While you were not-so-patiently waiting for George R.R. Martin to finish writing The Winds of Winter, the still-gestating sixth book in his best-selling "A Song of Ice and Fire" saga, the author decided to throw fans a curveball with this week’s release of a novella set in the same world inhabited by Tyrion, Khaleesi, and the gang. The lengthy story is embedded in Dangerous Women, an anthology of fantasy writing co-edited by Martin, and along with its impressively long and GRRM-name-checking title — The Princess and the Queen, Or, The Blacks and the Greens: Being a History of the Causes, Origins, Battles, and Betrayals of the Most Tragic Bloodletting Known as the Dance of the Dragons, as set down by Archmaester Gyldayn of the Citadel of Oldtown ((here transcribed by George R.R. Martin)) — the novella is notable for featuring no fewer than 20 dragons, and not those cute baby ones, either. This uptick in the dragon population is possible because the new story takes place some 170 years before the action depicted in A Game of Thrones; it's set during the Targaryen Civil War, better known as — you guessed it — the Dance of the Dragons.
Three previously unpublished J.D. Salinger short stories have found their way online, uploaded to a file-sharing site after an illegally printed collection was auctioned off on eBay. This is the first time that "Paula," "Birthday Boy," and "The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls," which have all been available to researchers at libraries at Princeton and the University of Texas, are being seen by the general public. Reddit has posted links to scans of the three stories, and Buzzfeed contacted Salinger biographer Kenneth Slawenski, who says that "they look to be true transcripts of the originals and match my own copies."
Not that the critically and commercially adored Catching Fire needs any more gold stars, but let us add one more: It is a remarkably faithful adaptation of the book. Whole scenes and chunks of dialogue are left unchanged; our heroine is not softened or made to love some boy she does not love. (If anything, the movie skimps a little on the love triangle, as if Katniss herself had written the script.) Still, as with any adaptation, there are definite changes, and so please now join Vulture for an obsessive analysis of how these tweaks affected the movie. Feel free to add anything we have missed.
By 1955, the writing careers of Vladimir Nabokov and Dorothy Parker were headed in opposite directions. Parker’s was in a deep slump. The New Yorker—a magazine she had been instrumental in founding—had not published her fiction in fourteen years. Nabokov, by contrast, was becoming a literary sensation. The New Yorker had published several of his short stories as well as chapters of his autobiography Conclusive Evidence and of his novel Pnin. His next novel, Lolita, would bring him worldwide recognition for its virtuosic prose and the shocking story of a middle-aged man’s relationship with his pubescent stepdaughter and her aggressive mother. It was a manuscript that Nabokov circulated very little because he feared the controversy that would erupt when it was published.
J.Law, pshaw! The only true Hunger Games fans are those of us who read the books long before everyone’s BFF won her Oscar. So, as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire prepares for Careers-level domination in the box-office arena this weekend, it’s time to head to the Training Center and brush up on your skills at the trivia station. In other words: Take our 35-question superfan quiz to test whether you truly have what it takes to emerge a victor. Keep in mind, though, that these questions are meant to gauge your knowledge of the Catching Fire book, not necessarily the big-screen adaptation! And don’t forget to share your score with others, because if Katniss taught us anything, it’s the importance of an alliance.
Mika Brzezinski, the emcee of last night’s National Book Awards, wasn’t completely off when she quipped, unoriginally, that the ceremony is “the Oscars without money.” But in fact there really was money on the line when fiction winner James McBride climbed the podium in his porkpie hat to give the evening’s final acceptance speech. It wasn’t just the $10,000 prize, the inevitable sales bump, or the investments the publishing industry has made toward “broadening the impact” of an award that hasn’t always lived up to its big name. For the first time in the prize’s 64-year history, the British betting firm Ladbrokes had laid odds on the fiction finalists. (George Saunders had been the favorite.)
Back in 2011, just a day after it won the Pulitzer, Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad was optioned for development by HBO. Now two years later, with no series to be seen, Sundance is reportedly in talks to pick up where HBO left off. Will the book be any more filmable than it was two years ago? Because even back then, people were unconvinced it could be properly adapted: "I don’t envy them the job, I’ll tell you that," Egan even told the New York Times' David Itzkoff shortly after the HBO deal was first announced.
Mindy Kaling has an open letter to teens in the newly released Rookie: Yearbook Two, in which she debates whether it's harder or easier to be a teenager now than it was fifteen years ago. On the one hand, "You have access to your heroes," she argues. "When I was 15 I used to cry myself to sleep with how much I was in love with Dana Carvey and how I would never, ever get to meet or talk to him. Now, Dana Carvey would be on Twitter and I could send him Vines all day of me doing the Church Lady and we’d probably be collaborating on a pilot." That's nice and all, but it doesn't outweigh the loss of the joys of live television.
When I was a kid you would go home and everyone would be watching the same episode of The X-Files or Friends, and the next day in school you’d all gab about how scared you were or how much you wanted to lose your virginity to David Schwimmer. Now no one watches any scripted television the actual time it’s on, and it doesn’t matter anyway because TV's basically all singing competitions.
She rightly concludes it is harder to be a teenager today, though she neglects to mention the pressures of Snapchat.
Writer Doris Lessing, author of The Golden Notebook, Memoirs of a Survivor, and The Summer Before the Dark, and dozens of other works, died in London today at the age of 94. Born in present-day Iran to British parents, she spent her childhood and twenties in what is now Zimbabwe, though she moved to London after becoming interested in leftist writing and politics. Lessing won the Nobel Prize in 2007, making her the oldest person to ever win the award for literature.
Harold Evans, the publisher of Random House, calls me at The New Yorker, where I work. “I’d like to have a word with you,” he says. “Can we have coffee sometime, perhaps?”
It is 1995, and Evans and I have met at parties given by his wife, who happens to be Tina Brown, who happens to be the editor of The New Yorker.
“How about today?”
“Let me check with my assistant,” Evans says. A minute or so later, he says, “Well, yes—can you come up right now?” The vowels, in his Beatles-esque accent, make the words sound a little like “coom oop.”
At the elevator bank of The New Yorker, I run into Nancy Franklin, later to become the TV critic for the magazine. We call each other “Nosy,” for “Nosy Parker”—the British slang term for a snoop. “Where are you going at this time of day, Nosy?” Nancy says.
“To see Harry Evans,” I say.
“Oh, no!” she says. And at this point, with a cold, sick feeling, I realize what’s going on: Tina now wants me out of the magazine and has persuaded her husband to offer me a job.
Hild is a newly released historical novel by the British author Nicola Griffith that she has described as A Game of Thrones without the dragons. Fans of George R.R. Martin's best-selling fantasy epics will no doubt be skeptical of such a comparison, but the premise of Griffith's 560-page tome doesn't sound too far off: a brave English girl gets swept up in a battle for supremacy in a brutal land and uses quasi-magical skills to guide her uncle toward the center of power. Our interest piqued, we figured we might as well put Hild to the test for what other Martin-esque qualities we could find.
First, a few caveats: Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series draws inspiration from the fifteenth-century War of the Roses, with the Lancasters and Yorks replaced by Lannisters and Starks, but the fantasy series' many plot points are only loosely based on actual events. Hild focuses on the Anglisc girl who would grow up to become Saint Hilda of Whitby, a real historical figure from the Dark Ages who made a name for herself as the king's "seer." Still, since both authors set the action in medieval times, the books naturally include depictions of how royal courts operated in those eras, with arranged marriages, assassination attempts, and conflicting old and new religions. But the most valid point of comparison is Hild herself — as well as the close relationship she has with her fictional half-brother, Cian. (Yep, there's incest.)
Garth Risk Hallberg has so far responded with judicious silence to the good fortune of having his first novel, the 900-page City on Fire, sold to Knopf for almost $2 million — virtually unheard of for an author with no connection to vampires or cable news (and that was after selling Scott Rudin the movie rights). A widely published critic, he knows enough about the literary universe to adopt Schadenfreude-evasive maneuvers. (Knopf's publicist says he's still "fine tuning" the book and will hold off on interviews until publication.)
Who needs new books? In this week’s issue of the magazine, our critics show us what’s in their personal collections of old culture, much of it you might’ve missed. All of it is available online, somewhere. Herewith, Kathryn Schulz’s list of the 11 lesser-known literary classics you can download for free.
Oscar Wilde once said, “When a love comes to an end, weaklings cry, efficient ones instantly find another love, and the wise already have one in reserve.” In less rarefied terms: No smart bird leaves the nest without another nest to fly into. TV obsessives know the sting of being separated from their favorite shows, whether due to hiatus or a series finale, but Vulture's got your back. If you’re still devastated about the ending of Breaking Bad, or just want to start stockpiling for when Homeland or Sons of Anarchy goes off the air, this list of book equivalents of popular TV shows should help.
There are a lot of juicy details scattered throughout Melissa Joan Hart’s new memoir, Melissa Explains it All, from her dalliances with ecstasy and soft-core porno to revealing the number of cats it took to bring Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s Salem to life (seven real, two animatronic, two stuffed). But perhaps the juiciest segments pertain to Melissa’s many celebrity hookups, events she describes with all the gusto and lurid detail of a middle-school diary entry. These anecdotes would thrill a millennial's younger self: Oh my God, make-out stories with James van Der Beek and Mario Lopez! But in the cold light of 2013, they can elicit a different reaction from this same, now fully grown millennial. Read the following smoochy excerpts and compare how rewarding this gossip would have been twenty years ago versus now.
Attention, all factions!
Live from Vulture HQ, we’re hanging out with Veronica Roth today from 4 to 4:45 p.m. Eastern. Join our Google+ Hangout simulcast by clicking “play” on the below video to watch live, or head over to our hangout page on Google+.
Our own Amanda Dobbins, who interviewed Veronica right before Allegiant’s release, will host as we follow up with the Divergent author in the wake of the series finale. Veronica will also take your fan questions — just submit them in the comments below.
There will be spoilers aplenty here, so if you have yet to read Allegiant, steer clear of these parts for the next hour.
Ready? Set? Commence hangout, below!
Calling all factions! Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent trilogy and mini-marshmallow enthusiast, will join us for a rescheduled Google+ Hangout on Tuesday, November 5, at 4 p.m. ET. Up for discussion: Allegiant (proper warning: Spoilers will abound, so steer clear if you haven’t yet read the book), the forthcoming Divergent movie, and, of course, your own burning questions.
Post what you’d like to ask Veronica in the comments below. Leave us your name (first and last), and where you’re from (all three pieces of information are needed), and we’ll choose the best ones to read on-air. Just don’t ask her if she’d date Four — that's already been covered.
We’ll simulcast the hangout right here on Vulture and on our Google+ page. Add Vulture on Google+ to join us there and ask questions via the Q&A app, and if you haven’t yet nabbed your copy of Allegiant, pick it up right from Veronica’s page on Google Play.
Nineties-era nostalgists are celebrating the news that Fear Street, R.L. Stine’s sprawling classic horror series for teens — which ran from 1989 to 2005 and has sold 80 million copies — will be making a comeback. Starting in October, 2014, three new books will be released in hardcover by Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St. Martin’s Press. For that, we can thank the Internet. Stine is an avid Twitter user, and that’s exactly the medium through which he connected with Kat Brzozowski, an associate editor at Thomas Dunne, who had long been interested in doing “a Fear Street for the 21st century” and who is now actually doing Fear Street for the 21st century.
- 1. The Highs and Lows of The Sound of Music Live
- 2. Joe Jonas: My Life As a Jonas Brother
- 3. The Whispered Attacks That Could Sink This Year's Oscar Contenders
- 4. Gilmore Girls Alumni: Where Are They Now?
- 5. American Horror Story’s Taissa Farmiga on Threesomes, Zombies, and Paris Hilton’s Closet
- 6. Shonda Rhimes Talks Scandal’s Brutal Season 3 and the Issue of Likability
- 7. The 5 Most Unintentionally Erotic Moments of Catching Fire
- 8. Seven Ways Tonight’s The Sound of Music Will Differ From the Classic Film
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