At once a grand adventure story and a self-reflexive mystery, The Marvels, the upcoming, lusciously designed book from The Invention of Hugo Cabret author Brian Selznick, is made up of two tales. The first is told solely through Selznick’s illustrations and focuses on the survivor of a 1766 shipwreck, Billy Marvel, and the five generations of legendary thespians descended from him. The second, told in prose and set 90 years after the final events of the first, presents the story of Joseph, a London runaway. If Selznick’s prior work is any indication, the sum total promises to be a feat of both narrative and bookmaking design, gorgeously rendered in gilded pages and a stunning gold-foil cover.
Mary Gaitskill’s first collection of short stories, 1988’s Bad Behavior, cemented a reputation for sexy depravity. November’s The Mare, though, has a premise that’s practically, and deceptively, book-club-ready: A childless, rural couple hosts a Fresh Air Fund girl from Brooklyn, and horseback riding brings them all together. But in classic Gaitskill fashion, alienation, mutual misunderstanding, and pain ensue.
The films David Edelstein can’t wait to see.
Peter Sarsgaard as Stanley Milgram, the Yale researcher who ordered test subjects to deliver shocks to a stranger, their semi-blind obedience suggesting the worst in human nature — as depicted by indie stalwart Michael Almereyda (Hamlet).
Our Brand Is Crisis
David Gordon Green directs a fictionalized version of one of the most penetrating docs of the aughts, Rachel Boynton’s tragicomedy of a South American election warped by newfangled Yankee image manipulation.
Saoirse Ronan as an Irish immigrant in what’s rumored to be an emotionally transporting portrait of a time and place — the Brooklyn of the ’50s.
Love may not be the first word that comes to mind when you hear the name Jonathan Franzen, but it’s a word that’s become more and more important to him over the years. “You have to love before you can be relentless.” That, whatever it means, is the last of Franzen’s rules for writing fiction, published in the Guardian in 2010. In 2011, Franzen told the graduating seniors of Kenyon College that “trying to be perfectly likable is incompatible with loving relationships.” His point was that it’s better to love, say, a spouse or birds than to spend too much time on Facebook. Franzen has also lamented “the near-perfect absence” in the fiction of his late friend David Foster Wallace “of ordinary love.” The paradox was that Wallace’s readers felt loved when they read his books, and in turn came to fiercely love their author.
Hopefully, you’ve had a few minutes to play around with our Fall Entertainment Generator. But if you’re looking for straight and simple lists of things to look out for by medium, we’ll be breaking them out separately. Here’s a look at this season’s books.
Two years after the success of his acclaimed Autobiography, Morrissey has decided to make his way over to the fiction shelves. The former Smiths singer has written a debut novel, List of the Lost, set for publication via Penguin Books at the end of September. The book will be released as a paperback, according to the Morrissey zine True to You (which, as The Guardian notes, is the closest thing this guy has to a Twitter or an Instagram for making announcements). A release date is expected later this week, and the book will reportedly be available in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, and the U.K. (no word yet on a Stateside release). Plot details were unavailable, but if the story hopes to be anything like its cryptic title (and author), get ready for some somber, melodramatic fun. Maybe in a convertible, or a desert, or both. Who knows, but we're excited, Moz.
Here’s the first thing you should know about The Last Love Song, Tracy Daugherty’s cradle-to-very-old-age account of the life of Joan Didion, which is out August 25 and is already ushering in a new season of Didion think-pieces and Didion reckonings and general Didion mania: Joan didn’t participate. Neither (obviously) did her deceased husband and screenwriting partner (and journalist and novelist in his own right), John Gregory Dunne; nor did her deceased daughter, Quintana Roo; nor did Quintana’s husband; nor many of her close friends. Instead, Daugherty pieced together Didion and Dunne’s lives (it really is almost a dual biography) using old interviews, some personal letters, archived materials, public records, and new interviews with the peripheral characters in the couple’s lives. His main source seems to be Didion and Dunne’s own writing about themselves. This strategy at times makes for odd reading, since one gets the distinct impression that Real-Life Joan Didion was often selectively truthful with the presentation of On-the-Page Joan Didion.
Still, if you want a taste for what it was like to be a high-flying journalist at the apex of New Journalism and a lauded screenwriter during a Hollywood golden age, or if you just want to know the gossip behind all the troubled marriage innuendos haunting The White Album, then this is your book. Here, a handful of the most interesting tidbits I learned while reading The Last Love Song.
You have a lot to worry about over the next few months: Booking flights for that destination wedding you're attending in two weeks (and deciding if you have to bring a gift or if you attendance is enough). Fantasy football, or the avoidance of it. Finding a good pasta salad for your cousin's Labor Day BBQ. Buying new boots. In time you'll be raking leaves, and not long after that, winterizing your speedboat. The list goes on and on.
Point is, you won't be wanting for anxiety this fall. Choosing worthwhile entertainment shouldn't add to it. That's why we dusted off our Fall Entertainment Generator and packed it full of 308 upcoming movies, shows, books, albums, and more. Simply pick a genre (blockbuster, indie, something adventurous, something trashy) and desired vibe (laugh, cry, scared, thrilled, inspired, or feel smart) and the generator will prescribe a bespoke cultural offering. There's no better way to keep yourself amused this autumn—especially once that boat's been shelved for the year.
Founded in 1953, the Hugo Awards are one of the most prestigious, and important, awards for the science-fiction community. Named after Hugo Gernsback, founder of Amazing Stories, the Hugos have been handed out annually since 1955. But this year, the Hugos represented something more, and worse, than the year’s best science fiction. As Wired’s Amy Wallace writes, this year’s Hugos were hijacked by a coterie of mostly white, mostly male writers, calling themselves the Sad Puppies (which sounds more like an emo parody band). The Puppies are, in essence, a group of writers who dislike the diversification of the Hugo Awards’ recipients in recent years. Akin to Gamergate, the Puppies refute the notion that their anti-diversification stance is rooted in bigotry: They just care about storytelling. (There’s also a second, more fanatical faction, called the Rabid Puppies, which might sound too trite and juvenile to be true, but it absolutely is true.)
Get ready for a lot of interesting Jonathan Franzen quotes, guys! Franzen's forthcoming novel Purity is out September 1, which means he's on a press tour. In an interview with The Guardian, the novelist talks about how he once considered adopting an Iraqi orphan as a way to understand the younger generation. “Oh, it was insane, the idea that Kathy [his partner] and I were going to adopt an Iraqi war orphan. The whole idea lasted maybe six weeks," he said. “One of the things that had put me in mind of adoption was a sense of alienation from the younger generation. They seemed politically not the way they should be as young people. I thought people were supposed to be idealistic and angry. And they seemed kind of cynical and not very angry. At least not in any way that was accessible to me.” Fortunately, a sensible editor, Henry Finder at The New Yorker, suggested that he meet with some college students instead. “It cured me of my anger at young people,” Franzen said. This is a good example of why every writer needs a good editor.
Now you can read the best of Haruki Murakami's advice on cats, death, and adultery all in one place. Excerpts from the enigmatic Japanese author's online-advice column, which he started in January, were just released in book form. A total of 37,465 questions were submitted to the site, of which Murakami — who has a life — managed to answer 3,716. Of those, Japanese publisher Shinchosa chose 473 to feature in its new hardcover book, the cover of which features Murakami sipping tea between a cat eating a doughnut and a ram clutching a record, because why not? Murakami also specifically requested a digital edition, which includes all 3,716 responses and, if printed, would span eight volumes. True Murakami devotees should brush up on their Japanese if they want in on his worldly wisdom; so far neither book has an English translation.
Burning Man may be perched on the precipice of turning into a Club Med for start-up dudes, but attendees still expect the festival to live up to its synapse-scrambling legacy. Beginning in 1998, photographer NK Guy, whose work is collected in the new book Art of Burning Man (Taschen), has braved the Black Rock desert to document the trippy and massive art installations, which are often wryer than the (literally) fiery images so associated with the rumpus. (This year’s edition kicks off August 30.) “Many of the artists there don’t come from the mainstream,” explains Guy. “It’s not stuff you’d see in a traditional gallery.” Or anywhere else.
After accepting a personal invitation from the Ian Fleming estate, David Oyelowo is now the first black actor set to play James Bond. The Guardian reports that Oyelowo will voice Bond, as well as a slew of other characters, in a forthcoming audiobook version of Trigger Mortis. "I am officially the only person on planet Earth who can legitimately say: ‘I am the new James Bond’ — even saying that name is the cinematic equivalent of doing the ‘to be or not to be’ speech," Oyelowo said. (That's a fun quote because, as The Guardian points out, Oyelowo was also the first black actor to play an English monarch in a major Shakespeare play, Henry VI.)
Trigger is an official 007 novel, commissioned by the Fleming estate and written by Anthony Horowitz (oh, and very much approved by Fleming's niece Lucy, who says “[it's] almost as if Ian had written [Trigger Mortis] himself"). The book, set in the 1950s, reportedly will involve the Soviet-American Space Race and will revive the famous Bond character Pussy Galore. Oyelowo said his fresh take on Bond will show "a man who is very self-assured," yet imperfect. It would be nice to see that on the big screen. As Daniel Craig nears the end of his Bond tenure, people are still screaming for Idris Elba; however, if the Trigger reception is good, it might make sense to have Oyelowo do some overtime. (Wishful thinking?) Regardless, Trigger's out September 8.
“Just a penis with a thesaurus”: so went the standard withering dismissal of John Updike that David Foster Wallace quoted in a 1997 review. Wallace was describing the scorn that readers his age felt for the mid-century writers he called “Great Male Narcissists” — Norman Mailer and Philip Roth, too, but John Updike in particular. Updike was the one who inspired real disdain; he was shorthand for literary male chauvinism, for all the hoary tomfoolery that might lead an enlightened reader of the '90s to roll her eyes. Wallace claimed to be something of an Updike fan (or, at least, not a total hater), but he was ultimately sympathetic to this attitude.
How strange, then, that Wallace, too, has become lit-bro shorthand. This occurred to me last week, after listening to a friend discuss the foibles of a bookish male acquaintance with a man-bun. “That guy,” she said. “I just feel like he’s first in line to see the David Foster Wallace movie.”
Leonardo DiCaprio Will Play America’s ‘First Serial Killer’ in Martin Scorsese’s Take on Devil in the White CityBy Sean Fitz-Gerald
Leonardo DiCaprio's longtime desire to play the storied 19th-century slaughterer Dr. H.H. Holmes will finally be realized, and Deadline reports that he'll do so with Martin Scorsese behind the camera. The project, titled Devil in the White City, is based on Erik Larson's similarly titled nonfiction book that focused on Holmes's harrowing exploits, in the context of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The movie adaptation has been in development for years; it's being rescued by Paramount, which nabbed the property in a bidding war after salivating over big-screen writer Billy Ray's script ideas. DiCaprio's turn as Holmes will reportedly be complemented by the World's Fair's producer-architect, who employs and unknowingly enables DiCaprio's character in his descent into depravity.
Holmes has historically been dubbed America's first serial killer because he built a death trap of a hotel, known notoriously as the "Murder Castle" (with windowless rooms, dead-end hallways, and gas jets, among other oddities), for unsuspecting World's Fair visitors. "'I was born with the devil in me,' [Holmes] wrote. 'I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing,'" according to Larson's book. When Holmes was later caught, he admitted to killing 27 people, but the real number is suspected to be much larger. The DiCaprio-Scorsese project will be the sixth collaboration between the big-time leading man and the helmer; two of their prior films (Wolf of Wall Street and The Aviator) resulted in Oscar acting nominations for DiCaprio. The chance to play — without it being overly hokey — a wicked villain with a penchant for lies and skeletons sounds like a promising deviation that should at least put the Oscar-less DiCaprio back in Oscar-nomination purgatory (he's also appearing in Alejandro González Iñárritu's December-bound Revenant). Other logistics and personnel info for Devil are still under wraps.
The estate of J.R.R. Tolkien, late author of the timeless Lord of the Rings saga, is set to release one of the scribe's unfinished and largely unknown works of prose, according to reports. Titled The Story of Kullervo, the tale is one of Tolkien's earliest efforts at original world building, one that ultimately paved the way for The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and the Rings. "It remains a major matter in the legends of the First Age (which I hope to publish as The Silmarillion)," Tolkien long ago wrote of his story, according to the blog io9.
According to South African research,
The Bard had help of herbal kind, indeed:
For some, his reputation's been besmirched
By news his pipes were full of dank-ass weed.
Using technol'gy of the cutting edge,
They analyzed the ancient residues
In pipes found 'round fair Shakespeare's Avon hedge:
And found with cannabis they were infused.
The Stoner Bard's not news to those who know
His reference to a plant of mighty luck
That spurs "invention" in the mind's tableau.
Who knows which plays he wrote while high as f***?
There's one way teachers can this lesson tell:
Make Crispin's Day take place at Taco Bell!
Sloane Crosley’s The Clasp Trailer: Invite Amanda Seyfried to Join Your Book Club — She Won’t Read the Book, But She Will Wear GlassesBy E. Alex Jung
Some pretty important people have already blurbed Sloane Crosley's upcoming novel, The Clasp. Gary Shteyngart said that it was one of those "rare deeply literary books that also features — a plot!" and Michael Chabon said he fell "so completely under the spell of its narrative tone." In Vulture's exclusive of The Clasp's book trailer, actress Amanda Seyfried shares her thoughts from reading those blurbs on the back cover. We know that gets you through college, but it won't fly in book club!
The Bachelorette isn't normally cited for its literary qualities, but one woman might change that: Andi Dorfman, star of the much-watched matchmaking show's tenth season, is penning a book called It's Not Okay that will detail her experiences in the wake of her successful Bachelorette stint. According to People, the book will allegedly possess a tongue-in-cheek quality, a sort of satirical self-help book for women who aspire to marry a man for his money, then write a book about it.
Nick Tosches is the kind of writer who can turn readers into fakers. You find a book like his bleakly beautiful 2002 novel In the Hand of Dante or his sweeping, darkly philosophical biographies of Dean Martin (Dino) and Jerry Lee Lewis (Hellfire), and the perfectly hard-boiled prose and seductively world-weary tone will have you taking your drinks neat when — the truth is — you like them fizzy. Even when the spell fades and you’re back to sipping diet soda and such, Tosches’s books have a way of making you yearn for the seamy side.
Where the 65-year-old author’s celebrated nonfiction books shone light into American culture’s morally murky depths, the cult favorite’s audacious and haunting new novel, Under Tiberius (Little, Brown), goes even deeper: What if the greatest story ever told was a load of dookie? The book is a retelling of the rise of Jesus, who, in Tosches’s account, is a cynical conman working in cahoots with an equally avaricious Roman, Gaius Fulvius Falconius. “None of what’s in the Bible makes sense if you look at it closely,” says Tosches, speaking from a bench outside a bar in his Tribeca neighborhood. “So with this book, I wrote a gospel that didn’t conflict with history and that, in terms of what I know about human nature, made sense.” Simple as that.
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