At the Book Case, we've posted before about our love of Roald Dahl's work—most recently in June, when we mentioned The Missing Golden Ticket, a September release from Penguin Young Readers that contains a chapter cut from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and contains plenty of fun facts about his work.
But September (Dahl's birth month) brings a book for adult fans as well: the authorized biography Storyteller, by Donald Sturrock. Sturrock worked with the Dahl estate and his family—including both of Dahl's wives*—to complete the book, which is more than 600 pages and chronicles every inch of the author's amazing life, from his childhood, to his years as a James Bond-like RAF officer (also covered in the outstanding The Irregulars) through his years as a writer.
The book has drawn glowing praise from the likes of Dahl friend and collaborator Quentin Blake, but then again, authorized biographies usually do. Does it tell all? You can judge for yourself when Simon & Schuster publishes the book in the US in September. Until then, The Telegraph is running five excerpts, starting with Dahl's school days.
Do you enjoy reading about the lives of your favorite authors?
*Dahl's first wife, Oscar winner Patricia Neal, died of cancer on Sunday.
Some of the week's best book blog posts are below. Add your favorites in the comments.
How YOU can get a book deal
Posted by Lorelei Vashti on The Vine
The movie version of Eat, Pray, Love comes out a week from today, and excitement is building . . . everywhere you look, there is EPL merchandise: hats, bags, a fragrance. I will admit that I have not actually read EPL and therefore cannot fairly participate in any sort of poo-pooing on Elizabeth Gilbert's massive success. But I can get a laugh out of this post on memoirs of "experiments in living," from Living Celibately to Living Biblically to Living like Oprah.
Lisbeth Salander Is The Cure To Elizabeth Gilbert
Posted by Lizzie Skurnick on Jezebel
Is Salander's hostile, embattled avenger the responsive ying to Gilbert's sunny, drifting yang? Are we avoiding some golden mean of literary womanhood, or is the appeal their clumsy extremes? Should everyone read Olive Kitteridge and rethink the whole thing?
In Praise of Precocious Narrators
Posted by Anne Shulock on The Millions
I enjoyed Shulock's ode to precocious young narrators defined by "idiosyncratic voices, unapologetic intelligence and bold curiosity" (à la Blue van Meer in Marisha Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics—which, as a side note, was probably my favorite book of 2006). Shulock's book recommendations and commentary on why these characters are "comfortable and exciting" is worth a read.
Talking with authors is one of the best parts of working at BookPage, and my Wednesday conversation with Julia Glass was especially exciting because I've been on a binge of her work in recent weeks, ripping through my review copy of The Widower's Tale, re-reading Three Junes and picking up The Whole World Over for the first time.
When I blogged about The Widower's Tale a month ago, many of you were eager to get your hands on this book. For that you'll have to wait until September 7, but just for kicks (and since it's Friday!), I thought I'd give you a teaser from our discussion.
Without further ado, here are three fun facts I learned about Glass (the indented sections are direct quotes):
She has to be "dragged kicking and screaming into every technological and communicative advance in the world." [This fact is relevant to Percy, the main character in The Widower's Tale.]
I’m like the only writer on the planet who doesn’t have a website and refuses to join Facebook. And my publisher has been so nice to me—they actually sent me an email a couple weeks ago, asking, would you mind if we started a Facebook page for you? And I started to bristle and write this kind of I don’t do Facebook! e-mail in this curmudgeonly fashion. Then I looked at the email and actually what they wanted to do for me is start—I think they’re called—a public Facebook page. In other words, they run the page and it’s very clear that I’m not running it, but I have the option to participate any time I want to; I don’t have to join Facebook. I was really kind of touched and excited by this. So I’m happy to hear that I have good company here because they also do the same thing for Alexander McCall Smith. [Become a fan of Glass's newly-created Facebook page.]
I’ve discovered the sport of badminton; I’m not a jock, but late in life—once again the late bloomer, now in my ‘50s—I have found my sport. It’s a very challenging sport; it’s not the game you play on somebody’s lawn with the raquet in one hand and a cocktail in the other. It’s an indoor sport that is enormously rigorous, very fast and I’m enjoying being a jock to the extent that I can and getting myself in better shape.
Usually by this point—when a book is about to come out in a month—I already have the inkling of the next book, and for the first time, I’m less certain. I am thinking about revisiting characters from previous books, but I’m not going to say who. I have to know that I really want to be with those characters again, and I’m not entirely positive.
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Vince Flynn and Brian Haig, both known for their political thriller prowess, are joining forces for a new series featuring the members of a NYC-based anti-terror operation.
“I’ve been a fan of Brian’s writing since his first book Secret Sanction and I’m excited to join forces with him on a project so close to my heart,” Flynn says. Haig is a retired US Army lieutenant colonel and formerly worked as an assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
No word yet on when this project will hit bookshelves, but thriller fans should watch this space.
Now that he's brought Charlaine Harris' Bon Temps to television screens worldwide, Alan Ball has turned his eye to another literary adaptation. He's producing and directing a pilot for a series called "All Signs of Death," based on Charlie Huston's thriller The Mysterious Art of Erasing All Signs of Death (which got a 2009 Edgar nod for Best Novel).
The book is about an LA slacker who cleans crime scenes for a living—and then becomes entangled in the underworld himself.
“The show is about contemporary Los Angeles, but not the glamorous LA, it’s about the dirty underbelly of LA,” Ball said in an interview with Deadline Hollywood. “We’re going to try to go against the grain, away from the overlit, stylized noir for a more frantic, contemporary, naturalistic style.”
Ball discovered the book through Charlaine Harris, who included it in a boxed selection of her favorite reads. He and Huston became friends, so when Huston decided to pitch the book as a TV series, he ran the idea by Ball—who snapped it up. Will it be the next "True Blood"? We'll find out.
Last weekend I saw Winter's Bone, a film based on a 2006 novel by Daniel Woodrell. An almost mythic story, excellent performances and a setting—the Missouri Ozarks—seldom seen on the silver screen combined to make this one of the best movies I've watched this year. Independent filmmakers agree; the movie won the 2010 Sundance Grand Jury Prize.
The success of Winter's Bone has inspired interest in Woodrell's backlist. Little Brown's Mullholland Books imprint will publish a collection of three of Woodrell's other novels as The Bayou Trilogy in Spring 2011. Two of his other novels, Tomato Red and The Death of Sweet Mister, are being reprinted by Busted Flush Press.
Have you ever found an author through a movie adaptation of their work?
Hanna Rosin is one of my favorite contributors to Slate and The Atlantic (her piece titled "The Case Against Breast-Feeding" made waves). She's also an author; her book God's Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2007.
This month, she has a story in The Atlantic about the unprecedented role reversal of genders taking place in the United States—women are earning larger percentages of their family income, gaining more college degrees and are better positioned for success in fields that will grow in the coming years. Rosin will now turn the article into a book.
To be published by Riverhead in spring 2012, the book will examine "the upended state of gender roles and relations that seems to be putting women on top and leaving men in the dust—in education, work, money, health, home—and in the process radically reshaping cultural and political dynamics."
Like the article in The Atlantic, Rosin's book will be titled The End of Men. According to Publisher's Marketplace, it's "in the tradition of The Feminine Mystique, Backlash, The Beauty Myth and The Second Shift.
Does this sound like something you'd like to read? I enjoyed Gail Collins' 2009 book When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present [read my interview with Collins about the book here], and it seems that Rosin's book might be an appropriate follow-up. Or, if Rosin's article makes you worry about your sons, Richard Whitmire's new book Why Boys Fail might be of interest!
In other news, if you read this blog you know BookPage editors have been reading, discussing and recommending Adam Ross's Mr. Peanut. Rosin recently posted a note from Adam Ross on Slate blog XXFactor; he is responding to Rosin's comment that Mr. Peanut is about "men who obsessively fantasize about killing their wives as their only form of escape." The letter is worth a read, and I look forward to Slate's DoubleX book club podcast of the novel (coming this month).
This month, Julie Hale selected Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood as her top pick for book clubs. "A strange and beautiful work, this masterful narrative proves that Atwood can do anything as a novelist," says Hale, who knows her literary fiction (in addition to having an MFA, she's been writing this column for nearly 10 years!).
What is your book club reading this month?
This week's recipe comes from Emeril Lagasse's Farm to Fork (HarperStudio). Our cooking columnist Sybil Pratt considered it one of the top August cookbooks, saying that Lagasse's 150+ recipes for fresh, fun food "make this a really worthwhile new source."
If you want to preserve the fresh fruit of summer but don’t feel like standing over a hot stove and sterilizing jars, this quick, fool-proof method is for you. Just make sure that you follow the directions as outlined below and measure fruit and sugar exactly to ensure a good set on the jam.
Combine the peaches and sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sugar should be nearly dissolved.
In a separate bowl combine the pectin and lemon juice.
Stir the pectin mixture into the peach-sugar mixture and stir constantly until the sugar is no longer grainy and is nearly completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Add the almond extract and the vanilla bean seeds and stir to combine. Spoon the jam into clean ½-pint or pint-size jars. Place one piece of vanilla bean inside of each jar. Cover the jars and let stand at room temperature until jam is set, up to 24 hours. Place the jam in the freezer and use as needed. Freezer jam should be consumed within 1 year. Jam may also be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Recipe provided courtesy of HarperStudio, publishers of Emeril Lagasse's Farm to Fork (2010).
We're pretty sure the answer to this question is "no"—which is why we're sharing our very first invite to a twitter launch party with you.
Novak will be chatting about the book with fans using the hashtag #bnparty. Fans will have the chance to ask questions about Novak's work and win prizes—including an iPad.
Have you ever attended a twitter launch party? Will you drop by this one? Tell us in the comments!