Sunday, April 10, 2005

April 2005 Publishing Notes

The buzz: Republican strategist Mary Matalin’s new conservative imprint at Simon & Schuster, Threshold, has acquired its first manuscript. It is a memoir by Mary Cheney, lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney. Among the new books lined up at Caroll & Graf are Michelango Signorile’s Hitting Hard, a look at gay rights, the Republican Party, and sexual hypocrisy in America, and Jaffe Cohen’s Tush, a gay, comic, romance novel about a loveless astrologer searching for love in Provincetown. Harper’s Children will publish Margaret Cho’s young adult novel, I Hate Girls. Inner Ocean will publish 50 Ways to Support Lesbian and Gay Equality: The Complete Guide to Supporting Family, Friends, Neighbors or Yourself, edited by Meredith Maran and Angela Watrous, with essays from Margaret Cho, Judy Shepard, Candace Gingrich, and leaders of organizations including ACLU, Amnesty International USA, and GLAAD. Spinsters Ink, which shuttered at the end of 2004 after publishing no new books for two years, has been acquired by Bella Books, a Florida-based publisher of lesbian books. Some Spinsters Ink titles will be made available once again and the house plans to release six new titles in 2005. The spring 2005 issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review was a special issue devoted to Walt Whitman. Among the contributors were Mark Doty and Rafael Campo. Rumors are flying that with the breakup of Disney and Miramax and the folding of Miramax Books into Disney’s Hyperion imprint, the former Miramax team is wooing Rob Weisbach, currently Simon & Schuster’s editor-at-large, to head up a new book division for the soon-to-be-independent-again film company. Gus Van Sant is in negotiations to direct the film version of The Time Travelers Wife for New Line Cinema. reported that playwright Jon Robin Baitz will write an episode of the hit ABC series Alias. Author-comedienne-mogul Rosie O’Donnell has launched a blog. She can now be found at "formerly rosie" (, the "unedited rantings of a fat 42-year-old menopausal ex-talk show host married mother of four."

Kudos: Alan Hollinghurst was recently nominated for the Reader’s Digest Author of the Year, part of the British Book Awards. Alison Smith’s memoir, Name All the Animals, won the 2004 Barnes & Noble Great New Writers Award for nonfiction. Ha Jin won the 2005 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for the second time for War Trash, a historical novel of Chinese prisoners of war imprisoned by Americans during the Korean War. Adrienne Rich won the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry for The School Among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004. Lawrence Ferlinghetti won the Curtis Benjamin Award for Creative Publishing given by the Association of American Publishers. Ferlinghetti is the poet, activist, and founder of City Lights Publishers, which made national headlines in 1956 with the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems. Ferlinghetti was arrested for obscenity and a landmark First Amendment case followed. City Light authors also include Jack Kerouac and Paul Bowles. The Ellen DeGeneres Show scored 11 daytime Emmy nominations, including Best Talk Show Host. The 17th annual Publishing Triangle Awards will be presented May 10 in New York City. A Lifetime Achievement award will be presented to poet Edward Field. A special leadership award will be presented to the Lesbian Herstory Archives. The finalists of books published in 2004 are: David Carter, Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution, David K. Johnson, The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government, and Graham Robb, Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century for the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction. The nominees for the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction are Alexis De Veaux, Warrior Poet: A Life of Audre Lorde, Alison Smith, Name All the Animals, and Evelyn C. White, Alice Walker: A Life. The nominees for the Ferro-Grumley Award for Men’s Fiction are Adam Berlin, Belmondo Style, Colm Tóibín, The Master, and Jim Tushinski, Van Allen’s Ecstasy. The Women’s Fiction nominees are Stacey D’Erasmo, A Seahorse Year, Emma Donoghue, Life Mask, and Heather Lewis, Notice. The Publishing Triangle Award for Gay Male Poetry nominees are Ron Mohring, Survivable World, Carl Phillips, The Rest of Love, and D. A. Powell, Cocktails. The Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry nominees are Adrienne Rich, The School Among the Ruins, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Year of the Snake, and Maureen Seaton, Venus Examines Her Breast. The Robert Chesley Foundation will also present a Lifetime Achievement in Playwriting to Michael Kearns and an Emerging Artist award to Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas.

Anti-Gay Agenda Revisited: Alabama Rep. Gerald Allen (R-Cottondale) announced in March that he did not expect any action to be taken on the bill that would prohibit state funds from purchasing literature that acknowledges homosexuality or written by gay authors. The bill is currently in the Alabama House Crimes and Offenses Committee because of ongoing debates on the state’s fiscal year 2006 budgets.

More than a triangle: The Associated Press reported that a defamation lawsuit was filed in March against the author and publisher of Out of Control, a book about a Houston-area dentist convicted of murder for running over her cheating husband. Julie Knight, a close friend of the mistress of Dr. David Harris, alleges the book is "filled with lies, slander and accusations" against Knight. Knight seeks unspecified damages and attorney’s fees. Harris was killed in 2002 when he was run over repeatedly by a car driven by his wife, Clara Harris. The book, written by Steven H. Long and published by St. Martin’s Press, portrays Knight as the lesbian lover of Harris’ mistress, Gail Bridges. Clara Harris was sentenced to 20 years in prison in the slaying of her husband, whom she ran over after finding him with his mistress at a hotel.

Passages: Ken Hunt, performance artist, poet, activist, and associate publisher of the on-line Blithe House Quarterly, died March 22, 2005, of complications from brain damage. A native of Seattle, Hunt graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism and Spanish. He wrote for the Seattle Times, The New York Times, and the Austin Chronicle, as well as for many community and weekly papers. In Boston he was a reporter and producer for the Allston-Brighton Edition, a progressive public affairs news program. He was most recently based in Chicago teaching English as a second language. Hunt published four books of poetry and, in Chicago, was a featured poet for the Feast of Fools Cabaret and Homolatté. A frequenter of fringe music stages in Chicago, Hunt also performed in the spazz-noise band Unplanned Pregnancy.