I have to admit being a bit astonished that sales of The Great Gatsby have taken off so much in the wake of Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation which opened on Friday. It’s just one of those books that has been around so long, you would think the marketplace would be saturated.
While moviegoers seemed more interested in Iron Man 3 over the weekend (at least according to Box Office Mojo), F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel is once again the literary toast of the town, appearing on bestseller lists across the country, including Amazon.
I wonder if readers will be shocked by the lack of Jay-Z songs in the book.
What I always find rewarding in situations like this, where a decades old backlist titles gets jolted back into the public’s consciousness, is the reminder that every book can be new to some people. Or, in the case, lots of people.
But most of all, I am grateful that Gatsby-mania is giving me an excuse to post this video of Reading Rainbow guru LeVar Burton schooling Stephen Colbert and Carey Mulligan (the actress playing Daisy Buchanan in the current adaptation) on the book.
I have to admit that I haven’t paid that much attention to Orson Scott Card’s wildly popular novel Ender’s Game beyond selling a ton of copies.
However, the first trailer for the film adaptation has just been released (and since the film won’t be released until November, there will surely be more), and it looks really off the hook…and might be the best thing Harrison Ford has done in ages. And dig Gandhi with the facial tattoos.
I have a deep suspicion that if this trailer plays before Iron Man 3 and next weekend’s Star Trek Into Darkness, that ton of copies we’re selling might get kicked up a notch.
And, as much fun as this looks, I must ask: can somebody please make a kick-ass movie of Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon?
For a certain generation, a moment of reckoning is upon them.
While the Boomer musical icon memoir trend continues to dominate publishers Fall lists (I just saw the catalog listing for Steely Dan frontman Donald Fagen’s memoir the other day), a recent announcement indicates that Generation X’s retrospective check is in the mail.
The Beastie Boys (or rather the surviving Beastie Boys) have announced that they are going to publish a memoir with Spiegel & Grau in 2015.
They promise that it will be a different kind of memoir. I don’t know what that means, but as a member of the band’s key demographic (white males in their early 40’s), I look forward to checking it out.
One thing that I hope gets some serious attention is how late band member Adam Yauch (aka MCA) made the transition from misogynistic goofball to a deeply spiritual person. Yauch became a Buddhist and worked hard to promote the cause of Tibetan freedom.
That being said, I guess this is just the beginning. How far away are we from memoirs of Morrissey, Michael Stipe, Paul Westerberg, or even Axl Rose?
In advance of the paperback release of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving (due May 7th), Pacific Northwest author Jonathan Evision made an appearance at the LA Times Festival of Books.
The paper has posted a video interview with Evision online, and it’s a lot of fun. Evison is always enjoyable to listen to whether he’s reading from his work or talking about the challenges of making a living as an author.
Sadly, the LA Times doesn’t freely offer an embedding code for their videos, and I am not clever enough to suss out the code. While I’m sure this is just a scam to get more visits to their website, I’m surprisingly okay with simply linking to this.
Last month David Bowie shocked the world by emerging from a seven-year self exile to release The Next Day, which turned out to be one of the best albums of his forty-plus year career.
And then, like Keyser Söze, he simply vanished again without doing a lick of publicity for the album.
Novelist Rick Moody, writing over at The Rumpus, manages to get the Thin White Duke to cough up a measly forty-two words to describe his workflow, presented as a list. Words in this list include effigies, anarchist and chthonic.
It might be the War & Peace of record reviews, but it makes for fascinating reading (even if Moody misspelled Bryan Ferry’s name). Just make sure you go to the bathroom first, you won’t want to take a break from it once you start.
If you haven’t had a chance to read or listen to David Sedaris’ new collection of essays Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls (Little Brown HC 9780316154697 $27.00 or audio 9781619696990 $29.98), you can at least listen to his interview with Terry Gross, which ran on Wednesday’s installment of Fresh Air.
Sedaris is currently on tour supporting the book, and is rolling through the Pacific Northwest as I type this. If you have the chance, you should really see him do a live reading. Normally I balk at paying to hear an author read their work (at least I balk at anything beyond a nominal fee), but Sedaris is worth every penny. And if you can survive the line for an autograph, he will make you feel like the center of the universe. Seriously, he’s one of the nicest people (not author, but people) I’ve ever met.
If you are lucky enough to live in Japan and are capable of reading Japanese, then you have probably already read Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to, Kare no Junrei no Toshi” (which translates loosely as Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage), the newest novel by Haruki Murakami.
Furthermore, if you have been able to read this novel, you may have been moved by it to listen to a particular composition by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, Years of Pilgrimage, which is discussed heavily in the book.
Music is a frequent topic in Murakami’s novels: jazz, rock and classical (I’m still waiting for Murakami to write a character who listens to punk rock), and this isn’t the first time that his writing has stimulated music sales. When 1Q84 went on sale in Japan, sales of Sinfonietta by Leos Janacek also saw a noticeable uptick.
According to Asahi Shimbun, the discussion of these compositions in the novel focus on a specific recording performed by Russian pianist Lazar Berman, and it is this recording that is being snatched up. While it is currently out of print, demand has proven sufficient enough for the label to reissue it.
While I have not heard Lazar Berman perform Liszt, I wonder how he stacks up to this performance of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2.
C’mon, Knopf, let’s get cracking on that translation…I’ve got money burning a hole in my pocket.