Friday news round-up

by Nikki Tranter

11 January 2008


Book World is fired up this week. Authors, librarians, readers, and non-readers all want to have their say about thing that piss them off—literary things, of course. Today’s news round-up allows everyone, including me, equal ranting ground.

Nora Roberts is mad at romance novelist Cassie Edwards for her blatant plagiarism. Roberts tells AP: “I’m not a lawyer, but I can’t see it as fair use.” Edwards’s publisher, Penguin, and her own husband are standing by her. “She doesn’t lift passages,” Charles Edwards told AP. Edwards herself said, in her AP interview that she indeed gets “ideas” from “reference books” but did not know she was supposed to credit her sources. The linked article compares Edwards’s Savage Longings (1997) with George Bird Grinnell’s The Cheyenne Indians (1928). The passages quotes are almost exactly the same. Penguin, which also publishes Roberts, will surely have some backpedaling to do in the near future.

Julia Alvarez is mad at Johnson County, North Carolina schools for banning her book, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. Alvarez is quoted: “The novel is no slight ‘pornographic’ hack work that got into curriculum as a misguided selection by clueless teachers who are corrupting the minds of young people. Perhaps the high school teachers who selected the novel for Johnston’s high school students knew (they) were in fact making an informed and intelligent choice.” Right on. Apparently, some slightly racy paragraphs in the book led to the ban.

I am mad at Lisa Schroeder for dreaming up, writing, and publishing a story I write when I was 10. The Beaverton Times quotes Schroeder: “I had a dream about a girl whose boyfriend died in a tragic accident, but he loved her so much that he came back as a ghost. I remember waking up and feeling their love so strongly, I had to go to the computer and start writing their story that morning.” Simon and Schuster are publishing the book called I Heart You, You Haunt Me. My story was about a girl called Odessa, who meets this guy, called Clover, and they fall in love. And we learn later that he is the ghost of the boyfriend she really loved that died. It was called Four Leaf Clover. Damn you, Lisa Schroeder! If someone dreams about, writes, and publishes a book about a saxophone playing vampire who steals schoolgirls for his harem, I’ll know I’m bugged.

Wellington librarians are mad are mad at book thieves. Stuff NZ reports: “The capital’s public library users owe almost $900,000 in overdue fines, forcing Wellington City Libraries to call in debt collectors for some of the worst cases. Of that, $720 is overdue fines and the rest is fees for replacement costs. Library staff say books about the paranormal, witchcraft, psychic abilities, true crime, tattoos and Hitler are among the most likely to be overdue.” At my video store, it’s wrestling and porn. That last bit is a bit of a phenomenon. My mum is a librarian here in town and she says exactly the same books go missing from her library all the time. Apparently, books for new mums go quite frequently, too.

Missy Chase Lapine is mad at Jerry Seinfeld’s wife for stealing her ideas. Apparently, Jessica Seinfeld ripped off Lapine’s idea for a book featuring recipes for kids. She is suing for copyright infringement and defamation. This actually gives me hope that I might be able to sue Lisa Schroeder for the same thing.

Hollywood screenwriters are so mad about their lack of work, they’ve taken to writing kids books to relieve aggression. In a way. I actually can’t wait for some of these. The article reports: “Former Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle writer David Sacks, who is now an executive producer on Comedy Central’s The Root of All Evil, is writing Vigfus, a story about Vikings who come to contemporary New York and find the city too tame for their tastes, the entertainment industry trade paper said. Former Raven executive producer Dava Savel is composing a tale about a boy who creates his own town to avoid his sister.” The books will be published by Worthwhile Book, an IDT/IDM imprint.

And finally…

Britain is mad her citizens don’t read enough. This is something we’ll be getting into a bit more next week. This year is Britain’s National Year of Reading and already debate is raging about the benefits of books. Does reading make you more intelligent? How much does one have to read to be considered a reader in the first place? There’s a lot to discuss on this subject. For now, I’m linking this article mostly for the reader comments at the bottom. The gist of the piece is that one in four Britons admits they have not read a book in over a year. And, apparently, lots of them say they have read books they haven’t read just to seem more intelligent. Some highlights in the Reader Comments section:

“I don’t understand this fascination about adults not reading books. It doesn’t make you any more intelligent if you read a book or two a year. Can adults who read Harry Potter stories, Jackie Collins, Jeffrey Archer or any other novel or biography really to claim to be more intelligent. In fact I would go as far as saying reading fiction possibly lowers the intelligence, and reading biographies lowers it even more. Especially if you include the people whose biographies sell well such as Jordan, any of the Spice Girls, anybody who wins the jungle show and any modern celebrity.” Yes, he said reading fiction lowers intelligence. And not all readers, my friend, read Spice Girl memoirs. Although, I have read Geri’s.

Another one:
“It’s not that we don’t want to read. It’s simply this drivel they publish nowadays and try to pass it off as bestsellers. There’s nothing to read! No thanks. I’d much rather read a good article online.”

And finally…
“I think people would be better of trying to think of ways to improve the world rather than wasting their lives reading any sort of book.”

I don’t even know what to say.


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