Stephen King Can't Stop Writing About Evil Autos

Also, in books: Michiko Kakutani gives Tom Perrotta's new novel a mixed review

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Today, in books: a new Stephen King ebook about a malevolent car, a mixed review for the new Tom Perrotta novel, and Henry Holt gets a new editor-in-chief.

  • Scribner will publish an ebook-only edition of a new Stephen King story called "Mile 81" next Thursday. The press release describes it as "the chilling story of an insatiable car and a heroic kid whose worlds collide at an abandoned rest stop on the Maine Turnpike." We love cars and we love King, which is why we don't mind that this makes six short stories ("Trucks," "Sometimes They Come Back," "The Lawnmower Man," "Uncle Otto's Truck, "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut," and now "Mile 81"), two novels (Christine and From a Buick 8) and one screenplay (Maximum Overdrive) involving demonic vehicles of one type or another. But scary is scary. Publishers Weekly notes that users of the confusing "digital influence" tracking site Klout with the requisite social media juice (which seems to be obtained mainly through tweets about Justin Bieber) can download the story for free today from any of the major ebook merchants. [Publishers Weekly]
  • The New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani has the first review of The Leftovers, the new novel from Little Children author and Atlantic contributor Tom Perrotta about the people who remain on earth following "a Rapturelike phenomenon" called the Sudden Departure. Her verdict: It's "a poignant but deeply flawed novel." On the one hand, she writes, "the whole concept of the Sudden Departure often feels like a Big Narrative Catalyst that Mr. Perrotta has concocted to inflict loss upon his characters, so that he can then examine how they will cope — or fail to cope — with abandonment and grief and the precariousness of everyday life." The book is at its best when Perrotta ignores the "cartoony and melodramatic aspects of his story" and simply details the rhythms and customs of life in a specific time and place. "It is these same sections," Kakutani says, "that showcase [Perrotta's] gifts as a novelist: his talent for depicting the ordinary (as opposed to metaphoric or supernatural); his affectionate but astringent understanding of his characters and their imperfections; his appreciation of the dark undertow of loss that lurks beneath the familiar, glossy surface of suburban life." The book comes out next Tuesday. [The New York Times]
  • Executive editor Gillian Blake is taking over as editor-in-chief at Henry Holt and Company starting September 1. She replaces Jill Lamar, formerly of Barnes & Noble, who was only on the job for six months. In that time, notes The New York Observer, Lamar acquired just one project, according to Publisher's Marketplace acquisition reports. In a statement, Holt president Stephen Rubin said that he and Lamar "mutually agreed that her fit as editor-in-chief here was not as natural as we had hoped.” According to Publishers Weekly, Blake joined Holt in 2009, and edited Rob Lowe's recent autobiography. [The New York Observer]
  • Books-a-Million didn't step in and save Borders from bankruptcy, but they are trying to buy the leases for 14 of the chain's stores in bankruptcy court for $934,259. According to Publishers Weekly, the leases would bring Books-a-Million into seven new states: Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota and Michigan. According to the motion filed in bankruptcy court, Books-a-Million "would take over the operation of the new stores after the completion of the going-out-of business sales or October 1, whichever is later." Those sales are scheduled to wrap up in mid-September. [Publishers Weekly
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