The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Louise Shivers, who published her first book, Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail, at the age of 53, has died. She was 84. The 1983 novella followed the wife of a North Carolina tobacco farmer who begins an affair with the "red-headed, jagged faced" hired hand Jack Ruffian. The book was a critical and commercial success: The Washington Post called Shivers "a late-blooming Flannery O'Connor," and USA Today named the book the best first novel of 1983. Shivers submitted the story to a writing contest, hoping to win the $50 prize. The judge happened to be the novelist Mary Gordon, who was so impressed with Shivers' book that, when the manuscript was finished, she passed it on to her agent, who placed it at Random House. "Almost nobody believes me," Shivers told the Post after the novel came out, "but I didn't write the book thinkin' it was gonna get published."
- Kim Kardashian is apparently working on a book of selfies. Now you know.
- "[L]ast year, [Peter] Mendelsund, the associate art director at Alfred A. Knopf, became his own worst nightmare." — Alexandra Alter describes a book jacket designer's struggle to make the cover of his own book.
- Linda Gregerson has a new poem, "Ceres Lamenting," in The New Yorker:
"She hated the plow.
She hated the cattle.
that her sweet acres when the girl
had been taken away should still
contrive to be
the barley, even the grape, as though
her heart had not been torn
- The Associated Press writes about reports of sexual harassment at the country's biggest comic book convention: "Amid the costumes and fantasy of this weekend's Comic-Con convention [in San Diego], a group of young women drew widespread attention to a very real issue — allegations of sexual harassment at the annual pop-culture festival. Geeks for CONsent, founded by three women from Philadelphia, gathered nearly 2,600 signatures on an online petition supporting a formal anti-harassment policy at Comic-Con."
Despite calls from the United Nations for a cease-fire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned his country to prepare for a "prolonged" war.
Netanyahu made the comments during a televised address on Monday. As NBC News reports, Netanyahu also defended its offensive in Gaza as just.
"We will continue to act aggressively and responsibly until the mission is completed to protect our citizens, soldiers and children," Netanyahu added.
With that, here's what you need to know as the conflict enters its 22nd day:
— The Death Toll:
Israel had its deadliest day on Monday. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports that at least five soldiers guarding a kibbutz were killed by Hamas militants who used tunnels to burrow into Israel.
According to a New York Times count, that brings total Israeli deaths to 51.
The death toll in Gaza also keeps climbing: It's more than 1,110; 15 people were killed overnight.
— Attacking Gaza's Only Power Plant:
Reporting from Gaza, NPR's Emily Harris said last night saw the "longest, loudest and closest attacks so far."
At least one shell struck Gaza's only power plan, the head of Gaza's electricity company told Emily.
"It started a blaze that destroyed the storage tanks," Emily tells us. "He says the plant is no longer producing. Combined with downed lines from Israel, Gazan homes are getting something around less than four hours of electricity a day. This affects water as water needs pumps."
— A Stunning Time-Lapse:
Buzzfeed's Sheera Frankel describes the video below like this: "Time lapse shows entire neighborhood in Gaza being flattened by air strikes over the course of one hour."
The muscular farmer sits in the basement kindergarten of the church, perched on a tiny chair intended for a child. He and his family are spending the holiday here, after being forced to flee from extremists.
"Our village is more than 300 years old," Ahmed Ali says of Shreikhan, near Mosul, "and we never had any such problems."
For most Muslims around the world, Eid is a time for gifts, feasts and visiting relatives. But for him and others in a militant-controlled swath of northwest Iraq, it's a strange and unhappy holiday.
He and his family, Shiites who left their homes when extremist Sunnis took over Mosul, are spending the holiday in Qosh, a nearby Christian village. They have been living for a month in a kindergarten with Santa Claus and snowmen painted on the walls.
"There's no mosque here," he says, "just a church."
His family had been in Shreikhan since it was founded and are so long-tenured that he described his house as historic.
He says that relations were so good with the Sunni village down the hill that, two months ago, he married one of its daughters. And as evidence of the peaceful coexistence in this mixed area, he says the Christians here in Qosh have welcomed him. Men at the Chaldean Mar Mekha church pile boxes of aid onto handcarts and into trucks to deliver to families sheltering there.
"The church is very helpful; they give us food," he says. "And even the people from the town, they gave us everything we have here."
But some wonder whether it's time to partition Iraq along religious and ethnic lines. Fueled by the war in Syria, new waves of highly sectarian Sunni and Shiite militias are threatening civilians, and both sides scare the Christians. Meanwhile, the ethnic Kurds' calls for independence in the north are growing louder.
Already Ali says most of the Shiites from his village have moved to Shiite-dominated southern Iraq. But for Ali, a divided Iraq wouldn't be the country he loves.
"If that happens it will be something very, very painful," he says. "I'm a farmer. I have 50 tonnes of potatoes in cold storage. It's my home; it's my place."
Around the corner, a government building is sheltering an extended Sunni family from Mosul. The paterfamilias, Saad Mahmoud, says he fears that the extremists will target him because he worked for the government. Usually at Eid, he pays calls to his neighbors: Shiites, Christians and other minorities among them.
"If you did this partition, I would consider it a tragedy," he says. "Because we're a family, it's like somebody came to your house and took away one of them."
At the church, aid co-ordinator Fadi Youssef also says that Iraq — the land of the two rivers, he calls it, as Iraqis do when feeling proud — should be a place of diversity and co-existence, not a split state with no place for minorities.
Iraq's deputy minister for the displaced, Asghar al Moussawi, echoes that sentiment. Visiting the church for Eid, he says he sees the signs of Iraq breaking up into segregated regions. But so much of Iraq — including this area around Mosul — is so mixed, he says, it's impossible to divide.
"As an Iraqi, I wouldn't wish for Iraq to be divided or even head in that direction," he says. "Especially because that division would happen on the basis of ethnicity and sect."
For many Iraqis, commitment to a united Iraq is part of their identity — and something their leaders insist they believe in. The deputy minister even says Western countries shouldn't offer asylum to Iraqis — which might encourage them to leave — but rather give aid with the aim of helping them stay where they are.
But such assistance would need to arrive swiftly.
Youssef, the church aid coordinator, says the church waited until after Eid to tell the displaced families that they can't live in the kindergarten forever.
He thinks they'll probably end up in Shiite-dominated southern Iraq, with the rest of the Shiites from their village.