The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Bruce Springsteen is writing a children's book about a bank-robbing baby called Outlaw Pete, based on his song of the same name. "Outlaw Pete is essentially the story of a man trying to outlive and outrun his sins," Springsteen said in a statement. The song "Outlaw Pete" was inspired by the 1950 children's book Brave Cowboy Bill. "When Bruce wrote 'Outlaw Pete' he didn't just write a great song, he created a great character," his co-author, cartoonist Frank Caruso, said in a statement. The book will come out from Simon & Schuster on Nov. 4.
- For the Boston Review, Quyen Nguyen has an interview with Tobias Wolff. Asked about the relationship between literature and politics, Wolff said: "I think it is a political act to force someone to enter the mind, the spirit, the perspective of another human being. We are often resistant to this experience because it forces us to give up all our ideas about other people and actually enter their lives and see through their eyes. That's a radically political act to me."
- Ivan Kreilkamp considers the "Against [X]" essay in The New Yorker: " 'Against [X]' is a symptom of a liberal culture's longing to escape its own strictures; it's the desire of thoughtful and nuanced people to shed their inhibitions and issue fearsome dicta. We feel that we must be fair and evenhanded in our prose, but in our titles we can fly a pirate's flag."
- The D.C. Public Library has hired a social worker to work with homeless patrons. Mark Jenkins reports in The Washington Post: "Libraries in other cities have addressed homelessness in various ways. Philadelphia has a cafe and Seattle a coffee cart run by workers who were previously homeless; Dallas produces podcasts of interviews with its homeless regulars. But as far as [social worker Jean] Badalamenti knows, D.C. is only the second U.S. city to hire a library social worker, following San Francisco." Badalamenti told the Post, "Because the libraries tend to be gathering places for people without homes, it's important to be part of the citywide conversation about how we're going to address homelessness, health services and moving people out of homelessness."
- At Flavorwire, Elisabeth Donnelly makes the case for a more inclusive literary culture: "Lots of people who are professionally writing about books are also snobs, and snobs to the point that they won't even consider what the specific alchemy and magic is that makes something like 50 Shades of Grey save the book industry for a year. ... Ignoring the biggest literary phenomenon of the decade is not good criticism."
- For NPR, 2012 National Book Award Finalist Domingo Martinez describes his struggles with getting health care: "Last year, as I sat in a community health clinic, I wondered if I was the only New York Times best-seller who was waiting to get sliding scale treatment from an underfunded community project, so I wouldn't die from an asthma attack or have a stroke."
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk says his government has sent parliament a bill that allows Ukraine to open a path toward membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
"The main and only goal of Ukraine's foreign policy is to join the European Union," Yatsenyuk said in a statement.
Remember, it was the rejection of a trade deal with the European Union that sparked the protests that ultimately led to unrest and a new government in Ukraine.
And this is all happening, of course, just as NATO announced that about 1,000 highly-trained Russian troops had been deployed in eastern Ukraine. The Russian army, NATO said, is fighting alongside pro-Russian separatists.
NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow told Morning Edition that the thinking is that Russia is trying to create a land passage along the southern part of Ukraine into Crimea, which it annexed earlier this year.
Russia has denied that it is taking any direct involvement in Ukraine.
Vershbow said that NATO would continue to support Ukraine with its defense reforms and its to pursuit professionalize its military.
Morning Edition's David Greene asked Vershbow if there were more options for NATO.
Vershbow said that at this point, it will be up to individual members of NATO to decide how they want to help Ukraine. The new appeals for help from Kiev, he said, "will require some serious decision-making in NATO capitals."
David asked him if that included military action.
Vershbow said that President Obama had ruled out "direct NATO military involvement."