Since it arrived a year ago at Politics & Prose, “Opus,” Washington’s first print-on-demand Espresso book machine, has helped hundreds of area scribblers realize their publishing dreams. On a gray, biting afternoon Saturday, a dozen of them gathered at the bookstore to delight a standing-room-only audience with selections from their work. It was the first-ever Opus open mike.
“Truth in Advertising,” the first novel from New Yorker humor contributor John Kenney, looks a lot like one of those “whiny man” books — books that, as the fiction editor for this newspaper once put it, tell “stories about white guys who just can’t seem to figure out why their lives aren’t going better.” But that stuff falls away in this quick witted, sympathetic novel.
At halftime of the 1981 Super Bowl, the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. took what appeared to be a $1.7 million gamble when it put its lowly namesake swill up against Michelob in a blind taste test on live television. Terrible idea, right? Not so fast. The marketing department made sure that all 100 of the test’s participants were affirmed Michelob drinkers, which means that even if only 25 of them jumped ship, Schlitz could later tout something like, “One in 4 Michelob drinkers prefers Schlitz.”
But still, what if Michelob swept the field? After all, it’s essentially a coin toss, right? You betcha – it could happen. But, as Charles Wheelan explains in his brilliant, funny new book, “Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread From the Data,” Schlitz had figured out that it was probably more likely that an asteroid would’ve passed through one of the Louisiana Superdome‘s uprights.
Ali Smith’s superb new book, Artful, began as a series of talks on comparative literature that were delivered at St. Anne’s College, Oxford, in January and February of last year. It must’ve been one hell of a show.
Thriller author Brad Meltzer—a former Washingtonian who now lives in Florida—is back this month with the second novel in his Beecher White series, The Fifth Assassin. White, an archivist at the National Archives, is on the heels of a Washington copycat killer who’s recreating, with striking historical accuracy, the four US presidential assassinations. And he’s not stopping there.