Author News Literary History

Newfound Tapes Offer Clues to Agatha Christie’s Life

Newfound Tapes Offer Clues to Agatha Christie’s Life –

Agatha Christie’s only grandson has discovered a box of audiotapes in one of Christie’s former houses:

The tapes — 27 reels running a total of more than 13 hours — are filled with Christie’s painstaking dictation of her life story, rough material recorded in the early 1960s that eventually made up her autobiography, published posthumously in 1977. It stands as one of only a handful of recordings of Christie, the British mystery writer, who rarely agreed to be interviewed.

Author News Nonfiction

Former Football Player Writes Book about His Dissociative Identity Disorder

Walker on mission | Denton Record-Chronicle | News for Denton County, Texas | Local News
Herschel Walker, winner of the Heisman Trophy (an award for college football players) and former member of the Dallas Cowboys, has written a book about his experience with dissociative identity disorder (DID, commonly known as multiple personality disorder) and his efforts to overcome the disorder. He has been touring to promote the book, Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder. This article reports on his appearance in Denton, TX, in association with University Behavioral Health (UBH) of Denton:

‘He [Walker] has a mission for himself of bringing a message out to people who have mental health issues, that it’s a strength to ask for help, not a weakness,’ said UBH of Denton Chief Executive Officer Susan Young. ‘He wants people to know he’s had issues and he sees that as something very positive. He doesn’t want anybody to be uncomfortable or ashamed.’

Walker’s own condition surfaced about 10 years ago, when he suddenly developed anger problems. His search for the cause of his problem finally led to the diagnosis of DID. He wants to let people with mental health issues, including substance abuse, know that it’s all right to seek help. He is critical of the National Football League’s substance abuse policy, which, he says, suspends players for abuse without providing treatment.

Author News Obituaries

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Is Dead at 89 – Obituary (Obit) –

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Is Dead at 89 – Obituary (Obit) –

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning author whose books chronicled the horrors of the Soviet gulag system, has died of heart failure, his son said Monday. He was 89.

Author News Book News

From the hand of J.K. Rowling. . .

From the always-eager-to-sell-you-a-book folks at Amazon comes this notification:

As someone who has purchased Harry Potter products from, you might be happy to hear that The Tales of Beedle the Bard, J.K. Rowling’s book of fairy tales written to supplement the Harry Potter series, will be published in two new editions on December 4, 2008.

Now, as a full-time student, I’ve been buried under mounds of textbooks for the past three years, and I was completely unaware of this literary gem. Apparently Rowling penned it and then auctioned it off, with the proceeds going to a children’s charity. You can read all about it at the Amazon page: The Fairy Tales of J.K. Rowling

Be sure to scroll all the way down the page to look at the photographs, which include some of Rowling’s hand-drawn illustrations. And, if you really have some time on your hands, follow the links to the comments at the bottom of the page.

Author News Book News Literary History

Lost Titles, Forgotten Rhymes: How to Find a Novel, Short Story, or Poem Without Knowing its Title or Author

Lost Titles, Forgotten Rhymes: How to Find a Novel, Short Story, or Poem Without Knowing its Title or Author (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress)

This is a site you’ll definitely want to bookmark.

What if you wanted to locate Robert Burton’s masterful 17th century opus, The Anatomy of Melancholy? But wait: You can’t remember his name or the name of the book. That’s where you should know to click on over to this delightful and helpful reference guide created by Peter Armenti, Digital Reference Specialist at the Library of Congress. The intent of this guide is to “help readers identify a literary work when they know only its plot or subject, or other textual information such as a character’s name, a line of poetry, or a unique word or phrase”. The guide is divided into three separate sections: “Finding Novels”, “Finding Short Stories”, and “Finding Poems”. Each section offers a host of resources that include general search engines, online book databases, library catalogs, listservs, message boards, and physical print resources available in many public libraries. This guide is rounded out by a selection of related resources, including a primer on how to find poems in the Library of Congress.

>From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2008.

Author News Fiction Literary History

Happy birthday, Harper Lee!

This is from The Writer’s Almanac, which is produced by Prairie Home Productions and presented by American Public Media:

It’s the birthday of (Nelle) Harper Lee, (books by this author) the author of To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), born in Monroeville, Alabama (1926), the daughter of a local newspaper editor and lawyer. She was a friend from childhood of Truman Capote, and she later traveled to Kansas with him to help with the research of his work for In Cold Blood (1966). In college, she worked on the humor magazine Ramma-Jamma. She attended law school at the University of Alabama, but dropped out before earning a degree, moving to New York to pursue a writing career. She later said that her years in law school were “good training for a writer.”

To support herself while writing, she worked for several years as a reservation clerk at British Overseas Airline Corporation and at Eastern Air Lines. In December of 1956, some of her New York friends gave her a year’s salary along with a note: “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.” She decided to devote herself to writing and moved into an apartment with only cold water and improvised furniture.

Lee wrote very slowly, extensively revising for two and a half years on the manuscript of To Kill a Mockingbird (which she had called at different times “Go Set a Watchman” and “Atticus”). She called herself “more a rewriter than writer,” and on a winter night in 1958, she was so frustrated with the progress of her novel and its many drafts that she threw the manuscripts out the window of her New York apartment into the deep snow below. She called her editor to tell him, and he convinced her to go outside and collect the papers.

To Kill a Mockingbird came out in 1960 and was immediately a popular and critical success. Lee won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. A review in The Washington Post read, “A hundred pounds of sermons on tolerance, or an equal measure of invective deploring the lack of it, will weigh far less in the scale of enlightenment than a mere 18 ounces of new fiction bearing the title To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Lee later said, “I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but, at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.”

Author News

Borders Bookzone

Borders Bookzone

Seeing and hearing an author speak can personalize a book.  Borders new Bookzone offers  videos of writes talking about their own books as well as about their favorite books. And it looks as if site visitors can also upload their own book reviews, although the only one I found there so far was by a Borders employee.

A similar site, which has been at it longer and therefore currently has more content, is

Author News Film

Hollywood’s James Ellroy enigma

Hollywood’s James Ellroy enigma – Los Angeles Times

“Which did you like better, the movie or the book?” Readers almost always choose the book. But because the book and film are different mediums, each with with its own traditions, requirements, and limitations, a direct comparison between the book and the movie is usually unfair or, even, uninformative. A more fruitful discussion question might be “How true to the spirit of the book is the film adaptation?”

This article considers the difficulty of adapting James Ellroy’s books to film. With their convoluted plot tapestries and telegraphic postmodern writing, Ellroy’s novels appear unsuitable for film adaptation. Yet my husband and I both think the film version of Ellroy’s novel L.A. Confidential is one of the best film adaptations of a book we’ve ever seen.

The occasion for this article is the upcoming opening of a film with screenplay by Ellroy:

Friday marks the arrival of Ellroy’s first produced screenplay: “Street Kings,” a racially charged tale of police corruption and conspiracy starring Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker. While the film, set in contemporary Los Angeles, lacks the sweep of “L.A. Confidential” and is unlikely to make the same impact, its language, characters, sardonic morality and fast-reversing plot feel like an Ellroy novel.

Author News Book News Publishing

Gang Memoir Is Pure Fiction

Gang Memoir, Turning Page, Is Pure Fiction – New York Times

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.”

Author News Literary History

Landmark Massachusetts Building Where Wharton Wrote Faces Foreclosure

Landmark Massachusetts Building Where Wharton Wrote Faces Foreclosure – New York Times

“The Mount, Edith Wharton’s estate in Lenox, Mass., is in danger of being put in foreclosure.” To stay open, The Mount needs to raise $3 million by March 24.