Books

Friday news round-up

What a scandalous week we've had: lies, fakery, back-pedalling. Publishers are pulling books left, right, and centre, hoping against hope that we forget the name Margaret B. Jones just as we forgot Kavya Viswanathan a few years back. Industry commentators have had a field day, and will likely continue to as the flames die down. Hard to believe, but there's been some other newsworthy stuff going on in Book World this week, not least of which was World Book Day, which the Welsh seemed to celebrate harder than anyone else. Freya North revealed revealed she's so enamored of Gordon Bennett, her daughter thinks he's the Prime Minister of England. While, the former Prime Minister of England is outed as a CIA agent in a new book (albeit fiction -- or is it?).

Here are some other news that caught my deceit-weary eyes:

Eminem is writing his autobiography

Do you think Dutton Books, publishers of Eminem's upcoming "raw and uncensored" tome, will do their fact-checking? Not that I would doubt Eminem's integrity as a memoirist. But, you know, in light of recent events... The book, according to the rap star's publicist will "[offer] a window on the star's private thoughts on everything from his music and the trials of fame to his love for his daughter, Hailie,"

Frank Portman visits Sacramento State

The author of King Dork talks to Sac State students about writing, teenhood, and old girlfriends. He also describes his rise from punk rocker to literary star: "Portman said it wasn't even his idea to write a book. One of his fans became a literary agent and presented the idea to Portman. He began with a 20-page demo of what eventually became King Dork. To his surprise, his fan sold the King Dork idea to Random House and gave him the green light to finish on the rest of the novel."

James Patterson admits he's less a writer, more a brand

But we all knew that. His honesty in this article, however, is refreshing. The truth of it, though, is frustrating and depressing. I really need to get over my Patterson-hate, right? After all, he has my number: "There are thousand of people don't like what I do, millions of people do ... fortunately, there are million who do." This article informs me, though, for the first time, that those co-authored James Patterson books are actually outlines he's written and given to some else to flesh out. Apparently, these outlines are so strongly detailed that anyone could turn them into novels. I find this weird, as Patterson's novels are already really choppy outlines for potentially larger works.

Peter Carey says writers are "magicians"

Carey's quotes at the Adelaide Writers Festival are made slightly more interesting with all the inventing going on over on the bio shelves. The author of His Illegal Self talked to festival goers about his experiences at a hippy commune that informed his newest work. But the ability to invent situations not experienced is what makes a talented writer. "Maybe writers of fiction should insist they are magicians," he said.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

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Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

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Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

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A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

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Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

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