Shelf Life

Google's goals

“Ancient Gonzo Wisdom’’ is a collection of interviews with the late Hunter S. Thompson that spans nearly 40 years. “Ancient Gonzo Wisdom’’ is a collection of interviews with the late Hunter S. Thompson that spans nearly 40 years. (Reuters/ File)
By Jan Gardner
Globe Correspondent / July 19, 2009
  • Email|
  • Print|
  • Reprints|
  • |
Text size +

Google’s plan to digitize millions of books has stirred a controversy of epic proportions. Critics say the company’s project amounts to a monopoly that offers too little to authors. Proponents herald the access to vast stores of knowledge. Earlier this month, the US Justice Department entered the fray when it launched an antitrust investigation into the matter.

To be sure, the implications of Google’s initiative are complex. On Tuesday at 6 p.m., the Boston Public Library will host a panel to discuss what the project will mean for academics, libraries, and business. Speakers include Daniel Clancy of Google Books, Harvard Law School professor John Palfrey, and Ann Wolpert, director of libraries at MIT.

Hunting Thompson
The man who invented gonzo journalism liked to give credit to the pal who coined the term. That much is clear from “Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson’’ (Da Capo), a new collection edited by Thompson’s widow, Anita. In numerous interviews, Thompson mentions the late Bill Cardoso, who worked at The Boston Globe in the 1960s.

After reading “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved,’’ Thompson’s widely hailed 1970 magazine article, Cardoso wrote him, “It’s totally gonzo.’’ Gonzo meant “sort of ‘crazy,’ ‘off the wall,’ ’’ Thompson told High Times magazine. “I just liked it,’’ Thompson said in an interview sponsored by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. “And I thought, ‘Well, am I a new journalist? Am I political journalist?’ I’m a gonzo journalist . . . And why not?’’

Among the early interviews in “Ancient Gonzo Wisdom,’’ a collection that spans nearly 40 years, is one with onetime Boston radio talk show host Jerry Williams. The two talked about George McGovern’s presidential ambitions, with Williams singling out Thompson’s coverage of the 1972 campaign as the most interesting he’d read.

Up-country workshops
Writing workshops like to point out graduates who go on to publish books. Next month will see the publication of “The Southern Cross’’ (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Skip Horack, winner of the Bakeless Prize for fiction at last summer’s Bread Loaf Conference, the 83-year-old gathering for writers in Middlebury, Vt. Horack, a native of Louisiana, centers his stories on the Gulf Coast around the time of Hurricane Katrina.

Across the border in Manchester, N.H., the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop recently capped its 14th summer session with an appearance by a successful graduate of its own, Carrie Vaughn. She is the creator of a series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty Norville who hosts a call-in radio show that offers advice to the supernaturally disadvantaged. “Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand’’ (Grand Central), about a couple of werewolves whose wedding plans run into trouble, appeared earlier this year on The New York Times mass-market fiction bestseller list.

Coming out
  • “Cold: Adventures in the World’s Frozen Places,’’ by Bill Streever (Little, Brown)

  • “Twenties Girl,’’ by Sophie Kinsella (Dial)

  • “A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers,’’ by Lawrence G. McDonald and Patrick Robinson (Crown)

  • Pick of the week
    Bob Connolly of Jabberwocky Bookshop in Newburyport recommends “The Cutting’’ by James Hayman (Minotaur): “Detective Michael McCabe moves from New York City to Portland, Maine, to escape his past. When his new life is shattered by the appearance of a serial killer, it’s up to McCabe to stop the madman before he strikes again. A clever and suspenseful thriller.’’

    Jan Gardner can be reached at

    Latest Entertainment Twitters

    Get breaking entertainment news, gossip, and the latest from Boston Globe critics and A&E staff.