Thursday, September 2, 2010

An End to the Wylie Wars & Roald Dahl Is a Camel, Apparently

1. Andrew Wylie and Random House have settled their e-book tiffle.

For background on the smackdown, click here and here.

The New York Times is promoting this as a win for Random House. They get the e-book rights to 13 popular backlist titles. However, “win” is a strong word, seeing as they will be paying a royalty rate that can reach as high as 40 percent. (The industry norm is 25 percent.)

So, yes, they get their e-books and Wylie’s Odyssey Editions lost more than half of its titles. But Wylie also negotiated a significantly higher royalty rate than the norm.

That doesn’t sound like a win. That sounds like compromise. (Not that there is anything wrong with compromise.)

Publishing houses that own the print rights to other Odyssey Editions titles, which still include novels by Evelyn Waugh and Saul Bellow, have remained tight-lipped.

2. Apparently, Roald Dahl was a bad student.

How bad? One teacher called him “indolent” and “illiterate.” Another had this to say: “A persistent muddler. Vocabulary negligible, sentences malconstructed. He reminds me of a camel.”

A camel? What does that even mean? Is the teacher saying that camels are bad writers? I suppose that’s true. I mean, I’ve never read anything worthwhile from any ungulate, so why single out camels?

(While stinging, this is not the best “camel” diss of all time.)

This information comes from Penguin’s The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets, which also will include an alternate ending to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

3. Richard Allen of We Who Are About to Die is writing poetry in the style and cadence of Rick Ross.

(If you don’t know who Rick Ross is, he’s a mediocre rapper who succeeds because of his accomplices.)

Rick Ross’s original stanzas:
I feel like Big Meech.
Larry Hoover.
Whippin’ work.

One of Allen’s takes:
I feel like Harry Crews.
Barry Hannah.
I want to be your dog.

My own try:
I feel like Descartes.
Francis Bacon.
Think Deeper.
As-Salamu Alaykum.

-Jason Lea

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