Friday, July 31, 2009

Things I'd Like to See This Weekend on C-SPAN's "Book TV"

10:00 am Balancing the Bernie Books
Publishing industry experts discuss the glut of books about Bernie Madoff. Three competing books will be published simultaneously in August, and a fourth has been scheduled for next year. The panelists weigh the huge financial risks involved in publishing multiple books about a media-saturated topic, but fail to acknowledge the irony that, even from prison, Bernie Madoff can still make a whole lot of people lose a whole lot of money.

4:00 pm "I was Henry Louis Gates's cab driver!"
The one major player from the Henry Louis Gates arrest drama who has been ignored by both the police and the media, "Cabbie X" talks about his instant book Gates Crasher: Driven to the Edge. Cabbie X describes Gates as "a perfect gentleman, except when he was screaming at me"--things like "Can't you turn that music down?" and "What did you go this way for?" He says Gates repeatedly encouraged him to drive faster in order to beat the other cars, but insists the word "race" was never used. X also says that Gates's reported use of the expression "your momma" was actually a reference to Yo-Yo Ma, but X still found it offensive because "I can't stand that crazy cello music." He didn't consider it odd when Gates asked for help forcing open his own front door. Passengers often ask him to jimmy open doors, pick locks, smash widows, and scale the sides of buildings with rappelling ropes and grappling hooks to enter through a skylight. He once dug a 150-foot tunnel complete with electric lighting and a ventilation system simply because a passenger forgot her keys. Cabbie X also confirms the widespread rumor that he is, in fact, Speed Racer's brother.

11:00 am A Little More Than Kin(dle) and Less Than Kind(le)
Live coverage of the Book vs. Kindle Smackdown, hosted by Green Apple Books in San Francisco, which pits Amazon's proprietary ereader against the traditional book in a contest designed by a traditional bookstore. In a stunning turn of events, the traditional book is winning. However, only a fool would try to predict the outcome at this early stage, so check back often for updates on this nail-biter.
In another segment, novelist Nicholson Baker, who offered a highly critical evaluation of the Kindle in a lengthy essay in The New Yorker, has more examples of how Amazon's ereader falls short as a replacement for the book. Among them:
-A book can prop up the leg of a wobbly table, but the Kindle just shatters, leaving thousands of Vizplex shards and bi-stable microspheres all over your floor.
-A book can serve as a coaster, but the Kindle just sparks and smokes and zaps you with tiny lightning bolts, especially if your glass is "sweaty."
-You can offer to carry your sweetheart's books home from school, but offering to carry her Kindle is just stupid.
-An exciting book will set your heart pounding, but the Kindle will stop your pacemaker.
The segment concludes with Baker lining up ten or twelve Kindles and smashing them with a baseball bat while Jeff Bezos' maniacal laugh is heard in the background.

2:00 pm Obscure Dickens
A series profiling lesser-known Dickens characters. This week: Olymphe Jejune, fancy-pants guillotine operator in A Tale of Two Cities.

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