NEW YORK — A major national campaign, "Give the Gift of Literacy," was launched at this past week's convention of the American Booksellers Assn. in New Orleans. Intended to raise funds as well as awareness of the problem of illiteracy, the drive hopes to raise a minimum of $1 million per year for at least three years for national and local literacy organizations serving adults and children. A similar effort will be initiated later this summer by the Canadian Booksellers Assn. Funds for the U.S. campaign will be raised through customer contributions at bookstores around the country, with proceeds to be donated to the Coalition for Literacy and Reading Is Fundamental. The program is being tested in more than 100 bookstores in Minnesota.
GOOD HEAVENS!: Better known for his novels of spiritual conflict and corporeal conflagration, best-selling author/sociologist Father Andrew A. Greeley has turned his pen to . . . science fiction. "God Game," exploring the premise of what would happen if the characters in a computer game were to come to life while the player still maintained some control and influence over them, will be published this month by Warner Books, in partnership with Tor Books.
ONE MINUTE, PLEASE: Without leaving Palm Paradise, "One-Minute Manager" and "One-Minute Sales Person" author Dr. Spencer Johnson will road-tour the United States--via satellite TV. To publicize his latest best seller, "One Minute for Myself," Johnson's publisher, William Morrow & Co., has signed On the Scene Productions to conduct 20 interviews to be telecast live via satellite to news and talk shows throughout the United States in a four-hour time period. On the Scene Productions explains that the live satellite approach "reduces the exhausting traveling conditions and expensive touring costs" that are incurred on regular book tours.
IN MEMORIAM: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, hardcover publisher for the late Bernard Malamud, has announced the establishment of a Bernard Malamud literary award to be administered by PEN, an international literary organization. Conditions and dollar amounts of the award are as yet undecided, nor has the company decided on whether to publish the novel on which the 71-year-old Malamud was working at the time of his death March 18 separately or as part of a posthumous collection.
TROPIC OF HIGH PRICES: At a recent auction at Sotheby's in New York, the original typewritten manuscript of Henry Miller's "Tropic of Cancer" brought $165,000, second in price for a typewritten or signed literary work only to the $357,500 paid last year at auction for a notebook of poetry and prose handwritten by William Butler Yeats. More than 900 pages long, the four-volume Miller typescript is expected to be placed at New York's Morgan Library. The typescript was purchased by rare-book dealer John Fleming on behalf of an undisclosed buyer.
WAR GAMES: At a meeting at Stanford University not long ago marking the publication of a collection of essays, "Makers of Modern Strategy From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age" (Princeton University Press, 1986), military historians from all over the country waged good-natured war on each other. The focus of their friendly verbal hostilities during the conference on "War in History, and War Today," sponsored jointly by Stanford's history department and the Hoover Institution, was why insurgents generally have defeated regular military forces ever since World War II. Arguing that war must be viewed not merely in the military arena, but also in the spheres of politics, economics and the media, Peter Paret, Spruance professor of international history at Stanford and editor of the Princeton University Press collection, declared that "to interpret war in the past we must recognize that we must deal both with its uniqueness and its profound interconnection with other forces."
AND THE WINNERS ARE: In Mexico City, Michael Mathes of the United States was awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle, Mexico's highest award for foreigners, for his books on the history of Baja California and northwestern Mexico. "My dear Mexican friends deserve more recognition for this award than I do," Mathes said. "But if this award celebrates the roots I have planted here and the pleasure I have experienced in this country, then let me say it has never been so justly received." Mathes, who was born in Los Angeles in 1936, has lived in the border state of Sonora for 15 years. He has written more than 175 works.
Also: Swiss dramatist, novelist and diarist Max Frisch has been named the recipient of the $25,000 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Sponsored by the University of Oklahoma and its international literary journal, World Literature Today, the prize is awarded every two years by a jury of writers, critics and literary scholars from around the world. Frisch was selected from 10 international authors, with Nigerian poet, dramatist and novelist Wole Soyinka chosen as runner-up.
Finally: The Rea Award for the Short Story, the first juried award to focus on the short story, has been presented to Cynthia Ozick for her collections, "The Pagan Rabbi," "Levitation" and others. Michael M. Rea, president of the Dungannon Foundation (which exists primarily to bestow the Rea Award each year), said the $25,000 award was created to honor "a living United States writer whose published works in the discipline of the short story have made a significant contribution to this art form."
THE NEW LINE FORMS HERE: "Perfect Order," a "scintillating story of sex, politics, love and danger" by best-selling author Kate Coscarelli, will be the first paperback off the presses this August for Onyx Books, a new mass-market paperback imprint to be issued by New American Library. Along with hardcover reprints and nonfiction and fiction paperback originals, Onyx will showcase one historical romance per month.