Because she likes them, and she can. Dunham will write a four-part story — to be published in 2015 — and "it's incredibly contemporary," according new Archie creative officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. "It's a classic Archie story, with a definitely unique, Lena spin." Are you ready for naked Archie? Is that even allowed?
Lorrie Moore orders the fried cheese curds, unable to resist the joke. “I’m having a Proustian journey back to Wisconsin,” she says, as she pushes a forkful of the curds into her mouth. Moore, 57, is the much-revered author of three novels and now a fourth short-story collection, Bark, out this week. After teaching at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for the past 30 years, she has just relocated to Nashville for a job at Vanderbilt University. She’s been there all of four weeks when we meet at Pinewood Social, a restaurant–bar–coffee shop–bowling alley set in a converted trolley barn along the Cumberland River.
The adaptation of the Jonathan Lethem bestseller — a 1950s Brooklyn crime novel featuring a detective with Tourette's — has been in the words for 15 years, but Edward Norton has finally locked down the financing (from Brett Ratner). Norton will direct and star in his adaptation, meaning you can expect the Norton-Tourette's Oscar articles in 2015? 2016?
After the surprise success of The Cuckoo's Calling, J.K. Rowling will publish as a second novel under her crime-fiction pseudonym, Robert Gailbraith. Cuckoo protagonist Cormoran Strike (these names!) will return in The Silkworm, about a novelist who is murdered after writing a very unkind manuscript. Everyone is a suspect, etc. It's due in June, so your beach reading is covered.
Partly because it's Lena Dunham and partly because she got paid $3.7 million to write it, but the Girls creator's first book, Not That Kind of Girl, has been hotly anticipated since we first knew it existed. Now we know what it will look like and when we'll be able to look at it. Earlier today, Dunham Instagrammed a photo of herself holding a copy and captioned it, "It's official. Coming 10/7/14." She seems pretty excited about it. It does seem better than an e-book.
“The bolide arrived from the southeast, traveling at a low angle relative to the earth, so that it came in not so much from above as from the side, like a plane losing altitude.” We are in Chapter Four here, and our tale, already great, is getting gripping. The thing in the sky is six miles wide, about the length of Manhattan from Houston Street to Harlem. It is moving at 45,000 miles per hour, roaring through the atmosphere, burning up bits of itself as it goes, and then there is no more atmosphere to roar through and it slams into the earth. The impact releases a billion times more energy than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. The surface of the planet boils from the heat. Debris ignites a string of firestorms. Ash from the conflagration combines with the collision’s massive mushroom cloud to blot out the sun. Day turns to night, light to dark, heat to cold, photosynthesis to pffft. Some say the world will end in fire. Yes. Some say the world will end in ice. That, too.
We appear to be in a post-apocalyptic novel, but, in fact, we are in fact. Sixty-six million years ago, an asteroid crashed into the Yucatán Peninsula, leaving behind a crater 110 miles wide and twenty miles deep and a colossally larger hole in the tree of life. The impact and its aftereffects wiped out an estimated 75 percent of species, including, most famously, all non-avian dinosaurs. That event, the end-Cretaceous extinction, is one of six massive die-offs in the history of the planet. Five of them happened in the distant past: 450 million, 375 million, 252 million, 200 million, and 66 million years ago. The sixth one is happening right now.
Over the weekend, author J.K. Rowling admitted that she regrets pairing off Hermione and Ron in Harry Potter. No kidding, J.K. — many of us have regretted that choice for years. Ron's such a dope, and Hermione's so precise; Rowling even says that the two would need "relationship counseling." As long as she's airing regrets, there are a few more items for J.K. to reconsider. It's not too late!
Between the prequels, the spinoffs and the after the fact reveals, J.K. Rowling is still actively creating and editing the Harry Potter universe. That's certainly within her right ... at least until she starts questioning the wisdom of Ron and Hermoine's romance, which is slipping into George Lucas territory. “I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment,” the author admits to British magazine Wonderland. “That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.” Says Rowling, "It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.” Well, if J.K.'s ever looking to write an alternate romantic ending for them, there are approximately 500 million pieces of fan fiction available for her perusal.
How exactly will moviegoers be enabled to choose their own adventure in the upcoming Choose Your Own Adventure movie? It's up to Night at the Museum scribes Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, who have signed on to write the script that Rawson Marshall Thurber (We're the Millers) will direct. The Choose Your Own Adventure book that the trio will be adapting is still a mystery, but we have plenty of suggestions. Cyberspace Warrior sounds fun.
Its very full title: Love & Friendship: An Adaptation of Jane Austen’s Unfinished Novella Concerning the Beautiful Lady Susan Vernon, Her Loves and Friendships, and the Strange Antagonism of the DeCourcy Family. The book is inspired by the Jane Austen of the same name (though Jane was a teenager when she wrote it, and she misspelled friendship.) So, is the Austen project that Stillman was reportedly working on last year? Or are we getting a book and a movie?
Fans of S don't just ask each other if they've read the book — they ask each other how they read it. Written by Doug Dorst (with inspiration from concept creator and "novelrunner" J.J. Abrams), the book is a singular experience: Within a worn library copy of fictional author V.M. Straka's nineteenth and final novel, Ship of Theseus, are two readers who've found each other in the margins. There are issues of identity on all fronts — S, the protagonist in Ship of Theseus, has amnesia, and doesn't know who he is; V.M. Straka, his author, is said not to exist and may be a pseudonym for a number of candidates; Eric, a grad student studying Ship of Theseus, is hoping to solve that question of authorship for his dissertation, but he, too, doesn't officially exist, as his university has expunged him. Along comes an undergrad named Jen who picks up Eric's copy of the book, reads his notes, and starts writing notes to him in the margins as she gets pulled into Straka's work and the mysteries surrounding both him and Eric. It's a labyrinth of story-within-story, especially when you consider the footnotes are ciphers. Even if the communications within S are decidedly analogue — down to the inserts of postcards and a hand-scrawled map on a napkin — the readership response has expanded into the digital world, with websites like the S Files helping lost fans decode the book. While Dorst won't give up his secrets, he was willing to chat with Vulture about the S phenomenon, for those who've already read the novel. (Spoilers follow for those who haven't, as well as a lot of dissection of plot points that will make little sense to the uninitiated.)
Since Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest became a publishing phenomenon in 2009, a few other books have borrowed their titles.
The Girl Who Could Fly, by Victoria Forester
The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo, by Darrin Doyle
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, by Heidi W. Durrow
The Girl With Glass Feet, by Ali Shaw
The Girl With No Hands, by Angela Slatter
The Girl Who Chased the Moon, by Sarah Addison Allen
The Girl Who Played With Men, by Paulina Mielech
The Girl Who Hated Books, by Manjusha Pawagi and Leanne Franson
The Girl Who Believed in Fairies, by Linda Corby
The Girl With Pink Glasses, by Sonja Smolec
The Girl Who Read to Birds, by Michael Titus and Julie L. Miller
If Jo March, the ambitious, writerly protagonist of Louisa May Alcott's beloved Little Women were alive today, she would definitely have a blog. Stressed out Meg would have begun to grapple with the boredom of her long-term relationship to the incredibly decent, incredibly stable Mr. Brooke. Beth would be loaded up on beta-blockers to help with the anxieties of meeting people outside of her immediate family. And Amy — let's call a spade a spade here — would have definitely dropped out of art school and entered rehab. At least once.
John Patrick Ryan, who goes by the name Jack, isn't just any Jack Ryan sharing a name with the Tom Clancy creation who returns to movie theaters this weekend with Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. This Jack Ryan is a professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy — the same military facility where the fictional Jack Ryan teaches in the novel Patriot Games and its 1992 film adaptation starring Harrison Ford. When Vulture learned of the life-imitates-art situation going on down in Annapolis, we reached out to the real Ryan in the hopes that he'd want to discuss the bizarre coincidence. Luckily, after pointing out that, despite sharing surface similarities with Tom Clancy's creation, his days are filled with a lot less drama, Ryan agreed to talk about how sharing a name with a famous fictional character has affected his life.
The Conversation: Novelists Adam Sternbergh and Lev Grossman on Genre Fiction and Theories of Nerd-domBy Vulture Editors
A hit man in the hard-boiled style — terse, efficient, sarcastic, a guy with a code — wanders around a postapocalyptic New York City in which Times Square is off limits owing to a dirty bomb attack and the rich have retreated into a virtual reality existence. His name is Spademan and he's the main character in Adam Sternbergh's debut novel, Shovel Ready. Sternbergh, an editor at The New York Times Magazine (and a former editor at New York), was excited by the idea of smashing together two types of formerly lowbrow yet equally entertaining scenarios. "So many of my favorite things, from Star Trek to Neuromancer to Firefly to Inception, are basically built on taking the conventions of one genre and grafting them on to another." Sternbergh spoke with Lev Grossman — Time magazine book critic and author of The Magicians, The Magician King, and the final book in his trilogy, The Magicians' Land (out this August) — about nerd-dom, genre crossbreeding, and why literary fiction is just as conventional as fantasy books.
The third installment in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy (The Mirror and the Light) is not due until 2015, but Mantel has apparently already fast-forwarded four centuries to the reign of the Iron Lady. The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, a collection of ten short stories featuring the former prime minister in "contemporary settings," will be published in September. Hope Meryl Streep kept her wig.
The muse gets all the press, but here’s a fact: Good writing involves obsessing over punctuation marks. It’s 1 a.m., you’ve got a 5,000-word piece due the next day, and for the last twenty minutes you’ve been deliberating about the use of a semicolon versus a period in a single sentence. (But should it be two sentences? Twenty-five minutes, thirty minutes … ) As a rule, the effect of all that obsession is subtle, a kind of pixel-by-pixel accretion of style. Once in a while, though, a bit of punctuation pops its head up over the prose, and over the prosaic, and becomes a part of a tiny but interesting canon: famous punctuation marks in literature.
"The New Queen of Comedy" got her first Vogue cover this month, revealing at the very end of the profile that she and Girls co-writer and executive producer Jenni Konner are currently working on both a documentary about Eloise illustrator Hilary Knight and an HBO series about "pioneering Bergdorf Goodman personal shopper" Betty Halbreich. Figures! Eloise and Lena are a perfect match.
The most scathing piece of literary criticism I’ve ever read is an essay, published in 1856, called “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists.” It begins like this:
Silly Novels by Lady Novelists are a genus with many species, determined by the particular quality of silliness that predominates in them—the frothy, the prosy, the pious, or the pedantic. But it is a mixture of all these—a composite order of feminine fatuity—that produces the largest class.
The author then describes the many literary offenses these fatuous females commit. They are incompetent at verisimilitude: “Their intellect seems to have the peculiar impartiality of reproducing both what they have seen and heard, and what they have not seen and heard, with equal unfaithfulness.” They are as unoriginal, stylewise, as teenage girls cozily wearing one another’s clothes: “The lover has a manly breast; minds are redolent of various things; hearts are hollow.” They have the audacity to pronounce on important matters, as if “an amazing ignorance, both of science and of life, is the best possible qualification for forming an opinion on the knottiest moral and speculative questions.” Such allegations continue apace, until, eventually, the author provides a Silly Lady Novel recipe: “Take a woman’s head, stuff it with a smattering of philosophy and literature chopped small, and with false notions of society baked hard, let it hang over a desk a few hours every day, and serve up hot in feeble English when not required.”
You’re not the kind of guy who would be looking at an art auction website like this at this time of the morning. But an editor at the magazine where you work passed along a link to an auction of Marc Tauss's iconic cover artwork for Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney’s 1984 debut novel, with a note that said, "Hey, John, this seems like your kind of thing." He knows me well, maybe as well as the baby in that book knows a coma.
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