The inside scoop on the book world

By Karen Valby
Updated March 08, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

— DOG EAT DOUG WORLD When early manuscripts of Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Doug Marlette’s debut novel, The Bridge, circulated around his small town of Hillsborough, N.C., tempers flared. His book, recently optioned by Paramount as a potential starring vehicle for Tom Cruise, satirizes the community of writers (”bourgeois bohemian types looking to buy old historic homes”) living in a fictionalized version of Hillsborough. The caricatures apparently hit too close to home. Marlette says he was quickly ”shunned at the local sandwich shop,” and The Practical Heart author Allan Gurganus, who lives across the street from Marlette, insisted that his name be removed from the acknowledgements. ”The main person who should be ticked off is me,” argues Marlette, who based the main character — a struggling cartoonist — on himself. ”He has a temper he can’t control…he loses his job, he loses his kid on Halloween. If anyone should be pissed off at Marlette the writer it’s me, Marlette the cartoonist.” Gurganus would only comment, ”I believe in the First Amendment.”

— BATH TIME The fifth installment of the Eloise children’s book series, Eloise Takes a Bawth, which author Kay Thompson worked on and then abandoned in the 1960s, is being resurrected and reconstructed for publication this October. Eloise illustrator Hilary Knight, who worked with Thompson for four years on the final sequel, will supply new pictures, based on sketches he made four decades ago, as well as the ”road map” to the text: ”The pictures tell the story of Eloise taking a bath, flooding the Plaza, and a resolution,” says Brenda Bowen, an exec V.P. at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. With the blessings of the author’s estate, playwright Mart Crowley (The Boys in the Band) will piece together the different drafts and scraps of text that Thompson left behind. ”Imagine 12 drafts of the same story, and someone has blown all the pages down the stairs, and the wind blew away 50 percent of them,” says Bowen. ”That’s where Mart comes in to make it a story.”