Today's the day: Dan Brown's Inferno (Doubleday) is keeping readers busy everywhere. Our reviewer is frantically turning pages, but there have been a couple of early, entertaining pieces going 'round the web:
"How to Deal with Dan Brown's 'Inferno' " from The Atlantic:
You will see Inferno in a pile at your local bookstore, laughing in your face. You will hear about Inferno around the water cooler. Your mom will ask you, "Have you read this book, Fernono-something-or other, you know, by The Da Vinci Code guy? I like that Tom Hanks!" You may even read Inferno yourself, whether at the behest of an angry albino monk or because you you simply want to. . . . More important than whether you read it or not is knowing you have options. If you're wondering what they are, read on.
“Hello agent John, it’s client Dan,” commented the pecunious scribbler. “I’m worried about new book Inferno. I think critics are going to say it’s badly written.”
The voice at the other end of the line gave a sigh, like a mighty oak toppling into a great river, or something else that didn’t sound like a sigh if you gave it a moment’s thought. “Who cares what the stupid critics say?” advised the literary agent. “They’re just snobs. You have millions of fans.”
That’s true, mused the accomplished composer of thrillers that combined religion, high culture and conspiracy theories. His books were read by everyone from renowned politician President Obama to renowned musician Britney Spears. It was said that a copy of The Da Vinci Code had even found its way into the hands of renowned monarch the Queen. He was grateful for his good fortune, and gave thanks every night in his prayers to renowned deity God.
Alex: First, this woman missed her cat, Dustin. Her cat!!!! Would you keep this woman from her cat? It probably has an adorable name like Señor Mittens and is cute.
Second, all these people were allowed to do was eat and sleep and translate Dan Brown—literally the best part of the experience was translating Dan Brown. That is horrible.
Dustin: Exactly. Sleeping in a hotel sounds pretty good. Food: sounds fine. What part of this equation might be so bad that it’s led these people to share their harrowing stories with the media?
[T]he main emphasis here is hardly on gloom. It is on the prodigious research and love of trivia that inform Mr. Brown’s stories (this one makes mincemeat of all those factoid-heavy wannabes, like Matthew Pearl’s “Dante Club”), the ease with which he sets them in motion, the nifty tricks (Dante’s plaster death mask is pilfered from its museum setting, then toted through the secret passageways of Florence in a Ziploc bag) and the cliffhangers. (Sienna: “Don’t tell me we’re in the wrong museum.” Robert: “Sienna, we’re in the wrong country.”) There is the gamesmanship that goes with crypto-bits like “PPPPPPP.” (Sienna: “Seven Ps is ... a message?” Robert, grinning: “It is. And if you’ve studied Dante, it’s a very clear one.”)
With the movie version of The Bourne Legacy arriving in theaters August 10, consider checking out the latest installment of the Jason Bourne saga, The Bourne Imperative by Eric Van Lustbader before you head to the movies.
Just released this June, the novel unfolds as Jason Bourne rescues a man out of the ocean whose gunshot wound to the head has nearly killed him. The man wakes with no memory, reminding Bourne of his own amnesia and setting him off on a journey to learn a secret that could alter the future of the world forever.
Watch the book trailer by Hachette Book Group:
What do you think of the latest Jason Bourne novel? Do you see a movie adaption in its future?
In one corner: Stephen King, longtime channeler of America's id, takes on one of the pivotal events in our history: the Kennedy assassination. But this is no stolid reportage. There's time-travel from the back of a seedy hamburger joint, a love story between a "lanky librarian" from the 1960s and a fed-up high-school teacher from the present and, oh yeah, Jake's mission to try to stop a certain event coming up in November 0f 1963. I've been reading Stephen King ever since lugging It home from my local library branch at the age of 10 and always look forward to his new releases.
In the other corner: Robert K. Massie, Pulitzer prize-winning biographer of Russia's royal family, confronting one of its most fascinating figures: Catherine the Great. The story of how this German child bride grew a Russian soul and brought the Enlightenment to her adopted country (as well as plenty of scandal) during her 30-year reign. Massie is a brilliant, meticulous writer with an astounding knowledge of European history, and his biography of Peter the Great ranks among one of my favorite books of all time (his memoir, Journey, co-written with his then-wife Suzanne about their son Bobby's battle with hemophilia is another terrific read).
Both books are behemoths (more than 700 pages), so there's zero chance I'll be able to finish them BOTH over the weekend. So which should I dive into first? Place your vote in the comments, or let me know what you'll be reading this weekend.
I'm feeling a teeny bit guilty for blogging so much about 2012 releases lately. But Ron Rash is a real in-house favorite here at BookPage, so when we heard that he was publishing a new book with Ecco in April, we had to spread the news.
The Cove, Ecco's lead title for spring, "captures the wondrous beauty of nature and love and the darkness of superstition and fear in this atmospheric and exquisitely rendered novel set in Appalachia during World War I." (Another for my WWI list!) The catalog also promises that it is "as mesmerizing as the brilliant Serena," which is saying something—if you like memorable heroines, 2008's Serena is a novel that is not to be missed. As reviewer Kristy Kiernan put it in BookPage, Serena "has all the markings of a career-making novel, and should firmly establish poet and novelist Rash as a literary star."
It doesn't seem that long ago that Maeve Binchy was regretfully informing her public that she would write no more. After the announcement, she released two more novels with then-publisher Dutton and lapsed into silence for 3 years.
Whatever Knopf promised her to get her to continue—more money? a less punishing schedule? both?—it has resulted in two novels since 2007, with a third to come in March 2011. Minding Frankie, like Binchy's Whitethorn Woods, is another "small town knows best" story that finds a single father fighting for custody of his daughter when a meddling social worker thinks the recovering alcoholic is an unfit parent. What she doesn't realize is that the whole town has been pitching in to "mind" baby Frankie.
Read reviews of Maeve Binchy's past work on BookPage.com.
Kiera Cass, who has sold three books in a YA series pitched "as The Hunger Games meets "The Bachelor," following a 17-year-old, one of the eligible young women selected to compete to become the next queen, who finds herself falling in love despite only wanting to break her family out of the lower castes and leaving her boyfriend at home." The book will be called The Selection and will be released early in 2012.
As a Hunger Games fan (who recently met Suzanne Collins!), and a fascinated follower of the train wreck commonly known as "The Bachelor" franchise, this announcement pretty much blew my mind and inspired me to create the following graphic. Kiera, if you need a cover artist, call me! We'll have to wait until 2012 to see if the reality measures up to my imagination.
The trailer for Never Let Me Go (based on Kazuo Ishiguro's latest novel) is live, and we have to agree with the Wall Street Journal: This is pure Oscar-bait. Starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Charlotte Rampling and Andrew Garfield (Red Riding, 1974), the performances should live up to the nuanced source material and compelling story.
In fact, after watching the trailer, it looks like the transition to film will help ameliorate what was, to me, the novel's major flaw--its detatched narration. Sure, it was a reflection of the way the students at Hailsham were conditioned to think of themselves, and it added to the chilling aspects of the novel's premise (which, on the off chance the movie keeps it quieter than the book, I won't reveal here), but it ultimately left me not caring as much about the students' fates as I might otherwise.
Did you read Never Let Me Go? Will you see the movie?
Related in BookPage: our review of Never Let Me Go.
One of the biggest deals of the year was announced last week at BEA. Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series has been capturing the imaginations of millions since 1980. We interviewed Auel in 2002 about Shelters of Stone, the fifth book in the series, and ever since have been receiving questions about when, oh when, Auel would release the sixth and final book. The answer: March 2011. Here's the deal as announced by Publisher's Marketplace:
THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES, continuing the story of Ayla, her mate and their little daughter, taking readers on a journey of discovery and adventure as Ayla struggles to find a balance between her duties as a new mother and her training to become one of the Ninth Cave community's spiritual leaders and healers; rendering the terrain, dwelling places, longings, beliefs, creativity, and daily lives of Ice Age Europeans as real to the reader as today's news, to Bantam Dell.
Just a few weeks ago, Random House announced that the Bantam Dell imprint would be merging with Ballantine to form Ballantine Bantam Dell (or BBD), under the leadership of senior vice president and publisher, Libby McGuire. And just yesterday, BBD announced their first major acquisition—a debut novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh titled The Language of Flowers.
According to BBD, “the novel tells the story of a woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to come to terms with her own troubled past as a foster child. When she falls in love with a young farmer at the flower market, she must confront a memory that has haunted her for years, and decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.” BBD won North American rights in a “heated auction with eight bidders” and translation deals have already closed in Holland, Spain and Italy, with other international auctions underway.
BookPage traded emails with editor Jennifer Smith, who acquired the novel, and is clearly thrilled to have The Language of Flowers on the BBD list. Smith says, “We all fell in love with this novel immediately. There was such an outpouring of enthusiasm in-house, and nobody could put it down. It’s definitely a special book, and one that we think will really resonate with readers. We’re so excited to be publishing it.”
Author Vanessa Diffenbaugh was “inspired by her own experience as a foster mother. To write the novel, she researched the original Victorian language of flowers—used by lovers to communicate—in which every flower corresponds to a specific meaning.” The novel is set to publish in August 2011, and we can’t wait to hear more about it.
Are you excited about The Language of Flowers?
Readers these days have an insatiable desire for the undead. Luckily, authors seem to be equally fascinated. The latest to succumb: Karen Essex, a historical fiction author who made a name for herself telling the story of the Egyptian Queen in Kleopatra (read Essex's behind the book story about Kleopatra) and had a bestseller in 2008 with Stealing Athena.
Essex's August 2010 release, provocatively titled Dracula in Love, is the imagined diary of Mina Harker, the woman who escaped the vamp's clutches—but not before he got a taste of her blood. Essex has been researching the book, and the Victorian Gothic sensibility, for the last few years—her blog has lots of details, including a post on a visit to Highgate Cemetery (where a particularly memorable scene in Dracula was set—as well as Audrey Niffenegger's latest novel).
But Essex isn't the only one to find this topic intriguing: Syrie James, who previously wrote The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, is also publishing, you guessed it, The Secret Diaries of Mina Harker (Avon). In August!
And those are just the two books about Mina Harker and Dracula. May brings a new Sookie Stackhouse mystery from Charlaine Harris; June, the anticipated vampire/apocalyptic novel The Passage by Justin Cronin (see an earlier post on Cronin here) . . . shall I go on? Eternal life might come in handy if you want to read all of these!
ETA: just found a related post from NPR -- if you want a comprehensive vampire reading list, this is it.