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Today in books and publishing: Dennis Rodman writes a children's book; doubts cast about Ryszard Kapuściński; Gore Vidal dies; another seven-figure Twilight fan fiction book deal. 

Gore Vidal dies at 86. In the wake of Gore Vidal's death, many have asked whether any of our contemporary writers could step to his mantle. Vidal himself was concerned with a different problem, though. "You hear all this whining going on, 'Where are our great writers?', he said in an Esquire interview four years ago. "The thing I might feel doleful about is: Where are the readers?" Always acerbic, Vidal was never afraid to launch polemics, start quarrels, or call out his critics. Take his response to a negative New York Times review of his 1977 book Matters of Fact and of Fiction. "This is quintessential New York Times reporting. First, it is ill-written, hence ill-edited. Second, it is inaccurate. Third, it is unintelligent in the vulgar Freudian way." All that feuding can earn a writer some enemies, but in that same Esquire interview, Vidal professed to be above petty competition:

I went into a line of work in which jealousy is the principal emotion between practitioners. I don't think I ever suffered from it, because there was no need. But I was aware of it in others, and I found it a regrettable fault.


Read more: [The San Francisco Chronicle]

Dennis Rodman writes for kids. The retired NBA player and great American eccentric has written a children's book. Dennis the Wild Bull will be released in September. According to the book's official webiste, "Rodman has teamed up with author/screenwriter Dustin Warburton and illustrator Dan Monroe with the sole purpose of conveying good lessons to children based on Dennis’s own experiences as a world class athlete while overcoming obstacles as a child." This is Rodman's second book, following his 1996 autobiography As Bad As I Want To Be. [New York Post]

Start shopping your Twilight fanfic. The Fifty Shades juggernaut continues to dominate best seller lists, recently surpassing sales of the Harry Potter books on Amazon UK. Lest we forget, Fifty Shades evolved from E.L. James' Twilight fan fiction, morphing into its own universe when the author got a seven-figure deal to develop it. Now another amateur Twilight storyteller has scored a seven-figure publishing deal to do the same. Penguin's Berkley imprint has given Sylvain Reynard a generous deal for Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture, romance novels that began as Twilight fan fiction. [Galley Cat]

A new, unsparing look at the life of Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński. It was no secret that in order to work as a journalist under communist rule, Kapuściński (author of such highly acclaimed books of literary reportage as The Shadow of the Sun and Travels with Herodotus) had to make some concessions to authorities. But after his death, many unsavory details have emerged about just how complicit he was with Polish intelligence. "Kapuściński was evasive," Neal Ascherson writes in a review of Artur Domosławski's Ryszard Kapuściński: A Life, "and it turns out he had plenty to evade." Not only was he a fanatical Stalinist in his youth, but the writer may also have fabricated a good deal of his journalism. The revelations have rocked Poland, where  Kapuściński became a sort of literary hero, and now they're throwing his legacy into question for Western readers as well. [London Review of Books]

HarperCollins forms new Christian division. The big five publisher will merge Thomas Nelson and Zondervan into one of the industry's biggest Christian publishing houses. [Publishers Weekly

Which book released in 2011 had the best cover design? If you've got a favorite cover from last year, you can nominate it here: [Design Observer]

Happy birthday, Herman Melville. The Moby-Dick author was born on this day in 1819. Tweet your way to free Melville swag, courtesy of publisher Melville House. [Melville House]

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