Today in books and publishing: Midnight in Paris didn't have permission for Faulkner quote; "vagina" scandalizes evangelicals; John Grisham read Fifty Shades; Jacques Barzun dies.
Has Woody Allen besmirched the honor of William Faulkner? Woody Allen summoned up the ghosts of expat writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway for his sepia-tinged journey back to bohemian 1920s Paris. William Faulkner, tethered as he was to the American South, didn't make a cameo in Midnight in Paris. But his words did, and slightly altered Faulkner lines spoken by Owen Wilson's character has Faulkner Literary Rights, LLC upset. "The past is not dead! Actually, it's not even past," says Allen's presumed stand-in, Gil Pender, citing Faulkner as the source. (Getting nit-picky, the sentences from Faulkner's novel Requiem for a Nun actually read, "The past is never dead. It's not even past.") The Faulkner estate is suing Sony Pictures Classics and movie exhibitors over the lines, alleging that the companies did not seek copyright permission for the quotes. The suit filed with the U.S. District Court in Mississippi reads:
The use of the infringing quote and of William Faulkner’s name in the infringing film is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, and/or to deceive the infringing film's viewers as to a perceived affiliation, connection or association between William Faulkner and his works, on the one hand, and Sony, on the other hand.
The litigants seek "damages, disgorgment of profits, costs and attorney fees." [The Hollywood Reporter]
Evangelical bookstores to author: take your "vagina" elsewhere. Rachel Held Evans is no heathen. The author of the soon-to-be-released book A Year of Biblical Womanhood is a devout evangelical, yet she finds herself at odds with Christian bookstores. LifeWay Christian Resources has refused to carry her title because of particularly objectionable language: namely, the word "vagina." She was ready to take out mild curse words "damn" and "kick-ass," but she found it impossible to take "vagina" out of her book, which catalogues her attempt to adhere to all of the Bible's rules for women for an entire year. Evans' publisher Thomas Nelson is sticking by her choice to leave the word in. This kind of censorship from Christian booksellers is common and sternly enforced, and Evans is now speaking out against the practice, saying, "Christian bookstores have a chokehold on the Christian publishing industry ... the entire Christian industry has been sanitized, while its best artists look elsewhere for publication." That chokehold might be loosening. Because, as The Daily Beast's David Sessions points out, they're subject to all the tectonic shifts going on in bookselling at large. Online retailers like Amazon could feasibly swallow them up in the near future, especially if they continue to alienate authors and readers who candle handle encountering the word "vagina." [The Daily Beast]
John Grisham wants Obama to read E.L. James. The New York Times Book Review talks with legal thriller novelist John Grisham for this week's edition of "By the Book." Grisham won't call it great, but he says Damien Echols' Life After Death was the "last book that kept me completely engrossed while delivering a powerful story." He's more of a nonfiction guy, boning up on "books and studies on unlawful convictions, unfair trials, overcrowded prisons, prosecutorial misconduct, etc." for research, but still reads most legal thrillers that land on the best-seller lists, "to keep up with the competition." But the best line Grisham drops here has to be his reading recommendation for the President: "Fifty Shades of Grey. Why should he miss all the fun? Plus, it might loosen him up a bit." [The New York Times]
R.I.P. Jacques Barzun. The pioneering cultural historian who once wrote, "Great cultural changes begin in affectation and end in routine," has died at the ripe old age of 104. He's perhaps best known for a book he published in his younger days, as a sprightly 92-year-old, From Dawn to Decadence, a massive tome centered around the argument that Western civilization has been decline steadily since the Renaissance. Born in Paris, he made his name in New York. He spent the last years of his life in San Antonio, Texas, where he no longer felt "boxed in by man and his constructions in Europe and the East." [New York Daily News]
Three new Kathy Reichs books on the way. The forensic anthropologist-turned-novelist whose work inspired the Fox TV show Bones is slated to release three new books. Reichs is sticking with her the heroine of 15 bestsellers, Temperance Brennan, in the upcoming novels, which will begin coming out in 2014. Her latest books have been released through Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, but for this deal Reich has moved to Ballantine Bantam Dell, under Random House. [Deadline]
Are you team #RandomPenguin or #PenguinHouse? Either one of these names for a (kinda scary) Random House-Penguin merger would be amazing. The question is, do you like your mega-publishers to sound like a 4chan meme or a style of Antarctic dance music?