Archive for January, 2009

Yiyun Li Doesn’t Lie

Published on January 29, 2009

Well, The Vagrants, the long-awaited new novel by mega-mondo-multi-award-winning author Yiyun Li, has finally arrived. Li, who now lives in California, was born in Beijing in 1972, so she grew up during the last gasp of the Cultural Revolution and saw much of its aftermath. Thus this novel, uh, doesn’t make communism look good. At [...]

Berkeley’s Library Runs Afoul of Peace & Justice

Published on January 27, 2009

This is one of those only-in-Berkeley stories. The public library in this self-congratulatorily radical California town is locking horns with the local “Peace and Justice Commission” (I know, I know) “over whether a service contract for the book check-out system violates the city’s nuclear-free ordinance,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “The dispute centers on [...]

Kaye Gibbons Faces Drug Charges

Published on January 26, 2009

  Kaye Gibbons, author of the bestselling 1987 novel Ellen Foster – an Oprah’s Book Club selection written in the voice of a preteen and set amid scenes of domestic violence — is set to appear today before a North Carolina judge on prescription drug fraud charges, according to the Fayetteville Observer: ”The 48-year-old was charged in November [...]

I Wish True-Crime Books Were Written Better

Published on January 23, 2009

Those plump little mass-market books about actual murders comprise the bulk of the true-crime genre. For every gorgeously written nonfiction account of homicide — every In Cold Blood, as it were — you’ll find a thousand of the more pedestrian kind whose covers usually shout “Illustrated with shocking photographs,” churned out monthly by St. Martin’s [...]

Author of Fake Memoir Murdered

Published on January 21, 2009

  The author of a popular memoir that was later revealed to be fraudulent has now been murdered, his body found in a Belgian garage, according to the Daily Mail. Using the pseudonym Tom Carew, Philip Sessarego claimed in Jihad! The Secret War in Afghanistan that he was an ex-British Special Forces (SAS) agent highly trained in [...]

Arrested Author Says Coke Wasn’t for Him

Published on January 19, 2009

A University of Florida associate professor of anthropology whose books include Time and Memory in Indigenous Amazonia and The Ecology of Power: Culture, Place and Personhood in the Southern Amazon was arrested last Saturday night on cocaine charges in Gainesville, according to FirstCoastNews. “An officer driving toward 46-year-old Michael Heckenberger saw him toss a small bag [...]

Bookseller Arrested for Stocking Book Disliked by Muslims

Published on January 15, 2009

A bookseller in India has been arrested for the heinous crime of stocking a book that allegedly contained “objectional references to Islam,” and its publisher has been interrogated by police, according to today’s Hindustan Times. How is this even possible in an allegedly free country? It happened after the chief cleric of a mosque complained to [...]

Adam and Eve Get It On

Published on January 13, 2009

You know that current trend in which historical novels have, as their protagonists, actual celebrities who actually lived? A certain sector of novelists “re-animates” such flesh-and-blood people as Sappho, Thomas Jefferson and Arthur Conan Doyle. Last week we got a new one in which Jack London gallivants around Hawaii. Well, now there’s a new twist [...]

Thailand’s Last Executioner Tells All

Published on January 9, 2009

  Thailand’s last prison executioner, Chavoret Jaruboon, fired eight bullets into a rapist and murderer in 2002. It was his fifty-fifth execution, and the last of its kind. (Executions in Thailand are now done by lethal injection.) He tells all in The Last Executioner, a memoir written in English with coauthor Nicola Price. “Those who had nothing to lose – those [...]

Sixty Books About Bovines

Published on January 8, 2009

I’ve always admired authors who have specialties: they’re experts; they’re the go-to guys and gals on their given subjects, and they devote their lives to studying, experiencing, and writing about this one little facet of the world. New Zealand veterinarian Graham Meadows is one of those. He has co-authored more than sixty books for children and [...]