Book News: Files Said To Contradict 'In Cold Blood' May See Light Of Day
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
Truman Capote's masterpiece of true-crime literature may not be all that true, according to a man who just won the legal right to try to prove it. The Associated Press reports that Ronald Nye, the son of a Kansas law enforcement agent who investigated the 1959 killings at the heart of Capote's In Cold Blood, has gotten a court's permission to publish his father's findings — which Nye says contradict Capote's story.
Those findings have earned new life due to a contradiction of a different sort. The judge who blocked publication of the files in the first place has now reversed his decision in a 2012 case brought by the Kansas attorney general's office. The AP writes that Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks "ruled Nye's First Amendment right to publish the material outweigh the government's interest in maintaining the confidentiality of its investigative records."
As for the files themselves, the news service reports that they will likely find their way into a book to be written by Nye and author Gary McAvoy.
"Our belief is that there is no other reason [Kansas] would want the materials we have suppressed were it not for the information we found in them," McAvoy told the AP. "That information connects to other research I've done and supports a pretty compelling new theory — one that I am reluctant to even discuss at this point."
On Haruf's Passing, A Benediction: Novelist Kent Haruf has passed away at age 71, following a fight with cancer. The author of just five published novels, Haruf nevertheless earned plaudits for his portrayal of small-town life, garnering a National Book Award nomination for his 1999 novel Plainsong and a nomination for the inaugural Folio Prize just this year, for his novel Benediction.
In a review of Benediction, critic Ron Charles summed up Haruf's plainspoken style. He writes: "Haruf's five novels are as plain and fortifying as steel-cut oatmeal: certified 100-percent irony-free, guaranteed to wither magic realism, stylistic flourishes and postmodern gimmicks."
Yet, as NPR's Morning Edition recalls, his career as a writer never came easily. It was born of dedication. "It took me a long time to write well enough to publish anything," Haruf told Diane Rehm, in an interview first aired a decade ago. "I was in my 40s before I published anything at all."
Before his death, Haruf finished his sixth novel, Our Souls at Night, which Knopf plans to publish in 2015.
Writers Go To Code: Just wrapped up National Novel Writing Month? Take a breather — your marathon's finally finished. But, as the Verge observes, if only you'd followed this guy's suggestion, you might never have had to run it in the first place. Welcome to National Novel Generation Month, a challenge not to write a book, but to write a computer program that will write that book for you.
To give you an idea: Participant Michelle Fullwood generated Twide and Twejudice — "Pride and Prejudice but with each word of dialogue substituted for a word used in a similar context on Twitter."
Back For Firsts: The PEN American Center has gathered a laundry list of literary icons – from Toni Morrison to Philip Roth, from Don DeLillo to Gillian Flynn — to annotate first editions of some of their best-known works. The marked-up copies go under the gavel Tuesday at Christie's in a fundraising auction called "First Editions / Second Thoughts." Take a peek at the copy of Underworld, and check out the rest of the 75 first editions up for auction at The New York Times.
P.J. Harvey Takes To The Page: P.J. Harvey has announced plans to publish her debut collection of poetry, a 224-page collaboration with filmmaker and photographer Seamus Murphy to be titled The Hollow of the Hand. It's not the first time the musician has worked with Murphy; she also turned to Murphy to direct a series of short films paired with her Mercury Prize-winning album Let England Shake. As Harvey noted in a statement, the book of poems and pictures will dwell heavily with her recent world travels.
"Gathering information from secondary sources felt too far removed for what I was trying to write about," Harvey said in a statement. "I wanted to smell the air, feel the soil and meet the people of the countries I was fascinated with."
The book's not due out till 2015, but if you're eager to hear a hint of it, listen to Harvey read her poem "The Guest Room" at The New Yorker.
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