Today in books and publishing: An unpublished Kurt Vonnegut novella is now available as a Kindle Single, Steven Millhauser is your Story Prize winner, and Stephen King's introduction to the eight Dark Tower book has been posted online.
A previously unpublished 22,000 word Kurt Vonnegut novella called Basic Training is getting the Kindle Single treatment, courtesy of RosettaBooks. According to the publisher, Vonnegut wrote the book "about 60 years ago" and intended to publish it under the pseudonym Mark Harvey, so as not to upset the apple cart at General Electric, where he had a job in the publicity department. Like most of Vonnegut's longer work, the plot is hazy at best it involves a young hero named Haley Brandon who visits "the farm of his relative, an old crazy who insists upon being called The General, who means to teach Haley to become a straight-shooting American" and realizes his "only means of survival will lead him to unflagging defiance of the General’s deranged values." From that rather thin-sounding soup, Rosetta promises, Vonnegut delves into "the lunacy of kings, the improbability of existence, the yearling hero’s struggle with duty and love, and the meaning of heroism," which could explain why he couldn't sell it to the likes of McCall's and The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s. His first novel, Player Piano, was eventually published in 1952.
The "public safety officials" of Aiken, South Carolina have sensibly closed a criminal investigation into an unnamed middle school teacher who was placed on administrative leave earlier this month for reading excerpts of the Orson Scott Card novel Ender's Game to students. It seems a parent claimed the book, which is listed in the "teen section" of Barnes & Noble's online store, was "pornographic," which doesn't make a lick of sense. The school board is still investigating the teacher, who also apparently read an Agatha Christie novel to the class, and probably had The Red Badge of Courage lined up next. [Aiken Standard via Galleycat]
Steven Millhauser edged out Don DeLillo and Edith Pearlman to win the 2011 Story Prize for his short-fiction collection We Others: New and Selected Stories. Millhauser won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1997 for his novel Martin Dressler, a dreamy tribute to 19th century America and wide-eyed optimists who build empires out of cigar stands. Millhauser will receive $20,000 for winning the hugely prestigious tiny fiction award, plus a silver bowl. DeLillo and Pearlman get $5,000 and no bowl.. [Jacket Copy]
If you like Stephen King's backstory intensive Dark Tower novels, here's the author's introduction for the upcoming eight installment in the series, The Wind Through the Keyhole, which is scheduled to be published April 24. Even if you haven't been keeping up on Mid-World and the doings "a billy-bumbler named Oy...a golden-eyed creature native to Mid-World," it's always nice to hear from King, who never fails to give a tip of the hat to his beloved Constant Reader. We like feeling involved in the process. [Facebook]