I just updated the Kindle app on my iPhone to the brand new version 1.1. Though the changes seem slight, I have to say I'm pleased with the addition of landscape mode, and even more so with new options for text and background color. A bright white screen (which was the only option on the original app) can be a little tiring on the eyes, so I'm trying out the new "sepia" background.
Isn't it a wonderful thing to be in a doctor's office waiting room, to discover that the only available magazines are Parenting and Toys for Wealthy Doctors, and to remember that you have an iPhone in your purse and can happily read 14 chapters of your current book before the nurse calls your name? That very scenario happened to me a couple of hours ago, making me grateful once again for the new technologies that are transforming the experience of reading. Last I heard, Apple had sold 21 million iPhones, which means that far more people are reading books on iPhones than on Amazon's dedicated Kindle device.
Currently on my iPhone: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, the story of a racecar driver and the dog who loves him. Narrated by the dog, Enzo, whose highly intelligent voice reminds me a little of Brian on "Family Guy," this funny but touching story will be available in paperback on June 9 and would make a nice summer book club selection (if your book club members are dog lovers; I'm afraid mine are not). Look for more info in the Book Clubs column in the June issue of BookPage.
Legions of Stephen King fans are in for a treat November 10th, when Scribner will release Under the Dome—an 1,136 page “tour de force” from the master storyteller.
From the Scribner catalog:
“On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener’s hand is severed as “the dome” comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when—or if—it will go away.”
Featuring more than 100 characters facing a menacing supernatural element in their small Maine town, early reads are comparing Under the Dome to King’s classic epic, The Stand. We haven’t gotten an advanced copy yet, but I’m certainly on the look out!
What is your favorite Stephen King novel?
The big news in publishing today may be The Link (see earlier post), but the big news 400 years ago was a collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Well, sort of.
As Clinton Heylin writes in So Long As Men Can Breathe—reviewed in the June issue of BookPage by poet Diann Blakely—the Sonnets were originally published as a bootleg on May 20, 1609. Actually, Heylin calls that early folio a “bookleg,” in a nod to the unscrupulous publishing practices of the Elizabethan world.
Bootlegging gives Heylin license to make extensive comparisons between the Bard and Bob Dylan, who has also written a poem or two. (It’s also a logical leap for Heylin, whose previous books include Behind the Shades, a Dylan biography.)
So, what does Heylin say about the Sonnets, works that have delighted readers and confounded scholars for centuries? Pick up the June issue of BookPage to find out. But wait, you also get a chance to win a copy of So Long As Men Can Breathe. Just submit a comment including your favorite line from Shakespeare (sonnet or play) by Friday, May 22.
UPDATE: This contest has now ended.
That’s the scoop, according to paleontologists studying a 47-million-year-old complete fossil unearthed around 25 years ago in an unused quarry near Frankfurt, Germany.
The lemur-like primate—scientific name Darwinius masillae, nickname “Ida”—is being hailed as the missing link; not necessarily our direct ancestor, but a member perched on a neighboring branch of the family tree. Or, as one oft-quoted scientist, Jens Franzen, put it to the BBC and others, not our “grand, grand, grandmother,” but our “grand, grand, grand, grand aunt.”
But, wait, Ida was found 25 years ago? Where's the breaking news?
Ida was in a private collection for most of that time, until being purchased (in secret) by the University of Oslo. Now, after years of clandestine research, the fossil is suddenly a star, subject of a book pubbing today—The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor (Little, Brown) by biologist/writer Colin Tudge—an audiobook version also published by Hachette and a film. Find out about all these on the Ida website, where you can read about the discovery of the fossil, download the first chapter of the book or listen to a clip from the audiobook.
BTW, have you been to Google’s homepage today? Cool.
The words “famously reclusive” are paired with the name Cormac McCarthy like white on rice. Despite his televised interview with Oprah in 2007, McCarthy is still considered one of the least talkative, most private authors around. No book tours for this man! No website, no blog and definitely no Twitter. Nonetheless, this acclaimed writer generates plenty of press coverage, as we see in three recent developments:
NEWS ITEM #1: McCarthy has been chosen as the recipient of the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, to be presented at a ceremony Tuesday tonight in New York. Will McCarthy accept the award in person? A PEN spokesman didn’t respond to that question, so your guess is as good as ours. This is a career achievement award, and in describing the honoree’s body of work, PEN notes that “McCarthy’s fiction parallels his movement from the Southeast to the West.” McCarthy’s first four novels are set in Tennessee, where he grew up and attended Knoxville Catholic High School. (Through a classmate, we’ve seen charming school newspaper clippings from the late 1940s in which the author, then known as the more pedestrian “Charlie McCarthy,” showed scant signs of future greatness.) McCarthy later moved to Texas, and eventually to Santa Fe, where he currently makes his home.
NEWS ITEM #2: An archive of McCarthy’s papers opened to researchers today as part of the Southwestern Writers Collection at Texas State University-San Marcos. Access is by appointment only, so forget about dropping by to thumb through the original manuscript of All the Pretty Horses.
NEWS ITEM #3: The film version of McCarthy’s devastating apocalyptic novel, The Road, now has a firm release date (October 16) and an official trailer. Only two and a half minutes long, but still extremely unsettling:
This morning's email brought news of a book deal for the passengers of US Air Flight 1549. Ballantine will publish their story on November 3.
From the press release:
A unique collaboration between many of the passengers themselves and two expert story-tellers, William Prochnau , MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON will provide the first and the only full account, minute-by-minute, of that fateful day, in the survivors’ own words. . . . The survivors' stories about their ordeal are moving and unforgettable. We see passengers watching as birds enter one engine. We relive the eerie silence in the cabin, save for fervently whispered prayers after both engines fail. We feel the impact as the plane violently hits the river, water pouring into the fuselage. We meet the passenger who opened the first door to safety, and another who stripped to his underwear in readiness for an impossible swim to shore. Then we see an incredible rescue take place from the viewpoint of the people caught in the middle of a frigid metropolitan river.
ETA: Perhaps more newsworthy than the passengers' book deal is the New York Times' report that some of them will actually be getting their luggage back. This may be a bigger miracle than their survival. [Via]
Tomorrow, BookPageXTRA subscribers will get a look at what's coming up in the next issue of BookPage (are you one of them?). Until then, we're serving up a few tantalizing quotes from some June BookPage reviews to you Book Case readers. Leave a comment by Tuesday, May 19, saying which book you most want to read, and why, for a chance to win all four novels.* Ready, set, read! [We have a winner! Congrats to April Hawkins.]
"Satisfying on so many levels, See's latest is above all a confirmation of unbreakable family bonds, as two Shanghai girls survive seemingly insurmountable setbacks, both at home and abroad." —Deborah Donovan
"The City & the City is a murder mystery, old-fashioned in its way, narrated by a tough-talking police investigator and layered with all the shadow and menace of a film noir. . . . a tightly plotted, thoroughly engaging read, at turns beguiling and revelatory." —Jedediah Berry
"Pelecanos has once again crafted a genre-transcending novel of rage and redemption guaranteed to appeal to a broad-spectrum audience." —Bruce Tierney
"By the time we meet Molly Divine Marx in the opening pages of The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, she is dead. But that by no means detracts from the many charms of Sally Koslow's wonderful new novel." —Amy Scribner
* Since we're sending out four hardcovers, this contest is limited to North American residents. But readers around the world are still welcome to comment!
One of the best parts of my day is going through the mail here at BookPage. That might sound strange, but it gives me a chance to get up from my desk, clear my head and see what goodies the mailman has brought for us. I love paging through copies of recently published books and eyeing the galleys I’ve been eagerly anticipating; I don’t love it when mailers made from recycled material explode all over me (usually when I’m wearing black), but I’m proud to say I’ve gone several days without a mail mishap.
The most exciting thing that landed in our mail on this cloudy Wednesday was a package from HarperPerennial introducing their new HarperPerennial ClassicStories line. HarperPerennial is publishing collections of short stories from greats like Leo Tolstoy, Willa Cather, Oscar Wilde, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Herman Melville and Stephen Crane this month, and they were nice enough to send along a set for us. The compact paperback editions are beautifully designed and reasonably priced at just $10 a pop.
Whether you are a classics fanatic or just a collector of important works, be sure to check out these new paperbacks from HarperPerennial. And as for me, well, as the saying goes: finder's keepers!
The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association has chosen Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan's Wanting as their very first NAIBA Notable title. The novel, which goes on sale today, is a haunting story set in 1841 that features two titans of Victorian England, Charles Dickens and John Franklin (whose ill-fated Northern expedition was the subject of a recent Dan Simmons novel) while drawing parallels to modern society.
Flanagan is known for complex, thematic works like Gould's Book of Fish, but he's not afraid to go commercial—he also co-wrote the screenplay for the Baz Luhrmann film Australia. Grove Publisher Morgan Entrekin says Wanting has the same intellectual depth as his earlier novels "yet may be more approachable for many readers."
Wanting goes on sale today, but the book has already received a rave review from novelist Jon Fasman in the Los Angeles Times. As a fan of historical and Victorian fiction, I'm looking forward to digging into our copy.
Yesterday Minotaur announced that mystery writer Nevada Barr was leaving her longtime publisher, Putnam, and signing on with them for her next three books in the Anna Pigeon series. The first book will appear in 2010.
In the official press release, Minotaur VP and Publisher Andrew Martin called Barr "a star author," saying that he was "absolutely delighted to be welcoming her onto our list.”
Barr's final novel with Putnam, Borderline, was just released last month, and she has a stand-alone thriller, 13 1/2, coming from Vanguard Press on September 29.