The 84th Annual Academy Awards are on Sunday, and since six out of nine of the Best Picture nominees are based on books . . . I thought we'd do a little book-to-film celebrating!
Keep scrolling for trailers of all nine Best Picture nominees, along with corresponding book tie-in information (when applicable). Which movie are you pulling for? What movie-based-on-a-book got snubbed? (Ahem, We Need to Talk About Kevin.)
Baesd on The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE
Based on Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Based on The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
THE TREE OF LIFE
Based on War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
On Wednesday night I heard Kathryn Stockett speak at Vanderbilt as part of their university lecture series. (The mission of the series is to bring individuals to campus who "spark poignant dialogue and debate.") As you might imagine, the ballroom at the Student Life Center was packed, although I was able to get two copies of The Help signed without having to wait too long in line.
Anyone who has seen one of Stockett's numerous media appearances (like this one with Katie Couric) knows she is articulate and funny. Here are a few other tidbits from her talk:
• Stockett gave two pieces of advice to all of the college students in the audience: Read everything you can get your hands on (especially banned books) and understand the process of rejection. After all, she said, The Help was rejected by 60 literary agents before she signed with Susan Ramer. What if she'd given up on #50? Also, she said, if following your dream means writing and not getting a "real job"—go for it! You won't believe how long you can string along your parents' pocketbooks. :)
• Stockett is at work on another book. From the PenguinUK website, I already knew a bit about the plot: "It also takes place in Mississippi, during the 1930’s and the Great Depression. It’s about a family of women who learn to get around the rules, rules created by men, in order to survive." At Vanderbilt, Stockett revealed that she's terrified of working on her second book, because she knows she'll disappoint some readers after The Help.
• Interesting fact: Stockett said that the character Skeeter was not incorporated into her story until she'd written many drafts and unsuccessfully queried many agents. Also, the character of Minnie came about when the character of Aibileen started "talking back" to Stockett. Octavia Spencer is a long-time friend of the author's, and from the beginning Stockett imagined the actress in this role (although she did have to audition for the movie, like everyone else).
• The iconic purple and yellow book jacket has "nothing to do with the story." (In other words, you can stop looking for symbolism behind the birds.) In fact, Stockett was originally loathe to include that color combo on the cover, since it reminds her of LSU.
• When an African-American Vanderbilt professor (whose mother and mother-in-law had been domestic workers) asked about the varied response she'd gotten from black readers, Stockett was forthcoming. She has heard from readers who felt she'd accurately captured the experience of black "help," and she'd heard from readers who couldn't finish the book because they felt her writing in black dialect was not right. At the end of the day, Stockett says she has the right to imagine another person's experience in her fiction—and readers are entitled to different opinions.
Overall, it was an engaging, interesting talk. Have you had a chance to hear Kathryn Stockett speak, or have you been to any good author events lately?
By the way, if you live in Nashville, you really ought to keep your eye on the Vanderbilt lecture series. Lorrie Moore will be there on January 19. I can't wait!
This post needs little introduction—in fact, you've probably already skipped this sentence and hit "play" to watch the trailer for the movie version of Kathryn Stockett's The Help:
Here are my initial thoughts:
1) It's more upbeat than I expected. Although The Help is moving and uplifting, it is also really sad at parts. (Granted, this is only a 2.5 minute trailer.)
2) Where is Celia Foote?!
What are your thoughts?
Lots of good links this week, from a heartwarming story about a beloved children's author to some much-deserved recognition of a group of Southern writers. Enjoy! (And share your own favorite links in the comments.)
Nonprofit publisher The Library of America posted an interesting piece on Tuesday about how Arthur Miller wrote The Misfits (his first original screenplay) for his wife Marilyn Monroe. They divorced before the premiere.
I love this story from Poquoson, Virginia. A group of fourth graders read Tuck Everlasting at Poquoson Elementary School, then had so many questions they sent author Natalie Babbitt a letter. The 78-year-old author sent them back a two-page response addressing their questions. (She included the information that she will not write a sequel to the story.)
If you like comparing and contrastign hardcover with paperback jacket designs (when they're different), you'll enjoy this week's post on The Millions. C. Max Magee judges American book jackets alongside their U.K. counterparts. For example:
(I have to say that I also prefer the U.K. version.)
On a related note, check out BookPage's favorite book jackets of 2010, if you haven't already.
In the February issue of Vanity Fair, there is a very glamorous photo and write-up of the literary ladies of Atlanta—including plenty of BookPage favorites (Kathryn Stockett, Karin Slaughter and Emily Giffin, just to name a few). Alan Deutschman—husband to Susan Rebecca White—calls Atlanta "the most vibrant new literary scene outside of Brooklyn" and praises the authors' fearless writing "about the region’s troubled legacies of race, class, gender, and sexuality."
This week, IMDb released nine images from the set of The Help, which hits theaters August 12, 2011.
Kathryn Stockett's The Help was BookPage readers' favorite book of 2009. If you haven't read it and you need another reason to pick up the novel, how's this for an anecdote: I read it last November (in one day) and mailed it to my mom so she could have it over the long Thanksgiving weekend. She read it and loved it, then gave it to my aunt who promptly e-mailed: "I love the book, The Help. I don't want it to end. Do you have another suggestion for reading?"
I'll let the photos do the talking:
View the rest of the stills at IMDb. Is that how you envisioned Aibileen and Minny? Do you think Emma Stone can pull off Skeeter? (You know, I was skeptical at first, but now I believe it. Even Kathryn Stockett approves. She said in an interview with People magazine: "The minute I met [Stone], I knew I couldn't see whatever Skeeter looked in my head as a blonde because she was replaced by Emma . . . She was so clearly that person. And her mom is from Baton Rouge, so she's got the accent.")
Photo from DreamWorks Studios via IMDb.
Readers, I have a confession—I don't like audiobooks.
Or rather, I haven't given audiobooks a chance since my days of long family trips, when my grandparents wanted to listen to thrillers in the front seat and I wanted to read Nancy Drew in the back. Try figuring out a mystery when a different plotline is pounding in your ears.
This weekend, however, I have decided to turn over a new leaf. A friend and I are driving 550 miles on Friday, and 550 miles on Monday. (We're going from Nashville to Charleston.) That'll be at least 18 hours in the car, which I figure is enough time to listen to at least one audiobook.
Here's what I've picked up from the library. I figure I'll have to be nice and let my traveling companion choose what we listen to . . .
Read The Help and loved it, but I hear the audio is excellent. Octavia Spencer is the voice of Aibileen, although she'll play Minny in the movie.
What are your audiobook recommendations for a road trip?
Here's another update for Kathryn Stockett fans. (I keep thinking The Help may have lost some momentum—but then someone new will recommend it to me, not knowing that I've read it, or beg for a book suggestion because they just finished The Help and they loved it. No wonder Penguin's holding the paperback release until January 4, 2011. . . nearly two years after the hardcover's publication.)
Anyway, the news is that Octavia Spencer has been cast as Minny Jackson, Aibileen’s feisty best friend and Celia Foote's maid. According to Entertainment Weekly, Stockett and Spencer have known each other for "close to a decade" and the actress "served as the inspiration for the outspoken character." (She's also Minny's voice on the audio version of The Help.) Spencer has appeared in a number of movies and TV shows, but she's probably best known for her role as Constance Grady in "Ugly Betty."
In recent weeks there have been tidbits of information about the movie version of Kathryn Stockett’s The Help—the BookPage reader favorite book of 2009. Stockett herself mentioned the movie in an interview with Katie Couric, and yesterday the Huffington Post gave some background information on director Tate Taylor, who optioned the story before the book was even published, and has been friends with Stockett since they were five:
"She didn't even have a publisher yet and I said, 'You've got to let me option this,'" Taylor said in an interview from New York, where he was having casting interviews. "And she said, 'I'm going to hold you to this. It's going to be so much fun.' And then, of course, she got her agent and I was the last person in the world they wanted."
On The Root, media and culture critic Natalie Hopkinson is skeptical of a Hollywood adaptation, writing that she doesn’t have “particularly high hopes for what will happen to this sweet book when Hollywood gets its grubby hands on it. If the recent piece in People magazine speculating on who the cast would be is any indication, we need to brace ourselves.”
What are your thoughts on casting for The Help?
The 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction longlist was announced today. This British award is given to the best novel written by a woman in English and published in the UK in a given year. Since many past winners (and nominees) rank among my favorite books (Ann Patchett's Bel Canto; Valerie Martin's Property; Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin), I always look forward to its announcement.
Below is this year's longlist, in alphabetical order by author. Given the disjunct between US/UK pub dates, some appeared here quite some time ago while others haven't yet made it to US shores. (This is where the Kindle might come in handy—at least two of the otherwise unavailable books are available electronically to US readers.) It's a diverse group, including four Americans, 13 Brits, one Moroccan and a New Zealander. Seven of the nominees are first-time novelists.
Will Hilary Mantel cart off yet another literary prize for Wolf Hall? Will Andrea Levy, the only previous Orange winner on the list, take it home for the second time? We'll find out in June! Linked titles will take you to BookPage reviews.
Some of you may look forward to college basketball in the spring. As for me, I get my March Madness fix every year (well, since 2005, anyway) with the Morning News Tournament of Books, which puts the year's best fiction in head-to-head competition.
The race for the Rooster started this week, and so far the commentary and matchups have been epic. Where else would you find John Wray's Lowboy facing off against Kathryn Stockett's The Help? (I won't give the winner away, but judge Andrew Womack concludes, "Were the two books somehow collated into a single work, the result would be more formidable: a cooler, more memorable, disarming contender. Something with teeth of its own.")
And don't miss the commentary on each round from returning hosts Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner. A sample from the discussion of the aforementioned Help/Lowboy matchup:
Take the following one question quiz—If a black person were in your house, where would you send her if she asked to use your restroom? If your answer is not “the driveway,” The Help will make you feel good about yourself.