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Book News: CIA Nominee Catches Grief Over Bookstore Erotica Readings

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • A breathless Daily Beast report that the woman nominated to be the CIA deputy director, Avril D. Haines, owned a small bookstore in the '90s and would occasionally host erotica readings has sparked accusations of sexism. (NOTE: Some material in the Daily Beast report is, well, salacious.) Laura Miller at Salon calls the article "an impressively sleazy bit of reporting." She writes: "Even if [Haines] weren't 24 years old at the time, even if she were not a small-business owner serving the legitimate needs and interests of her customers in a creative and celebratory way, even if she wrote erotica herself in addition to reading it aloud to fellow aficionados, she would have no reason to be embarrassed."
  • After Israeli novelist Yoram Kaniuk died Saturday, Fresh Air rebroadcast his 1988 interview with Terry Gross: "Most of my characters I've written about were a little split, so I felt a need to get into that split personality or split nationality — from the force of the pains that inflict our society, the Israeli pain, our pain and since both sides are right and both sides are so strong about their rightness, I felt that I understand that as a person, as a human being."
  • What Sotheby's called "the largest and most important group of William Faulkner material ever to appear at auction" mostly failed to sell at auction in New York earlier this week. Notably, no one bought Faulkner's Nobel Prize medal — but then again, Faulkner wasn't especially keen on it, either. He reportedly stuffed it in a potted plant at the American ambassador's residence in Stockholm, where it was later found by a valet.
  • The Glass Castle author Jeannette Walls speaks to The New York Times about why she doesn't read escapist literature: "Reality is just so interesting, why would you want to escape it?"
  • Colum McCann tells the Los Angeles Review of Books about writing his book TransAtlantic: "It might seem strange to admit how tenuous this all was, but the mind works in odd and beautiful ways when it is allowed release. I suppose this is the way poets work. Or explorers of some sort. You just go on a journey, not sure where you even want to go. And you hopefully discover new landscapes on the way. Or you end up dead and frozen in the ice."
  • The first trailer for Salinger, the documentary about reclusive author J.D. Salinger that's due to come out in September, appeared earlier this week. The dramatic trailer strongly implies that the film will include revelations about his romantic life and that it will cover the rumors about Salinger having unpublished manuscripts in a safe somewhere. It also, inexplicably, has Martin Sheen in it.
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