News & Reviews
O.J. isn’t the first to get pulped; fallout happens when publishers ice
When HarperCollins finally decided to pulp O.J. Simpson's train wreck of a book
If I Did It earlier this
week, the publisher followed a long tradition of withdrawing
controversial books before they hit stores. Earlier cases in which
publishers canned new books range from the plagiarism of Kaavya Viswanathan to the
politically sensitive work of Nancy
Kobrin, whose own work scheduled for publication this month has
been shelved to little fanfare.
The flamboyant Judith Regan
picked up If I Did It, which
describes how Simpson would have killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, then dumped the work
along with a tie-in television interview amid pressure from sister
company Fox Broadcasting and a general public outcry. While the
publisher says it will destroy all copies including those already
shipped, you can bet some will end up on eBay within weeks.
Other books that publishers backed away from before publication saw
Fear of religious nutcases.
Lost in this week’s O.J. scandal, Looseleaf Law Publications reportedly
is canceling Nancy Kobrin’s book The
Sheikh’s New Clothes because it’s afraid of fundamentalist
reactions and the safety of its staff. Kobrin, a psychoanalyst and
lecturer on counter-terrorism, spent a year writing and researching her
book about the psychology of fundamentalist Islamic terrorists.
In her book, originally slated for publication in November 2006, Kobrin
writes that family dynamics and the degradation of women in Muslim
society have influenced the radical behavior of Muslim extremists.
Intriguing stuff, and Looseleaf’s withdrawal of the title looks like
self-censorship at its worst. But there’s still hope: According to Jewish Press,
two other publishers unafraid to handle the book have approached Kobrin
about reading the manuscript.
How Opal got flogged, tarred and
feathered. Most books are tossed in the literary garbage can due
to plagiarism. Back in May of this year, Kaavya Viswanathan’s planned
debut novel How Opal Mehta Got Kissed,
Got Wild, and Got a Life was canceled after it became clear
Viswanathan had stolen numerous passages from other authors. Not only
did Opal Mehta get dumped, the author saw her two-book deal with
publisher Little, Brown and Co. snuffed out like a bad cigarette.
James Nae deal blown into a
million pieces. Then of course is one of literature’s most
notorious cases: Penguin
imprint Riverhead canceled its two-book deal with James Nae earlier this
year after The Smoking Gun
revealed that his "memoirs" A
Little Pieces and My Friend
Leonard included huge embellishments. Riverhead, which had
contracted Nae to write two more books including a novel, canceled the
Warner Brothers executives, who had plans to make a film version of A
Million Little Pieces, probably slam down the phone as soon as
voice is on the line. He was last seen smashing glasses
at a NYC bar while being taunted by a hipster. It remains to be seen in
Nae can re-emerge as a novelist, since that’s what he was all along.
Ziefert is a snake. In
January 2006, veteran author Harriet
Ziefert had a children’s picture book A Snake Is Totally Tail ready to
bookstores through her own publishing venture Blue Apple Books. That
is, until it was revealed that one Judi
Barrett had published a similar book with the exact same title
back in 1983 that included some passages that matched word-for-word.
was abruptly canceled. Evidently Viswanathan plagiarized her later
excuses from Ziefert, because both of their stories read exactly the
same. Ziefert claimed that she had "no recollection" of ever seeing the
earlier book from which she had clearly stolen content, then apologized
for the embarrassing turn of events.
Spare us the perverts, please.
In September 2005, The Haworth Press canceled publication of an obscure
academic book called Same-Sex Desire
and Love in Greco-Roman Antiquity and in the Classical Tradition of the
West, which included essays by Temple University's Bruce Rind, Ph.D., Thomas Hubbard, William Armstrong Percy III and
Why would a seemingly blasé title like this get dumped? The book
praised earlier civilizations like Greece and Rome for the role
homosexuality played in those ancient cultures -- hardly shocking
during these days of same-sex marriage and openly gay celebrities --
and reportedly took a positive stance on sex between adults and
children. The Worldnetdaily
reported that "in light of the public outcry" The Haworth Press decided
to not proceed with publication of the book.
My lawyer will beat you down.
In 2003, Virgin Publishing dumped an unauthorized biography of Catherine Zeta Jones after getting
threatened by her lawyers. Celebrity biographer Cliff Goodwin scuttled the project
entitled simply Catherine Zeta
The Biography when lawyers on behalf of the Hollywood star fired
off a series of letters threatening legal action to himself and his
We need more serial killers.
Going back in the early 1990s, Simon & Schuster dished a reported
$300,000 advance and then shelved publication of Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho,
a brilliant and graphic story about a serial killer. S&S appeared
to get spooked by pre-release buzz, as well as protests from women’s
rights groups and women within S&S who believed American Psycho
violence against women.
House picked up the novel, which made a huge splash in literary circles
and later saw Universal Pictures develop it into a feature film. Bret
Easton Ellis is now considered one of America’s great authors and a
human cash register. He has authored novels like Glitterati and Less Than Zero that were also made
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