The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Last week, Kickstarter apologized for featuring a book proposal by pickup artist Ken Hoinsky that critics say promotes sexual assault with tips such as "Don't ask for permission" and "Force her to rebuff your advances." Now Hoinsky has apologized, saying in a YouTube video that parts of his book Above the Game are "harmful." He adds, "In the intention of anything that I've written, there is nothing that encourages violence against women. That's absurd. I would never ever do that, that goes against every value that I have."
- Science fiction author and screenwriter Richard Matheson died Sunday at age 87, as NPR's Bill Chappell has reported. The author of I Am Legend and The Shrinking Man as well as a number of Twilight Zone episodes, Matheson was an inspiration to writers such as Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. King dedicated his novel Cell to Matheson and once said, "When people talk about genre, I guess they mention my name first, but without Richard Matheson I wouldn't be around."
- The Los Angeles Review of Books hosted a roundtable on The Little Mermaid (giving equal weight to Disney and Hans Christian Andersen). Shana Mlawski writes: "To Homer, the Siren was a villain; to British sailors, a harbinger of nautical doom. To Hans Christian Andersen, she was the inspiration for a cautionary tale; to the Disney Corporation, a heroine and a goldmine. But no matter when they were written, and no matter who wrote them, sirenic fables always revolve around the twin dangers of curiosity and desire."
- John McEnroe, tantrum-prone tennis player (and '80s hair icon!), has a book deal with Little, Brown, the company announced Monday. A follow-up to his bestselling 2002 autobiography, You Cannot Be Serious, the book will describe, among other things, "the psychological struggles he endured on the path to success as a broadcaster, businessman and gallery owner."
- Hermione Lee challenges the popular idea of Willa Cather as a kind of all-American plainswoman: "Since her death in 1947, many readers still take her to their hearts as the standardbearer of a sentimental nostalgia for vanished American values. It is an appropriation at odds with the harshness, violence, and cold truthfulness that run like dark steel through the calm, lyric simplicity of her writing."
- NPR's Elizabeth Blair wonders why children's books overwhelmingly feature white characters, even though almost half of American children are non-white: "Only a small fraction of children's books have main characters that are Latino or Native American or black or Asian. And it's been that way for a very long time."