Waiting for Sam
Simon and Schuster has signed an authorized biography of Samuel Beckett, winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize in literature. The biographer, James Knowlson — a family friend for over 20 years — has exclusive access to Beckett’s papers.
Who Needs It?
This spring Doubleday will republish Stephen King’s The Stand, restoring 150,000 words cut from the 1978 edition. The new version ($24.95) contains 1,160 pages (and weighs in at 3 lbs., 12 oz.) compared with 823 pages for the original ($12.95).
Eager to Sleaze
C. David Heymann (A Woman Named Jackie) is at work on his next book, tentatively titled A Lady Named Liz (Taylor, of course).
Joe Montana and writer Alan Steinberg are working on Montana, the NFL quarterback’s second autobiography, due this fall from Random House.
When it was first published last fall, The Reader’s Catalog — a useful compendium of the best books in print, listed by subject — caused a stir. The Catalog gave people access to a wide variety of books, many of them hard to find, all of them available through the Catalog by phone, fax, or mail. Booksellers squawked; many refused to stock it. But as it happens, the Catalog seems to be more valued as a reference tool than as a competitor to bookstores. Catalog sources report that only one of its own best-sellers — Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time — has sold in double figures (20 copies). Among the other top 10 titles are Herodotus: The Histories; The Complete Crumb Comics, by Robert Crumb; and finally, in 10th place, Beowulf — which has sold five copies.
The legend of King Arthur is being recycled in the most unlikely forms. Excalibur — the book — retells the Arthurian legend and includes a board game and a pop-up castle. It was written by Alan Zelenetz, a medieval scholar who writes graphic novels for Marvel Comics and works as an assistant principal at a Brooklyn yeshiva. If a cardboard Camelot doesn’t satisfy the fantasy, a 4,000-room hotel called Excalibur is set to open this summer in Las Vegas. It features a medieval castle, an Arthurian dinner show, and 100,000 square feet of gambling.
On Memorial Day, Michael Wallis is hitting the road to promote his new book, Route 66: The Mother Road. The author will drive his 1964 red Corvette the entire 2,400 miles of the old highway from Chicago to Los Angeles. He’ll stop in towns and sign books from St. Louis to Joplin, from Tulsa to Tucumcari. ”Route 66 represents America, before we became generic,” Wallis says. ”On the interstates, we might as well be on a runway.”