Donna Tartt’s sprawling literary epic that centers on a mysterious little painting has taken the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, besting other lengthy titles, such as The Son by Philipp Meyer and The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis, both of which received “A” grades from EW. READ FULL STORY
Category: News (31-40 of 609)
Every year the American Library Association publishes a list of the most challenged books in the country to keep the public informed of encroaching censorship. The ALA defines a challenge as “a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.” The number of challenges reflects only incidents reported. The group estimates that for every reported challenge, four or five remain unreported. This year’s list is topped by the The Adventures of Captain Underpants series, which also held that slot in 2012. The humorous and cartoony book about two 4th grade boys and their imaginary-turned-real superhero Captain Underpants was cited for: offensive language, unsuited for age group, and violence. Fifty Shades of Grey also made the list, as did The Hunger Games. Check out the complete list. READ FULL STORY
Hillary Clinton’s latest memoir will be released June 10, 2014. An ad from the publisher gives only this information about it: “Hillary Clinton shares candid reflections about key moments during her time as Secretary of State as well as her thoughts about how to navigate the challenges of the 21st century.” How to navigate the challenges of the 21st century? As with every move that Hillary Clinton makes these days, people are wondering if the subtext of this release is “vote for me in 2016.” [The Wrap]
J.K. Rowling will be guest editing BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour later this month. She’ll be discussing her literary pseudonym Robert Galbraith and “the power and myth of the shoe in popular culture.” So quite a range of ideas there… I’ve always wanted to know how Lady Rowling felt about footwear. [Guardian]
Things I learned about Chuck Palahniuk from The Guardian this morning:
1. He has an online mentorship program for writers, who are encouraged to employ his “minimal style.” I don’t know if I’ve ever thought of Chuck as being “minimal.” Definitely more of a maximal guy in my memory.
2. He’s writing a graphic novel sequel to Fight Club.
3. Chuck is now releasing an anthology of his mentee’s writing that will be entirely focused on taboo subjects – his specialty. “Transgressive fiction authors write stories some are afraid to tell. Stories with taboo subjects, unique voices, shocking images – nothing safe or dry,” says its publisher. “These stories run the gamut from horrific and fantastic to humorous and touching, but each leaves a lasting impression. Some may say even a scar.”
Ian McEwan, the award-winning author of Atonement, has announced a new novel called The Children Act to be published on September 9, 2014. McEwan has written 15 books, including Amsterdam, which won the Man Booker Prize, Solar, The Child in Time and The Comfort of Strangers. His most recent novel, Sweet Tooth, about a beautiful intelligence agent during the Cold War whose undercover persona begins to unravel as she falls for a writer, came out in 2012. No word yet on what The Children Act will be about, other than that it will be “emotionally wrenching.” This coming from the man who wrote Atonement, so prepare to be very wrenched.
Philip Roth will be awarded the first annual Yaddo Medal from the Yaddo artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, NY. Founded in 1900 by financier Spencer Trask (a man who supported Edison when he was inventing the lightbulb), the colony hosts around 200 artists a year who would like to spend 2-6 weeks on their 400-acre ranch. Roth himself has resided at the colony seven times since 1964. I appreciate Yaddo going out on a limb and awarding their first medal to such an unsung hero like Phil Roth. [New York Times]
Kurt Vonnegut was quite the sketch artist. You may have seen some of his drawings in his books, or recognize his self-portrait scribble that doubled as his signature. But don’t miss the slideshow of his work that the New Yorker put together. Vonnegut felt that drawing was the window through which he could jump out of when his writing became too much to bear. “My own means of making a living is essentially clerical, and hence tedious and constipating.… The making of pictures is to writing what laughing gas is to the Asian influenza.”
Tin House has a deep Q&A with playwright Craig Lucas, whose play Ode to Joy is as the Cherry Lane Theater until April 19th. Lucas is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a two time Tony-nominee, who wrote Prelude to a Kiss, Reckless, and The Light in the Piazza. In describing the theme of the new play, he wrote: “Joy, motherfuckers. Joy.” The man truly has a way with words. We should all buy tickets. [Tin House]
Parul Sehgal has an essay on “What Muriel Spark Saw” in the New Yorker. A Scottish novelist who was a contemporary of Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, Spark’s novels are being rereleased in America. One of her famous quotes is “I aim to startle as well as please,” a motto to live by. Sehgal writes: “She loved lightning. It wasn’t her favorite weapon—fire was, or knives. But lightning has a brutal, beautiful efficiency, and she used it to good effect, once frying alive a pair of lovers.” So I’m buying everything she ever wrote.
Join NPR for National Poetry Month and help write their collaborative Twitter poem. See their website for details! [NPR]
Six of Stephen King’s early novels are going to get a fancy, limited edition reissue from Cemetery Dance Publications. The collection will include some of his best works: Carrie, ’Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Night Shift, The Stand and Pet Sematary. The books will be oversize editions on heavy paper, with newly commissioned artwork for the dust jackets, new introductions by Mr. King, and other features. Ahhhh!! But they will only be printing very few and they will not be cheap, so start saving now. The fisrt installment will be Carrie: The Deluxe Special Edition, which is due in August. an essay by Tabitha King about the book’s exploration of adolescent terror and sexuality, six paintings (as well as a dust jacket) by the fantasy illustrator Tomislav Tikulin, and a reproduction of the telegram sent by Doubleday to Mr. King saying that the company would publish the book. You can buy at 3 price points, ranging from the artist-signed copies that are already sold out, to ones with a special dust jacket for $225 to the most affordable version in a slipcase for $80. [New York Times]
Rabble-rouser and British bad boy of the art world, Damien Hirst has finally confirmed that Penguin will be publishing his autobiography. This promises to be a wild ride and he’s sworn to write with “utter candor” about his early exploits. It will cover his childhood and his college years in London, including “his Turner prize win in 1995 for Mother and Child, Divided, one of his many works fixated on death. The piece consists of four glass tanks, containing the two halves of a cow and calf preserved in formaldehyde, and would be followed by his famous shark in formaldehyde known as Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. The shark is one of my favorite pieces of modern art. Terrifying to behold. I hope the title of his book is something equally overstated: “The Physical Impossibility of the Infinite in the Mind of an Artist…and Also Death.” [Guardian]
The Bailey’s Prize for Women in Fiction has revealed it’s shortlist. The predictable choices were: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah, Jhumpa Lahiri – The Lowland, Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch. Less obvious choices: Eimear McBride – A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, Audrey Magee – The Undertaking, Hannah Kent – Burial Rites. Helen Fraser, the Chair of the judges said, “We feel you could give any one of these books to a friend with the absolute confidence that they would be gripped and absorbed and that maybe their view of the world would be changed once they had read it.” The winner of the prestigious honor and the £30,000 reward will be announced on June 4th.
Did you remember that Paddington Bear was Peruvian? Well he was, and the author Michael Bond is releasing a new Paddington book, Love From Paddington, where the duffel-coat-wearing bear writes letters to his Aunt Lucy in Lima, reminiscing about his first days in England. A Bear Called Paddington has been in print continuously since it’s publication in 1958, and Bond has written a number of sequels since then. There’s even a Paddington movie coming out in November with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. [Guardian]
They say no one really appreciates you until after you’re gone. Now Archie Andrews, the hero of the long-running Archie comics series, will be able to discover that first-hand: An upcoming issue of the comic will flash-forward to the future and show how Archie meets his death.
Wait, what? READ FULL STORY
When I first read that the CIA used Dr. Zhivago to breakdown the USSR during The Cold War, I assumed that they forced Soviets to watch that movie on repeat as a form of torture. I know, I know, before you get all up in arms about “how wonderful that film is” and “what a classic,” I’m a big fan of Omar Sharif and Alec Guinness (hello, Lawrence of Arabia.) But think about Dr. Zhivago‘s torture potential. No human could watch that 3+ hour Russian downer drama twice in a row without cracking. You would have to have a will of steel not to end up in a ball crying, “The balalaika! It’s always the balalaika!”
But I guess the CIA wasn’t on the same page. According to recently declassified CIA documents, the U.S. government commissioned Russian-language editions of Boris Pasternak’s novel (which Mother Russia had banned) and distributed them to citizens in Moscow. The story largely takes place during the Bolshevik Revolution and dramatizes the casualties of the Communist rising, so the Americans thought it would make great anti-USSR propaganda. We should fight more wars with these kinds of non-lethal weapons. This plot ranks right up there with blue jeans and MTV bringing down the Berlin Wall. [Washington Post]
Every year your parents ship you off to summer camp. You spend a few weeks battling the mosquitoes, swimming in the weedy lake, gorging on s’mores, and acting out bad skits for an audience of loopy counselors and bored campers. (Or maybe your camp experiences were awesome?) Well imagine a summer camp that lets you throw knives at the other kids? Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperille, Illinois landed on the genius idea to host a Divergent-themed summer camp this year, which in my mind means zip lines, trust falls off of abandoned buildings, jumping into moving trains, fighting personal demons in a virtual reality cube, you know, fun kid stuff. (Disclaimer: Anderson’s is not letting your kids do any of these things.)
Calling all RHCP fans: Flea has penned a memoir! A publication date hasn’t been set, but sometime soon you will be able to peek inside the mind of the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who has probably seen more in his 51 years than anyone alive. Born Michael Balzary, Flea is originally from the suburbs of New York, but he moved to Los Angeles as a kid to live with his bohemian step-father. In high school he met Anthony Kiedis and the rest is history. He said that the memoir will cover his young, rebellious life on the streets of LA, founding the Red Hot Chili Peppers with Kiedis and two other high school friends; details about his sometimes complex friendship and collaboration with Kiedis; his myriad experiences with hard drugs; and, of course, the tumultuous creative journey of the legendary Red Hot Chili Peppers through its various incarnations over the last 30 years. Sounds like an epic.
I hope you’re all watching your back today because April Fool’s Day can be dangerous — especially for gullible types like me. Here’s an easy (but funny) one: Penguin announced a new imprint today called Penguin Now! In order to appeal to Millennials with their internet-speak and emojis and ADHD, Penguin will (fake) publish a series of classic novels replacing all full-stop periods with exclamation points! The publisher gleefully announed, “By using exclamation marks over and over again, the reader is reminded of the urgency of the story at the end of every sentence. It’s a great way of preventing potentially inattentive readers from tuning out, putting the book down and wandering off, without altering the original text too much.” My favorite example: Thomas Hardy (who is pretty much the anti-exclamation) gets an attitude adjustment in Jude the Obscure: “But no one came! Because no one ever does!” Or Albert Camus (another Sour Sally) in L’Etranger: “Mother died today! Or yesterday, I don’t know!” …kinda wish they would actually print some of these. [Penguin]
Not a joke – Jane Goodall has finally addressed accusations that she plagiarized passages of her book, Seeds of Hope, from various web sources. Jane is an amazing scientist and advocate who deserves a break on this at 79 years old. “I don’t think anybody who knows me would accuse me of deliberate plagiarism,” she says and I don’t know her, but I would bet that is true. She’s no Stephen Glass. Although I do think it’s a bit strange that she says her note-taking isn’t very methodical…isn’t that like rule number one for a scientist? [Mosaic]
Here’s an April Fool’s quiz for you. How well do you know your literary hoaxes and frauds? (Apparently I know very little…)
The Margaret Mitchell estate has authorized a prequel to Gone With The Wind which will follow the life of the house slave, Mammy. Donald McCaig is authoring the book,called Ruth’s Journey, which is slated for publication in October. McCaig also wrote Rhett Butler’s People, one of two sequels to the epic Southern tale. Gone with the Wind has sold hundreds of millions of copies since its publication in 1936 and it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1937. Of course we can’t forget the Oscar-winning movie from 1939 starring Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh and the inimitable Hattie McDaniel as Mammy. Mammy captured hearts with her staunch morality, loyalty, and best of all, her harsh verbal lashings of Miss Scarlett. McCaig plans to delve into Mammy’s past, and the first order of business is to give her a real name (since Mitchell never did): Ruth. The story begins in 1804, when Ruth is brought from her birthplace, the French colony of Saint-Domingue that is now known as Haiti, to Savannah, GA where she will end up with Scarlett’s mother, Ellen. [New York Times]
The American Scholar has made a list of the “Ten Best Sentences” ever written. That’s a tall order. NPR’s All Things Considered has an interview with associate editor Margaret Foster, who explains their reasoning. No real surprises in the author’s on the list (although some of the chosen sentences are odd): Joan Didion, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Toni Morrison, Ernst Hemingway, Charles Dickens, Tim O’Brien, Vladimir Nabokov, John Hersey and Jane Austen. Austen is a bit of a surprise. I wouldn’t say her writing is the pinnacle of our craft. My choices for authors would be very different. I’d have to include Cormac McCarthy, Edward Abbey, Raymond Chandler, and David Foster Wallace. What sentences or authors would make your list? [American Scholar]
Ian Fleming, the author who created James Bond, was a notorious womanizer — color me stunned. And a series of love letters and postcards that he wrote to one of his girlfriends are being auctioned off in London. The auctioneer writes that the relationship was “typically tempestuous with hints of sadomasochism.” Here’s a quote from one of the letters:
I will only buy the castle if you will live with me there. So, do you offer yourself or not, everything included, naturally. High class ninny, the dust is a meter deep in the apartment. Since the day you went away, I have not been back there again, and there must be some letters for you there. Your flowers must be there too. When will you come back and clean everything up? You can have it whenever you want to and I won’t “bother” you, and you won’t have to watch out for my lies. Please, Edith, come. I can’t use the apartment in any case, because it still stinks of you (should I have said smells), and besides no candidate is available. [Peter Harrington]
Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings, wrote a piece in The New Yorker about what cultural things she drew upon for inspiration in her novel. Wolitzer’s sharp sense of humor is a treat for the Thursday slump. She says she subscribes to the “ ‘give yourself treats’ school of writing. (Not to be confused with the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.)” I subscribe to that school too.
Jonathan Schell, author of many nonfiction books on 20th century warfare, died of cancer on Tuesday at his home in Brooklyn. One of his most famous books is The Village of Ben Suc (1967), which chronicled the systematic devastation of a South Vietnamese village by American forces during the Vietnam War. [New York Times]
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