The inside scoop on the book world
The Life of O’Brian
Patrick O’Brian, 83, author of celebrated seafaring novels, has always played up his Irish Catholic roots. But as it turns out, he’s not Irish, not Catholic, not even an O’Brian. After a BBC documentary in September raised some questions about his past, London’s Daily Telegraph did some digging and discovered he was born in England and changed his name from Richard Patrick Russ after World War II. Dean King, who is writing a biography of O’Brian for Holt, has learned that O’Brian even penned two novels under his old name, publishing the first when he was just 15. ”They’re really wonderful books,” says King. ”Whether he’d want them in print again is unclear.” Starling Lawrence, O’Brian’s American editor at Norton, doesn’t rule out republishing the early books but says there will be no repackaging of the current novels. ”He is defined by the books he’s written,” Lawrence says. ”This is all a tempest in a teapot.”
The Love Bug
Jewel might want to get her Hands on this: The jacket of the pop songstress’ best-selling poetry tome, A Night Without Armor, looks strikingly similar to the cover of a 1995 teenybopper paperback in Bantam’s Love Stories series. The book’s packaging company, 17th Street Productions, noticed the resemblance after reading about Jewel’s literary effort in, of all places, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. ”We were like, ‘Damn, this looks like My First Love with that mall chick on it!”’ says spokesperson Ryan Nerz. Nevertheless, 17th Street isn’t threatening legal action, and Armor’s publisher, HarperCollins, had no comment. We’re guessing it was just a coincidence: Jewel wouldn’t be caught dead in that outfit.