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Now R.L. Stine’s Fear Street Is Being Developed As a Movie; It Would Be a Better TV Show

With Goosebumps set to hit theaters next week, 20th Century Fox is jumping on R.L. Stine's other big horror series, Fear Street, and developing a movie based on the books. Seeing as Fear Street has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, it seems perfect to mine for a filmed project. But would a movie be the best?

The Goosebumps film is already about an author's monsters coming to life in the real world, so repeating that, even if it's just "a bunch of kids move to Fear Street, and there are ghosts and vampires everywhere" seems like a waste of more than 100 titles.


  • Posted 10/9/15 at 2:54 PM

Why Are Today’s Critics So Defensive?

I’m always puzzled when people strike a posture of defensiveness about their own taste. It’s reasonable when a book or film or artwork you admire is under attack, but lately we seem to be in an age of ambient anxiety about what it means to enjoy things and whether or not others enjoy them, too. There’ve been a few self-scrutinizing essays on the subject pinballing around this week. When Emily Nussbaum writes, “Those of us who love TV have won the war,” I wonder, What war? And who were you fighting? Television has been the dominant medium since its inception. When A.O. Scott writes about rehabilitating the word snob, I wonder why someone who confesses to being a snob would feel any need for the crowd’s validation of his snobbery. He’s a critic of a different kind, but when Fredrick deBoer writes of feeling oppressed by an online culture that misreads James Baldwin, I wonder why he seems to invest so much authority in his Twitter feed.


  • Posted 10/9/15 at 8:00 AM
  • Gallery

Relive Elton John’s 1975 Dodger Stadium Concert

Terry O’Neill’s new book, Two Days That Rocked the World: Elton John Live at Dodger Stadium, documents the rock superstar’s October 1975 career-peak concerts. But the photographer didn’t know at the time that John was about to enter a valley. “He used to go onstage and give absolutely everything,” says O’Neill, talking about the photograph seen here of John having just woken up in his bed aboard his private plane. “I found out that he’d tried to kill himself not long after these shows. He was spent. Those days were fab, but there was a dark side to it all.”  


  • Posted 10/8/15 at 5:54 PM

‘I Won the Nobel Prize!’: Svetlana Alexievich’s Translator on the New Nobel Laureate

Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature this morning. I underestimated her, and it cost me. Alexievich is a Belarusian journalist whose oral histories have chronicled upheavals in the Soviet and post-Soviet spheres: War’s Unwomanly Face, about the role of Soviet women in World War II; The Last Witnesses, about children in the same war; Grozny Boys, about the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan; Enchanted With Death, about suicides after the fall of the Soviet Union. For years, Belarus’s government had expelled her from the country, but she returned to live in Minsk in 2011. Her books have sold millions of copies in Russian. Four of them have appeared in English, most recently Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, published by Dalkey Archive Press in 2005. Today I spoke to its translator, Keith Gessen, an old friend of mine who’s also a novelist, founder of n+1, former book critic for New York, and translator of other writing in Russian, including the poet Kirill Medvedev and the fiction writer Lyudmila Petrushevskaya.


Stephenie Meyer Explains Her Gender-Flipped Twilight

At the Twilight 10th-anniversary panel at New York Comic-Con, Stephenie Meyer spilled the beans on Life and Death, her brand-new gender-flipped rewrite of the YA classic. "The idea came from answering questions at book signings," Meyer revealed. "People would always say Bella is a damsel in distress, when she's actually just a human in a world full of superheroes. Can you lift a car over your head?" At first, her publisher just wanted her to write a "wistful forward" about how the book had changed her life, but, Meyer said, "The more I thought about it, I thought that would be so sappy. I wanted to make it more fun."

Meyer has heard the criticisms that she'd just done a simple "find-and-replace" on her characters' names, and she agrees that the project should not be considered a brand-new original book. "Everyone is saying this is not a new book, and I know," she says. "This is totally bonus material." Still, Meyer argues the ease of the transition proves that her tropes weren't as gendered as her critics claim. "It was like a science experiment," she said. "At the end, you have to go back and ask, Was your hypothesis correct? And it was! The essential action beats of the story are unchanged."


Belarus’s Svetlana Alexievich Wins Nobel Prize for Literature

This year's winner of the Nobel Prize for literature is Belarusian historian and journalist Svetlana Alexievich, the Swedish Academy announced today. Best known for her groundbreaking oral history Voices From Chernobyl, Alexievich was awarded the prestigious prize "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time." She is the 14th woman to receive the award, and the first nonfiction writer since Jean-Paul Sartre in 1964. 


The Harry Potter Books Have Finally Hit Apple in a New, Digitally ‘Enhanced’ Way

Starting today, you'll be able to download the entire Harry Potter series directly to your iPhone (or any other Apple device) via the iBooks store for the first time ever. Previously, digital versions of the megaselling franchise were available exclusively through J.K. Rowling's Pottermore fan site. She's now partnered with Apple to bring all seven books to its library in a totally "enhanced" way. These digital versions will include annotations written by Rowling herself for this specific collaboration, as well as interactive animations (Rita Skeeter's enchanted quill will now scribble on the page), hundreds of illustrations, original typefaces (one named for Hagrid's three-headed dog, Fluffy), and custom-designed modern covers for each book. Check out a few of the new features below, and get busy making room on your phone!

9 Types of People You Meet by Age 30, As Found in Sloane Crosley’s New Novel The Clasp

Anyone who's crossed over the threshold of 30 knows the existential angst of being that age, particularly when trying to navigate friendships, and frenemy-ships, and straight-up hatreds with peers who all seem to have life on lock more than you do. Sloane Crosley, author of two best-selling humor essay collections about her own floundering toward adulthood (2008's I Was Told There'd Be Cake and 2010's How Did You Get This Number), is something of an expert when it comes to generational observation — a Lena Dunham for people who experienced college without Facebook or cell phones. And now she's written her first novel, The Clasp, out today.

The plot centers around three single college friends on the edge of 30 who aren't even sure they like each other anymore, yet embark on an adventure to find a valuable necklace that is somehow related to Guy de Maupassant's cautionary short story "The Necklace," about the dangers of trusting appearances. (It's really funny, and Amanda Seyfried even blurbed it! Kind of.) The most fun part, though, might be Crosley's keen observations of certain people you meet at that time in your life, which sound very familiar to anyone who is or has been that age. They’re also told in the very biting wit of three protagonists — disgruntled singleton Kezia, failed screenwriter Nathaniel, and misanthropic kleptomaniac Victor — who are all terrible people. So we pulled some choice descriptions from the book and called up Crosley to discuss her inspirations, and to talk some smack about fictional characters who all sound like someone we know. (Also, not sure if this applies to books, but spoilers ahead.)

Let the snarking begin! »

Quvenzhané Wallis Adds Author to Her List of Young Accomplishments, Will Write 4 (!) Books

Quvenzhané Wallis continues to outshine most adults. The 12-year-old Annie star and Oscar nominee can now add author to her glowing résumé: She's signed a book deal with Simon & Schuster that'll have her publish four books in just over a year. She's set to release a three-part Judy Moody–inspired series that follows third-grader Shai Williams, another young "star in the making who has a flair for the dramatic ... both onstage and off." The first book will be published January 2017, with the next two installments coming fall 2017 and summer 2018. In addition to that series, she'll also release a picture book that's loosely based on Wallis's life in the spotlight about a "spunky young heroine who is very much looking forward to a night out with her mom at an awards show." That book is expected for fall 2017, to be released in tandem with the second part of her series. What have you done lately?

  • Posted 10/7/15 at 10:00 AM
  • Books

Lorin Stein on Translating France’s Most Dangerous Author

Lorin Stein, editor of The Paris Review, discusses tackling Michel Houellebecq’s Submission (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a novel set in a near-future France that has just elected a Muslim president.

English translation of the above: “It was arousing, in a way, to pick a Muslim, given the overall political situation.”

Deconstructing the scene, the aha moment, and more. »

Stephenie Meyer Rewrote Twilight With Edward and Bella’s Genders Flipped

Surprise! Twilight is still a thing: Ten years after Edward Cullen and Bella Swan made vampires virtually inescapable, Stephenie Meyer is back to turn your tweens once again. In celebration of the first book's anniversary, Meyer has rewritten Twilight with the genders of the saga's star-crossed lovers reversed. Meet Beau and Edythe, main characters of the newly feminist reading of the series now dubbed Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined, out today. In this version, Bella is Beau, a teen boy who moves to Forks, Washington, and finds himself enamored with the vampire Edythe, the female version of Edward. Meyer explained on Good Morning America that the idea behind the new 442-page book was to put to rest repeated criticism of the original series that it reduced Bella to a "damsel in distress" trope.


  • Posted 10/6/15 at 9:00 AM

My Book-Prize Betting Addiction: A User’s Guide to Making Money Off Alice Munro

Prizes are an essential element of the delicate international literary ecosystem. For publishers, they provide the oxygen of free publicity. For authors, a prize means an unexpected cash windfall and a place among the constellations of little gold stars in the book world’s sky. For the rest of us, literary prizes are a spectator sport, like an Olympics to honor people who sit alone in a room for years at a time. Nothing compares to the Nobel Prize. Just ask Philip Roth: It’s the only prize he hasn’t won. And among annual prizes for new books in English, none of the U.S. prizes — the diluted National Book Award/Pulitzer/National Book Critics Circle trifecta, not to mention miscellaneous PEN honors — is as potent as the U.K.’s Man Booker Prize, now in its second year of being open to non-Commonwealth authors. For the past three years, I have been addicted to gambling on these prizes.


8 Books You Need to Read This October

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

Thirteen Ways of Looking, by Colum McCann (Random House, October 13)
The author of Let the Great World Spin has spent so long illuminating history through fiction that readers might miss the real source of his power: not his heightened ventriloquism but his perfection of sentence, idea, and voice. The title novella in this quartet of contemporary stories riffs on Wallace Stevens's famous blackbirds, the detective genre, and the surveillance state all in the fractured narrative of one heart-torn New Yorker's dying day. Along with the other pieces, all thematically related to a random assault McCann suffered last year, it displays a rare confluence of skill, style, and moral vision.


  • Posted 10/5/15 at 11:21 AM
  • Profile

The Unprecedented Garth Risk Hallberg

“I never wanted to be the guy wearing a T-shirt that read ASK ME ABOUT MY NOVEL,” says Garth Risk Hallberg. One August evening in 2012, he was that guy. He’d been invited to the wedding of writer-banker Gary Sernovitz and academic Molly Pulda at the Bowery Hotel. Among his tablemates were Diana Miller, his future editor; Tom Bissell, whom he’d just reviewed in the Times; and Chris Parris-Lamb, a young literary agent whose recent success with Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding was well known to all — including the writer seated across from him. A souvenir “dictionary” defined each guest. Hallberg’s entry read: “Critic-novelist certain he will win the Postmodernist Fiction Trivia Contest to be held in the men’s bathroom at 11:59 tonight.”

“My goal was to get the book somewhere that is going to allow me to be DeLillo 40 years from now.” »

Patti Smith on Her Next Books, Taking Acid, and Getting Dunked in Urine for Rimbaud

To promote her latest memoir, M Train (out Tuesday), Patti Smith spoke with The New Yorker's David Remnick at the magazine's festival this weekend about a colorful blend of literary and nonliterary topics. Although the two apparently text from time to time — Smith sent him pictures from Wittgenstein’s house in Vienna on tour this summer — Remnick was clearly starstruck Saturday night; fortunately, he managed to hold it together and accompany Smith on the electric guitar for a surprise performance of "Because the Night." The crowd sang along and beamed just like Remnick when she talked about her upcoming projects, experiences taking acid, and time working in a factory — where she endured a urine dip for reading the work of the decadent poet Arthur Rimbaud. Read on for the night's highlights:


City on Fire Is Trying to Have It Too Many Ways

In at least every extra-literary way, Garth Risk Hallberg’s highly anticipated City on Fire arrives unmistakably marked as the season’s extreme weather event. A $2 million book contract; film rights sold on the spot; 911 pages with deluxe fictional facsimiles of a DIY zine, handwritten letters, and faux-whiskey-stained typewritten manuscripts; advance author profiles in Vogue, this magazine, and who knows where else — whatever the book tells us about itself or the state of the American novel, it says a lot about what sort of story New York publishers and Hollywood think they can sell. The selling points would seem to be these: a panoramic social novel that’s also historical, and therefore not under the burden of showing us the way we live now but instead delivering a nostalgic view of the way we may like to believe we lived then; a soft focus on both the perennially fascinating ultrarich as well as two bygone bohemias (punk rock and the downtown art scene); a dizzying, schizophrenic approach to point of view, with the narrative shifting among dozens of characters, some of them very minor, every few pages; a thrillerish structure pitting sad heroes against sadistic villains; and a recurring retreat at crucial moments from realism to Disneyland logic, right down to the wicked stepmother. And then there are Hallberg’s unmistakable literary ambitions: to write an epic on the scale of Don DeLillo’s Underworld, as drenched in pop culture as Jonathan Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude, and as soaked in downtown cool as Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers.

A few questions mount: Will Samantha survive her coma? Who shot her? Why is the novel set in 1977? ... And why on earth is the novel so long? »

Junot Díaz Can’t Stand Trump’s Immigration Talk

America needs immigrants, no matter what Donald Trump thinks, Junot Díaz said at the New Yorker Festival Saturday morning. The Pulitzer-winning writer spoke with fellow author, and immigrant, Aleksandar Hemon, and the pair got into Trump’s controversial opinions regarding the issue.


Don DeLillo on Gun Violence, New York Life, and Writing

At the New Yorker Festival on Friday night, acclaimed American writer Don DeLillo offered his thoughts on America's gun violence problem, which was fitting, since DeLillo’s novels are known for story lines that comment upon threats to American society. He speculated on the motivation of lone shooters like the one who murdered nine people in an attack on Umpqua Community College in Oregon this past week.


Toni Morrison Has Some Words for the New York Times

Reading the New York Times is an interactive experience for novelist Toni Morrison. She edits her copy with a pencil while she reads, scratching out words and inserting alternatives, she told The New Yorker’s Hilton Als last night at the magazine’s annual festival.


  • Posted 10/1/15 at 2:24 PM
  • Books

Amy Schumer Canceled a Book Deal Only to Get an Even Better One — Like a Goddamn Boss

Amy Schumer has mastered the art of leaning all the way in: Her new multi-million-dollar book deal apparently didn't always come with such a hefty price tag. Two years ago, according to the New York Times, she signed a similar deal with HarperCollins for a book of humor essays to be written with help from The New Yorker's Patricia Marx. At the time, Schumer was like any other emerging comedian with a lot of buzz, and so they offered her a $1 million advance. Schumer eventually canceled that deal and returned the check because she was "too busy" (likely launching Inside Amy Schumer) to write a book. She told GQ earlier this summer, "I had a whole deal, but I decided to wait — I thought I would make more money if I waited."

One rom-com, an Emmy, and #squad with Jennifer Lawrence later, and Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books bought the publishing rights to Schumer's book of essays at an auction last week for a cool $8 million. That number, if accurate, would be more than the advances reportedly offered to Lena Dunham, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Amy Poehler for their respective books. So in the span of two years, Schumer has negotiated a $7 million pay increase. Not too shabby!


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