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]