Today in books and literature: Carrie Brownstein gets a book deal, the last edition of Encylopaedia Britannica is flying off shelves, John Grisham has a humble brag, and precocious kids discover self-publishing.
Portlandia co-star Carrie Brownstein announced that she will publish a memoir with Riverhead Books that will tell "her life in music, from ardent fan to pioneering female guitarist to comedic performer and luminary of the independent rock world," according to the publisher. That sounds like standard boiler-plate celebrity memoir stuff, but Brownstein's proven her writing ability with pieces in Slate and elsewhere, so there's hope! Plus, fans of Portlandia might get some behind-the-scenes dope. We're particularly excited to hear her take on her friendship with co-star Fred Armisen which, as described in a recent New Yorker piece, is intense and quirky. Happy writings, Ms. Brownstein. [Media Bistro]
Apparently America's tendency not to know a good thing till it's gone extends to thousand dollar encyclopedia sets. After announcing the end of its print edition, Encylopaedia Britannica has seen a huge spike in sales, as suddenly ardent fans snap up the last-ever edition of a cultural behemoth. The New York Times reports that they are now selling about 130 sets a week for $1,395 where before the announcement they sold only about 60 sets a week. Set aside your surprise that even 60 people a week wanted to buy a set of encyclopedias, and you'll agree that it's quite the sales bump. Meanwhile, for those wondering what possible place Encylopaedia Britannica will have in the wilds of the web, check out L. Gordon Crovitz's thoughtful Wall Street Journal piece as highlighted in our Five Best Columns last month. Long live Encylopaedia. [New York Times]
John Grisham is engaging in a small bit of Monday morning quarterbacking and an epic bit of humble bragging in The Daily Beast. He rues his decision to purchase 1,000 copies of his first novel A Time to Kill back in 1989 and hand them out like candy. The book's first edition only saw a run of 5,000 copies, thus, in light of his ensuing mega-success, each first edition copy now fetches about $4,000. Poor Grisham! If only he'd foreseen his rise to literary super-stardom and hoarded the novel that nobody wanted! Somehow we think the tens of million he pulls in now have somewhat eased the pain. A humble brag, perhaps, but this is a fun little story of "what if." [The Daily Beast]
A Sunday New York Times front-pager on precocious little kids who self-publish their novels has elicited some snark on the web. How else did they expect us to respond to the tweeny children whose parents use newly popular self-publishing imprints to turn their children into authors? Especially when the aforementioned tweens say lofty things like, "the first time I held my own book, it was just this amazing feeling." The piece is particularly debatable as it intersects the viral, never-ending arguments over parenting techniques, equality of opportunity, and self-publishing. We say, laugh at the effrontery of 14-year-old Ben Heckmann all you like, but he made back his "advance" and more by selling 700 copies of his novels. Next stop: (home) movie deal. [The New York Times]
Sunday marked the start of National Poetry Month. We considered writing this entire update in verse, but well, we think too highly of you for that. Instead, we'll just celebrate with a poem we like. Here's "What Work Is" from the poet laureate, Philip Levine. Happy April.