A look at bestseller lists from the nation's best independent bookstores.

This week's list is from the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough, New Hampshire.


1. Mother–Daughter Wisdom: Creating a Legacy of Physical and Emotional Health
Christiane Northrup

2. The Broker
John Grisham

3. Chainfire (Sword of Truth)
Terry Goodkind

4. State of Fear
Michael Crichton

5. The Cat Who Went Bananas
Lilian Jackson Braun

6. Black Wind
Clive Cussler

7. Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season
Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King

8. Whiteout
Ken Follett

9. Skeleton Man
Tony Hillerman

10. His Excellency: George Washington
Joseph "Big Game" Ellis


1. The Shadow of the Wind
Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Lucia Graves

2. The Birth of Venus
Sarah Dunant

3. The Forest Lover
Susan Vreeland

4. Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation
Cokie Roberts

5. Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell

6. Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini

The Toadstool Bookshop
12 Depot Square
Peterborough, NH 03458

Previous column; HOW I MANAGED TO GALVANIZE THE RIGHT–WING HATE MACHINE WITHOUT REALLY TRYING . . . In a guest column, Steve Almond tells what happens when you write a simple little book about your love for candy and you maybe give just the slightest mention of your politics?

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Friday 4 March 2005

In Letters: An Iowan responds to Foetry . . .
One of the readers for the Iowa fiction contests responds to charges by Foetry.com . . . in the MobyLives letters section.

Foetry attack on Iowa "taking off"; UI officials "astonished" at growing angry chorus . . .
The Foetry attack on the University of Iowa for the way it hands out its fiction and poetry awards "is really taking off," reports Scott Jaschik in an Inside Higher Ed story. "At the Iowa Press, officials are astonished to find themselves under attack by an army of poets and poetry fans — most of them anonymous," he writes, before giving those officials a chance to repeat their now–standard response—Iowa Press director Holly Carver again stresses that the contests are "blind" and says, "It's just a little hard to say how our contest could be more democratic than it already is." But as Jaschik then notes, "Foetry and its readers have plenty of ideas about that . . . for many Foetry readers, the obvious answer is for Iowa to bar its alumni and current or former employees from entering." But as one impartial observer notes, that may not be as simple as it sounds. "If you say no awards can be given to students, does that mean someone who was in a summer workshop 12 years ago, they are forever ineligible? It's not a black and white issue. it never is. It's complex — like poetry," says Academy of American Poets head Tree Swenson. Still, Swenson also joins what does seem to be a growing consensus, telling Jaschik, "I think it's great that somebody is out there monitoring the ethics and procedures." Or, in the blunter language of one of the several Foetry commentators that Jaschik quotes, "You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, to perpetrate a fraud on aspiring poets, and hide under your university umbrella to lure unsuspecting people into your web of deceit. Any respectable contest bars employees, including former employees," one writes to the Iowa officials, then adding that Iowa's award is "a fixed contest that is really just a mutual admiration society for a tiny clique."

No word on whether he gets to keep the advance . . .
t was an deal that drew a lot of attention, and a few raised eyebrows, but now former CIA Director George Tenet has announced that he "is keeping any secrets he might have to share with the public to himself a little longer" and is postponing the publication of his memoir. According to a brief Associated Press wire story, Tenet has not said when to expect the book, originally planned for late this year or early in 2006. He released a statement saying, "An undertaking of such historical consequence simply requires more time to both do the extensive research and to gain the necessary perspective."

Amazon loses first round against Toys R Us . . .
The site formerly known as "the world's biggest bookseller" has been fined by a New Jersey Superior Court judge in a case in which it is being sued for selling toys it wasn't supposed to. According to an Associated Press wire story, the New Jersey–based Toys R Us is suing Amaozn.com for violating the terms of an agreement struck in 2000 between the two companies, "in which Amazon, in exchange for $200 million, would not let others sell certain products being offered by Toys R Us on Amazon.com." But Toys R Us says after it filed the suit, "Amazon listed 46 products on its Web site that only Toys R Us was allowed to sell." The judge agreed and has issued an ย,000 fine against Amazon. Amazon, meanwhile, has countersued Toys R Us, citing "chronic failure" by the toy company to " to keep items in stock and to otherwise adhere to their contract." Amazon wants $750 million in compensation. The judge has set a trial date of March 16.

Where's the joy? . . .
In a speech to celebrate World Book Day, which was yesterday, British educator David Bell complained that students never talk about the "joy" of reading, and said it's because "Children are being deprived of the opportunity to enjoy books because schools are obsessed with their position in league tables"—i.e., their standardized test results—according to a Guardian story by Rebecca Smithers. She says Bell, the head of Britain's Office for Education Standards (Ofsted), "found it 'worrying' that many reading problems identified 30 years ago had not improved. Reading should be about pleasure, but teachers could lose sight of this under pressure to improve test results." Bell "called on the government to set up a National English Centre to promote good teaching and remind teachers of other subjects to respect language," saying, "You will find no pleasure in books if you cannot read, but it is equally possible to be able to read and derive little pleasure."

It depends on what you mean by "racist" . . .
A 19th century British book, Little Black Sambo, blocked from a 1988 Japanese publication by a storm of protests, is once again slated for publication in Japan. According to a Japan Today report, When first published in Japan in 1953, it sold over 1 million copies. More than 20 companies had issued their oown version by the time of the 1988 protest, at which point all ceased publication. But now, "Tokyo–based publisher Zuiunsha said it has received many orders from bookstores for the newly revived book." Company president Tomio Inoue "has said he believes it is worthwhile to pass on the book to the next generation," reports Japan Today. Says Inoue, "I think it's necessary to think deeply about what constitutes discrimination. In India, 'sambo' generally refers to a child's name."

Most readers prefer book that doesn't exist . . .
Internet mega–retailer Amazon.com has released its list of its bestselling titles from around the world for 2004. The full list, as posted on Booktrade.info, is broken up by country, but not by fiction and nonfiction. In Canada, the number one book is The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown. In Germany, it's Dan Brown's other book, Illuminati. In the U.K., it's J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. In France, it's J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. In Japan, it's J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. And in the U.S., it's The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Presents America (with the top ten rounded out by Unfit For Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry

What really sells a book . . .
"Publishers can spend a fortune promoting their hottest literary discoveries. Bookshops can deploy all their marketing ingenuity to produce imaginative displays. But when the book-buying public comes to choose a new read, it is word of mouth that counts." Or at least, that's what a just–published survey of book buyers says, according to a report in The Independent by Louise Jury. Jury says, "One in four of those polled said the last book they read was on the basis of what a colleague or family member had told them, with almost a third of under-35s citing it as the most important factor. Only loyalty to a favoured author counted as much, with 26 per cent of readers saying their last choice of a book for pleasure was because they had read others by the same author." It was, observes Jury, "a disappointing result for the promotional teams who spend up to £100m on book advertising every year"—only 6 percent said they were influenced by advertising, and only 7 percent cited cover design. Says HarperCollins managing director John Bond, "Publishers often stand accused of becoming ever more sophisticated and cynical in their pursuit of creating instant author brands, when ultimately it is as likely to be good old–fashioned personal recommendation that really sells." The report does not say who conducted the survey.

NOTE: Daily newspapers often change URLs when archiving, so some links won't work beyond the day they're first posted.

Thursday 3 March 2005

60 Minutes story still not done with its 15 minutes . . .
In less than a week, Dan Rather will be retiring as anchor of the CBS Evening News, but the controversy over his last big story—the one about George W. Bush's Air National Guard service, or lack thereof—is still playing out. A New York Observer story by Joe Hagan reports the latest development: Mary Mapes, the producer of the controversial segment, who was fired amidst the controversy over the authenticity of key documents cited in Rather's story, "is preparing to shop a book proposal offering an inside account of what happened at CBS News during the memo scandal." Hagan writes that "The book will constitute Ms. Mapesı defense against charges of journalistic misconduct," and Mapes "plans to argue for the veracity of the four memos supposedly typed by President Bushıs former National Guard squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, in the early 1970ıs." As Hagan also notes, the "independent panel that investigated the segment for CBS did not reach a verdict on those memos, which were at the center of the scandal," but Mapes was fired anyway.

Coll wins Gelber Prize . . .
The winner of the annual Lionel Gelber Prize for the "world's best book on foreign policy writing" has been named: Steve Coll, associate editor of the Washington Post has won it for his Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA. As a Canadian Press wire story notes, the Penguin Press book "looks at the conflicts between U.S. covert action and public policy over two decades, and ends with the attacks on the World Trade Center." Coll, whose reporting has also won a Pulitzer Prize, will pick up the $15,000 prize at a 20 March ceremony in Toronto.

NYPL goes online . . .
"Let the browser beware," says The New York Times' Sarah Boxer. "The New York Public Library's collection of prints, maps, posters, photographs, illuminated manuscripts, sheet–music covers, dust jackets, menus and cigarette cards is now online." And, says Boxer in a report for the Times, "If you dive in today without knowing why, you might not surface for a long, long time. The Public Library's digital gallery is lovely, dark and deep. Quite eccentric, too." There are some drawbacks, however. ". . . you can't get a list of all the photographers or the printmakers or the artists — only an alphabetical list of every proper name in the digital library. If you type in 'photograph*' (the most general search term), you will get more than 11,000 items, organized who knows how."

Reasons to go to college: Lawrence wrote Lady Chatterly as a, er, tribute to his wife—yeah, that's the ticket! . . .
Biographer John Worthen says he's discovered the identity of the model for D.H. Larence's most famous character, Lady Chatterly: none other than Lawrence's own wife, Frieda Lawrence. In a new biography of Lawrence being published this week, Worthen says "the affair at the heart of the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover was inspired by a relationship between DH Lawrence's wife and an Italian soldier," Angelo Ravagli, while Lawrence was "stricken by tuberculosis and unable to have sex." According to a Daily Telegraph story, Worthen conclusions are based on "previously unread letters written by Frieda . . . written in the 1920s to her mother, Anna von Richtofen, a cousin of Manfred von Richtofen, the First World War fighter pilot who was nicknamed the Red Baron. The letters . . . speak of Frieda's frustration at the constant self-–sacrifice of living with an invalid and include details of her love affair with Ravagli," whom she went on to marry after Lawrence's death. Worthen also postulated that "the book could be seen as a tribute by Lawrence to his wife and as a kind of substitute for their once–active sex life."

The robots are coming . . .
In his forthcoming book, The Singularity Is Near, Ray Kurzweil says "the inevitable next step in the evolutionary process," an "end–of–humantime event" he calls The Singularity, will take place sometime around mid–century. So what is it? As Alex Beam explains in his Boston Globe column, The Singularity, "is the moment when biological material ceases to exist, and we become products of the revolution in 'GNR': genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics." So, asks Beam, "How is this techno–Apocalypse so different from Judeo–Christian end–of–time scenarios . . .?"Says Kurzwell, "Ultimately the Universe will become saturated with intelligence. It will 'wake up,' be conscious and sublimely intelligent. That's about as close to God as I can imagine."

Coulter shows cheerful side by responding to joke with personal attack on people who had nothing to do with joke . . .
The left wing think tank the Center for American Progress has announced the winners of the "Name Ann Coulter/s Next Book" contest. As Richard Leiby explains in his Reliable Source column for The Washington Post, the contest was inspired by the titles of Coulter's last few bestsellers. As Leiby puts it, "Think what you will of her political views," but Coulter "certainly has a gift for writing provocatively titled" books, such as "Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism and Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right. So what was the winning entry? Roosevelt: Wheelchair–Riding, America–Hating Terrorist. The author, 26–year–old Ryan Sniatecki, wins "his very own Ann Coulter talking action figure," whose weapon is a sharp tongue. Runners–up included: Pander: How Character Assassination and Name–Calling Will Make You Popular and Rich, and Democracy: The Liberal Plot to Feed Your Children to the Poor. Coulter, says Leiby, "blasted back" her own choices for her next tome: The Five People You Meet in Line at the Welfare Office and He's Just Not That Into Jews: The George Soros Story.

NOTE: Daily newspapers often change URLs when archiving, so some links won't work beyond the day they're first posted.

Wednesday 2 March 2005

In Letters: Fie on Foetry . . .
The heat continues to spread: One academic writes in to say shame on Moby for even covering the Foetry story . . . in the MobyLives letters section.

Iowa officials insist nothing's wrong with insiders winning public contests . . .
In the wake of charges brought by the Foetry.com website (see yesterday's MobyLives digest), the director of the University of Iowa Press says "There's no way to have absolute blind judging" in the school's fiction and poetry awards. In a report by Drew Kerr for the school's student newspaper, The Daily Iowan, director Holly Carver responds to the protests of Foetry and others over the fact that this year's awards in poetry and fiction were won entirely by UI faculty members and former students of the program that screens the contest, the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, by saying "Short of just stacking up all the entries and flipping a coin, I'd be curious to know how people would think the fairest way to pick is." Kerr also reports that at least two applicants who lost have complained to the school asking for their entry fee back and complaining that the award doesn't seem to have been open to the public as advertised. One, Steven Brown, says "he received a response from the university counsel contending that his complaint gave the school no reason to revise selection procedures." Meanwhile, the executive director of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, "a New York firm that handles similar cases," suggests that "The university should perform an internal review to examine the selection," says Kerr. Elena Paul tells him, "It may find the process is perfectly fair, but it's important to be transparent about it and be open to change. It may find a legitimate concern here and that its public contest isn't really public."

Reed Elsevier head to depart . . .
In the second departure of a high–profile publishing chairman in two days, the head of Reed Elsevier has announced his retirement. As a Guardian story by Dan Milmo reports, Morris Tabaksblat is departing hard on the heels of the departure of Dennis Stevenson from Pearson, but unlike the turmoil expected at Pearson, " Analysts said yesterday that the retirement of Mr Tabaksblat, 67, was unlikely to be followed by big changes at Reed." Tabaksblat is credited with having "ended the internecine feuding destablising" the conglomerate, and with leaving it with a "robust" growth prospect. He'll be replaced by Jan Hommen, as soon Hommen, 61, retires as the CFO of the Phillips electronics group.

Axes falling at Penguin on both sides of the pond . . .
Just a day after announcing its sales had slumped badly in 2004, the Penguin Group has started laying off employees on both sides of the Atlantic, according to a brief Book Standard report by Rachel Deahl. In New York, she says "about 40 employees [are] receiving their pink slips," mostly in sales but including people in editorial and marketing. In the U.K., about 44 people are being let go, mostly in editorial.

Yikes! Borders v.p. speaks honestly . . .
The Borders Group has been recognized by the American Association of Retired People for its efforts to "hire and retain workers over the age of 50," according to an Ann Arbor News report by Mike Ramsey. The store "expects 25 percent of Borders' work force to be over 50 in the next five years," which is "a percentage that aligns well to the AARP prediction that by 2010, one in three workers will be over 50." But a Borders human resources v.p., Dan Smith, says "the effort is based on making more money, not out of charity," Ramsey notes. Smith tells him, "We've got research that shows where our store demographics match up well with the community, our stores do better." Because "more than 50 percent of Borders' sales come from people 45 and older, company executives believe hiring older workers could have a strong impact on sales, not to mention other benefits of hiring older workers such as low turnover rates."

Mon dieu la France . . .
"French bookstores and online sites are gearing up for a rush of business" in expectation of the release of the French translation of Angels and Demons, an earlier novel by Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown. According to an Agence France Presse wire story, the Da Vinci Code sold over a million copies in France, and Angels and Demons, "the latest enigmatic conspiracy thriller . . . could be given a boost here by a twist of timing, since it is set in the Vatican during a conclave to select a new pope."

The return of McCrum . . .
Before he was literary editor of The Observer, Robert McCrum was a book editor at Faber & Faber until he suffered a stroke. In an interview with Robert Birnbaum for The Morning News, McCrum discusses his recovery, how he ended up at The Observer, and his recent biography of P. G. Wodehouse. Says McCrum, "about a year after I had the illness I went back to my job [editor in chief] at Faber & Faber and I was very feeble and really not up to the job, but I was struggling along. And one day I was having lunch with Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian, which owns the Observer, and he just leaned across the table and said, 'Would you like to become the literary editor?² . . . . And so, after a day or two of thought, I said yes. . . I had had this huge cataclysm and so it was time to do something different. And this seemed like a challenge, as indeed it was. And on the Observer, in an attempt to establish a different voice on the page, I began to write this column, ³World of Books,² and in one of the earlier columns, when one is looking around for things to write about, Penguin had just reissued about six Wodehouses with bright new covers, and I wrote a column saying Wodehouse was a great writer and ended it by saying that it was a great shame that there wasnıt a proper biography."

How does it feel? . . .
Convicted perjurer Martha Stewart is about to become an ex–con, and a lengthy report in Newsweek by Keith Naughton talks about the upcoming "Martha Makeover" when she gets out. But what has she been doing during incarceration to mend her ways? Naughton notes Stewart's big house reading list has most lately included Bob Dylan's Chronicles, Volume 1.

NOTE: Daily newspapers often change URLs when archiving, so some links won't work beyond the day they're first posted.

Tuesday 1 March 2005

Kelley–Hawkins fall–out: How'd that happen? . . .
"It would be wrong" to say the novels of Emma Dunham Kelley–Hawkins were "terrible," says Scott McLemee, "because 'terrible' makes them sound more interesting than they are." But in the case of the supposedly seminal black, turn–of–the–century novelist who was last week revealed as white in a Boston Globe report by Holly Jackson, (previously on MobyLives), what is more interesting, says McLemee, is that "Without the academic labor required to interpret Kelley–Hawkins — to reconcile, in short, the extreme blondeness and pinkness of her characters with the presumed complexities of the author's racial identity — there is no reason to read the novels at all." In his column for Inside Higher Ed, McLemee traces how the writer Henry Louis Gates championed as the inspiration for his 30–volume Schomberg Library of Nineteenth–Century Black Women Writers came to even be classified as a black writer, when the author photo in her books showed her as white, and there weren't even any black characters in her books. And then there's the occasional racial slur. But as McLemee traces the history of various scholars' "impressive epistemological double–back flips" in writing about Kelley–Hawkins as an African–American writer, he finds that "Acknowledging her mediocrity would tend to distract everyone from finding subversive meanings." In the end, he says, as when scholars describing the author's photo stretch to describe her as African–American, it's clear that "The urgent need to find some decisive trace of racial identity in the picture feels like a symptom of American racial paranoia, always on the hunt for signs of . . . well, something anyway."

It's war: Foetry attack on Iowa spreads . . .
The long–simmering controversy over Foetry.com seems to have erupted into a more full–blown tumult over its attack last week on the two fiction contests run by the University of Iowa—an attack in which (as last week's MobyLives digest version noted) Foetry revealed that judge Kevin Brockmeier, a 1997 Iowa Writers Workshop grad, had chosen a 1997 Iowa Writers Workshop grad (Anthony Varallo) as the winner for one prize, and a UI faculty member (Douglas Tevor) for the other. Now, says a new—and still unattributed—report on the site, attempts to elicit an official response from UI's legal department has elicited a curt "No problem," but Foetry says officials at Iowa and other university literary prizes are nonetheless on "Orange Alert." According to the Foetry report, "the official word is they're not worried, while Foetry's site statistics tell another tale. In the days following last week's story, readers from the University of Iowa were among our top visitors." Also, "A Dean at Colorado State, home to another prize with a Foetic reputation, joined our forums under a pseudonym. His purpose? To discredit us. 'It's like a whole movement of the entitled untalented. Fascinating. But whether your poetry is any good or not doesn't seem to be the point, right?' So to let him know that we knew who he was, we referred to him as 'Dean,' and he posted twice more and asked to have his account deactivated. And according to our statistics, he spent a good part of the prior night on the site." Foetry also claims retaliation from other contests it has "outed" in the past, including at the University of Georgia and at Boise State. Meanwhile, another website, WhoisFoetry?, is collecting tips as to the identity of Foetry's editors. The site has also posted contact information for Foetry's hosting companies, and a note says, "We encourage you to continue to register your complaints about Foetry," adding, "In our opinion, the administrators are violating their terms-of-service agreements . . . by engaging in defamation of character and providing a forum for members to engage in libel, all with healthy doses of malice."

Penguin losses will lead to some changes, says Pearson . . .
In the wake of the news that Pearson head Lord Dennis Stevenson was stepping down (see yesterday's MobyLives digest), a Times of London report by Mike Verdin notes that the publishing conglomerate's 2004 results, announced yesterday, claimed a 6 percent drop thanks mostly to "a slump in the American books market" that "left the Penguin publishing unit struggling." In fact, Penguin's losses were so severe they "more than offset" gains at other arms of the conglomerate, such as the Financial Times newspaper. The Times story says Penguin, "which relies on America for most of its takings, blamed the fall in sales largely on the weakness of the dollar," but "the company also admitted that, even excluding currency fluctuations, operating profits at the Penguin division had fallen by 24 per cent to £786 million after a "sharp" deterioration in the American consumer books market in the last six months of 2004." An Agence France Presse wire story has some significantly different details. It says operating profits fell at Penguin fell 40.6 percent. The story also says company officials say 2005 will be a "year of transition" for Penguin.

And you're ugly, too . . .
As an AFX wire story observes, "Four years ago, Amazon.com needed traditional retailers to expand its product lines while brick–and–mortar stores needed Amazon.com's presence on the Web. Now, it's slowly changing. In an effort to drive consumers to its own Web site, Circuit City said Monday that it's ending its relationship with Amazon.com." As one analyst explains, "They feel that they're getting enough traffic where they can directly bypass. They feel that if the consumer goes directly to the Web site, why share it with Amazon.com?" In announcing the severance, Fiona Dias, president of Cirucit City Direct, was rather surprisingly dismissive of Amazon: "Circuitcity.com has grown tremendously since August 2001 when the agreement was announced," Dias said. "We have been pleased with customer response to our own Web site and have elected to focus on growing the business through our own channel, rather than focus on the small amount of sales the relationship with Amazon.com has generated."

Hail & Farewell: Mario Luzi . . .
Mario Luzi, the celebrated Italian poet "who caused a storm earlier this year by comparing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to Mussolini," has died at his home in Florence at the age of 90. As a Reuters wire story notes, Luzi was "regarded as one of the greatest poets of his generation," and he was "regularly promoted as Italy's prime candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and could barely disguise his disapproval when the Italian playwright Dario Fo unexpectedly won the award in 1997." Luzi was a senator in the Italian parliament, and after his attack on Berlusconi many on the right called for him to be "stripped of his senatorship." But, says the Reuters report, "politicians of all persuasions heaped praise on him at his death."

Meanwhile, the new comic & ancient map store next to the museum is going gangbusters . . .
A inquiry made under Britain's new Freedom of Information Act has revelead that "More than 8,000 items ranging from 16th century maps to copies of the Beano have gone missing from the British Library since it moved to new premises," says a Daily Telegraph report by Marco Giannangeli. Officials say "Some disappearances were thefts, with collectors using razors to cut rare maps out of books. But the biggest theft is believed to have been carried out by a contractor who stole £17,000 worth of comics from a storage area." But just as disturbing were the items that were simply missing—as Giannangeli notes, "Aside from thefts, more than 7,900 books and documents have simply gone missing from the library's 128,000 acres of bookshelves. The oldest of these is a collection by the Roman poet Horace printed in 1540." Nonetheless, says the report, "Library managers insisted yesterday that security was still tight at the £511 million premises in central London."

Tories delay payment for prison writings until, er, the writers return to the Tory benches . . .
Royalties from the novel written by Jeffrey Archer while he was in prison for perjury in 2003 would be confiscated under a new plan offered up by Conservative party members in Britain. As Tania Branigan notes in a Guardian report, "While their literary content might not match that of Gramsci's prison diaries or Oscar Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol, the best–known jail memoirs of recent years have been by disgraced Tories" such as Archer and Jonathan Aitken. So, " The party has announced a plan to make it illegal for criminals to profit in any way from writing about their crimes or subsequent jail sentences." Branigan notes that while he was in prison, Archer—whom the Conservatives may allow to return to the party—had his royalties for his Prison Diaries given to charity, but since his release payment has gone directly to the author.

NOTE: Daily newspapers often change URLs when archiving, so some links won't work beyond the day they're first posted.

Monday 28 February 2005

The Lord leaves Pearson— is the Penguin next? . . .
Lord Dennis Stevenson, the chairman of British media conglomerate Pearson is stepping down, leading to hightened speculation that it will sell off one of its primary assets: Penguin Books. As a Times report by Mark Kleinman details," during his eight years as chairman Pearson has changed radically," selling off diverse assets such as Madame Tussaud's and Lazard, the investment bank. Now, "Analysts have speculated that when the management team of Stevenson and Marjorie Scardino, his chief executive, split up, Pearson might consider selling off Penguin. The book publisher is expected to be the subject of a writedown tomorrow after suffering higher–than–anticipated book returns in the US and a supply chain problem in its British business." Meanwhile, the Times story offers no explanation as to why Stevenson is taking his leave.

It's good to be king . . .
In a new book being hitting bookstores in France today, author Mazarine Pingeot says "The late French President Francois Mitterrand lived for much of his 14 years in power not at the Elysee palace but at the home of his mistress and their illegitimate daughter"—none other than author Pingeot herself. According to an Agence France Presse wire report, in the book, Bouche Cousue (Sealed Lipts), Pingeot "speaks for the first time of the 19 years she spent as a state secret, unable to acknowledge her father in public but greeting him every evening at their flat in central Paris." Now 30 and a novelist, Pingeot says Mitterrand was "an attentive father who spent more time and affection on his hidden second family than on his wife Danielle and their two sons." But she also describes the difficulty of her situation: "Officially I did not have a father. My classmates knew nothing of my home, of my evenings and weekends and holidays. . . ." But another story sweeping France right now shows how "Mitterrand was going to extraordinary lengths to keep his daughter's existence hidden from the public." Twelve former police officers and aides to Mitterand are on trial for "illegal surveillance of citizens in the Mitterrand era," and "The head of Mitterrand's phone–tap unit, Christian Prouteau, has told the court that his primary mission was to protect Mazarine from the journalists and opposition figures who wanted to reveal her name."

Thompson's love letters console his widow . . .
In her first extended interview, Anita Thompson, the widow of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, says the writer "began saying that suicide wasn't a dishonorable thing a few months before he shot himself. . . ." In an interview with Dan Elliott of the Associated Press published Friday, she says her husband was feeling "at the peak of his life," and that "If he quit now, he would feel he was a champion." Says Elliott, "Days after losing her husband, Anita Thompson talks calmly, if sometimes tearfully, about the moment he swept her off her feet, the brilliance she saw in his writing, her plans to keep alive his legacy and the love letters he wrote her that help ease the pangs of grief and regret."

Environmental group double–dares Hemingway neighbors . . .
In a report that follows up on a story previously on MobyLives, an Associated Press wire story says, An environmental group that owns the former home of Ernest Hemingway where the author shot himself "has rejected an offer from neighbors to buy the property, setting up a legal fight." The A.P.'s John Miller reports, "The board of The Nature Conservancy's Idaho chapter voted Friday to move ahead with a plan to turn the 13–acre property near Sun Valley into a literary library and museum." But neighbors who "fear the nonprofit group's plans will disrupt the residential character of the upscale Ketchum community" have vowed to sue if their offer to pay market value for the house—estimated to be worth around $5 million—was turned down.

The two opponents who served alcohol that was good faced off and considered hurting each other and maybe using weapons or even just their hands but in the clear, clean light of morning they decided it would be better if they merely did not edit a sentence and that way they would not have to hurt each other or their hands and it was good . . .
Two Key West bars feuding over their connection to Ernest Hemingway have reached a settlement. According to an Associated Press wire story, "From 1933 to 1937, Hemingway's friend "Sloppy Joe" Russell ran a bar in a former city morgue. Russell moved his business half a block to the current Sloppy Joe's location in 1937 and Captain Tony's took over the morgue building." The problem? Captain' Tony's put out a sign calling itself "The First and Original Sloppy Joe's, 1933-1937." It also put out signs saying, simply, "The First and Original Sloppy Joe's." The solution? No editing. Under the terms of the agreement, Captain Tony can use only the longer sign.

NOTE: Daily newspapers often change URLs when archiving, so some links won't work beyond the day they're first posted.

Visit the mothership:



From Ig Publishing . . .

The International Bestseller
by Bernard–Henri Lévy


This week's fiction:

"Crank Call"
by Thomas J. Hubschman
(from Me Three)

"Brain Spiders"
(from Prose aX)

This week's poetry:

"Not Pee Wee"
(from Grain)

(from Briar Cliff Review)

Special edition:

First posted in October, 2001, Alicia Ostriker's anthology of poetry that she turned to after the 9/11 attacks — including the work of Stephen Dunn, C.P. Cavafy, Marianne Moore, and others — is far and away the most popular link ever posted on MobyLives. Find out why.


The Stories of Anton Chekhov

Zembla: The Official Site of the Vladimir Nabokov Society

The Complete Review

Poetry Daily

Everyone Who's Anyone in Adult Trade Publishing

The Collins Library Almanac

Author interviews at IdentityTheory.com

Stump the Bookseller

Online Etymology Dictionary

Project Gutenberg

Columbia World of Quotations


Herman Melville's Arrowhead

All material not otherwise attributed ©1998–2005 Dennis Loy Johnson.