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Tag: Quirk (21-30 of 42)

'The Meowmorphosis': A big fuzzy kitten goes Kafkaesque -- TRAILER

They’ve joined zombies and Jane Austen, androids and Leo Tolstoy, and now Quirk Books is taking a very soft and cuddly kitten on a journey through the disturbed imagination of Franz Kafka.

The Meowmorphosis is the latest of the imprint’s “mash-terpieces,” a mashup of classic literature with geek-fueled fancifulness — or in this cast Fancy-Feast-fulness. Author Coleridge Cook starts with the German scribe’s surreal and nightmarish 1915 novella The Metamorphosis, but instead of transforming into a giant, insect-like creature, protagonist Gregor Samsa now wakes up to find he has become “an adorable kitten.”

The Meowmorphosis is a more psychological sort of horror-comedy, so we wanted a trailer that would convey that Kafkaesque blend of itchy, claustrophobic, nervous energy and utter absurdism. And, of course, the urgency of a cat who wants to be on the other side of a door,” says Quirk editor Stephen H. Segal.

Check out the trailer below. The publisher’s works have become hot properties in Hollywood, where Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is set up at Lionsgate and has just secured Lars and the Real Girl director Craig Gillespie, while 20th Century Fox’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is currently shooting in Louisiana.

The Meowmorphosis is out May 10.

Talking undeath with Steve Hockensmith, author of the 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' prequel

The work of Jane Austen has proved to be rather fertile soil from which to raise the dead. With Pride and Prejudice and Zombies author Seth Grahame-Smith moving on from Plain Jane to Honest Abe, Quirk Books drafted Steve Hockensmith to pen the prequel to their unexpected mash-up hit, Dawn of the Dreadfuls. We spoke with Hockensmith about Austen, zombies, and why those two great tastes taste so great together.

Had you read the original before you got the job to write the prequel?

I had not, but I knew of it well. I am an Entertainment Weekly subscriber so I had been seeing mention of it coming down the pipe for quite some time. It was actually pretty funny because the day when I got the call from someone in my agent’s office to ask, “Have you heard of this thing call Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?” and I said of course, and she threw out that there might be an opportunity to write the prequel, I had to run out and buy a copy immediately, because I didn’t want to start talking about this until I had read it. Although the two books are very different, of course, I hasten to add. I ran to the local Borders, and they were sold out. So I ran up the street to the little independent corner bookstore that was a little further on. I go in and there was a lady behind the counter, a nice little grey-haired bookstore employee type, and I say to her I’m looking for this book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. And she just rolls her eyes and says, “Oh…that,” and she proceeds, rather begrudgingly, to lead me to this table where there is only a single copy left. READ FULL STORY

Cutest. Bookmarks. Ever.

I’m not too much of a bookmark person. I tend to just do that whole fold-the-page-in thing that seems logical at the time that you’re doing it, but never really seems to work. (You would think I would change my methods after an embarrassing number of times when I’ve been being forced to riffle through 200-some pages to find my spot.)

But now, I might have to adapt after seeing these adorable bookmarks by a graphic designer named Igor “Rogix” Udushlivy. (A hat-tip to the blog at New York-based design studio Swissmiss for spotting this.) Inspired by some of the classics, you can get a bookmark attached to a book jacket that holds your spot with a cut-out of, for example, a submarine telescope (Nautilus), a pipe (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s prince (The Little Prince).

My personal favorite has to be the bookmark inspired by Moby-Dick (how cute is that water spout?!), but I would refrain from purchasing the Shot bookmark if you plan on entering a bank at any point in time.

Tolstoy will do the robot in the next Quirk Classic

Quirk Books, the folks who brought you Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, its prequel, and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, have moved on from bloodying the frock of Jane Austen and set their sights on a new author: Leo Tolstoy. No, the company’s fourth augmented classic isn’t going to be War and Pieces of Brain, nor will it be The Undeath of Ivan Ilyich.

It’s Android Karenina, which will transpose the tale of Anna Karenina to a steampunk-inspired alternate 19th-century world of cyborgs, robot butlers, and space travel. S&S&S scribe Ben H. Winters will be helping to mechanize the original text, and the new quirkified version (the cover, at left, has yet to be designed) is set for release in bookstores this June.

I think these changes can only make a tragic tale more tragic; poor Anna never did well with steam-powered locomotion, and now she’s surrounded by it. No word on whether she’ll be bionically rebuilt following the ending, though. It’s good that this series is branching out to other authors, even if Tolstoy doesn’t exactly inspire the same Sunday-reading-group fervor as Ms. Austen. What say you, Shelf-Lifers? Do you like your Russian literature automatized?

'Pride and Prejudice' updates: Enough!

Yesterday, as I was rifling through the mound of galleys that publishers oh-so-kindly sent our way, I came upon a book that made me sigh. No, not Heidi and Spencer Pratt’s How to Be Famous. That book made me scream. Instead, I became immediately fatigued upon finding a copy of The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, by Sara Angelini — a 2007 novel (newly in paperback) that’s billed as Legally Blonde-meets-Pride and Prejudice.

Why, you ask? Because I completely, 100 percent supported the trend of Jane Austen mash-ups — until now. Can you say oversaturation? Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was hysterical, and wholly original. But the novelty has worn thin, with dozens of authors jumping on board to sell their updates of Austen’s work in every genre from romance to mystery to sci-fi. How many more supernatural remixes will we find (see: all those Prejudice-themed vampire books)? How many more chick-lit updates?

Because, really, there are hundreds of other identifiable, classic authors whose work could use an imaginative update. Let’s leave Austen alone for once. Why not desecrate the work of John Steinbeck, Louisa May Alcott, or, hell, even Dante? Tell me, Shelf Lifers, are you as tired of the Prejudice trend as I am? And whose work do you wish contemporary authors would update?

The classics get tweeted in 'Twitterature'

Tolstoy was a great novelist, but he wasn’t known for concision. That’s probably the reason why he didn’t use Twitter. Well, one of the reasons, at least.

Luckily for us, the compilers of the new book Twitterature have helped to condense into 140 characters what would have taken the Russian author 140 pages to describe. Each classic is squeezed into 20 tweets or fewer. For example, from Anna Karenina (SPOILER ALERT for those who haven’t had a chance to catch the nail-biting finale):

“Alright, twenty rubles says that I can toss my bag in the air, run across the tracks, and catch it before the train arriv–”

William Shakespeare, John Steinbeck, Thomas Pynchon, and even Dan Brown get the Twitter treatment in the book, to widely varying humorous effect. I like the premise of the whole thing, even if it’s sometimes a bit overcooked. Plus, the tweets actually cover the plot pretty well, so I can even imagine using this as a sort of jokey CliffsNotes. Here are a few more choice examples:


“S—. ‘C-Section’ is not ‘of woman born’? What kind of king dies on a g–d— technicality?” Shakespeare’s Macbeth

“Robert Downey Jr. playing me in a film? Totally cool. Perfect.” A.C. Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes

What do you think? Are Twitter and classic lit like chocolate and peanut butter, two great things that go great together? Or is it more like chocolate and anchovy paste?

Ever get embarrassed because you mispronounce a word you've only seen written? Don't.

I was watching The Proposal the other day and noticed something interesting. In one scene, Sandra Bullock’s book editor character, Margaret Tate, is talking about how she desperately needs to save the Don DeLillo account, a surprisingly high-brow reference amidst the usual rom-com white noise. Of course, Ms. Bullock pronounces the author’s name “duh-LEE-low” instead of the correct “duh-LIL-low,” instantly deflating the credit I had just given the movie and making me feel like Smartypants McGee for catching the mistake. (Don’t believe me? The FAQ of the Don DeLillo Society points to a radio interview the author gave in 1997 to confirm the pronunciation.)

Which got me thinking, maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on the movie. Haven’t we all had a name or a word that we’ve seen many times in print, but never heard in conversation? We know what it means, how to use it, how it’s spelled; everything but how to pronounce it.

For the majority of my life, I was convinced that awry was pronounced similarly to the word orrery. To this day “uh-RYE” still rings false in my ear. I also admit to pronouncing posthumous as if it meant “following a savory Middle Eastern spread.” And I, like many others, have Googled the phrase “Goethe, how to pronounce.” (Don’t get me started on South African-born Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee.) I just wonder why there’s such a stigma attached to those of us (like poor Margaret Tate) who seem to know certain words only in writing. Surely, there is quite a large vocabulary that doesn’t appear that often in everyday conversation, so why should one feel ashamed to get it wrong now and again? In the end, it’s more important to know what it means than how it sounds. I say go forth and mispronounce because how will you ever get it right if you’re never corrected? Duh-LEE-low, Duh-LIL-low, let’s call the whole thing off.

What say you? Any particularly embarrassing mispronunciation stories you’d like to recount?

Would you buy Charles Dickens' toothpick?

Modern celebrities are used to having every little item they touch turn to golden treasures in the eyes of their devotees: Robert Pattinson’s cherry ChapStick, a lock of Elvis’ raven tresses, Meatloaf’s girdle. But acclaimed literary figures have usually been excluded from such fetishistic fandom. At least, until now.

Earlier this month, Cormac McCarthy’s Lettera 32 Olivetti typewriter, on which the famed writer click-clacked his way through all of his novels, sold at auction to a rare book dealer for $254,500. Now comes word that an ivory toothpick used by Charles Dickens has been purchased for $9,150, almost doubling Bonhams auction house’s not-so-great expectations. The dental device comes with a letter from Dickens’ sister-in-law verifying its use by the classic author (The Toothpickwick Papers?), and the handle is engraved with his initials.

I must admit, I’m a little grossed out by this. And I fully appreciate why the auction winner might want to remain anonymous. I understand wanting to get close to a beloved litterateur, but spending thousands in the hope of capturing a little bit of Christmas goose that once occupied the space between his teeth seems a little, well, yuck. What’s next? Lord Byron’s bedpan? A moldy leftover Cuban sandwich from Ernest Hemingway? Proust’s Q-Tip?

What do you think? Are there any author-related items you’d pay top dollar to get your hands on? Or should we just stick to their books?

Who needs Kindles or Nooks? In praise of the old-fashioned book

This amazing stop-motion animated film, created for the New Zealand Book Council, reminds me of all the reasons I love books — the old-fashioned ones, that call for turning actual paper pages. This clip, produced by the creative team of Line and Martin Andersen for the ad firm Colenso BBDO, features a passage from Maurice Gee’s 1992 book Going West. Trust me, it’s worth two minutes of your time:

Try doing that with a Kindle! Electronic readers may be popular, and they may even shrink my cumbersome wallful of literary treasures into a single portable hand-held device. But the book remains a pretty efficient content-delivery system that’s served us well for centuries.

From 'Wild Things' to Pigeons: Could other children's books become movies for grown-ups?

PigeonDriveNow that Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are suggests that the primary audience for movies based on children’s books may not be kids at all, how long before we see something like this? (A hat tip to the Omnivoracious blog as well as Pigeon author Mo Willems’ own blog for pointing out this fan-created movie poster.) What other classic children’s stories might be adaptable into less-than-kid-friendly movies? Harriet the Spy recast as a female Bourne-type action heroine? Pat the Bunny set at the Playboy Mansion?

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