After a long hiatus, we’re back with what’s moving and shaking in the literary and publishing world. In addition to several upcoming book awards and publishing fairs here are a few items that caught my eye over the past few weeks.
— While Bob Dylan is up for a National Book Critics Circle prize (winners will be announced March 18), another music legend is making news in the publishing world. Yes, Sean “P. Diddy – Puff Daddy – Puffy – Bad Boy for Life” Combs is being sued by Random House over a dispute in which the publishing company claims Puffy decided just to keep the $300k advance it paid for his memoirs — which he never completed. I’m sure he’s been busy writing his stories of J. Lo, meeting the Bushes and flamboyant awards show arrivals and parties. I think he just didn’t want to overshadow the success of Dylan’s Chronicles, Vol. 1.
— On the Road again … Earlier this month, the 120-foot long scroll of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road manuscript was again unfurled — this time at the University of Iowa Museum of Art. Fans can catch a glimpse of the yellowed and fairly tattered literary artifact in Iowa City through March 12, then the scroll will continue its four year national tour of museums and libraries.
— Possibly destined for a paper mill near you … the towering oak that was known as “Kesey’s Tree” in Menlo Park, CA fell victim to root rot last month. What would later become a local shrine to Ken Kesey, the gnarled oak reportedly shaded the cottage where Kesey began writing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
— Speaking of rot, this just in from the “please stop making horrible movies from books” department: It seems that the screenplay adaptation of Jonathan Franzen’s novel The Corrections is floating around for review. And the reviews aren’t good — what a surprise. While I personally didn’t care for this “must-read” novel, I’m not sure I want to someday find out that one (or all) of its characters will be played by Tom Hanks.
— As many of you know, former president Bill Clinton won a spoken-word Grammy Sunday night for My Life. What you may not know … in an effort not to be outdone, the rumor is that John Ashcroft may have his eye on another national office — Poet Laureate. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.
— What are they doing in the Hemingway House? Fear of being overrun with tourists has prompted Ketchum, Idaho residents to attempt to buy and move the last home of Ernest Hemingway. In 1961, Hemingway shot and killed himself in the concrete and wood house. The Idaho Hemingway House Foundation (which boasts Tom Hanks, ahem, as a board member) hopes to open the house to the public and opposes the move.
Of course the biggest news this week was the death of playwright Arthur Miller. We’ll be posting a retrospective on his impact and career on Monday, but in the meantime — which literary news items and events are on your mind today?