Upcoming books-to-movies adaptations: Hope springs eternal for this critic | The Seattle Times

Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald has high hopes for these upcoming movie adaptations of books, including the film version of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” and “The Girl on the Train.”

Source: Upcoming books-to-movies adaptations: Hope springs eternal for this critic | The Seattle Times

To her second list I’d add the film adaptation of “L.A. Confidential.”

What about you?

Rich season of fiction expected this fall

Fall is the time for “big books,” whatever the page length, and some of the top fiction authors from around the world have new works coming, including Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Rabih Alameddine, Emma Donoghue, Jonathan Safran Foer and Michael Chabon. Ann Patchett, owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, looks forward to selling Jacqueline Woodson’s autobiographical novel “Another Brooklyn” and Colson Whitehead’s celebrated, Oprah Winfrey-endorsed historical novel about slavery, “The Underground Railroad.”

Source: Rich season of fiction expected this fall

Last Week’s Links

These are articles from around the web that caught my eye over the last week.

IS FICTION AN ADDICTION?

woman readingWho among us who love reading fiction have not asked ourselves these questions:

At some point we must ask ourselves if fiction is junk food for our souls. Too much of my lifetime has been consumed in make-believe. My friends talk about what they do, I talked about books, movies and television shows. I even prefer hanging out with other addicts, by being in four book clubs. When I die, and my life flashes in front of my eyes, a huge chunk of what I see will be me staring at a book, television, or movie screen. Is that good or bad? I don’t know. Is it an addiction? I think it is.

James Wallace Harris arrives at what is possible a rationalized conclusion, but one most of us probably understand and even agree with:

I believe fiction is a negative addiction when we use it as a substitute for living, but a positive addition when its a communication tool for comprehending each other.

51 Of The Most Powerful Pieces Of Advice From Books

It’s hard to go wrong with a good long list of advice from books. Dig in!

Why Book Clubs Matter in the Age of Tablets

Back in the good old days, before the demise of Borders, I belonged to two book clubs at my local Borders stores. But my first book club was held at the local public library.

This article examines the question of how important book clubs are now that many people download ebooks instead of purchasing hardcover books.

According to Ann Berlin of the Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore, which hosts quarterly parties for its approximately 60 external book clubs, “a lot of [book club members] are regular customers, and they’re ordering backlist.” She added, “What’s important to us is our relationship with our customers. We give people what they want, when they want it.”

Caleb Carr’s New Thriller Takes On Fancy Forensics. Michael Connelly Reviews

I loved Caleb Carr’s novel The Alienist when I read it many years ago. And one of my favorite current authors is mystery writer Michael Connelly. So this review by Connelly of Carr’s new book, Surrender, New York, in the New York Times was right up my alley.

Carr is best known for “The Alienist,” a beautifully wrought novel set more than a century ago at the dawn of behavioral profiling and other detective sciences. In “Surrender, New York,” he has written an addictive contemporary crime procedural stuffed with observations on the manipulations of science and the particular societal ills of the moment. Call it mystery with multiple messages.

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

HarperCollins to Publish Found Novel by Late Michael Crichton

HarperCollins will publish a new novel [Dragon Teeth] by the late Michael Crichton in May 2017. . . . The manuscript was discovered by Crichton’s wife, Sherri, who, through her company CrichtonSun, has been working on the Michael Crichton Archives. Crichton died in 2008. The book follows the real-life relationship between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, who were competing to uncover fossils in the American West during the late 1800s. HC said Sherri Crichton traced the book’s beginning back to a correspondence her husband had with a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History named Edwin H. Colbert.

Source: HarperCollins to Publish Found Novel by Late Michael Crichton

Man Booker Prize announces 2016 longlist | The Man Booker Prizes

The longlist, or ‘Man Booker Dozen’, for the £50,000 Man Booker Prize is announced today.

Source: Man Booker Prize announces 2016 longlist | The Man Booker Prizes

Last Week’s Literary Links

10 Best Whodunits

I love a good mystery! Here mystery novelist John Verdon (his latest book is Wolf Lake, featuring NYPD homicide detective Dave Gurney) offers a list of “ten remarkable works, each of which has a special appeal to my whodunit mentality”:Cover: The Crossing by Michael Connelly

  1. Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
  2. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  3. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
  4. The Galton Case by Ross Macdonald
  5. On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill
  6. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré
  7. Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
  8. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
  9. Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason
  10. The Crossing by Michael Connelly

I love that he has included literary classics as well as classic mysteries. And since I’ve only read four of these books (numbers 1,2, 8, and 10), I have yet some more titles to add to my TBR list.

Where Lit-Fic and Horror Converge: Ten Literary Chillers

While researching horror literature I came across this article by writer Christopher Shultz. Shultz addresses the snobbish discrimination between literary fiction and genre fiction (such as horror) to end up with a chronological list of 10 novels and short stories that use horror elements (dark subject matter, entities of a sinister and often supernatural nature, a sense of dread and terror) while also achieving standard criteria of literary fiction (complex characters, existential questions, and elegant prose):

  1. ‘Frankenstein, Or The Modern Prometheus’ by Mary Shelley
  2. “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
  3. “The Demon Lover” by Elizabeth Bowen
  4. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
  5. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates
  6. ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ by Ira Levin
  7. “The Companion” by Ramsey Campbell
  8. “The Paperhanger” by William Gay
  9. ‘Black Moon’ by Kenneth Calhoun
  10. ‘The Fever’ by Megan Abbot

I usually avoid horror, so I’ve only read three of these (numbers 1,2, and 4; and I’ve seen the film Rosemary’s Baby, if that counts). From Shultz’s descriptions I’m also thinking of adding numbers 5 and 10 to my TBR list.

SIX WRITERS ON THE GENIUS OF MARCEL PROUST

In honor of Marcel Proust’s 145th birthday on July 10, six current authors comment on why his work remains so important today. Contributing authors are Siri Hustvedt, Francine Prose, Edmund White, André Aciman, Aleksandar Hemon, and Daniel Mendelsohn.

The Failure of Language and A Dream of the West: An Interview with Bonnie Nadzam

Bryan Hurt interviews his friend Bonnie Nadzam, whom he describes as “someone who felt a dis-ease with conventional fiction and who sought to experiment and push against the boundaries of expectation and form.”

Nadzam is the author of two novels, Lamb (2011) and Lions (2016). Here are some of her statements about how and why she writes:

knowing a character is as complex a process as knowing myself. Both seem to involve a process of patience and observation, and of allowing space for unexpected things/motivations/behaviors to arise.

with Lions in particular, I did try to make the reader a character in this story, to the extent that the reader is tracking signs and assembling and telling stories alongside everyone else in the book. And everyone is mistaken; and also, by the end, everyone is also peculiarly exactly right.

I can’t just write fiction as though language were functioning and reliable. I also, however, don’t want to write heady philosophical fiction. So that means experimenting to find ways to drop into stories that are as unreliable as the language in which they’re written.

I suppose when I write fiction, it’s because there’s something I feel the need to express that I can’t get at intellectually.

 

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

2016 First Novel Prize Longlist

Longlist of finalists for the 2016 First Novel Prize

Source: 2016 First Novel Prize Longlist

Literary Findings from Around the Web

Liane Moriarty’s Favorite Books with Sudden Life-Changing Moments

truly madly guiltyIn Liane Moriarty’s seventh novel, Truly Madly Guilty, something terrible occurs at “an ordinary neighborhood barbecue in an ordinary neighborhood backyard.” It’s something so profound and unsettling, it seems to rewire the six adults and three children present; will any of them be able to recover the relative peace they enjoyed before? As the life-changing event is processed, friendships and marriages are tested and the adults are racked with guilt and regret. Moriarty is known for her compelling, tightly woven stories of the darkness that can lurk behind the apparently ordinary, the suspenseful secrets, catty rivalry, domestic dysfunction, and the shocking event that changes everything.

I’ve read only one of the five novels on her list. And I haven’t yet read any of Moriarty’s own novels. I need to put these books on my TBR list.

Was Philip K. Dick a Madman or a Mystic?

Even if you haven’t read any of Philip K. Dick’s books, you’ve probably come in contact with his work through movies or, to a lesser extent, television: Minority Report, The Man in the High Castle, Blade Runner, Total Recall, Screamers, The Adjustment Bureau.

Much of Dick’s visionary content followed an experience in which he believed that a spiritual force had unlocked his consciousness and given him access to esoteric knowledge. In this article Kyle Arnold, a psychologist at Coney Island Hospital, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and author of The Divine Madness of Philip K. Dick, describes this experience and how it affected the author and his work.

New Data Analysis Suggests Only Six Book Plots Exist

“There’s nothing new under the sun,” the saying goes. If you’ve ever felt this while reading a novel, you’ll be interested in this article.

Researchers from the Computational Story Lab at the University of Vermont in Burlington used sentiment analysis—or analysis of emotion in a string of words—to map the plot of over 1,700 works of fiction. By looking at how the emotional tone of a story changes from moment to moment, the researchers could see the overall emotional arc of the stories.

They found that there were six main ones:

Fall-rise-fall, like Oedipus Rex
Rise and then a fall, like what happens to most villains
Fall and then a rise, like what happens to most superheroes
Steady fall, like in Romeo and Juliet
Steady rise, like in a rags-to-riches story
Rise-fall-rise, like in Cinderella

Read the entire article to see the main grains of salt with which you should take these results.

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Articles That Caught My Eye Last Week

LITERARY OR GENRE, IT’S THE PLOT THAT COUNTS

When you read a novel, which aspect of the fiction is more important to you, characterization or plot? This is a common question, yet for a long time now I’ve thought it’s not exactly the right question, or at least not the best way to look at fiction. The key issue isn’t a dichotomy—character vs. plot, one or the other—but rather the interaction between the two elements. People do certain things (plot) for their own personal reasons (character), and individuals (character) react to other people and to occurrences (plot) in their own unique ways. In this article Emily Barton discusses how she thought about plot while writing her latest novel, The Book of Esther. Despite the title of her essay (she chooses plot over character), much of what she says seems to me to involve the interaction between plot and character.

Women Are Writing the Best Crime Novels

Long-time mystery reader Terrence Rafferty admits:

A number of years ago—well before Gone Girl [2012]—I realized that most of the new crime fiction I was enjoying had been written by women. The guys had been all but run off the field by a bunch of very crafty girls, coming at them from everywhere: America (Megan Abbott, Alison Gaylin, Laura Lippman), England (Alex Marwood, Paula Hawkins, Sophie Hannah), Scotland (Val McDermid, Denise Mina), Ireland (Tana French), Norway (Karin Fossum), Japan (Natsuo Kirino).

He summarizes the appeal of such writers this way:

The female writers, for whatever reason (men?), don’t much believe in heroes, which makes their kind of storytelling perhaps a better fit for these cynical times. Their books are light on gunplay, heavy on emotional violence.

Reading Novels at Medical School

The reading of literature, particularly fiction and poetry, as a way to help medical personnel grapple with big questions such as the meaning of life and of death, and their own relationship to their profession, is generally known as medical humanities. In this article Daniel Marchalik, M.D., a urologist and head of the literature and medicine track at the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, DC, describes a course he teaches “to foster habits of reflection over four years of medical school”:

On the surface, the assigned books have nothing to do with medicine. We read no patient narratives, doctors’ memoirs or stories about disease.

Our busy jobs on the hospital wards require precision and efficiency, but in literature class we can slow down and explore human lives and thoughts in a different, more complex way. The class is an anatomy lab of the mind. We examine cultural conventions and conflicting perspectives, and reflect on our own preconceived notions about life and work. Reading attentively and well, we hope, will become a sustaining part of our daily lives and practice.

12 Great Authors Pick Their Essential American Book

How many people do you know who are working on the Great American Novel? While we wait for them to finish, see which books these 12 authors choose as the essential American book:

  • Sherman Alexie
  • Julian Barnes
  • Teju Cole
  • Anne Korkeakivi
  • Amitava Kuman
  • Karan Mahajan
  • Jay McInerney
  • Jon Meacham
  • Ann Patchett
  • Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Jesmyn Ward
  • Joby Warrick

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Fall 2016 Adult Announcements: All Our Coverage

The editors have selected more than 700 adult titles for this feature (fall children’s announcements will appear in the July 18, 2016 issue) in anticipation of their attracting attention and, of course, generating sales. Our mission is to offer booksellers and librarians a helping hand in finding books to order and promote in the upcoming months, and to provide the industry with information that reflects our passion and experience.

Source: Fall 2016 Adult Announcements: All Our Coverage

You’ll find links here to titles in the following categories:

  • Art, Architecture, and Photography
  • Business and Economics
  • Comics and Graphic Novels
  • Cooking and Food
  • Essays and Literary Criticism
  • History
  • Lifestyle
  • Literary Fiction
  • Memoirs and Biographies
  • Mysteries and Thrillers
  • Poetry
  • Politics and Current Events
  • Romance and Erotica
  • Science
  • Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror