January 9, 2009

BEA 2012: A lack of space odyssey


It’s interesting to speculate, from within these incredibly turbulent times, what the book industry on display at the Book Expo America convention will look like in say, oh, 2012. (If there is a BEA in 2012. One of the hotter topics this post holiday season is whether there will even be a BEA this spring — several big publishers are rumored to be on the verge of dropping out.) Will Heinrich goes one better than that: In a commentary from the future for The Nation, he details the books presented at the 2012 BEA, where it seems memoir will be the rage. For example, there’s a memoir from George W. Bush: If I Did It, a book “according to inside sources, of intensive psychoanalysis undertaken by the former president after leaving office as history’s most unpopular president–and, perhaps not incidentally, after being divorced by his wife, Laura …. Its publicity materials liken it to David Carr‘s 2008 investigative memoir The Night of the Gun and Italo Svevo‘s pre-postmodern novel Confessions of Zeno; these comparisons are both apt, but what it most resembles is Eichmann in Jerusalem–if Eichmann in Jerusalem had been written by Eichmann.” Then there’s My Guy, by Condoleezza Rice, “light on text but heavy on full-page photo spreads, serve as a nauseating demonstration that there remain numerous dead-enders whose minds cannot be changed by any number of war crimes trials.” And even given the unrivalled success of the administration of Barrack Obama that Heinrich reports on, let us not overlook Nevertheless, by Ralph Nader ….

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.