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  • The Union of Their Dreams

    Tue, 13 Oct 2009 05:13

    The Wall Street Journal brings my attention to Miriam Pawel's The Union of Their Dreams:

    In The Union of Their Dreams, Miriam Pawel makes a nuanced appraisal of the late Cesar Chavez, the union leader who helped create what became the United Farm Workers.

    Ms. Pawel recounts the rise and fall of the UFW through the eyes of eight people who committed themselves to the struggle. Later, they would be pushed aside by Mr. Chavez, who feared losing control. The drumming-out of loyalists conjures up images of Russia's Communist Party exiling true believers in the late 1930s.

    The author, a 51-year-old journalist who lives in Pasadena, Calif., writes in her preface: "The history of the United Farm Workers union begins and ends with Cesar Chavez, who had the audacity to single-handedly challenge California's most powerful industry, and the will to keep fighting for three decades. By the time he died in 1993, he stood alone again." Her explanation of why Mr. Chavez ultimately fostered a movement, rather than a thriving labor union, forms the spine of the newly published nonfiction work (more...)

  • Advantage Google

    Thu, 08 Oct 2009 03:00

    Good essay -- from the always excellent Lewis Hyde -- about the Google books settlement (via the New York Times):

    Three hundred years ago, Daniel Defoe offered a memorable image for the relationship between authors and their work: "A Book is the Author's Property, 'tis the Child of his Inventions, the Brat of his Brain."

    The line comes from an essay Defoe wrote in support of the first-ever copyright act, the 1710 Statute of Anne. That law, one of the great inventions of human civilization, managed to do two good things at once: it gave writers ownership of their work, thus freeing them from patronage, and it limited the term of ownership to 28 years, thus giving the rest of us a public domain, a world of print we all may enter because no one owns it.

    Defoe's metaphor nicely points toward copyright's public ends: both books and brats grow up; their relationship to those who bore them changes over time. Like a farmer's children, books must help their author make hay until they come of age, whereupon they are free to leave home and participate in the larger community (more...)

  • | .

    Today is National Poetry Day and its theme is "Heroes and Heroines"...

    And talking of poetic heroes, last night Don Paterson won the 2009 Forward poetry prize. And his fellow Faber poet, Emma Jones, picked up the £5,000 Felix Dennis Prize Best First Collection for her "elliptical and visionary" debut The Striped World.

    Sixteen years after he debuted on the poetry scene with the acclaimed collection Nil Nil, Don Paterson has triumphed over one of the strongest poetry shortlists in years to take the Forward prize for best collection with Rain, a work which judges said showed the Scottish poet's "total mastery of his art".

    Paterson, 45, beat a line-up of acclaimed poets including Peter Porter, Sharon Olds and Glyn Maxwell to win the £10,000 award for Rain, a continuation of his personal and philosophical exploration of the world around him (more...)

  • 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.

    • the success of "The Lost Symbol is starting to have the expected positive impact on related titles. Cynthia Fowles, director of rights and publicity at Inner Traditions/Bear & Company, which received a huge boost from The Da Vinci Code, said the company has been monitoring inventory levels on all its books connected to Templars and secret societies to keep accounts from running out of stock. To date, two books in particular have benefited from increased consumer interest in all things Brown -- James Wasserman's The Secrets of Masonic Washington and Robert Hieronimus and Laura Cortner's Founding Fathers, Secret Societies"
    • in "a dramatic move that will affect writers around the country, magazine publisher Conde Naste will cease monthly publication of Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Gourmet, and Cookie"
    • the literary estate of "James Joyce has agreed to pay $240,000 in legal fees to settle a copyright lawsuit sparked by what attorneys called 'threats and intimidation' by Stephen James Joyce, in his efforts to deter author Carol Shloss from quoting Joyce family documents or works in her book and in a subsequent Web-based supplement"
    • over the weekend, "the gossip site TMZ erroneously reported that Maya Angelou had been sent to the hospital, spawning an avalanche of Twitter posts. Since then, TMZ has retracted the report, noting that the poet is 'alive and well in St. Louis'. The site blames event organizers for telling a photographer that the poet had been hospitalized"
    • Canadian production company "9 Story Entertainment just sold a live-action adaptation of the children's classic Harriet the Spy to the Disney Channel -- the book will become a television movie"

  • Super Thursday

    Thu, 01 Oct 2009 03:32

    Today, is Super Thursday! According to the Bookseller today "will see nearly 800 new hardbacks, almost 10 times the daily average." Nearly 800 new hardbacks published today. Bonkers!

    The titles range from nonsense (for dads, for Christmas) like Jeremy Clarkson's Driven to Distraction, comedy titles like Jo Brand's Look Back in Hunger and Dara O'Briain's Tickling the English, entertainment titles like Chris Evans' It's Not What You Think, biographies like I Am Ozzy, children's books like James Dashner's dystopian The Maze Runner, history books like Andrew Marr's The Making of Modern Britain, and big fiction titles like Bernard Cornwell's The Burning Land, Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest and the new Niffenegger Her Fearful Symmetry.

    Phew!

    I'd be really interested to know which Super Thursday books have caught your eye -- please let me know by leaving a comment on the blog...

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