When an author creates a character, he or she bestows upon this fictional person specific attributes — age, looks, certain proclivities — that may or may not be made explicit on the page. But whether the character is explained fully or not, there’s no telling what will happen when the culture at large gets a hold of him. Especially if the notoriously age-garbling film industry gets involved. After the jump, prepare to be shocked at famous literary characters that are significantly younger than you (probably) think they are. … Read More
Next season, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet will be presenting an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s beloved novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. While there’s no denying the power of the book, it does seem somewhat strange fodder for a ballet — given that it’s a dystopic indictment of fundamentalism and gender norms and all. However, as it turns out, a number of surprising novels have been adapted for the stage as ballets or operas — check out a selection of these after the jump, and feel free to add to the list in the comments. … Read More
This week saw the release of Brian Kimberling’s excellent debut novel, Snapper, a delightful, wry story of a young ornithologist romping around the Indiana backcountry in a glitter-encrusted truck. There’s no doubting Kimberling’s own obsession with birding after reading the book. But Kimberling is only the latest in a long history of authors with burning, decidedly offbeat obsessions — and the author himself has put together a list of his favorites. Click through to learn some things about D.H. Lawrence’s proclivities you weren’t sure you wanted to… Read More
There must be something in the water this spring — that’s the water the publishing industry all drinks, that is. This month, Algonquin is publishing Jill McCorkle’s novel Life After Life, and in April, Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown will come out with Kate Atkinson’s, er, Life After Life. Oops! Both novels, as it happens, are quite good (and are sharing top billing as the American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next Pick in April), and we’re looking forward to “accidentally” having to buy them both. Intrigued by this phenomenon, we dug around for other examples of two great books sporting the same title — though none of our other pairs were born so close to one another. Check them out after the jump, and let us know if we missed any of your favorite titular doppelgangers in the comments. … Read More
Here’s a truth universally acknowledged: Television and the Victorian novel are two wholly different media. Make as many comparisons as you will, but the 19th-century English novel will never experience any kind of seamless transition into the world of serial television. The incentives of the two forms are so incongruous, not to mention the contrast in creative and productive conditions that goes into generating them. When Laura Miller emphatically told us that “The Wire is NOT like Dickens,” she made many good points — an obvious one being that if one wished to reference a canonical novelist in lofty conversation about The Wire, Dickens would be a safe bet. But as Miller went on to state: Dickens wrote prose narrative on paper, and The Wire is a visual drama. It’s a good place to start as any if we’re looking to tease out the distinctions between the two.
Still, it won’t stop television (or film, for that matter) from continuing to draw on written stories. Alfred Hitchcock, that undisputed master of cinema, took from novelists such as Patrick Hamilton, Patricia Highsmith, and Dorothy Sayers for his film and television work alike. Alfred Hitchcock Presents, however, focused on a different story per episode, while the idea behind The Wire-versus-Dickens comparison is that such serial storytelling has the power to hook the viewer time and time again. … Read More
This week, the literary world was abuzz with the news of the reconciliation of Salman Rushdie and John le Carré after fifteen years of enmity, though we have to admit, we’re a little disappointed. You just don’t get that many good literary feuds these days, what with all the excessive apologizing and proper behavior (or maybe it’s just that there’s not enough drinking), and Rushdie is one of the last living writers ready for a dust-up, even if it’s just with Facebook. Still, we know our mothers would tell us that it’s better to be friends than enemies, so after the jump, we present a short list of famous literary feuds that went sweet and ended in truces. Click through to get the warm and fuzzies, and let us know who we missed in the comments. … Read More
This week, we were totally psyched to hear that Colin Firth and Michael Fassbender will be playing Thomas Wolfe and his legendary editor Max Perkins in a film adaption of A. Scott Berg’s National Book Award–winning account of their relationship, Max Perkins: Editor of Genius. And not just for all the Firth/Fassbender it means we’ll be getting. Inspired by this national nod towards an important literary relationship, we’ve rounded up a few other famous author/editor relationships to inspire both the critics and the scribblers among you. Read about them after the jump, and if we’ve missed your favorite, tell us the story in the comments. … Read More
In case you haven’t heard, a massive storm is slated to sock the Northeast over the next two days as Hurricane Sandy, combined with a wintery cold weather system (that’s why it’s earned the seasonally-appropriate nickname “Frankenstorm”) threatens to slam into us. If you live anywhere on the East Coast or thereabouts, we imagine you’ll be wanting to stay inside for the foreseeable future, so we’ve put together an essential stormy weather reading list to get you in the hurricane mood and keep you busy while the weather rages. The lights might go out, but books don’t run out of batteries. Just don’t forget the… Read More
We know it’s not October yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t indulge in a few extra scary stories as the nights get longer and the leaves start to change. This week saw the release of The Big Book of Ghost Stories, an anthology of spooky tales starring ghouls of all descriptions, edited by Otto Penzler. Though we haven’t worked our way through it yet, we were inspired to think about the fictional ghosts who have creeped us out the most thoroughly over the years — from those inhabiting classic horror stories to those sneaking into more literary fiction. Click through to read about our picks for the creepiest ghosts in literature — and since everyone has their own specific demons to face, let us know which you’d have chosen in the comments. … Read More
In 1851, Charles Dickens moved into Tavistock House, the London home where he was to write Bleak House and A Tale of Two Cities, among other works. Wanting for some unknown reason to fill a space in his study with a selection of false books — complete with witty names he thought up himself — he wrote to a bookbinder with a list of “imitation book-backs” to be created specially for his bookshelf.
As part of the New York Public Library’s newly-opened exhibition Charles Dickens: The Key to Character, curators have recreated a few books from Dickens’ clever set (we’ve been informed that curator William Moeck’s favorite title is Kant’s Ancient Humbugs while Curatorial Associate Kailen Rogers is partial to Five Minutes in China and Growler’s Gruffiology, with Appendix) for your perusal. Click through to see the whole list and a couple photos from the exhibition, and then if you’re in the area, be sure to check it out in person. … Read More