Friday, February 07, 2003

From Contra Costa Times:

HARRY POTTER AND THE BIG FAT PAYCHECK: The new Harry Potter book, still five months from publication, has already set a record: It will be the highest-priced children's novel in history. Scholastic Children's Books, the U.S. publisher of J.K. Rowling's best-selling series, has set the suggested retail price for "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" at $29.99.

The previous installment, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (2000), sold for a suggested price of $25.95.

A Scholastic spokesman cited increased costs for printing and paper and the book's anticipated length. At well over 700 pages, it's a third larger than the last Potter book.

JUST WHEN WE THOUGHT WE WERE OUT, THEY PULL US BACK IN!!!! Here come the Corleones again. Mark Winegardner, director of the creative writing program at Florida State University, has won a contest to continue the saga of Mario Puzo's fictional crime family. "The Godfather Returns" is tentatively scheduled to come out in the fall of 2004.

"There are many stories left to tell," said Winegardner, 41, a fiction writer whose previous subjects include baseball, Cleveland and organized crime.

In an e-mail sent last fall to literary agents, Random House editor Jonathan Karp wrote that he was looking for "someone who is in roughly the same place in life Mario Puzo was when he wrote 'The Godfather' -- at mid-career, with two acclaimed literary novels to his credit, who writes in a commanding and darkly comic omniscient voice."

Winegardner's books include the baseball novel "Prophet of the Sandlots" and "Crooked River Burning," a class-conscious story set in Cleveland. Like Puzo, he has a knack for writing about crime. Unlike Puzo, he's not Italian.

"I am, however, German-Irish like Corleone consiglieri Tom Hagen, and he did just fine in this world," Winegardner said.

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