Last night was the kick off party for this year’s Decatur Book Festival. It’s the Fifth Anniversary of the DBF. In that short span, the little festival that could has become the fourth largest book festival in the nation (but #1 in our hearts). We’ll have much more about the fest in the coming months, but here are some of the highlights so far:
Jonathan Franzen will be the key note speaker and will kick off his International Tour for his new book Freedom at the DBF
My pal Todd Moye will be reading from his book Freedom Flyers. Even cooler? His mother Dorothy “Dot” Moye will be part of a Hurricane Katrina panel presenting photographs from her X Codes Project. Are they the first Mother/Son duo at the DBF? I’m going to say that’s the case until someone tells me otherwise…
The Theatrical Outfit will be participating in several events to celebrate the opening of their stage adaptation of A Confederacy of Dunces. I will be at all of these events regardless of whatever else may be happening.
Our friends at the Wren’s Nest are back this year with not one but two! writing compilations by Atlanta-area kids. Scroll down this list of activities to read about the awesomeness that is The Wren’s Nest Publishing Co. You are free to read about the other activities while you’re there.
For a man who wanted nothing more than to be left alone, the hoopla around JD Salinger’s death would surely frustrate the reclusive author. A local DJ here in Atlanta not known for his love of literature was breathless wondering aloud if now – finally! – unfinished manuscripts would be discovered in his home and published. If only he had died sooner! Groannnn…
This is the Javitz Conference Center in New York City:
In about 48 hours, it will NO LONGER BE THERE BECAUSE DAVID COPPERFIELD IS MAKING IT DISAPPEAR.
Kidding. The truth is only slightly less exciting:
In about 48 hours, book people from all over the world will be descending on the above conference center for what is, basically, the publishing industry’s version of a multi-ring circus-Book Expo America. Hundred thousand trillions, or w/e, of publishing industry professionals (read as: drunks) will all gather to discuss the future of the industry, and to marvel at Steven Tyler’s lips.
No, really, he’s going to be there.
AND SO WILL BABY GOT BOOKS.
That’s right-Baby Got Books will be the ONLY place to get the on-the-scene BEA coverage from Operative Agent Russ Marshalek…me. Yeah, third person, all that jazz.
I will also attempt to cover my own BEA afterparty, the BEA Tweetup. That may be really difficult as I’ll be drunk.
This is what my BEA schedule looks like:
Written on scrap paper, held in place with wine. Perfect.
Word I never thought that I’d type: Baby Got Books is now available for subscription on your Amazon Kindle. Blasphemy? I don’t know. But for $1.99 a month you can have access to what is available to you on the internet for free. Will this business model work for the Kindle? Who knows? I read about Amazon’s program to open the Kindle to all blogs on The Millions. They are as dubious as we, but why not make your hard work available to all platforms? The Millions also noted the disturbing fact that unscrupulous bastards could claim your blog and make money off of it. It seemed prudent to claim our blog as our own, so I did. Amazon helpfully provides previews of what your blog would look like on the Kindle. How awesome is this:
If you want to subscribe to our blog to make sure that you never miss a post, I would recommend using Google Reader, which is readily available from any computer with an internet connection. For FREE. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this handy “how to” will tell you everything that you need to know.
Buffett, it is safe to say, has a different relationship to money than you and me. For us it’s a means to an end. For him, it’s a vocation. He is called to it. If it’s for anything, it’s for getting more of. The man is a collector. He just happens to collect dollars.
In non-book news, The Pump Handle blog is a fantastic source for public health news is you’re into that sort of thing. For the last few weeks there has been frequent mention in the press that x number or people die of influenza (the flu) in any given year. The PH answers the question: How do we know how many people die of the flu in a year? Short answer: educated guess.
Despite what The Journal would have you believe, it is not all rainbows and unicorns for those who make and sell books. McSweeney’s is pulling out all of the stops to move some books. The latest sales pitch:
If this email finds you somewhere on the populated Earth, you may have heard a lot of talk of doom and gloom recently. We here at McSweeney’s object. Look, we like Paul Krugman as much as anyone, and who doesn’t love a good stimulus package, but all this focus on the negative can be a little counterproductive. Look around you! This is still a world full of wonders, and among these wonders are fine printed books, some of which are created by us here at McSweeney’s.
We want to help you remember these wonders within easy reach. And so: This week, every book on our site is $15. Wait, not every — some are $5. Not cheap enough? Okay, a few are $1. Go to it! Fill up a bag and help us spread the joy. Help us save America!
Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends is $5. You’re insane if you don’t pick up a copy at that price. Insane! Also: The “What happens in the La Brea Tar Pits stays in the La Brea Tar Pits” shirts are only $15. Cheap.
Contrary to the doom and gloom you hear everywhere else, The Wall Street Journal says that some new business models may help to revive the flagging book industry. Don’t look for indie bookstores among the new models.
Reading my favorite Swedish lit blogs yesterday (with generous assistance from Google Translator), I happened across some cool esoteric Scandinavian lit news.
First, a movie is imminent for Stieg Larsson’s international best-seller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (review). The book was called Men Who Hate Women in Sweden, but it was changed for the US. The movie will be in Swedish. I don’t know if the latest from Stokholmwood will make it to the US in subtitles. From the little on IMdB, it doesn’t look like it.
Here’s the trailer (found thanks to post on Bokhhora with a line that I love – “This year’s autumn semester ends unworthy of blueberry soup…”:
Second, in an apparently unexpected development, Horace Engdahl has stepped down as the Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy. He will be replaced by author and historian Peter Englund.
The badly translated Swedish lit blog blog reaction to the news is, well, I’m not sure…
Lisa Jannerling at Bokbloggen says, “I like the contradiction of the whole…Many questions arise. How will we do without Horace? Peter Englund will be able to fill the chamber? Exciting.
I didn’t understand the hubbub until WikiPedia helpfully pointed out that the Swedish Academy “…amongst other business, announces the names of Nobel Prize laureates. The latter makes it arguably one of the most influential literary bodies in the world.” So there you go.
Earlier this week BGB was briefly hacked, and I thought everything was cool. But then…we spent the last two days existing in cyberspace as only an error message. I was a little freaked out, but I think that we’re back and in one piece. Let me know if something isn’t working or looks funny. Don’t forget your backups, kids. WordPress users – install this security feature in your blogs now.
I had gotten turned on to Tony Earley by some earlier posts on BGB, and I read and loved his novel, Jim the Boy. The Blue Star is Earley’s latest novel and continues the story of Jim Glass. Not to get too eloquent on you, but holy crap can Earley write. I loved The Blue Star even more than I loved Jim the Boy, and that’s saying something.
This book picks up when Jim is a senior in high school, still in rural Aliceville, North Carolina, on the brink of World War II. And while there still aren’t any specific things that cause me to relate more closely to our main character, I guess this book resonated even more with me than the first one because of some of the general themes that I think are somewhat timeless — including the idea of the girl that you want but don’t think you can have — as well as my feeling that this book told more of a story than Jim the Boy did (again, no disrespect for that amazing book). I’ve done this before, and I’m going to do it again — here are a few tidbits from the book that I think represent Earley’s gift for language and metaphor:
The weather was still warm — the days mild, the first frost still days or weeks away — but the world seemed bent on practicing for the coming winter.
He could feel thousands of words, everything that he wanted to say to her, piled up behind his teeth, waiting for him to open his mouth so they could storm into the light.
The fruit trees glittered like fountains whose water had sprung suddenly from the earth, only to freeze before it touched the ground.
I know that’s not much, but those brief snippets, to me, are just examples of prose so perfect that it borders on poetry. I can’t give this book anything less than two thumbs up, and I’d give it more if I had more thumbs.
Certain national events have some us feeling pretty darn hopeful. When I think of “unhinged optimism” one song comes to mind. The President-Elect’s logo even suggested the song. It’s not a terribly complex song. There are only three words and chaos. And it has been stuck in my head for about two weeks. Turn it up to 11.
Husker Du – New Day Rising
There’s nothing to see here. We all need to be focusing on our civic obligations over the next few days. Plus I can’t read or write more than a few coherent sentences. This election if freaking me out. My ballot has 51 items on it. About half are for various judge positions. Those are important right? How do you pick from the nine people running for some of these posts? Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrgggh…
I also learned from this article that pirates have spokesmen, though I have to assume that the Times’ copy editor deleted all the “Arrrrr”s and “Me hearty”s and “Swab the deck”s from this one’s speech for clarity.
All in all, this is probably the best newspaper article I’ve ever read.
Helpful hint for politicos: Bobby Kennedy, Jr. recommends that when you select an author quote to support your idea of the moral superiority of small town values, you should maybe pick someone who was not a fascist, racist, and advocate of his father’s murder.
“The person in whom . . . agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise.”
Eulogies and memorials have been written in newspaper book sections and lit-blogs everywhere, but you can always count on Machiko Kakutani to provide a steely-eyed assessment of the author’s work that avoids sentimentality,
As we now know, the world was not consumed by black holes when the LHC was fired up. Whew, right? But who has time to continually monitor the situation? Check in with the helpful web site Has the Large Hadron Collider Destroyed the World Yet throughout the day to stay up to date regarding the world’s current status.