The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
Meg Cabot says she is releasing two new books — one for younger readers and one for adults — starring the gloriously frizzy-haired, flat-chested Princess Mia Thermopolis of the Princess Diaries series. The Wall Street Journal reports that the middle-grade novel, "will center on a new character, Olivia Grace, a middle school girl from New Jersey who discovers that she's Princess Mia's long lost half-sister, and a royal descendent of the kingdom of Genovia." The newspaper adds that "like Mia, Olivia chronicles her transformation from civilian to princess in her journal." In the adult novel, it says, "Mia is older and engaged to be married. Mia's wedding plans are interrupted by a scheming usurper who attempts to force Mia's father from the throne."
Sarah Wendell of the blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has discovered a fatal flaw in Optical Character Recognition, a text-recognition program used to quickly scan printed books and put them online: It can't distinguish between the words "arms" and "anus," resulting in unprecedented levels of anus-raising, anus-flinging and anus-wrapping in lots of e-books. Wendell points to sentences like this one: "When she spotted me, she flung her anus high in the air and kept them up until she reached me." And this one: "Mrs, Nevile, in exquisite emotion, threw her anus around the neck of Caroline, pressed Her with fervour to her breast."
George Prochnik, the biographer of Stefan Zweig, writes a lovely essay on traveling to the places where Zweig fled after his exile from Hitler's Austria: "Bath was still the prettiest, and the most claustrophobically prim, of his refuges. Petropolis, the dreamiest and the most lushly evocative. Salzburg, a too flush masterpiece, jovially sinister. Vienna, the most fantastical and psychologically fraying. (On my last visit, I literally walked into a glass wall: the hotel where I was staying had unexpectedly shut a glass door over the entrance to the dining room. I'll never forget the expressions on the faces of the breakfast crowd as — my nose taking the first smack — blood sprayed across the glass. Everyone looked horrified, and no one moved a muscle, even when I stumbled to the floor. Ah, Vienna ...)"
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger took the "Best Novel" prize at the Edgar Awards, the annual gala thrown by the Mystery Writers of America. In a mini-review, The Washington Post called Ordinary Grace "deeply memorable," describing it like this: "It's the summer of 1961, and 13-year-old Frank Drum and his younger brother have to grow up quickly when their small town in Minnesota is altered by a series of deaths, starting with a young boy hit by a train. As tragedies mount, Frank's father, a soldier-turned-preacher, desperately seeks grace, while his beautiful mother won't settle for less than revenge." Other winners include Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews, which won in the "Best First Novel" category, and The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower for "Best Fact Crime." You can find the full list of winners here.
Read Brandon Courtney's beautiful poem "Prometheus" at Guernica:
"Fever wasn't the only thing to break
in roadside ditches dark
as umbilical blood.
There was the slug fired from the angel-end
of his rifle,
ripping through eucalyptus leaves.
There was him,
left in tourniquet grass
to shepherd home our dead."
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.