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Emily Dickinson’s 'Envelope Poems' Revealed

Envelope poems showcase another side of poet's artistry

(Newser) - Emily Dickinson's use of small, often oddly-shaped bits of paper torn from 19th-century envelopes—on which she wrote sentences, stanzas, and entire rough poems in pencil—have been published, as a group, for the first time. Historian Marta Werner first came across one in the 1990s. Known as the... More »

Amazon Deletes Thousands of 'Fake' Reviews

Online purge sparks debate among authors and fans

(Newser) - Those glowing reviews on Amazon.com that seem a little made-up? The online mega-retailer is finally cracking down, deleting thousands of reviews that strike a phony chord for one reason or another, the New York Times reports. Amazon isn't divulging its deletion policy, but reviews by friends and family... More »

Your 'Inner Psychopath' Could Make You a Big Success

A book by Kevin Dutton looks to learn from nutcases

(Newser) - What psychopaths have too much of, we could all use in small doses—or so argues Kevin Dutton in a new book called The Wisdom of Psychopaths. Easy charm, unassailable self-confidence, outsize ego, and resistance to self-blame are among the qualities that horrify us in Anders Breivik, say, but seem... More »

Crime Writer Caught Faking Amazon Reviews

Best-seller RJ Ellory apologizes for 'judgement lapse'

(Newser) - Best-sellling crime writer RJ Ellory has been caught writing favorable reviews of his own books on Amazon.com—and penning scathing reviews of his competitors' books. The British writer was exposed by spy thriller author Jeremy Duns, who blew the whistle on Ellory on Twitter , reports ABC . "Ellory writes... More »

Tina Fey Memoir: A Funny Failure?

Critics divided over Bossypants as autobiography

(Newser) - It’s no surprise that Tina Fey’s autobiography, Bossypants, is hilarious; on that much critics agree. But there’s some dissent over whether it does its job as a memoir:
  • “The most successful autobiographies demand a certain amount of psychic heavy lifting, risk taking, and interrogation of one’
... More »

Gandhi Was a Big Jerk, Perv

Biography seeks to end hagiography of the leader of Indian independence

(Newser) - Mohandas Gandhi may have been a great man, leading India to independence, but he was also a great jerk, leading a life of racism, self-promotion, sexual weirdness, and cruelty—or so says the new biography Great Soul, by former New York Times executive editor Joseph Lelyveld. Gandhi's early biographers dubbed... More »

Writer Sues for Libel Over Bad Book Review

Karin N. Calvo-Goller says the 4-paragraph review hurt her reputation

(Newser) - No author likes a bad review, but one academic decided to do something about it—she sued. Even more unusual, the Israel-based writer of an English-language book by a Dutch publisher that was reviewed in 2007 by a German professor for an American journal decided to sue in a French... More »

The Best Books of 2010

The New York Times Book Review picks out its favorites

(Newser) - The year's coming to a close and you know what that means: Best-of lists! The New York Times Book Review kicks things off with a list of the year's top books. Including: Fiction
  • Freedom, Jonathan Franzen—“Even richer and deeper” than The Corrections, this Bush-era Midwestern family saga perfectly
... More »

Justice Stevens Explains Shift on Death Penalty

Former supporter cites racism, politics, judicial activism

(Newser) - Former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens is making clear for the first time why he switched course on the death penalty in 2008, calling it unconstitutional, the New York Times reports. Writing in the New York Review of Books, Stevens, who supported capital punishment in 1976, reveals his revised... More »

How an Affair Gave Us the Emily Dickinson We Love

Why her brother's trysts with Mabel Loomis Todd matter

(Newser) - Salacious things were afoot in Emily Dickinson's family home: During the last two years of her life, her married brother, Austin, would leave his house next-door under the pretense of calling on his sisters—but instead would have sex with the also-married Mabel Loomis Todd on the dining room couch... More »

Amazon, Change Your Dumb Book Review Policy

Let only people who have bought the books write about them

(Newser) - Michael Lewis has written an acclaimed best-seller about the financial industry, but you wouldn't know it from the customer reviews on Amazon.com. Lewis' The Big Short is getting savaged there with low ratings—by people who haven't even read it. Why? They're Kindle fans angry it isn't being made... More »

'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' Doesn't Actually Suck

Lincoln-vampire mashup offers lively metaphor for slavery

(Newser) - Writer Seth Grahame-Smith landed a six-figure deal for a book called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Does it suck? Surprisingly, no, says Time 's Lev Grossman. This mashup of history and horror may lack "richness and subtlety," but does not want for color. Grahame-Smith's writing is "lively" and... More »

Michael Pollan's Latest Is Best Nutrition Book in 40 Years

Food Rules deserves raves: Jane Brody

(Newser) - Out for just over a month, Michael Pollan's Food Rules is the No. 1 book on Amazon—and the best nutrition book of Jane E. Brody's career. "In the more than four decades that I have been reading and writing about the findings of nutritional science," the New ... More »

Edwards Comes Off as 'Sinister,' 'Phony' in Book

And author/ex-lackey Andrew Young looks just as bad

(Newser) - Andrew Young’s The Politician is a mesmerizing, downright chilling book, which leaves both its subject and author looking like absolute scum. In one corner there’s Young, Edwards’ “body man, beard and shit-eating courtier,” a “craven acolyte” so pathetic that his main act of rebellion against... More »

Gilbert's Latest Lacks Magic of Eat, Pray, Love

Academic interest in marriage obscures personal touch in Committed

(Newser) - Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert's new book, Committed, has our heroine coming to terms with marriage after swearing off the institution, with the aid of a lot of research. Some critics aren't convinced:
  • "One generally doesn’t indulge another person’s emotional processing at this length unless the
... More »

Writers Pick Best Books of '09

Nick Hornby, Judy Blume, and more weigh in

(Newser) - What was the best book of the year? Salon asked Nick Hornby, Junot Diaz, Curtis Sittenfeld, and other people with better literary credentials than ours what they enjoyed in 2009. Their responses are in the photo gallery. More »

New Books Do Carver Justice

Biography, story collection provide 'necessary corrective'

(Newser) - Two new books on Raymond Carver—a biography and a collection of stories—bring a "welcome and necessary corrective" to what we know of the short story master, writes Stephen King. Carol Sklenicka's A Writer's Life cuts Carver too much slack for his personal life—he was a "... More »

Going Rogue: What Reviewers Are Saying

Same old Sarah: 'ever optimistic, weirdly ungrammatical'

(Newser) - Most reviewers agree Sarah Palin's Going Rogue is intriguing—mostly for the swipes at the McCain campaign and what Palin writes about her life off the political stage. Some takes:
  • The book is "a crackling read of grudges recalled, and settled, in her favor, a rewriting of the 2008
... More »

'Sarah's Not Retreating, She's Reloading'

Going Rogue shows Palin as smart feminist with eye on presidency

(Newser) - The Sarah Palin who emerges on the pages of Going Rogue is a far cry from the "prejudiced, dim-witted ideologue of the popular liberal imagination," Melanie Kirkpatrick writes in the Wall Street Journal . Kirkpatrick finds a "nuanced" politician "capable of mastering complicated issues," and a... More »

Andre Agassi's Autobiography 'Lively but Narrow'

Open has griping, conceit, lots of tennis

(Newser) - Andre Agassi’s autobiography has gotten a lot of hype, thanks to his admission of using both crystal meth and a toupee—but most of Open deals with “tennis, more tennis, the misery of tennis,” writes Janet Maslin in the New York Times. Still, even minutely detailed descriptions... More »

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