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  • Posted 9/29/16 at 12:14 AM
  • On Key

DJ Khaled Fails Upward As Locksmith With New Book Unavoidably Called The Keys

Already a philosopher and a poet, DJ Khaled is giving long-form a try. Khaled announced his first book, titled The Keys (hard to believe he hasn't already used that one), on Wednesday. The Keys looks to be a personal-advice treatise of sorts, featuring "mogul talk" with successful people who can probably afford many things with keys, including Jay Z, Rick Ross, Puff Daddy, L.A. Reid, Lyor Cohen, and Arianna Huffington. Khaled put forth his mission statement on Instagram, explaining: "THEY🚷tried to hide the keys from me when I was coming up. Now I’ve mastered the keys and I want to let everybody know that these are keys from my perspective. This book will help you follow your vision as long as you have passion, dedication, blood, sweat and tears, and especially ignore when THEY try to bring you down." Of course, since this is DJ Khaled we're talking about, his advice book is also bound to be highly motivational — Khaled continued: "We the best !!!" And so, with Khaled's latest key -hain adornment, a new kingdom is come.

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  • Posted 9/28/16 at 11:51 AM
  • Books

Dan Brown Is Writing Another Robert Langdon Book; Tom Hanks to Remain Working Forever

With the upcoming Inferno nearly exhausting Hollywood's precious reserves of Robert Langdon novels, Dan Brown has stepped in to replenish this rare natural resource. Publisher's Weekly reports that Brown is working on a fifth book about the adventures of the Harvard symbologist, called Origin, to be released next year. According to Doubleday, the book will follow Langdon as he explores "the dangerous intersection of humankind’s two most enduring questions, and the earth-shaking discovery that will answer them." Humankind's third-most-enduring question, of course, was already answered by Ashton Kutcher.

Some Delightful Literary Weirdo Just Bought Truman Capote’s Ashes for $45,000

In the event you happen to be a massive Truman Capote enthusiast with an equally massive disposable bank account, allow us to present you with the strange deal of a lifetime. The famed author's cremains which are stored in a Japanese wooden box and dated from August 28, 1984 have been put on sale at the Los Angeles–based auction house Julien's Auctions. The cremains are expected to fetch between $4,000 and $6,000, but if you're looking for something a little more practical, other Capote items such as photographs, pill bottles, and a polo shirt are also being auctioned off. No signed In Cold Blood limited editions, unfortunately.

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Pottermore Is Now Giving You Your Patronus, Instead of Making You Do the Hard Work of Finding It Yourself

In the Harry Potter books, learning your patronus — a magical charm in the form of a spirit animal that wards off dementors — requires lots of hard work, concentration, and positive thinking. On Pottermore, though, it's as simple as taking a quiz: On Thursday, the site launched a new feature where users can discover their patronus by answering a few questions. We don't think this is quite what Arthur C. Clarke meant when he said that any sufficiently advanced technology was indistinguishable from magic, but it'll do. If you're curious, J.K. Rowling's patronus is a heron.

  • Posted 9/19/16 at 2:43 PM

If This Fetus Could Talk: With Nutshell, Ian McEwan Tries (and Fails) to Fight His Own Conventionality

The narrator of Ian McEwan’s novel Nutshell is a male fetus in its third trimester, and his mother, Trudy, is sleeping with his uncle Claude and they are planning to kill his father. So the scenario resembles Hamlet, until halfway through, after the murder is committed and Trudy feels remorse, when she starts quoting Macbeth. The fetus has learned to tell his story by listening through the womb to the radio and to podcasts his mother keeps on all day. That’s why he sounds like a middle-class North London baby boomer: too much BBC Radio Four, especially Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time. It’s a shame McEwan decided to leave out whatever the plotline of The Archers was when he was writing Nutshell. Chances are it was more intriguing than what he came up with himself.

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  • Posted 9/17/16 at 2:25 PM
  • Obits

W.P. Kinsella, Canadian Writer of Shoeless Joe, Dead at 81

W.P. Kinsella, the Canadian writer best known for his sports fantasy novel Shoeless Joe, has died at the age of 81. In a statement, his literary agent, Carolyn Swayze, confirmed his passing and said Kinsella sought a doctor’s help to end his life in British Columbia. “He was a unique, creative, and outrageously opinionated man,” she said, choosing not to disclose what illness he was suffering from. Throughout his career, Kinsella wrote dozens of short stories and novels many of them revolving around baseball but he gained international prominence when Shoeless Joe was adapted into the film Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones. He is survived by two daughters, three stepchildren, and four grandchildren.

The Moonlight Team Is Adapting Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad Into a Limited Series

We already know Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad is the fall’s most buzzworthy book, but now the novel is getting an even-buzzier small-screen treatment. Moonlight writer and director Barry Jenkins, along with producers Plan B and Adele Romanski who are absolutely dominating the festival circuit right now with their intimate drama are set to adapt Underground Railroad for a limited series with “a new take.” The historical, mythical novel chronicles the journey of a female slave, Cora, who attempts to escape her cruel plantation in Georgia for a better life. No network or cast is yet to be attached to the project, though Deadline reports it’s “about to hit” the television marketplace. We can’t wait.

Talking Snowden With Its Director: An Excerpt From The Oliver Stone Experience

The following is an excerpt from my new book The Oliver Stone Experience, about the life and work of Oliver Stone, whose long career includes Salvador, Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, JFK, The Doors, Nixon, U-Turn, Any Given Sunday, World Trade Center, W., and the documentary series Untold History. I first interviewed Oliver — as I’ll call him from now on, as we've become friendly — in 2010. He was doing publicity for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. He’d seen a series of videos that I had co-written and edited with one of my filmmaking partners, Kevin B. Lee, about his historical movies; he mostly liked it, although he disagreed with many of our conclusions. Our sparring over that series led me to invite him to screen his films Nixon and Alexander at the Museum of the Moving Image in 2011 and discuss them afterward.

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Here’s the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction Long List

Now that you've got your 2016 Man Booker Prize short list sorted, here's another batch of acclaimed books to consider. The National Book Award (the Man Booker of the U.S.) has announced its long list for fiction, adding ten more names to check off your reading list. There's no crossover between the two lists, unlike last year, but yet another novel rooted in black American history has been recognized: Colson Whitehead is a first-time nominee for The Underground Railroad, his new Oprah-approved reimagining of the American fugitive-slave network. (You can read Vulture's extensive conversation with Whitehead, and find out how he transitioned from writing about sci-fi to slavery.) The short list will be released on October 13 with the winners in all categories announced on November 16. See the full list below and alert your book club!

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I Listen to Children’s Audiobooks During My Commute

One of the worst parts of being a member of the working class is the commute. Either you’re stuck in calamitous traffic, or you’re shoulder-to-shoulder on the subway breathing recycled cough-air, or you’re bleeding 10 percent of a month’s rent on Uber. And you have to do it twice a day!

The way home is always worse. Eight or ten hours after leaving the house, you make your way back home with a stiff lumbar region and bloodshot eyes. You’re lucky if you have any energy left to defrost a burrito for dinner. Podcasts and carefully curated playlists can help smooth the transition from home to work and back, but there’s a better medicine out there: children’s audiobooks. There’s a reason your parents didn’t read you gripping crime novellas at bedtime. Tomes for tots are calibrated to be soothing and embracing. They’re the fetal position, but for your ears.

Try one of these on your next commute and you’ll see what I mean. Children’s audiobooks are the best palliative for adulthood you never knew you needed.

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Matthew Weiner’s Debut Novel Is Coming Soon, and Unlike Mad Men Promos, We Actually Have Information About It

No Dave Algonquin here. Little, Brown, and Company has announced that they have acquired Matthew Weiner's debut novel, Heather, the Totality, which is set for publication for the fall of 2017. The Mad Men creator's literary outing is described as a "dark fable set in contemporary Manhattan" that follows "three people from two worlds who are on a collision course in pursuit of a beautiful child." In an interview with the New York Times, Weiner said he got the idea after overhearing an unsettling conversation between a teenage girl and her companion on the Upper East Side. "You don’t know if an idea is going to be a TV show or a movie or a play or prose or a poem or a stupid note you write in your notebook and forget about," he explained. "It was a little story where I was like, I wonder what that is, maybe I’ll use it some time." So, no, this won't also be known as Peggy Olson's Granddaughter: The Golden Years.

  • Posted 9/13/16 at 3:34 PM

How Pyrotechnic Comic Novelist Colson Whitehead Found His Way to the Grim, Measured Underground Railroad

About halfway through Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, Cora, the teenage fugitive slave who has escaped a plantation in Georgia and traveled to North Carolina by an actual subterranean rail line, is being told by Martin Wells, a white man hiding her in a cramped secret nook above his attic, about the state’s new race laws, which amount to a genocidal policy of ethnic cleansing: “In North Carolina the negro race did not exist except at the ends of ropes.” We have already seen a road with black corpses hanging from trees as far as the eye can see, the so-called Freedom Trail. There is also an inquisition afoot against whites harboring blacks or possessing abolitionist literature, with neighbors informing on each other for voicing “forbidden sympathies.” Martin is telling Cora “the story of a man in town who had been trying to rid himself of his wife for many years, to no avail. The details of her crime did not hold up under scrutiny, but she paid the ultimate price. The gentleman remarried three months later.”

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Here’s the 2016 Man Booker Prize Short List

Didn't get around to tackling your whole summer reading list, as curated by the 2016 Man Booker Prize long list and not Oprah? How about something slightly less ambitious: Today, the Man Booker Prize has announced its short list for the prestigious literary award, narrowing it down to just six books to speed-read before the winner is announced on October 25. The big news, as noted by The Guardian, is that the judges nominated books that “take risks with language and form” over those by better-known names like Elizabeth Strout and J.M. Coetzee. Though this year's short list is not nearly as internationally diverse as last year's — nominees hail only from the U.S., U.K., and Canada — there's a significant chance a person of color could follow in the footsteps of last year's winner, Marlon James, and take home the prize. Notably, American author Paul Beatty's racial satire The Sellout has made the list. See the rest of the short list below and start queuing up your Kindle!

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  • Posted 9/12/16 at 1:12 PM

Alan Moore on Why Superhero Fans Need to Grow Up, Brexit, and His Massive New Novel

With his legendary run of comic-book writing in the 1980s, writer Alan Moore changed the way we think about superheroes. In emotionally and intellectually complex masterpieces of genre deconstruction like his work on Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke, and Swamp Thing, the lifelong resident of Northampton, England, showed how all of these crime-fighters running around in capes and masks could transcend simple entertainment and instead function as some of our most culturally potent myths. Now 62 years old, Moore is on the very short list of people responsible for why mainstream audiences — and corporations — treat superheroes as very serious stuff. 

Despite his status as a comic-book genius, Moore has disavowed some of the genre work — along with its Hollywood adaptations — that made him famous because of what he sees as the shady business practices and shallow creativity of corporate comic-book publishers and the studios behind the characters’ onscreen incarnations. And so he’s spent the last two decades mostly off in his own wild margins, exploring fantastical Victorian-influenced erotica (Lost Girls), occult-informed fictionalizations of the Jack the Ripper story (the truly mind-blowing From Hell), and, among a great many other things, smoking a lot of hash.

Having forever altered the realm of superheroes, Moore is now attempting to do the same with the novel. His new book, Jerusalem, written over ten years, is a nearly 1,300-page attempt to encompass theories of space-time, hallucinogenic children’s adventure, thinly fictionalized personal biography, the surprisingly epic history of the downtrodden Northampton neighborhood in which he grew up, and, well, just about everything else. Which is only a bit more than he touches on in this interview, conducted over the phone from his home in Northampton. 

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Behold, American Brontë-Heads: You Can Now See the Jane Eyre Manuscript in the Flesh

[Yelling] Where all my Brontë-heads at? I’ve got the news you’ve been waiting your whole life for: New York City’s esteemed Morgan Library & Museum — a museum exclusively for nerds like you and me — will display the original manuscript from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre on its first-ever trip to the States. Are you ready for this??? The manuscript is open to a page in the wildly popular Victorian novel where Jane has rebuffed Mr. Rochester: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.”

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  • Posted 9/8/16 at 12:28 PM
  • Books

Hillary Clinton Finds Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan Novels ‘Hypnotic,’ So of Course We Have a Conspiracy Theory

Finally, a Hillary Clinton conspiracy that doesn’t involve her being a Beltway Aileen Wuornos or suffering from the strain of flu from Stephen King’s The Stand. In a seemingly innocuous interview with Max Linsky on her campaign podcast With Her, the Democratic presidential nominee discussed how she decompresses during the race, which involves reading “novels, spy thrillers, mysteries, and biographies.” Says Clinton, “You know what I have started reading and it’s just hypnotic is the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante. I had to stop myself so I read the first one. I could not stop reading it or thinking about it.” Hypnotic? Couldn’t stop thinking about it? Reading? Couple that with the Cut's (extremely fake) theory that the Italian author wrote Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine’s book Stronger Together, and you've got yourself a bona fide conspiracy theory on your hands. Is Elena Ferrante secretly manipulating Hillary Clinton’s every move through some kind of, uh, book mind control? Or is Hillary Clinton in actuality Elena Ferrante? And if she is, how did she find the time? Really, the woman does so much.

We’re Getting a Meryl Streep TV Show, Thanks to J.J. Abrams and One of This Fall’s Buzziest Novels

Enough with those boring Oscar ceremonies, Meryl Streep is ready to crash the Emmys. She and J.J. Abrams have closed a deal to produce a limited series based this fall's breakout novel, Nathan Hill's The Nix, for Warner Bros. Television. The story centers on a radical mother (Streep, presumably, as she's set to star in the project), who gets attention for her campaign protests, and her estranged son, a literature professor who ends up writing a takedown profile of her. The story centers on the Chicago Democratic conventions of 1968 and 2004, and it's already gotten a lot of press for its prescient take on today's politics. Two follow-up questions: Which Gummer is going to play young Meryl? And which actor's going to be brave enough to play her son? (Oh, and a third question for J.J.: Will this take place in the Felicity or Alias cinematic universe?)

This New Edition of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test Gives a Peek Into Tom Wolfe’s Writing Process

There’s been much chatter about how our current crazy moment compares to that great year of upheaval 1968. Well, the drugs are different nowadays, but The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is still around to cast its kaleidoscopic spell. First published during that wild annum, the book was read as a dispatch from the dissident margins. Now Tom Wolfe’s nonfiction account of the psychedelic high jinks of Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady, and all the rest of the Merry Pranksters feels like an almost impossibly optimistic beacon from a time when dreamers truly — and, as it turned out, falsely — believed they could create a lasting counterculture.

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Simone Biles Is Writing a Memoir, Which Is Unfortunately Not Called Biles to Go Before I Sleep

Meeting Zac Efron, visiting the set of Pretty Little Liars, and oh yeah, winning a bunch of gold medals — Simone Biles is having a heck of a year, and now she's topping it off by writing a memoir. Our newest American hero announced the project during her stop by Ellen on Tuesday, revealing that she's working on a book called Courage to Fall (it's a metaphor!), which will hit stores this November. Courage will be published by Christian media empire Zondervan, and co-written by Michelle Burford, who also co-wrote fellow Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas's book. Biles says the book will be "about my life, a little bit about my family, and then how I got to where I am." It probably will not teach you how to do a backward salto.

  • Posted 9/5/16 at 9:00 PM
  • Books

Ann M. Martin on the Enduring Appeal of The Baby-Sitters Club and Rebooting Another Children’s Series

The first thing I notice when I enter Ann M. Martin’s Greenwich Village apartment is a large photograph of a happy-looking mutt. “That’s Sadie,” Martin tells me of her beloved golden-retriever mix. “She lived to be a very old lady.” The painfully shy 61-year-old children’s-book titan is leading me through the front hall and explains that her pet was the reason she stopped living in Manhattan full time in 1998. “Sadie was just beside herself in the city,” Martin says softly. “Everything scared her.” (Martin grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, and went to Smith, so her voice has a slight Waspy affect.) The two decamped to Martin’s house in Shokan, a hamlet just outside Woodstock, and now she comes to the city about once a month: “I feel a bit like a tourist whenever I’m here,” she says as we take a seat in the living room. “Every now and then, I’ll go out looking for a restaurant I liked and it’s gone.” 

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