Matthew Flamm
December 07, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

MAD ABOUT MAD It won’t just be the usual gang of idiots helping MAD magazine celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. ibooks, inc. has just made a deal with DC Comics, MAD‘s publisher, to reissue the first five MAD paperback collections, starting in February with MAD Strikes Back and The MAD Reader, which featured the first prominent image of Alfred E. Neuman. ”For any kid, teenager, or college student in the ’50s and ’60s, at least one of these books made its way into their consciousness,” says ibooks publisher Byron Preiss.

CAPITAL SITUATION Poor Jonathan Franzen. The world’s most famously disinvited guest just can’t get a break. The winner of this year’s National Book Award is facing complaints from new quarters: Lithuanian representatives in the United States have taken exception to The Corrections‘ depiction of its capital, Vilnius—including economic chaos, gangsterism, and a diet reliant on horse meat. ”In Vilnius, you can get much better food than in New York,” says the Lithuanian consul general, Rimantas Morkvenas, calling Franzen’s descriptions of the city ”simply ridiculous.” In a letter to Franzen and his publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Vygaudas Usackas, the Lithuanian ambassador, complained that the portrayal of Lithuania has ”unintended harmful consequences in the perceptions your readers will take away from the book.” He also invited Franzen to visit the country, which he has never done. Responds FSG publicity director Jeff Seroy: ”It’s certainly not a fatwa. It’s a generous invitation, and maybe [Franzen] will take him up on it.”

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