Mergers, Revelations and Glorious Kooks

The Independent notes that separate literary entities are being killed by their corporate parents. HarperCollins recently killed off Flamingo (home to Ballard, Lessing & Coupland) and Random House threw Harvill into Secker & Warburg, turning it into “Secker Harvill” and forever expunging Warburg, Orwell’s publisher, from the label. When asked about how this will alter diversity, a HarperCollins rep replied, “What do you think literary fiction is? Some kind of affirmative action?” In unrelated news, Bell Curve authors Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray are said to be at work on a new book, The Book Curve, whereby 1,000 pages are devoted to explaining why popular fiction sells more than literary fiction, and proving that some publishing executives have less attention span than the average reader. (via Literary Saloon)

Maud has been interviewed by the Gothamist. Among some of the more interesting revelations: Maud turned down the lead in an Off Broadway revival of The Verdict. Every morning, Maud practices her jujitsu on waterbugs that have a mean height of six feet. (Mr. Maud apparently cowers from anything remotely entomological.) Maud also single-handedly disarmed a posse of Remington-firing Confederates in Brooklyn. She reports that her combat moves were inspired by Carrie-Anne Moss kicking butt in The Matrix.

The Sydney Morning Herald interviews Isabel Allende. Allende’s quite the eccentric: She starts all of her books on January 8, she thinks about Zorro while having sex with her husband, and holes up in her office writing for 8 to 10 hours a day without speaking to a single soul. She also dresses funky, though the Herald couldn’t get specific answers on this end. I wish I was making this paragraph up, but I’m not.

In one of the most anticlimactic journalism moves seen from the Grey Lady this month, the Times reports that the Doyle-Joyce fracas is simmering. Really? 1,000 words to state the obvious in a major newspaper? Sign me up.

The Independent talks to Marjorie Blackman. Her Noughts & Crosses children’s book trilogy examines race relations in an unknown country.

Regina Taylor’s Drowning Crow looks like a fascinating update of Chekhov’s The Seagull. If you’re in New York, it’s playing at the Biltmore. The Times also has a 26-second video excerpt of Alfre Woodard giving Anthony Mackie hell.

And Stephen Fry goes nuts: He’s called the Hilton sisters “a pair of bloody whippets,” Sting “false,” and damns Americans for believing that the key to happiness is thinking about themselves. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortuantely, given the recent Dean demise), Fry wasn’t running for public office.

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