15 April 2014

Meals of famous book characters

This gallery isn't complete enough but it's a good start. (Huffington Post Books)

14 April 2014

Donna Tartt's Pulitzer Prize-winning bird

Donna Tartt's third novel THE GOLDFINCH won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction today.

I just finished this book to discuss at book club, in a talk that was pretty critical although ultimately more people liked the book than didn't. We all agreed it had some pacing/ plotting issues; for me, the coincidence-ness of the last third became distracting just as the action was picking up, and fell apart a little when I stopped to think about it. I liked Tartt's style, which several people in the club found distracting or too verbose. I remember being more impressed by THE LITTLE FRIEND, but found I hardly remembered anything about it specifically. Did you read it? What did you think?

Other Pulitzer winners included Alan Taylor for history, Dan Fagan for nonfiction, Megan Marshall for biography, Annie Baker for playwriting (yeah!) and Vijay Seshadri for poetry. But everyone's really talking about the Washington Post and the Guardian's joint Pulitzer for covering Edward Snowden, and the Boston Globe's marathon bombing coverage. Read more over at Longreads.

28 March 2014

The Tournament of Books meets the NBA

THE GOOD LORD BIRD triumphed over LIFE AFTER LIFE this morning in the 2014 Tournament of Books.

I had grand plans to read as many of these books as I could, plans which lasted through about 3 books (I'm still in the middle of A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING -- it's great, by the way) due to other events making it impossible to do more. But despite not having read THE GOOD LORD BIRD, I feel confident about the judges' decision. I just couldn't shake the ridiculous conclusion of LIFE AFTER LIFE though some of the writing is really spectacular and all of it is very good. (I recommend Atkinson's BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE MUSEUM instead.) 

27 March 2014

"I sold my first novel, SLEEPWALKING, back when I was a senior in college, for five thousand dollars. I thought that money would last a very long time, which naturally it didn’t. The book got very good reviews but didn’t sell well, and as a result the paperback was published to look like a kind of cheesy novel meant for teenagers. So, happily, the novel is now being reissued for the first time since then, in a new edition. I’m quite proud of it; it’s about a group of college girls who are knows as 'the death girls' on the Swarthmore campus, because they are really into the work and lives of certain women writers (Plath, Sexton, and a third writer I invented) who committed suicide. It’s about the romanticization of despair, and I guess it’s about growing up." -- Meg Wolitzer with happy news (The Daily Beast)

26 March 2014

It's Expensive To Live In Manhattan, Even If You Are A Bookstore

Seriously, they distracted Robert Caro from the next LBJ book so he could tell us that not having bookstores around is bad? That dude will use anything to procrastinate! But congratulations to Williamsburg for getting a McNally Jackson soon. I suggest the name McNalliam Jacksonburg. 

25 March 2014

We are all Sherlocks, we are all Watsons

A federal judge has ruled that Sherlock Holmes and his universe are now in the public domain, clearing the way for the adaptations we hope, but more likely the ones we deserve. (NPR)

The movie adaptation of Veronica Roth's DIVERGENT topped the box office this past weekend. The Hollywood Reporter referred to its breaking the "YA curse," but what I think that means is that nobody wanted to see "The Mortal Instruments" or "Vampire Academy" but they wanted to see this movie. (We opted for "Grand Budapest Hotel" instead, an homage to the work of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig. It was just OK.) 

I didn't see DIVERGENT, one in several ways I failed the quiz, "Can You Tell These YA Stories Apart?" I staunchly maintain that Harry Potter does too get drawn into a love triangle. (Vulture)

13 March 2014

It's Fantod's Day

To be the Merriam-Webster word of the day. I thought it was a David Foster Wallace invention, but I was wrong: 

"You have got strong symptoms of the fantods; your skin is so tight you can't shut your eyes without opening your mouth." Thus, American author Charles Frederick Briggs provides us with the oldest recorded use of "fantods" in 1839... The exact origin of "fantod" remains a mystery, but it may have arisen from English dialectal "fantigue"—a word (once used by Dickens) that refers to a state of great tension or excitement and may be a blend of "fantastic" and "fatigue."

06 March 2014

Believer Fiction Award nominees include Rebecca Lee, Fiona Maazel

The winner of my "Best Book Award To Routinely Feature Great Reads I Have Never Heard Of Before" is the annual Believer Book Award, and this year's slate is no exception. With just one book I've read (Fiona Maazel's WOKE UP LONELY, great) and two I've never even heard of, I anticipate some high-quality new discoveries.

11 February 2014

Retcon Camels To Rule Them All

New scientific data suggests the Old Testament was written hundreds of years after its events, based on the appearance in it of camels. Camels were domesticated in the 10th century B.C., hundreds of years after the Patriarchs. 

10 February 2014

And the Oscar for book trailer soundtracks goes to...

I was interested in this project anyway based on its appearances on Jezebel and Deadspin, but this tune is downright jaunty:
My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha from Spinks on Vimeo.

07 February 2014

Bell's South Africa ad celebrates adult literacy

You'll cheer for the man learning to read and write in English, and then drink with him. Maybe? Well, I thought it was touching.
One of my favorite books of 2006, Blair Tindall's memoir MOZART IN THE JUNGLE, is one of Amazon's newest show pilots starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Lola (sister of Jemima) Kirke. And Malcolm Macdowell! What could go wrong?

03 February 2014

Check under the bed, Brooklyn

70,144 books went AWOL from the Brooklyn Public Library last year. We heard they just moved home for a few months and they'll be back soon, though!

28 January 2014

Filmbook-to-be: Highbrow word salad

Your chosen terms are New York Review of Books, Berlin and Martin Scorsese...