Our June print edition has been available in bookstores and libraries for a couple weeks now, but in case you haven't had a chance to pick up the issue, we're highlighting all the reviews and features on BookPage.com. This week, a few books get a special shout-out on our homepage:
Read an interview with Aimee Bender on her novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
A boy with keys for fingers. A woman who gives birth to her own mother. Imps and mermaids falling in love. If all of this sounds too strange—even for fiction—then you’ve obviously never read anything by Aimee Bender. But now, with the publication of her second novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, it’s clearly time that you should.
Plan a summer trip in the USA with reviews of great travel books
How can you get away without the fuss and expense of flying? Road trip! These travel guides showcase America’s natural, historical and cultural wonders, so gas up the car and hit the road. Spontaneous jaunts can be memorable, but why not invest some planning in your trip? And if you like a little history and learning with your getaway, the Complete National Parks of the United States, is a great starting point for exploring America’s gorgeous parklands.
Read a review of Joshilyn Jackson's first-rate new novel, Backseat Saints
You only think you know what you’re in for when Backseat Saints begins: “It was an airport gypsy who told me that I had to kill my husband.” Joshilyn Jackson’s fourth novel isn’t a series of funny, trashy set pieces out of Dogpatch; rather, the tale Jackson tells is grim, and unless you count the narrator’s dog and a few minor characters, there’s not one likable person in it.
Will you be reading any of these books?
Now publisher Little Brown has announced that Angelina Jolie will play the part of Cleopatra in an upcoming film adaptation (produced by Scott Rudin).
This is the second literary adaptation this year for Jolie, who will also play Patricia Cornwell's M.E. Kay Scarpetta in an upcoming feature film. What do you think of the casting choice?
What interesting blog posts have you read this week? A few of my favorites include. . .
The Happy Ghost
Posted by Bill Morris on The Millions
If you've ever been curious about ghostwriters ("publishing’s dirty little secret"), then you have to read this post on The Millions, in which Morris asserts that ghostwriting has "officially left the ghetto." For more on the topic, read my interview with The Baby-sitters Club creator Ann M. Martin, who described the process of collaborating with about 10 different ghostwriters while writing her mega-bestselling series.
Ward Six List of 10 Over 80
Posted by Rhian Ellis on Ward Six
Everyone's been buzzing about The New Yorker's top writers under 40 (including us), so I loved seeing a different spin on lit blog Ward Six. Contributor Rhian Ellis writes, "All the following writers will turn 80 or more this year, and all have been kicking ass for longer than we have been alive," and gives shout-outs to Harper Lee, Beverly Cleary and others.
Literary tattoos and why I’ll never get one
Posted by Trish on Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin?
I got a kick out of looking at these tattoos and imagining what kind of bookish symbol I might get—what about you? Or do you agree with Trish, who wrote, "If I were going to get a literary tattoo, then I would want something simple, like the tree in the third pic, but all the things I love about books are that they’ve changed my life perspective, and those things can’t be summed up in a graphic (for me)."
Last night I saw Shawn Colvin perform live at Nashville's beautiful Cheekwood Botanical Garden. And I was tickled to get more than just a great live show: On stage, Colvin chatted about her upcoming memoir from HarperCollins, A Few Small Repairs, named for her 1996 album that featured the hit "Sunny Came Home."
She asked the audience what they'd prefer: information about the music she's played—or dirt. Surprisingly, the audience was split in their reactions. (Confession: I hollered for "dirt.")
Colvin gave more information about her book in a March interview with The Birmingham News:
"It’s a combination of stories about my life and stories I’ve told on stage, but they’re not presented in chronological order," Colvin says. "I include some of my musical thoughts, and stories that I find amusing and other people have found amusing—or not amusing." The challenges she faces as a woman, a parent, a musician and "someone who suffers from depression" will be fused into the narrative, Colvin says. Crafting a memoir proved to be quite different from songwriting, she says, and Colvin prepared by reading the work of Mary Karr, the best-selling author of a memoir trilogy, and Open, a frank autobiography by former tennis champ Andre Agassi.
Also on The Book Case: See a recent post on celebrity memoirs.
After nearly three hundred years of deliberation, Double Falsehood has been included in the latest Arden Edition of the Shakespeare canon, which was published last month. This lost play, first published in 1727, has always claimed to be a reworking of a 1613 play written by Shakespeare and John Fletcher, but from the first, Bard watchers have been skeptical. Double Falsehood was clearly not 100% Shakespeare, after all. Even Brean Hammond, the Shakespearean scholar who spent 10 years studying the play and editor of the Arden Shakespeare Edition, believes that the 18th century publisher of the play, Theobald, significantly "cut and altered the work to suit his 18th century audience" though in an interview with the BBC, he says he is certain that Shakespeare "had a strong hand in" the first act, the second act, and at least part of Act III.
The 17th-century stage was somewhat collaborative, but should anything outside of the 1623 First Folio count as canon? Arden and Hammond voted yes, and a reignited interest in Shakespeare is the result.
A representative from Bloomsbury, who publishes the Arden Shakespeare series, says "the Arden General Editors and Arden publisher, Margaret Bartley, took considerable risk in publishing this title because they believed it was in the best interest of Shakespeare scholarship. It was a bold move but true to Arden’s roots as the pre-eminent publisher of Shakespeare and early modern drama studies for more than a century."
Decide for yourself: The Guardian has a short excerpt. I haven't read Shakespeare since college so my opinion means exactly less than zilch, but I have to say I'm curious.
Al Roker has written a novel about murders on a morning talk show, and now Star Jones is getting in on the action. The former co-host of The View will publish a book with Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books "about the female hosts of a daytime talk show who learn that a former colleague—who departed under mysterious circumstances, and is privy to all their backstage secrets—is coming back with a splash."
Page Six has more dish on the novel:
Jones was pushed off The View by Walters in 2006 and famously said her co-hosts "were hateful." She now says of her TV career, "I've met some of the most fascinating people, heard the most surprising situations, and been privy to so many great stories and secrets. But while this novel will be dishy, it will be a work of fiction." But an insider said, "There will be tales in the book which will leave readers wondering if they are based on real events and characters. It's being carefully vetted by lawyers."
But can she make the switch to fiction? Gallery's published several bestsellers, including Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea; sTori Telling; and He’s Just Not That Into You. Will Jones's novel also climb to the top? Will you read it? (Will Barbara Walters?)
This week's recipe is a simple, delicious dinner from The Book of Tapas (Phaidon), a book that "will give you everything you need to turn out authentic tapas in your own kitchen," according to cooking columnist Sybil Pratt. As always, if you give this one a try, let us know in the comments!
4 leeks, trimmed and cut into ¾-inch slices
butter, for greasing
generous 2 cups milk
2 teaspoons cornstarch (cornflour)
5 oz cooked ham
5 oz Gruyère cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Add the leeks and cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes, or until very tender. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400ºf (200ºc/gas mark 6) and generously grease an ovenproof serving dish.
Drain the leeks well. Beat the eggs and mix with the milk. Add a small amount of this mixture to the cornstarch to make a paste, then pour the cornstarch mixture into the milk mixture and season with salt and pepper. Chop the ham into small pieces.
Stir in the ham, cheese and leeks, then pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until set, cut into slices and serve hot or cold.
Shared with permission from The Book of Tapas by Simone and Inés Ortega, published by Phaidon Press, 2010, $39.95. Photograph by Mauricio Salinas.
(The Orange Prize is a British award given to the best novel written by a woman in English and published in the UK in a given year.)
Daisy Goodwin, chair of judges, commented on the prize selection: "We chose The Lacuna because it is a book of breathtaking scale and shattering moments of poignancy."
For more on The Lacuna, read this excerpt from BookPage's November interview with Kingsolver:
It’s the epic story of Harrison William Shepherd, a young boy whose Mexican mother takes him back to her home country in the 1930s after splitting with his father, a Washington, D.C., bureaucrat ... The novel is a brilliant mix of truth and fiction, history and imagination, presented as a compilation of Harrison’s journals, along with newspaper clippings and other notes that make for a compelling and utterly believable read ... For Kingsolver, this book was her exploration of that “in between” space where pieces are missing and the truth is hidden. She also set out to probe the question:
Do artists have a responsibility to address social issues and express their opinions?
Kingsolver was up against some stiff competition: Lorrie Moore, Hilary Mantel . . . Do you agree that The Lacuna was the best novel written by a woman (and published in the UK) this year?
If you’re an avid Glee fan like me, last night’s season finale was more bitter than sweet. Sure, the kids from New Directions sang their hearts out at regionals, several romantic entanglements got even more complicated and Quinn finally had her baby girl. But with our favorite show on hiatus, what’s a Gleek to do? Well, it turns out you don’t have to watch endless reruns of season one or listen to the cast recordings over and over on your iPod . . . because Glee is hitting bookstores this fall!
Glee: The Beginning: An Original Novel by Sophia Lowell goes on sale September 1 from Poppy, a young adult publishing division of Hachette. And while this first book is a prequel to the TV show, multiple book projects are in the works—and all are authorized by Twentieth Century Fox. Now that’s music to our ears.
Are you a fan of Glee? Will you read the books?
Entertainment blog BuzzSugar posted the "15 Books to Read Before They're Adapted For the Screen," and I was surprised by an inclusion on the list: Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, first published in 1999. The slim novel about a boy's freshman year in high school has since become something of a classic for teens—and a regular on the American Library Association's list of the most-frequently challenged books. But this is the first I'd heard of a movie adaptation.
Chobosky is writing the screenplay and will direct the movie. Emma Watson (Hermione!) is rumored to play Sam, and Logan Lerman (the star of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) is interested in playing Charlie, the lead role.
In 2007, the New York Times reported that The Perks of Being a Wallflower had sold "upward of 700,000 copies and is passed from adolescent to adolescent like a hot potato." When I read the novel 10 years ago, that was certainly true. For my group of friends, Chbosky's novel was the best thing since The Catcher in the Rye.
According to IMDb, the adaptation will be released in 2011—will you see it?