As we posted yesterday in our News update, this weekend is one of the most anticipated literary events of the year for readers in the South. The Southern Festival of Books will descend on Nashville this Friday through Sunday.
The Festival is organized by Humanities Tennessee. According to the SFoB site:
The Festival annually welcomes more than 200 authors from throughout the nation and in every genre for readings, panel discussions and book signings. Book lovers have the opportunity to hear from and meet some of America's foremost writers in fiction, history, mystery, food, biography, travel, poetry and children's literature among others.
Inman Majors (1-2 p.m. on Friday) will discuss his third novel, The Millionaires, a “story of two small-town brothers who rise to dangerous big-city heights.” In the May edition of BookPage, Majors told us, “I think it was Faulkner who said that all writers are frustrated actors. So I loved waking up each morning and putting on a different character’s outfit each day.”
Trenton Lee Stewart (9-10 a.m. on Saturday), will speak about the latest installation in the Mysterious Benedict Society series: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma. (Disclosure: I reviewed this book and will be hosting the session at the Festival.) In this children’s adventure novel, four children “thoughtfully discuss actions and consequences, make sacrifices and explore themes of trust and forgiveness”… in addition to “cracking puzzles and battling the evil Mr. Curtain.”
Kate DiCamillo (10-11 a.m. on Saturday), the Newbury Award-winning author of The Tale of Despereaux, will read from her latest children’s book, The Magician’s Elephant. Our reviewer gave the book a rave review, writing: “Everything about this story is masterful. The prose is remarkably simple, with underpinnings of delicious dry humor.”
Robert Hicks (11-12 noon on Saturday) will discuss his novel, A Separate Country: “Part historical novel, part love letter to New Orleans, A Separate Country is the remarkable new novel by Robert Hicks, author of the bestseller The Widow of the South. Based on the real life of Confederate General John Bell Hood, the novel imagines Hood in the years after the war, crippled and trying to find peace despite his infamy.”
Jacquelyn Mitchard (11-12 noon on Saturday) will discuss her book No Time to Wave Goodbye. In a column from the September issue of BookPage, Mitchard wrote: No Time to Wave Goodbye takes up “where my first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, left off, 13 years ago. But it begins a series of new events, not a new take on old ones. What I learned from No Time to Wave Goodbye, other than that I could do this with dignity, was that I had the time of my life. I didn’t realize how vital these ancient characters still were. I didn’t recognize the places they inhabit in my writer’s heart.”
Alice Randall (12-1 p.m. on Saturday) will discuss Rebel Yell, “which brings together two hot-button issues—race and terrorism—in what Randall calls ‘a very grown-up novel.’” In an interview with BookPage, Randall said of a message in the book: “It is my experience that terrified people and terrified nations must hold tight to their courage, to their humanity, to their very willingness to die before they would do something wrong.”
Food lovers lost a 69-year-old companion today in Gourmet magazine. Condé Nast, the publishing company, announced that it will fold the culinary giant, along with magazines Cookie, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride.
We were saddened to hear the news at BookPage, particularly because of our longtime coverage of Gourmet cookbooks and Ruth Reichl, the magazine’s editor-in-chief.
Just this month, Sybil Pratt wrote about Gourmet Today in our cooking column. She wrote:
Gourmet began its illustrious career in 1941 and has become the magazine of record, the gold standard for food magazines. There are others to be sure, but Gourmet maintains its cachet and its excellence due, in good part, to Ruth Reichl’s leadership. Reichl, Gourmet’s famed editor-in-chief, edited The Gourmet Cookbook in 2004, the more-than-magnum opus compiled to celebrate the magazine’s 60th birthday. With more than 1,000 recipes, it was a grand retrospective that gathered the best of the best—retested, retasted and updated. Now, only five years later, the indomitable Gourmet team has done it again with Gourmet Today.
In a 2001 interview with BookPage about her memoir Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table, Reichl said, “You can't be a good cook if you don't have a generous soul and the impulse to take care of people… I only know two good cooks who are stingy in their souls.”
Our reviewer, Eve Zibart, wrote that “Reichl’s passion, humor, abandon, intelligence, whimsy and vital sense of food as culture have revolutionized a nation raised on Betty Crocker cookbooks and school cafeterias.”
In a company-wide memo, Condé Nast CEO Chuck Townsend wrote that “Gourmet magazine will cease monthly publication, but we will remain committed to the brand, retaining Gourmet’s book publishing and television programming, and Gourmet recipes on Epicurious.com.”
We may get to enjoy more Gourmet cookbooks, although the ink-and-paper magazine will be greatly missed.
To commemorate its legacy, prepare a meal from Gourmet Today. Thankfully, there are many options. Writes our reviewer: “Encyclopedic in an exciting way, there’s not a cooking category missing, from minty Mojitos to Zucchini Curry, Quail with Pomegranate Jus and an impressive Frozen Passion Fruit Meringue Cake.”
Any readers want to share a favorite Gourmet recipe?
Over the summer, I posted about the ABC series "Castle," about a novelist and a cop who form an unlikely partnership when the author decides to make the cop the model for the heroine of a new series. Well, season two is airing now—and more real-life authors appeared in the very first episode. I still get a kick out of seeing writers on TV, especially when Castle starts referring to plot points in their novels in order to get them to let him know where a "tattooed Russian mobster" is most likely to hang out.
But wait, there's more: "Richard Castle's" first mystery starring detective Nicki Heat went on sale—outside TV land—at the end of last month. And for a based-on-TV book, it's getting some great early reviews. (Perhaps those illustrious literary extras were also contributors?) You can watch a trailer here.
Would you read a book that's inspired by TV? Or if you already have, what's your favorite? As a dedicated viewer of the late, lamented (by me anyway) "Passions" I have to admit to checking out a copy of Hidden Passions back when it came out.
Well, King fans can rejoice because the wait is over; Scribner released the complete cover image today:
According to King’s publisher:
“The jacket concept for Under the Dome originated as an ambitious idea from the mind of Stephen King. The artwork is a combination of photographs, illustration, and a 3-D rendering. This is a departure form the direction of King’s most recent, illustrated covers.”
Thoughts on the cover? No doubt Scribner wanted something spectacular to pair with King’s 1,088-page novel. In May, Abby posted about the plot of Under the Dome: “Featuring more than 100 characters facing a menacing supernatural element in their small Maine town, early reads are comparing Under the Dome to King’s classic epic, The Stand.”
Click here for a listing of BookPage’s Stephen King coverage through the years, and happy reading on Nov. 10 -- when Under the Dome hits bookstores!
In a new video interview with The Guardian, Audrey Niffenegger reveals more tantalizing tidbits about the inspiration behind Her Fearful Symmetry, as well as atmospheric scenery from Highgate Cemetery.
As she told our interviewer, much of the novel was consciously structured along the lines of Victorian classics like The Woman in White—but a good bit was organic as well. It wasn't until she started writing about Elspeth that she realized the character needed to be a ghost. She tells The Guardian, "having killed this character before she even existed, I started trying to think who she might have been and what she was like . . . I really liked her, I thought she was interesting and cool and I wanted to write about her, but I had already killed her, so I thought right, OK, she's a ghost."
Of course, you'd have to check out our interview to see how Niffenegger feels about God and the film version of the Time Traveler's Wife. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for?
And for anyone who's already finished Symmetry–what did you think? I'd love to discuss it with you.
There’s a lot of coverage on the Network, and it can be a bit confusing to figure out what’s what.
There are three channels (Screening, Radio, Reading) + nine series. The series are niche specific. Here’s the breakdown:
The Screening Room has four series: Project Paranormal, Penguin Storytime with Liz Shanks, YA Central and Tarcher Talks (all the other series are pretty self-explanatory; this last one “tackles the challenging and the unusual, the spiritual and the enlightening”).
The Radio Room also has four series: Penguin Classics On Air, The Business Beat, Audio Book Break and A Cup of Poetry.
The Reading Room appears to be its own series and “features a different Penguin Group (USA) book each month, posting a new chapter each week for three weeks, culminating, in the fourth week, with live interactive online author chats.”
There is also a variety of special programming (such as a video recommending The Ten Essential Penguin Classics).
Have any readers ever visited this site? Do you think it's a good idea -- do you like to supplement your reading with multimedia? Which of the features do you like the best?
Today, British newspaper The Guardian reported the top 10 books that people have tried to ban across the United States throughout 2008. Philip Pullman, of the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass, et al), came in at #2. (To see the rest of the list, click here.
From the article:
“Pullman’s fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials, has leapt to the top of the target list of would-be censors in the new rankings issued this week by the American Library Association. It tracks cases where individuals or groups have attempted to have books stripped from bookshelves in schools and libraries across the US.”
When The Guardian contacted him to comment on the ranking, Pullman responded that he’s “very glad to be back in the top 10 banned books.”
The article briefly mentioned Pullman’s upcoming adult novel (which is likely to inspire controversy): The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. The New York Times ArtsBeat Blog wrote that this novel will be “a fictionalized account of the life of Jesus that will differ from the version presented in the New Testament.”
In a statement on his website dated Sept. 14, Pullman writes:
“I've always been fascinated by the two parts of the name of Jesus Christ, and by the difference between them. Another thing that's interested me for a long time is the way in which the Christian church began to formulate its beliefs and establish a canon of scripture.”
The novel will be published by Scottish publishing house Canongate. Publication date is around Easter. So far, no American release has been announced.
Any Pullman fans want to weigh in on the new book? Are you surprised that Pullman ranked so high on the banned books list?
The 2009 selections for Great Group Reads are out:
Appassionata by Eva Hoffman
The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë by Syrie James
The House on Fortune Street by Margot Livesey
Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz
While I’m Falling by Laura Moriarty
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
Cost by Roxana Robinson
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
Several of the books have been featured in BookPage. About The Secret Diaries, reviewer Carla Jean Whitley writes:
“James adapts Brontë’s voice, telling Brontë’s story as though it came straight from the great writer. Living with an alcoholic, drug-addicted brother and a deeply eccentric father, Brontë—and her sisters—still managed to write some of the most famous novels of their time. With The Secret Diaries, James offers a satisfying—if partly imagined—history of the real-life experiences that inspired Brontë’s classic novels.”
Julie Hale calls Out Stealing Horses “forthright, simple and tinged with melancholy… a poignant, beautifully realized narrative.”
And about Cost, reviewer Arlene McKanic writes:
“The most used word in Roxana Robinson's brilliant and devastating novel Cost is ‘unbearable’ and its variants. The word sums up perfectly the emotions, choices and horrible ironies that buffet a patrician, buttoned-up family whose youngest son is a heroin addict.”
NRGM started in October 2007 and will include events in WNBA chapter cities: Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
According to a statement from the WNBA, the mission of NRGM is to “foster the values reading groups encourage: camaraderie, enjoyment of shared reading, and appreciation of literature and reading as conduits for transmitting culture and advancing civic engagement.”
Any readers plan on participating? Or have suggestions for a great book club read?
By now, many of you know that we lost a great lover of language (and an expert on its quirks) on Sunday. William Safire wrote the “On Language” column in The New York Times Magazine from 1979 until earlier this month. Safire was also a speechwriter for President Nixon.
From 1973 until 2005, Safire wrote “his twice-weekly ‘Essay’ for the Op-Ed page of The Times, a forceful conservative voice in the liberal chorus.” In 1978, he won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary.
Throughout his career, Safire gave many wonderful tips for writers and readers.
From “How to Read a Column” in 2005: “Ingest no column (or opinionated reporting labeled ‘analysis’) without asking: Cui bono? And whenever you see the word ‘respected’ in front of a name, narrow your eyes. You have never read ‘According to the disrespected (whomever).’”
And of course, there were Safire’s “rules for writers”: The passive voice should never be used; Don't overuse exclamation marks!!; Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors; Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague…
Many of us will greatly miss Safire's astute and often hilarious Sunday language columns. Most recently, he wrote about the phrase "bending the curve" (as in Obama's remarks: “it’s important for us to bend the cost curve").
Any readers remember a favorite “On Language” column?
Attention Dickens fans: after an astounding performance at the Emmys last week (with 7 wins, including best miniseries and outstanding writing), the BBC's adaptation of Little Dorrit, which aired in the United States back in the spring, is now available for online viewing on PBS's website. The book was adapted by Andrew Davies, who is best known for his work on the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version of Pride & Prejudice.
Like many of Dickens' works, Little Dorrit deals with family secrets, class issues and of course, debtor's prison. That's where Amy (aka "Little Dorrit") grows up, since her father has been imprisoned at Marshalsea her whole life. She supports the family by sewing until a deathbed confession changes their social status and their fortunes.
Claire Foy, a relative unknown, is said to shine in the role of Amy, and Matthew Macfayden (who played Mr. Darcy in the Keira Knightly P&P) plays her love interest, Arthur.
As a fan of period drama, I might have to check this out over the weekend! The PBS site warns that it will be available for a limited time only, so if you want to watch, don't wait.
On the fence? Check out a preview here: