— GIRL TALK The hot book at auction this week is Girl Cook, which editors are describing as Bridget Jones meets Kitchen Confidential. First-time novelist Hannah McCouch, who holds degrees from Columbia’s writing program and the Cordon Bleu, has based the story on her own experiences cooking in high-class Manhattan eateries. Says her agent, Simon Green, ”She’s not trying to skewer anybody” — ouch! — ”but there are resemblances to people in the restaurant business.”
— BIG DEALS Pursuing the growing vogue for micro-histories in the mode of Wittgenstein’s Poker and The Professor and the Madman, Ecco/HarperCollins has paid a substantial six figures for David Friedman’s The Immortalists, which will tell the story of the peculiar friendship between Charles Lindbergh and Dr. Alexis Carrel, and their quest to make man immortal. ”It’s a roller coaster of a historical story,” says Ecco publisher Daniel Halpern…. New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger has signed with Random House to write about the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. ”You can’t look at this purely as an architectural problem, or a cultural or political problem,” says Goldberger. ”It’s about what people want the city to be.” Random House plans to publish in 2003.
— JOHNNY BE GOOD Johnny Depp was in London last week with friend and writer Nick Tosches. The expat actor recorded the audiobook of Tosches’ much-hyped September thriller In the Hand of Dante, reciting lines like ”Louie pulled off his bra and threw it down upon the casket.” ”Johnny was one of the first people to read the book,” says Tosches’ agent Russell Galen. ”Nick was prepared to kill the audio deal if Johnny couldn’t read it. He literally would not have let anyone else read his book.” While nothing’s been confirmed, look for Depp on the Los Angeles leg of Tosches’ five-city tour.