Today in publishing and literature: Deval Patrick wants publishers to give him a second book deal, Errol Morris convinces Stephen King his time travel book isn't about time travel, and the pros and cons of rereadiing.
- Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick reportedly met with publishers in New York in the hopes of selling a new book proposal. In an email sent to supporters, Patrick said the book-to-be would deal with “the politics of conviction," “making choices based on our values" and the always popular "generational responsibility." Those topics have been fairly well-covered in other books from politicians who are seen as potential candidates for national office. Patrick got a $1.35 million advance for his first book that came out this year, so he might know something we don't about what sells these days. [The Boston Globe]
- In addition to reviewing Stephen King's 11/23/63 in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review, documentary filmmaker Errol Morris interviewed King for the paper's Arts Beat blog. It's in Q. and A. format, and we can only hope Morris filmed it using his famous Interrotron camera system. Even without the video, it's a penetrating and thoughtful interview. By the time they're done, Morris seems to have sold King on the fact his big time travel novel isn't about time travel. That's just the hook he uses "to allow us to examine fate, love, memory, history." King agrees, and cites precedent: "It’s like Gulliver’s Travels," King says. "Swift never goes into this big long thing about well, there was a genetic mutation and therefore these people became small, and all the rest. We don’t really care about that. It’s just the idea: they’re there. Then we can use it to examine real life." [Arts Beat]
- (Insert name of media industry) is too New York centric is a common refrain, but it's especially problematic when it comes to publishing. The blog Publishing Perspectives argues the problem isn't that the business is insulated from America, but that it has a habit of pushing novels that are insulated from America. Asks blogger Edward Nawotka: "How many novels can someone in, say, Chicago or Atlanta, read about a twenty-something Manhattan editorial assistant, junior Wall Street trader, or cupcake shop owner in Cobble Hill looking for love?" Local book critics only add to the problem, ignoring regional offerings from smaller publishers out of fear that if they "don’t weigh in on the big important books of the year, they won’t be taken seriously by their more-influential colleagues in New York." There's no guarantee that "a stronger regional publishing community" would prop up sagging sales figures, but it certainly wouldn't hurt. [Publishing Perspectives]
- Reading books is good for you? But what about rereading books ? That's trickier. In her new book On Rereading, former University of Virginia English professor Patricia Meyer Spacks points out the problem rereader who "rereads to stubbornly avoid novelty," and enjoys it because it is "a conservative if comfortable experience, vehemently opposed to the possible shock of the new." The right-minded rereader does so knowing he's indulging in a guilty pleasure. Explains Spacks: "No reader can fail to agree that the number of books she needs to read far exceeds her capacities, but when the passion for rereading kicks in, the faint guilt that therefore attends the indulgence only serves to intensify its sweetness." At The Millions, Lisa Levy agrees. She also cites "double perspective" as another positive aspect of rereading, "especially of reading books from childhood" with a fresh set of eyes, knowledge, and life experience. [The Millions]