The book proposal for Lena Dunham’s advice book, which will be titled “Not That Kind of Girl,” leaked online, giving readers a peek into what the book will presumably include when it’s published on an unnamed date.
The proposal divides Dunham’s thoughts into six sections, titled “Work,” “Friendship,” “Body,” “Sex,” “Love,” and “Big Picture.”
In the proposal, Dunham says that the book was inspired by former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown’s book “Having It All.”
“I’ve never kept a diary,” Dunham writes in the book proposal’s introduction. “I remember being given a journal around age six, penning a long paragraph about my massive crush on Colin Bliss (what a name!) and then leaving it casually strewn open on the kitchen counter for my parents to ‘find.’ Here was my feeling: if a girl writes in her diary and no one’s there to read it did she really write at all?”
The proposal is 66 pages long and, while it includes many essay sections, Dunham notes in the table of contents that the list “reflect[s] what will be in the book, not what Lena has actually had time to do so far.”
Dunham’s show “Girls” will return for its second season on Jan. 13, and Dunham was nominated for five Emmys in 2012, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series. The show was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Womanizing family man, powerful but often-misguided political mastermind, movie industry mogul, would-be president, and one of the most influential, brilliant and aggravating Americans who ever lived.
Only two men fit that description. And only one author has written immensely readable biographies of both of them, plus another one of Andrew Carnegie for good measure.
Following on the success of 2000's "The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst," historian David Nasaw has a new bio on the bookshelves with "The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy." It's an instant classic, an honest and perceptive look at a man who deserves to be known for more than tragedies and failures.
In an interview, I asked Nasaw about the challenges of writing the book under the eyes of the nation's most storied political clan, the battles that Joseph Kennedy fought, and the ultimate verdict on an extraordinary life.
Q: What drew to you to the story of this man whose children include a president, an attorney general, an ambassador and one of the most storied senators of all time?
The family asked me to do it.
I met with Senator Ted Kennedy to talk it over. We met in the Senate office building, and we had lunch with his two Portuguese water dogs, who came to the Senate on Mondays.
I spent a good long time trying to convince the senator I shouldn't write the book. I'm a crazy obsessive researcher, and I was bound to turn up something that wouldn't make the family happy. And I said it wasn't unlikely that by the time it ran, some Kennedy would be running for office.
He said all the bad stuff is out there, like Gloria Swanson [with whom Joseph Kennedy had an affair]. Everybody knows the dirt, but if a historian writes this book, he is going to come up with a much more credible portrait of his father than what's out there.
My conditions were firm, and I said, I'm not going to budge. I want full access to everything, including all the papers that are closed to researchers and stored at the Kennedy library. You and your family and your lawyers will see the book when it's finished, not before.
Q: Wow. You were really laying down the law, right?
You don't lay down the law to Ted Kennedy.
I said it's not in my interest to spend five to six years on a book and get to the end and have to bargain with some lawyer to include a sentence I found in a letter. I just said I'm not going to do that.
He said fine.
Q: To some people's eyes, Kennedy comes across as such a villain. Even though you write that he wasn't actually a bootlegger, he was definitely a womanizer and a ruthless businessman and political operative.
Did you find anything that would make the family unhappy?
I don't know what they expected and didn't expect. On the whole, the book is as the senator through it would be. It's much fairer and more balanced than others, and it presents a real-life portrait of a man rather than some villainous caricature.
I undertook it because I saw very quickly that I could use the life of Joseph Kennedy to tell a larger story about the twentieth century. Here's a man who works in shipbuilding during World War I and then is a big stock trader during the '20s boom and goes to the Hollywood as a studio when the silents transitioned to talkies, and then is a Roosevelt confidant, head of the Maritime Commission, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and ambassador to Great Britain.
Q: This is all especially remarkable considering that he was an Irish Catholic. Amazingly, that wasn't even a plus in Boston itself during his early years. How did that play out?
He was an Irish Catholic from East Boston who learned when he got out of Harvard that he was an outsider. He'd have to fight and claw his way inside, and he could trust no one along the way except family members and maybe a couple other Irish Catholics.
Fifty to 60 to 70 years ago, America was more divided than today. It was divided into ethic and religious tribes. Every group had its place in this pecking order. He lived in that world, and he had to find his way in it.
Q: And transcend it?
Yeah! The reason why he's such a great character to write about, unlike other outsiders who fight to get inside, is that once he gets inside, he refuses to play by the rules.
He has such self-confidence that he's convinced he's always the smartest guy in the room, and he's not going to follow what anyone else says, not even Roosevelt.
As a result, he ends up on the outside again.
Q: What did you make of his transition that landed him in positions of power in government in the first place?
While this country has been through bad times over the last couple of years, I don't think we're even close to understanding the fears that people had during the Great Depression.
They were not simply fears that the economy was not going to get better. Among a large part of the population, there was a real concern that if the Depression was not cured, this country would go the way of Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union. People in need would abandon capitalism and abandon democracy.
Kennedy was motivated by these fears to support Roosevelt. This is a remarkable part of he story: To become the SEC chairman and, to save capitalism, he realized he had to rein in the Wall Street bankers and traders. He outlawed the practices he'd use to make his millions.
Q: What about his still-controversial work as the American ambassador to Great Britain and his opposition to involvement in World War II?
He made two outrageous mistakes.
He believed that American support of the British was going to destroy the economy and would lead to some form of regulated economy and dictatorship. He couldn't imagine the British were going to win the war.
The second mistake was that he believed Hitler was a reasonable statesman. Kennedy still believed you could make a deal with Hitler, and he believed he could do it.
This was about his fear of war and the cataclysm it would bring – not just the lives lost of a generation of young men, but the destruction of the economy and of representative democracy. He thought this was coming.
Q: How did he manage to have such extraordinary children?
Every child got this sense from him that "I've struggled, I worked hard and I struggled for you. I made enough money so you each have million-dollar trust funds. I expect each of you to do something with your lives – not to make money, but in public service."
It's an anomaly, because strong fathers don't necessarily yield strong sons. But all of these kids were remarkable, all independent-minded.
He's a incredible father, there's no doubt about that.
Q: Was there a dark side to the drive he instilled in them, which seemed to lead to adultery and other problems?
A: When I read the histories and look at them, I think that's rather overblown.
He had nine children; one was [mentally disabled]. In the other eight, there were bad marriages and good marriages.
Yeah, there was womanizing and there were troubles, but I don't know if it's so remarkably out of the ordinary. The trouble that falls on this family, the disasters, come from the outside.
Q: This man reaches incredible glories, loses child after child and ended up a crippled invalid who's helpless as his world falls apart. Do you see him as a tragic figure?
I think I do. But I don't know whether it's a Shakespearean or a Greek tragedy, if it's his own lofty ambitions or the fates that do him in.
Here's a man who lives for his children and who triumphs when they triumph. To lose four of them, five if you count Rosemary [who was mentally disabled and underwent a disastrous lobotomy], that's tragedy.
Then he has an estrangement from the Catholic church when the hierarchy does not support Jack in his bid for the presidency. That was a betrayal of the first order.
And then the stroke.
If this was fiction, nobody would believe this strong, articulate, debonair man, who dressed immaculately, would spend the last eight of years of his life not only unable to communicate, but a crippled monster of a man, frightening his grandchildren.
Q: What about his triumphs?
When his son is finally elected, it's a bittersweet election because so many white Anglo-Saxon Protestants voted against him, but he was elected.
How could a man not savor the fact that he had sons as president and as attorney general and Teddy, after some tough times, was putting his life together? And all the daughters seemed happily married?
He had lived a full life. There were certainly triumphs.
Q: Do you like him?
There's no easy answer to that. There are things I like about him, and there are things I don't like about him.
In the end, I'm thankful that he's so fascinating. I spent six years with the guy, and I was never bored for a minute.
He was unpredictable, quirky and colorful, with a great use of language and sense of humor. That kept me going, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Randy Dotinga is a Monitor contributor.
What does your e-reader know about you?
More than you think, according to a new study by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The EFF, a nonprofit group that advocates for consumer rights and privacy, combed through the privacy policies of a number of e-readers and e-book platforms, including Google Books, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, and Indiebound, and found many devices track book searches, monitor what and how readers read downloaded books, record book purchases, and in some cases, even share information without a customer’s consent.
“In nearly all cases, reading e-books means giving up more privacy than browsing through a physical bookstore or library, or reading a paper book in your own home,” writes the EFF in its 2012 report.
The study found that five of the most popular e-readers, including the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Sony Reader, as well as Google Books, track searches for books as well as record book purchases. What’s more, six of the nine platforms or devices, including Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, OverDrive, and IndieBound, can share information outside the company without customer consent.
“For centuries, reading has largely been a solitary and private act, an intimate exchange between the reader and the words on the page,” wrote the Wall Street Journal in an article on the subject earlier this year. “But the rise of digital books has prompted a profound shift in the way we read, transforming the activity into something measurable and quasi-public.”
For example, analysis of e-reader data has already determined that it takes the average reader just seven hours to finish the final book in Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” trilogy on a Kobo e-reader, about 57 pages per hour. And on the Nook, the first thing folks do after finishing the first “Hunger Games” book is to download the next one.
That extends to all popular series – readers tend to “tear through all the books in the series, almost as if they were reading a single novel,” according to the WSJ.
Among the other findings, nonfiction books “tend to be read in fits and starts,” while novels are read straight through. Long nonfiction tends to be abandoned earlier, while science fiction, romance, and crime fiction fans read more books more quickly than readers of literary fiction.
Retailers and publishers are beginning to analyze this information to better understand how readers engage with books and how to reach out to those readers more effectively.
So here’s the question: is tracking this information so bad?
Privacy advocates think so, arguing that the tracking flies in the face of basic intellectual privacy.
Others note that we’ve already ceded control for how information is gathered and shared, and we don’t yet know how companies will use this information. Might folks who download books on terrorism or read Arab literature come under scrutiny of Homeland Security, as one German publication asked?
Some industry watchers, however, aren’t so concerned.
“This is information that I'm glad I know, but about which I'm afraid I can't get all that exercised,” wrote a blogger with the UK’s Guardian. “I feel there are bigger things to worry about than whether Kobo knows what page of Fifty Shades (no, not really) I'm currently on... And if... it means these companies can better point me towards things I might like, then I'm not complaining.”
We’re curious to hear what you think. Is this a little too Orwellian for you? Or is the book industry simply catching up with what the entertainment industry has done for decades, tracking consumer tastes and preferences?
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.
Hobbits love to eat, and boy, do they know how to throw a party.
If you’re a diehard Tolkien fan, you probably already have your midnight movie tickets for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” director Peter Jackson’s first installment in the three-part prelude to “The Lord of the Rings.” By now, you’re doubtless looking for ways to celebrate the return of hobbits, dwarves, and wizards to the big screen. What better way to celebrate the accomplishment of literary mastermind J.R.R. Tolkien than to throw a party, hobbit-style?
The most important consideration when throwing a hobbit’s party is what’s on the menu. Hobbits eat seven meals a day, so an abundance of food is completely necessary. Hobbits are also very good hosts and they wouldn’t want their guests to leave hungry (and grumpy).
To throw your hobbit feast, here are some scrumptious food ideas:
• Stews – Stews are easy to make (especially if you have a crockpot), feed many, and are extremely delicious. They’re not easy to screw up, either, for those of you who aren’t the chefs of the family. Throw in your meat (try some rabbit), your fresh veggies (don’t forget po-ta-toes), and your broth.
• Meats – Roast, ham, rotisserie chicken, or cold meats for sandwiches. Much of Tolkien’s Shire was inspired by rustic villages of England like his childhood home, Sarehole. The same is true for the food. If you’re feeling brave, try cooking a traditional British meat pie.
• Mushrooms – Hobbits love mushrooms (especially Frodo, who stole them from Farmer Maggot when he was a young hobbit). Have them sautéed as a side, fry them, or stick them in a stew. Herb-roasted or mashed potatoes are a good side as well.
• Fresh breads and cheeses – This is a must.
• Eggs – All ways. As Tolkien says, hard-boiled in salad, scrambled for dinner, and poached in the morning. And don’t forget the bacon.
• Scones, biscuits, toast, and blackberry jam
• All kinds of cakes – You can’t go wrong choosing a cake. But, you definitely do not want to leave out seed cakes. Bilbo loves his seed cakes.
• Lembas bread! – Okay, so it’s not a hobbit dish, but Bilbo finds the elves beautiful and intriguing. No party celebrating Bilbo Baggins should be without lembas bread. For an added authentic touch, wrap your lembas bread in large banana leaves with twine.
• Drinks! – Lots of drinks! This is especially important. Hobbits also enjoy coffee and tea. I would recommend a British Earl Grey.
Now this may seem like a lot of food, and, well, it is. Hobbits eat a lot. Consider how many party guests you will have and cook for the appropriate number. If everything on this list sounds delicious, cook smaller portions, allowing each guest just a taste. If your hobbit party is on a budget, make it a potluck.
The second most important thing about a hobbit party is the entertainment. Below are some ideas for to make your party a real hobbit extravaganza:
• Fireworks! – Okay, just kidding. Fireworks are illegal in many states. Sparklers will do just fine.
• Music! – Hobbits can be found singing and dancing at every celebration. More importantly, music was a big part in softening the mood of “The Hobbit.” Break out the instruments and revel in the moment.
• Games are also important. Play rhyming games or take turns reading riddles – hobbits love solving riddles (and are quite good at it, too). Play any manner of “The Hobbit” or “Lord of the Rings” trivia games, or take any modern game and give it a Middle Earth twist. For example, the role-playing party game Mafia. If you want to be a little more creative, try the British children’s game Conkers.
Now let’s talk dress and décor. If you truly want to feel like a hobbit, dress in bright colors (yellows and greens with touches of neutral browns) and curl your hair. A particular physical feature of hobbits is curly hair. If you’re a man, carry a pipe, as most male hobbits do. Lastly, NO SHOES ALLOWED! Shoes don’t belong in the Shire and they should not be present at your party.
One exception: If you happen to live in cities like Buffalo, N.Y., known for their numbing temperatures and brutal snowstorms, you may wear shoes outside during your sparkler time. You don’t want any of your guests to get frostbite because unfortunately, we humans do not have protective hairy feet with thick soles.
If you want to make your party venue actually look like the Shire, here are some good budget-minded tips:
• Think Bilbo’s hobbit hole – rugged-looking, wooden furniture, a cozy rug with an earthy design on it, baskets filled with books.... check your local thrift store! You might be surprised at what they have. You may even find some old lamps or a chandelier.
• A green tablecloth – Don’t go out and buy a new fancy one, as these can be expensive (and you don’t want to buy unnecessary things when you will be spending most of your money on food). Instead, go to your local fabric store, purchase an earthy green cloth that is nice to the touch, and throw it over your table. Voila! You have an inexpensive tablecloth. Hint: Look for cheaper fabrics that don’t seem to fray as much and make sure you purchase enough
yards to fit your table.
• Hang lights around the room. It’s the holiday season and you should have no problem acquiring lights. Use smaller, softer lights, and don’t mistakenly buy only red and green. Hobbits don’t celebrate Christmas.
• Candles, lots of candles. Place candles around the room for more ambiance, or if you’re feeling extra creative, make your own hanging candles. Purchase ball jars with handles (check thrift stores and craft stores), place candles inside them (use stones to hold them in place), and string them up around the room.
• Add plants to make your party feel more like the Shire. Vines, big leafy plants, and flowers will do, real or fake.
And that’s it, folks. You now have all the key ingredients for a perfect hobbit extravaganza. Bring out your inner geek and party like a hobbit. But don’t lose your midnight movie tickets in midst of all the hustle and bustle. Keep them secret, keep them safe.
Pamela Cyran is a Monitor contributor.
Oprah Winfrey’s latest pick for her Book Club 2.0 is the work of debut novelist Ayana Mathis. "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie," fiction set against the historic backdrop of the "Great Migration" of African Americans in the 1900s, was published this month.
The novel follows the story of Hattie Shepherd, who moves from Georgia to Philadelphia in the 1920s and raises a family there, experiencing a disappointing marriage and resolving to teach her children of how difficult life will be.
Winfrey discussed her newest pick in a video.
“It’s her first time ever writing a book, and I think you are going to be so taken by it,” Winfrey said of Mathis’s novel, which she called a “jewel of a book.”
“This book touched me so deeply,” the former talk-show host continued. “Sacred truths just leap from the pages.”
Winfrey pointed out that readers can buy the e-book edition specially formatted for the book club, with Winfrey’s own notes accompanying the text, or a normal paper version.
“Still can get the hardcover, people!” she joked.
Although the “Oprah effect" – the skyrocketing in sales that a book usually experiences after becoming a Winfrey pick – is not quite as dramatic as it once was when the talk show queen had a wider television audience, it is still significant. Winfry's last choice, the memoir “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, jumped from number 173 to number 12 on Amazon following Winfrey’s announcement that it was the next club selection. Strayed’s book is still number 21 on the New York Times combined print and e-book nonfiction list for Dec. 9 and number 18 on the e-book nonfiction list for the same date.
Mathis, who is a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, was apparently overwhelmed to learn of Winfrey's decision. According to O, the Oprah Magazine, the young author was shocked to receive Winfrey's phone call. “Really?” she is reported to have asked.“This is really Oprah Winfrey?”
Check out the full video of Winfrey discussing "Hattie."
Amazon, already on thin ice with many publishing houses and independent bookstores ("Amazon aggressively wants to kill us," novelist/bookstore owner Ann Patchett said at BookExpo America this year), took a swipe at former partner Penguin Publishing in an announcement about their Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.
Through the contest – which is now in its sixth year – Amazon selects a grand prize winner who receives a publishing contract with a $50,000 advance. Four other contest entrants are awarded the title of first prize and receive publishing contracts, each with a $15,000 advance. Contestants are challenged to submit a pitch, an excerpt of their novel, and the full manuscript.
Previously, Amazon had collaborated with Penguin, which published the novels of the contest winners. This year, however, Amazon Publishing will be its own publisher.
“Amazon Publishing is the official publishing sponsor for 2013 – which means a faster publishing timeline, higher royalties, ability to launch the books in multiple formats (print, audio, ebook) and worldwide distribution,” the website for the contest reads.
We’re guessing that these claims of superior performance won’t be gaining Amazon any new friends in the publishing world.
The contest is undergoing other changes this year, including adding three new categories: mystery/thriller, romance, and science fiction/fantasy. Also, entries will now be judged by editors from Amazon Publishing. Previously, editors from Penguin and a panel of industry experts and writers made the selections.
Is reselling a used book illegal?
It might be, depending on the outcome of a Supreme Court case that will have far-reaching consequences for retailers of used goods across the nation.
The nation’s highest court is considering a copyright case that could make it illegal for non-profits and businesses – used booksellers, online giants like Amazon and eBay, even libraries, museums, and Goodwill – to resell copyrighted works produced abroad.
The case everyone is watching? John Wiley & Sons Inc. v. Kirtsaeng. The defendant, an enterprising University of Southern California doctoral student named Supap Kirtsaeng who is a native of Thailand, found purchasing textbooks in the US prohibitively expensive. So Kirtsaeng had friends and family find cheaper, Thai-manufactured editions of the same textbooks in Thailand and ship them to the US, where Kirtsaeng began reselling them on websites like eBay for a profit.
Textbook publisher Wiley learned of his business and sued Kirtsaeng for copyright infringement. The jury in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York found Kirtsaeng liable for copyright infringement and awarded Wiley $600,000 in damages.
The case was appealed to the Second Circuit and eventually to the Supreme Court, which is honing in on one particular aspect of copyright law.
Under scrutiny is the Copyright Act’s 1908 “first sale” doctrine, which provides that after a copyrighted good (like a book or CD) has been sold once, it can be resold for profit without the authorization of the copyright owner. At the crux of the matter (and what the Court is ruling on) is whether the “first sale” doctrine applies to any copyrighted work, regardless of where it was manufactured, or only those manufactured in the US.
If it rules that the “first sale” doctrine only applies to copyrighted goods manufactured in the US, it could render illegal the sale of used books, media, art, and other copyrighted works produced abroad. Which is why interested parties, from the Association of American Publishers to Goodwill to eBay, Powell’s Books, and the American Library Association are watching the case closely.
“Right now, if you go to a flea market or a book sale at a local library or a fundraiser church sale, there's a number of books or CDs or videos you can purchase on a second-hand basis without providing any money or royalty to the copyright owner,” attorney David Oberdick, head of the intellectual property department at Meyer Unkovic & Scott, Downtown, told the Associated Press. “In this case, you have people talking about a Pandora's box that could occur if the first-sale doctrine is limited to works created within the United States.”
In other words, the Court’s decision could have major ramifications for retailers of used works, from your local used bookstore to Amazon and eBay. It could also return control over the distribution of copyrighted works to content owners.
The Court is likely to issue a decision early next year.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.
Okay, we get naming your children after favorite characters in a book, but after the protagonists of “Fifty Shades of Grey” – really?
But that’s what parents did in 2012, according to the annual list released by the website BabyCenter. The name Anastasia, for “Fifty Shades of Grey” protagonist Anastasia Steele, rose 10 percent this year, while Ana rose 15 percent. And while Christian, the first name of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” male protagonist, dropped 30 percent from last year – “It seems moms don't want to make the 50 Shades connection too obvious or draw a direct link to the messed-up protagonist,” BabyCenter notes – Grey, the character’s last name, rose 18 percent.
Isabella and Jacob, two baby names that shot to popularity after the “Twilight” series by Stephenie Meyer became popular, held steady on the BabyCenter list in 2012. Isabella, the full name of “Twilight” heroine Bella Swan (and the inspiration for Anastasia Steele), came in at No. 4 and Jacob, the name of the devoted werewolf of the “Twilight” books, took No. 8 on the boys’ list. Other popular literary-inspired names? Scarlett, the famous first name of the “Gone with the Wind” heroine, is currently No. 55.
The channel BBC One has ordered episodic adaptations of the novel “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling and of the novel “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” by Susanna Clarke. The number of episodes for “The Casual Vacancy” is as yet undecided, but the series will air in 2014, while “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” will consist of six episodes and air in 2013. BBC One commissioned the adaptation of "The Casual Vacancy" with BBC Drama.
“The Casual Vacancy” is a contemporary novel that follows the election for a town government seat, while “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell ” follows the lives of two magicians who live in Europe during the Napoleonic period – an era when the practice of magic is alive and well.
There was the possibility that “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell” would be turned into a film released by New Line Cinemas after the studio optioned the rights to the book in 2005, but the project has never materialized.
Rowling will serve as a consultant on the “The Casual Vacancy” miniseries, according to the BBC.
“I’m thrilled that the BBC has commissioned The Casual Vacancy,” the author said in a statement. “I always felt that, if it were to be adapted, this novel was best suited to television and I think the BBC is the perfect home.”
BBC One is currently the home of another literary adaptation, the critically well-received TV show “Sherlock,” which is based on the novels by writer Arthur Conan Doyle.
More sad news to report on “Three Cups of Tea": David Oliver Relin, the journalist and author who became famous as the co-author, with Greg Mortenson, of “Three Cups of Tea,” died Nov. 15 near Portland, Oregon of an apparent suicide. He was 49.
Relin’s family said the author suffered from depression and was hurt, emotionally and financially, when controversy arose over fabrications in “Three Cups of Tea,” which recounted how former mountain climber Mortenson started building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan through his charity.
The book’s accuracy was called into question last year when a "60 Minutes program" reported on its numerous fabrications as well as financial discrepancies in Mortenson’s charity, both of which were detailed by author Jon Krakauer in his book, “Three Cups of Deceit.”
Mortenson denied wrongdoing, though he acknowledged that some of the events in the book were compressed for storytelling purposes. Relin did not respond publicly to criticism, though he did hire a lawyer to defend himself in a federal lawsuit that accused the authors and publisher of defrauding readers. The suit was dismissed earlier this year.
Ironically, the very assignment that shot Relin to fame – “Three Cups of Tea” would go on to sell 4 million copies and draw widespread support for Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute – also brought him much grief and may have led to his eventual downfall.
From the start, Relin spoke publicly about how Mortenson, who was often unreachable traveling in remote areas, should not have been named a co-author. Elizabeth Kaplan, the agent for the book, told the New York Times that the relationship between the co-authors was difficult from the start.
The legal, emotional, and financial difficulties that followed allegations of fabrications further damaged Relin, who already suffered from depression.
Relin had established himself in the 1990s as a journalist specializing in humanitarian stories about people in need. It appeared he had tried to move on from the “Three Cups” controversy; Relin had completed a new book on two doctors who are working to cure cataract-related blindness in the developing world, scheduled for publication by Random House in spring 2013.
He is survived by his wife, Dawn; his stepfather Cary Ratcliff; and his sisters Rachel Relin and Jennifer Cherelin.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.