The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
A major Christian retailer has suspended sales of celebrity pastor Mark Driscoll's book A Call to Resurgence. On Friday, LifeWay Christian Resources pulled the book from its website and stores while it "asses[es] developments regarding his ministry," LifeWay spokesman Marty King wrote in an email to NPR. Driscoll, a controversial evangelical pastor, is accused of plagiarizing sections of the book and artificially inflating his book sales by bulk-buying copies. Driscoll apologized in both instances, calling the "improper citation" an error that was "unintentional, but serious" and the inflated book sales "wrong." LifeWay's decision to halt sales comes shortly after Driscoll was asked to step down from the Acts29 Network of churches. "It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and [his church] Mars Hill in our network," Acts29 wrote in a statement. A representative for Mars Hill did not responded to a request for comment.
For the New York Review of Books, Tim Parks writes, "What no one wants to accept — and no doubt there is an element of class prejudice at work here too — is that there are many ways to live a full, responsible, and even wise life that do not pass through reading literary fiction. And that consequently those of us who do pursue this habit, who feel that it enriches and illuminates us, are not in possession of an essential tool for self-realization or the key to protecting civilization from decadence and collapse. We are just a bunch of folks who for reasons of history and social conditioning have been blessed with a wonderful pursuit."
Slate has an adapted excerpt of a new book by the book jacket designer Peter Mendelsund, who describes the slipperiness of the mental images we form while reading: "If I said to you, 'Describe Anna Karenina,' perhaps you'd mention her beauty. If you were reading closely, you'd mention her 'thick lashes,' her weight, or maybe even her little downy mustache (yes — it's there). But what does Anna Karenina look like? You may feel intimately acquainted with a character, but this doesn't mean you are actually picturing a person. Nothing so fixed — nothing so choate. ... Even if an author excels at physical description, we are left with shambling concoctions of stray body parts and random detail. We fill in gaps. We shade them in. We gloss over them. We elide. Our mental sketches of characters are worse than police composites."
For McSweeney's,Arabella Anderson imagines summer bikini tips written by Anne Sexton:
"I have tried them all,
The cotton, the nylon,
absorbing water, rolling in sand,
sticky flakes of broken glass.
We all drown in the end."
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