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Between The Lines

The inside scoop on the book world

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— PRIZE FIGHTERS This year’s National Book Critics Circle award nominations show once again that the organization of ink-stained wretches isn’t about to go mainstream. ”We don’t have a formal awards submission policy the way the National Book Awards does, so we see everything,” says NBCC president Barbara Hoffert. This year, in the fiction category, ”everything” includes both David Means’ collection Assorted Fire Events, published by the tiny, year-old Context Books, and Random House’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon — a critical favorite that was snubbed at last year’s NBA awards. The two books will compete against Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (EW’s 2000 Fiction Book of the Year), Amy Bloom’s story collection A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, and Jim Crace’s meditation on mortality, Being Dead. The awards generally have little sales impact (”Zip-ola,” says one editor). But the previous year’s winner, Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn, got a big boost upon its paperback release. ”His novels had a cult following — this brought him a wider audience,” says Vintage publicity director Russell Perreault.

— STRIKING IT RICH The furor over the Marc Rich pardon may not die down any time soon — especially since HarperCollins has just bought the rights to A. Craig Copetas’ long-out-of-print Metal Men: Marc Rich and the 10-Billion-Dollar Scam, which it last published in paperback in 1986. It ”holds up,” says editor Tim Duggan, who plans to issue the title with a new introduction ”as soon as possible.”

— ‘CRAZY’ FOR YOU Country music wild man-turned-senior statesman Willie Nelson will share his hard-earned wisdom in If You Ain’t Crazy There’s Something Wrong With You: Lessons I’ve Learned the Hard Way, to be published by Random House next January. ”He’s telling his life story, but arranged thematically,” says Random House senior editor Scott Moyers. ”It’ll be about his road to self-destruc-tion and back.”