Thursday, March 25, 2004

Early update 

Donald Goines led, shall we say, an unorthodox life for an author--as a former pimp, drug dealer, and ex-con, he still pumped out 16 pulp novels in the 1970s before his murder at the age of 36 in 1974. Now there's a resurgence of interest in his work thanks to a new movie (NEVER DIE ALONE) and prison literacy programs. Lola Ogunnaike looks at Goines' life and work in the New York Times.

I haven't been linking much to Janet Maslin's reviews of late (not when Ron has his Maslin Watch going, after all) but this one, of David Freeman's new Hollywood novel, piqued my interest because of Roger Simon's positive comments about the book and the author. According to Maslin, it's a "real novel parked as a Hollywood one," which is fancy talk for saying it's very good.

Oh boy, this oughta be fun--the BBC is running a short story contest encouraging members of the public to write the second half of stories started by folks like Ian Rankin, Shaun Hutson, Alexi Sayle, Ed McBain, and Sue Townsend. Carole Blake (of the Blake Friedmann literary agency) is one of the judges of the competition, whose winners will be announced on 18th April.

Linked everywhere on the 'sphere but still worth reading: Publishers love, LOVE Amazon reviewers and want to shower free books on them in the hopes of more positive reviews. Hmm, I wonder why I never liked reviewing for Amazon. Probably because I'm lazy, or because I like actually having real reviewing credentials. But that's just me.

Where he had the time in his busy schedule, no one knows, but the Pope's 200 page memoir will be available pretty much in every major language Catholics speak by mid-May.

Even as Craig Unger's HOUSE OF BUSH, HOUSE OF SAUD gets critical acclaim in the US, it's looking for a new publisher in the UK, as Random House has cancelled its contract due to "legal reasons." Agent Elizabeth Sheinkman, who now is the head of the London Office of the Elaine Markson Literary Agency, is looking to place Unger's book elsewhere.

Looking for biography and Eastern European fiction in translation? Then Chanadon, a publisher that's launching its first three titles this summer, is the publisher for you.

Tony Harrison, a celebrated poet who famously rejected laureate honors, has won the Northern Rock Literary Prize, worth 60 000 pounds over 3 years, making it the richest such prize in Britain.

The Scotsman profiles Edwin Morgan, the country first poet laureate, as he contemplates writing poetry about the disease that may end up taking his life: cancer.

And even more poet laureate news, because now that George Bowering is defecting his position in the fall, Canada's looking for a new one. Enquire within.

Slate has published "The Explainer" in order to clarify things that people routinely scratch their heads about. Here's mine: why does the front cover rip off the design of "The Believer"? Is it homage, parody, or what?

And finally, it looks like Elizabeth von Hullessem, the con artist who has at least 16 aliases and is well known for impersonating a literary agent to scam people out of money, will have her day in court to determine whether she's guilty of running over her mother. This case was weird months ago, when Publisher's Lunch was all over it, and I daresay it will only get weirder....

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