Today in books and publishing: Bill Clinton's new book airs some old grievances, John Hodgman is not such a fan of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, and letters from reclusive To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee to one of her fans are now up for sale.
- Former President Bill Clinton's new book Back to Work is out today. In addition to carving up the hard right, playing meddling older brother to Barack Obama, and reminding readers how America was indistinguishable from Candyland during his eight years in office, Clinton also suggests Democrats have erred in not making him the party's de facto spokesman/avenging political angel. He says he could have helped sell the White House's position during last summer's budget shutdown, but he "couldn’t persuade the decision makers" at the Democratic National Committee to let him enact the plan he cooked up with Vice President Joe Biden, which would have involved listing President Obama's accomplishments "in plain language," as opposed to ancient Greek. [Book Beast]
- It has been a pretty decent week for Stephen King. His well-reviewed time travel novel, 11/22/63, is now in stores, and his 1995 novel Rose Madder has been picked by Palomar Pictures. In America scribe Naomi Sheridan is adapting the book, a woman-on-the-run story that features minotaurs and paintings you can walk into. [Variety via Empire Online]
- Last month Haruki Murakami deemed Cormac McCarthy's The Road "boring." Now incorrect-knowledge enthusiast John Hodgman and onetime Apple pitchman -- who devotes large portions of his new fake encyclopedia, That Is All, to an imminent “global superpocalypse" -- is piling on McCarthy's depiction of a father and son's post-apocalyptic road trip. He says his a-ha! moment came after watching the author's 2007 appearance on Oprah and hearing McCarthy discuss the book's genesis:
"He was traveling through Ireland with his son, who was 12 years old at the time, the age of the boy in The Road. Then I did a little math, and was like, 'Wait a minute, Cormac McCarthy is like 75 years old! And he has a 12-year-old son! No wonder he wrote this book!' I’m like, 'Cormac McCarthy, you jerk, you’re not talking about the apocalypse, you’re talking about your personal apocalypse, because you’re an old man who’s not going to get to see his son grow up. That’s what this book is about. And for you, it feels like the end of civilization, and an intolerable world, and you can’t say goodbye to a son that you can’t guide through this awful world that allows you, an old person, to die.' I’m like, 'How dare you, Cormac McCarthy, put me through all that when you’re the one going through this personal apocalypse?'"
- Thirteen letters written by To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee are being sold by Nate D. Sanders Auction House. All were written to a fan named Don Salter from 1960 to 2009. For $11,000 you can have a chatty 2003 letter where the reclusive author tells her pen pal about her cataracts and tells him "don't put this on the internet or anything." If that's a bit too expensive, you may consider the letter with a handdrawn map of Maycomb County, the setting for To Kill a Mockingbird. The bidding for that one is currently $3,000. [Jacket Copy]