August 2008

“That’s a human ear all right”

  • About the author BH
  • August 12, 2008

Just a friendly Tuesday afternoon public service announcement.

Blue Velvet, my favorite mind-boggling, soul crushing, po-mo movie masterpiece is playing tonight at McCarren Park Pool in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. So pull out your rusty lawn chair, jump into your most ironic t-shirt and join hipster hordes as we celebrate the wonderfully strange and beautiful creature that is David Lynch.

imagename The film is free and starts at sunset. Remember to bring some chips and something to sit on as the venue is literally a concrete pool. But do leave your delicate sensibilities at home.

See you there—I’ll be up front reading Dennis Cooper and humming Candy Colored Clown.

PostSecret meets Not Quite What I Was Planning

  • About the author EB
  • August 12, 2008

PostSecret’s Frank Warren has a short interview up with Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser, editors of Not Quite What I Was Planning, the six-word memoir book that came out in February. They talk a bit about future plans, including Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak, coming this February, and about some of the great memoirs that didn’t make it into the book. People are posting their own memoirs in the comments (nearly 3000 so far!) So far my favorites are “I know I’m fat, ok Grandma?” and “My parents deserve a better life.”

make your own music

  • About the author EB
  • August 11, 2008

Another cool marketing idea that could be applied to books: The band Deerhoof has posted the sheet music on their website for Fresh Born, the first single off their new album. They’ve invited fans to record their own versions of the song and upload them to the site. There’s about 30 covers up there so far, with more to come I’m sure. And unlike the Gossip Girl ads, doing something like this is well within the reach of any author, who could, for example, have fans post their own endings to a story. I love the idea of engaging fans in the creative process.

(I heard about this from Johanna at cellar door.)

Never mind the pollacks, here come the yogis

  • About the author EB
  • August 08, 2008

There’ll be a bit of a wait before it comes out, but we here at Harper Perennial are very excited to have just signed up Neal Pollack’s latest book—about yoga! I love yoga, but I find I never go to classes because there’s just too much emphasis on breathing and envisioning and all that hippy-dippy stuff sometimes. Hopefully Neal’s book will provide some much-needed humor about the subject.

And Neal is not just writing a book about yoga. No, he’s also participating in a 24-hour yogathon! It’s for charity, of course, and you can donate if you wish by following that link. As he said in his email:

“I’ll be doing 24 hours of consecutive yoga from 2 AM on August 31 until 2 AM on September 1st. In case you were concerned, The organizers inform me there will be meal breaks, and that I will also be allowed to use the bathroom whenever I want. The latter will be important, because I don’t want the other yogis to see me vomit when I hit the wall. You’ll also be invited to the memorial service that will inevitably follow, as I’ve never done more than two hours of consecutive yoga in my life.”

Go Neal!

there’s no such thing as bad publicity

  • About the author EB
  • August 07, 2008

Last summer, I loved the ads for Gossip Girl. A shot of Serena and Nate in the throes of passion, with just four letters of text: OMFG. This summer, they’re even better. The ads still feature scandalous poses, but now the text is negative reviews the show has received. “Every parent’s nightmare.” “A nasty piece of work.” “Mind-blowingly inappropriate.” Genius. Nothing gets teenagers more into something than the idea that adults want to keep them away from it, a lesson I learned in fifth grade when other parents complained to my mom about me passing around dog-eared copies of The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer and Judy Blume’s Forever. (My mom just shrugged, and to this day I have both these books on my shelf. You know, if anyone would like to borrow them for the dirty parts).

It makes me wonder: could we do a similar campaign with one of our books? We don’t typically advertise our books on bus shelters (Harper Perennial is not made of money), but the idea could work in other formats. It’d be much harder, I think. If one of our books gets a bad review, it tends to be because the reviewer thought the writing was bad, not because it could harm young minds. There just isn’t as much vitriol. The only exception I can think of is James Frey’s Bright Shiny Morning, out now in hardcover from Harper and going into paperback next year. Reading through Frey’s negative reviews, there’s not much in the way of Gossip Girl-style salacious taglines (except this one from USA Today that would draw me to any book that had it on the cover: “Constant bad behavior: booze, abuse, crime, murder.”). But the book certainly caused some strong feelings, both positive and negative, and I do think that’s something that can attract readers.

dirty movies (sorta)

  • About the author EB
  • August 06, 2008

Red-band trailers are the movie previews for “restricted audiences only” aka the ones with the good stuff. They don’t get shown in theaters, but they’re becoming a pretty useful internet marketing tool. TrailerSpy collects ‘em all in one place. They’ve got one for this weekend’s big release, Pineapple Express, but, shockingly, nothing for the other movie I’m excited to see this weekend, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.

from the WTF dept.

  • About the author EB
  • August 05, 2008

Killer herpes decimates young French oysters

there’s a short story idea in there somewhere.

The First Circle

  • About the author MS
  • August 05, 2008

PW reports on us a little: “Harper Won’t Rush ‘First Circle’”

Selling shares in yourself

  • About the author EB
  • August 05, 2008

Author Tao Lin is offering shares of his second novel to the public. $2000 will get you 10% of the U.S. royalties and whatever good karma comes with helping an author focus on his work. As of this writing there’s only one share left, so you should get on that if you have a couple grand lying around. I work in publishing, so I don’t, but if I did this would definitely be the kind of thing I would spend my millions on, along with homes for every abandoned kitty in the world.

Not everyone has such a kindly view of Lin’s endeavor though. The NYT Freakonomics blog comments are priceless.

And Lin’s not the first to do this. Didn’t Po Bronson offer one of his books as an IPO?

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  • About the author MS
  • August 04, 2008

The Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn dies at 89. The NY Times has a lengthy obituary, which recounts Solzhenitsyn’s life and writing. One striking example of his energy, ingenuity, and character is the length he went to, while imprisoned, to write his first novel A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich:

At Ekibastuz, any writing would be seized as contraband. So he devised a method that enabled him to retain even long sections of prose. After seeing Lithuanian Catholic prisoners fashion rosaries out of beads made from chewed bread, he asked them to make a similar chain for him, but with more beads. In his hands, each bead came to represent a passage that he would repeat to himself until he could say it without hesitation. Only then would he move on to the next bead. He later wrote that by the end of his prison term, he had committed to memory 12,000 lines in this way.

Harper Perennial publishes all three volumes of his non-fiction work The Gulag Archipelago, as well as an abridged version, and will re-issue his novel The First Circle in 2009.

“I’ve Never Been to Me”

  • About the author MS
  • August 04, 2008

In need of some ’80s hits remixed? Then visit Charlene Oliver’s page for a quick download of her recently remixed track “I’ve Never Been to Me.” The music label is a subsidiary venture of the UK publisher Beautiful Books, of which we are admiring fans.

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