Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Book Bjorn

Mary Shelley vs. Frankenstein

The Return of Edward Gorey

Edward Gorey's arch eccentrics are on display in two reissues and a never-before-published story.

From a story in the Los Angeles Times...
Twelve years after his death on tax day 2000, Edward Gorey — writer, illustrator, Victorian aesthete born half a century too late — has earned an adjective all his own: "Goreyesque."

The word is used, increasingly, to refer to anything that manages to be amusingly lugubrious, in an arch sort of way. In recent years, Gorey's eccentric shadow has only lengthened across pop culture, his influence apparent in Tim Burton's gothic whimsies; the Lemony Snicket books by Daniel Handler; the emergence of the Gorey tattoo as a hipster fad; crowds thronging to the traveling exhibition of his work, "Elegant Enigmas"; and the resurrection of out-of-print Gorey tales
Three Gorey titles have just landed on bookstore shelves. 

From Pomegranate Press comes "Thoughtful Alphabets: The Just Dessert & the Deadly Blotter" (64 pp., $14.95), previously published only in obscure, limited editions, and "The Osbick Bird" (32 pp., $12.95), a Gorey classic unavailable for four decades, except in poor quality in "Gorey's Amphigorey Too" anthology, but now restored to a clarity so sharp-nibbed it almost hurts the eye.

Bloomsbury is also in on the act with "Saint Melissa the Mottled" (48 pp., $12), an unpublished story that Gorey never got around to illustrating, supplemented here with images from the Gorey archive, some never before published.

All Hallows Read - Scary Books for Young Readers

A list, care of the Millions.

10 Novels That Are Scarier Than Most Horror Movies

The list, care of io9.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Painting an Ideal Bookshelf

Painting an Ideal Bookshelf from Jane Mount on Vimeo.

5 Syndromes or Complexes Named After Storybook Characters

The list, care of Mental Floss.

From said list...

Peter Pan is the boy who won’t grow up. Does that accurately describe a person in your life? If so, they may have Peter Pan Syndrome. It’s not a syndrome officially recognized by the World Health Organization, but some studies have shown that it does exist. It’s characterized by emotional immaturity and an unwillingness to take on responsibilities.

Extremely Silly Photos of Extremely Serious Historical Figures

The gallery, care of Flavorwire.

The Taming of Wuthering Heights

The New York Review of Books asks, "Why is it so hard to film Wuthering Heights?"

From the piece...

There are movies we watch with a particular kind of divided attention: half following the action on screen, half trying to imagine the pitch meeting at which a producer was persuaded that the film would be (profitably) similar to a recent film that did well at the box office. During the many dull passages—lengthy shots of fluttering insects and of birds wheeling over the scenic British countryside—in the latest Wuthering Heights, directed by the British filmmaker Andrea Arnold and now being released in the United States, I found myself wondering how anyone could have been convinced that what the culture needed was yet another cinematic treatment of Emily Brontë’s novel. If one counts feature films, TV mini-series, Luis Buñuel’s Abismos de Pasión (1954), and Kiju Yoshida’s Arashi Ga Oka (1988), audiences have had more than twenty opportunities to watch Brontë’s doomed lovers race across the wind-swept moors. 

Then, about an hour into the newest version, it struck me: it’s Twilight! Transplanted from the rainy Pacific Northwest to even rainier rural England, deftly substituting a ghost for a vampire, the film contains many of the elements that made the screen version of Stephenie Meyer’s novel such a hit: repressed adolescent passion, self-denial, questions of masculinity, sexual competition, renunciation, romance thwarted by restrictive tribal loyalties. That’s how I would have pitched the film, and the fact that I was thinking of it while watching Heathcliff and Catherine break each other’s hearts was an indication of Arnold’s failure to capture a fraction of Brontë’s genius. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Superheroes at the History Museum

The Effects of Color

Europe's Long Tradition of Literary Super Sleuths

Crime fiction is a magnifying glass that reveals the fingerprints of history. From Holmes and Poirot to Montalbano and the rise of Scandi-noir, the Guardian investigates the long tradition of European super-sleuths and their role in turbulent times.

From the piece...

As keen readers in the field might guess, the undisputed godfathers of the genre remain Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) and Sherlock Holmes, who lived in print from 1887 to 1923, although he carries on immortally in all entertainment forms. So long and so strong is the shadow of Holmes that anyone subsequently creating a detective in any culture has had to make a deliberate gesture of homage or avoidance to the resident of 221B Baker Street.

For example, it is my strong suspicion that the reason Hercule Poirot (print-dates 1920-75) is Belgian is that, if Christie (1890-1976) had made him English, the detective's characteristics – intuitive, aloof, fastidious about couture and cuisine – would have made him too transparently a Holmes clone. The most dramatised detective after Holmes and Poirot, Commissaire Jules Maigret (1931-72), is again distanced from the template by his Parisian location, but he too has certain Holmesian aspects (hyper-intelligence, a pipe) that feel like deliberate nods from his creator, the officially Belgian but temperamentally French George Simenon (1903-89).

With remarkable consistency across generations and nations, Holmes is the genre's homepage.

How Do They Fact-Check at the New Yorker?

The Columbia Journalism Review has the answer.

From the story...

Preventing errors from appearing in the magazine is not a simple process. For openers, you need to know that in addition to the basic reporting pieces, we also check “The Talk of the Town,” the critics, fiction, poetry, cartoons, art, captions, the table of contents, certain of the several-paragraph-long essays in the “Goings On” section. We also fact-check the contributors page, the cover wrap, the letters column, all the press releases, and a good deal of the recently mounted Web site.

To start checking a nonfiction piece, you begin by consulting the writer about how the piece was put together and using the writer’s sources as well as our own departmental sources. We then essentially take the piece apart and put it back together again. You make sure that the names and dates are right, but then if it is a John McPhee piece, you make sure that the USGS report that he read, he read correctly; or if it is a John le Carré piece, when he says his con man father ran for Parliament in 1950, you make sure that it wasn’t 1949 or 1951.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tom Hanks - Slam Poet

7 Best Literary Death Kills in Literature

The list, care of Lit Reactor.

Do's and Don'ts at Author Events

Book Riot is here to help.

From the piece...

DON’T: Bring a gigantic, unwieldy armful of books to have signed. It really is poor form, because everyone, including the author, assumes you’re imposing yourself on everyone else’s time just so that you can a make a buck on eBay selling your “more valuable” signed copies. Not cool, man. There’s no shame in bringing a title or two from the author’s backlist, but as a rule of thumb, I’d advocate for no more than three books at any one signing.

DO: Purchase the book you’re about to have signed at the bookstore at which the event is being held, if at all possible. Of course, there are extenuating circumstances (you already own the book, you plan to eread it, you’re broke, etc.), but by helping the bookstore, you can help ensure that they’ll continue to have kick-ass author events. And everyone wins.

The Republic of Chiie

The world's worst typos, care of the Guardian.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Chat with Margaret Atwood

7 Ancient Writing Systems That Haven't Been Decyphered Yet

The list, care of Mental Floss.

In the Middle of Major Men

The women who edited and defined Poetry magazine are discussed on the Poetry Foundation website.

From the piece...

But when Monroe looked up the numbers, she was surprised to learn that from April 1919 through March 1920 she had printed 64 men and 41 women; in total pages, the ratio of work by men to that by women was “almost exactly two to one.” Men still dominated the pages of Poetry despite the fact that the editorial vision of the magazine, especially in the beginning, came from women. Soon after this point, however, the ratio would equalize and then tip in the other direction: more women than men were published in Poetry’s pages in the early 1920s.

A photograph—taken in Poetry magazine’s office at 543 Cass Street sometime between 1912 and 1922—shows Monroe at a desk stacked with manuscripts and letters. According to Monroe, the office had a shabby, domestic elegance and was fitted with a wicker rocker known as the “poets’ chair,” where many of the poets who visited Monroe would sit. The chair was “an ancient affair,” as Eunice Tietjens described it: “most of the poets of our generation have sat in it and the thing really belongs in a museum.” Monroe might brew for her poets a pot of coffee over an open fire in the vacant lot next door.

That Poetry’s early office was housed in an old family home underscores the fact that the magazine was conceived by a woman and sustained by her mostly female staff. “I had never been the actual mistress of any home which had sheltered me,” Monroe would later write, “but this little kingdom was mine, and I rather enjoyed dispensing its fleeting hospitalities.”

The 7 Deadly Sins in Literature

A reading list, care of Flavorwire.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Chat with Tom Perrotta

7 Films that Betrayed Their Literary Source Material

The list, care of The Week.

Famous Last Words

15 authors' epitaphs, here.

The Mo Yan Culture Experience Zone

One week after Mo Yan became the first Chinese author to win the Nobel prize, proud local officials rushed out a £70 million plan to transform his sleepy village into a "Mo Yan Culture Experience Zone".

From a story in the Telegraph...

Until last week, the county of Gaomi in the eastern province of Shandong was a poor farming community. It was here that Mr Mo ate tree bark and scrabbled for wild vegetables to survive a tough childhood. 
When reporters tracked down Mr Mo, 57, to his family home in the wake of his prize, they found his 90-year-old father working the farm, unperturbed by the hullaballoo.
But now, ambitious Communist party chiefs see a glorious future for the county as tourists flock to pay homage to the Nobel prize winner. 
On Tuesday, Fan Hui, a local official, paid a visit to Mr Mo's father to ask him to renovate the family home. 
"Your son is no longer your son, and the house is no longer your house," urged Mr Fan, according to the Beijing News, explaining that the author was now the pride of China. "It does not really matter if you agree or not," he added.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Bibliomania from Rosalie Osman on Vimeo.

The Book of Common Prayer at 350

James Wood discusses its importance in the New Yorker.

From the article...

The visitor has stumbled upon a service, Evensong, whose roots stretch back at least to the tenth century, and whose liturgy has been in almost continuous use since 1549, the date of the first Book of Common Prayer, which was revised in 1552, and lightly amended in 1662, three hundred and fifty years ago. The Book of Common Prayer was the first compendium of worship in English. The words—many of them, at least—were written by Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury between 1533 and 1556. Cranmer did not cut his text from whole cloth: in the ecumenical spirit that characterizes the Book of Common Prayer, he went to the Latin liturgy that the English Catholic Church had used for centuries. In particular, he turned to a book known as the Sarum Missal, which priests at Salisbury Cathedral had long used to conduct services. It contained a calendar of festivals, along with prayers and readings for those festivals; and it held orders of service for Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and the Mass. 

The Missal was a handbook for priests and monks, though, not for the laity, and its language was Latin, not English. Cranmer wanted a prayer book in English, one that could be understood by ordinary people, even by those who could not read. To this end, he translated and simplified a good deal of the Sarum Missal: from the monastic services of Matins, Vespers, and Compline he fashioned Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer (commonly known now as Evensong), which are familiar to millions of members of the worldwide Anglican Church. He borrowed elements of the liturgy of the Reformed church in Cologne, and adapted a prayer of St. John Chrysostom from the Byzantine rite. He also wrote dozens of new prayers and collects, in a language at once grand and simple, heightened and practical, archaic and timeless.

Finnegans Wake, Illustrated

The artwork of Jason Novak.

10 Unfilmable Books That Were Filmed

The list, care of Flavorwire.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Book Surfing

Much Better Now from Salon Alpin on Vimeo.

My 6,128 Favorite Books

Joe Queenan on how a harmless juvenile pastime turned into a lifelong personality disorder for the Wall Street Journal.

From the piece...

My reading habits sometimes get a bit loopy. I often read dozens of books simultaneously. I start a book in 1978 and finish it 34 years later, without enjoying a single minute of the enterprise. I absolutely refuse to read books that critics describe as "luminous" or "incandescent." I never read books in which the hero went to private school or roots for the New York Yankees. I once spent a year reading nothing but short books. I spent another year vowing to read nothing but books I picked off the library shelves with my eyes closed. The results were not pretty.

I even tried to spend an entire year reading books I had always suspected I would hate: "Middlemarch," "Look Homeward, Angel," "Babbitt." Luckily, that project ran out of gas quickly, if only because I already had a 14-year-old daughter when I took a crack at "Lolita."


The self-portraits, as he goes deeper and deeper into Alzheimer's Disease, of William Utermohlen.

National Geographic at Auction

National Geographic is planning on putting a small collection of its prized photographic holdings at auction in December.

From a piece on the AP...

A small selection of that massive archive — 240 pieces spanning from the late 1800s to the present — will be sold at Christie's in December at an auction expected to bring about $3 million, the first time any of the institution's collection has been sold.

Among the items are some of National Geographic's most indelible photographs, including that of an Afghan girl during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, a portrait of Admiral Robert Peary at his 1908 expedition to the North Pole, a roaring lion in South Africa and the face of a Papua New Guinea aborigine.

Paintings and illustrations include N.C. Wyeth's historical scene of sword-fighting pirates, Charles Bittinger's view of Earth as seen from the moon, and Charles Knight's depictions of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.

They are being auctioned "to celebrate our legacy .... and to give people a chance to buy a little part of this great institution's history," said Maura Mulvihill, senior vice president of National Geographic's image and video archives.

"We think of ourselves as the unsung fathers of modern photojournalism," she added. "I don't think people are aware of what a massive instructive archive this is.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Letterpress from Naomie Ross on Vimeo.

Young Henry VIII Revealed

A long lost "royal treasure" with one of the earliest paintings of Henry VIII has been discovered at the National Library of Wales.

From a piece on BBC News...

The manuscript was donated to the Aberystwyth library in 1921, but officials say they have only just realised its true significance.

One of its 34 pictures is believed to show 11-year-old Henry weeping at the empty bed of his mother, Elizabeth.

The library said the manuscript could be worth more than £1m.

Bound in wooden boards and covered with crimson velvet, the manuscript contains a late 15th Century passional - a book recounting the sufferings of saints and martyrs - depicting Jesus Christ's last days on earth through a series of images and text, written in medieval French.

It also has the poem Le Miroir de la Mort (The Mirror of Death) by Georges Chastellain.

It is believed the manuscript was presented to Henry VII, Henry's father, after the death of his wife Elizabeth of York.

Should Some Books Be Banned?

That's the question recently asked by Lit Reactor.

From the post...

That’s the problem facing the Indian government. Criticism, however mild, of any group – religious, tribal, regional, political – is liable to set off major upheaval. The same is true in Pakistan, which also labours under the burden of a border almost guaranteed to cause trouble, because of how it divides tribal regions. 

Look at it this way and book banning becomes a lesser of two evils, a way of keeping the lid on a situation which might spiral into bloodshed. And in practice, the Indian government polices its bans lightly. The point appears to be to reassure touchy factions that their concerns are being taken seriously, and so far, this is a policy which has worked. You might say that in other, more peaceful countries, banning books which incite hatred – racial, gender-based or religious – can be justified on the same grounds. 

Consider another issue with regard to political dissent. Books can seek to obscure as well as enlighten. Is it acceptable to allow revisionists to publish their arguments? To deny the Holocaust happened; to downplay the massacres in Bosnia? 

It's one rule for all. If we want the authors we approve of to have freedom of speech, that same freedom has to apply to those we don't approve off as well.

How Do You Write a Book in 30 Days?

Follow these steps, care of the Guardian.

Iron Man III

Monday, October 22, 2012

Beckett Directs Becket - "Waiting for Godot"

Part I:

Part II:


Books, and their acquisition, have obsessed readers across the ages. Can this paper-borne addiction last into the digital age?

From a piece in the Independent...

The first documented use of the word bibliomania, according to my OED – the twenty-volume second edition, bought as a present to myself when I received the advance on my first novel, and which cost me the advance on my first novel, which meant effectively that I wrote a book to buy a book – was in 1734, in the Diary of Thomas Hearne, bibliognost, antiquarian and assistant keeper of books at the Bodleian. "I should have been tempted," writes Hearne, "to have laid out a pretty deal of money without thinking my self at all touched with Bibliomania."

Then in 1750 Lord Chesterfield writes, warning his son, "Beware of the Bibliomanie." But the word doesn't appear to come into popular usage until 1809, when the Reverend Thomas Frognall Dibdin publishes his book Bibliomania, or Book-madness; containing some account of the history, symptoms, and cure of this fatal disease. The disease, in Dibdin's mad, medico-rhapsodico account, manifests itself in a desire for first editions, uncut copies, illustrated copies, and a "general desire for Black Letter". Book madness, in Dibdin's diagnosis, is a paper-borne disease.

The Most Dysfunctional Families in Literature

The list, care of Publisher's Weekly.

Hitchcock's Storyboards from 13 Classic Films

Enjoy, care of Filmmaker IQ.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

JK Rowling on "The Daily Show"

The Testament of Mary

She is the most famous mother in history, yet her story is unknown. A new novel voices the grief-filled thoughts of Mary, as she pieces together the events that led to the death of her son, Jesus. Its writer, Colm Tóibín, describes the origins of the book for the Guardian.

From the piece...

The painting of the crucifixion here is more than 12 metres wide. Its size means that the idea of transcendental space soaring towards the heavens above is replaced with the vast, long, busy world around. Tintoretto shows that while Jesus hung on a cross until he died, many other things happened too. If the sound of the Titian is of angels' unearthly voices, this painting by Tintoretto is filled with the brutal noise of the world.

I think the gap between these two paintings made me wonder about how the imploring, powerless figure of Mary at the foot of the cross as her son was crucified could have become, in Catholic doctrine and Italian painting, the queen of heaven. The more time I spent looking at paintings in Venice the more I came to feel that the story of her transformation fulfilled a pictorial need, or a storyteller's need, as much as it did anything else.

The World of Copper Engraved Plates

AbeBooks is our guide, here.

From the piece...

While steel was more durable, copper was softer and more easily engraved, allowing for an image richer in depth and tone. But as tools became more sophisticated, and the importance of mass production increased, durability became the main focus and steel became the popular choice. Known as copper engravings or copper-plate engravings, the pieces engraved on copper were produced with the use of a very hard steel tool called a burin, or graver, or later by machine, engraving the work into a flat plate. While this technique was satisfactory and pleasing for the creation of bold, clean linework, it was lacking in the area of shading and half-tones. 

These were accomplished through hatching, which consists of very thin lines, close together to give the appearance of shading or fill. For especially color-dense areas, those lines were engraved atop one another vertically and horizontally in a technique known as cross-hatching. Differently textured filled areas could also be accomplished by stippling, an engraving art technique similar to the painting technique of pointillism, involving the use of multiple tiny dots very close together for a dark, blanket effect, and further apart to denote lightening. 

Books for WWI Soldiers

Book Patrol shares briefly about the American Library Campaign to get books into the hands of WWI troops.

See some pictures, here.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

Star Wars as Medieval Illumunitated Manuscript Illustrations


Sherman Alexie, Interviewed

With a new collection of short stories out, the Daily Beast chats with Sherman Alexie.

From the piece...

By now you are, I assume, used to being called an “Indian superstar.” What keeps you grounded?

Hey, I get called a “superstar,” as well as an “Indian superstar.” I get the adjective-free praise, as well! What keeps me grounded? I didn’t marry a fan. My sons aren’t interested in coming to my performances. My friends aren’t big fans, either. I haven’t made groups of friends based on our mutual writing careers. Most of my friendships center on basketball. So I guess you could say I stay centered in the midst of fame because I avoid people who care about my literary fame. I have ended newish friendships and professional relationships when I’ve discovered that my fame is a part of the attraction. What’s the best antidote for fame? The loving contempt of your friends and family.

Your newer stories are not as long as the earlier stories that first appeared in The New Yorker, like “What You Pawn I Will Redeem.” Some reflect your talent for the one-liner, like “The Human Comedy,” a six-word story you published in Narrative Magazine. Is there a reason you now favor briefer stories?

Though I have a reputation for being a Luddite, I actually love the new digital technology and its artistic possibilities. So I have certainly been writing very short stories because they look great on my iPad screen! It’s a callback to my early days of writing. I began my career on a manual typewriter and found that the physical act of pulling a sheet from the typewriter dictated the end of a poem. So I mostly wrote very short poems as a result. But when I moved to a word processor, my poems grew in length. And then I began to write stories and the beginnings of novels. The shape of the machine influences the shape of my work.

I Attend the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair

And then I write about it, here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

"I Loved It. I Loved It All." An essay by Edward Abbey

Essay by Edward Abbey "I Loved it...I Loved it All" from Ned Judge on Vimeo.

The Wildest Teenagers in Literature

The list, care of Flavorwire.

Not Exactly a Hermit

Everything we know about Henry David Thoreau is wrong.

From a piece in Humanities...

For nature author Bill McKibben, the question of Thoreau’s true self is obscured not only by the breadth of his writings, but their depth. Take Walden. “Understanding the whole of this book is a hopeless task,” McKibben said. “Its writing resembles nothing so much as Scripture; ideas are condensed to epigrams, four or five to a paragraph. Its magic density yields dozens of different readings—psychological, spiritual, literary, political, cultural.”

Many readers, faced with Thoreau’s enigmatic Yankee persona, have resorted to a kind of pop-culture shorthand for describing his life. As the capsule summary goes, Thoreau was an oddball loner who lived by a lake, writing in praise of nature and against modern progress. But the full story of Thoreau’s life involves subtleties and contradictions that call his popular image into question.

“One misperception that has persisted is that he was a hermit who cared little for others,” says Witherell. “He was active in circulating petitions for neighbors in need. He was attentive to what was going on in the community. He was involved in the Underground Railroad.” In yet another way Thoreau was politically active, penning an essay, “Civil Disobedience,” that would later inform the thinking of Mohandas Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Despite his fame as a champion of solitude—a practice that he chronicled with wisdom and wit, Thoreau made no secret of the social life he indulged during his stay at Walden Pond from 1845 to 1847. In fact, one of the chapters of Walden, titled “Visitors,” offers an extended account of Thoreau’s dealings with others. “I think that I love society as much as most, and am ready enough to fasten myself like a blood- sucker for the time to any full-blooded man that comes in my way,” Thoreau tells readers. “I am naturally no hermit, but might possibly sit out the sturdiest frequenter of the bar- room, if my business called me thither.”

A Chat with Maria Semple

Thursday, October 18, 2012

James Bond: A Secret to a Spy's Success

Top 10 Essays from the Past 50 Years

You can read them, care of Publisher's Weekly, here.

The Bomb in Literature

How well do you know about nuclear threats in literature? Take the quiz!

Nixon Protagonistes

Did you know that Steinbeck was once asked to write a novel about Richard Nixon to take him down?

From an essay in the New York Times...

Steinbeck fell “madly for Adlai” in 1952 during Stevenson’s first race against Dwight D. Eisenhower, writing the introduction to a book of Stevenson’s speeches. After the Ike landslide, Steinbeck lamented to Stevenson that the country had “lost our chance for greatness when greatness was needed.” The two became friends, and when Steinbeck signed on to the 1956 campaign he helped shape Stevenson’s speeches. 

So it wasn’t out of the ordinary that in May 1958 Steinbeck would be having lunch in New York with Stevenson’s right-hand man, William McCormick Blair Jr., and the New York socialite Marietta Tree, a prominent Stevenson supporter (and also his lover). Rumors were rife that Stevenson wanted to make another run for the White House. But Blair didn’t ask Steinbeck to write speeches. He had a more unusual request: Would Steinbeck write a novel to kneecap the likely 1960 Republican candidate, Vice President Richard M. Nixon? 

Today it’s hard to fathom that anyone would think a political novel might be an election game-changer. But 1958 was a different time. Major novelists were celebrities, best sellers could be cultural events and Steinbeck himself had credibility as a moral authority. The Stevenson camp was trying to use an unorthodox media strategy to attack the man they saw as their greatest foe, just as politicians today use social media to bypass traditional gatekeepers and influence public opinion. The question was, would Steinbeck agree?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In the Night Kitchen

The Oldest Quran in the World

A Yemeni man claims he's found it.

From a piece in Al Alabiya News...

The young man said that he found the holy book wrapped inside a leather cover by climbing down a rope to a mountain cave south of the Yemeni city of Dhale.

Initial tests on the authenticity of the manuscript have proven the Quran copy a genuine, marking the copy as the oldest in the world today.

Words that read: “This manuscript was handwritten in 200 hijri year (815 AD)” are engraved on the first page of the manuscript, according to the report.

5 Movies That Were Better Than Their Books

The list, care of Book Riot.

The Guardian Chats with T.C. Boyle

TC Boyle talks about being a 'complete control freak' and why he feels compelled to write.

From the article...

Boyle grew up reading Kafka and Flannery O'Connor, and was taught in the 70s at the Iowa Writers' Workshop by John Irving and the "absolute master" John Cheever, but these days he is just as likely to be reading scientific non-fiction with such ominous titles as The Coming Plague or Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic.

"I worry about everything – every sick baby, every vanishing species – all the time," says Boyle. He says that the lack of control he feels in the rest of his life has led to him becoming a "complete control freak" as a writer. "I've been lucky in my career in that nobody has ever said 'no' to me. I don't require much editing. The book you see on the shelves is pretty much the book I hand in. I'm not a member of any organisation or team. I was in a band once, but I was the singer. I'm enslaved to writing to the point where I sacrifice almost everything else." Since 1979, when his first short story collection, Descent of Man, was published, this obsessive work rate has resulted in six further story collections and 14 novels, all of them written with a breakneck energy that comes across on the page.

Boyle says he was "essentially a good kid" but "a hyperactive one" who got up to a fair bit of mischief in his home town of Peekskill, 30 miles outside New York City. In his teens, he took drugs and raced cars around the town with friends: "The normal stuff when there's nothing going on in your life and you need something to prove you're unique and show you're a man." Does he still think there's a touch of that hyperactivity in him now? "Well, look at me," he says. "What do you think?"

Keep Calm and Carry On

Keep Calm and Carry On from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Patricia Cornwell Makes a Killing

The 25 Most Powerful TV Shows of the Past 25 Years

The list, care of Mental Floss.

Patti Smith Discusses "Just Kids" Movie

Entertainment Weekly chats with Patti Smith about turning her autobiography, Just Kids, into a movie.

From the article...

The iconic performer, who is steadily working with Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Logan (in between touring) on the script for a film adaptation of her 2010 bestselling memoir Just Kids, about her relationship with photographer Robbert Mapplethorpe when the two were starving young artists in New York City, voiced her appreciation of the Twilight stars to EW just before her small, private concert for Los Angeles radio station KCRW on Wednesday. She added that she could see the pair playing her and Mapplethorpe on screen … when they were lesser known.

“I remember the very first time I saw Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson together, when they were younger, and I thought, ‘Those two kids could have easily played us when they were first starting,” said Smith. “There’s something in his eyes. And Robert [Mapplethorpe] was also a bit shy, and a bit stoic. Kristen has a very special quality. She’s not conventionally beautiful, but very charismatic.”

Hobbit Tourism

For millions, the Lord of the Rings films turned New Zealand into Middle-earth. As the premiere of a second trilogy approaches, tour operators are ready for another bonanza.

From a story in the Guardian...

The countdown to The Hobbit – in its film form, also a trilogy – began last week in earnest. In earnest and in fact: Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown unveiled a giant clock, complete with an image of Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, counting down the minutes to the 28 November premiere.

The clock sits atop the Embassy Theatre, the handsome 1920s cinema that will host the screening. A bevy of international stars, led, it's safe to predict, by Freeman, will return to Wellington to walk the red carpet down Courtenay Place. The last time the 500m carpet was unrolled, for the world premiere of The Return of the King in 2003, about 120,000 people came to watch the procession. Organisers expect a similar turnout this time. "It will be a real carnival atmosphere," promises Wade-Brown.

There is nothing subtle about efforts to piggyback. The national tourism slogan "100% Pure New Zealand" has become "100% Middle-earth", while in the days leading up to the premiere Wellington will be "renamed", Wade-Brown announced last week, as "Middle of Middle-earth".

It would all no doubt bewilder Tolkien, who conjured up his Middle-earth from Oxfordshire in the 1930s, and never travelled as far as New Zealand.

10 Most Literature Obsessed Rock Stars

The list, care of Flavorwire.

Stephen King's "Carrie"

Monday, October 15, 2012

All Hallow's Read Coming Soon (10/31)

10 Must Read Books about Higher Education

The list, care of the Christian Science Monitor.

Twitter Fiction

The Guardian challenged well-known writers – from Ian Rankin and Helen Fielding to Jeffrey Archer and Jilly Cooper – to come up with a story of up to 140 characters.

From the piece... 

Andrew O'Hagan

Clyde stole a lychee and ate it in the shower. Then his brother took a bottle of pills believing character is just a luxury. God. The twins.

AL Kennedy

It's good that you're busy. Not great. Good, though. But the silence, that's hard. I don't know what it means: whether you're OK, if I'm OK.

Jeffrey Archer

"It's a miracle he survived," said the doctor. "It was God's will," said Mrs Schicklgruber. "What will you call him?" "Adolf," she replied.