Bucks County Writers Workshop

Bucks County Writers Workshop

The Bucks County Writers Workshop
Article Archives #6 2006

  • NOVELIST CLIVE CUSSLER IN BITTER HOLLYWOOD CONTRACT DISPUTE. Cussler had extraordinary say over the film version of his novel Saraha. In the end, no one was happy. By Glenn F. Bunting in The Los Angeles Times. Wired fror Books interview with Cussler.

  • IAN McEWAN, PLAGIARIST?. A mini-tempest erupted because of similarities in McEwan's Booker-nominated novel Atonement and an autobiography by a WW2 nurse. By Charles Isherwood in The New York Times. To hear Don's two interviews with McEwan go to Wired for Books. For the short podcast versions go to McEwan #1 McEwan #2

  • IN DEFENSE OF STEPHEN KING. In his latest novel, King brings on his most fearsome monster of all, that quivering mass of ego and insecurity known as...the writer. By Jim Windolf in The New York Times Sunday Book Review.

  • HIS LIFE AS A WRITER. Philip Roth, now collected in three Library of America volumes. By Bob Thompson in the Washington Post.

  • AUCTION OF TRUMAN CAPOTE'S PERSONAL GOODS NETS $242,000. But the collection's highlight, an unpublished hand-written manuscript, failed to sell. By Jeremy Gerard at Bloomberg.com.

    The New Yorker, Nov. 6, 2006

  • NOVELIST IN THE U.S. SENATE. On November 7, James Webb, author of six acclaimed novels, beat George Allen to win election to the U.S. Senate from Virginia. This in spite of, or because of, Allen's attempt to cherry-pick so-called salacious passages in Webb's novels in an attempt to destroy Webb's character. Sometimes the good guys win. A victory for fiction writers. [see the George Allen entry below for a lecture on the difference between fiction and nonfiction]

    Col 1

    One Beautiful Cover!
    The New Yorker issue Nov. 6, 2006
    I scanned this for all to see
    Click to enlarge

  • WILLIAM STYRON DEAD AT 81. The author of Confessions of Nat Turner and Sophie's Choice died on Nov. 1 of pneumonia. To hear Don's two interviews with Styron go to Wired for Books. For a short a podcast version go to Book Beat: The Podcast

  • JOANNE AND TRUMAN SHOW. Truman Capote and Joanne Carson (widow of Johnny Carson) were an odd couple. Truman died in Joanne's home in 1984. Now, hundreds of items of Capote memorabilia owned by Carson are on the auction block. By Robin Abcarian the Los Angeles Times.

  • ASTOUNDING STORY. How science fiction came into its own. By Nebula and Hugo winner Frederik Pohl in the September/October 1989 issue of American Heritage Magazine.

  • GEORGE ALLEN CITES OPPONENT'S NOVELS TO IMPUGN HIS CHARACTER. As writers we should be outraged that James Webb's fiction would be cherry-picked in a character assassination attempt. The sleaze is not in Webb's novels, but in Allen's senatorial campaign. A writer can certainly have character flaws, but his fiction is not the place to find them. Stephen King and John Grisham went to Virginia to support Webb. Said Grisham: "I seriously doubt George Allen is much of a reader, but if he would read more, maybe he would understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction." [Don]

  • THE PERFECT THING. How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness. The Apple iPod, now five years old, has changed how we think about music and listen to it. Here's a fascinating excerpt from Steven Levy's book -- as posted on the Simon & Schuster website.

  • DOONESBURY'S WAR. Cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who almost never gives interviews, reveals himself in this sensational article by Gene Weingarten in the Washington Post.

  • A CROWDED AUTUMN BOOK SEASON. At no time in recent memory has there been such a traffic jam of big-name authors unleashing top-drawer books. By Julie Bosman in The New York Times.

  • BOOKED-UP PUBLISHERS COULD BE A BIND. This fall, the largest number of new titles by brand-name authors in recent memory is hitting bookstores, and the publishing world is asking itself an unusual question: Can there be too many good books? By Josh Getlin the Los Angeles Times.

  • $100,000 SOBOL AWARD FOR FICTION. A fat new literary prize offer is underway with some unusual requirements: The book must be unpublished and the author must not have an agent. The catch is, it costs $85 to enter and the sponsors expect to receive up to 50,000 manuscripts, making it akin to a lottery. Robert Weil, executive editor at W.W. Norton, says it sounds like a Barnum & Bailey exercise, and that it's not a serious way of getting published. Charging writers to read their works is banned by the Association of Authors' Representatives (AAR), a professional association for literary agents.

  • FIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT: AMBROSE BIERCE. DaRK PaRTY ReVIEW, a Boston-based online literary magazine, queries Ambrose Bierce Site and BCWW webmaster Don Swaim about the life and disappearance of the legendary curmudgeon.

    Goldie from the past -- but still works

  • MYSTERY OF THE MISSING NOVEL. Is it possible to prove libel in fiction? The short answer is probably no -- even though W.W. Norton backed out of publishing Robert Lemmon's noveL Happyland, apparently for fears of libel. By Rachel Donadio in The New York Times Sunday Book Review.

    pub date July 2024, advance orders accepted

  • HARRY CREWS, AGING WILD MAN, PUBLISHES AGAIN, QUIETLY. Cult writer Crews' 23rd novel was published, not by a mainstream publishing house, but by a little outfit in LA, Blood and Guts Press. To hear Don's interview with Crews go to Wired for Books. For a short podcast version go to Book Beat: The Podcast

  • WRITING OFF READING. Michael Skube in the Washington Post says that when high school and college students with A averages can't write simple English, it shouldn't be surprising that people ask what a high school diploma is really worth.

  • GUNTER GRASS: HERR CONSCIENCE. An international storm arose when Nobel Prize winner Gunter Grass revealed that as a teenager he was a member of the notorious Nazi Waffen-SS. Grass talks to Don Swaim about his war years in a forty-minute interview -- but leaves out the newest revelation. Go to Wired for Books. For a short podcast version go to Book Beat: The Podcast

  • LAURA LIPPMAN'S WRITING ADVICE. Lippman's a mystery writer who sets her novels in Baltimore, with ex-newspaper reporter Tess Monaghan as Lippman's heroine. Some goods tips from Lippman's web site.

  • BCWW LAUNCHES STUART CUMMINGS RIPLEY WEBSITE. Ripley, America's greatest unknown author, is clebrated by members of the Bucks County Writers Worklshop with biography, recollections, essays, pictures. First and only Stuart Cummings Ripley site on the Internet

  • MICKEY SPILLANE DIES AT 88. A simple plot: violence, sex, and royalty checks. By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times.

  • RESURRECTION OF PEARL BUCK. China, yes China, rethinks Bucks County's own Pearl Buck. By Sheila Melvin in The Woodrow Wilson Quarterly.

  • FBI HOT ON THE TRAIL OF ARTHUR MILLER (AND MARILYN MONROE). Thanks, J. Edgar Hoover, for protecting America from the likes of them. By the Associated Press.

  • DONALD HALL NAMED POET LAUREATE. To hear Don Swaim's 1990 interview with Donald Hall go to Wired for Books. For a short podcast version go to Book Beat: The Podcast

  • THE BEST WORKS OF FICTION IN THE PAST 25 YEARS. The New York Times polled a couple of hundred selected judges -- and Tony Morrision's Beloved came in first, while Philip Roth had more entries than anyone else. Here's an analysis of the poll by A.O. Scott in The New York Times Book Review. [From Don: A superficial poll aimed at a headline, not substance -- too small, the judges not necessarily reliable, and some of our best authors left out.]

  • A WRITER UNBLOCKED A successful screenwriter published his first novel last year -- and tells us that writing for Hollywood is a whole 'nother thing. By Wesley Strick in the Los Angeles Times.


    These published or hopeful writers, all past or current members of the BCWW, formed their own private club.

  • SCAN THIS BOOK!. Everything we thought we knew about books is going to change. A MUST read article by Kevin Kelly in The New York Times Sunday Magazine.

    Wiley Miller's devastastingly clever -- and literary -- comic strips are on the Internet at Non Sequitar

  • WHAT IS THE PRICE OF PLAGIARISM?. By Karoun Demirjian, contributor to The Christian Science Monitor.

  • ALL THE PRESIDENT'S BOOKS. New York Times Book critic Michiko Kakutani compiles a list of recent books about George W. Bush. For a leading historian's (Sean Wilentz) views go to ROLLING STONE [NOTE: not necessarily the opinion of the editor of the BCWW or its members]

  • PHILIP ROTH'S NEW NOVEL: EVERYMAN. A detailed profile and book excerpts inThe New York Times.

  • TABLES TURNED ON TOUGHEST BOOK CRITIC IN AMERICA. As Michiko Kakutani begins her twenty-fifth year at the New York Times, Ben Yagoda puts her down as lacking in stylistic flair, wit, and insight. In Slate. But just who is MICHIKO KAKUTANO? Here's a site, clumsy and amaturish, that appears to have been created for the sole purpose of destroying Michiko. Go to: Leinad Goldorn. Here's a more balanced depiction of Michiko (who is lovely, as the photo suggests) by Jonathan Keifer in The New Haven Review

  • SENSATIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR WRITERS OF HISTORICAL FICTION. A judge in London ruled that Random House was entitled to publish Dan Brown (Da Vinci Code) novel, despite plantiffs' allegation that Brown borrowed their "idea." It means writers of historical fiction have the right to mine non-fiction research to fashion their stories. For the ruling click on the above. [From Don: the originators of this ill-conceived lawsuit are faced with paying millions of dollars in legal fees, and should probably sue their lawyers for incompetence for agreeing to this venture in the first place. Such is the price of greed, and swallowing the idea that "Where there's a hit, there's a writ."]

    For more Shoe by Chris Cassatt and Gary Brookins go to Shoe

  • ESTEEMED MYSTERY WRITER DONALD WESTLAKE... is credited with more than ninety novels -- and he writes them on a portable typewriter. Nice profile by Nina Shengold in Chronogram, Kingston, NY. To hear Don Swaim's own interview with Westlake go to Wired for Books. For a short podcast version go to Book Beat: The Podcast


  • PUBLISHER GOES INTO DA VINCI MODE. Da Vinci Code publisher Random House releasing record first-printing paperback as film version nears. by Josh Getlin in the Los Angeles Times.

    Wiley Miller's devastastingly clever -- and literary -- comic strips are on the Internet at Non Sequitar

  • NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY BUYS WILLIAM BURROUGHS ARCHIVE. Ohio collectors sell archive of famous Beat writer, giving the NYPL an edge on owning Beat literary material. Don Swaim visited Burroughs at "The Bunker," an abandoned YMCA on the Bowery in 1984, and spoke to him again in 1985. Go to Wired for Books. To hear the short 1984 broadcast as an mp3 file go to Book Beat: The Podcast.

  • ORIGINALITY SINS. Sarah Crown in The Guardian Unlimited comments on the suit against Random House by two authors who claim the "theme" of their book was appropriated by Dan Brown, author of the enormously successful The Da Vinci Code. Also check the link famousplagiarists.com.


    A graceful and colorful novelist, Busch was the author of twenty-seven books, including a book about the writing life, A Dangerous Profession. Don's interview with Busch can be heard at Wired for Books. To hear the short 1984 broadcast as an mp3 file go to Book Beat: The Podcast.

  • CALL ME DIGITAL. Technology is reshaping literary scholarship on Herman Melville through recovery of his lost annotations. By Jennifer Howard in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Wiley Miller's devastastingly clever -- and literary -- comic strips are on the Internet at Non Sequitar

  • FIGURE IN JT LEROY LITERARY FRAUD COMES FORWARD. A central figure in the case of the mysterious writer JT Leroy says no one named JT Leroy exists, and that the books published under that name were actually written by his ex-girlgriend, a San Francisco woman named Laura Albert. By Warren St. John in The New York Times.

  • ARE NEWSPAPERS DOOMED? By Joseph Epstein in Commentary.

  • HARPER LEE, GREGARIOUS FOR A DAY. The author of To Kill a Mockingbird comes out of seclusion to preside over an essay contest for high school kids. By Gina Bellafante in The New York Times.

  • YEAH, BUT THE BOOK IS BETTER. Thane Rosenbaum in The Forward on the age-old debate: movie or novel--which is best?

  • AUTHOR JT LEROY UNMASKED? A young male hooker's literary work was catching on big with readers and celebrites from Courtney Love to Michael Chabon. Now it appears LeRoy is actually a woman named Laura Albert -- and when Leroy makes public appearances "he's" impersonated by Albert's sister-in-law. By Heidi Benson in The San Francisco Chronicle.

  • A MILLION LITTLE CORRECTIONS. It is with great sorrow, and no small amount of embarrassment, that I must confess to some inadvertent errors, omissions and elisions in my best-selling memoir, "A Brief History of Tim." By Tim Carvell, "Daily Show" writer in The New York Times.

  • FACT OR FICTION, IT'S HIS STORY. Edward Wyatt in The New York Times analyzes reaction to the allegation that James Frey's memoir, A Million Little Pieces, is less than honest.

  • A MILLION LITTLE LIES. James Frey's gritty memoir, A Million Little Pieces, became a best-seller after it was touted on Oprah. Now, according to the web's The Smoking Gun, the book is more fiction than fact and includes fabrications, fakery, and other falsehoods.

  • BOOKER WINNERS NEED NOT APPLY. Top British novels in disguise rejected by publishers. By Jonathan Calvert and Will Iredale in The Times of London. Imagine! Publishers turning down V.S. Naipaul, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. (If only the submission had been sent under Naipaul's real name...)

  • AUTOPSY OF AN ANDERSON COOPER SCRIPT. My ex-CBS pal Mervin Block (he wrote for Cronkite) has posted on his website a devastating critique of Anderson Cooper's moronic CNN newscast of Nov. 16, 2005. There are so many defects it makes you despair at the wretched quality of broadcast journalism. Merv's autopsy is applicable to all writers -- so read and cringe.

  • FIND MENCKEN AT NATURE-ABHORS-A-MORON.COM. Were H.L. Mencken alive today would be be a blogger? Thomas Vinciguerra in The New York Times imagines some of Mencken's blogs.

  • WRITERS AND READERS: UNBEARABLE INTIMACY. One reads books in order to gain the privilege of living more than one life. By Garrison Keillor.

  • TOP NEW YORK PUBLISHER TURNS LITERARY AGENT. Lawrence Kirshbaum, former head of the Time Warner Book Group, jumps to the agenting side of the business. By Edward Wyatt in The New York Times.

  • FIRST WRITER.COM. Searchable lists of literary agents, book publishers, magazine publishers, and literary competitions. NOTE: subscription site.

  • DETAILS AT ELEVEN. In general, no one's going to accuse news broadcasters of being great writers (I should know). My ex-CBS pal Merv Block runs a newswriting workshop and has posted a page on his website in which his readers sound off on some recent howlers. All the sins cited are applicable to fiction and non-fiction writers alike. Read and weep.

  • PUBLISHERS ASSESS THE FALL SEASON'S WINNERS AND LOSERS. The best and worst-selling books of the season. By Edward Wyatt in The New York Times.


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