Today in books and publishing: Midnight in Paris didn't have permission for Faulkner quote; "vagina" scandalizes evangelicals; John Grisham read Fifty Shades; Jacques Barzun dies.
Has Woody Allen besmirched the honor of William Faulkner? Woody Allen summoned up the ghosts of expat writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway for his sepia-tinged journey back to bohemian 1920s Paris. William Faulkner, tethered as he was to the American South, didn't make a cameo in Midnight in Paris. But his words did, and slightly altered Faulkner lines spoken by Owen Wilson's character has Faulkner Literary Rights, LLC upset. "The past is not dead! Actually, it's not even past," says Allen's presumed stand-in, Gil Pender, citing Faulkner as the source. (Getting nit-picky, the sentences from Faulkner's novel Requiem for a Nun actually read, "The past is never dead. It's not even past.") The Faulkner estate is suing Sony Pictures Classics and movie exhibitors over the lines, alleging that the companies did not seek copyright permission for the quotes. The suit filed with the U.S. District Court in Mississippi reads:
The use of the infringing quote and of William Faulkner’s name in the infringing film is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, and/or to deceive the infringing film's viewers as to a perceived affiliation, connection or association between William Faulkner and his works, on the one hand, and Sony, on the other hand.
The litigants seek "damages, disgorgment of profits, costs and attorney fees." [The Hollywood Reporter]
Evangelical bookstores to author: take your "vagina" elsewhere. Rachel Held Evans is no heathen. The author of the soon-to-be-released book A Year of Biblical Womanhood is a devout evangelical, yet she finds herself at odds with Christian bookstores. LifeWay Christian Resources has refused to carry her title because of particularly objectionable language: namely, the word "vagina." She was ready to take out mild curse words "damn" and "kick-ass," but she found it impossible to take "vagina" out of her book, which catalogues her attempt to adhere to all of the Bible's rules for women for an entire year. Evans' publisher Thomas Nelson is sticking by her choice to leave the word in. This kind of censorship from Christian booksellers is common and sternly enforced, and Evans is now speaking out against the practice, saying, "Christian bookstores have a chokehold on the Christian publishing industry ... the entire Christian industry has been sanitized, while its best artists look elsewhere for publication." That chokehold might be loosening. Because, as The Daily Beast's David Sessions points out, they're subject to all the tectonic shifts going on in bookselling at large. Online retailers like Amazon could feasibly swallow them up in the near future, especially if they continue to alienate authors and readers who candle handle encountering the word "vagina." [The Daily Beast]