Odds and Ends

I am writing from a waterlogged North Carolina, where Ernesto is holding us captive in our house with two-foot high water going all the way to our front door. Tomorrow we attempt to move to a new house which will hopefully be on higher ground! Thankfully, I am still “borrowing” internet access from the neighbor, so here’s a quick post.

I have come across some interesting bits of news in my reading this week (which has unfortunately consisted more of magazines than books), which I wanted to share.

First, from The New York TImes comes this news (subscription required): Hyperion is launching a new book imprint called Voice, which “is specifically focusing on women from their mid-30’s and older and will have a resolutely anti-chick-lit bent” (emphasis added). More on the new division:

[Hyperion publisher Ellen] Archer said she wanted to start Voice, in part, to publish books that addressed issues she felt were largely ignored by the news media. “I felt that I, as a 44-year-old woman, working, married and a mother, did not see my life reflected in any of the media stories,” she said, referring to newspaper and magazine articles chronicling the battles between working and stay-at-home mothers and the choices that educated women were making to quit their careers to raise families. “I wanted to create a demographic of women in their mid-30’s to later that could better illustrate the landscape of a woman’s life.”

[Co-founder Pamela] Dorman said she viewed the new imprint as being “kind of like a book group giving an imprimatur” to new titles. “People are overwhelmed by choice, and what they want is someone who is self-selecting for them,” she said. “We want to find people that they may not otherwise find and highlight them.”

To help Voice pinpoint what women want, Ms. Archer and Ms. Dorman have recruited a panel of 10 professional women to meet twice a year. Members include Subha Barry, a vice president in charge of global diversity for Merrill Lynch; Ellen Levine, editorial director of Hearst Magazines; and Candace Bushnell, a novelist. (Ms. Archer said Ms. Bushnell has evolved from writing chick lit.) Voice also plans to ask each of these women for the names of about 50 friends and colleagues to send copies of the books to help create buzz.

OK, how do I get on that panel???? I would love that.

Second, I wanted to share the news that Tom Perotta’s Little Children, which I discussed here and deemed a “Screenplay Book,” has been made into a movie.  According to Entertainment Weekly, it opens in October and stars Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson. It was directed by Todd Field, who also directed 2001’s In the Bedroom.

FHome_landinally, I have removed a book from my “Now Reading” list at right, and it’s not because I finished it. I try not to make a habit out of doing this, but I am giving up midstream on Home Land by Sam Lipsyte.  The premise is promising: an underachiever in his late 30s writes a long series of notes to his high school alumni newsletter about how badly his life turned out. (If you, like me, scrutinize your own alumni magazine with a fair dose of disgust, you can understand why I got this book.)  The writer, Sam Lipsyte is clearly talented; at times, his writing reminded me of Nabakov’s in Lolita, especially given the “Dear Reader” construct, the confessional tone, and Lipsyte’s way with language.  But I am giving up on it because it is simply too dark, not compelling, and a bit too self-conscious. Lipsyte is trying too hard to be funny, and it gets tiresome after a while.  There are too many other good books out there to read!

Has anyone out there read Home Land and had a different opinion?

That’s it from NC for now. More next week, I hope!