As Harper Lee celebrates her 88th birthday today, she unexpectedly announced an eBook version of To Kill A Mockingbird would be published this July. Until today, To Kill A Mockingbird and Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye were the two white rhinos that still eluded the eBook library’s collection of classics. [Guardian] READ FULL STORY
Tag: Margaret Atwood (1-8 of 8)
On the Books: Oprah unveils latest book club pick; more than 500 authors lobby UN over international bill of digital rights
We’ve got plenty of book news for today: Oprah chose a new title for her book club, award-winning authors around the world are protesting state surveillance, and more book deals have been announced. (A sports item even made its way into this morning’s headlines.) Read on for more:
Oprah Winfrey has announced a new Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 pick: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, about two women on a quest for freedom. “The moment I finished The Invention of Wings, I knew this had to be the next Book Club selection,” Winfrey said in the press release. “These strong female character represent the women that have shaped our history and, through Sue’s imaginative storytelling, give us a new perspective on slavery, injustice and the search for freedom.”
More than 500 authors — including Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Tom Stoppard, and Margaret Atwood — are lobbying the United Nations over an international bill of digital rights, releasing a joint statement protesting state surveillance. “A person under surveillance is on longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy,” they wrote. “WE DEMAND THE RIGHT for all people to determine, as democratic citizens, to what extent their personal data may be legally collected, stored and processed, and by whom.” [The Guardian]
Parks/MacDonald Productions has won the movie and TV rights to the book League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth, written by ESPN reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainuru. PBS Frontline produced a documentary earlier this year on the investigation over football-related injuries based on the book. [Variety]
Actor Terry Crews has inked a deal for his first book Manhood with Ballantine Bantam Dell to be published May 2014. According to the press release, the book will cover Crews’ life and 25-year marriage, “including straight-talking advice for men and the women who love them.”
The winners of 2013’s Roald Dahl Funny Prize, honoring children’s books, have been announced, with Jim Smith’s I Am Still Not a Loser taking the prize in the 7-14 category, and Simon Rickerty’s Monkey Nut winning for ages six and under. [The Telegraph]
The world’s oldest romance novelist, Ida Pollock, has died at the age of 105. Pollock’s daughter said the writer, who authored more than 120 books, died Dec. 3 at a nursing home near her house in Lanreath, England. [USA Today]
Stephen King joined Twitter Friday. “My first tweet,” he posted. “No longer a virgin. Be gentle!” [Twitter]
Charles McGrath discussed what it’s like to judge the National Book Awards. [The New York Times]
Instead of delivering the traditional Nobel Lecture in Literature speech, 2013 winner Alice Munro released a video interview. [Nobelprize.org]
Established writers like Margaret Atwood are asked constantly by publishing houses to submit blurbs for other people’s books. But Atwood says she’s no longer in the business of fulfilling those requests.
Even so, she doesn’t decline the requests with a simple, brief message; instead, she uses poetry, by sending out the following poem, titled the “Ode to No”:
Letter sent in reply to requests for blurbs
(I blurb only for the dead, these days)
“You are well-known, Ms. Atwood,” the Editor said,
And we long for your quote on this book;
A few well-placed words wouldn’t bother your head,
And would help us to get in the hook!”
“In my youth,” said Ms. Atwood, “I blurbed with the best;
I practically worked with a stencil!
I stewed quotes about with the greatest largesse,
And the phrases flowed swift from my pencil.
Intelligent, lucid, accomplished, supreme,
Magnificent, touching but rough,
And lucent and lyrical, and plangent, a dream,
Vital, muscular, elegant, tough!
But now I am aging; my brain is all shrunk,
And my adjective store is depleted;
My hair’s getting stringy, I walk as though drunk;
As a quotester I’m nigh-on defeated.
I would like to be useful; God knows, as a girl
I was well-taught to help and to share;
But the books and the pleas for quotes pour through the door
Till the heaps of them drive to despair!
So at last I’ve decided to say No to all.
What you need is a writer who’s youthful;
Who has energy, wit, and a lot on the ball,
And would find your new book a sweet toothful,
Or else sees no need to be truthful.
Such a one would be happy, dear Editor, to
Write you quotes until blue in the brain.
It’s a person like this who can satisfy you,
Not poor me, who am half down the drain.
So I wish you Good Luck, and your author, and book,
Which I hope to read later, with glee.
Long may you publish, and search out the blurbs,
Though you will not get any from me.”
A hard copy of the cheekily self-deprecating response can be viewed here.
Atwood, on her site, explains that she uses the ode because she no longer has the time to handle the influx of books she’s asked to read and blurb, not to mention choose which ones she wants to blurb for: “It takes a long time to make a well-informed choice,” she writes. “Choosing between books is akin to choosing which of your two sisters should be your maid of honour… no matter what you do, someone’s bound to have their feelings hurt. So my answer is no, to everybody.”
Today’s books news kicks off with a goof that’s worthy of its title character, while in other news, McDonald has replaced Happy Meals toys with books about nutrition. Read on for more headlines: READ FULL STORY
This weekend’s news spanned the globe, with the passings of notable international poets, while at home, a former VP candidate signed a book deal and some poets scouring Craigslist hit the jackpot. Read on for the top books headlines: READ FULL STORY
How much does it cost to achieve literary immortality? In the case of Rebeca Eckler, a Canadian journalist and writer, about $7,000. Two years ago, Eckler paid that princely sum at a charity auction to have her name used as a character in the next novel by her favorite author, fellow Canadian Margaret Atwood. Now, that book is out: Atwood’s delightful and well-reviewed dystopian novel The Year of the Flood. And Eckler is surprised, pleasantly for the most part, at her fictional alter ego. “One of my character’s first quotes is, ‘Praise the Lord and spit. I’m too black and ugly for him…’ There you have it. Rebecca Eckler is no longer skinny, neurotic and Jewish,” the real Eckler writes in the Canadian newsmagazine Macleans. Eckler notes she’s not the first person to win a spot in literature via auction — in recent years, writers as various as Frederick Forsyth, Stephen King, Michael Chabon, and Nora Roberts have all auctioned off character-naming rights. She’s not even the first to win a spot in an Atwood novel (a previous winner, Amanda Payne, even got a two-for-one deal by appearing in the 2003 novel Oryx and Crake and then reappearing in this year’s follow-up, The Year of the Flood).
I consider myself a bookworm, but I’m not sure I’d want to be immortalized in a book by my favorite author — especially since I’d have no way of knowing if I’d turn out to be a major character or a minor one, a sinner or a saint. (Yes, I clearly have some control issues.) But what about you? Would you pay to become a character in a novel? And what writer’s fictional world would you want to enter, even if it’s in name only?
A few years ago, Margaret Atwood seemed so averse to doing author tours that she invented the LongPen, a device that enabled her to “sign” books for readers remotely, from the comfort of her own home in Toronto. Times have changed. For her upcoming novel, The Year of the Flood, she’s embarking on a 16-week, six-country tour that will involve staged readings as well as musical performances. She’s scheduled to appear in 10 U.S. cities, beginning Oct. 4 in Denver. Caveat lector: Only some cities will be treated to a full hour-long performance, featuring Atwood as narrator, three local actors acting out scenes, and a local choir singing a selection of the 14 hymns that Atwood has written for the book, with music by L.A.-based composer Orville Stoeber. (There’s one hymn for each chapter in Flood, a follow-up to 2003’s dystopian novel Oryx and Crake.)
“It’s a chance to break free from the traditional structure of a book tour,” Atwood said in a statement to The Toronto Star. “I felt this particular novel deserved a more complex presentation. It’s also a great chance to work with other creative minds and see their interpretation of the story come to light.”
Of course, the once tour-shy author also recognizes the down side to such an ambitious itinerary. After all, she’s publicizing a novel about the survivors of a long-predicted natural disaster that has obliterated much of human life on Earth. Not only will many of the events serve as fund-raisers for various green causes, but Atwood has posted a checklist of ways she’s trying to limit her carbon footprint while on tour: staging events with local talent and food (including “shade-grown, organic, fair-trade coffee”), favoring train travel where possible (she’s taking the Queen Mary 2 to England), and maintaining a mostly vegetarian diet (though she’ll eat eggs, and “non-avian and non-mammalian bioforms once a week” — I guess that means an occasional cheat day for fish, or maybe escargot).
Which do you think is the bigger trend in Atwood’s book tour: Authors staging events that go well beyond the norm of reading and signing? Or carbon-neutral eco-tours? And will you be walking/biking/carpooling to one of Atwood’s tour stops?
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