by Annalisa Quinn
This post was updated at 2:45 p.m. ET
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- A New Mexico school district has at least temporarily taken Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere off library shelves at its lone high school following complaints from a local mother. Her daughter is a student at Alamogordo High School, where the book was required reading. The mother, Nancy Wilmott, told NPR in a phone interview that what she sees as the novel's strong language and sexual content make it "inappropriate" and "rated-R." She added: "Parents should have been given the opportunity to look at the book themselves." In particular, she objected to a passage that begins, "The man has his hand inside the woman's sweater and was moving it around enthusiastically, a lone traveler discovering an unexplored continent." Gaiman told NPR in an email, "I'm faintly baffled by this. NEVERWHERE's a book that's been taught in schools for years: it's an adult novel that kids love (and won the YALSA award as an adult book that Young Adults enjoy). It's an adventure, with themes of social responsibility. I've not seen it described as 'R Rated' before, and mostly worry that anyone who buys it thinking they are in for lashings of Sex and Violence will be extremely disappointed." The school district's superintendent, Dr. George Straface, told NPR that the district is "temporarily taking it out of use until we can review it in front of a panel of parents and teachers."
- Canadian author Margaret Atwood celebrates Alice Munro's Nobel win: "We're all slightly furtive, we writers; especially we Canadian writers, and even more especially we Canadian female writers of an earlier generation. 'Art is what you can get away with,' said Canadian Marshall MacLuhan, and I invite the reader to count how many of the murderers in Munro's stories are ever caught. (Answer: none.) Munro understands the undercover heist that is fiction writing, as well as its pleasures and fears: how delicious to have done it, but what if you get found out? Back in the 1950s and 60s, when Munro began, there was a feeling that not only female writers but Canadians were thought to be both trespassing and transgressing."
- Meanwhile, Munro's longtime New Yorker editor, Deborah Treisman, reflects on the process: "Editing Alice Munro's stories is sometimes a lesson in feeling extraneous." She added, "We don't so much read Alice's stories as live through them: they can be exhausting and enervating; they can leave us fragile, our senses heightened; they can leave us satisfied, thrilled. The saddest part is that they leave us at all."
- For two weeks next month, the fast-food giant McDonald's will distribute books instead of toys in its Happy Meals, as NPR's Maria Godoy reported Thursday. "But don't expect to find classics like The Very Hungry Caterpillar with your burger," she notes. The books reportedly were written for McDonald's by an advertising firm.
- DC Entertainment is launching a new weekly Batman comic, "Batman Eternal," in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the winged vigilante. The comic will be written by Scott Snyder and others, and illustrated by Jason Fabok. Snyder tells The Associated Press that the comic will "set the stage for a new Gotham and new characters and a new set of stories that will take Batman into 2015."
- Some U.K. copies of the latest Bridget Jones book, Mad About the Boy, accidentally include 40 pages of David Jason's autobiography My Life. Publisher Vintage noted, "The printers have had a Bridget moment."
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