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News & Notes: Books

The Boy Scouts, Barbara Walters, and Isaac Asimov made news this week

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Being Prepared A revised Boy Scout Handbook, complete with a 23-page insert about child abuse and drugs, is now available in bookstores.

Hearts and Books Among the dozen or so daffy books timed for publication on Valentine’s Day (Romance on Your Hands: Palmistry for Lovers, Secrets About Men Every Woman Should Know, and so on) is one gem: the reissue of Denis de Rougement’s classic study, Love in the Western World (Schocken, $12.95).

Dueling Bios Barbara Walters is writing her autobiography, but author Jerry Oppenheimer is trying his best to scoop her story. His unauthorized biography is expected in stores this month. Walters won’t comment on Oppenheimer’s book because, her spokeswoman says, ”she hasn’t read it, and she doesn’t plan to.”

The Last 400 Hitter In honor of his 444-book career, Doubleday is reissuing Isaac Asimov’s first novel, Pebbles in the Sky, this month.

Politics and Pornski Budapest’s bookstores now feature such mass cult U.S. offerings as Stephen King, Mario Puzo, Robert Ludlum, and Ken Follett. But what’s selling best there? ”Politics and hard-core pornography,” says Sandor Bandy, an editor-turned-journalist. Poland’s hottest title is Fanny Hill: Recollections of a Lady of Pleasure, published by an underground student press.

Portnoy in Prague Philip Roth, whose series Writers From the Other Europe (Penguin) introduced such authors as Bruno Schulz and Milan Kundera to English-speaking readers, will be the first banned novelist to be published in Czechoslovakia. Portnoy’s Complaint is being issued by Prague’s Odeon Press.

Food for Thought Paul Newman’s food company, Newman’s Own, has donated $50,000 to PEN, the writers organization. Author A. E. Hotchner, vice president of Newman’s Own, says: ”PEN realizes that the environment in which the creative artist functions is as fragile and vital as the ecological environment.”

Long Overdue Harper & Row’s Perennial Library is reviving four books by the great black anthropologist and storyteller Zora Neale Hurston this month: Their Eyes Were Watching God, Mules and Men, Tell My Horse, and Jonah’s Gourd Vine. Perennial plans to reissue Hurston’s autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road, as well as another novel, Moses, Man of the Mountain, next year.

Phoning Home In June Knopf will publish Long Distance Interrogation, a portrait of Vaclav Havel, the playwright-president of Czechoslovakia. The biography is based on phone interviews conducted in 1986 by Karel Hvizdala, an exiled Czech journalist.

Cashing In Seth Morgan, son of poet Frederick Morgan-and Janis Joplin’s partner in pranks — has a hot autobiographical first novel, Homeboy, coming from Random House this spring.

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