First it was Ron and Hermione, now Aragorn and Arwen?? A previously unpublished letter reveals the tricksy W.H. Auden tried to convince J.R.R. Tolkien to axe the romance between Aragorn and Arwen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The illuminating letter is from 1955 and penned by Tolkien, who is complaining to his publisher about the struggle to complete The Return of the King. Tolkien laments that Auden views the star-crossed subplot between the mortal king and his immortal lover as “unnecessary and perfunctory.” Wow. Shoot me straight, Auden. How do you really feel? Apparently the poet was on Team Éowyn-Faramir. Considering the level of minutia that Tolkien weaves into the historical fabric of Middle Earth, you would think LOTR could support a number of love stories. If I know the second cousin, twice-removed of every dwarf in the Shire, I think I can follow two romantic subplots. I guess Auden was a purist though. One story of true love per series. It’s good to have standards. Thank God Tolkien didn’t take his advice. [The Guardian] READ FULL STORY
Tag: Fiction (31-40 of 304)
You read that right. Apparently the nation’s capital is the most literate city in America for the fourth year in a row. News to me. I thought everyone in DC was on the phone with donors all day. The study was conducted by Central Connecticut State University, and it takes into account the number of bookstores, library resources, Internet use, educational levels and newspaper circulation of 77 of the largest cities in America. And coming in at 77th is Bakersfield, CA. Poor Bakersfield. They also took the gold medal in worst air quality in 2013. Let’s show them some love in 2014 please. [USA Today]
Today the Folio Society announced its shortlist of nominees for their inaugural Folio Prize, which honors English-language fiction from around the world that is published in the UK, regardless of form, genre or the author’s country of origin. The prize is £40,000 and a ticket to the “glittering ceremony at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel.” Sounds like luxury! The authors in the running are Anne Carson, Amity Gaige, Jane Gardam, Kent Haruf, Rachel Kushner, Eimear McBride, Sergio De La Pava, and George Saunders. The biggest surprise is the heavy representation of Americans, who make up five of the eight nominees. Saunders was listed for his latest short-story collection Tenth of December. [Folio Prize]
Great news from Dreamworks this morning. The studio is opening a book publishing unit that will put out titles based on their animated films, like Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda. The books will be available in print and digital formats, which is great, but I hope that they offer audiobooks of Madagascar read by the lemurs. Or better yet, classics read by the lemurs. Tuck Everlasting would be so much easier to choke down if it were read by the lemurs. [Wall Street Journal]
Last summer, we said “yes” to J. Courtney Sullivan’s glittering third novel about a diamond engagement ring that passes through the generations. The Engagements opens on Frances Gerety, a real-life ad copywriter, who stumbled upon the phrase “Diamonds are forever” in the 1940s. But that phrase — and what it really means — echoes throughout the prismatic set of vignettes that follow.
If you missed The Engagements last year, you can finally put a ring on it (although this novel might make you re-think diamonds) in May when it appears in paperback, rocking the cover above.
The Story Prize, the most significant award in the United States recognizing short stories, announced three finalists for its 2013 award: Tenth of December by George Saunders, Bobcat by Rebecca Lee and Archangel by Andrea Barrett. Saunders was a finalist in 2006 for his book In Persuasion Nation. [LA Times]
'The X-Files' star Gillian Anderson to pen sci-fi book series for new Simon & Schuster imprint -- EXCLUSIVE
Gillian Anderson is returning to the genre that made her a cultural icon – but it’s not on television. The newest project from the star of The X-Files is a book franchise called the EarthEnd Saga, a collaboration with co-writer Jeff Rovin, a prolific geek whose extensive bibliography includes works in the best-selling Tom Clancy’s Op-Center series. The first novel, entitled A Vision of Fire, will be published in October by Simon & Schuster through a new imprint devoted to literary and speculative fiction across all genres called Simon451, a nod to legendary author Ray Bradbury’s dystopian/sci-fi classic Fahrenheit 451.
“It’s been a fantastic experience,” Anderson tells EW, adding that she was inspired to give sci-fi world-building and storytelling a shot at the encouragement of Rovin, a friend of a friend. “I enjoy writing, but don’t usually allow myself the time, and I don’t think I’d ever think to write something in this genre without the prodding of someone like Jeff. But I realized I had ideas hidden within me for a series and a lead character, in this case, a heroine.” Referring to The X-Files, she says: “After nine years of living in a semi-science-fictional universe, I think I now have an ingrained knowledge and rhythm for it.”
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Ned Vizzini, the author of YA favorites It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Be More Chill, died Thursday in New York City. According to the Los Angeles Times, Vizzini committed suicide. He was 32.
Vizzini, a Brooklyn native, began writing professionally for New York City newspapers as a teenager in the late ’90s. His first book, a “quasi-autogiobraphy” called Teen Angst? Naaah…, collected several of Vizzini’s columns for the New York Press and shared its title with an essay Vizzini had published in the New York Times Magazine when he was still a junior at Manhattan’s prestigious Stuyvesant High School. The book hit shelves in 2000. His first novel, Be More Chill, was published in 2004.
That same year, Vizzini experienced depression and suicidal thoughts, which prompted him to call a suicide hotline. Vizzini subsequently spent a week in the psychiatric ward of Brooklyn’s Methodist Hospital. Vizzini would later fictionalize this experience in his acclaimed second novel, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, published in 2006. The novel was adapted into a film starring Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, and Emma Roberts in 2010.
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As our “Best YA Novel of All Time” bracket continues, we’re unveiling our picks, which didn’t advance as far as we would like. Here’s the case for Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.
First of all, I’ve got to level with you — I never really thought of A Wrinkle in Time as being a YA book. That’s mainly because I read Madeleine L’Engle’s masterpiece for the first time when I was in fourth grade, a few years before becoming a young adult myself.
More specifically: It was recess. I was on the playground. All around me, fellow elementary schoolers were shrieking and running and learning the basics of social interaction, but I didn’t care — because it was a dark and stormy night at the Murry family’s 200-year-old Connecticut farmhouse, which was pretty much the coolest thing I could possibly imagine.
Given that last sentence, you can probably gather why I was immediately captivated by Wrinkle‘s charming misfit of a heroine: awkward, irritable, smart-but-underachieving Meg Murry. Like me, Meg wore glasses; like me, she felt like she never quite fit anywhere, neither among the dreadfully normal kids at school nor among her uncommonly gifted family. (As her child genius younger brother Charles Wallace puts it, Meg is “not one thing or the other, not flesh or fowl nor good red herring.” I had absolutely no idea what that meant, but I loved the way it sounded anyway.)
What I didn’t understand back then is that at some point, everyone feels like an outsider. Ironically enough, alienation is one of the most universal emotions there is — especially for adolescent girls. READ FULL STORY
Things are looking a bit Grimm for Nick Burkhardt — though not on your TV screen. Instead, author John Shirley has written an original novel based on NBC’s hit fairy tale series series. In Grimm: The Icy Touch, Nick and Hank are left to investigate The Icy Touch, a criminal organization that’s threatening Wesen into joining their operation. The investigation quickly sparks a deadly rivalry.
We’ve got an exclusive excerpt from The Icy Touch, including two chapters in which Nick, Hank, Monroe, and Wesen find themselves in a fight or two. Check them out below:
If you’re a woman of a certain age, you’re probably familiar with Alice McKinley — the strawberry-blond everygirl first introduced in 1985’s The Agony of Alice.
Though Newbery Medal-winning author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor originally envisioned the novel as a standalone story, she followed it with a sequel, Alice in Rapture, Sort of, in 1989. Fans still wanted more — so in 1991, Naylor began releasing one Alice book every year, following her creation from middle school to the summer after her high school graduation. In the early aughts, she also released a series of prequels about Alice’s life in elementary school — the perfect solution for girls not yet ready to read their older sisters’ favorite books. Over nearly three decades, the books have won legions of fans for their colorful depiction of a regular girl’s trials and tribulations, as well as their frank discussions of topics like sex — passages that frequently landed Alice among the ALA’s list of most frequently challenged books.
28 years later, Naylor is finally wrapping the series with an ambitious, 523-page volume that follows Alice from ages 18 to 60. The book, which hits shelves today, is called Now I’ll Tell You Everything – a title that’s both evocative and refreshingly straightforward, much like the Alice series as a whole.
Naylor is happy with the way her magnum opus turned out, though naturally, saying goodbye is bittersweet. “I suppose it’s like having a child go off to college,” she told EW in an interview last month. “For the last 28 years, six months of every year was dedicated to an Alice book. And suddenly, I have six whole months more to do whatever I want! So that’s exciting, but there’s still times I wish she were home.”
Read on to learn more about the series’ long-awaited conclusion. Spoiler alert: We discuss the contents of Now I’ll Tell You Everything, so read on only if you’ve already read the book… or if you’ve always wanted to know how everything turns out for Alice.
Woody Allen. George Saunders. B.J. Novak?
That’s the vibe the ex-Office multihyphenate is going for in his first short story collection, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories — the cover of which you’ll see for the first time above. “It’s a really great form — fiction with a sense of humor,” Novak tells EW. “It’s what I love to read, and it’s what I wanted to write.”
The book contains 60 stories, some short… and some shorter. “I didn’t want to write in the traditional mold where you’d be constrained by anything,” Novak explains, noting that a few of his pieces are mere lines long –à la his pal Simon Rich, another writer Novak admires. “They’re all based around some idea played out to its limit, and no further,” he continues. “I think a lot of fiction tries to stretch — I was happy to go in new directions, but not if the story didn’t call for it.”
Novak has been testing some of those new directions in a series of live literary readings, an integral facet of his editing process. As he puts it, “A live audience really keeps you humble, and makes you desperate to entertain and keep their attention. I really wanted to be honest with myself; I didn’t want to be pretentious. I wanted to make sure these stories were captivating people.”
He’ll be testing those waters once again at New York Comic Con Friday. There, Novak will read some of his new material and sit for a conversation with Time Magazine’s Lev Grossman before signing a sampler of stories produced exclusively for the event. (The panel is at 1:30 p.m.; the signing begins at 3 p.m.) The sampler will include tales like “The Impatient Billionaire and the Mirror for Earth,” a piece about a wealthy but unfulfilled man that neatly summarizes the collection’s main motif: “Many or most of the stories are about someone who is doing fine, but becomes obsessed with the one thing that will make them complete,” Novak says. “And that was sort of an inadvertent theme I stumbled on as I wrote the book.”
One More Thing hits shelves Feb. 4.
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