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January 20th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: News, Politics, History & Media

President Obama’s Sixth State of the Union Address

Post-speech update: Great #SOTU speech by Pres Obama, who hit all the right notes. Six years later he’s still my guy. Optimistic, progressive. Midway thru I realized his inaugural was 6 years ago on this date, 6 days after I’d lost my job (an event I wrote about here on the third anniversary of that occasion). On the widely discussed zinger of the night, when the president noted he’d run his last campaign, the Republicans responded by mocking him, and Barack riposted that he’d won both those races—sheesh, the REPUBs are such histrionic crybabies, acting all hurt by his truthful statement. 

This past Sunday morning NPR did a reprise of Pres Obama’s past State of the Union addresses, w/special emphasis on where the economy was at each juncture, in ’09’, ’10, and ’12, a reminder to me of the nadir we’d reached at the end of the Bush presidency (800K jobs lost in the last quarter of ’08), and of the obstacles thrown in the path of the recovery ever since, including the foolish and misguided austerity imposed on the country by the REPUBS, even at a time of low interest rates, when spending on infrastructure, promoting job creation, was so clearly indicated. Amazingly, despite their unremitting obstruction, which has limited the breadth and strength of the recovery, Pres Obama has nonetheless been able to help direct the economy out of the recession to the point where business and hiring are improving markedly. It’s a remarkable record, yet so little remarked upon in the media. All this has tracked parallel to my own path from longtime corporate employment in book publishing to six years’ self-employment building my own publishing services business, an enterprise that’s gone from little activity, mired in the dismal days of ’09 and ’10, to the point where I can barely handle all the work I have.

As I wait for President Obama to give tonight’s address, I’m so thankful for his efforts and accomplishments. I only wish they were more widely appreciated. It’s a historic injustice they are not.

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January 17th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: News, Politics, History & Media

The 2016 Republican Presidential Field & the Kentucky Derby

As Facebook friend Michael Bell, a longtime author of mine, pointed out when I shared the above observation, “At least the Derby entries have to have SOME qualifications, apart from being a horse.”

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January 17th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Art, Film, TV, Photography, Fine Printing & Design; Urban Life & New York City

Hopping to Brooklyn Galleries on a Friday Night

Gallivanting to galleries with Kyle on a Friday night in Brooklyn. First went to Janet Kurnatowski’s gallery in Greenpoint for group show called Paperazzi w/a Wonder Wheel drawing variation of Kyle’s. Lots of great works on paper. Enjoyed chatting with David Ambrose whose mosaic-like painting mesmerizes. Then to spacious Life on Mars in Bushwick for show of lush paintings by Fran O’Neill w/work by Ben Pritchard in project room. Enjoyed the genial vibe in the busy borough.

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January 12th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Art, Film, TV, Photography, Fine Printing & Design; Book Biz; Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels; Philip Turner's Books & Writing

Glad for Revival of THE REVENANT, a Great Adventure Novel

Browsing the BN Review recently I was delighted to discover that one of the most engrossing novels I ever edited and published—The Revenant: A Novel of Revengehas been reissued and is being made in to a major movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who recently directed “Birdman.” The novel, by Michael Punke, was published in 2002, when I was an editorial executive at Carroll & Graf. It’s inspired by the epic life and adventures of a historical figure, Hugh Glass. He was a frontiersman and fur trapper who in 1823 was part of a westward expedition spanning what is today Nebraska, the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming. While foraging for game, away from the troop, Glass was attacked and severely mauled by a grizzly bear. Grievously wounded and bleeding, with the skin on his back nearly flayed off his torso, Glass was still conscious when his comrades found him. Believing that Glass would surely die soon, the leader of the troop ordered two men to stay with him until he expired, then bury him and catch up to the group. In the midst of this death watch, a band of Indians approached the camp, panicking the two men: they grabbed Glass’s rifle and hunting knife and fled. Deserted, defenseless, and enraged at being abandoned, Glass refuses to succumb to his wounds; he survives, determined to recover his weapons, vowing revenge on the men who left him to die. The novel is beautifully written and reads like a timeless adventure story. Talk about a film adaptation of the novel began years ago, and I’m delighted to see now it’s really happening, and with such a high profile team. Hugh Glass did inspire one earlier film, in 1971, when actor Richard Harris was cast as the Glass figure in “Man in the Wilderness,” a rather lurid and unexceptional movie. Punke’s telling of this epic saga, with Glass crawling and dragging himself across wild terrain until he was again able to walk, has all the elements for a great movie and I’m hopeful that is what the production will lead to.

Punke’s agent Tina Bennett submitted the manuscript to me soon after 9/11, an event and aftermath that I was close to, as the offices of Carroll & Graf and Avalon Publishing Group were only a few blocks from the World Trade Center. As I chronicled on this blog on Sept 11, 2012, in a post titled Remembering 9/11/01—Running Through a Dust Cloud in Lower Manhattan, the exertions of that day left me with nagging leg injuries that persisted for most of the year that followed. In fact, when I attended the book launch for The Revenant, held in Washington, DC, in the summer of 2002, I took the train from NYC using a cane to help me walk on a still-tender ankle.

Though novels don’t often have subtitles or reading lines, I suggested to the author that we use one here. We had quite an evocative title, though the word ‘revenant’ (a being that returns from the dead) was not then and still isn’t a widely familiar term. Glass’s odyssey seeking revenge and justice resonated powerfully with the spirit of the time, so “A Novel of Revenge” seemed the right way to position the book for readers. The publisher reissuing the book now is Picador, part of Macmillan, and I’m glad to see in online listings they’ve chosen to retain the reading line. Interestingly, they’ve reissued the novel in hardcover, not paperback, a somewhat unusual choice for a book published more than a decade ago, though perhaps a sign of the publisher’s confidence in its continuing relevance.

Michael Punke has written two nonfiction books in the years since 2002, both in Western history, Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917 and Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West. The book launch for The Revenant was in DC because Punke worked for a law firm there. Among the hosts at the party was a mentor and colleague to Punke, Mickey Kantor, a lawyer involved in international trade who’d served as chair of the Clinton campaign for president in 1992. Punke now works as President Obama’s Deputy United States Trade Representative and US Ambassador to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. According to this article in Maxim, his ability to engage in promoting his books is very limited by his sensitive position in the federal government. I’m very glad to know that Michael Punke’s first book is coming back in to print, and that a movie is in the works. We have been in touch occasionally over the past decade, and I’m pleased that I have so much good news to congratulate him about when we’re next in touch. Below are shots of the front and back cover of the paperback edition of The Revenant from 2003.Revenant frontRevenant back


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January 9th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Book Biz; Media, Blogging, Internet

An Unrepentant Literary Forger’s Infamous Career

I’m glad my Facebook post above on prolific forger Lee Israel drew appreciation from Fb friend Joseph Mackin, who shared it on his blog 2paragraphs. This is the link to his nicely presented reposting which looks like this:2paragraphs Lee Israel

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January 2nd, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Personal history, Family, Friends

Words I Like to Live By, Some of My Own, Some Borrowed from Others

A motto I find useful to live by, on New Year’s Day, and most days: “Stay neutral, lean positive.”

And since I’m quoting myself, here are a couple more coinages of my own:

“Being an editor allows me to express my latent religiosity, since I spend so much time praying for my books.”

“Publishing companies have long been known as ‘houses’ because they (are supposed to) offer hospitality to writers.”

And a Yiddish proverb I found years ago in W.H. Auden’s marvelous A Certain World: A Commonplace Book, a personal anthology of favorite lines and wise quotations the English poet gathered over his lifetime of reading and writing, published in 1970. I treasure my old copy.

“If the rich could hire other people to die for them, the poor could make a comfortable living.”

Happy New Year! Let’s all have a great 2015. PT Mac selfieAuden, A Certain World back coverAuden, A Certain World front cover

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December 22nd, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Sports

Lebron James’ 10-Year Old Son, Already Dashing to the Hoop, Hitting Circus Shots&Making Great Passes

Lebron James ‘s 10-year son, known as Bronny, is already a skilled basketball player. Catch what he does on the court against kids his own age in this 2-minute video.

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December 17th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Media, Blogging, Internet

Editorial Humor for Hump Day, Only This is No Joke

Graeme Reynolds' blogA fussy and censorious reader objected to the use of hyphenated words in High Moor II: Moonstruck, a novel for sale on Amazon written by UK author Graeme Reynolds. Amazon, which likes to trumpet how customer-focused they are, jumped at the complaint and ran a spell check on the book. Finding more than 100 hyphenated words in the 90,000 word ms, which they apparently found excessive, they instructed Reynolds to re-edit the Kindle edition of the book, lest it be removed from sale. Not surprisingly, Reynolds was gobsmacked at the absurdity of the situation. He blogged about it in a post titled Hyphen Hate: When Amazon Went to War Against Punctuation (screenshot at left). The book was indeed removed from sale, and the post drew more than 300,000 readers to his site. Amazon evidently thought better of their decision—or didn’t want more negative publicity—and they reinstated Reynolds’ novel. Via this link you can listen to an interview with the author on CBC’s As it Happens, and ponder Amazon’s ridiculous policies.High Moor II