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Book News: Agent Denies That Oscar Pistorius Is Writing A Memoir

Oscar Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Sentencing is set to begin Oct. 13. Siphiwe Sibeko/AP hide caption

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Siphiwe Sibeko/AP

Oscar Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Sentencing is set to begin Oct. 13.

Siphiwe Sibeko/AP
Updated at 9:45 a.m. ET.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Oscar Pistorius' manager, Peet van Zyl, is walking back suggestions that Pistorius was planning to write a memoir about his shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. In an earlier version of this post, we quoted statements van Zyl made to The Observer: "He will write his own book. We've discussed it. We've talked about ideas and concepts. I'm not going to go into details now." Now, van Zyl says the quote was taken out of context and that he was speaking hypothetically. He told The Independent, "During the interview, I was asked about the various books (about the death of Ms Steenkamp) that are in the works. All I said was 'If and when Oscar decides to write a memoir, that's the only book that will matter.' " Acquitted of murdering Steenkamp, but convicted of culpable homicide, the double amputee track star is set to be sentenced next month.

  • The anti-Amazon group Authors United has appealed directly to Amazon's board, asking it to end the online retailer's months-long dispute with publisher Hachette Book Group, The New York Times reports. In a letter quoted in the Times, which the group posted online Monday, Authors United wrote, "Efforts to impede or block the sale of books have a long and ugly history. Do you, personally, want to be associated with this?" Amazon has been removing preorder buttons and delaying shipments of Hachette titles in order to put pressure on the publisher in negotiations over e-book pricing.

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Notable Books Coming Out This Week:

  • In Sarah Waters' new novel, The Paying Guests, Frances Wray, 27, unmarried, and increasingly desperate for money, convinces her mother that they need to take in lodgers — "paying guests," euphemistically — to pay the bills. The Barbers move in, and Frances finds herself enthralled by the beautiful Mrs. Barber. Before long, they begin a love affair, with fatal consequences. Sarah Waters is so skillful that the reader (to borrow a simile from Lilian and Frances' love affair) softens in her hands like wax: It's impossible to think critically about technique or style or plot — or do anything but turn the next page. The Paying Guests makes for a transporting, even rapturous, reading experience.
  • Margaret Atwood's Stone Mattress is a collection of nine stories that NPR's Arun Rath calls "wonderfully weird." In the title story, a woman encounters her rapist on a cruise years after the attack; he doesn't recognize her. She decides to kill him. During an interview with Rath, Atwood spoke about trauma and memory: "Those things, although you may forget about them in your 20s, they are the sub-layer upon which your life is based, and they come back."
  • Also out this week: Natasha Wimmer's translation of Little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolaño, a reissue of Jean Merrill's classic children's novel The Pushcart War, and Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David by the inimitable Lawrence Wright.