In this month's edition of The New Dork's list of interesting, fun or just silly literary stories, Dayton, Ohio hands out a literary prize, for some reason. President Obama causes a literary stir. And James Patterson is richer than God.
"James Patterson" Makes $70 Million — In one year, Patterson, who tops the list of most-earning authors, made roughly the payroll of an entire mid-tier Major League Baseball team. You know how much I made in one year of periodically making fun of Patterson on this blog? Zero. Advantage: Patterson. Patterson's name "emblazons" one out of every 17 books sold in the U.S. He (and his "team of collaborators") publishes eight books per year. Amazing. Good on you, James.
2. Obama Causes Literary Stir — When President Obama was spotted leaving a Martha's Vineyward bookstore with a copy of Jonathan Franzen's new novel Freedom — which doesn't go on sale until next Tuesday — Franzen fans all over the country damn near lost their minds. Apparently, bookstores were inundated with folks who thought they, too, could get the book early. But then it was revealed that Obama's copy was an ARC, so then most people (except, apparently, the one gentleman who was somewhat indignant) relaxed again to settle in to wait until the 31st.
Picoult and Weiner State Their Cases — Earlier this week, best-selling female novelist Jodi Picoult caused a kerfuffle when she tweeted that the NY Times's positive review of Franzen's new novel proves that the paper only likes its "white male literary darlings." Uh huh. Anyway, the story touched off a gigantic e-argument about, as best I can tell, why the NY Times hates women and popular fiction. Thankfully (thankfully!), the Huffington Post allowed Picoult and another famous female novelist, Jennifer Weiner, to state their cases. Since like 95 percent of my readers are women, I'm treading lightly here. LIGHTLY! So, I'll say this: Picoult's comments, for the most part were thoughtful and interesting, I thought. But some of Weiner's comments are so powerfully stupid they practically drool.
4. Literary Dayton — Look, I lived in Dayton, Ohio for two years, and that city giving out a literary prize is a bit like Milwaukee handing out a prize for sobriety or Chicago handing out a prize ethical government and physical fitness. And what's more, it's a lifetime literary achievement award! At least the novelist who won — Geraldine Brooks — is a well-deserving recipient. It just slayed me that Dayton, Ohio, whose public schools were ranked last in the state of Ohio both years I lived there, and whose only downtown bookstore is called Exotic Fantasies, would hand out a literary prize. Stranger things have happened, I suppose. But not much stranger.
5. The Ape's List for the Textually Diseased — I loved this post from The Reading Ape about strange (or normal?) habits of obsessive readers. Read the comments — you'll find it heartening to learn you're not alone in your literary quirkiness. My favorite comment was Kenneth Griggs, who says he uses the same bookmark over and over again, until he reads a bad book. Kind of like a baseball player wearing the same underwear during a hitting streak. I've actually had the same bookmark since 2004 — it's a ticket stub (now, well taped up) from a Marquette basketball game.
6. Help Other Book Blogs — Cool idea on Twitter today (pointed out by Man of La Book): Use the hashtag #helpotherbookblogs and tweet a review from another book blogger you enjoyed. By the way, you can find me on Twitter here.