Pen names—or noms de plume if you're haughty—are nothing new, of course. There are plenty of legitimate reasons for writers to publish under a pseudonym or anonymously: Did you know that when you're a spy, you're not permitted to use your real name? That's why David John Moore Cornwell became John le Carré. Mary Anne Evans wanted to be taken seriously as a novelist, which she couldn't do without taking the name George Eliot. (She wasn't alone.) And when Theodor Geisel was fired from his job as an cartoonist for a Dartmouth paper (he was caught drinking—a Prohibition taboo), he took his first step toward immortality as Dr. Seuss. Maybe you just want a cool name like Mark Twain.
Sometimes, the story is a little bit stranger. Lately, the publishing world has been buzzing with the news that A.J. Finn, author of the bestseller The Woman in the Window (one of our favorite books of 2018) is actually Dan Mallory, a longtime editor for publishers in New York and London. While that's not shocking in itself, a recent exposé described a scenario closer to The Talented Mr. Ripley than Twain. In Episode 11 of the Amazon Book Review Podcast, we discuss the secret and not-so-secret identities of writers, and attempt to unravel the moral complexities of memoir. When it comes to Finn/Mallory, are we more hurt than angry? Do we get anywhere? Probably not. But it's complicated.
Also in the podcast: Seira Wilson's interview with bestselling cookbook author and television celebrity Ina Garten, otherwise known as the Barefoot Contessa. Last fall she visited our offices to talk in front of a live audience about her latest book, Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks. Garten is completely self-taught and doesn't consider herself to be a "professional" cook, but she has spent decades working with chefs and learning the techniques. This book shares the "pro tips" that she's picked up along the way.
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