Showtime has optioned Mat Johnson’s novel Loving Day (RH/ Spiegel & Grau; OverDrive Sample) as a potential comedy series. According to Deadline talks are “underway with high-end writers to collaborate with the author on penning the adaptation.”
About a mixed race man and the daughter he never knew he had, the novel has received a fair amount of critical attention:
NPR’s reviewer, Michael Schaub, heaped praise on it, calling it a “beautiful, triumphant miracle of a book.”
Jim Ruland’s review in the Los Angeles Times was equally strong, “To say that Loving Day is a book about race is like saying Moby-Dick is a book about whales. Indeed, the subtitle to Mat Johnson’s exceptional novel could read “the whiteness of the mixed male.” [His] riff on racial identity starts as a scene, turns into an episode and morphs into a motif that never lets up. His unrelenting examination of blackness, whiteness and everything in between is handled with ruthless candor and riotous humor.”
Writing for The New York Times, Baz Dreisinger calls it a “ribald, incisive the novel … [that] ultimately triumphs because it is razor-sharp, sci-fi-flavored satire in the vein of George Schuyler, playfully evocative of black folklore à la Joel Chandler Harris — yet it never feels like a cold theoretical exercise. Loving Day is that rare mélange: cerebral comedy with pathos.”
Ron Charles, book critic for The Washington Post, is among the first to review Jonathan Franzen’s new novel Purity (Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Audio), which he calls a “trenchant analysis of the sins of parenting, the destruction of privacy, and the irresistible but futile pursuit of purity”.
With his trademark wit he summaries the novel over the course of the review: “[It] traces the unlikely rise of a poor, fatherless child named Pip. When we meet Pip — short for Purity — she is buried beneath $130,000 of student debt and working at a marginally fraudulent business in Oakland that sells renewable energy… For those of you sitting in the back, purity is the theme of this novel, and — spoiler alert! — it turns out that nobody is as pure as he or she claims to be: Everybody harbors secrets: shameful, disgusting, sometimes deadly secrets. If that adolescent revelation gets a bit too much emphasis in these pages, at least it’s smartly considered and reconsidered in the seven distinct but connected sections that make up the book.”
The Cliff Notes version of his long and detailed consideration is this: he thinks it is better than Freedom and not as much fun as The Corrections.
2015 might be termed the year of the famous lost manuscript given that new old writings by Harper Lee, Truman Capote, and Dr. Seuss have come to light.
Now comes another twist, the reemergence of an author somewhat lost to time, Lucia Berlin.
Don’t know who she is? You are not alone. For decades only a handful of people were aware of her work, most notably championed by short story master Lydia Davis.
Berlin was born in Alaska in 1936 and lived in multiple locales, from Chile to NYC. She had a hard childhood, was an alcoholic, and lived a peripatetic, rowdy life, according to The New York Times in a Books section profile.
She wrote short stories that were thinly veiled slices of her own life. Her first was published when she was 24, in Saul Bellow’s magazine The Nobel Savage, according to the NYT. Small presses published collections of her stories at various times after that but she largely stayed below the radar, dying in 2004.
FSG is betting on her again with A Manual for Cleaning Women (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample), a collection of 43 stories that remind Elizabeth McCracken, she tells the NYT “of Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son, which is the most beloved book of stories I know from the past 20 years among writers.”
The collection is getting strong and glowing attention. Entertainment Weekly gives it an A saying, that the stories are written “in sentences so bright and fierce and full of wild color that you’ll want to turn each one over just to see how she does it. And then go back and read them all again.”
O the Oprah magazine made it the top pick in their “16 Books to Curl Up With This Fall,” saying the collection “reilluminates a neglected talent.”
The New Yorker has a piece on Berlin by Davis who says that the “stories make you forget what you were doing, where you are, even who you are.”
John Williams, who wrote The New York Times profile, weighs in with “Her stories speak in a voice at once direct and off-kilter, sincere and wry. They are singular, but also immediately accessible to anyone raised on the comic searching of Lorrie Moore or the offbeat irony of George Saunders.”
Holds are strong and the collection has risen to #52 on Amazon sales rankings.
UPDATE: The daily NYT‘s critic Dwight Garner reviews it Aug 19. While full of praise for the author (“Reading Ms. Berlin, I often found myself penciling curses of appreciation in the margins”), he thinks many of the lesser stories should have been left out.
It is a graphic biography Nancy thinks would be perfect for middle and high school students, making it an alternative tie-in to the upcoming biopic based on Walter Isaacson’s 600+ page tome about the computer legend.
Filled with black, white, and gray free-flowing images and text that often breaks out of speech bubbles, the nonfiction work details Jobs’s achievements and personality. Hartland’s website gives a quick glimpse of her style.
When asked by host Marcie Sillman, Nancy said that she thought Jobs would adore it, as she did, putting her on the hunt for Harland’s previous graphic biography, Bon Appétit!: The Delicious Life of Julia Child (RH/Schwartz & Wade, 2012).
GalleyChat sessions usually look far into the future, but our August chat was focused on September titles. No wonder, since so many gems are stuffed in to the first month of the big fall season, titles that might otherwise get overlooked when the October blockbusters begin to arrive (hello, John Grisham). Play catchup along with us, by reading DRC’s. You may also want to check your orders to make sure you have enough copies for browsing.
Check here for a complete list on Edelweiss of titles mentioned during the chat.
Unless otherwise noted, these are due to be published in September.
JoJo Moyes’ After You (Penguin/Pamela Dorman), the sequel to Me Before You, was met with feverish excitement. A few advance readers were apprehensive about continuing Louisa Traynor’s heart-wrenching story, but not to worry, everyone was very happy with the way Moyes handles Lou’s progression after Will’s death. Wake County’s (NC) collection development librarian Janet Lockhart said, “Lou is as engaging as ever as she builds a new life. Poignant, funny and surprising, this sequel will be snapped up by readers of the first book.” Buy lots and also stock up on Me Before You as they should be read together. And don’t forget the tissues. [DRC available on Netgalley]
An odd new genre seems to have emerged. When Elizabeth Meyer’s Good Mourning (S&S/Gallery; August), the story of a young socialite’s career in the funeral biz, was introduced, it got strong response, with one GalleyChatter disclosing a creepy addiction to books about funeral homes. Gossip Girl meets The Removers (Andrew Meredith; S&S/Scribner) in this chatty and lively memoir.
Saul Black (also known as Glen Duncan, author the The Last Werewolf series) has written a nail-biting thriller, The Killing Lessons (Macmillan/St. Martin’s). A new GalleyChat contributor, Gregg Winsor, a Readers’ Advisory librarian from County Library Overland Park, KS, said this new serial killer thriller “injects some serious voltage into the genre. This story of two bad men, a damaged police detective, a reluctant hero, and a missing girl is an electrifying, mesmerizing read. Simply addictive.”
Ron Rash’s poetic novels set in the rugged mountains of North Carolina have many GalleyChat fans. His newest book, Above the Waterfall (HarperCollins/Ecco) has also earned him “much love” from Edelweiss readers. In this atmospheric novel, Les, a sheriff, is determined to solve one last mystery before retirement. Jennifer Winberry of Hunterdon County (NJ) Library writes “Rash’s gorgeous prose echoes the beauty and redemptive power of the Appalachian Mountains his characters inhabit.”
Librarians are popular as characters in literature. In a twist, Elsa Hart’s debut novel Jade Dragon Mountain (Macmillan/Minotaur), Li Du is an imperial librarian in the year 1708 and must solve the mystery of a Jesuit priest’s death before the arrival of the emperor. A number of GalleyChatters hope this one will not slip under the radar, especially New Rochelle Public Library’s Beth Mills who says “A fascinating look at the social and political life of 18th century China, with intriguing characters and a well-constructed plot that features more than one surprise.” [An Indie Next pick for Sept]
Based on the back story of the first female U.S. deputy, Girl Waits With Gun, Amy Stewart (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) was a favorite for a couple of GalleyChat veterans, including Vicki Nesting of St. Charles (LA) Parish Library. She calls it, “Charming and utterly entertaining historical fiction/mystery featuring the Kopp sisters of New Jersey. The well-researched novel, great characters, and really wonderful cover art, make this a surefire hit.” [An Indie Next pick for Sept]
Sara Donati’s Wilderness series is a favorite to recommend to fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander titles. Donati’s next, Gilded Hour(Penguin/Berkley) is also garnering enthusiasm. Supervisory librarian Jane Jorgenson of Madison (WI) Public Library, described the epic novel of two women doctors in 1883 New York City as “engrossing and well-written, the themes Donati explores in her clearly well-researched novel continue to resonate today.”
Librarians will want plenty of copies of Hester Young’s The Gates of Evangeline(Penguin/Putnam) on hand to recommend. This gothic toned novel was best described by Anbolyn Potter from Chandler (AZ) Public Library, “Journalist Charlie Cates goes to gloomy, swampy Louisiana to write a book about the 30-year-old disappearance of the young child of a wealthy family. Her research uncovers family secrets, lies and clandestine affairs. This first book in a new series is incredibly suspenseful with a charming protagonist, a vivid setting, a supernatural tinge and an intricate plot that keeps you guessing until the end.” [An Indie Next pick for Sept]
Join us for our next GalleyChat is on Tuesday, September 1, 4:00-5:00 (ET). You can also keep up with my anticipated titles by becoming my friend on Edelweiss.
It’s no surprise that the success of HBO’s Game of Thrones is spawning a whole new appreciation for the genre in the TV world. Variety trumpets that “Game of Thrones Leads Fantasy TV’s Transformation from Geek to Chic” noting, “On tap for the 2015-16 season are no fewer than five series based on literary works that deal with magic, monsters, mythical realms or heroic quests.”
Those five series listed below:
MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles — ten episode series to begin January, 2016. Based on Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, the first in the book series is Sword Of Shannara, but the first in the TV series will be based on the second book Elfstones Of Shannara. Tie-in — see our movie and TV tie-ins.
Syfy’s The Magicians — twelve episode series to begin January, 2016. Based on Lev Grossman’s The Magicians fantasy trilogy (The Magicians, 2009; The Magician King, and The Magician’s Land). No tie-ins have been announced.
Every month the NYPL staff posts 100 picks for adults, YAs, and children.
Those selections are tagged so that users can decide if they want a book driven by the appeal elements story or character, for example, and then select from a list of themes, such as “creepy,” “nail-biters,” or “tales of courage.” Order is not prescribed (themes can be picked first) and there is no limit to the number of tags a reader can choose.
Titles appear as a grid of jacket covers or a list of titles and neatly rearrange themselves on the screen as each tag is chosen.
Once happy with their selections, users can click on a cover image (or title) and read a short, signed annotation. Links to both the print and ebook records are on this same page.
The Washington Post review all but glows, calling it “brilliantly conceived, beautifully executed [and] outstanding.” The review concludes with this million dollar endorsement:
“Heaberlin’s work calls to mind that of Gillian Flynn. Both writers published impressive early novels that were largely overlooked, and then one that couldn’t be: Flynn’s Gone Girl and now Heaberlin’s Black-Eyed Susans. Don’t miss it.”
“16-year-old Tessie Cartwright was found buried alive in a field of black-eyed Susans with the remains of other girls who weren’t so fortunate. The story toggles between two timelines, one involving the traumatized teen’s therapy sessions, the other taking place nearly 20 years later, when mid-30s Tessa believes the wrong man was sentenced to death row — and that her “monster” is still stalking her. Never has a patch of pretty flowers blooming outside a bedroom window seemed so sinister.”
Thanks to Wendy Bartlett, collection development at Cuyahoga Public Library, for the tips!
From the goofy dad on the Fox comedy series Malcolm in the Middle to the chilling meth kingpin on AMC’s Breaking Bad and LBJ in Broadway’s All the Way (also set for an HBO adaptation), Bryan Cranston has shown a broad range. Next, he plays Dalton Trumbo in a biopic about the screenwriter who fought against the Hollywood blacklist in the 1940’s, to be released Nov.6 . The trailer has just been released.
Based on the book of the same title by Bruce Cook (S&S/Scribner, 1977), the movie also stars Diane Lane as Trumbo’s wife, Cleo, Elle Fanning as their daughter, Nikola, Helen Mirren as Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, along with John Goodman and Louis C.K.
John Scalzi is a name to know in the world of SF, but as he wryly observes in L.A. Times, that is “exactly like being the best-known bluegrass artist in the country.”
Readers’ advisory librarians will disagree. Scalzi is not only an award winner but also a reliable sure bet for recommendations. It is true, however, that he has yet to gain major name recognition outside of science fiction’s devoted circle of fans.
That is likely to change. He signed a multi-million dollar contract with Tor last spring for 13 books to be delivered over the next 10 years.
The New York Times reported the story at the time and quoted Patrick Nielsen Hayden, the executive editor for Tor, that while Scalzi has never had a “No. 1 best seller he backlists like crazy … one of the reactions of people reading a John Scalzi novel is that people go out and buy all the other Scalzi novels.”
As Scalzi told Den of Geek in a recent interview, some of the 13 new books will be YA titles (they won’t necessarily be SF or fantasy; one is a contemporary story), and will include an epic space opera outside his established Old Man’s War series.
The titles arriving next week with the largest announced print runs, 1 million copies each, are both childrens books. The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers is, of course, the followup to the long-running best seller about the day they left.
Among the well-known adult authors with books arriving next week, Michael Koryta gets props in this week’s NYT Sunday Book Review from “Crime’ columnist Marilyn Stasio for standing out from those authors who “write the same book over and over.” Koryta, “an inventive story teller and a superb stylist, he’s constantly experimenting,” and his new book, Last Words is “a private eye novel doesn’t read like one.”
It is also an Indie Next pick:
“Psychological thrillers don’t get any better than this. Moshfegh masterfully captures the inner despair of a young mind filled with vitriol. Through atmospheric and unsettling writing, the cold dreariness of small-town New England seeps into readers’ bones even as Eileen’s twisted view of the world — desperate, angry, and vulnerable — seeps into the reading experience. Creepy, but morbidly funny too, Eileen, both the girl and the book, will be with readers long after the last page is turned.” — Christopher Phipps, DIESEL: A Bookstore, Oakland, CA
It also leads off this week’s Entertainment Weekly Books section, called a “Chilling debut.”
Since Janet Maslin stepped down as a one of the three book reviewers for the daily NYT as of July, we’ve missed her Friday reviews championing
titles she expected to breakout. We’re still waiting for news on a replacement, but meanwhile, Sarah Lyall steps into the breach today, although for a book that hit shelves last week.
About Sophie Hannah’s new boo, she enthuses, “It has, in common with her other books, a Gordian knot of a plot that untangles bit by bit, like a flower that does not blossom all at once; a strikingly executed and seemingly insoluble crime; a mess of loopy motivations and extreme behavior from guilty and innocent alike; a flawed, difficult heroine; and a great deal of amusing conversation between Waterhouse and his equally odd colleagues.
People ‘Book of the Week’ — “Single mom Letty Espinosa has always let her mother, Maria Elena, do the work of raising Letty’s two kids. But when Maria Elena suddenly moves back to Mexico, hard-drinking Letty must grow up fast. Diffenbaugh (The Language Of Flowers) deftly blends family conflict with reassurance: Wings is like Parenthood with class and immigrations issues added for gravitas. Take it to the beach.”
This collection of short stories by the author of the Pulitzer Prize winner, The Oprhan Master’s Son gets double coverage in theWashington Post, with a review which calls the stories “masterful” as well as a story by Book World editor Ron Charles. It is also reviewed in the NYT Sunday Book Review (“gleefully bleak“).
Thug Notes : A Street-Smart Guide to Classic Literature, Sparky Sweets, PhD, (RH/Vintage)
We’ve had Thug Kitchen, now comes Thug Notes, like Cliff’s Notes, but with an edge.
Entertainment Weekly says, “from the mad-successful YouTube channel that puts a streetwise spin on beloved books and plays — stars a fictional professor named Spark Sweets, PhD. … But the project which is the brainchild of a group of comedians and academics, has been so successful at interesting kinds in literature that some schools have taken notice.”
In this week’s NYT Sunday Book Review, the reviewer acknowledges he was worried about having to assess this book by a beloved author who died in April fearing it might not live up to his favorite Doig novels. After all, “spitting on a fresh-sodded grave is not my idea of a good time.” Happily, however, he reports, this one is “more than not bad. It’s one of Doig’s best novels, an enchanting 1950’s road-trip tale.”
Word has gotten out on this debut. Holds are five to one in some places. They may continue to grow with the full page ad in this week’s NYT Sunday Book Review, plus the review in the Washington Post, “a smart tragicomedy about a young woman attempting to infiltrate the Primates of Park Avenue crowd.”
“Stephanie Clifford’s debut novel takes us into the world of NYC high society in 2006. Evelyn Beegan, who’s always been on the fringes of the smart set, meets It girl Camilla Rutherford, and her ambition and desire to belong get the best of her. Evelyn’s deceptive effort to keep pace with Camilla wreaks all kinds of havoc with her finances, her family, and her sense of self. With a sympathetic main character and a fascinating look into how the other half lives, this astute tale is irresistible.” — Anbolyn Potter, Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ
With starred reviews from PW, Kirkus and Booklist, this is also an Indie Next pick:
“In her accomplished, arresting debut, Foroutan tells a story almost biblical in its basics. People in a mixed, but very religious, clan-determined society in Iran have their lives and roles set out in firmly dictated ways. Conflict ensues when what is prescribed doesn’t happen as it should and when basic human longings for autonomy and a sense of self start to emerge. Foroutan writes of a family’s unraveling in a powerful story that will vividly live on in the reader’s memory and imagination. Brilliant!” —Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA
Philip K. Dick is having something of a moment … yet again.
Long beloved in the SF world, his novels and short stories have also long been adapted into movies including Total Recall,The Adjustment Bureau, Minority Report, Blade Runner and A Scanner Darkly.
Now Dick is poised to make a splash on the small screen with a TV version of Minority Report(actually a sequel to the movie starring Tom Cruise, which was in turn based on the 2002 short story by Dick). airing on FOX beginning Sept. 21 and an adaption of The Man in the High Castle streaming via Amazon Prime starting Nov. 20 (poster at left, above and the cover of the most recent reissue of the book, HMH, 2012. No tie-in has been announced).
The Man in the High Castle, an alternative history in which the Axis powers won WWII and are ruling America, is getting a lot of attention. We wrote about its premier at Comic-Con, Entertainment Weekly is on board with frequent coverage, and the series is getting play in both mainstream media and specialized blogs.
Jeff Jensen writing forEntertainment Weekly reviewed the entire Amazon line up under the headline “Amazon pilot reviews: The Man in the High Castle is king” and said of the opener “this well-cast, well-acted, swell-looking pilot is by far the most polished of the group. It’s engrossing despite its stately pace, and a triumph of world building. [It] could be Amazon’s first successful attempt at big saga TV.”
Amazon says it is their most-watched pilot to date, reports Newsweek, also quoting executive producer Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files) “[the story] raises all kinds of questions about reality and what it means to be human in an inhuman world … The chance to dramatize it was just irresistible.”
Den of Geek has posted an interview with several of the executive producers, including Dick’s daughter Isa Dick-Hackett, David W. Zucker (The Good Wife), and Spotnitz. When asked just what it was about Dick’s writing that makes it so perennially popular his daughter replied:
He would be astounded that we’re sitting here talking about titles of 50-60 years past. Maybe people have caught up to his work. I think with every film adaptation the following grows and hopefully it brings people back to the written work. When he talked about technology it wasn’t just about the technology itself. It was about the how it impacted human beings and what it means to be human. What is reality? Those are universal questions and I think it is part of the draw.