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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Friday, February 26, 2010 11:03 am
Weeklings: Toyota, James Frey, Charles Bukowski, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Posted by: Keir Graff

The Last Train from HiroshimaCharles Pellegrino’s The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back, a grim reexamination of the first wartime use of the atomic bomb, relies extensively on first-person accounts. Unfortunately, according to the New York Times (“Doubts Raised on Book’s Tale of Atom Bomb,” by William J. Broad), one section of the book relies on the testimony of one Joseph Fuoco, who claims he was a last-minute substitute for flight engineer James R. Corliss on the bombing run. Alas for Pellegrino, and for fans of authoritative historical accounts, Fuoco lied.

ToyotaAnd, unfortunately for the manufacturers of the once highly regarded Prius, their brand has, fairly or unfairly, suffered some tarnish. Referring to the Corliss/Fuoco fiasco, Robert S. Norris, author of Racing for the Bomb, declared:

“This book is a Toyota . . . The publisher should recall it, issue an apology and fix the parts that endanger the historical record.”

James FreySpeaking of another brand that has suffered some tarnish: James Frey. Even though he was able to rehabilitate himself somewhat by retooling his production line to manufacture novels (Bright Shiny Morning, 2008) instead of memoirs (A Million Little Pieces, 2003), he’s apparently decided to diversify.  According to Page Six (“Frey’s Names a Guessing Game,” New York Post), he’s using so many pseudonyms that no one can keep track of them all — and he won’t comment of a rumor that he is really John Twelve Hawks (The Golden City, 2009). Maybe Oprah can get it out of him.

I’d say that perhaps Frey could consult for Toyota, but then again, one of his pen names is Pittacus Lore.

Charles BukowskiFrom the Nice Try Department, efforts to honor Charles Bukowski, “perhaps the most famous American postal worker after Benjamin Franklin,” aren’t working out so well. Sign the petition!

And, finally, the Diagram Prize shortlist has been revealed, and it’s a shocker, what with The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease besting The Origin of Feces (AP). Frankly, I’m gutted.


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