Our first weekly link is for something a little different: a cinnamon roll recipe. The literary connection? It's credited to author Jodi Picoult. These "Dark and Dangerous Cinnamon Buns," originally published in the King Arthur Flour cookbook, sound like a worthy (healthier) challenger to my go-to cinnamon roll from the Pioneer Woman. If you give it a try, let us know how it goes!
The literary world was abuzz yesterday about a certain billboard in Times Square. Yes, that's Jeffrey Eugenides (striding to the top of the bestseller lists?) up there larger than life. The WSJ has the story. We agree, the Marriage Plot is totally "swoon-worthy."
Steve Jobs' sudden death was mourned by millions. In a twist of synchronicity, the Millions happened to post a review of his sister Mona Simpson's best-known novel, Anywhere But Here, on Thursday morning. It is well worth reading and has me eager to check out Simpson's work.
We've been blogging a lot about books made into films lately, and today I got word of another movie to anticipate: Johnny Depp will produce (and possibly star in) a movie based on the life of Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. Given Depp's turns as Willy Wonka, the Mad Hatter and J.M. Barrie, this sounds like a casting made in heaven. Read more in the Hollywood Reporter.
One children's book that's gotten a lot of buzz this year is Catherynne M. Valente's debut middle grade novel, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. From the intriguing title to the gorgeously odd illustrations to the entirely beguiling world Valente has created, it's a strange and delightful book that packs in a vast amount of references and allusions to myths, fairy tales and classic children's books. Over at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, blogger Julie Danielson has put up a long and fascinating interview with Valente. You'll find out, for example, why Valente thinks fairy tales have such enduring appeal, and why when she was a child, she thought that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was "a horror story." (Beware spoilers for the book if you have not yet read it!)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is one of BookPage Associate Editor Kate Pritchard's favorite books of 2011, and in fact Danielson called on Kate to help contribute questions for Valente! For more on this remarkable book, read a review in BookPage, which asserts that Valente "writes beautifully with a rich and deep vocabulary that is every bit as enjoyable as the plot of the story."
Happy Friday! Do you have any links to share? What are you reading this weekend?
Earlier this week we let you know that Stephen King was working on a sequel to The Shining. Well, somehow that discovery led me to Lilja's Library, a compendium of King links, news and video created by a Swedish fan. Just the last week's worth of posts turned up gems like the promo for Maximum Overdrive and an MTV bit with King acting as a VJ and interviewing AC/DC. But I think my favorite is a clip from a Portland, Maine, newscast about a 1983 book signing. The fashion! The accents! (Close second: Stephen King killing it on "Celebrity Jeopardy!" in 1998.)
James Patterson wrote an article about getting kids to read for CNN that has been burning up the social networks ever since it was published on Wednesday. "Sorry, moms and dads, but it's your job—not the schools'—to find books to get your kids reading and to make sure they read them," Patterson begins, going on to discuss how he turned his own son, Jack, from a reluctant reader to a devourer of books. Patterson has founded ReadKiddoRead, an organization that sends free books to needy children and suggests great reads to kids of all ages (the children's section of BookPage is good place to look too!). Parents out there: Do you agree with Patterson's manifesto? What books have your kids loved?
For another take on getting kids—especially boys—to read, see our interview with reading advocate (and all-around hilarious dude—he did write The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, after all) Jon Scieszka.
Another link making the rounds is Terry Gross' interview with Maurice Sendak on "Fresh Air." Warning: Have tissues nearby, because this may be the rawest and most emotional interview I've ever heard on public radio. The subject of discussion is aging—the author is 83, and he lost his partner of 50 years, Eugene, in 2007—and also Sendak's latest book, Bumble-Ardy. In BookPage, Alice Cary described Bumble-Ardy as "a riotous birthday tale" filled with "the master’s wild, wonderful illustrations." (Check out Sendak's author page on BookPage.com for more reviews of his work.)
What literary links have you uncovered this week?
Being famous has never seemed that attractive to me—but after seeing these pictures, I might have to reconsider. These 20 celebrity home libraries, which have been making the rounds on several book blogs this week, will dazzle. Do you think Jimmy Page's music library belongs on the list? What's your favorite? Personally, I prefer the messy ones, like Nigella Lawson's, although I'm also partial to anything with a ladder.
Galleycat's roundup of 5 free university-level writing courses—published on YouTube—might have you second-guessing the need for that MFA program.
And audiobook nuts will want to check out this free podcast from the BBC: a dramatization of Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate, read by Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant. Apparently this 1960 novel about the battle of Stalingrad was so alarming to the KGB that they actually locked up copies of the book!
Happy Friday, readers! What are you reading this weekend? I've finally gotten my hands on The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, so I know what I'm doing . . .
Here are a few links to jump-start your weekend reading:
The internet has been buzzing about a blog post on Publishers Weekly's Genreville blog about YA Agents saying "No" to novels with gay characters.
On Colleen Lindsay's blog, The Swivet, book agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe responded to the post—apparently she was an agent who considered the LGBTQ project, and she says the original post got it wrong. (Lindsay is a member of the business development team at the Penguin Group.)
Read both posts for yourself and see what you think.
In goofy, hilarious, awkward news, romance author Susan Anderson has responded to a typo in her novel, Baby, I'm Yours. Let's just say that it would not be appropriate to print the typo here on The Book Case—and Anderson's response had be cracking up for a good couple of minutes.
Finally, in the inspirational category, I bring you a guest post from Julia Glass, one of my very, very favorite authors. To commemorate the paperback release of The Widower's Tale, author Meg Waite Clayton posted Glass's essay on her path to publication. The moral: If at first you don't succeed. . . It's an inspiring story, and it makes me love Glass even more.
Happy Friday, readers! Here are a few links to provide some end-of-the-day enjoyment. Do you have any articles or click-worthy links to share? What are you reading this weekend?
Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 (a play on Orwell’s 1984) is one of our 25 most anticipated books for fall. The novel comes out on October 25, but if you "like" Murakami's Facebook page, you'll gain access to the first chapter now. Check it out!
With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 looming, the Guardian Books site has commissioned "9/11 stories" from six writers, including Geoff Dyer, Will Self and Laila Lalami, that address the question of "what fiction can tell us about 9/11." You can find all six stories here.
Are you or anyone you know a struggling writer? Frustrated with your day job? Perhaps you'll feel inspired (or just amused) by this newly-released video from Open Road Media, in which authors like John Lutz and Andre Dubus explain how they paid the bills while they were trying to make it as writers:
Find more literary fun on the Open Road Media blog.
Any reader raised in the South over the last 40 years or so probably has fond memories of the work of Kathryn Tucker Windham, that indefatigable journalist-turned-ghost-story teller. Until her death this June, Windham chronicled the South's history through its legends in memorable books like 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey and Terrible American Legends. Since I'm among the children who had Alabama Ghosts as required reading in middle school, I was happy to see Windham's legacy discussed on the Paris Review blog.
In Windham’s tales, the romanticism of the South collides with the reality of its racial politics, myth and fact intertwine to present a picture of the South that is as true as any textbook.
The LA Times blog shared some wisdom for aspiring writers, plucked from Ann Patchett's "The Getaway Car," which was published by Byliner as a Kindle single on Monday and is available for $2.99 from Amazon. The advice includes:
A deep, early love of poetry should be mandatory for all writers.
No one should ever go into debt to study creative writing.
As far as I'm concerned, writer's block is a myth.
Does it seem like a lot of so-called serious literary writers are suddenly publishing commercial smash hits? (See: Justin Cronin and The Passage.) You're not the only one who has noticed. Today in The Millions, Kim Wright writes about how "The good ship Literary Fiction has run aground and the survivors are frantically paddling toward the islands of genre." (She continues: "Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but there does seem to be a definite trend of literary/mainstream writers turning to romance, thrillers, fantasy, mystery, and YA.") Wright's debut novel, Love in Mid Air, was published a year and a half ago, and now she is at work on a more commercial novel about Jack the Ripper. Why do you think a literary author might be inclined to write commercial? (Grocery bills? Cay payments??) In your mind, does genre = somehow not as good?
Read any good literary links this week? Share in the comments!
Here are a few links to provide some end-of-the-day enlightenment:
Books as home décor
Lately I've been thumbing through Damian Thompson's Books Make a Home (to be released on October 1) and daydreaming about new arrangements for my bookshelves. I was thrilled to get even more inspiration from a roundup of 20 Celebrities With Stunning Home Libraries. If you feel like drooling over somebody else's house—or you need even more encouragement to buy more books—take a look at these awesome photos.
Book blogger face-off
Maud Newton's NYT Magazine piece from last weekend attributes modern Internet-speak to the essays of the late David Foster Wallace. It's an entertaining piece—but a weak argument, according to Internet firebrand Ed Champion, who tears into her essay on his blog. Newton and Champion were among the first book bloggers, though the scope of each of their sites has changed over the years.
Happy birthday to The Moviegoer
There's been quite a bit of press surrounding the 50th anniversary of Catch-22 (there's also a new 50th-anniversary edition out, as well as Tracy Daugherty's biography of Joseph Heller, Just One Catch). This week, The Millions published a nice essay on another novel that's having a 50th anniversary—and it happens to be one of my favorites: Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, which beat out Catch-22 for the National Book Award in 1962. The book tells the story of Binx Bolling, a man engaged in "the search," or "what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life." Here's more from the essay:
F. Scott Fitzgerald thought “the purpose of a work of fiction is to appeal to the lingering after-effects in the reader’s mind.” Other than Fitzgerald’s own works, I’ve never read a novel whose power lies so fully not in the course of being read, but in the astral glow of having been read. When I completed The Moviegoer for the first time, I was at a loss to explain the significance of the 242 pages I’d just traversed, but I knew they had been important. I felt the novel working on me in strange ways, like a slow-release drug. That so much of The Moviegoer’s effect is felt when it’s not being read can be attributed not to some defect in Percy’s prose, but rather to the nature of the novel’s moral project.
Happy Friday, readers! What are you reading this weekend? I can't wait to dig into When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (author of Mudbound).
Here are a few links to provide some end-of-the-day enlightenment:
EW was among the 1 million who got an advance look at J.K. Rowling's Pottermore. They report that although the content is currently limited to book one in the series, "there’s still more than enough to make your entire afternoon disappear like a temporus suckus spell," explaining that the site's interactive elements, which include being sorted into houses, "represent the kind of useless but still desperately desired reward system that can turn horribly, wonderfully addictive."—check out their full report.
Booklamp.org is the latest attempt to predict what you might like to read based on what you have liked to read in the past. My test didn't go well, since the first two books I attempted to plug in weren't in the database at all.
Which confirms my belief that there's just no substitute for the human touch when it comes to these things—anyone want to compare the results they get from Booklamp with our own Book Fortunes feature? (Via)
Guardian blogger Laura Barnett claims that "the worst idea ever" goes to a new diet book for . . . 6- to 12-year-olds. It's called Maggie Goes on a Diet, and it's about a 14-year-old girl who "is transformed from being overweight and insecure to a normal-sized teen who becomes the school soccer star." Hmm. Nothing wrong with books for kids promoting healthy lifestyles—I always thought the American Girl books were good for that—but I feel for poor Maggie after seeing this book jacket:
Happy Friday, readers! Any big book-related plans for the weekend? I'm very much looking forward to finishing The Cookbook Collector, our Top Pick for Book Clubs for August.
Happy Friday, book-lovers! Here are some Internet tidbits we've been reading this week . . . enjoy!
Random House asked readers to tweet about the most undateable characters in literature using the hashtag #undateableinlit. They started it off with a classic character from Charles Dickens‘ Great Expectations:
“Let’s give ‘undateable' a bookish twist. We’ll start: wearing a wedding dress every day since being left at the altar. #UndateableInLit.”
I read some great articles this week on the printed book. This piece from the Chicago Tribune suggests publishers fight back, guns blazing, against the onslaught of e-reader advertising with their own ad campaigns.
Brooklyn-based indie publisher Melville House has started a project called HybridBooks, which gives print books some of the perks and secondary information previously only available on e-readers. The use of a Quick Response barcode will allow readers to access extra features, or "illuminations." They are launching the project with five novellas, each titled "The Duel" but written by five different literary masters.
And even though it's an older article, we wanted to suggest a reading retreat! This post from Laura Miller at Salon.com encourages "getting away from everything but your books." Doesn't that sound lovely?
What will you be reading this weekend?
Happy Friday, everyone! Here are a few things we've been reading about this week:
The winner of the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest was announced on Monday. Named for the author of "It was a dark and stormy night," the contest honors the worst possible opening sentence to an imaginary novel. The winner was University of Wisconsin professor Sue Fondrie:
Dave Eggers wrote a portrait on celebrated picture book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are) for Vanity Fair. The feature celebrates Sendak's upcoming book, Bumble-ardy -- the first book he has both written and illustrated in 30 years. (We blogged about "a pig who longs to party" back in March.)
The article reads almost like a good-natured argument between Eggers and Sendak over just how fantastic and iconic Sendak's work is. Read the portrait here.
The Book Lady's blog featured a guest post by Augusten Burroughs' mother, Margaret Robison, where she talks about how and why she penned The Long Journey Home. After her sons' best-selling memoirs depicted her as more than a little insane, she shared her own perspective in her March 2011 memoir.
And last but not least, perhaps my favorite thing this week: Harry Potter as a teen romantic comedy.