James Anderson has entered the England record books after taking his 300th Test wicket with the dismissal of New Zealand opener Peter Fulton. (continue reading…)
After 2008′s Ghost, the bestselling memoir of his early career as a State Department counterterrorism agent, Fred Burton turned his attention to an unsolved murder.
On a July night in 1973, in the quiet suburb of Bethesda, Maryland, Israeli military attach Joe Alon parked his Ford Galaxie 500 in the driveway next to the single-story ranch house he shared with his wife and three daughters. Climbing out of the car, he was struck from behind by five .38 caliber bullets, one of which channeled through his aorta, killing him. Investigations by the Montgomery County Police Department and the FBI concluded that the fatal shot was delivered by a skilled marksman who then all but vanished (continue reading…)
If you don’t already know who Gary Vaynerchuk is, at some point you will. Such is the trajectory of a kid who was born in Belarus, grew up in New Jersey, and who has just written his second bestselling business book, The Thank You Economy, currently #2 on the New York Times list.
Vaynerchuk is a whirlwind of perpetual energy and relentless output. What might come as a surprise — especially considering that he writes books about business — is that Gary Vee, as he is called by a legion of fans, is considered to be the second most influential wine expert in the country (continue reading…)
A funny thing happened on my way to becoming a dedicated e-reader. I wound up falling back in love with a couple of small, independent bookstores in my home borough of Brooklyn.
It began when I was in the Fort Greene neighborhood and came across Greenlight Books, a relatively new bookstore trying to make it against all odds in this e-reader age. It could not be a nicer, homier bookstore, carrying a lot of independent publishers and writers who are not household names. There was just something very comforting about browsing there (continue reading…)
If you could spend an hour inside Mike Sacks’ brain you would probably get lost. You might also find yourself giggling uncontrollably or wind up sobbing in a ball on the floor.
You would not be bored.
Sacks has written humor pieces for the New Yorker, McSweeny’s and The Believer, and his new book Your Wildest Dreams, Within Reason draws together a wealth of these in one volume. The author’s previous book, And Here’s the Kicker, was an excellent collection of interviews with top humor writers and with Wildest Dreams he again works with freestanding parts to build the whole. The result is a hugely eclectic and highly original collection of vignettes, lists, songs, letters and the odd Craigslist ad.
A special blend of understatement and absurdity reigns throughout, with comedy often springing from the contrast of inexplicable content and casual delivery (continue reading…)
Excerpted from Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots on the Pepper Trail, By Kurt Michael Friese, Kraig kraft, and Gary Paul Nabhan. Visit their blog here.
One of the most delightful food discoveries for us in Mrida was xnipek (pronounced SHNEE-peck). The name comes from the Mayan language and means “dog’s nose.” Unappetizing as that might sound at first, rest assured there is no dog in the recipe. It’s simply a reference to this salsa’s heat level (continue reading…)
If you are a writer whose book has been listed on Amazon, you
know the feeling when you see someone who has given your book a
one-star rating. Sometimes, the low ratings offset whatever good
feelings you may have had after reading the good reviews.
I felt pretty good when my recent book Chrysler’s Turbine Car: The
Rise and Fall of Detroit’s Coolest Creation, was positively
reviewed by several well-known sources. Vanity Fair called it
“fascinating,” while the New York Times said it was an
“entertaining meander.” P.J. O’Rourke also called it a
“fascinating account” of the turbine car project, and an editor
from Motor Trend said it was “A relevant tale for our age.” The
Wall Street Journal said it was “delightful.”
So why did it bother me when a customer of Amazon gave the book a
one-star review — the lowest review Amazon allows — and said the
book was “tedious”? He (or she, we really don’t know) said it was
a struggle to finish the book (continue reading…)
Good books are kind of like Tarot cards for me. There is a magic to what you pick up, when you pick it up, and what the message is for your life. Lately I’ve been yearning to start painting again, which is perhaps why I chose to read Just Kids last week, the National Book Award winner by Patti Smith about her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe. Well, friendship seems a lame term to describe them (continue reading…)
Red hair. Green tights. Cap and feather. It’s a getup every child could recognize and quickly pick out as belonging to Peter Pan, that mischievous youth that never seems to grow up (continue reading…)
“I tell my students to write about a subject that fascinates them.” – Kaylie Jones
It is an enormous pleasure to share interviews with authors that have played an inspirational part in my own writing. A distinguished teacher and writer of poetry, novels and screenplays, author Kaylie Jones was born in France and returned with her family to the U.S. in 1974. She received an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and pursued Russian Studies in Moscow (continue reading…)
I’ve been shamed. I recently received an email from a reader who complimented me on my reading of authors from around the world. But then she admonished me for not recognizing just who made it possible for me to read all those wonderful books and get to know all those great writers: the literary translators. “We labor in obscurity,” she wrote, being a translator herself, and she is right (continue reading…)
Read Guy Kawasaki’s new book. Now.
This is a man who breathes buzz. Others talk about how to create product lust, marketing momentum, and runaway sales (continue reading…)
Writing the Great American Novel seemed out of the question. So instead I set out to write the Decent Denver Novel. Why Denver, you ask? Why not Denver, I say. New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, even Santa Fe, Missoula, and Las Vegas have scores of writers telling their stories (continue reading…)
I’ve received a number of emails and comments lately, with various undertones of censure, stating that I only write good reviews. “Don’t you have anything bad to say?” is the implied question. Sure, I have plenty bad to say. But when it comes to books, I write reviews of books I’ve liked (continue reading…)
The premise sounds crazy: the significantly named Ignatius Perrish awakens from a drunken stupor to discover that he’s the devil. Painfully fleshy horns have sprung from his head, and he is suddenly endowed with powers no sane person would want. Everything that is nasty in people is now an open book for Ig, and his presence drives them to act on their ugliest repressed impulses.
Once on his way to an altruistic career in social activism, Ig’s life changed forever when his girlfriend was brutally murdered and he became the prime suspect. Grieving and wrecked, Ig doesn’t think his life can get any worse — until he morphs into the very thing everyone believes he is (continue reading…)
My first published literary effort, an article about New York City, appeared in 1945 in a magazine called Gotham, the house organ of the New Yorker Hotel. Since this is 2011, I claim 66 years as both a participant and observer of American publishing.
The magazine Gotham folded.
The New Yorker Hotel eventually also folded.
Traditional American publishing is in the process of folding.
From the standpoint of philosophy, everything folds eventually, so what’s the big deal?
Well, the fact of folding is usually not as important as the reasons for folding. Looking at reasons, causes, provoking events, often helps us understand how the world works.
For the folding of traditional American publishing, the most provoking recent event is the appearance of the new technology of hand-held E-readers, especially the Kindle, which at present outclasses them all.
But aside from this new technology and its consequences now apparent to almost everyone, there are other reasons for the present collapse of traditional American publishing.
I say “collapse” because the collapse of Borders is akin to the collapse of Lehman Brothers on Wall Street, and like that collapse the collapse of Borders suggests that too many people in American publishing don’t know what the hell they’re doing.
Why is that?
After 66 years of watching the American publishing circus and publishing as an “author,” my personal views are as follows:
Most publishers don’t read books, they just display them on shelves in their offices.
Most acquiring editors don’t read books, they just acquire them and negotiate contracts.
Most copy editors don’t read books, they use software to locate possible grammar and punctuation problems.
Most literary agents don’t read books, they just read opening chapters or proposals for books and sell books to editors based on the book’s apparent “handle”, it’s “take-away”, its “feel-good” score.
Most marketing and publicity people in publishing don’t read books, they read blurbs and look at book jackets and attach a book to market demographics.
Most publishing accountants don’t read books, they just add up the profits and losses of the various imprints of a conglomerate.
Most booksellers don’t read books, they sell books the way most people in publishing acquire books — as physical objects with “handles.”
The consequence of this monstrous list is that in American publishing books have for the most part been sold to the public with a focus on the book jacket, the jacket blurbs, the size of the book, the typeface, the timeliness, the fame of the author — but hardly ever sold to the public because of the words printed on the pages of the book.
Books with lovely covers and blank pages would be sold (and have been sold) if there were a steady market for them.
Well, so what? you ask.
So this: After nearly a hundred years of selling books as objects in themselves rather than as merely vehicles for the words on the printed pages, it’s natural that the people in American publishing believed (as many still believe) that the public wants the “feel” of a printed book, a hard copy, something physically tangible — rather than the words on the printed pages, the words organized and put there by the author of the book.
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There are six essential elements for successful digital marketing and when used together they make for a powerful combination. Each element is important on its own, but when you use all six together you will see a strategy that is effective, scalable and long term.
Website — A professional website is the single most important step towards your digital marketing plan. Your website is your homebase, so make sure it is updated regularly and is current. Use your site as a platform for all other activities (continue reading…)
For Americans, Islam brings to mind many things, but poetry is rarely among them. Yet the Muslim world has produced some of the greatest poets the world has seen, like Rumi, currently the most popular poet of the United States. In this environment of suspicion and questions about who Muslims are and what they believe, poetry can be useful in understanding the religion and those who practice it.
Suspended Somewhere Between, a new collection of poetry by Akbar Ahmed, the world-renowned Islamic scholar and chair of Islamic studies at American University, provides these insights, giving an authentic and new perspective on a religion and a part of the world that is so constantly on our minds. The poems provide a window into Islam today, with its problems as well as its possibilities.
I have worked with Ahmed for the better part of a decade after taking his class in school, inspired by his message of improving relations between the Muslim world and the west (continue reading…)
“Get a bicycle,” advised Mark Twain. “You will not regret it, if you live.”
When people hear I ride my bike on A1A, our narrow coastal road here in Florida, they share with me, with more regularity than I like, their stories of family members or friends who were badly injured — or worse. I used to get annoyed, having heard enough of these stories, but now I try to listen attentively, nod and silently pledge to keep my guard up.
And I keep riding. The pleasure of the fresh air and exercise, the beautiful ocean, the squawking of parrots passing overhead (when not drowned out by the cars whooshing by) are all irresistible to me (continue reading…)
Could it be possible that our lust for the bad boys — a hunger which begets dreams that bear nightmares — begins the night we aim our reading flashlights on Rhett Butler and his ilk? Face it, who took away our breath? Who were we trained to want? Namby-pamby Ashley or the dashing Rhett?
How about the other side? The sexy good men (and aren’t the truly good and responsible ones men, not boys?) who step up for justice, or catch a killer, or save the town, without trampling on women’s hearts or bending the rules with a smirk on their faces — how many of them do we worship?
Okay, I too am susceptible to these mythical men who are capable of saving towns and a damsel or two, but fall apart faced with love and fatherhood (I’m talking to you, Woodrow Call of Lonesome Dove.) But the older I get the more I appreciate, am fascinated by, and want to turn the pages to read about, complicated sexy responsible heroes:
Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Atticus sits on the mountaintop of this particular category. He takes care of his motherless children. He fights injustice. He takes on an entire town to face down racism (continue reading…)
February 15th marked the 50th anniversary of the death 18 ice skaters who comprised the U.S. World Figure Skating Team. They left from New York City aboard Belgium’s Sabena Slight 548 bound for Brussels and ultimately for Prague to compete. As the plane approached Brussels the morning of February 15, 1961 it crashed killing all aboard including 34 skaters, coaches, officials and family members of the team.
The 1961 U.S (continue reading…)
This week marks the release of Joyce Carol Oates’ memoir A Widow’s Story. However, the prolific author herself shies away from categorizing it as such. I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about the book and her husbands, Ray Smith and Charlie Gross.
Louise McCready: You’ve called this memoir a “pilgrimage.” Can you elaborate on that?
Joyce Carol Oates: The memoir was assembled rather than “written,” as it is comprised of journal entries from Feb. 11, 2008 onward (continue reading…)
Think you know everything about one of the most literate first ladies in recent history?
Not until you’ve picked up Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books by William Kuhn, about the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her life as an editor and bibliophile.
Thanks to this book, I have added several new titles to my “must read” list this year with the hope that I may crack into Jackie’s elusive, yet beautiful mind.
The books I have selected, many of them bestsellers and classics, were produced by Jackie during her career as an editor for Viking and Doubleday and reflect her interests, passions, and, according to Kuhn, major themes in her life such as sexual scandal, privacy, being a political spouse, cultural iconography, and of course, elegance and high style.
These are all available on amazon.com.
1. Sally Hemings ( 1979) by Barbara Chase-Riboud
A romantic novel rife with controversy, this was one of the first publications to expose the relationship between Jefferson and his slave.
2 (continue reading…)
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Anyone composing a steamy note or text message for their valentine this year could learn from what the greats have written about sex–and what they haven’t. Literature is full of sex talk going back centuries, but Shakespeare, Chaucer and many others tend to avoid spelling it out for readers, opting for coded language and double entendres.
Whether for poetic tone, comic effect or to keep themselves out of trouble, poets and writers have come up with some brilliant ways to tastefully discuss some very naughty subjects.
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