The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Chuck Palahniuk says he is working on a sequel to Fight Club, his 1996 cult novel about underground fighting matches. The sequel, which will be a "dark and messy" graphic novel series, doesn't yet have a publisher. Palahniuk wrote in a message to his fan page: "It will likely be a series of books that update the story ten years after the seeming end of Tyler Durden. Nowadays, Tyler is telling the story, lurking inside Jack, and ready to launch a come-back. Jack is oblivious. Marla is bored. Their marriage has run aground on the rocky coastline of middle-aged suburban boredom. It's only when their little boy disappears, kidnapped by Tyler, that Jack is dragged back into the world of Mayhem."
- James Lasdun writes about how, as a young man working at a publishing house, he turned down a manuscript written by "Jane Somers" — who unbeknownst to him was actually the Nobel laureate Doris Lessing writing under a pseudonym. Lasdun says: "None of my bosses ever criticized me for my report, but occasionally at parties people would say, in scandalized tones, "Weren't you the reader who...." I was arrogant enough to shrug it off, but I must have felt stung at some level because, consciously or not, I reacted by setting up an untraversable barricade in my mind against Doris Lessing. I wouldn't — couldn't -- go near her work from then on."
- Stephen Hawking's new memoir, My Brief History, is due out Sept. 10. According to Publisher's Weekly, it is the first book that Hawking, who has a motor neuron disease, wrote unaided, thanks to technological advances.
- James Surowiecki argues in The New Yorker that Barnes & Noble may not be as doomed as we all think it is: "[T]he hastily written obituaries left out some important facts. To begin with, B. & N.'s retail business still makes good money, and, though its sales fell last year, its profits actually rose."
- Jonathan Galassi, the publisher and president of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, reflects on changes at the legendary publishing house: "Yes, the contemporary publishing environment is very different: disappearing bookstores, inimical trading "partners," and a still-consolidating industry (the new Penguin Random House is set to publish more than 15,000 books next year worldwide) in a 'mature,' i.e., declining, market. There are too many books and readers with too little time to read, and too much competition for anything with a chance of exciting their wavering interest. Everything is different — except for publishing itself: getting hold of an amazing author, working to make his or her book the best and best-looking it can be, telling the world."