NOT WILD ABOUT HARRY The hugely popular Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets may be the publishing success stories of the year. But not everyone in the industry is happy to see these children’s titles taking up two of the top 15 slots on the New York Times best-seller list — with the just-out Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban likely to fill a third. While no publishers would grumble on the record, literary agent Aaron Priest suggested the Times start a children’s best-seller list. ”For somebody who’s been writing adult fiction for a long time to be No. 17, not No. 15, because there are two children’s books up there, that’s very frustrating and, more than that, career-damaging,” he says. Times Book Review editor Charles McGrath responds: ”People always complain when [a book] seems to them to clog up the works,” adding, ”The Harry Potter phenomenon has transcended the ghetto of children’s books.”
PILGRIM’S PROGRESS Actress/author/past-life channeler Shirley MacLaine, 65, is rumored to have a new book in the works about yet another spiritual journey. According to publishing insiders, the Oscar winner and best-selling author (Out on a Limb, Dance While You Can) has reached an agreement with Pocket Books to write Ultreya, about a 1994 pilgrimage she took on Spain’s Camino de Santiago de Compostela. (Ultreya, meaning ”to go on,” is a cry of encouragement among pilgrims.) Always the hoofer, MacLaine reportedly walked more than 400 miles in 30 days along the route, which pilgrims have traveled since the Middle Ages. Pocket declined to comment; Pocket’s publisher, Judith Curr, couldn’t be reached.