Today in books and publishing: Total Recall doesn't recall scandals; Amazon-affiliated book appears on B&N shelves; Günter Grass angers Israel again; the year's most challenged books.
Arnold pumps himself up in memoir. If celebrities aren't going to treat those fans faithful enough to read their memoirs to a juicy passage or two, then what's the point? The reviews of Arnold Schwarzenegger's new book Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story make it sound like an insufferable puff piece, eliding any real comment on the affair he carried on with his housekeeper in favor of self-aggrandizing PR. "Although an exhaustive and at times exhausting documentation of Schwarzenegger's unique and amazing career, it is a book almost completely devoid of self-examination," writes the Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara. "For all the salacious behavior that has been attributed to and admitted by Schwarzenegger over the years, he portrays himself as a reasonable, earnest kind of guy who has merely made a few high-spirited mistakes, none of which he cares to discuss here." So if you were expecting this 656-page tome to shed some light on the sexual harassment allegations Schwarzenegger has continued to doge, or why he hid the child he conceived with his housekeeper from his ex-wife Maria Shriver, don't bother. "Secrecy is just a part of me," he writes nearly 600 pages into this "tell-all." If, however, you're looking for the former California governor's advice on how to succeed, you're in luck! Flip to the last chapter, "Arnold's Rules." [Los Angeles Times]
Barnes & Noble decides to sell Amazon-affiliated books after all. Earlier this year, Barnes & Noble drew a line in the sand. Facing steep competition from Amazon, they and other booksellers vowed never to sell titles affiliated with Amazon Publishing in their stores. Barnes & Noble spokesperson Mary Carey confirmed that the embargo would include all books released by New Harvest, a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint that puts out Amazon titles. But there must be some way to skirt that prohibition, because New Harvest's My Mother Was Nuts: A Memoir by Penny Marshall is on Barnes & Noble shelves, as Melville House's Kelly Burdick notes. "On Saturday, I spotted the book at the Barnes & Noble at 86th Street and Lexington Avenue," Burdick writes, "on a front-of-store table display, no less." Barnes & Noble isn't selling the e-book version of Marshall's memoir, but the chain's recent deal with Ingram will soon make Amazon e-books available through Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo. [Melville House]
Günter Grass pens another Israel-baiting work. The Nobel Prize-winning author of The Tin Drum earned himself a spot on Israel's persona non-grata list earlier this year with his poem "What Must Be Said." In that work, he writes, "Israel's atomic power endangers / an already fragile world peace." Now, the 84-year-old author has written another poem critical of Israel, "A Hero in Our Time." The new poem praises Mordechai Vanunu, who leaked information on Israeli nuclear weapons program to British reporters in 1986, and spent the next 18 years in jail. Grass's fiction often deals with Germany's struggle to come to terms with its Nazi past, and many inevitably say that his criticisms of Israel are tinged by his nation's history of anti-Semitism. His stand against Israel is further shaded by the 2006 revelation that Grass served in Hitler's Waffen SS as a teenager. [The Globe and Mail]
The year's most challenged books, in one infographic. Banned Books Week started yesterday, and as they do every year, the American Library Association has released their list of the most banned and challenged books in the U.S. for 2012. The Huffington Post packaged the information in a handy interactive graphic that allows you to explore which titles were banned for which reasons. For example, The Hunger Games has come under fire for "violence," "anti-ethnic," "occult/satanic," "offensive language," "insensitivity," and "anti-family." [Huffington Post]
One-star reviews of classic literature. Surely these reviews aren't sock-puppet attacks on competitors as the authors have long been laid to rest. So the reviewers must simply detest the books. Why else would someone write of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, "Get off your high horse you pathetic first year English students and admit, THIS BOOK IS WORSE THAN AIDS!" (Because someone is a "Hyper-hypo," apparently.) [The New Republic]
Dayton Literary Peace Prize winners. It may not be on quite the same level as nabbing a Nobel Peace Prize, but receiving a Dayton Literary Peace Prize puts writers in the same league as Elie Wiesel, Studs Terkely, and Junot Díaz, so it's nothing to shrug off. Now in its sixth year, the Daytons have announced their 2012 recipients. Andrew Krivak won for his novel The Sojourn, and Adam Hochschild won for his nonfiction book To End All Wars. Next month, they'll attend a ceremony in Dayton, Ohio and receive $10,000. [The New York Times]