Chabon Concerned by Google Publisher Deal

NPR reports that Michael Chabon is one of several authors who are pushing for Google Inc. to guarantee more privacy to readers.

He and authors Jonathan Lethem, Cory Doctorow, and others are concerned that Google will monitor the reading history of visitors to the monumental digital library it is building. “They know which books you search for,” says Cindy Cohn, legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is organizing the campaign. “They know which books you browse through; they know how long you spend on each page.”

Google says it is just as concerned about reader privacy. “The regular Google privacy policy says that we do not disclose your personal information except in some narrow circumstances like emergencies and search warrants,” says Daphne Keller, a company attorney.

Head to NPR to read and hear more.

New Chabon Essay in New York Review of Books

Michael Chabon has authored a new essay, which appears in the July 16 issue of The New York Review of Books and is available online.

Titled “Manhood for Amateurs: The Wilderness of Childhood,” the essay explores why allowing children to have parentless adventures is important to developing their imaginations. Chabon, in the essay, questions whether the growing concern of parents for their childrens safety, and the accompanying decrease in freedom children get to explore the world alone, will have long-lasting effects on literature and creativity more generally in coming generations.

“The thing that strikes me now when I think about the Wilderness of Childhood is the incredible degree of freedom my parents gave me to adventure there,” Chabon writes. “A very grave, very significant shift in our idea of childhood has occurred since then. The Wilderness of Childhood is gone; the days of adventure are past. The land ruled by children, to which a kid might exile himself for at least some portion of every day from the neighboring kingdom of adulthood, has in large part been taken over, co-opted, colonized, and finally absorbed by the neighbors.”

(Side note: The title of the essay is the same as Chabon’s up-coming non-fiction book of essays, Manhood for Amateurs. The New York Review of Books gives no indication if the essay will appear in the book.)

Ayelet on Late Term Abortions

Ever since new broke last Friday about the murder of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, Ayelet Waldman has been actively speaking out on why she supports abortion.

A string of e-mails sent to her listserv of friends and fans have asked for donations to the National Abortion Federation and Medical Students for Choice or pushed readers in the Bay Area attend a vigil in Tiller’s honor. She also pubilished a piece in the Huffington Post on her own experience with abortion.

“The schlock jocks have a permanent bully pulpit from which to incite violence and hatred,” Waldman wrote. “But what about the women whose stories are never told? What about the women who confess only in secret their tragic tales of babies with genetic and developmental abnormalities, who turn to each other to heal because to say the words out loud is too dangerous?”

Waldman is now, via Salon, having a discussion with New York Times columnist Elizabeth Weil on having a late-term abortion. It’s available here.

Ayelet Publicity Tour Begins

The Ayelet Waldman publicity tour for her new book got off to its first start today with an interview in USA Today.

Waldman’s newest book, Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace, goes on sale Tuesday. She tells USA Today that she’s prepared for controversy akin to what came after she confessed in 2005 that she loved her husband more than her children.

“I am a little bit more protected now because 1) I have a feeling that it might be coming, and 2) I have fail-safes built in,” she told the paper. “I love reader mail, and I do read it, but I won’t read hate mail.”

Waldman also gave an interview to her hometown paper, the Berkeley Daily Planet. She tells the paper her new book is “half memoir and rant…and half social commentary on what contemporary American women find themselves in, the parlor game of how a mother feels–eternal ambivalence, anxiety.”

Waldman will be giving readings throughout the next two months across the country, beginning next week in Washington, D.C. on Monday and New York on Tuesday. For more information, head to her Web site.

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Chabon Lectures on Poe

Following the news that he’d been hired to revise the script for Disney’s John Carter of Mars, Michael Chabon took to Northwestern University on Monday to deliver a lecture on — what else — Edgar Allen Poe.

The Daily Northwestern reports that Chabon recited Poe’s poem “Ulalume,” “his rendition was more performance than presentation.” A blog maintained by three MFA graduates in Montana says Chabon then went on to discuss how to instill horror into writing. He also could relate to Poe, the Northwestern reports.

“Bookish, homely, clumsy, bright, friendless, arrogant and self-pitying – I was all those things at the same time,” Chabon said. “The tag of ‘nerd’ did not come into general use in the school corridors of my hometown until the following year and words like ‘geek’ or ‘fanboy’ or even, in its full derogatory richness, ‘loser’ remained years away from finding their way onto the ‘kick me’ sign I wore taped to my back.”

The Chicago Tribune, in an article previewing the lecture, asked Chabon why he chose to lecture on Poe.

“Well, it was either Poe or Robert Ludlum,” Chabon said. “In the end, I just pulled the trigger and picked Poe. [Laughs] I’m totally kidding. The writers I tend to like are the writers who meet you at any point you return to them. So, you know, when you read Poe when you’re a kid, you notice the obvious, surface appeal of Poe — a lot of the gothic horror and the extreme states of consciousness and the macabre imagery. But when I go to Poe now, at the age of almost 46, I’m a lot less interested in that sort of stuff now. When I go to Poe now, there’s the incredible sense of loss. The ache of loss that permeates Poe.”

The Tribune diverged from Poe to ask Chabon about other topics. The author says he thinks a Kavalier & Clay movie will “eventually” get made, despite past road bumps. Asked if he was worried if the Mysteries of Pittsburgh movie might give a new life to questions about his sexuality, Chabon said he “didn’t care.” The reporter then asked if he was “uncomfortable” being identified as a bisexual author.

“Yeah, well, uncomfortable because I’m not bisexual,” Chabon said. “Uncomfortable isn’t even the right word. It would be like if I was identified as a Mennonite novelist. To quote Seinfeld — not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just not the case. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter one way or the other.”