North’s wildly imaginative adaptation of the bard (in one adventure readers can choose to become the character of a glove) caught the attention of the media. He tells NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday that he thinks this way of encountering Shakespeare makes the play fun again, bringing the old story back to life, and providing a deeper understanding in the process:
“You know what these characters are supposed to be like, and when you kind of push them off the rails a little bit, there’s a sense of breaking the rules that’s a lot of fun.”
He tags his books “Plays weren’t meant to be read. They were meant… to be played.”
New York magazine’s site Vulture offers an illustrated interview that includes North commenting on the 100+ artists contributing to the book (including Noelle Stevenson, Randall Munroe, and Kate Beaton), how the book relates to video games (he mentions on his website that he has created an unlockable character), and the process of reading a work with so many endings. About the latter he says: “just because you give the reader a choice doesn’t mean it’s an easier book.”
Paste offers a gallery of images, showing the range of styles included.
North’s first chooseable-path adventure was the Kickstarter-funded project To Be or Not to Be (Perseus/PGW/Legato/Breadpig, 2013), based on Hamlet, According to North, it was the most funded publishing project in the history of Kickstarter.
Retellings of well-known books make good reading club fare. This month, Slate Audio book club reconvened to discuss Eligible (PRH/Random House; BOT; OverDrive Sample), Curtis Sittenfeld’s “modernization” of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, part of the ongoing Jane Austen Project (a similar project, that reimagines Shakespeare, recently launched with Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl).
Reviews for Eligible were mixed, but it was a #1 LibraryReads pick for April and it debuted on the NYT Hardcover Best Seller List at #5. The Slate panel calls it “pure pleasure” and “keenly observed half-satire/half-wish fulfillment” that provides a wonderful way to reconnect to Jane Austen and appreciate Sittenfeld’s earlier novels, American Wife and Prep.
They particularly appreciate the re-creation of Elizabeth Bennet as a modern character and the author’s “feats of re-soulment” in translating an 18th century character to the modern age, cleverly incorporating reality TV as the modern equivalent of social climbing.
Directed by Tom McGrath (Madagascar), it features Alec Baldwin as the voice of the Baby, with Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow playing as his parents.
Both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter praise the director’s use of CGI to mimic classic hand drawn cartoons. Variety reports that the screening “had the audience in stitches” and brought ” whoops of applause.”
The movie is described as “inspired” by Frazee’s picture book and adds several story lines. The tie-in, coming in January, is a novelization of the movie script:
Several marquee authors return with new books next week, but only one has significant holds, The Pursuit by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, (PRH/Bantam; RH Audio), the fifth book featuring con man Nicolas Fox and FBI agent Kate O’Hare.
Other well-known names are showing far fewer holds, including the latest in the series Robert Ludlum made famous, now continued by Eric Van Lustbader, The Bourne Enigma, (Hachette/Grand Central; Machete Audio), coming in advance of the latest Bourne movie Jason Bourne opening 7/29/16. It stars Matt Damon and Alicia Vikander,
Also showing few holds is Bill O’Reilly’s young readers version of his best seller about the attempt on the life of the Republican icon, The Day the President Was Shot: The Secret Service, the FBI, a Would-Be Killer, and the Attempted Assassination of Ronald Reagan, (Macmillan/Holt; Holt)
“The newest entry in the Hogarth Shakespeare series brings The Taming of the Shrew into the modern world. Kate is stuck in a life taking care of her absent minded professor father and her sister, Bunny. When her father suggests a marriage of convenience in order to secure a green card for his lab assistant Pyotr, Kate is shocked. This is a sweet and humorous story about two people, who don’t quite fit in, finding each other. Tyler’s wonderful writing updates and improves on the original.” — Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA
Tyler’s latest is part of an ongoing series transforming Shakespeare’s plays. Margaret Atwood will take on The Tempest in October in a new novel entitled Hag-Seed. Jo Nesbø, Gillian Flynn, and Tracey Chevalier are also part of the project, which extends through 2021.
“After the death of his wife, Cal Sidey abandoned his children for the life of a solitary ranch hand in Montana. Years later, in 1963, his son Bill asks his father to return home to look after his grandchildren, while Bill tends to a family emergency. The powerful story of Cal’s visit is a tragedy of narrowly missed moments as he attempts reentry into a world that no longer has any place for his old-fashioned and violent ways. The prose is clear and lovely, every character is strongly drawn, and Cal Sidey captured my heart while breaking it. Watson has given us a grand Western tragedy, spare and harrowing.” —Kathi Kirby, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR
“Inventive and emotionally charged, the two novellas in So Much for That Winter bridge the gap between melancholy and humor. Told in a series of lists and headlines, these stories of the aftermath of two relationships are witty examinations of love and heartbreak in an age of technological detachment and shortened attention spans. Nors’ relentlessly paced vision of modern life should not be missed.” —Emily Ballaine, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA
“Suspense and love intertwine against the starkly beautiful backdrop of Antarctica in this wonderful debut. Deb is a researcher devoting her life to the magnificent penguins that populate this remote corner of the world, where the ice-choked waters set the stage for the tragic collision of a supersized cruise liner and mountainous iceberg. When Deb discovers the man she loves is aboard the doomed ship, the poles of her world shift, as she must now focus on rescuing the one person who has saved her from her self-inflicted solitude. Raymond does a masterful job building the tension while the dramas of both the past and present unfold.” —Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
“When a young boy goes missing, his mother and sister begin finding pages from his diary revealing secrets they had never suspected. Where did he go, and why won’t his friends tell anyone the truth? Tremblay peels back the layers of a quaint New England town to expose the ugly underbelly of family life in the U.S. Disappearance at Devil’s Rock is a shocking, scary, and disturbing read, the result of a powerful storyteller at work, and it solidifies Tremblay’s reputation as a master of psychological suspense.” —William Carl, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA
Tie-ins this week get off to an explosive start with two editions marking the upcoming summer blockbuster, the sequel to the 1996 film Independence Day, one for adults and one for young readers.
20 years after humans turned back the alien invasion, an even larger force is descending on Earth. The film stars Liam Hemsworth along with returning favorites from the first film: Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, and Vivica A. Fox. Will Smith is not returning. The movie opens June 24.
King’s 2006 horror tale follows a band of survivors trying to locate a mysterious signal that, sent over the cell phone network, turns humans into raging killers. It stars John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, and Isabelle Fuhrman. It came out last weekend on VOD and will open in a limited number of theaters on July 8.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates: And a Thousand Cocktails, Mike Stangle, Dave Stangle (S&S/Gallery Books; OverDrive Sample; S&S Audio; also in mass market). A comic collection of essays and stories becomes the basis for the next Zac Efron romp. He and Adam DeVine star opposite Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza in this tale of two brothers, who, in an effort to keep a low profile at their sister’s wedding, search for dates – only to discover the women they take to the ceremony are beyond even their definition of wild. The film opens July 8.
The Infiltrator: My Secret Life Inside the Dirty Banks Behind Pablo Escobar’s Medellín Cartel, Robert Mazur (Hachette/Back Bay). The nonfiction account ties to the July 13 film starring Bryan Cranston, Diane Kruger, Benjamin Bratt, John Leguizamo and Amy Ryan. It tells the story of a US Customs special agent who takes out the international financial systems that supplied money-laundering services to the drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.
The news of the death of Lois Duncan has brought an outpouring of warm appreciation for the pioneer YA suspense novelist. Even the site Jezebel took a break from snark to praise Duncan for taking “timeless literary themes—mystery, sin, longing, revenge and, of course, love—and [applying] them to teens without condescension.”
A boon for advisors looking for SFF (Science Fiction and Fantasy) titles that will be getting attention from fans is io9‘s newly released summer reading list.
Titles that have already been featured on general list include The Firemanby Joe Hill (HC/William Morrow; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample), already a best seller, and Dark MatterbyBlake Crouch (PRH/Crown; RH Audio; BOT). io9 says that they “really loved” Hill’s newest, calling it “a terrifying, exhilarating ride from beginning to end, … quite possibly Hill’s best novel to date.” Of Crouch’s buzzy new stand-alone, they say it is “a fast-paced thriller that deals with alternate worlds and paths not taken.”
Other favorites are Life Debt: Aftermath (Star Wars), Chuck Wendig (PRH/Del Rey; RH Audio) and The Obelisk Gate, N. K. Jemisin (Hachette/Orbit). Fans know Wendig for his bridge books filling in the story between the recent Star Wars film and the previous story line of the series. io9 says this newest “looks to be just as exciting as the originals.” Of The Obelisk Gate, the site offers, “The Fifth Season was a masterpiece of fantasy literature, rejecting long-held conventions and tropes, and we’re excited to see what Jemisin does next to upend genre.”
Authors and titles that might be new to SFF fans include:
False Hearts, Laura Lam (Macmillan/Tor; OverDrive Sample). io9 says it is “a debut novel that we’ve been getting excited about, an interesting cyberpunk mystery that meshes together the future of biotechnology and murder.”
Underground Airlines, Ben Winters (Hachette/Mulholland Books). A book about slavery set in the present day, the site says it shows every indication of being “a riveting alternate history thriller.”
Behind the Throne, K. B. Wagers (Hachette/Orbit). Saying it is “poised to be the next exciting space opera, one with plenty of action, intrigue, and adventure,” io9 points out that publishing imprint Orbit has a great track record with space adventures, publishing both James S.A. Corey and Ann Leckie.
There are more selections, including nonfiction. The full list is online.
Oprah Winfrey’s memoir, The Life You Want, has been postponed indefinitely according to the LA Times. We wrote about the deal, worth eight figures, last December.
The memoir was intended to launch Oprah’s new imprint with Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan, a line of nonfiction titles hand picked by Oprah herself. Instead, it will launch with Oprah’s new cookbook, Food, Health and Happiness: ‘On Point’ Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life. It is planned for Jan. 3, 2017 (as yet no cover or ISBN is available).
“In the past several months on Weight Watchers, I have worked with wonderful chefs to make healthier versions of my favorite meals. When people come to my house for lunch or dinner, the number one thing they ask is, ‘How is this so delicious and still healthy?’ So I decided to answer that question with recipes everyone can enjoy.”
If this sounds familiar, back in the late ’90’s, Oprah co-authored a book with her trainer, Bob Greene, Make the Connection: Ten Steps To A Better Body — And A Better Life.
An instant No. 1 New York Times bestseller, it launched Greene’s weight-loss empire. But in January 2009, a much heavier Oprah was featured on the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine with the headline, “How did I let this happen again?”
Attention is growing for Susan Faludi’s In the Darkroom (Macmillan/Metropolitan Books; OverDrive Sample) and while holds have yet to take off, Pulitzer Prize-winning Faludi is known for making a splash. It is a good bet that her memoir will gain steam.
It is a timely story, about Fluid’s relationship with her father, who had sex reassignment surgery late in life, as well as Faludi’s own relationship with her parent, after an almost complete estrangement.
During NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, Maureen Corrigan reviewed the memoir, saying it is “sprawling … a wide-ranging exploration of the concept of identity [that offers] a literary, even Gothic feel.”
As parent and adult child spend time together in a crumbling house, which, say Corrigan points even has a locked attic, Faludi explores her childhood memories as contrasted to her new reality, seeking to find answers about identity, past and present, Corrigan says the search is “compelling, exhausting, messy and provocative.”
In a review posted online today and set to run on the front page of this coming Sunday Book Review, The New York Times calls the memoir “rich, arresting and ultimately generous.”
Entertainment Weekly gave it an A- late last week, saying “It’s a gripping and honest personal journey—bolstered by reams of research—that ultimately transcends family and addresses much bigger questions of identity and reinvention.”
Hot Little Hands, Abigail Ulman (PRH/Spiegel & Grau; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample). The magazine calls this debut collection of short stories “sardonic, smart, and thoroughly modern.”
Native Believer, Ali Eteraz (Consortium/Akashic Books; OverDrive Sample) tells the story of a modern secular Muslim living in the age of terrorism. O calls it a “wickedly funny Philadelphia picaresque.”
The Noise of Time, Julian Barnes (PRH/Knopf; OverDrive Sample). This fictional account of the real life Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich imagines a creative life living under the eyes of Stalin. O says it is “exquisite.”
The Sport of Kings, C.E. Morgan (Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample). Horse racing and the aftershocks of slavery intertwine in this “sprawling, magisterial Southern Gothic for the 21st century.”
In nonfiction new choices include two titles addressing past decades and several books spanning history and modern times:
Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul by Clara Bingham (PRH/RH; OverDrive Sample) provides “A gripping oral history of the centrifugal social forces tearing America apart at the end of the ’60s,” while Never a Dull Moment: 1971 The Year That Rock Exploded, David Hepworth (Macmillan/Henry Holt; OverDrive Sample) offers “A revelatory account of the bombshell 365 days that gave birth to … the music that made us.”
The Cook Up,by D. Watkins (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample), a tale of family and drugs, O calls this “An East Baltimore bildungsroman memoir about hope, hustle, and getting out while you can.”
How the Post Office Created America: A History, Winifred Gallagher (PRH/Penguin) details the early history of mail service. O promises that, as unlikely as it sounds, the book is “invigorating.”
Branagh is reportedly gathering an all-star cast and plans to play detective Hercule Poirot himself. He will also serve as producer, along side Ridley Scott and others. Michael Green (Blade Runner 2) is on board as screenwriter.
The Guardian reports that Jolie will fill the role of Mrs. Hubbard, one of the novel’s many suspects, most famously played by Lauren Bacall in Sidney Lumet’s 1974 version of the mystery.
No further news on the rest of the cast. Currently plans are to release the film on Nov. 22, 2017, well timed for the award season as Deadline points out.
The classic mystery’s most recent adaptation is the PBS Masterpiece episode starring David Suchet, Hugh Bonneville, and Jessica Chastain.
The most acclaimed film adaptation is Lumet’s production for Paramount. Albert Finney starred as Poirot, alongside Ingrid Bergman, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael York, Lauren Bacall, and Sean Connery.
Ron Howard is set to direct an adaptation of Neal Stephenson’s SF bestseller Seveneves (HC/William Morrow) says The Hollywood Reporter. Howard will team up once again with Bill Broyles (Apollo 13), who is writing the script.
In their laudatory but mixed review, NPR said “The experience of reading a modern Stephenson novel is like going out drinking with 20 or 30 of the smartest people on earth, and them all deciding to play that game where someone starts a story, tells one sentence of it, ends with a conjunction, and passes it along to the next person. Once upon a time, the moon blew up, and then …”
Others offered the same blend of praise and hesitation. Several critics called it uneven (Stephenson has a problem with endings says the LA Times) and the novel’s sheer density (NYT), concerns that could easily be cured in a film, especially in the hands of Howard, who proved in Apollo 13 that he can plot a tense moonshot ending.
No word yet on when the project will begin shooting.
Patrick Ness’s award-winning and best-selling YA post-apocalyptic trilogy is closer to screens with the news from The Hollywood Reporterthat Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Edge of Tomorrow) is in talks to direct the thriller for Lionsgate/Summit. Variety adds filming is expected to begin as early 2017.
The adaptation has been in the works for years without much to show for it, but seems to be on more solid footing now, with filming planned to begin in the fall and a high-powered director ready to take the reins.
Ness’s background suits the trilogy, an action filled and fast paced story following two central characters as they seek to survive in a world in which everyone can hear each other’s thoughts in a constant stream known as the “Noise.” Begun in 2008, the trilogy has since be reissued with associated short stories, all from Candlewick
As The Wrap points out, Summit is trying, as they have for a while, to keep profits rolling in from YA films, building on the success of the Twilight and Hunger Games series. The studio is also behind the Divergent films, but that series has not been nearly as successful.
Another adaptation of a Patrick Ness title, A Monster Calls, (Candlewick, 2011) is scheduled for release on Oct. 21 (recently moved forward a week from Oct. 14). See the trailer here.
Fed by a growing buzz from literary as well as foodie outlets, Stephanie Danler’s debut novel, Sweetbitter (PRH/Knopf; Random House Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample), is developing an impressive holds list at many libraries we checked, topping a 6:1 ratio in some areas.
The New York Times has spotlighted the author, who lived in the city and worked in its restaurants and wine stores, in four separate pieces, most recently this week’s profile in the Style section, following Danler as she goes on tour, promoting her book at a local indie bookshop, in an interview with Gabrielle Hamilton, the chef/author of Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef.
Daily NYT‘s reviewer Dwight Garner offered his take in mid-May, calling it “an unpretentious, truth-dealing, summer-weight novel … [that] grows darker than you might expect.” In her NYT Sunday Book Review piece, Gabrielle Hamilton gave it a to-die-for anointment, calling it “brilliantly written” and the “Kitchen Confidential of our time.”
Sweetbitterlanded on the USA Today best-seller list the first week of June, taking the #32 spot, which the paper calls “a strong showing for a new writer” and given that the list integrates all types and audiences of books (mixing paperback and hardback, fiction and nonfiction, adult, teen, and children’s) it is indeed a good opening number.