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  • Each Monday, here on Editor's Corner, I'm going to take a look at some of the news that has been dominating the book industry in the preceding week.

    The news, as usual, is mostly gathered thanks to the excellent resources that are the Publishers Weekly website and the GalleyCat blog.

    • in the wake of widespread criticism over its self-publishing imprint, "Harlequin has changed the imprint's name from Harlequin Horizons to DellArte Press. As Harlequin publisher and CEO Donna Hayes said it would, the company renamed the imprint to a designation 'that [does] not refer to Harlequin in any way.' There is no mention of Harlequin on DellArte's Web site"
    • with all the interest in just how well "Sarah Palin's Going Rogue has done since it was released November 17, HarperCollins has confirmed reports that the book sold 700,000 copies in its first week on sale. Nielsen BookScan reported this morning that units sold through stores that report figures to its service sold 469,000 copies. BookScan estimates that it covers about 75% of book sales"
    • the "American Anthropological Association is working in conjunction with Duke University Press to publish Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia, a revised edition of the doctoral dissertation of S. Ann Dunham, also known as Ann Dunham Soetoro, the mother of President Barack Obama"
    • Bloomberg Press, "the publishing imprint of financial giant Bloomberg L.P., is closing down, although the exact timing of when the house will shut is still being worked out. Founded in 1996, Bloomberg Press does about 28 titles annually on business and investing and has a backlist of approximately 140 titles"
    • few if any creators in the history of the comics medium "have wielded the wide-ranging influence of Japan's Osamu Tezuka, and to prove it Abrams Comicarts recently released a stunning coffee table book comprehensively covering his life and career for the Tezuka aficionado and the curious newcomer alike. The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga by Helen McCarthy is far and away the only volume produced in the west that truly captures the scope of the Astro Boy creator's contribution to manga, animation and world pop culture, and it's a fascinating, exhaustively researched study that was quite obviously a labor of love for its British author"
  • Bookseller redux banner

    Each Monday, here on Editor's Corner, I run through the latest issue of the Bookseller magazine and pick out the bits and pieces of book industry news that catch my eye.

    This quick round-up of book stuff is culled from the pages of last Friday's 27th November issue and via the Bookseller website:

    • administrators "have begun assessing the value of stock held across the entire Borders chain, with assessors from MCR in stores Friday (27th November)"
    • publishers "have expressed fresh commitment to celebrity memoirs, despite agents describing it as a 'disastrous' autumn for the genre"
    • Michael Joseph "has ensured at least one high-profile comic memoir will be published in autumn 2011 with the acquisition of a memoir by Lee Evans"
    • the restructuring of "Headline, including redundancies, a cutting of its non-fiction programme and promotions, will be completed by mid-December"
    • Kerr MacRae's "first tasks as executive director of Simon & Schuster will be to 'refine' its sales and marketing and paperback businesses"
    • women readers "are turning to angel books as the appetite for misery memoirs declines, with publishers repackaging angel titles in a mis-mem format"
    • Hodder & Stoughton "publisher Mark Booth has bought the novel Boyzone singer Stephen Gately was writing before he died last month"
    • English PEN "has welcomed justice secretary Jack Straw's revelation that the government was drawing up proposals for a wholesale reform of libel laws"
    • Culture Minister Margaret Hodge "will launch a consultation document about the future of the public library service" tomorrow
    • Random House "will partner with Sony to create a limited edition model of the Reader Pocket Edition, this time for James Patterson fans. Random House's e-reader will have a midnight blue finish and includes a case embossed with the Alex Cross logo"
  • In this astonishing memoir, Shaun Ellis, the star of Animal Planet's Living with the Wolfman reveals how he came to eat, sleep, and play with some of the world's wildest and most terrifying animals:

    What would compel a man to place himself in constant danger in order to become a member of a wolf pack? To eat with them, putting his head into a carcass alongside the wolves' gnashing teeth? To play, hunt, and spar with them, suffering bruises and bites? To learn their language so his howl is indistinguishable from theirs? To give up a normal life of relationships and family so that he can devote himself completely to the protection of these wild animals?

    In The Man Who Lives with Wolves, Shaun Ellis reveals how his life irrevocably changed the first time he set eyes on a wolf. In exhilarating prose, he takes us from his upbringing in the wilds of Norfolk, England, to his survival training with British Army Special Forces to the Nez Perce Indian lands in Idaho, where he first ran with a wolf pack for nearly two years.

    Offering an extraordinary look into the lives of these threatened, misunderstood creatures, Ellis shares how he ate raw kill -- and little else; washed rarely, and only in plain water; learned to bury his face into the carcasses of prey -- and, when necessary, to defend his share of the kill; communicated with the pack by his howls and body language, which over time became seemingly identical to theirs; and observed from this unique vantage point how wolves give birth to and raise their young, and enforce order among the pack.

    After years of living in the wild, Shaun Ellis was barely able to recognize the feral face that stared back at him from the mirror. And in The Man Who Lives with Wolves, we discover the life of a rare and fascinating man who abandoned civilization but never lost touch with his humanity.

  • You should expect -- at the very least -- blasphemous irreverence whenever you pick up a book by "underground" comic artist genius Robert Crumb. But with The Book of Genesis Illustrated we get a pretty straight retelling (mostly in Robert Alter's superb new translation) of one of the oldest and most gripping stories that has ever been told:

    Envisioning the first book of the Bible like no one before him, Robert Crumb, the legendary illustrator, retells the story of Genesis in a profoundly honest and deeply moving way. Originally thinking that he would do a takeoff of Adam and Eve, Crumb became so fascinated by the Bible's language -- "a text so great and so strange that it lends itself readily to graphic depictions" -- that he decided instead to do a literal interpretation using the text word for word, assembled primarily from the translations of Robert Alter and the King James Version.

    Now, readers of every persuasion -- Crumb fans, comic book lovers, and believers -- can gain astonishing new insights from these harrowing, tragic, and even juicy stories. Crumb's Book of Genesis reintroduces us to the bountiful tree-lined garden of Adam and Eve, the massive ark of Noah with beasts of every kind, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed by brimstone and fire that rained from the heavens, and the Egypt of the Pharaoh, where Joseph's embalmed body is carried in a coffin, in a scene as elegiac as any in Genesis.

    Using clues from the text and peeling away the theological and scholarly interpretations that have often obscured the Bible's most dramatic stories, Crumb fleshes out a parade of biblical originals: from the serpent in Eden, the humanoid reptile appearing like an alien out of a science fiction movie, to Jacob, a "kind of depressed guy who doesn't strike you as physically courageous", and his bother, Esau, "a rough and kick-ass guy", to Abraham's wife, Sarah, more fetching than most woman at ninety, to God himself, "a standard Charlton Heston-like figure with long white hair and a flowing beard".

    As Crumb writes in his introduction, "the stories of this people, the Hebrews, were then something more than just stories, they were the foundation, the source, in writing, of religious and political power, handed down by God Himself". Crumb's Book of Genesis, the culmination of five years of painstaking work, is a tapestry of masterly detail and storytelling that celebrates the astonishing diversity of the one of our greatest artistic geniuses.

  • No Enchanted Palace

    Thu, 26 Nov 2009 08:57

    Interesting review in the Financial Times of Mark Mazower's No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations:

    The United Nations is invariably judged on the basis of what it is not. It is not a world parliament, still less a world government. It is not a deus ex machina that comes on stage in the final act of global dramas to save mortal nations from the consequences of their follies. It is "no enchanted palace", as Lord Halifax, head of the British delegation, told the UN's founding conference at San Francisco in 1945.

    But, despite Halifax's caveat, the heady expectations raised by the UN's founding fathers as they emerged victorious from the second world war encouraged belief in a supra-national entity that would ensure the global peace and harmony that nation states, in the previous half century, had so singularly failed to provide.

    British historian Mark Mazower, borrowing Halifax's phrase for the title of his book on the ideological origins of the UN, sets out to uncover a more mundane agenda beneath the internationalist rhetoric of 1945: the preservation of empire, specifically Britain's, and the extension into the postwar era of the big-power compact that had defeated Nazism.

    Neither ambition was fulfilled. Empires crumbled, while the wartime alliance of convenience between the Soviet Union and the western powers was replaced by a cold war that was to freeze aspirations towards a new global order for four decades (more...)

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