End Notes: Jonathan Franzen, More Nobel News, King Kindle, Barney's Version, and the Problem With Atheists
WELCOME TO END NOTES, Advance Copy's twice-weekly trawl for all the book and publishing news that's fit to print, with some music thrown in for good measure. Email me at: email@example.com.
In-House: Monday is H-Net Review day here at Current Intelligence. This week, we bring you Maria Siano's J-History review of Robert H. Phelps' God and the Editor: My Search for Meaning at the New York Times. Our Reviews page, containing reviews from both H-Net and our own contributors, can be found here.
FiveBooks.com & Current Intelligence: Every Thursday we'll be republishing a FiveBooks author interview. Stay tuned - the first one, on conflict in the Caucausus, appears later this week.
Freedom. To mess it up: If you haven't heard, Jonathan Franzen is The Great American Novelist of our era. His new novel, Freedom, is the most amazing work since the Bible. OK, that might be overstating it a little bit. I haven't actually read it yet, but it's #2 in the stack of books next to the bed. And I must confess to having loved The Corrections. But the hype surrounding Freedom is getting a little out of control, especially since The Oprah made it her selection of the month. Anyway. Things are not all tickety-boo with the publication of Freedom in merry olde England. There are 80,000 copies of the novel in stores, but they are being recalled. The novel is full of typos and other errors. Meanwhile, the TLS isn't amused with the Second Coming.
More Nobel News: The Nobel Prize for Literature will be announced on Thursday, 7 October. The various other Nobel Prizes will be handed out this week, beginning today with Medicine. The Physics prize will be handed out tomorrow. Chemistry gets its time in the sun on Wednesday, with the Nobel Peace Prize being handed out on Friday. Next Monday will see the final Nobel prize handed out in Economics. The ceremonies will all be carried live on YouTube, which is branching out into streaming video now. For the gamblers out there, here are the odds for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The Kindle's Dominance is Near Complete: On Friday last week, Adobe launched the beta version of a new plugin for its InDesign publishing software that allows users to convert files from that programme so that they're compatible with Kindle. Books can now be directly published to Kindle.
Barney's Version: Mordecai Richler was the greatest Canadian author ever. Full stop. His two late career novels, Solomon Gursky Was Here and Barney's Version rank amongst the great novels of the 20th century. Barney was his magnum opus, an aching, beautiful, and profane examination of the failed life of one Barney Panofsky, a womanising Canadian TV producer who happily turned out the kind of schlock Canadian TV is infamous for. He was also quite possibly a murderer. His best friend, Boogie Moscovitch went missing after a violent, drunken row between he and Barney, after Boogie slept with Barney's wife. Richler died in 2000, three years after Barney's Version was published. It has now been turned into a film, starring Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman, Rosamund Pike, and Minnie Driver. Richler's son, Noah, a journalist, spent some time around the set.
Poor Morris: This might be the best short story I've read in some time.
The Problem with Atheists: Some, like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, are just as fervent and zealous as the religious folk they attack. Somewhere in their rantings and ravings are decent arguments, but I am increasingly losing patience with the pitbull school of atheism. Nonetheless, Harris has a new book, The Moral Landscape, that argues that science does indeed have something to say about morality. In fact, Harris argues, only science can help us solve questions of morality and the meaning of life. I can't say I'm burning with desire to read the book, but I do find the argument intriguing.
Stieg Larsson: When Larsson died of a massive coronary in 2004 shortly after finishing is Millennium Trilogy, he left a mess behind him. As his estate has accumulated more and more money with the runaway best selling novels, to say nothing of movie rights, a nasty legal dispute has pitted Larsson's father and brother against his long-time partner, Eva Gabrielsson. Because Gabrielsson and Larsson never married, she has no claim to his fortune under Swedish law, and the father and brother are not inclined to share the loot. Anna Porter interviews Gabrielsson in The Globe & Mail.
David Bowie: Bowie is publishing a new book, Bowie: Object, including images and ephemera from his private collection, designed to give the reader insight into his life. No release date has been announced.
Trouble for Roger Waters: The Anti-Defamation League is accusing Roger Waters' 30th anniversary tour of Pink Floyd's The Wall of being anti-semitic, as the show uses imagery that could be considered anti-semitic. For example, during the song "Goodbye Blue Sky," planes drop bombs in the shape of the Star of David, following by money signs. Waters claims he is criticising the Israeli Security Fence.
What the?: Mo Tucker, the legendary drummer for the similarly legendary Velvet Underground is a Tea Party Supporter. How does this happen? Pitchfork has video proof. Egads.
What the? 2: When I was 11, Twister Sister were my favourite band. It was the mid-80s and Kiss, the coolest band of all time, had taken off their make-up. They weren't nearly as cool when I could see just how ugly Gene Simmons was. Twister Sister, with its lead singer, Dee Snider, filled that lacuna. My first concert was Twisted Sister opening for metal legends Iron Maiden at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. Today we have news that Snider will be joining "Rock of Ages."
Nick Freaking Cave: As far as I'm concerned, Nick Cave is a demi-god. He is currently fronting Grinderman, an off-shoot of sorts of his better known Bad Seeds. Their new album, Grinderman 2, is nothing short of amazing.
Drake: Can you still be a bad-ass rapper when The New York Times is reviewing your shows?
I feel ancient: The Beastie Boys are up for nomination to the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. I grew up listening to the Beasties. I give you their classic video for "Sabotage":
The Arcade Fire: The band's new album, The Suburbs, is a concept record, one that will sound instantly familiar, at least lyrically, for anyone who grew up in the 'burbs. As Win Butler, et al., come to terms with their suburban childhoods, they invite us to get nostalgic for our own with their interactive video for "We Used to Wait." Using GoogleMaps, we see the main character run down the street through our childhood neighbourhood. Ivor Tossell is impressed, though he'd rather he wasn't. He seems to resent the nostalgic aching for our childhood the video is supposed to give rise to. Me, I just think this is neat.
And finally: I can't seem to stop listening to Underworld of late. Maybe because their new album is such a massive disappointment (and let's face it, they've been on a steady trajectory downwards since 1998's classic, Beaucoup Fish). Anyway, I offer you their classic 1996 track, "Born Slippy (NUXX)." Thanks for reading, I'll be back on Thursday.