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Book news: Mailer, Sterling, Cohen, Roth, Angelou

February 27, 2009 |  3:05 pm


Would the history of letters be different if self-publisher Lulu had been around in the 1950s? Norman Mailer wrote that he was "as mad as I had been at any time since the Army because the book as it stood then had faults, but it was still so much better than the kind of ... which is printed all the time that I was livid enough to publish it myself." The book was "The Deer Park," which Putnam published in 1955. But imagine the momentum self-publishing might have gained back then if a young Norman Mailer had gotten behind it with all his ambition and pugilistic impulses? You may ask this and other questions reading Norman Mailer's letters on the Daily Beast

BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow picks his favorite book of 2009, despite it being only February: "The Caryatids" by Bruce Sterling. It's a water-bound almost-dystopia with angry sister-clones and two major opposing civilizations, and it wrestles with the ideas of technology and military aggression.

Philip Roth will publish two more novels with Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt. New York magazine reports that one book will be about an aging artist (actor, not a writer) "into whose bereft life bursts a counterplot of unusual erotic desire" and the other will be a historical fiction about a 1944 polio epidemic in New Jersey.

If the voice in your head is a throaty bass, you might hear a song when you read Leonard Cohen's new poem "A Street." It's in the New Yorker.

Speaking of poets, if you were following Maya Angelou on Twitter, turns out the account was held by an impostor. While it's possible the 80-year old Pulitzer Prize winner is tweeting away on her Blackberry, it's not likely. Remember, people, when driving the Internet, use caution.

— Carolyn Kellogg

Photo courtesy the Norman Mailer Society.