Galley Girl: The Sex Edition

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Ben Schrank

How does an author learn to write convincing sex scenes? If she's a romance writer, she can attend a sex-writing class at the Romance Writers of America's annual convention. But what can an aspiring Philip Roth do? Ben Schrank, the author of "Consent" (Random House: March) says that the key to writing persuasive sex scenes is "learning what innuendo means, and knowing what to cut out. Readers will fill in the more provocative details." Schrank, 32, should know.

In "Consent," the two main characters, Mike Zabusky and Katherine Staresina, are so drawn to each other at a party that they have "a sexual collision" against a bathroom wall within two hours of meeting each other. Are the sex scenes in his novel taken from Schrank's own life? The author smiles coyly. "After I've revised them a thousand times, I don't know what's true and what's not."

In an otherwise flawless year, Jonathan Franzen didn't win the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction this year, reports PW. That prize went posthumously to German-born novelist W.G. Sebald, who was killed in a car accident in December. The president of the NBCC is former TIME Midwest correspondent Elizabeth Taylor, who currently edits the book review and the Sunday magazine at the Chicago Tribune.

Popular children's author Judy Blume hasn't written a kid's book in 12 years. But that's about to change, reports PW. In September, Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers will publish "Double Fudge," the latest hardcover entry in her best-selling Fudge series. There are currently16 million Fudge books in paperback.

Move over, Moby Dick. In April, two books will be coming out about a bloody moment in maritime history: the bloody mutiny on the whaleship Globe.
Norton, publisher of Thomas Heffernan's "Mutiny on the Globe: The Fatal Voyage of Samuel Comstock," writes, "When Comstock — a headstrong 20-year-old — signed on to the whaleship Globe in 1822, his sea chest contained an unusual secret stash — a diverse collection of seeds, tools, medical supplies and weapons. With these neatly packed items, Comstock intended to carry out a strange career goal: to become king of his own South Seas island. Two years into the voyage, he put this plan into action, first leading a horrific mutiny and then anchoring the battered Globe on Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Thomas Heffernan describes in rich detail the development of this savage, strange man, and the extraordinary results of his mutiny." Heffernan's book is due out on April 29.
A few days earlier, on April 24, Little, Brown will publish "Demon of the Waters: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Whaleship Globe" by Gregory Gibson. The author discovered the notebook of one of the sailors who rescued the men left on the island after the mutiny. Says the publisher, "Part detective story, part American epic, 'Demon of the Waters' viscerally captures the charged atmosphere of the whaler, the influence of the sperm oil industry on American policies and politics, the price of civilization and the fate of those unfortunates who found themselves marooned on Samuel Comstock's fantasy kingdom."

On May 21, Simon & Schuster will publish "America: A Patriotic Primer," an alphabet book for elementary school children by Lynne Cheney, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and wife of the Veep. Proceeds will be donated to charity.

In August, HarperEntertainment will publish "Pimpnosis" by Tracy Funches and Rob Marriott. Says the publisher, "In the deepest recesses of our imagination lies a fascination with the dark side. Most of us, at one time or another, have wondered what a life lived outside the law might be like. Often, it has been the figure of the pimp — the image, the persona, but not always the reality — upon which we project these fantasies. The pimp mentality and approach to life is (an) all too frightening reflection of our intensely materialistic, highly sexed, hyper-capitalist society. Sometimes, a closer look at our political and business leaders, our pop culture icons, our historical heroes, proves that 'pimping' is more often than we are willing to admit, as American as apple pie." Well, maybe.

PW reports on the high-profile duds of 2001, in an article entitled "The Ones That Got Away." Among the losers: Jeffrey Toobin's "Too Close to Call"; the two Galeras books, "Surviving Galares" and "No Apparent Danger"; Sebastian Junger's "Fire"; and Anne Heche's "Call Me Crazy."

PW reports on the high rollers of 2001 in an article entitled "Few Surprises in the Winners' Circle." The top genre: Christian books, particularly the Left Behind and Jabez series.

PW adores "The Strand of a Thousand Pearls" by Dorit Raninyan, translated from the Hebrew by Yael Lotan (Random House: June 25), giving it a starred review. "Rabinyan's second novel (after the international bestseller 'Persian Brides') maintains an expert balance between lyricism and tough-mindedness. Like Isaac Babel in his Odessa short stories, (Rabinyan) knows that a metaphor is not an ornament, but rather a probe (or even a bullet) into the heart... FORECAST: Reviewers eager to pigeonhole Rabinyan's work will compare it to 'Like Water for Chocolate, but her fierce storytelling and the visceral sexuality of her characters suggest something more like Jeffrey Eugenide's 'Virgin Suicides.' Rabinyan is not yet well know in the U.S., but her move from George Braziller to Random House should raise her profile."

In November, Rodale will publish "The Content of My Character" by Yolanda King, the eldest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. According to the author's publisher, Yolanda revisits her father's dream of racial equality, "in the context of her own life as a modern black woman." Ten city tour.

PW gives a rhapsodic, starred, boxed review (its highest accolade) to "Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales" by Stephen King (Scribner: March 19). "The author is not only immensely popular but immensely talented, a modern day counterpart to Twain, Hawthorne, Dickens...This will be the biggest selling story collection of the year, and why not? No one does it better."

Check out TIME's interview with King in the magazine's 4/1 issue.