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New L.A. reading series asks: Fact or fiction?

In the past, fiction disguised as fact has infuriated readers. Oprah Winfrey took James Frey to task for the exaggerations in his not-entirely-true memoir "A Million Little Pieces." Author Misha Defonseca was ordered by a court to return $22.5 million for her fabricated memoir of being a Jewish child raised by wolves during the Holocaust after it was discovered she was raised by her family, and wasn't Jewish.

But a new reading series, Bamboozled, is jumping into the fact-or-fiction fray. Four writers will read stories that are either true or false, and the audience has to guess which is which.

Appropriately enough, the series begins Wednesday, April Fools' Day.

The host is Rico Gagliano, of KPCC's "Dinner Party Download" show, and novelist Diana Wagman ("The Care

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Keeping literature dirty

I was almost sorry to see the developers of the Clean Reader app — which would have allowed squeamish or morally didactic readers to remove profanity from books — take “immediate action to remove all books from our catalogue” last week, in response to authors outraged about their work being expurgated. Not because I want my literature tampered with, but because the issues raised, about who owns a piece of writing, remain pressing and relevant.

For anyone who hasn’t been following along, Clean Reader is the brainchild of Jared and Kirsten Maugham, a Christian couple who created a filtering program after their daughter “objected” to language she found in a book assigned for school. In some sense, I suppose, that shows restraint, since parents often try to remove such books from classrooms, but it’s a slippery slope from here to there.

At the heart of Clean Reader, after all, is a misapprehension about literature, about writing, about what it means and how it operates. It assumes that...

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The strange, true tale of the naked bookseller

In Quartzsite, Ariz., at the sprawling Reader's Oasis bookshop, readers can purchase their books from a man known as the naked bookseller. Also known as Paul Winer or Sweet Pie, the naked bookseller has been selling books for 24 years.

Someplace Magazine, a peripatetic online journal from Charles Day and Ellie Robins, stopped in Quartzsite to get the naked bookseller's story.

"I've been naked in public now for 55 years," he tells them. He's not interested in joining a nudist movement, however. He explains: "I went to a nudist park once  — my whole life I’ve only been to a nudist resort or park once — and decided that is not where I  belong. I’d rather be where there’s a variety to people. Once everybody is naked, it’s the same as wearing a uniform. They only talk about why they’re naked, where they go naked, who they’ve met naked, where they’re going next to be naked. I find that quite boring. It’s like going to a tailgate party before a football game — all people talk about is...

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Emily St. John Mandel's 'Station Eleven' wins the Tournament of Books

It's been a good few months for Emily St. John Mandel. Her novel "Station Eleven" was a finalist for the National Book Award, and landed on the PEN/Faulkner shortlist and the longlist of the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Even George R.R. Martin is a fan. And now: Here comes the Rooster.

Mandel won the 11th annual Tournament of Books at the Morning News on Tuesday for her critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic novel, beating out Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See." The prize is called the Rooster, which the website explains is "a prize named after David Sedaris’ brother, and its author will be threatened with the presentation of a live he-hen."

(That's not an idle threat. As Morning News contributing writer Kevin Guilfoile writes, "We should note that the rooster prize is a genuine offer, but the only author who has ever taken us up on it is Adam Johnson.")

The Tournament of Books is "a March Madness-like battle royale," starting out with 16 books. Guest judges choose...

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New 'Dragon Tattoo' Girl book cover revealed

It's a banner day for fans of Lisbeth Salander: The girl with the dragon tattoo is returning in "The Girl in the Spider's Web." The book will hit shelves Sept. 1; its cover was released today by Knopf.

Salander was created by Steig Larsson, a Swedish political journalist who died of a heart attack before seeing the massive international success of his thrillers. The books, which were called the Millennium Trilogy -- "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" -- have sold more than 80 million copies worldwide.

Of course fans wanted Salander to return, but how? Larssen's literary legacy was the subject of a court case in Sweden, where his partner of 30 years, Eva Gabrielsson, fought for control of his estate with his father and brother. Although Larsson had reportedly been estranged from his family, the family won, as Swedish law affords few rights to unmarried partners.

At one point during the case, it was rumored that...

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New Elmore Leonard stories to be published in June

Elmore Leonard was a prolific writer when he was alive, and in death, well, nothing has changed. He's still got new work coming.

On June 16, William Morrow will publish "Charlie Martz and Other Stories," a collection of 15 short stories by Leonard, 11 of which have never been published.

Leonard, who died in 2013 at the age of 87, published more than 50 books, starting with "The Bounty Hunters" in 1953. His earliest stories were pulp westerns, but he became known for the witty, swift-moving crime fiction of "Freaky Deaky" and "52 Pickup."

The stories in the collection mark Leonard's transition, written early on but never before published. The stories explore "new voices and locations, from the bars of small-town New Mexico and Michigan to a film set in Hollywood, a hotel in Southern Spain, even a military base in Kuala Lumpur," William Morrow wrote in a news release. "They also introduce us to classic Leonard characters, some who recur throughout the collection, such as aging lawman...

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