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Book News: Louise Shivers, Author Of 'Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail,' Dies

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Louise Shivers, who published her first book, Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail, at the age of 53, has died. She was 84. The 1983 novella followed the wife of a North Carolina tobacco farmer who begins an affair with the "red-headed, jagged faced" hired hand Jack Ruffian. The book was a critical and commercial success: The Washington Post called Shivers "a late-blooming Flannery O'Connor," and USA Today named the book the best first novel of 1983. Shivers submitted the story to a writing contest, hoping to win the $50 prize. The judge happened to be the novelist Mary Gordon, who was so impressed with Shivers' book that, when the manuscript was finished, she passed it on to her agent, who placed it at Random House. "Almost nobody believes me," Shivers told the Post after the novel came out, "but I didn't write the book thinkin' it was gonna get published."
  • Kim Kardashian is apparently working on a book of selfies. Now you know.
  • "[L]ast year, [Peter] Mendelsund, the associate art director at Alfred A. Knopf, became his own worst nightmare." — Alexandra Alter describes a book jacket designer's struggle to make the cover of his own book.
  • Linda Gregerson has a new poem, "Ceres Lamenting," in The New Yorker:
  • "She hated the plow.

    She hated the cattle.

    She hated

    that her sweet acres when the girl

    had been taken away should still

    contrive to be

    conformable, even

    the barley, even the grape, as though

    her heart had not been torn

    with hooks."

  • The Associated Press writes about reports of sexual harassment at the country's biggest comic book convention: "Amid the costumes and fantasy of this weekend's Comic-Con convention [in San Diego], a group of young women drew widespread attention to a very real issue — allegations of sexual harassment at the annual pop-culture festival. Geeks for CONsent, founded by three women from Philadelphia, gathered nearly 2,600 signatures on an online petition supporting a formal anti-harassment policy at Comic-Con."
  • Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.
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