Thursday, October 14, 2010

Around the Word

Today we're looking at ordeals and book deals from around the world:
  • The last of 33 trapped Chilean miners stepped into open air yesterday night—and into the glare of an international media frenzy. Television, book, and movie deals are flooding their way, with talk of $20,000 offers for the first TV interview, and the "purchase price" of movie rights estimated at up to $500,000, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. The men received counseling and video lessons on interview techniques and posture while still underground, but the wattage of their instant celebrity—and the gloom when it fades—could be traumatizing, according to an intriguing analysis in the Telegraph. Meanwhile, the competition to record the Chileans' stories is fierce, observes Crain's Business. Guardian reporter Jonathan Franklin has already sold rights to his book 33 Men, Buried Alive, scheduled for release in early 2011, and Times reporter Alexei Barrionuevo is angling to publish on the aftermath of the miners' newfound heroic status.
  • Nonfiction writers get their slice of the award season pie. The finalists for the National Book Award—in the wake of the Nobel and Man Booker Prize—were announced yesterday morning. Among the nonfiction notables are singer-songwriter Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids, and Times reporter Megan Stack's tales of being a war correspondent in the Middle East. Have you read any of the finalists? What are your thoughts?
  • Welcome to Grammar-Land, where rich Mr. Noun debates declension with his friend Pronoun, and Doctor Syntax cures grammatical maladies. The Book Bench takes a romp through the world of busy Dr. Verb, the tiresome Interjection, and others in Grammar-Land: Grammar in Fun for the Children of Schoolroom-shire. The book, first published in the 1880s, has been released this week in facsimile edition by the British Library. Attend Mr. Adjective's trial for stealing from Mr. Noun (who owned "beauty" before sly Mr. Adjective added "ful"), and hear Dr. Verb sing "Conjugation," a song with three "verses"—past, present, and future tense.
  • Books are going paperless, suggest the August 2010 book sales stats released by the Association of American Publishers. GalleyCat reproduces the AAP's findings, noting that adult hardcover sales dropped 24.4% compared with August 2009, while eBook sales saw an increase of 172% in the same period. eBooks now comprise roughly 9% of trade book sales. It's no surprise, then, that Harvard hosted a talk this month on the possibility of creating a National Digital Library.
  • Waltzing writers? Capering columnists? Scribblers sashaying? Sure, if GalleyCat has anything to say about it. Next week, they're launching a Facebook campaign to put an illustrious ink-slinger on Dancing with the Stars. Self-proclaimed "midlife author" Claire Cook and Kathy L. Patrick, founder of the Beauty and the Book bookclub, are leading (but David Sedaris could make a come-back!) Add your vote on GalleyCat's Facebook page.


Alice G said...
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Alice G said...

I can't imagine trying to choose a winner for a prize like the National Book Award or the Booker Prize. Do the judges read every book published in a given year to determine the nominees? Do they have a team of readers handing them synopses and reviews? Every time I go to my favorite bookstore, Book Court, in Brooklyn, I feel like a mini prize-panel. How to choose which books to read, out of so many? How to determine which will be worthwhile, and which a waste of time? Book recommendations from friends seldom pan out, book reviews often reflect the reviewer's desire to write a beautiful essay rather than reveal the book's true worth (and they are beautiful essays, NYT), and book covers can be deceiving. It seems the only way to find out is to buy and read, buy and read. And with all my buying and reading, I've still never read a single one of those nominated books. Guess it's back to the bookstore...

Marissa (Gotham) said...

Thanks for stopping by, Alice! I perfectly agree. I attended the first Selected Shorts reading at Symphony Space (where Hope Davis read an especially brilliant story by Jennifer Egan) and heard Richard Russo talk about selecting the "top 20 short stories in America" for the annual anthology. Other editors read through over 1,000 stories before choosing 250 to send him! He said the most difficult task was whittling the top 50 down to the top 20, and that it simply came down to an irrational feeling of loving the stories he finally chose.