Amazon is causing quite an uproar in the print-on-demand publishing world with its apparent attempt to create a monopoly for itself. Be sure to read the Writers Weekly article linked at the bottom of this piece.
From the hills of West Virginia comes Ann Pancake’s debut Strange as This Weather Has Been, based on real events and interviews from an Appalachian mining town. Lace See and Jimmy Make fall in love in the era of the Buffalo Creek Disaster. Twenty years later, their family is cut up in a flurry of strip-mining and clear-cutting, with black floods a constant menace and the economy collapsing in on itself. As the parents argue over leaving, their daughter Bant explores her sexuality and allegiances while her three brothers struggle to understand what is happening around them. Weather weaves a stream-of-conscious narrative that never feels one-dimensional—the characters, from passionate Lace to gentle, sensitive Dane, are genuine and endearingly flawed. With her book, Pancake pens a love poem to West Virginia, and also a lament for its ravaged hills. . . .
I think I’ve missed a couple of installments in this ongoing series. I’ll try to find the missing ones soon.
Think of it as Facebook or MySpace for people who’d rather browse in a book shop than go to a party. Book-centered sites like LibraryThing, Goodreads, Shelfari, aNobii and BookJetty, among others, allow readers to keep track of books they have read or books they want to read or buy — and see what others are reading and recommending.
If you’re not yet familiar with these book sites, this article provides a brief introduction.
Even more than the blooming crocus, the regoldening goldfinches always mean spring to me.
© 2008 by Mary Daniels Brown
If you buy a regular old book, CD or DVD, you can turn around and loan it to a friend, or sell it again. The right to pass it along is called the “first sale” doctrine. Digital books, music and movies are a different story though. Four students at Columbia Law School’s Science and Technology Law Review looked at the particular issue of reselling and copying e-books downloaded to Amazon’s Kindle or the Sony Reader, and came up with answers to a fundamental question: Are you buying a crippled license to intellectual property when you download, or are you buying an honest-to-God book?
To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence [pdf]
In 2004, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) published their groundbreaking report, “Reading at Risk,” which took a critical look at voluntary reading patterns and test scores, and revealed some rather dire trends along the way. November 2007 saw the publication of another thought-provoking report, “To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence.” This 100-page report offers a comprehensive analysis of reading patterns of children, teenagers, and adults in the United States. The report draws on data from over 40 sources, including federal agencies, universities, foundations, and associations. The report includes an executive summary, introduction, and three sections: “Youth Voluntary Reading Patterns,” “What the Declines Mean for Literacy,” and “Why More than Reading is at Risk.” Alternately enlightening and troubling, this report will be of great interest to policymakers, educators, librarians, and countless other parties.
>From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2008. http://scout.wisc.edu/
And here’s one more. The author of this piece compares the current faked memoir to Famous All Over Town, a first-person account of growing up in the gang culture of East L.A., published in 1983. That book, supposedly by a young Chicano writer named Danny Santiago, won a couple of literary awards. A year later writer John Gregory Dunne revealed that the real author of the book was a 73-year-old former screenwriter named Dan James.
Here’s another reaction to the faked memoir by “Margaret B. Jones,” this one from Los Angeles, where the action of the book supposedly took place. This article goes further than does The New York Times by looking at this book as “part of a long tradition of white artists impersonating or borrowing the voices and experiences of racial minorities.”
In a follow-up article to yesterday’s revelation about another faked memoir, publishers and editors defend themselves.
Yet another memoir bites the dust. Love and Consequences by Margaret B. Jones was published last week. In this memoir Margaret B. Jones claims to be a half-white, half-Native American who grew up as a foster child in the gangland of South-Central Los Angeles and ran drugs for the Bloods. In reality, “Margaret B. Jones” is Margaret Seltzer, who grew up in the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles.
Faking a memoir seems to be a growing trend:
The revelations of Ms. Seltzer’s mendacity came in the wake of the news last week that a Holocaust memoir, “Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years” by Misha Defonseca, was a fake, and perhaps more notoriously, two years ago James Frey, the author of a best-selling memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” admitted that he had made up or exaggerated details in his account of his drug addiction and recovery.
Seltzer’s identity was revealed when her sister saw an article with accompanying photo in a New York Times article last week and notified the book’s publisher, Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Group USA, that the story was untrue. Seltzer had worked on the book for three years with Riverhead editor Sarah McGrath. Seltzer’s sister wonders how a publisher could have worked so long on a project without doing any fact-checking.
The book also fooled several reviewers, including The New York Times‘s own Michiko Kakutani, who praised the “humane and deeply affecting memoir,” while noting that some of the scenes “can feel self-consciously novelistic at times.”