Today in literature: one of the West Memphis Three gets a book deal, a decision tree flowchart to the best science fiction books ever, and Haruki Murakami's book will feature levitating clocks.
- Damien Echols -- one of the so-called 'West Memphis Three' -- will write a memoir for Penguin imprint Blue Rider Summit about his 18-years in prison prior to being released over the summer. Echols wrote a book in 2005 called My Life Story So Far that detailed his life on death row. The press release says the untitled book is scheduled for publication next September and will include his "account of the trial proceedings and eighteen years spent on death row, including his personal and public quest for exoneration, his prison diaries, and accounts of support from his wife" and high-profile figures like Eddie Vedder, Johnny Depp, and Peter Jackson who brought attention to the questionable circumstances surrounding his incarceration. [GalleyCat]
- NPR unveiled its list of the hundred best science-fiction books back in August. Like so many lists of one hundred things, it was difficult to imagine how you'd get from Dune (No. 4) to Flowers for Algernon (No. 38). With the list now presented in flow chart form by SFSignal.com, the whole procedure becomes chillingly logical and efficient, like a scene from a book that didn't quite make the list. [SF Signal via CoolInfoGraphics]
- John Banville won the Man Booker Prize in 2005 for The Sea and his name was prominently featured on the press release for The Literature Prize, a hypothetical literary award that backers say will pick up the slack for the Man Booker and recognize titles of "quality and ambition," assuming funding can be secured. In a statement yesterday, Banville didn't sound like someone fired up and ready to shake some Man Booker cages. He also didn't seem to mind chairman Stella Rimmington saying the panel was evaluating texts on how "readable" they were, in addition to their merits. "I am told," said Banville, "that someone attached to the Man Booker this year spoke of the need for novels with more 'readability' -- a peculiar term -- but whether this indicates a fall in standards I don't know." He continued, "I lent my name to the new venture because I respect Andrew Kidd, who used to be my editor at Picador, and because I'd be very glad if there were to be a prize meant specifically for 'literary fiction', though this is another term I find peculiar." Booker judge Matthew D’Ancona also helped defuse the possibility of a literary street fight yesterday, telling The Independent: “The more prizes there are the better. Good luck to them. I certainly don’t take it as a hostile intervention. I hope it thrives." [The Independent]
- If you're unclear what Haruki Murakami's newly-translated novel 1Q84 is about even after reading that lengthy excerpt in The New Yorker and CNN's interview with Murakami's translator, you're not alone. We've found it helpful to read each big Murakami feature and pull out all the specific plot points. From The Guardian alone, we learn it's "a gripping realistic narrative with the kind of bonkers surrealism – levitating clocks, exploding dogs, an entity called the "Little People" which emerge through the mouth of a dead goat – designed to pull the reader up short and wonder if it isn't all nonsense." This seems silly, but it's helpful, especially if you're new to Murakami. The message is, don't be intimidate: he's a levitating clocks/exploding dogs/'Little People' type of big, important novelist. [The Guardian]