Today in publishing and literature: Paul Auster is fighting with the prime minister of Turkey, a comprehensive guide to the best literary Tumblrs, and Billy Ray Cyrus is the latest celebrity to benefit from Amazon Publishing's largesse.
Amazon has responded to the suggestion that its newly-launched publishing arm is short on big-name authors by announcing they've reached a deal to publish a memoir by Billy Ray Cyrus. Take that, Farrar, Straus and Giroux! Terms weren't released, but the book is called Hillbilly Heart, and is slated to come out in the spring of 2013. In a press release, Cyrus promised to write with "great candor" about his career and famous daughter, an approach that worked well for him in his lengthy, sad-sack interview with GQ last year. [GalleyCat]
Uh-oh: Paul Auster, the author of the confusing but highly-praised New York Trilogy, is fighting with the Turkish government. It's the first instance of an American postmodern novelist trading barbs with the prime minister of a Eurasian country that we can recall, and it started earlier this week when Auster complained to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet that his request to come to the country and visit with jailed authors and journalists had been denied. "Us Democrats got rid of the Bushes," Auster grumbled. "We got rid of Cheney who should have been put on trial for war crimes. What is going on in Turkey?" Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan didn't like that, and responded on Wednesday: "As if we need you!" Erdogan scoffed. "Who cares if you come or not? Would Turkey lose any grandeur?" He went on to criticize Auster for visiting Israel. Now, in a new statement, Auster dismisses Erdogan "an ignorant man" and presses the issue on why he can't visit any of the nearly 100 writers currently jailed in Turkey. It's worth noting that Auster is vice president of PEN American Center, which closely monitors the status of imprisoned writers around the world, which explains the initial request. [The Guardian]
The Millions has assembled a guide to literary Tumblr accounts that is every bit as detailed and essential as their annual book preview. Publishers, critics, and purveyors of "marginalia" (like Proustitute, one of our favorites) are all well-represented. [The Millions]
Today, in great writers pleading with Hollywood executives not to butcher their work, we bring you the telegram John Steinbeck sent to 20th Century Fox in 1944 after seeing the first cut of director Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat. Hitchcock had asked Steinbeck to write a treatment for the film, and he did, but he didn't care for two specific changes that were made during production. Steinbeck wrote:
While in many ways the film is excellent there are one or two complaints I would like to make. While it is certainly true that I wrote a script for Lifeboat, it is not true that in that script as in the film there were any slurs against organized labor nor was there a stock comedy Negro. On the contrary there was an intelligent and thoughtful seaman who knew realistically what he was about…Since this film occurs over my name, it is painful to me that these strange, sly obliquities should be ascribed to me.
Five weeks later, Steinbeck sent his agent a telegram from Mexico City instructing her to get his name taken off the picture:
PLEASE CONVEY THE FOLLOWING TO 20TH CENTURY FOX IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT MY SCRIPT FOR THE PICTURE LIFE BOAT WAS DISTORTED IN PRODUCTION SO THAT ITS LINE AND INTENTION HAS BEEN CHANGED AND BECAUSE THE PICTURE SEEMS TO ME TO BE DANGEROUS TO THE AMERICAN WAR EFFORT I REQUEST MY NAME BE REMOVED FROM ANY CONNECTION WITH ANY SHOWING OF THIS FILM
In true old-time Hollywood story fashion, the studio refused. [Letters of Note]
If you've been hankering to read a love story about a man falling in love with Siri, the tiny robot voice that lives in iPhone, you're in luck: Blue Rider Press — a division of Penguin — has acquired Siri & Me, a novel by David Milgrim (author of Goodnight iPad, a "best-selling tech-centric parody," per Arts Beat) with exactly that premise. The book will come out in the fall. Terms weren't released. [Arts Beat]