Joan Rivers Takes on Costco; McSweeney's and Beck Go Retro

David Wagner
Joan Rivers Takes on Costco; McSweeney's and Beck Go Retro

Today in books and publishing: McSweeney's launches a pro-Obama site; the future of UNO Press unclear; Joan Rivers compares Costco to Nazi Germany. 

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UNO Press on indefinite hiatus. The University of New Orleans press isn't the only university press to fold recently. Budget strapped schools often hone in on vulnerable publishing houses during belt-tightening times. The university laid off longtime UNO Press director Bill Lavender, but says that the press will be revived at some point in the future. In a press release, the school states: "It is currently on a brief hiatus, during which time it will be accepting no new manuscripts while the administration reviews the UNO Press' business plan." Though university officials cite huge budget cuts in their reasoning for their decision, professors, students and writers have expressed anger over the move. A petition circulating to reinstate Lavender reads, "UNO Press, under the guidance of director Bill Lavender, has an extraordinary range and keen sense for the scholarship and creative work which needs to be available." [Publishers Weekly]

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McSweeney's in full swing for Obama. Dave Eggers and a crew of usual McSweeney's suspects have launched a website in support of Barack Obama's reelection. For the next three months leading up to election day, a daily essay will be posted on the site detailing why readers should vote for Obama. The site launched today with a piece from Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard, who discusses his lesbian sister and Obama's support for same-sex marriage. [90 Days, 90 Reasons]

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Speaking of McSweeney's... The publishing house will release Beck's new album, which is more of a book than an album, really. Beck Hansen's Song Reader will feature sheet music for 20 new Beck songs, none of them ever recorded by Beck. Nostalgia for vinyl is one thing, but pining for the pre-recording era of music? Now that's twee. []

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On the awkwardness of tackling technology in fiction. Writers can and should depict e-mailing and texting in fiction, argues The Millions' Allison K. Gibson. "Despite all the trouble technology might cause, when it’s absent from contemporary novels, a big white elephant appears on the page and starts ambling around." [The Millions]

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Joan Rivers won't go down without a fight. Costco picked a fight with the wrong former talk show host. The retail giant decided not to carry Joan Rivers' new book I Hate Everyone… Starting With Me because of some racy quotes on the back cover. In retaliation, Rivers chained herself to a shopping cart and started shouting through a bullhorn that Costco was like "Nazi Germany." Being taken away by police, Rivers protested, "Next thing they'll be burning the Bible." [Christian Science Monitor]

Bret Easton Ellis' dreams have been crushed. He didn't even make the shortlist of screenwriters tapped to pen the Fifty Shades screen adaptation. He really wanted it, too. [The Guardian]

Fever Pitch is already a classicNick Hornby's book about being a long-suffering Arsenal fan was published only 20 years ago, but already it's been inducted into Penguin's Modern Classics series. [The Telegraph]

In defense of book-to-film adaptations"The subject of the cinema is the world, of which good books are a crucial part; whether filming with documentary curiosity or with artistic ambition, they’re hard for directors to avoid—and there’s no reason for a director to avoid them," writes The New Yorker's Richard Brody. [The New Yorker]

A call for a moratorium on 'How To' books. How To Be a Woman. How To Be Gay. When future generations look back on what we read in 2012, they'll think we all just stood around, paralyzed with existential confusion, going, "How do I do this?" [The New York Times]