Janet Maslin Hated the New Obama Book; '50 Shades' Hits Bodegas

Today in books: Edward Klein's "exposé" on Barack Obama gets an unfavorable review; 50 Shades hits the bodegas, Colbert's Sendak quote, and more.  

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Today in publishing and literature: Edward Klein's "exposé" on Barack Obama gets an unfavorable review; 50 Shades hits the bodegas, Colbert's Sendak quote, and more. 

Edward Klein's new "exposé" revealing the alleged dark side of Barack Obama has gotten its review in The New York Times, by Janet Maslin. She did not like it, no sirree. She writes, "The Amateur by Edward Klein is a book about an inept, arrogant ideologue who maintains an absurdly high opinion of his own talents even as he blatantly fails to achieve his goals. Oh, and President Obama is in this book too." Burn! She goes on to call Klein a writer of "pulp fiction," among other things (he also wrote The Truth About Hillary). But Maslin seems particularly offended by Klein's journalistic pretense:

Although President Obama and his advisers have, as Mr. Klein so peculiarly puts it, “gone to elaborate lengths to hide his dark side,” they could not deter this seasoned pro.“I have learned as a journalist that if you look long enough and hard enough and carefully enough, most truths are discoverable,” he writes. Translation: any biographical subject has bitter ex-friends and associates. And if they feel snubbed enough, they will talk.

Beyond that, Maslin says that the book is much hype without delivery; Klein calls Obama a failure, but doesn't give much explanation of the specifics. Joe Coscarelli and Dan Amira of New York's Daily Intel pull out some of those specifics, though, listing "Seven of President Obama's Most Heinous Transgressions Against American Society," per Klein. They include not offering Oprah any pie. Earlier in May, Amira pointed out that there's an error on the first page of the book's prologue, as well. No matter, anti-Obama folks (like Donald Trump, who blurbed it: “The Amateur is the best book I’ve read on how Barack Obama is wrecking our country") will love it anyway. [The New York Times]

The controversy over the insanely popular (ranking 1, 2, 3, and 8 on The New York Times Best-Seller list) 50 Shades of Grey series continues, with talk of how libraries should handle complaints (the book is about sex; BDSM in particular) as well as evidence of how far the frenzy over the books truly extend. Case in point: At least one person has sighted them in a New York City bodega! Can we say mass, mass market? [Observer, Anna Holmes]

Steven Colbert's children's book parody, I Am a Pole (And So Can You!), released on the day that Sendak died, is getting some attention, partially for its cover blurb from Sendak. The quote in question: "The sad thing is, I like it!" Also, this anecdote is wonderfully Sendakian:

Colbert began writing the book during a hilarious interview with the author and illustrator that aired on The Colbert Report in January and immediately went viral. "What's it take for a celebrity to make a successful book?" asked Colbert, to which Sendak replied: "You've started already by being an idiot."

Aw. [USA Today]

Apple and five major book publishers—Hachette SA, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster—were sued by the U.S. government last month for breaking the law "by conspiring to raise the price of e-books." Tuesday, the defendants' request to dismiss the complaint was denied by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan. The antitrust suit goes on...this should be interesting. [San Francisco Chronicle]

For fun, here is a fantastic flowchart about how a book is made, or "the heartwarming, only slightly messy, and roughly 74 percent accurate story of how an idea churns through the publishing process just like—as a publisher we once knew put it—a rat travels  through an anaconda." Yay for infographics. [Weldon Owen]

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.