Neither fire nor fury for Wolff's new Trump book
New York (AP) — The sequel
to Michael Wolff's million-selling "Fire and Fury" is not attracting the
same kind of interest, not even from President Donald Trump.
NPD BookScan reported just 17,756
first-week sales for "Siege," Wolff's latest account of the Trump White
House. It ranked just No. 11 overall, well behind the top seller, Delia
Owens' novel "Where the Crawdads Sing."
"Fire and Fury" sold more than
25,000 copies its first week despite a shortage of supply due to
enormous, and unexpected, demand and sold nearly 200,000 copies the
following week, according to BookScan, which tracks around 85% of
physical book sales.
"Fire and Fury" went on to become
one of the biggest books of 2018 despite doubts about its accuracy,
although its portrait of a chaotic and feuding administration was
largely affirmed by such subsequent releases as Bob Woodward's "Fear."
Trump has largely ignored "Siege,"
which has few of the headline-making details of "Fire and Fury."
The president tweeted angrily about
Wolff's previous book, saying it was "Full of lies, misrepresentations
and sources that don't exist." Former White House strategist Steve
Bannon was a key source for "Fire and Fury" and was mocked by Trump as
"Sloppy Steve" after making such inflammatory comments as calling a 2016
Trump Tower meeting with Russian officials "treasonous."
Bannon is again featured in
"Siege," but with the narrative focused on events following his
departure, he serves more as commentator than participant. The New
York Times suggested the book be read "less as a news report and
more as a rhetorical gambit — a twisted bid to burnish Bannon's
anti-establishment legacy." (AP)
'Chasing the Moon' takes a look at the history of rocketry
This companion book by Robert Stone
and Alan Andres to the upcoming PBS film showcases well-known
individuals and some forgotten names that were just as essential in
keeping the dream of sending a man into outer space.
The first known scientific look at
the practicality of rockets came in 1903 when Russian Konstantin
Tsiolkovsky published a paper that used a mathematical formula to take
the rocket's mass to its velocity. He was a fan of Jules Verne's "From
the Earth to the Moon," and while the idea of traveling in outer space
and visiting other worlds was standard science fiction, Tsiolkovsky's
paper was the first to prove it could be accomplished. Sadly, his
findings would take another 20 years to be appreciated.
A young man named Archie Clarke
discovered a book when he was a teenager called "The Conquest of Space."
He thought it was fiction, so what he found was completely unexpected as
it showed that space travel was theoretically possible. It sparked his
imagination, and it eventually led him to write classics such as "2001:
A Space Odyssey."
The book mentions the famous names
like Wernher von Braun and Robert Goddard, but it's also about Newton
Minow, who believed the future of telecommunications was in using
satellites. The authors showcase the human side of what began as a
flight of fancy and those pioneers that pursued the dream to see
humanity reach the stars. They embraced the chase to the moon and
beyond. The book is a perfect appetizer to what seems to be a stellar
upcoming PBS documentary. (AP)
Danger, beauty, suspense
in ‘The River’s’ wilderness
Peter Heller’s novel “The River”, about
two Dartmouth College students on a canoe trip gone badly awry, is partly an
ode to the Northern wilderness, partly a survival how-to, and mostly a
thriller — suspenseful and gut-wrenching.
Best friends Wynn and Jack take a
late-summer trip to Canada, paddling down a river that winds through lakes
and over rapids on its way to Hudson Bay. Like the river, Heller’s plot
often takes its time, digressing to describe how the boys fillet a fish or
make camp, or what the Northern Lights look like. But don’t get lulled:
There’s action around the bend.
The two friends, both country boys, are
experts in the woods and on the water, where they are self-proclaimed
“minimalists” — no phones, no frills. They also share “a literary way of
looking at the world,” and frequently see it through the lenses of Edgar
Allan Poe, Virgil, James Dickey and more.
Their leisurely trip turns into a
harrowing dash toward safety when both nature and other people turn violent.
Nature dishes up a massive forest fire that bears down on them. The boys
smell and hear the blaze long before they see it — the fleeing animals, the
drifting smoke, the popping and hissing of trees.
Meanwhile, human mysteries lurk: Wynn
and Jack hear a man and woman arguing on the bank as their canoe glides by
in the fog; when they return to warn the couple about the fire, they find
nobody there. Later, a man turns up at their camp downriver, alone. Where is
Heller, author of previous novels
including “The Dog Stars” and “Celine,” dives deep into the details of
wilderness camping — so deep that sometimes you just want to jump ahead and
find out what happens. Likewise with his acute and poetic observations of
nature. But he is setting the scene and establishing two likable and
memorable characters in Wynn and Jack. Each brings a different perspective
to the violence and tragedy they encounter.
River travel has often been a metaphor
for writers. At one point early on, as the boys approach some rapids, Heller
writes that “every river story they had ever read was just beneath the
surface of their imaginations and must have fired them with extra energy and
braced them, too, because at least half of those stories did not have happy