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Book news: Eminem and Prince, and literary figures remembered

October 22, 2008 |  8:21 am

Eminem_1022

"The Way I Am" is the new memoir from Eminem (or Marshall Mathers or the real Slim Shady). With the help of a co-writer, he meditates on fatherhood and fame. "The reason I put so much of myself out there in the first place is because I had no idea I was going to be so famous.... If I had to do it again, I don't know if I would." The Boston Herald finds the photos of his handwritten lyric sheets "most captivating."

Prince's book is also on shelves -- "21 Nights" was created with artist/photographer Randee St. Nicholas. It chronicles three weeks of live shows in London in photos, with poems and lyrics by Prince. Less confessional, perhaps, but comes with something Eminem's doesn't: a CD. (Eminem has one, but it's being sold separately.)

Both Eminem and Prince have toyed with various stage personas, but books, once printed, rarely get to remake themselves. Unless you're looking at Bookninja, which asked readers to invent genre covers for literary fiction. Ibsen as horror? Pynchon as wine guide? See them all and vote for your favorites.

British literary agent Pat Kavanagh has died. She was married to the author Julian Barnes and worked with Arthur Koestler, Tom Wolfe, John Irving, SJ Perelmen, Ruth Rendell and many others. Remembering her at The Guardian, Carmen Callil writes of Kavanagh's early negotiating skills:

When she began, her earliest responsibilities included representing the journalism of the agency's writers. Fleet Street quaked when she named her price, and quietly waited, generally silent, until the spluttering hack at the other end of the phone acquiesced to the figure upon which she had settled. She was incapable of lying -- not always the first quality required of a literary agent -- but it served her authors and friends in fine stead.

American science fiction writer Thomas M. Disch, who committed suicide this summer, was remembered this weekend in New York -- there are photos here. Disch's posthumous collection, "The Wall of America," was reviewed by Edward Champion for our paper earlier this month. "If this Disch collection lacks the Kafkaesque pyrotechnics of 'The Squirrel Cage' or the phantasmagorial brio of 'Getting Into Death,'" Champion wrote, "it nevertheless remains a worthy volume from a writer who we really needed to be alive today, skewering hypocrisy and sometimes unearthing the sunny side of suffering."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: EPA

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