Book Bits: Karen Russell interview, Randi Zuckerberg book deal, Binchy’s ‘A Week in Winter,’ Poor ‘Die Hard’
The CNN story (item 7) reflects the current practice of some of the 24-hour news networks becoming fixated on one story and then keeping that story front and center until it finally (and mercifully) goes away. Before it goes away, other events are happening which (normally) might be considered actual breaking news or an event that might appear on a newspaper’s front page with a 48-point headline.
There are days when I watch these laborious attempts at “news coverage” thinking the cameras are poised around the event hoping to catch some big moment live, like the ill-fated cruise ship sinking just before it finally reaches the dock or the cop-killer’s cabin being demolished by a tactical nuclear strike. I don’t expect the “news” networks to stop doing this because, frankly, they left real journalism by the side of the road some years ago when they discovered showing one carnival after another was an easy way to fill up time..
Now, moving on to other matters. . .
- News: Papal resignation a PR coup for Vatican journalist, by Tom Heneghan – “Few authors can boast that Pope Benedict helped sell their books, but the pontiff’s shock resignation has boosted interest in all things Catholic just as veteran Vatican journalist John Thavis is about to publish. ‘The Vatican Diaries,’ a behind-the-scenes look at the faith’s fabled nerve centre, goes on sale on February 21, just one week before the pope takes the nearly unprecedented step of quitting as the head of the world’s largest church.” Reuters
- News: Justice Department Approves Random House-Penguin Merger, by Leslie Kaufman – “The merger of Penguin and Random House cleared a big hurdle Thursday. The two companies said that the Department of Justice had closed its review of the proposed merger ‘without conditions.’” The New York Times
- Interview: Helen Osterman (“Notes in a Mirror”) with Morgen Bailey – “try to write every day, if possible. I am a morning person so the early hours find me at my desk. I always write the first draft in long hand. I can’t create on a machine. When I finish for the day, I leave a few words about the next scene or chapter so that I can pick up where I left off.” Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog
- Feature: “The New York Review of Books”: Where the literati find love, by By Katie Mcdonough – “Looking for a Mr. Darcy-type? The literary journal remains one way to find gentleman (and lady) callers ” Salon
- Obituary: Alan Sharp, who began his writing career as a novelist before becoming a screenwriter “whose brand of dark, lyrical and densely plotted work, including the screenplay for Arthur Penn’s Night Moves, made him a critically admired if largely unknown figure in Hollywood,” died last Friday, the New York Times reported. He was 79. – ShelfAwareness
- Review: “Y,” by Marjorie Celona, reviewed by Meganne Fabrega – “You don’t read much about foundlings these days; the word itself has an old-fashioned, vaguely romantic ring to it. The truth is that foundling is just another word for “abandoned child” and Shannon, the protagonist of Marjorie Celona’s haunting debut novel, “Y” (Free Press, 259 pages, $24.99), finds nothing romantic about having been left on the doorstop of the YMCA shortly after her birth.” Minneapolis Star-Tribune
- News: CNN’s Incredibly Extensive Cruise Ship Coverage Draws Scrutiny About Network’s New Direction, by Jack Mirkinson – “Media watchers took notice on Thursday when CNN sent out a press release detailing its incredibly extensive coverage plans for the final leg of the journey of the Carnival Triumph cruise ship, which has been struck with power failures and squalid conditions for five days.” The Huffington Post
- Feature: In A North Vietnamese Prison, Sharing Poems With ‘Taps On The Walls’ – “Sarcastically called the “Hanoi Hilton” by American POWs, it was a place of torture, deprivation and often solitary confinement. Borling spent much of his time there just trying to survive. He also composed poetry — in his head, without benefit of pencil or paper.” NPR
- News: In lawsuit with publishers, open textbook startup Boundless hits back – “In its ongoing lawsuit with three of the biggest textbook publishers, open textbook startup Boundless is down, but by no means is it out. Last spring, the Boston-based startup said it had raised $8 million in venture funding just as Pearson, Cengage and Macmillan Higher Education slapped it with a lawsuit alleging several violations, including copyright infringement, unfair competition and false advertising. Boundless curates and packages free online content into open textbook alternatives tailored to students’ learning needs.” PaidContent
- Review: “Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations,” Kate L. Turabian, reviewed by Mark Nichol – The book “has been overhauled to reflect the ubiquity of the Internet and other recent technological advances and, in addition to a reorganization, has acquired a major new section that transforms it from a dry abridgement of sister publication The Chicago Manual of Style to a friendly guide to the qualitative aspects of developing a research paper or similar document.” Daily Writing Tips
- How To: Commas: Are There Firm Rules or Just Guidelines? by Mignon Fogarty – “Commas have a lot of different uses, and that’s part of what makes them confusing” Grammar Girl
- Essay: Ye Olde Blogge Postte: An ironic phrase with an ironic past, by Jessica Love – “Consider the phrase ye olde. (And yes, it is most definitely a phrase. One does not encounter ye perpetual or ye longstanding; always ye sticks to olde like a barnacle to a whale.)” The American Scholar
- Interview: Karen Russell (“Swamplandia”) with Jack Ruskin – “I love scary stories. I really loved them when I was younger and I still love them now. I love the experience of being afraid. What it did for me when I was a kid is give me a way to contend with all kinds of unruly appetites like violence, discomforting tragedy, and questions that couldn’t be addressed in speech. ” The Millions
- News: Sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg signs book deal – “Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, is writing a memoir about her years at the social network website where she was once director of marketing, publisher HarperCollins said on Thursday.” Reuters
- Review: “A Week in Winter,” by Maeve Binchy – “The beloved, prolific Binchy’s posthumous last novel is classic Binchy, peeking into the lives of characters from various walks of life brought together at a newly opened inn on the West Coast of Ireland…While Binchy’s stories are sketchier than usual, perhaps understandably rushed, her fans will find solace as hearts mend and relationships sort themselves out one last time.” Kirkus Reviews
- Essay: Writing Doubts: Climbing Out of the Pit, by Bryan Hutchinson – “Sometimes I want to give up. Sometimes I don’t want to write anymore. And sometimes I do give up and stop writing. Have you been there? Stuck and filled with doubt.” Wordplay
- Viewpoint: Why It Matters That the New ‘Die Hard’ Movies Suck, by Jason Bailey – “It’s hard to remember now, but when 20th Century Fox began promoting Die Hard back in 1988, it was far from a guaranteed success. Bruce Willis had never headlined a hit movie — his two starring vehicles to date (Blind Date and Sunset) and the TV show that made him big (Moonlighting) were firmly in the light comedy mold. ” Flavorwire
Today’s edition of “Book Bits” is brought to you by the contemporary fantasy novel “Sarabande”