The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Sylvia Browne, the bestselling author of dozens of books about the paranormal, died Wednesday in San Jose, Calif. She was 77. Browne, who claimed to be psychic, said she frequently worked with police on missing persons cases. But as The New York Times notes, "More than once, with the television cameras rolling, Ms. Browne told the parents of a missing child that their son or daughter was dead — sometimes she would say precisely where — only for the child to be found alive later. In 2004, she told the mother of the Ohio kidnapping victim Amanda Berry that her daughter was dead. Ms. Berry, held captive for more than a decade, was rescued this May." Browne once told CNN that although she has contact with the dead, "psychics can never be 100 percent. I think that would be scary to be 100 percent."
- C.S. Lewis' "Image and Imagination," a previously unseen essay that was rescued following a fire at the Lewis family home, will be published in a collection of the writer's essays from Cambridge University Press. The Guardian has an excerpt: "Always the real world is the bank on which the poet draws his cheques; and though a metaphysical lyric may be a fine and private place, all the meanings embraced within it are but passengers who come there from the public, eternal, objective world of reality and haste thither again."
- Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien can now explore Middle-Earth. The project, a partnership between Google and Warner Bros., was timed to coincide with the movie release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. As The Wall Street Journal reports, people can tour Rivendell, Trollshaws and Dol Guldur, and that more places in Middle-Earth will be added soon.
- Salman Rushdie speaks to The Wall Street Journal about the Internet and his next novel: "Every time there has been a new form of communication that has emerged, people have always predicted that it will kill the novel. Radio was supposed to have killed the novel. Movies, TV were supposed to kill the novel, but none of them have done that. There is something very persistent about sitting quietly and enjoying an interaction between the reader and the words in a book." Rushdie also hints at the contents of his next novel, which he calls "the most surrealist novel I have written for a long time." He added, "I went back to the thing that I first fell in love with, when I was reading the wonderful stories that you grow up in the East, the Arabian nights, the Ramayana. I'm writing something modern that relates to those stories."
- At The Hairpin, Sarah Miller admits she hates poetry: "I have always felt that to like poetry I would have to become another person, one who wasn't just really obvious, who thought about things a lot before opening my mouth, who was more dependably capable of enjoying a subtle experience, and who had questions about life other than, 'Oh my God, what did she say when he said that?' and, 'So are they getting back together?' and, 'How much?' It would be such an effort to be this person, the person who could savor the idea of cold plums and stand in front of the Emily Dickinson Museum and marvel, 'Wow, she wrote all those poems in there' instead of, 'I wonder what that place would look like with a bigger porch.' "
- Gene Demby considers Bartlett's Familiar Black Quotations: "Like any work of history — because that's what this is, really — it's the choices about what to include and leave out that are the most telling. 'Why that passage from Frantz Fanon or that particular Jay-Z lyric?' "
- The author and journalist Herbert Mitgang died Thursday at age 93. A book critic and prominent journalist, he also wrote or edited more than a dozen books on topics ranging from FBI surveillance of writers with left-wing views to biographies of Abraham Lincoln. Mitgang served as the president of both the Authors League Fund and the Authors Guild. In an obituary, The New York Times quotes Alfred Kazin as saying: "Reading Mr. Mitgang, one remembers the forgotten pleasures of idealism."
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