome, Stephen King
11. Pirate Latitudes, Michael Crichton (855,638)
12. Scarpetta, Patricia Cornwell (800,00)
13. U Is for Undertow, Sue Grafton (706,154)
14. The Scarpetta Factor, Patricia Cornwell (705,000)
15. Shadowland, Alyson Noel (609,355)
1. Going Rogue: An American Life, Sarah Palin (2,674,684 copies)
2. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment, Steve Harvey (1,735,219)
3. Arguing With Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government, Glenn Beck
4. Liberty & Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto, Mark R. Levin
5. True Compass: A Memoir, Edward M. Kennedy (870,402)
6. Have a Little Faith: A True Story, Mitch Albom (855,843)
7. It’s Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God’s Favor, Joel Osteen
8. The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow (610,033)
9. Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books Not Bombs, Greg Mortenson (515,566)
10. Superfreakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (487,977).
11. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child (487,228)
12. Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body! Jillian Michaels (486,154)
13. The Yankee Years, Joe Torre and Tom Verducci (397,954)
14. Open, Andre Agassi (383,722)
15. Time of My Life, Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niem
Forget the expanding congressional divide. Literature is seeing its own structural breakdown, thanks to an increasingly petty argument between two integral types of authors: highbrow and lowbrow. Nearly one month ago, Time book critic and The Magicians author Lev Grossman was criticized for his commentary in The Wall Street Journal in which he dissed high-minded “Modernist” authors: “The Modernists felt little obligation to entertain their readers…Conversely they have trained us, Pavlovianly, to associate a crisp, dynamic, exciting plot with supermarket fiction, and cheap thrills, and embarrassment…If you’re having too much fun, you’re doing it wrong.”
Then there is the latest dustup over the lowbrow book of the hour: Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol. British novelist Philip Pullman took the intellectual approach while talking to a U.K. paper: “All the usual literary things [Brown] just doesn’t know how to do, but he’s not interested in those and nor are his millions of readers…It is not great writing.” The Firm author John Grisham then responded to Pullman’s criticism of Brown by knocking classic literature as a whole: “I’ve read literature in the classic sense. We’ve all got those type of books on the shelves at home…I admit that I didn’t like them much. I couldn’t understand why they were said to be so good.”
I’m not sure which side I take, but I do know one thing: We seem one step away from a Twitter fight of Speidi-Ryan Seacrest proportions here. And it seems the debate will rage on. After all, sales for lowbrow lit only seem to increase (Hello, Stephenie Meyer and James Patterson!), while highbrow lit still garners all the accolades (not to mention an occasional endorsement from the big O). But since I would say a majority of us avid readers enjoy dipping in both reading pools, can’t we all just get along?
So tell me, Shelf Lifers: Which side are you on? Team highbrow? Team lowbrow? And are you, like me, feeling uncomfortable with the fact that Grisham knocked hundreds of years’ worth of amazing reads?
Photo Credit: Maki Galimberti
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