Wolf Book Postponed in Us as Virago Holds Firm

16 June 2019

From The Bookseller:

Publication of Naomi Wolf’s latest book has been postponed in the US following “new questions” about its contents but UK publisher Virago is standing by its publication.

Wolf was initially alerted to errors in Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalisation of Love during an appearance on BBC Radio 3 last month.

Historian Dr Matthew Sweet pointed out she had misunderstood the legal term “death recorded” to mean executions when it actually meant judges abstained from pronouncing a death sentence. Sweet also claimed she was wrong about the reason for the sentences. The error called into question her claim that “several dozen” men had been executed for homosexual sex in the UK.

After initially standing by the book, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt told the New York Times on Thursday (13th June) it was delaying the release. A spokesman told the paper: “As we have been working with Naomi Wolf to make corrections to Outrages, new questions have arisen that require more time to explore. We are postponing publication and requesting that all copies be returned from retail accounts while we work to resolve those questions.”

. . . .

A Virago spokeswoman said: “Though the book received excellent reviews it also attracted criticism. As a result, Houghton Mifflin have decided to postpone their June publication ahead of their books going on sale while they explore the questions that have arisen. Virago will be making any necessary corrections to future reprints.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

From The Guardian:

Naomi Wolf’s US publisher has postponed the release of her new book and is recalling copies from booksellers, saying that new questions have arisen over the book’s content.

Outrages, which argues that the Obscene Publications Act of 1857 led to a turn against consensual sex between men and an increase in executions for sodomy, was published in the UK on 20 May. Wolf has already acknowledged that the book contains two errors, after an on-air challenge on BBC Radio 3 during which the writer and broadcaster Matthew Sweet told her that she had misunderstood the term “death recorded” in historical records as signifying an execution. In fact it denotes the opposite, Sweet pointed out, highlighting that a teenager she said had been “actually executed for sodomy” in 1859 was paroled two years after being convicted. Wolf said last month that she had thanked Sweet for highlighting the mistakes, and was correcting future editions.

. . . .

Wolf said on Friday morning that she strongly objected to the decision to postpone and recall, and that she would “do all I can to bring Outrages to American readers”.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

From The New York Times:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is postponing the publication of Naomi Wolf’s forthcoming book “Outrages” after questions have been raised about the accuracy of her research.

The book, which explores how 19th-century British laws gave the government new ways to punish and criminalize same-sex relationships, was expected to go on sale in the United States on June 18, with an announced first print run of 35,000 copies.

The publisher initially stood by Ms. Wolf last month after an embarrassing on-air correction to her interpretation of historical records occurred during an interview with the BBC. Now, the company is taking the extreme step of recalling copies from retailers.

. . . .

The blowback against Ms. Wolf was swift after the BBC Radio host, Matthew Sweet, revealed a critical error in her book that undermined her thesis. During the interview, Wolf told him that she found “several dozen executions” of men accused of having sexual relations with other men.

“I don’t think you’re right about this,” he said.

Mr. Sweet said that Ms. Wolf had misunderstood the legal term “death recorded” as an execution, when in fact it meant that a death sentence was not carried out.

“It was a category that was created in 1823 that allowed judges to abstain from pronouncing a sentence of death on any capital convict whom they considered to be a fit subject for pardon,” Mr. Sweet said. “I don’t think any of the executions you’ve identified here actually happened.”

Ms. Wolf said she would look into the records in question and correct future editions, noting that the issue Mr. Sweet raised was “a really important thing to investigate.”

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt initially called the mistaken number of executions an “unfortunate error” but said, “we believe the overall thesis of the book ‘Outrages’ still holds.”

It wasn’t the first time Ms. Wolf has been questioned over the accuracy of her research and analysis. Known for books such as “The Beauty Myth” and “Vagina: A New Biography,” she has been called out in the past for vastly overstating the number of women who die from anorexia and for making dubious claims about female biology.

But the errors in “Outrages” appear to be more grave, given that Ms. Wolf’s publisher is taking the costly step of recalling finished copies, a rare measure that is usually only undertaken for books that contain fatal factual flaws or other more serious transgressions. In 2012, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt recalled books by the journalist Jonah Lehrer after evidence surfaced that he had fabricated quotes and plagiarized.

. . . .

Publishers often rely on authors to verify material in their books, and if fact checkers are used, it is typically at the author’s discretion and expense.

Recently, questions have arisen about the accuracy of books by other major nonfiction authors, including Jared Diamond and Michael Wolff, who was called out in an interview for errors in his new book about the Trump administration, “Siege: Trump Under Fire.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

PG was reminded about the old saying attributed to a newspaper editor, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

How Drawing Makes Me a Better Reader

16 June 2019

From Bookriot:

The Edward Cullen portrayed by Robert Pattinson in Twilight was not what I pictured. Despite having read the book several times and a clear description that points out Edward’s “bronze” hair, somehow I imagined him with black, curly hair a bit past his ears. Imagine my surprise when, after seeing the movie, I went back to the text and saw that, huh, yeah, he does have bronze hair. Who knew?

Physical character descriptions have always eluded me. For however many times I’ve seen the phrase “almond-shaped” in reference to eyes — on the occasions I do pick up on physical descriptions — I still don’t know exactly what that means. (To be fair, I’ve also Googled it and there doesn’t actually seem to be a consensus on that particular image. At least not as far as you can trust a Google Image search to represent a concept.) And unlike many readers, I don’t think I really picture characters and scenes in my head as I read. It may work that way for Sam in iCarly, but not me.

. . . .

I struggle to visualize characters, settings, and whatever other visual descriptions in my mind’s eye. Either I come up with something that is definitely not what the author describes or I picture nothing at all. I just don’t have a picture playing in my head as I read. It’s probably why when I finish a book (never before, because spoilers!) I like to look at fan art. Oh, I think, that’s what that person is supposed to look like. I’m always sort of surprised at how many artists end up with similar concepts for fan art — had all of these details been in the text and I really missed that much?

. . . .

When I’m not reading, one of the things I like to do is draw. I don’t do it as often as I would like, but when I do, it actually does help me to better comprehend visual descriptions in text. If I’m working at a drawing of someone who’s got a thin nose, the act of drawing that nose reinforces the adjective and when I read it in text, the picture is sharper for me.

Not only does the act of drawing help to emphasize and reinforce the actual function of an adjective’s definition, but it also encourages me to pay greater attention to those small details. Especially if I’m creating my own fan art, I need to make a more conscious effort to be aware of physical descriptions. This means I’m also reading the text in general more closely. A sentence may start off about the many adventures of a cowgirl on the run, but there could be a detail about the particular coppery hue of her braid that I would have missed if I were to read more casually.

. . . .

Is “deep reading” better than “surface reading”? Of course not. There are books that perhaps call for closer readings and some that are just fine with a more superficial skim. But like most other things, the quality — quality here meaning the richness of comprehension, not necessarily superiority — and the quantity of your reading activities are often inversely correlated.

Link to the rest at Bookriot

PG did an image search and found the following from Kendra Powell:

The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles

16 June 2019

An 8.5 minute film

A Rare Bookstore That’s Still Thriving in New York City

16 June 2019

A 2.5 minute film.

Brooklyn’s Most-Cluttered Bookstore

16 June 2019

A seven-minute film.

Turned Pages

16 June 2019

As even the least-observant visitor to TPV has noticed, PG has been on a video spree. He promises this will not continue, but he will post a handful of additional book-related videos he has discovered during his brief video journey.

The following 8-minute documentary is titled Turned Pages.


A Good Friend

16 June 2019

A good friend will help you move, but a true friend will help you move a body.

~ Steven J. Daniels

Bookstores in Movies – 7

15 June 2019

84 Charing Cross Road

From IMDB:

1949 marks the beginning of the nineteen year (1949 to 1968) unconventional and long distance love affair between Helene Hanff (Anne Bancroft) and Frank P. Doel (Sir Anthony Hopkins). Straightforward Helene is an aspiring New York City-based writer who works as a script editor. She is a voracious reader, especially of non-fiction. Frank is the efficient and knowledgeable head clerk at Marks & Co., a second-hand bookstore located at 84 Charing Cross Road in London. Unable to find the out of print books she wants at New York City bookstores without having to pay an arm and a leg, which she can’t afford, she writes to Marks & Co. hoping they can fill her order at reasonable prices. Frank and the bookstore staff are able to provide Helene most of what she wants at more than reasonable prices including shipping. As such, she provides them with standing orders for more and more books. But as time goes on, their correspondence not only deals with Helene’s orders, but what is happening in their lives and in the world around them, Frank’s, which includes his loving marriage to his wife Nora (Dame Judi Dench) and their two children. Helene dreams one day of being able to travel to London to meet Frank and the other Marks & Co. staff, the people who have been able to fulfill a great need in her life.

Link to the rest at IMDB

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