August 12, 2016
Following up on some of our recent stories…
by Melville House
MobyLives has been mostly taking it easy this August — we’re technically on hiatus, although, between publishing a list that’s fire, having a lot to say, and releasing the book of record on the news story of the summer (with an author who takes all comers), we haven’t exactly been silent.
Still, we’re keeping it pretty low-key until September. Meantime, here’s some of what’s been going on in the book world:
- Back in March, and again in June, we covered BookShots, mega-bestselling author James Patterson’s new imprint that attempts make books as quick and compelling and entertainment as movies, and as impulsive a purchase as Swedish fish. Writing for AdWeek’s “Galley Cat” column, Dianna Dilworth writes that the imprint is off to an impressive start, selling more than a million books since its launch on June 7, with one title, The Trial (no, not that The Trial — this one is by Patterson and Maxine Paetro), hitting number one on the New York Times bestseller list.
- In late May, we reported on Dr. Sheldon Blau, an author who had sued Simon & Schuster over the question of whether e-book royalties should be tabulated based on a “sales” or a “licensing” model, noting that, however the court found, it was difficult to imagine Simon & Schuster owing Blau money as they had never been the publisher of his e-book. (They did own the book’s original publisher, Macmillan, at the time of of its initial publication, but sold it less than a year later.) Per a brief article in Publishers Weekly from last Monday, that suit has been dropped, and Blau’s attorneys have declared their intention to file suit against John Wiley & Sons, the correct publisher. Let’s hope they’re getting a little more sleep.
- Last month, we wrote about the amused perplexity with which the book world greeted a correspondence between novelist Jonathan Safran Foer and actress Natalie Portman. The occasion, on the latter correspondent’s part, was her directorial debut adapting novelist Amos Oz’s A Tale of Love and Darkness into a feature film. As Clarisse Loughrey writes in the Independent, Portman’s taking another plunge into the wine-dark sea of novel adaptation, this time as an actor in HBO’s Marta Kauffman-produced miniseries adaptation of Karen Joy Fowler’s 2013 novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. As for whether the Paris Review will be publishing an exchange of French toast recipes between Portman and Herman Wouk, no news yet.
- At the beginning of June, we wrote about how novelist David Mitchell had demonstrated his faith in the human future by allowing a new work of fiction to be buried underground for ninety-nine years, to be excavated in 2115 and read by NDMEs (Non-David Mitchell Entities) for the first time ever. It was an exciting plan, if somewhat laden with the melancholy of knowing that David Mitchell, and pretty much every person reading this and everyone they’ve ever known, would, by the time it was brought to fruition, be dead. But, as Alison Flood writes at the Guardian this week, there has been another explosive surprise awaiting the NDME community, and it’s a fun one, concerning Mitchell’s career-making quasi-novel, Cloud Atlas. It was a big book in Mitchell’s native UK, and a big book here in the US. And now, a British professor of literature named Martin Paul Eve has discovered that the book published in the UK and the book published in the US weren’t quite the same book.
- Just a couple weeks ago, we wrote about the fan letters of a teenage George R.R. Martin to his heroes at Marvel Comics (which included the words “super-powered apes livid with hatred,” to the delight of everyone everywhere, ever). There’s been no change since then in the biggest news from Westeros — Martin is still working on his next Game of Thrones novel, and both he and his publisher would be grateful if we’d all chill. But fans seeking an occasion to rejoice at long last have a reason to: as Tufayel Ahmed reports for Newsweek, Martin has just contracted with Universal Cable Productions—the folks behind, among other things, Mr. Robot—to adapt another of his series, The Wild Cards, for the small screen. (Sidenote: this being 2016, maybe we should start calling it “the ubiquitous screen”?) Martin describes The Wild Cards’ world as being “as large and diverse and exciting as the comic book universes of Marvel and DC (thought somewhat grittier, and considerably more realistic and consistent)” — and he really ought to know.
- Novelist Cormack McCarthy, we wrote at the end of June, is, right now, somewhere, doing something — which is to say that he has not, as many briefly believed, died. Another person whose veins are currently full of blood and whose brain is a mysterious storm of electrical activity is novelist Haruki Murakami, despite recent rumors an entirely non-dead person. Adam Boult covered the story for the Telegraph, including one of literary twitter’s all-time high-water marks:
Murakami runs 120 miles a day and lives on a diet of finely crushed Beatles records. He will never die.https://t.co/ZCHjO1OzxN
— HAS MET TIM KAINE (@coreybeasley) August 4, 2016
- Over the years, we’ve periodically covered the development of a modest start-up from the Pacific Northwest called Amazon. Recently, Amazon has declared the single biggest retail day in their history (despite some technical difficulties and crapstonishing offerings), been found to control a vastly disproportionate share of the online entertainment market, and been declared the UK’s favourite retailer. But the latest story about them, by Sarah Griffiths and Abigail Beall of the Daily Mail, is that the drone army they’re busy building may one day destroy human civilization as we know it. Ho hum.
- To close, here’s one story that, thankfully, does not involve adult coloring books.
Enjoy the summer! Get some reading done! Keep an eye on MobyLives for updates on our reporting, news on our books and authors, olde-thyme video amusements, original writing, and more.