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Review: Sarah Hepola’s Blackout Grapples with the Painfully Honest

in Nonfiction by

I imagine it’s hard to write a memoir about addiction; as a writer, you’d have to be brutally honest to come even close to being effective. While brutal honesty about addiction doesn’t sound like a very fun read, Sarah Hepola’s Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget (Grand Central Publishing, June 7, 2016) manages to be bitingly funny, while at the same time its painful, unflinching details about alcoholism make your skin crawl. In Blackout, author and longtime Salon editor Hepola traces the evolution of her relationship with alcohol from childhood stolen sips of fridge beers through to her turbulent young adulthood. Her writing style is brash enough to pummel you into the ground, but honest enough to pick you…

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Are Celebrity Book Deals Killing Literature?

in Potpourri by

Back at the dawn of my career I interned for a romance author who was forever being considered by publishing houses only to be rejected. Finally I contacted a friend at one of these houses and she explained that editors had a limited budget for new work and were reluctant to take a chance on an unknown unless they could be sure of sales. And this was before the phenomenon called the Celebrity Novel on which publishers pin hopes of jackpot dividends. Alas, for every Tina Fey whose $5 million advance produced a book that sold out within six months, there’s a Graham Nash whose $1 million advance barely sold 31,000 books. However, the trend continues. Actors, musicians and reality…

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