29 August 2013

Richard M. Humperdinck

Nathaniel Rich has an essay today in The Daily Beast on THE PRINCESS BRIDE and 1973. This is one of the few cases where I like the movie better (sorry!) but worth a read anyway. 

26 August 2013

True reading confession

This new dishy biography of Salinger, even if it turns out to be half-true or less, sounds like better reading than his books.

22 August 2013

No please, don't expand that universe

James Cameron's "Avatar" is going to become a book series now because when you have one crummy but lucrative idea, it's important to squish it into as many media as possible.

20 August 2013

The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden

Last weekend I hung out with Max, the Lorax and Things 1-2 at the Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden.

The garden is part of Springfield's museum campus, east of the Connecticut river and up the hill from City Hall. Seuss -- er, Theodor Seuss Geisel -- grew up only a few minutes away, though he spent most of his life in La Jolla, California. In fact, the titular street of AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET is pretty near as well. 

We stumbled upon it mostly by accident -- I say mostly because I had spotted it on a map and suspected it was something we'd want to stop and see. We were actually hoping to eat at the Blake House Cafe up the hill at the Springfield Museum, only to be turned away because "we close at 3" and it was 2:55. (Which is not 3:00... but anyway.) Later I learned the sculptures were created by Geisel's stepdaughter.

If you are looking to do a literary trip in western Massachusetts, a suggested pairing would be Edith Wharton's country house The Mount (about an hour away in Lenox). We did not see, nor did we attempt to find the headquarters of Merriam-Webster, which at least picks up its mail in Springfield. But maybe next year.

19 August 2013

Library "Sabotage"

The annual talent show at the Francis W. Parker School here in Chicago remade the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" video as the adventures of renegade librarians. Awesome job.

M&D 2013 Sabotage from Mike and Duane Show on Vimeo.

16 August 2013

Reading on the Road: Your homework edition

I'm off to Massachusetts with THE JOURNALS OF JOHN CHEEVER and my hardcover copy of HOTHOUSE (one of 1,000 copies sold this week [sad trombone]) and I'm leaving you lots of things to read and do:

  • Listen to this interview with Ecco editorial director Lee Boudreaux. Try not to swoon when she says that working in publishing is only for those who would spend a whole Saturday reading anyway. 

  • Start spending the millions pennies you will get from the e-book price fixing settlement. I haven't been blogging about this story as much because frankly, it's boring and I'm not even certain the right parties are being targeted in collusion (though clearly, I'm not a lawyer). 
  • Listen to James Wood and Adam Gopnik speculate for the New Yorker on what their kids' biographies about them as writers will have to say... 
  • ...and if you didn't already, go back and read Wood's essay (subscription required) on literary memoirs of bad dads. 
  • Let your heart fill with rage as a British publisher suggests writers should "stop scribbling" for 12 months because there are too many books and not enough people to read them (or something, I couldn't understand because the red mists went over my eyes). Apparently, according to the publishing company he runs, it's okay to keep publishing if you're Yoko Ono though. Maybe he should listen to that Boudreaux interview and then leave his job. 

15 August 2013

Filmbook-to-be: A David Sedaris biopic? Believe it, lady

 Jonathan Groff (whom you may know from "Glee" but he'll always be Original Melchior in "Spring Awakening" to me, chumps) stars as a young Sedaris working on a farm in the Pacific Northwest in this adaptation from the essay collection NAKED. It is the first authorized screen adaptation of a Sedaris piece. (But my mom would like to option the episode of "Fresh Air" where he talks about picking up trash to relieve stress while trying to learn another language. We'll open a Kickstarter.)

Via Peter W. Knox, thanks so much for catching this!

14 August 2013

Self-published author Sergio de la Pava ran away with a major prize from PEN America for his novel A NAKED SINGULARITY (now published by University of Chicago press). He joins fellow 2013 honorees Katharine Boo and Larry Kramer, among others.

13 August 2013

New site The Toast asked a bunch of people: What are your weird reading habits? It took me a few minutes of thinking to really locate mine, since obviously to me they're not weird, but here goes:

  • Sometimes if I go to the movies by myself, I'll read a book in my seat before the previews start, even though the light isn't good. This is because I believe First Look rots your brain cells. 
  • I like leaving books in airplane seat pockets, despite admonitions and possible security concerns. I like to think they go onto some "leave one take one" airline shelf and end up traveling all over the world with flight attendants. This is a romantic picture for sure. 
  • I always read acknowledgments, maybe too closely. I noticed recently that a famous author did not thank her husband in the acknowledgments of her most recent book, and then recently had a byline where she mentioned her kids and not her husband. I'm guessing she's abiding by the 21st century "Just delete all the mentions, then it didn't exist" policy of past-relationshipping. 
  • At the end of a book I go back and read the epigraph to "figure it out." (Usually not successfully.) 

12 August 2013

Area Man Takes Friday Night Event Spot At Area Bookstore

This is a picture of some guy about to sign books at the Strand on Friday night. Some guy wrote a memoir called A CALIFORNIA CHILDHOOD about growing up on the mean streets of Palo Alto (not East Palo Alto, f.y.i.) which according to its Amazon description "plays with the concept of memoir through personal snapshots, sketches, paintings, poems, and stories."

I can't fault the Strand for -- hold on a second, yes I totally can. Even in this era of straitened bookstore finances, I can fault the Strand for participating in this circus. Get out of my face with your pretensions of art. Were there no other authors in the world that could have been given this chance? Just so tired of some guy being treated like the only author in the world.

Photo: Just Jared

"Peter Glassman, who owns Books of Wonder, said he turned to a fund-raising campaign only as a last resort."

The trouble with indie bookstores raising money through Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms is that you can really only do it once. What I'd like to see, and Daniel Goldin of Boswell Book Company alludes to it, is more encouragement and reminders to patronize your local indie every day, not just for a special campaign. How about a subscription service where for a flat fee, I get the bookstore's pick every month, and it's waiting for me at the store as a surprise? (So, like the Emily Books model, but for brick-and-mortar. Or the way comics stores handle their subscriptions.) 

06 August 2013

Same old city with a different name

Florida designer Edgard Barbosa created this infographic of major cities that have served as settings for books since 1800. I sense a curious opening for the Great Madrid Novel!