Friday, October 19, 2012

FREELOADING by Chris Ruen Released in the US

The original slacker's dream of free everything may have been realized by the Internet—but along with it came the slacker's nightmare of never getting paid for one's creativity. Freeloading seeks—and to a large extent succeeds—to wrestle with the collapse of the commons and the possibilities for a renewed social contract.  
Douglas Rushkoff, media theorist, author of Life, Inc. andProgram or Be Programmed

FREELOADING:  How Our Insatiable Hunger for Free Content Starves Creativity by Chris Ruen takes a critical, cool look at a near-pervasive phenomenon that involves almost everyone who taps a keyboard: beyond that, it's a reminder of the truism that for every action there are consequences. What happens when we pirate a favorite work of art—a song, book, or movie? And as importantly: what, if anything, can or should be done about it?  It has just been released by O/R Books in the US, and will be published by Scribe Publications in Australia and New Zealand in December, with other territories to follow.

Chris will be celebrating the release by reading the book in its entirety this Saturday at WORD in Greenpoint, Brooklyn from 10am - 4pm. At 7pm, there will be free beer from Brooklyn Brewery and wine from Dandelion, cheese from Eastern District. And after the drinking and eating and reading, there will be an afterparty at Lulu's one block away. Chris will be spinning records along with Greg Bennetts and Nicholas Cirillo. DJ sets start at 9:30.

On December 5th at 7PM, Chris and David Byrne will be discussing music and copyright in the final event of Byrne's speaking tour for his new book, HOW MUSIC WORKS.  The event will be equal billing with an emphasis on Chris' and David's books.  Paul Holdengraber will moderate a discussion between the two authors on the topic and there will be a 15 minute Q&A from the audience following the 45 minute discussion.

Monday, August 6, 2012

MARILYN: The Passion and the Paradox by Lois Banner is the Most Reviewed Book in the UK

MARILYN: The Passion and the Paradox by Lois Banner was published on July 17th by Bloomsbury USA and Bloomsbury UK simultaneously, and the agency learned this morning that no book has been reviewed more in the UK over the past week. The definitive biography was reviewed in The New York Times Book Review yesterday by Zoe Slutsky, who writes: “Banner presents a rich and often imaginative narrative of Marilyn’s life. By the end, Monroe feels at once like an earthly being – an almost-friend – and an enigma, still slightly out of focus and just beyond reach. That seems right.”

Lois spoke with Diane Rehm at length on Thursday, and you can listen to the interview here or read the transcript.

In a dual review in The Washington Post, Mindy Aloff writes about MARILYN: 
...this is the book to read if you want to try to understand what made Monroe tick. Where [Keith] Badman’s book took five years to produce, Banner’s took 10; and, although their background readings seem to overlap in places, Banner keeps asking questions and weighing evidence long after Badman has settled for his eureka revelations. Banner’s methodical approach and refusal to give Monroe praise when the actress doesn’t deserve it confer a kind of dignity on the subject that Badman’s book doesn’t.

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Britt Peterson writes that Banner: "highlights Monroe's radical leftist leanings, her racial sensitivities, her interest in psychoanalysis, and other ways in which she prefigured various social and political movements of the 1960s. She doesn't gloss over the uglier aspects of Monroe's character, delving into her possible sex addiction, but works to present a full woman— exactly what Steinem purportedly set out to do nearly 30 years ago, with such half-baked and sentimental results. Banner's version is more complete, more sensitive, more entrenched in archival data than any before..."

In a starred, boxed review, Booklist says: 
By dint of exhaustive research and uniquely informed analysis, distinguished and trailblazing feminist historian Banner has written a profoundly redefining bombshell biography of artist and icon Marilyn Monroe. Banner is the first to bring a scholar’s perspective to bear on the influence of postwar misogyny and sexual hypocrisy on Monroe’s life and work as she painstakingly chronicles Monroe’s shunting from one foster home to another, her sexual abuse and subsequent stutter, evangelical upbringing, daring foray into modeling, and epic battle for Hollywood success. Intellectual rigor and insight shape Banner’s coverage of Monroe’s debilitating endometriosis, chronic insomnia, prescription-drug addiction, numerous sexual relationships, reliance on psychoanalysis, and three troubled marriages. Banner breaks new ground with her sensitive disclosure of the star’s toxic fear of the exposure of her sexual attraction to women, an utter disgrace for a reigning sex symbol in a harshly homophobic time. And her revelations about the role of the Kennedys and the FBI in Monroe’s death are appalling. On the upside, Banner celebrates Monroe’s perfectionism, generosity, humanist political views, trickster humor, covert brilliance, daunting “process of self-creation,” and immense cultural resonance. A passion for precision and truth fuels Banner’s electrifying portrait of an artist caught in a maze of paradoxes and betrayals. Here is Marilyn as we’ve never seen her before."

Other praise:

"Banner elegantly and skillfully chronicles Monroe’s short life…. [she] paints a portrait of Monroe as a complicated, many-faceted woman."—Publishers Weekly

“A dazzling portrait of a fragile but remarkably ambitious and determined personality, as spiritual as she was corporeal, as canny as she was careless.”—Carina Chocano, Elle

“Banner…probe[s] Monroe’s fraught relationship to her sexuality with an uncommonly insightful eye. But fans of Hollywood Babylon, take heart: Studious as she is, Banner also rakes the muck like a pedigreed newshound.”—Jan Stuart, More

“[A] richly researched biography…. The most titillating sections of this refreshingly frank book describe Monroe's years as a party girl…. The Monroe we meet in this sympathetic, feminist biography is a self-nurturing narcissus who blossomed in front of the camera. Monroe was cut down before she could germinate, but in these pages she comes alive.”—Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vanity Fair's Elissa Schappell and John Waters are reading BUTTERFLY IN THE TYPEWRITER by Cory MacLauchlin

In Vanity Fair's July 25th Just My Type, Schappell writes: "...I’m escaping to a friend’s country estate with a companion, a book I must have been mad to miss this spring, Cory MacLauchlin’s A Butterfly in the Typewriter (Da Capo). ...Drawing on interviews with family and friends and a wealth of letters, MacLauchlin’s story of how O’Toole became Ignatius and how Confederacy of Dunces finally saw the light is heartbreaking."

John Waters mentioned reading the book in an interview.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

OPIUM FIEND: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction Published

Steven Martin's singular memoir (see advance praise) was published by Villard/Random House yesterday, and Austin's favorite bookstore since 1970, BookPeople, has posted a Q&A with Steven on their site.  Canada's weekly current affairs magazine Maclean's favorably reviewed the book on Friday, and io9 excerpted it yesterday, calling it "a kind of alternate history, where addictions of the past erupt into the present unexpectedly."

Atlanta's AM 1690 aired a terrific two-part conversation between David Lewis and the author yesterday.

Zak Pelaccio Talks Grilling with Bon Appetit

Zak's first book EAT WITH YOUR HANDS (Ecco) dropped in April to a firestorm of praise. Serious Eats said the book "is one of those perfect chef-written cookbooks that conveys not only the chef's dishes but also personality and Pelaccio is full of it. ...[It] is unique but also accessible, written in a tone that makes even the most exotic ingredient or unfamiliar technique seem doable, and fun even." The Wall Street Journal and Epicurious chimed in, and The Austin Chronicle said "The chef, food, and book are wildly irreverent, combining an emo ethos with sophisticated technique and innovative flavors to produce an iconoclastic genre of hipster food for the new millennium. ...With this groundbreaking volume, Pelaccio brings us free spirited, passionate food that takes a novel approach to the new American table."  Check out this video portrait from Handpicked Nation:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Steven Martin's OPIUM FIEND in The New Yorker's "Talk of the Town"

In the June 25th issue of The New Yorker, staff writer Nick Paumgarten speaks with Steven Martin, whose memoir OPIUM FIEND:  A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction is being published by Susanna Porter at Random House next week, about how he came to be the global expert on opium-smoking paraphernalia.   For the larger story, you'll have to read the book.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

DARKEST AMERICA by Yuval Taylor and Jake Austen Lauded by Both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus

It is a rare thing when both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus agree on a book, but that is the case for their reviews of DARKEST AMERICA:  Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop by Yuval Taylor and Jake Austen, to be published by W.W. Norton & Company on August 27th.

Kirkus reviews the book thus:
A provocative, compelling exploration of one of the most controversial elements of the black entertainment world. Chicago Review Press senior editor Taylor and Roctober magazine editor Austen explore the long history not only of African-American involvement in minstrel performances, but also of black-derived comedy that utilizes elements from the minstrel act—exaggerated stereotypes of the black experience that hearken back to the minstrel shows of the 19th century. More precisely, the authors examine the debates over these myriad forms of entertainment and the accusations of minstrelsy that have often embroiled black entertainers and intellectuals in fevered debates over the nature and depiction of the black experience. Taylor and Austen deftly argue that African-Americans have taken on perceived minstrelsy in one of three ways. The first has been simply to embrace such forms of entertainment and comedy. The second has been to signify on them—i.e., to engage in self-aware parody and wry utilization of elements of minstrelsy to make a larger point. The third approach involves waging war on such stereotypes, which often leads to heated accusations and counterattacks. The authors take a kaleidoscopic look at their topic, emphasizing a diverse range of individuals and works, including blackface entertainer Bert Williams, writers Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright, Stanley Crouch’s attacks on Tupac Shakur as a “thug minstrel,” Spike Lee’s film Bamboozled, and comedian Dave Chappelle’s self-exile when he reached the conclusion that his own work had moved uncomfortably from comedy about stereotyping to enabling the very stereotypes he was combating. An innovative, marvelous book about comedy, stereotypes and the struggle to steer through the sometimes-fierce internal debates over African-American identity in a society still struggling with its racial past.
...and Publishers Weekly:
Taylor (coauthor of Faking It) and Austen (editor of Roctober magazine) provide a comprehensive and perceptive history and critique of black minstrelsy—a tradition that began in the 1840s, where black performers entertained black and white audiences by playing the grinning blackface buffoon, exaggerating the traits white people used to characterize black men. Minstrelsy emerged as the most popular form of entertainment (the ancestor of vaudeville and the variety show) until the turn of the 20th century, when the classic minstrel variety show gradually disappeared. Taylor and Austen argue that minstrelsy’s “Negro caricature” became woven into American culture, reappearing in the 21st century in hip-hop, rap, Mardi Gras Zulu floats in New Orleans, and inspiring the work of artists like Lil Wayne and Spike Lee. The book explores minstrelsy’s long period of popularity; artists such as Bert Williams and Master Juba; its audience’s reactions; and the ways its innovative performances have influenced American culture. According to the authors, black minstrel performers did not simply re-enact degrading stereotypes, but rather satirized those stereotypes to liberate themselves and their audiences. In his performances, Bert Williams expunged some of minstrelsy’s demeaning aspects to highlight its humanity and pathos, while Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles kept minstrelsy’s musical legacy alive through its songs. This well-informed work deepens our understanding of a lasting element of American culture.

ABDICATION by Juliet Nicolson on UK Bestseller List at #3

ABDICATION by Juliet Nicolson, represented by the agency in collaboration with Ed Victor of Ed Victor Ltd., debuted on the London bestseller list on publication day last week at #5, and has now climbed to #3. Ed and Bloomsbury threw an amazing party for Juliet in London on Tuesday, covered by Tatler.

The novel, published by Sarah Branham of Atria in the United States, received a starred Kirkus review:
This story never gets old: the besotted king, his cool American divorcĂ©e, the scheming politicians, and a compliant press keeping a nation in the dark. In this new version. Edward and Wallis are merely supporting players to the two main stars of the show: Evangeline Nettlefold, the maladroit schoolgirl chum of Wallis, and May Thomas, a clever and ambitious recent arrival from Barbados. These two cross paths when May is hired on as a chauffeur and aide to Sir Philip Blunt, a government minister, at the same time that Evangeline arrives in England at the invitation of Wallis and takes up residence in Sir Philip’s household. Famous literary and political figures dot the narrative, which plays out against a backdrop of the Fascist rise to power in Europe and the fringe fascination in England with Nazi sympathizer Oswald Mosley. VERDlCT Anyone requiring a post— Downton Abbey fix could do worse than this beguiling, Thirties-era, class-conscious soap opera, written by the granddaughter of Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West. Enthusiastically recommended.
And others across the media spectrum:

Elegantly poignant ... Nicolson has an eye for prescient anecdotes.
Ruth Scurr, The Times on THE PERFECT SUMMER: Dancing Into Shadow in 1911

Sweeps across voices and classes to assemble a mosaic of sunlit impressions.
Boyd Tonkin,Independent

An accomplished and engaging piece of social history.
Daily Telegraph

This is a peach of a book. It is full of good things, elegant and often funny. A cleverly crafted story of the hot, frenetic summer of 1911 which works because of the sparkling writing. 
Jane Ridley, Literary Review

Abdication beautifully evokes the troubled thirties, with its high-stakes politics, easy money and social tensions. Juliet Nicolson is an outstanding historian who brings the full panoply of her talent and research to the task of recreating the abdication crisis and its effect on Britain. This is a wonderful novel.
Amanda Foreman

Anyone interested in the 1930's will revel in this richly detailed slant on the abdication crisis.
Daisy Goodwin

With her keen eye for historical detail and intimate knowledge of England's social mores, Juliet Nicolson weaves a juicy and evocative tale of lives caught in the midst of one of Britain's great modern dramas, the abdication of King Edward VIII.
Tina Brown

A vivid reimagining ... a thoroughly absorbing novel. Juliet Nicolson combines a historian's deep knowledge and eye for telling detail with a keen sense of drama, a dash of romance, and an understanding of the complex motivations of human nature. 
Sally Bedell Smith

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Advance Praise for OPIUM FIEND: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction by Steven Martin

The June 26th publication by Random House of Steven Martin's beautiful and harrowing OPIUM FIEND:  A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addition is just around the corner, and the memoir is already garnering some great praise.

Steven Martin’s fascinating memoir runs so much deeper than the standard literature about drugs. Whereas most writers never move beyond obsessive descriptions of physical effects, Martin’s true interests are cultural and intellectual: he connects the urge of the drug addict with the compulsion of the art collector. By the end of this book you’ll have a new sympathy for both kinds of fiend.
– Peter Hessler, author of RIVER TOWN and COUNTRY DRIVING

Steven Martin writes with a wit and style every bit as intoxicating as his subject.  Entwining endlessly fascinating exotic detail with soul-searing personal revelation, this remarkable author has produced a driving, powerful autobiography unlike any of the countless narco-memoirs cluttering the shelves today.  One warning to potential readers: Opium Fiend is the kind of book that makes the rest of the world disappear. It draws you in from the very first page,  until  you stagger out, blinking at the sun,  not sure you ever wanted it to end.... Dim the lights, lock the doors, and prepare to be addicted. The kick's a bitch but the high is like nothing else in the world.
– Jerry Stahl, author of PERMANENT MIDNIGHT

Opium Fiend is the most engaging memoir of the year. What begins as Steven Martin's search into the lost history of opium—whose trade was once as consequential to empires as oil is today—becomes a harrowing exploration of the liberating, enlightening and enslaving ecstasies of a forbidden pipe. It's not so much a tale of addiction, but of self-immolating obsession. While crafting a spellbinding, literary read, Martin never loses focus of his original aim. Opium Fiend stands as a fascinating, never-before told social history of the poppy blossom’s central place in the rise and fall of nations. As addictive as its subject matter, Opium Fiend should come with a warning that it may lead to lost nights and weekends of intensely pleasurable reading.
– Evan Wright, New York Times best-selling author of GENERATION KILL and HELLA NATION

BUTTERFLY IN THE TYPEWRITER by Cory MacLauchlin and MARILYN by Lois Banner are PW Best Summer Books 2012

The agency is happy to have two books on the Publishers Weekly Best Books of Summer 2012 Staff Pick and Non-Fiction lists, MARILYN: The Passion and the Paradox by Lois Banner (Bloomsbury) and BUTTERFLY IN THE TYPEWRITER: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces by Cory MacLauchlin (Da Capo).

MARILYN will be published simultaneously by Bloomsbury USA and Bloomsbury UK in late July, and PW describes it as "….cutting through the endless Monroe-mania is feminist historian Banner's biography that tells the story that will put the rest to sleep." The author has been blogging about the book on the Huffington Post, and the agency has just concluded a three-way auction for the book in Poland.

BUTTERFLY IN THE TYPEWRITER has garnered a terrific amount of admiration, including:

As a fan of Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, I'm looking forward to reading the first biography to make full use of the Toole papers and interviews with the people who knew the creator of that brilliant misfit, Ignatius J. Reilly. An unexpected bonus: the index lists a real-life brilliant misfit, horror writer H.P. Lovecraft.
 --Peter Cannon

MacLauchlin has created a book that is literary, erudite and accessible all at the same time. He has married scholarship with storytelling, which is not an easy feat.
--Hunter Murphy, Deep South Magazine
Provocative and lovely…a wonderful book.
--Susan Larson, Pulitzer Prize committee member (2012) and host of The Reading Life—WWNO.

...the most thorough and in-depth account of Toole's sad life and posthumous celebration to date. But here's the best part: in addition to being the most comprehensive and accurate biography about the man so far, it's also a gripping read….If you care for the man, and for his grotesque and beloved creations, read this book.

MacLauchlin builds a convincing case that Mr. Toole’s life is one of the most compelling stories in American literary history.
--Larry Cox, Florida Weekly

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Release Party for EAT WITH YOUR HAND by Zak Pelaccio

Zakary Pelaccio's EAT WITH YOUR HANDS (Ecco) will be published on Tuesday, April 17th, and Food Republic and Fatty 'Cue Brooklyn are throwing what promises to be an off-the-hook release party at Powerhouse Arena for Zak, Jori and JJ Goode to celebrate this singular book in true Fatty Crew style.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Peter Gwin Wins Pulitzer Lowell Thomas Award

Many congratulations to client Peter Gwin, who has just won The Lowell Thomas Award for foreign travel writing for his National Geographic piece "The Telltale Scribes of Timbuktu," which appeared in January of last year. Per the announcement, the piece was praised:  As if the subject was not remote and mysterious enough, the writing here is so filled with atmosphere and memorable people it might have been written by John le CarrĂ©. The name itself is a veritable synonym for a place so far removed it epitomizes the other side of the world. And the writer takes us there — with facts, history and unforgettable descriptions.

The piece was written for his Pulitzer Center project Saharan Insecurity, documenting the changing social and political tides of the Sahara region.

The Lowell Thomas Award is sponsored by the Society of American Travel Writers and awards more than $18,000 annually in prize money. Begun in 1985, the award recognizes outstanding print, online, broadcast and multimedia works, and also travel photography. You can view a full list of the award winners here.

Peter has been a staff writer at National Geographic since 2003. He has reported on modern pirates in Southeast Asia, a Stone Age graveyard in the Sahara, early tyrannosaurs in Western China, and kung fu masters of China’s Song Mountains among other subjects. His work has been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing 2008 (Houghton Mifflin) and has been nominated for a National Magazine Award for reporting. He began his career teaching English in Botswana and stringing for his hometown paper, theAtlanta Journal Constitution.