Talking About Books . . .

Jerry Lee Lewis

I was a teenager during the rock ‘n roll era.  One of my favorite entertainers was the wild and crazy Jerry Lee Lewis who is from Louisiana just as I am.  (You may also have heard of his two cousins, Jimmy Swaggart and Mickey Gilley.)  I never dreamed that this hard-rocking, hard-living man would be one of the last living legends of the rock ‘n roll era, but he is.  Now he has collaborated with Rick Bragg on a book that gives Lewis’ account of his life and the times he lived through.  This is one of a number of books about musicians and music that will be released this fall.  An article in BookPage talks about the upcoming releases.

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While completing a book about playwright Eugene O’Neill, Robert Dowling was told by a friend that Ted Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomber, was a fan of O’Neill.  That supposed link stemmed from the fact that many of Kaczynski’s bomb packages contained U.S. Postage stamps commemorating O’Neill.  Dowling wrote to Kaczynski (who is serving a life sentence) about the link, and Kaczynski denied knowing anything about O’Neill.  So why did the FBI believe there might be a link between the Unabomber and O’Neill.  And why did the FBI consider members of the Eugene O’Neill Society potential suspects?  Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that O’Neill described himself as a “philosophical anarchist.”

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Wonder Woman

In a New Yorker article, Jill Lepore, Harvard professor and author most recently of The Secret History of Wonder Woman, talks about the origin of Wonder Woman, the suffrage movement, and other feminist topics.  And don’t miss the account of the rather unusual domestic arrangement that Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marston had with four women – all at the same time.

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Detroit Public Television has come up with an idea that PBS has literally bought into: PBS will stream parts of the Miami Book Fair International live later this week.  The streaming will take place for portions of Friday, November 21, thru Sunday, November 23.  BookTV (C-SPAN2) airs book related programming each weekend, but all of their programming is related to nonfiction whereas the PBS streaming of the Miami Book Fair International will include both fiction and nonfiction.  You can find out much more about this exciting first of its kind event here.  Let’s hope that this is the first of many book festivals to be streamed live on public television.

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First Impressions

Check out this Barnes & Noble blog post if you’re interested in literary mysteries.  Most of the books have been out for a while, but that’s OK.

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During a radio broadcast on July 19, 1944 Orson Welles read a short story titled “With Your Wings” that John Steinbeck wrote specifically for the occasion.  The story then disappeared.  Recently Andrew F. Gulli, managing editor of The Strand Magazine, found it while going through some archives at the University of Texas at Austin and has decided to publish it in The Strand’s holiday edition.  You can read about the discovery here, and see the homepage of The Strand Magazine here.

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Fifty Shades of Grey

The majority of those who have read Fifty Shades of Grey are women.  What does that tell us?  Are women looking for “compensatory fantasies” in romance novel or was William Giraldi right when he said that “We’re an infirm, ineffectual tribe still stuck in some sort of larval stage”? And why don’t men read romance novels?  A Pacific Standard article explores the issues.

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The dispute between Hachette Publishing and Amazon has been settled, but not before damage was done to Amazon’s reputation.  The dispute centered around Amazon’s attempt to set prices for the e-books of all companies under the Hachette umbrella.  Unfortunately, Amazon either slowed down or totally stopped delivery of Hachette books which angered many authors who were hurt financially by Amazon’s actions.

The exact terms of the agreement are unknown because neither party is willing to talk about the settlement, but it seems that Hachette has retained the right to set prices for its own products.

Vanity Fair has an interesting article about how Amazon, which was once seen as the savior of the book industry, became the enemy of book publishers.

In other Amazon news, the company sustained a third quarter loss of $437 million which is its largest quarterly loss in 14 years.  In the same quarter last year Amazon lost only $41 million.  Even though net sales rose 20.4%, the company continues to spend huge amounts of money on new businesses and services.  The big question is: how long will Amazon’s investors continue to support a company that rarely shows a profit?

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