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Emma Cline’s Masterful (and Quite Traditional) Manson-Family Debut Novel

In The Girls, her first novel, Emma Cline has taken the story of the Manson Family as a template and made her own sly alterations. Some of these are cosmetic: The setting is moved from Southern California to the outskirts of the Bay Area; no historical names are retained. Others are in the interest of streamlining the narrative: A few characters seem to be composites of real-life figures and several wholly imagined; the predictions of a Beatles-themed apocalyptic race war that Manson was spouting before the Family’s murders (he called it “Helter Skelter”) have been entirely dispensed with. Cline has retained the essential structure of a gang of hippies living in hedonistic squalor on a remote ranch, the women sexually in thrall to a buckskin-clad charismatic leader who keeps them around with the shared delusion that he’s destined to become a rock superstar. A grisly night of speed-fueled murders goes down, and there’s blood on the wall. Cline’s crucial decision, signaled in her title, is to tell the story in the voice of a minor, off-and-on member of the re-imagined cult. Now middle-aged and looking back on the strange summer of 1969, when she was 14, Evie Boyd is a narrator in the mold of Nick Carraway, but her Gatsby isn’t the Manson figure (here renamed Russell Hadrick). It’s a woman named Suzanne Parker, one of the murderers and a figure with a charismatic power all her own.

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Francis Ford Coppola Is Going to Publish the Glorious Behemoth That Is His Godfather Notebook

Touting the "publishing sensation of the year for every film fan," Regan Arts announced Tuesday that Francis Ford Coppola is reproducing his famous Godfather notebook for public consumption. “This notebook was my private work reference to The Godfather film, and after many years, I’m excited to share it with those who may be interested," the director said in a statement. The book includes initial impressions of Mario Puzo's novel of the same name, as well as ideas that would inform Coppola's creative process during production. It is also roughly 720 pages. Check out the beautiful anvil cinematic treasure in action:

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Could We Just Lose the Adverb (Already)?

I’m cursed with a mind that looks at a sentence and sees grammar before it sees meaning. It might be that I’m doing math by other means, that I overdid it with diagramming sentences as a boy, or that my grasp of English was warped by learning Latin. Translating Horace felt like solving math problems. Reading Emily Dickinson began to feel like solving math problems. You might think this is a cold way of reading, but it’s the opposite. You develop feelings. Pronoun, verb, noun — I like sentences that proceed in that way, in a forward march. Or those tricked out with a preposition, another noun, and a couple of adjectives. Conjunctions and articles leave me unfazed. If these combinations result in elaborate syntactical tangles, it thrills me. It’s cheap words I hate, and I hate adverbs. 

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Chuck Palahniuk Launches Kickstarter for a Lullaby Movie With Indie Filmmakers, Files His First Screenplay

Chuck Palahniuk's Lullaby could make the leap to celluloid thanks to a Kickstarter launched earlier this morning by the author and two Portland filmmakers. The 2002 novel marked Palahniuk's fifth major release, coming six years after Fight Club; it tells the story of a reporter who tries to eradicate a "culling song" responsible for a rash of infant deaths. As Palahniuk explains in the campaign's teaser, he got the idea during the real-life trial of his father's murderer in 1999. "Lullaby is the book about dealing with whether or not I advocated the death penalty after the man was convicted of killing my father," he says below. "Lullaby is about this supernatural form of ancient power."

Watch the campaign teaser here. »

Lena Dunham Publishes Diary for Charity

Writer/actress/director/voice of a generation Lena Dunham dropped a surprise paper mixtape (a book) on Tuesday morning.


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10 Great Galleys From BookExpo America 2016

The quietest BookExpo in memory dissipated in a smattering of slow meetings and short autograph lines well before the closing time of 5 p.m., as the chosen few New York publishing staffers deemed worthy of Chicago hotel rooms and airfare caught their shuttles to O’Hare. BookExpo America, the country’s largest book fair, conducted a noble experiment, leaving New York for the first time since 2008 even as publishers grow less inclined to spend money on booths in an age of seamless communication. BEA’s stated goal was to draw in more booksellers from the heartland. It worked, per officials, but at the cost of foot traffic from the East Coast. (Knopf touted a digital sampler in lieu of its anchor cocktail party; the show floor was 20 percent smaller than last year’s; houses ranging from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to tiny Bellevue Press sat this year out entirely.) But those who did venture to the Midwest discovered the benefits of a slower pace and more elbow room.

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Han Kang’s The Vegetarian Beats Ferrante to Win 2016 Man Booker International Prize

South Korean writer and professor Han Kang and her British translator Deborah Smith have won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize for fiction, the English-translated equivalent of the Man Booker Prize, which was won last October by Marlon James. Kang's The Vegetarian, a three-part novel about a Korean wife's radical decision to go vegetarian and the "increasingly bizarre and frightening" effect it has on her life, beat out works by Elena Ferrante and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk. She becomes the first South Korean author to win the prestigious literary award.

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  • Posted 5/14/16 at 9:00 AM

Books Expo America Tackles The Tough Subject of Children in Peril

“I think writing about the death of children would have been incredibly painful if I was a mother,” said Emma Flint, one of the authors touted at Book Expo America’s hype-generating “Buzz Panel” Wednesday afternoon in Chicago. Her forthcoming first novel, Little Deaths, fictionalizes the scandal surrounding Alice Crimmins, a Queens mother whose children were strangled in 1965. “The death of children is obviously a tragedy, particularly the murder of children, but I’m writing about the effects of those deaths on their mother, and I think it would have been just too painful.”

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  • Posted 5/12/16 at 9:44 PM
  • R.i.p.

Katherine Dunn, Author Behind Geek Love, Dead at 70

Katherine Dunn, writer of the best-selling novel Geek Love, died Wednesday at her Portland home. The 70-year-old's son confirmed the update with Willamette Week on Thursday, citing complications from lung cancer. "Geek Love is a book that will live forever," said Jeff Baker, a retired Oregonian critic, upon learning the news. "It's so influential." Now a cult classic, the book was published in 1989 and became a National Book Award finalist that year. Dunn also penned the novels Attic and Truck, and filed pieces for such publications as the New York Times, PDXS, Playboy, The Oregonian, and Willamette Week, among many others, over the course of a roughly four-decade career. On the nonfiction front, Dunn was especially known for her boxing writings, which, in 2009, were anthologized in One Ring Circus: Dispatches From the World of Boxing. Her School of Hard Knocks art project (published here), which chronicled the history of Stateside boxing gyms with photographer Jim Lommasson, notably won the Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize in 2004. Dunn is survived by her son and husband.

  • Posted 5/12/16 at 2:21 PM
  • Memoirs

Taraji P. Henson’s Memoir Gets the Cover and Title of Cookie’s Dreams

Taraji P. Henson can now add author to her empire of achievements because her new memoir is out October 11, and it now has a fabulous double cover and title to go with it. She's calling it Around the Way Girl, a title that just screams Cookie. It's a callback to the famous LL Cool J song, which itself praised that girl around town who was just too smooth for words, try as LL did to describe her. ("She can walk with a switch and talk with street slang / I love it when a woman ain't scared to do her thing.") As Lucious Lyon knows all too well, she's a woman with class who can get a little hood if provoked. She's, in a name, Cookie. But before Cookie, she was 1,000 percent Taraji, whose memoir will detail her life growing up in D.C., being a single mom, and navigating Hollywood as a black woman. In other words, it's required reading. For now, feast your lion's den, er, book club on her amazing throwback cover:

George R.R. Martin Releases New Winds of Winter Excerpt to Remind Us All That Dorne Doesn’t Suck in the Books

Does George R.R. Martin choose his Winds of Winter preview chapters as a way to subtly critique Game of Thrones? Probably not, but there's clearly something going on: Two years ago, Martin released an Arya chapter before snippets of its dialogue could be used in GOT's season four premiere; last year, he released a Sansa chapter set in the Vale a few weeks before the show dramatically changed her story line; and on Wednesday, he released an Arianne Martell preview chapter, just as everyone has been complaining about how bad the show's version of Dorne is. Hmmm. The chapter's not completely new, as Martin read it at an event back in 2011, but unless you're the type of person to obsessively follow his every public utterance, it's new to you. Martin also swears that the new chapter should not be taken as an indication that TWOW is done, but hints that it's "growing," and will be coming "one day..." We'll take it!

Ridley Scott and Drew Goddard Are Reteaming for Wraiths of the Broken Land, an Adaptation That Will Probably Have Fewer Jokes Than The Martian

Deadline reports that 20th Century Fox is getting Drew Goddard and Ridley Scott back together so The Martian's writing-directing team can next adapt S. Craig Zahler's Wraiths of the Broken Land. When it was published in 2013, the source material marked novel number two for Zahler, also a cinematographer and screenwriter who made his directorial debut with last year's Bone Tomahawk. His Wraiths is a similarly violent horror-western, about a search for captive sisters near the Mexican border. Or, as the book's publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press, describes it:

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Amy Schumer Releases Her Book Cover for The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo; What Would Stieg Larsson Think?

Amy Schumer's making a hell of a lot of money for her first book, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, which will be featuring "personal and observational stories" that "range from the raunchy to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing." We'll have to wait until August 16 for the release, but until then, here's the cover of the book, which Schumer revealed on Twitter today. She's like Lisbeth Salander's raunchy, blonde, American cousin!

12 Books That Make Great Last Minute Mother’s Day Gifts

If you already bought her all the Elena Ferrante books, here are some other options for the literary mom in your life.  (And if you’re still stumped for what to get, peruse these editors’ picks and our hyper-specific gift guide.)

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7 Books You Need to Read This May

Each month, Boris Kachka offers nonfiction and fiction book recommendations. You should read as many of them as possible.

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  • Posted 5/3/16 at 1:46 PM
  • Books

The Sympathizer Won a Pulitzer and an Edgar, and May Herald the Great Literary Convergence

Last week, the Mystery Writers of America handed out the 2016 Edgar Awards, the most prestigious of the crime-writing awards. Among the winners was The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, named Best First Novel — a win that, while well-deserved, was the opposite of notable, given that his novel has already garnered a host of accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize the week before. And yet, for this exact same reason, his Edgar win is remarkable, even momentous — and likely unprecedented. The Sympathizer — a literary thriller about a Vietnamese double agent who moves to Los Angeles after the Vietnam war — is the first novel (or at least the first I can unearth) that’s won both a major literary award and a major genre award in the same year.

The Great Literary Convergence: that moment when all novels, of all stripes, and all genres, are finally considered, if not identical undertakings, than subsets of the same, larger, expansive literary project. »

  • Posted 5/2/16 at 9:00 AM
  • Books

The Genius of Don DeLillo’s Post-Underworld Work

Have we held Don DeLillo’s Underworld against him? Masterpieces of an epic scale are a tricky business, not least for the distorting effect they can have on the rest of a writer’s works. Tolstoy wrote two, but most mortals — Melville, George Eliot, Joyce — only get one. And while War and Peace and Anna Karenina cycle through screen adaptations, how many readers reach for a major minor work — a work of beauty but of limited scope — like The Kreutzer Sonata? The same question already applies to Zero K, DeLillo’s new novel. “In recent years,” James Wolcott wrote in his memoir Lucking Out, “DeLillo must ask himself the cosmic question, ‘Why go on?,’ his later novels greeted with a fish-face without a trace of affection for everything he's done before, beating him up with his own achievements (Libra, Underworld) instead.”

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  • Posted 4/25/16 at 1:12 PM
  • Titles

Anna Kendrick’s Book of Comedic Essays Has a Two-Thirds Fitting Title

It's not just bloggers who one day dream of writing a book of comedic essays described by critics as "a gimlet-eyed look at life in the big city" — critically acclaimed thespians do, too. Last year, Anna Kendrick signed a deal with Touchstone to produce one such book, and today, the Pitch Perfect star took to Twitter to announce its title: Scrappy Little Nobody. Those are two words that apply to Kendrick and one word that doesn't, so I think everyone will agree this title deserves a D-plus. Congratulations, Anna!

  • Posted 4/14/16 at 1:31 PM
  • Memoirs

Jeffrey Tambor Is Writing a Memoir — Good Thing Aziz Ansari Already Thought of the Perfect Title

In a move George Bluth should've thought of ages ago, Jeffrey Tambor is writing a memoir. It's on Crown Publishing's spring 2017 slate and will consist of humorous essays about Tambor's decades-long career in comedy and how he's brought everything he's learned in life to some of his most beloved characters, including Arrested Development's Bluth, The Larry Sanders Show's Hank Kingsley, and Transparent's Maura Pfefferman. He'll also talk about what it was like working with a few of his famous co-stars — Garry Shandling hopefully being one of them. “Some stories will be awkward, others inspiring, some dark, most funny, and all will, I think, be hopeful and instructive,” Tambor said in a press release. Well, we're sold. It technically already has a title — Are You Anybody — but with all due respect, none can ever top Aziz Ansari's idea. Remember when he pretty much predicted Tambor's memoir at the Golden Globes in January? Sorry, but Losing to Jeffrey Tambor With Dignity is a serious winner.

British Muggle Spies Defended Harry Potter From the Dark Arts and Piracy

British spy agency GCHQ helped keep one of the entries of J.K. Rowling's beloved book series out of the hands of those-who-shall-not-be-named, meaning pirates. “I remember the British spy eavesdropping station GCHQ rang me up and said ‘we’ve detected an early copy of this book on the Internet’,” Rowling's publisher Nigel Newton told Australia’s ABC Radio when discussing the publishing history of the series. “I got him to read a page to our editor and she said ‘no, that’s a fake,’” said Newton, founder and chief executive of Potter publishing house Bloomsbury, describing the spies as “good guys.”

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