In that spirit, this column, usually dedicated to book reviews, is going between the lines, if you will, on some of the more interesting doings in the wonderful world of print.
A few weeks back, I gave a thumbs-down to the obnoxious and boring saga spun by Gene Simmons in “Kiss and Make Up,“ and was eagerly beginning the latest tome from Caleb Carr, “The Lessons of Terror.“ Simultaneously, both authors got into some verbal slugfests with interviewers, with neither one gracefully acquitting themselves. In Simmons‘ case, comments like “If you want to welcome me with open arms, I‘m afraid you‘re also going to have to welcome me with open legs“ did little to curry the favor of the usually unflappable Terry Gross, host of NPR‘s “Fresh Air.“ Gross all but gave Simmons the hook, and since, the two have been giving each other a public dissing, though sentiment has clearly been with Gross.
In the meantime, Carr fired back on Laura Miller for her review of “The Lessons of Terror“ in Salon, saying, “But let‘s not let facts or a shaky grounding in history keep us from being a bitchy wise-,“ and then posting his own five-star review on Amazon.com, which the company removed because they don‘t allow self-written critiques.
And not to be outdone, Harry Knowles, the Internet whiz kid who masterminded the movie gossip site Ain‘t It Cool News, lets it all rip in a brand new book “Ain‘t it Cool?: Hollywood‘s Redheaded Stepchild Speaks Out,“ which is catching a huge amount of flap for being narcissistic, undisciplined, uninformed, and narcissistic. Now that shouldn‘t come as much of a surprise for anyone familiar with the site, but apparently taking his predilection for name dropping, shameless self promotion, and half-baked opinions to a new venue is not earning him any new fans among book critics. What did they expect? Perhaps Knowles himself will have the last word, offering up that “I may have not been to journalism school. But I have seen All the President‘s Men.“
TV star Michael J. Fox has earned a warm reception from critics and raders alike for “Lucky Man,“ a candid memoir that deals with, among other topics, his rise to stardom, the years spent hiding his worsening case of Parkinson‘s Disease and alcoholism, and his marriage to actress Tracy Pollan and their four children. Fox even declined a ghostwriter or co-author for the project, deciding the story he wanted to tell was too personal and internal to be left to someone else, something of a rarity in the world of celebrity bios. Proceeds from the book sales are going to Fox‘s newly-formed foundation to research and fight Parkinson‘s Disease.
TV talk show queen Rosie O‘Donnell also eschewed a ghost writer in turning out a slim volume entitled “Find Me,“ which is due on book shelves on April 16. In it, O‘Donnell devotes a fair amount of space to her attachment to a young girl who made contact with her by phoning O‘Donnell‘s adoption hotline and weaves the story in to her own poignant tale of being a young girl trying to cope with the death of her mother. Little time is apparently spent on her recent revelations about being a lesbian, and the concentration on loss and obsession is earning some good early buzz, as is O‘Donnell‘s style of writing, which has been described as frank and self-effacing, much as she appears on her TV show.
Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Doug Marlette has written his debut novel, “The Bridge,“ satirizing what he calls “bourgeois bohemian types looking to buy old historic homes“ in the fictional version of his real life, small town home of Hillsborough, North Carolina. Offense wasn‘t intended, but taken by many of the locals, including neighbor Allan Gurganus, author of “The Practical Heart,“ who saw an early edition of the manuscript and asked that his name be taken out of the acknowledgments. Marlette insists, “If anyone should be p------ off at Marlette the writer, it should be Marlette the cartoonist.“ Still, Paramount snatched up the option on the book and is eyeballing it for Tom Cruise, who would play the main character, a struggling cartoonist.
It‘s been a long, long wait (12 years, in fact) for the massive legion of fans of Jean Auel‘s Earth‘s Children series, which began in 1980 with “The Clan of the Cave Bear.“ Finally, Auel is back with the fifth installment, “The Shelters of Stone,“ which weighs in at a hefty 700-plus pages and has heroine Ayla meeting the family of her beloved, Jondalar, at a Summer Meeting. There‘s even more good news - Auel is well into the sixth book, which she says will be done in the not-too-distant future, and plans on continuing the saga over the next 12 years. Very brisk sales are expected on the book is out on April 30.
Rock fans can look forward to James Jewel Osterberg (a.k.a. Iggy Pop) telling his fascinating life story in the near future. Iggy‘s been talking about the project for some time, and at least six different publishers have expressed interest. On another front, ex-Eagle Don Felder (he was fired last year by cranky founders Don Henley and Glenn Frey) is rumored to be getting an attractive six-figure sum for dishing the dirt on the band in an ‘03 release tentatively titled “The Long Run: My Life as an Eagle.“
I‘d about given up hope that we‘d see anything else from Donna Tartt, but 10 years after the release of her remarkable first novel, “The Secret History,“ she‘ll return this fall with a literary mystery named “The Little Friend.“ Reportedly, Tartt scored one million pounds from the British published Bloomsbury for the new work, and film rights are also being discussed. Can‘t wait.