Weekend Bookchat

November 15, 2008

Those unfortunate souls who just can’t get enough of the halting, barely coherent and wholly nonsensical thoughts of Joe the Plumber will be delighted to know that The Wurzelbacher has a book coming out. What’s curious is that the literary toilet plunger’s tome is coming out via PearlGate, an operation founded by his co-author. In an era when virtually any subliterate wingnut with name recognition can get a book deal with Regnery or Crown Forum, it’s remarkable to see that somebody who was essentially John McCain’s other running mate has to resort to what amounts to self-publishing. Must be quite a read.

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Helpful readers may want to contact Shelby Steele via his publisher, the Free Press, with suggestions for a new subtitle for the paperback edition of his book A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can’t Win. That’s assuming there is a paperback edition, since Steele is trying to blame the subtitle on commercial pressure from his publisher:

He made it clear that he was the one who slapped the subtitle onto the book — “in about 30 seconds” when Barack Obama was trailing Hillary Rodham Clinton by about 25 percentage points. But, he added, “subtitles are marketing devices — I hate them. I’ve always hated them.”

He said that for “White Guilt,” his book before “A Bound Man,” he tried not to have a subtitle, to no avail. In that case, Mr. Steele went with another provocative subtitle: “How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era.”

The editor in chief of the Free Press, Dominick Anfuso, disputed the idea that there was overriding pressure to come up with the most extreme subtitle to sell books. “It is the handful of largely successful books that do that, and that gives the impression that is what we seek,” he said. What publishers want, he said, are “good titles and good subtitles. Subtitles can make best sellers, but they don’t have to be provocative to do that. It is a package. They go together.”

Interestingly, Steele says that “I stand by every word of the analysis — what is between the covers of the book,” even though his thesis — that Obama’s candidacy was doomed by the conflicting roles he was playing in the eyes of black and white voters — was never all that persuasive to begin with, and became even more ridiculous as Obama swept previously rock-solid red states into the blue column.

By the way, I wonder how Hugh Hewitt’s book proposal is coming along.

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Crooked Timber offers a timely consumer warning to unwary readers who, on the basis of her having published a book about the Depression, might incorrectly believe that former Wall Street Journal editorialist Amity Shlaes might be something more than an ax-grinding wingnut. One of the site’s alert uniformed attendants cuts to the chase: “The main point that needs to be hammered home: that Amity Shlaes is an unscrupulous hack.” If you want to read more about Shlaes and her revisionist take on the Depression, here is a review from Slate and another from The New Yorker.

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During the civil rights upheavals of the 1960s, Malcolm X remarked that the South began at the Canadian border? Sweet Land of Liberty follows the course of the civil rights struggle as it played out in the northern U.S. Here’s an excerpt from Michael Wolff’s upcoming biography of Rupert “Daddy Wingbucks” Murdoch. And the Church of Scientology appears to have a penchant for making unflattering books and even poor Amazon reviews disappear.


6 Responses to “Weekend Bookchat”

  1. […] clipped winger time at The Opinion Mill’s Weekend Bookchat!  Help Shelby Steele find a new subtitle for his book A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama […]

  2. A Bound Man: Why I Deserve to be Hog-Tied by Bill Bennett’s Dominatrix

  3. Bill Bowman Says:

    Hey! Nothing wrong with self-publishing … don’t be such a literary elitist 😉

  4. Steven Hart Says:

    Nothing wrong with it at all. But for somebody with that level of national name recognition . . . you know. It’s kind of pathetic.

  5. rix Says:

    I don’t think Steven is being an elitist so much as pointing out that Joe the Plumber’s 15 minutes are over but Joe doesn’t realize it yet. He’ll be able to recycle himself for awhile, spiraling downward through self-abasing appearances on bottom-feeding cable shows. Joe played his fling with national celebrity all wrong. A humorous caricature can sell product.

  6. Bill Bowman Says:

    I’m not sure J the P can tell time.

    And I was being facetious. Sort of.

    The subject of my (self-published) book, in an on-air rant during one of his programs, once referred to a “nobody” writer who wrote a book about him that “nobody reads.” That kinda stung, mainly because it was true!!

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