Author News and Book Reports

Margaret Atwood thinks the unthinkable and takes 'the pledge'
Margaret Atwood brought her 3-month long, 7-country book tour, beginning in Edinburgh, Scotland, tweeting and blogging all the way to a grand finale at the opening night of the 2009 Miami Book Fair International, where she was greeted with a standing ovation from her legions of fans who stood on line on a Sunday night to hear her read and even sing. After introducing the main characters in her latest metaphysical masterpiece, Year Of The Flood (Nan A. Talese; September, 2009), Atwood proceeded to read passages from the dystopic novel in which we meet Toby, a woman barricaded in a spa with edible skin treatments; Ren, a young trapeze artist quarantined in the Scales and Tails sex club; and Adam One, the leader of a post-apocalyptic Christian sect called God's Gardeners, closing the reading with a singing performance of the Mole Day Children's Hymn. Taking questions from the audience, Atwood commented on winning the first Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction, while differentiating science fiction about aliens and other planets from speculative fiction about the collapse of civilization in the not too distant future that could actually happen. Asked about the connections between The Year of the Flood and her previous novel, Oryx and Crake, published in 2003, Atwood described the metaphysical questions arising from the previous novel which drove her to write The Year of the Flood seeking answers. The Harvard-educated Canadian author reflected on the roots of her seemingly implausible writing career; provided clues about the actual landscape on which the dystopian setting for The Year of the Flood is based; offered advice to aspiring writers; and ruminated on her other interests, including protecting migratory songbirds from insecticides used to grow commercial coffee beans, at which point Atwood demanded that everyone raise their right hand and take the pledge to drink only special organic coffee.

Book and Author Headlines

John Grisham receives first-ever National Book Festival Creative Achievement Award: Bestselling author John Grisham receives the first-ever National Book Festival Creative Achievement Award and tells the story behind his stories in an interview with Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley.

John Hodgman and Larry Wilmore get the truth out about fake news and book blurbs: Two of today's top TV cutups, 'Daily Show' fake news correspondents John Hodgman and Larry Wilmore take the stage at the Miami Book Fair International 2009 to air dirty laundry, razz each other over book blurbs, and talk about their careers in comedy.

David Small and Byron Pitts unscramble their hardscrabble youths with A.J. Jacobs: Award-winng children's book author David Small and Byron Pitts, Chief National Correspondent and Conributing Correspondent for 60 Minutes at CBS News, join diarist A.J. Jacobs in unscrambling how their hardscrabble childhoods contributed to their success.

Clarence 'Big Man' Clemons toots his horn: The Big Man himself showcases his book, his sax, his life among the legends at BookExpo America 2009.

Nobel Laureates lead large flock of authors in annual migration to Miami, Nov 8-15: Several hundred world-class and emerging authors will flock to the 2009 Miami Book Fair International where they will read to and talk with many thousands of book lovers of all ages, Nov. 8-15.

Gail Collins traces the triumphs and defeats 'when everything changed': New York Times political op-ed columnist Gail Collins describes the evolution of an essay she wrote that grew into two volumes covering 450 years of women's history in America.

Bob Schieffer mixes poems and politics, from Nixon to Obama, and comments on his commentaries: CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer appears at the 2008 National Book Festival a few weeks before the 2008 election to promote his book 'Bob Schieffer's America' and offer commentary on the social and political landscape.

Jeannette Walls leaves 'The Glass Castle' riding her new bestseller, 'Half Broke Horse': Former USA Today celeb reporter, MSNBC.com gossip columnist, and bestselling author of 'The Glass Castle' Jeannette Walls offers the back story for her 'true-life novel' about her gunslinging grandmother, Lily Casey Smith.

Roy Blount Jr. takes on linguistics with baby talk and homemade 'alphabet juice': Humorist Roy Blount Jr. disputes conventional linguistics with baby talk, onomatopoeia, and with a little homemade 'alphabet juice.'

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