Secession Fun
Agent David Patterson sold North American rights, at auction, to Chuck Thompson's Better Off Without 'Em. David Rosenthal at Simon & Schuster bought the book in a deal that marked Patterson's first sale since joining Foundry Literary + Media. Thompson (Smile When You're Lying), a journalist who has written for Maxim and Travelocity, is, per Patterson, an Al Frankenesque progressive and “fervent anti-Palinite from Alaska.” In Better Off, which is narrative nonfiction, Thompson ex­plores, in his trademark humorous style, what might happen if the South were to again try to secede from the union... this time successfully. Sarah Knight will edit.

Cult of Personality
Agent Harvey Klinger, who runs his own agency, closed two deals for a book from Dr. Brian Little tentatively titled Human Natures & Well Beings: The Happiness of Pursuit. Klinger sold world rights to Lisa Kaufman at Public Affairs, but held on to Canadian and French-language rights. Klinger then sold Canadian and French language rights to Jim Gifford at HarperCollins Canada. Little, who's taught psychology everywhere from Harvard to Oxford, is at the forefront of a burgeoning field of science dedicated to a new way of looking at the development and nature of personality. The book, Klinger said, will expand on the classes he teaches on the subject. Public Affairs and HC Canada are both planning an April 2012 publication.

Jane Unbound
Ballantine's Caitlin Alexander has acquired world English rights to an anthology of Jane Austen–inspired short stories from agent Mitchell Waters at Curtis Brown. Laurel Ann Nattress, who's behind the popular Austen fan site, will be editing the book, which features stories from such authors (and noted “Janeites”) as Adriana Trigiani (Very Valentine: A Novel), Stephanie Barron (who's written a number of titles for the Jane Austen Mystery series), and Karen Joy Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club). The Austen fan site the Republic of Pemberley ( will also be hosting a contest that will culminate in one user's story appearing in the collection.

Marilyn Re-examined
Kathryn Belden and Alexandra Pringle, at Bloomsbury, pre-empted world English rights to a new biography of Marilyn Monroe by Lois Banner, An Uncommon Woman: Marilyn Monroe as an American Icon of Passion and Power. The book is scheduled for August 2012, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the star's death. Banner teaches history and gender studies at USC and has written a variety of titles about famous women in history for Knopf, including 2003's Intertwined Lives: Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Their Circle. In An Uncommon Woman she'll examine Monroe in a way that, as the publisher explained, “will appreciate the complexities of [her] life.” Agent William Clark, of William Clark Associates, brokered the deal.

Atria's Greer Hendricks bought two new novels by Sarah Pekkanen, whose just-published debut The Opposite of Me (Atria, Mar.), has already entered its third printing. Agent Victoria Sanders closed the deal with Hendricks, selling world English rights to the titles. The first book follows a woman whose husband wakes from a coma a changed man.

Yfat Reiss Gendell at Foundry Literary + Media sold world English rights to Kathy Spencer's How to Shop for Free to Renée Sedliar at Da Capo. Spencer, a Massachusetts mom of four who founded a community site called How to Shop for Free, offers tips for busy moms who want to look stylish on a budget. Spencer will be writing with Samantha Rose.