Later John le Carré novels — like The Constant Gardener, or A Most Wanted Man — have made for some terrific Hollywood films, but the author's best work (which also happens to be his earlier work) is better enjoyed in book form. For the new recruits among you (or for those of you want a do-over after A Most Wanted Man), here are six classic le Carré titles to get you started.
George R.R. Martin dropped some big news on Vulture when we ran into him at the Bates Motel party at Comic-Con last night: He will essentially be sitting out the upcoming season of Game of Thrones to finish up The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in his best-selling “A Song of Ice and Fire” saga. So far through the show’s four seasons, Martin has contributed one script per season, but No. 5 won’t be happening this time around; he also told us he’ll be less involved in the production this season in general. Priorities! Here’s our three-minute chat with GRRM about his decision and a few other Thrones-related topics. [Warning: This interview contains spoilers for the book series and the show, as well as potential clues about upcoming plotlines.]
This post was originally published in 2012. We are rerunning it now for obvious reasons.
Remember grade school, when you wrote papers and used big words because you thought that meant you were smart? And now when you look back on those papers, you cringe a little? Well, not E.L. James! The Fifty Shades of Grey author loves her a fancy synonym. And since you probably missed most of her obvious Thesaurus.com moments by skipping to the sex parts, Vulture compiled a list of them for you. Note: In some cases, James's word choices may have to do with the fact that she's British. But her protagonist, Anastasia — and Ana's insufferable subconscious and inner goddess — are not. So we're calling the author out for them anyway, and even offering up some simple edits, all of which show that, sometimes, less is more. Unless you're Christian Grey.
The best horror writer of the 20th century you've probably never heard of was a British woman who looked like a benign but mildly dotty Hogwarts teacher. But do not miss the occult mischief behind those 1980s mom-glasses; in a fairly standard Angela Carter story, Harry Potter would be mauled to death by a werewolf before a pan-species initiation of Hermione’s pubescent sexual power. She made things weird like that, which is why she was great. Carter, however, was not a horror writer in the same sense as Anne Rice or Stephen King; the bulk of her work is classified as magical realism (a made-up, jerk-off genre that permits English departments to acknowledge the existence of the human imagination), but her most celebrated book is a high gothic collection of short stories called The Bloody Chamber that you should read immediately if the genre holds any appeal for you. Or even if it doesn’t — though Carter never broke into the mainstream, an incomplete list of her devotees includes Salman Rushdie, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Lethem, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Jeannette Winterson, Tea Obreht, Rick Moody, and Ian McEwan. Personally, to say I was influenced by this book would be an incalculable understatement; it could more accurately be stated that my novel Hemlock Grove was one extended piece of Angela Carter fan-fiction.
For the first time since it was established in 1969, the Man Booker Prize is open to authors from outside the British Commonwealth. And it shows, with only one author on the list of 13 coming from a Commonwealth nation. (That would be Australia's Richard Flanagan.) Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in April, was nowhere to be found.
Joshua Ferris, U.S.
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
Siri Hustvedt, U.S.
The Blazing World
Richard Powers, U.S.
Karen Joy Fowler, U.S.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Richard Flanagan, Australia
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Howard Jacobson, Great Britain
Neel Mukherjee, Great Britain
The Lives of Others
Paul Kingsnorth, Great Britain
David Mitchell, Great Britain
The Bone Clocks
David Nicholls, Great Britain
Ali Smith, Great Britain
How to Be Both
Joseph O'Neill, Ireland (but lives in the U.S.)
Niall Williams, Ireland
History of the Rain
Bronson Pinchot became a household name through Balki Bartokomous, the joyful character he portrayed on the 1986-1993 sitcom Perfect Strangers, and he has had memorable roles in such movies as Risky Business, Beverly Hills Cop, and True Romance. He currently hosts and stars in the DIY Network’s The Bronson Pinchot Project, a reality series in which he renovates properties in Harford, Pennsylvania, but a lesser-known Pinchot factoid is that he’s also a prolific narrator and voice actor for audiobooks, frequently sought out for his ability to get into the guts and psyche of what he’s reading — no matter what he’s reading. Over the past five years, Pinchot has provided the voice for more than 100 titles, demonstrating a mastery of everything from the bright pop fizziness of Chip Kidd to the southern gothic darkness of Flannery O'Connor; for every Panzer Commander: The Memoirs of Captain Hans Van Luck, there’s some cheeky antidote like The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers. In addition to the work itself, Pinchot’s reward for what I think of as a kind of roving curiosity has included awards from AudioFile magazine and Audible.com.
Looks like Game of Thrones book purists may soon have another group of angry fans to commiserate with: At a recent Television Critics association panel, The Strain trilogy co-writer and show co-creator Guillermo del Toro and showrunner Carlton Cuse explained that the series will detour widely from the narrative laid out in the books, both changing the order of events and omitting some others. “[W]e will get there in a much more baroque way [than the books do],” said del Toro, with Cuse adding: “If you read the books and think that's the way its going to happen on the show, then you're wrong." Start sharpening your pitchforks, Strain trilogy fans.
Lena Dunham has announced the stops for her forthcoming Not That Kind of Girl book tour, and they're about as star-studded as one might expect from Hollywood's resident BFF. You can see the full list here, which includes comedienne Amy Schumer, Portlandia's Carrie Brownstein, Girls showrunner Jenni Konner, writers Curtis Sittenfeld and Mary Karr, and, for her final blowout in Brooklyn on October 21, Zadie Smith, Bleachers, and Jemima Kirke. So we're assuming T-Swift is just going to do a surprise cameo-type deal?
Earlier this week, Rick James posthumously published his memoir Glow, co-written with David Ritz. The book jumps around a lot, which James himself chalks up to his years of drug abuse, but an engrossing portrait of his life and career emerges in scattershot about his time coming up in a world in which black musicians could finally break through on the pop charts. Vulture flipped through chapters about his sex addiction, his chemical dependencies, and brushes with the law to collect 12 great info-nuggets about the man who brought the world “Superfreak.”
David Duchnovy mentioned earlier this month that he'd written a book. "It's a fable, like Animal Farm or Charlotte's Web; an allegorical story using animals for people," he told Rolling Stone. Now there's a full description of Holy Cow: A Modern-Day Dairy Tale, and if you thought it wouldn't be a book about a cow who united Israel and Paletsine, well, think again! From the official description:
You know all the pressure you feel when you have to text a person back? Like, you know they are just looking at their phone, waiting for your text? Now imagine that text had to be 300,000 words long, and that person you're texting was actually a million people. That is George R.R. Martin's life, with people constantly complaining about how long he's taking to finish the A Song of Ice and Fire series. So when the Swiss newspaper Tagesanzeiger asked him about exactly that, he said that he found the question "pretty offensive." Adding, "fuck you," and the gesture below.
With the much-hyped big screen adaptation of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl hitting screens in October, and an adaptation of her second novel Dark Places rolling out in September, it only makes sense that her last remaining book property would also get plucked for adaptation. Now, Entertainment One, along with showrunner Marti Noxon (Buffy), is working on a TV drama series based on her first novel, Sharp Objects, about a troubled reporter tasked with covering the murder of two young girls in her hometown. We're not saying Ben Affleck is definitely a suspect or anything, but that guy looks pretty suspicious.
Harry Potter fans were delighted to discover a new entry in the canon today: J.K. Rowling's new Rita Skeeter column on Pottermore gives an update on (some of) our favorite wizards and witches, though it's largely in keeping with the epilogue. (Harry's an auror and married to Ginny; Ron and Hermione are married, etc.) However, after reading and rereading this short story, perhaps there's more to it than just a fun, buzzy update. Maybe it's an elaborate clue that there's more to come in the Potterverse. Let's put on our tinfoil conspiracy-theory hats and take a look.
At its base, the celebrity memoir is a form of service journalism: Do we, the insatiable public, get to know a celebrity’s inner life? Ja Rule’s memoir Unruly, which came out earlier this week, is significantly better than others Vulture has read this year because it does just that. Interspersed with journal entries from his recent stint in prison, Ja Rule, born as Jeffrey Atkins, talks openly about his violent beef with 50 Cent, his absent father, and his days hustling as a drug dealer. He also mentions the following songs, which have worked as mileposts in his life.
The actress Lee Grant was nominated for four Academy Awards during her illustrious movie career. She came away empty-handed her first time, for her role in 1951’s Detective Story, and shortly thereafter was blacklisted for 12 years for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee. She had better luck with her third nomination, for her torrid performance opposite Warren Beatty in 1975’s Shampoo. Grant candidly reflects on her experiences filming the latter movie in this exclusive excerpt from her memoir, I Said Yes to Everything, out today.
J.K. Rowling has written a new where-are-they-now update about the beloved members of Dumbledore's Army, including Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, and various members of the Weasley clan. Over at Pottermore, where the saga of the Wizarding World continues, the Quidditch World Cup is underway, and Rowling's update comes as gossip columnist Rita Skeeter's latest screed in the Daily Prophet:
Let the Great World Spin author Colum McCann was attacked at a New Haven, Connecticut hotel this weekend and hospitalized with serious facial injuries while in town to speak at an event promoting empathy through storytelling. According to eyewitness reports, McCann was attempting to help a woman in the midst of a domestic dispute, and police believe that her companion may have attacked him. "He was trying to be a Good Samaritan," Assistant Police Chief Archie Generoso told the New Haven Independent. McCann has since been released from hospital, while police are reportedly close to nabbing his assailant. Get well soon, Colum.
“We are all here tonight because this is an issue that involves all of us, and it involves America, and it involves democracy,” said Tina Bennett, the important literary agent whose employer, William Morris Endeavor, had rather hastily arranged last night’s sold-out (albeit free) panel at the New York Public Library, “Amazon: Business As Usual?”
It was “a loya jirga for book people,” Bennett said. On the agenda was What Is to Be Done — if anything — in the matter of Amazon versus Hachette.