Tuesday, March 23, 2010

She Played A Man's Game With A Woman's Weapons

As a young man I read Joseph Conrad’s The Rover, Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Tennyson’s The Coming of Arthur and other worthy literature for my English Lit. exams. I don’t know if I’m better for it.

But I also discovered something else that set this 16 year old’s pulse racing.

Mickey Spillane. His hard-boiled detective, Mike Hammer, I thought was how grown-up men behaved and I tried to put on this hard face in the mirror, like Robert Mitchum. It didn’t work, of course, because I couldn’t keep it up and I looked ridiculous. It took a while to discover it wasn’t who I was.

But I loved them all the same. Those trashy covers always had a vamp, shoulders bared, seducing some tough guy in a tux. In those days you couldn’t read them in public, or in front of your mum.

Now those pulp fiction covers are treated by some as art. And I agree. They sell for a hundred times their original cover price at auction. But some of their authors may surprise you.

For instance, who is this from a novel called You Asked For It?

“If he hadn’t been a tough operator, Jimmy Bond would never have risked a weekend with a woman who used her magnificent body as a weapon to destroy him…

But it was a toughness that landed Jimmy his job with the Secret Service.”

Yes, it’s our own James Bond. The book was re-issued as Casino Royale but Ian Fleming had to take what he could as a new writer in 1955, and the cover art that went with it. He later wrote Chitty, Chitty, Bang Bang, his only children’s book.

Now, You Asked For It, sells at $144.99 on Amazon.com

Chitty, Chitty sells from $.22 on the same site to £1,200 as a first edition on Jonkers Rare Books. Here, incidentally, if you have a spare £22,500 you can also buy Joseph Conrad’s Under Western Eyes, 1911 version.

Here’s another. The book is called, Nude Croquet and is a book of short stories.

Authors? W. Somerset Maugham, Alberto Moravia, Leslie A Fielder, William Faulkner, and John Cheever.

The sensational covers don’t reflect the text inside. These were the days of censorship. One publisher, Sanford E. Aday, was sentenced to 25 years under the Obcenity Act for publishing The Sex Life of a Cop, a novel. Now that book’s asking price at auction is $200 and California State University houses a collection of his works.

If you want to know more of these days of State intervention, the man to tell you is the renowned Stephen J. Gertz. His fascinating piece is here.

I guess the moral of this story is to be thankful for your first publisher, however lowly. Who knows what it could lead to?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Kindle for Mac

Amazon.com have just released their new programme, Kindle for Mac. Us Mac owners can now download it for free and gain access to all Amazon's burgeoning Kindle e-book list without owning a Kindle.
Wouldn't be anything to do with Apple's iPad release, would it? All those supposed newspapers and magazines soon to be available, designed for the big screen iPad?

I say it's a welcome addition to the growing e-book armoury.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Grisham goes e-book? Catch 22.

Great news for John Grisham fans like me. After a year of reluctance our thriller godfather has finally been dragged to the e-altar, ready to wed his 22 titles to our e-readers.

John didn’t like the idea of “putting all those bricks-and–mortar bookstalls out of business with my downloads.” Oh, God, where have we heard all this before? What a threat us e-reader owners must be! A whole 3% of the market. We aren’t contagious, just different.

All Mr Grisham’s titles are available, says Random House in The New York Times. Hurry now! says Sony Readers Store in an email rushed to my mail box this Tuesday 16th March. Google trumpets the news on it’s pages.

Excellent! I eagerly click through to purchase for my Sony PRS700.

Err.. sorry, you don’t have an American address? No Grisham.

Knowing Sony is Waterstone’s in the UK, I click on to them. Grisham in e-books? Never heard of such a thing. Nothing showing here.

Must be on Amazon.co.uk, I think, and click through to them. They show a CD with 17 titles available in pdf format. We used to sell it but we don’t sell it now, it says. Try Amazon USA Kindle.

I move on to the US on Amazon.com. Grisham for kindle? Yes, of course. All 22.

So, a fanfare launch of mega proportions of the top dog in the genre to excite us thriller loving e-readers and - no product ready to buy on the day outside America.

Isn’t that just typical of the disjointed, convoluted, e-publishing industry? Please sort it out, guys. We all read the internet worldwide. We are all here waiting to thrust pounds and euros in your back pockets – please don’t treat us like urchins with our chins on the USA counter.

Population of America 307 million. Population of the world 6.8 billion.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

You won't understand this if you're under 40

Many women are returning to work after having a family. But are the old skills still there? Is there anything new to be learned in this unfamiliar new workplace?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Last Train From Hiroshima

It's not often that the story behind the writing of a book is worth writing a book about. Here's one that has all the ingredients of a novel, and then a movie.

Author Charles Pellegrino has an impressive CV. Scientific consultant to director James Cameron on the blockbuster movies Avatar and Titanic. Credited with supplying the science recipe for cloning dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. He has authored or co-authored 18 books. What could go wrong, you ask?

Plenty. His latest non fiction book, The Last Train from Hiroshima, was snapped up by publisher Henry Holt & Co, a Macmillan company, for a huge advance. The said James Cameron then bought the film rights. The book delves into the world's first atomic bomb attack on that blighted city in Japan that ended the second world war and killed 140,000 people. The B-29 bomber was named Enola Gay, after the pilot's mother. The pilot was Colonel Paul Tibbetts, considered the best flier in the US Army Airforce. He was Dwight D. Eisenhower's personal pilot.

Ship designer Tsutomo Yamaguchi was one of the few who survived the blast. He fled by train for the safe haven of Nagasaki. And he survived that atomic holocaust, too.

All amazing stuff. Then the bugs blow in. The New York Times hunts Pellegrino's 'source.' A man named Joseph Fuoco who claimed to be on an escort plane with the Enola Gay. But he wasn't. He was an impostor, unmasked by the family of the real escort crewman, James Corliss who even got a medal for it.

Mr Pellegrino, of course, is stunned. Wouldn't we all be? "This book is a Toyota," said atomic historian, Robert S. Norris. Pellegrino's publisher asks the author for more details of a priest he describes in the book allegedly presiding over the funeral of a Hiroshima resident. The answer the author gives doesn't satisfy them. Holt & Co have to respond to a question from AP and say, "author Charles Pellegrino was not able to answer concerns about Last Train to Hiroshima, including whether two men mentioned in the book actually existed."

The inevitable digging into the author's background begins. Allegations surface that his Ph.D, earned in 1982 from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, is suspect. The institution tells reporters they have no record of his qualification. The author explains this as political maneuvering by rivals. He offers a re-write of 'Hiroshima' updating the missing details.

Avatar Director James Cameron comes out in support of his friend, Pellegrino. "All I know is that Charlie would not fabricate, so there must be a reason for the misunderstanding."

The publisher states. "It is with deep regret that Henry Holt & Company announces that we will not print, correct or ship copies of Charles Pellegrino's The Last Train from Hiroshima. It is easy to understand how even the most diligent author could be duped by a source, but we also understand that opens that book to very detailed scrutiny."

I don't know the rights or wrongs of it but I'm SO pleased I'm a fiction author. Henrietta Fox and Cass Farraday in my Fox & Farraday Mysteries are just figments of my fevered imagination. Honest!