Along Publisher’s Row

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure was edited by C.D. Rose and reviewed in The Wall Street Journal by Dave Shiflett.

“Among the many types of failure that life has to offer,” Shiflett wrote, “literary failure ranks among the most devastating. It is sometimes even more painful than romantic rejection, which may simply be the result of mundane factors (crossed eyes, a small income). Literary failure, however, is a thing of the soul, made all the more toxic when it comes at the hands of that confederacy of Precious, Insular, Sanctimonious, Smug and often Young (work out the acronym for yourself) writing program grads who seem to rule the literary roost.”

Shiflett quotes from the dictionary: “The power of writing is one of the greatest things we have, whether it is read or not. I was there, I saw.”

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Posted in Along Publisher's Row

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

Jeffery Deaver’s latest mystery is The Starling Project. He has published 35 novels and sold 40 million copies of them, but this new “book” is coming out as an audiobook only. In a Page 1 article, The New York Times said, “If Mr. Deaver’s readers want the story they’ll have to listen to it.”

Deaver said, “My fans are quite loyal. If they hear I’ve done this and that it’s a thriller, I think they’ll come to it.” He told the Times that he hadn’t had a clue about how to write a sex scene for audio. “Do we have a zipper sound? Two shoes hitting the floor?” They went with swelling music.

There are no plans to have a printed version of the book. Deaver said, “There are so many time-wasting alternatives to reading out there, and authors are up against formidable competition. . . This is an easier way for people to get access to good storytelling.”

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Posted in Along Publisher's Row

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

The name of an author I hadn’t thought of in years turned up in an essay in last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review. Several of her books ran as serials in The Saturday Evening Post. My mother read the installments out loud to the family, No better way to end a day has ever been invented.

The writer was Helen Macinnes and one of her most famous titles is Above Suspicion, a spy thriller. She was the subject of the Review’s article by Sarah Weinman, editor of Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense.

Something Macinnes wrote 70 years ago was quoted: “Nowadays the word Communist or Fascist rouses the same emotions as Protestant and Catholic once caused. If these religious factions can learn to live together by giving up all persecution and forms of torture, it is quite possible that a future world will see many forms of political ideology living and working side by side.”

Weinman concluded that “the novels of Helen Macinnes provide the grim lessons we need under the guise of suspenseful entertainments.”

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Posted in Along Publisher's Row

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

Gabrielle Hamilton is a chef, restaurant owner and the author of Prune and Blood, Bones and Butter. In an interview with Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, she said, “The perfectness of reading is when a book hits you and you hit it and during those hours you are completed in a way you have never been before. The you you were when you started the book is no longer; you are changed forever after; you become somehow denser, more solid and yet clearer and cleaner and more organized in your heart and mind at the same time.”

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Posted in Along Publisher's Row

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

If you visit your editor in her (or his) office, you may soon find that you can no longer shout at her (or him). When she (or he) tells you to cut out those three paragraphs you spent a week on, polishing them to perfection, you must behave.

If all publishers go the Hachette way, your editor will work in a no-privacy cubicle. At Hachette, chief executive Michael Pietsch, has given up his private suite for a six-by-seven-foot cubicle. One of 519 identical cubicles for company employees.

There was room, however, for Jonathan Mahler from The New York Times to sit and interview Pietsch in his new office. The top man told the reporter, “I looked into the future and thought, ‘Are profits going to be easier to come by or harder?’ I think they’re going to be harder. We need to save as much money as we can and still have a nice office.”

Pietsch admitted that he had given himself a window.

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Posted in Along Publisher's Row

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

“Books about living a happy life have been in vogue for the past two decades,” said PW in an article called “Come on, Get Happy.” But the essay started off with a quote from Euripides, writing in 424 B.C.: “That man is happiest who lives from day to day and asks no more, gaining the simple goodness of life.”

BookScan said that the category was up 12% more than in 2013. PW asked, “Has the happiness market reached the saturation point?”

Happiness Is . . . 500 Things to Be Happy About is a current bestseller by Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar. One of their 500 moments of happiness occurs when one “recovers data from a dead computer.”

Maybe the happiest of all is the writer whose self-help book lands on the bestseller lists.

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Posted in Along Publisher's Row

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

If ever there was a man who is quotable, it is Clive James, 75, the London critic, poet, TV host and guest, stage personality, novelist, autobiographer—and then some.

He was the subject of a profile titled “A Writer Whose Pen Never Rests, Even Facing Death” by Steven Erlanger in The New York Times.

James is suffering from leukemia, emphysema and kidney failure. He said he could “use up a lifetime supply of anything in two weeks.”

He told the Times, “like all writers who write poems, I would like it most if I were remembered for those—but it might not happen.”

He once compared Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie “Pumping Iron” to “a brown condom filled with walnuts.”

A recent James book is Unreliable Memoirs. He said, “the Australians and British see it as a vision of Arcadia, although the Americans have never taken to it. They don’t like that word ‘unreliable.’ For the U.S. edition, I should have called it Totally Reliable Memoirs.”

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Posted in Along Publisher's Row

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

“I was born in a large Welsh town at the beginning of the Great War—an ugly, lovely town (or so it was and is to me) . . .”

It seemed only right to let a Dylan Thomas quote help mark the centennial of his birth, October 27, 1914. Cultural institutions in the U.S. and Britain “set the dial to Thomas nonstop, “ wrote William Grimes in The New York Times. In Swansea, his hometown in Wales, there was a Dylathon—36 hours of poems, letters and short stories read by Ian McKellen, Jonathan Pryce and Matthew Rhys. Prince Charles recorded “Fern Hill” for the occasion. A week-long festival was held in London.

In New York, the Poetry Center opened “Dylan Thomas in America: A Centennial Exhibition.” Thomas’s radio play “Under Milk Wood” was presented here and broadcast live in Wales. Actor Michael Sheen said, “Thomas is just hard-wired into the Welsh psyche. The poetry is everywhere.”

So let’s give Thomas the last words too: “Now I am a man no more no more/And a black reward for a roaring life.”

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Posted in Along Publisher's Row

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

“A handful of new studies,” The New York Times reported on Page 1 last Tuesday, “suggest that reading to a child from an electronic device undercuts the dynamic that drives language development.”

“There’s a lot of interaction when you’re reading a book with your child, said pediatrician Pamela High. “You’re turning pages, pointing at pictures, talking about the story. Those things are lost somewhat when you’re using an e-book.”

The Times quoted from a study presented at the White House last week that stressed the power of that engagement. “The quality of the communication between children and their parents and caregivers, the researchers say, is of much greater importance than the number of words a child hears.”

Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, a psychology professor and lead author of the study said, “It’s not about shoving words in. It’s about having these clued conversations around shared rituals and objects, like pretending to have morning coffee together or using the banana as a phone. That is the stuff from which language is made.”

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Posted in Along Publisher's Row

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

About 40 mystery writers and would-be mystery writers showed up at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, where Herman Melville and other notables are buried. The writers spent a day touring graves and a mausoleum. They heard from a man who works for a company that builds crematories. James Barron went along to cover the event for The New York Times.

The idea for this day of background research came from Linda Fairstein, author of Bad Blood and a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Her great grandparents were buried at Woodlawn, and she had visited the place as a child.

Lawrence Block, a writer of bestselling mysteries, noted on Twitter: “At Woodlawn Cemetery. Need men’s room or grave of someone we don’t like.”

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Posted in Along Publisher's Row