Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book Cameos

Flavorpill, a guide to cultural events in NYC, L.A., San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and London, recently posted a list of classic books that made cameo appearances in films ("Meta-reading: Literature Cameos in Film," Jan. 22, 2011) on its Flavorwire blog.

Among them are Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar in “10 Things I Hate About You,” The Cat in the Hat in “Adams’ Family Values,” The Catcher in the Rye in “The Shining,” and Corelli’s Mandolin in “Notting Hill.” The last was self-promotion, according to Flavorwire. “Notting Hill” director Robert Mitchell planned to direct the film version of Corelli’s Mandolin next, but became ill and had to drop out.

Whether to develop plot, character or share an inside joke, it’s reassuring when directors put books in the hands of their characters.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Military Families

The popularity of the show “Army Wives” on Lifetime prompted USA Today to interview several writers who explore the lives of military families in fiction and memoir ("Army Wives Share Their Military Lives in Books, on Television," Jan. 18, 2011). Among books featured are Army wife Siobhan Fallon’s You Know When the Men Have Gone, a collection of short stories, and Tanya Biank’s Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives, inspiration for the Lifetime series.

Fallon, whose husband has been deployed once to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq feels there are more books on military family life to come. “I've been in touch with more spouses recently who are writers," she said in the USA Today article. "They're writing the stories but just haven't finished them yet or haven't started getting them out there." Until then, here are a few accounts of military life on the homefront already in print:

I Love a Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love, War and Other Battles
by Lily Burana

The Day After He Left for Iraq: A Story of Love, Family and Reunion
by Melissa Seligman

While They’re at War: The True Stories of American Families on the Homefront by Kristin Henderson

Small Wars by Sadie Jones

Wild Man Creek by Robyn Carr (and other titles in her Virgin River romance series)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Best Contemporary Authors: Alice Munro

The Huffington Post recently asked 14 major fiction writers to choose the best contemporary writer of fiction ("The Most Important Contemporary Fiction Writer," Jan. 10, 2011.) While writers such as Philip Roth, Saul Bellow and Martin Amis were among the selections, I was struck that one of my favorite writers, Alice Munro, was chosen by two major writers – Mona Simpson, author of Anywhere But Here and Allan Gurganus, who wrote The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.

Munro, a Canadian, is best known as a short story writer, but her stories are exquisite mini-novels peopled with complex characters and intricate plots. “Writers everywhere study her stories to figure out just where and how they go so deep,” Simpson says. “This writer enjoys such a mercurial sense of time--she can compress a century to a page,” adds Gurganus.

If you have not tried Munro, you are in for a treat. She has been publishing her collections of stories for more than 40 years. Among my favorites:

Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You

Friend of My Youth

Open Secrets


Too Much Happiness

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Literary Lyrics

The Huffington Post recently published a list of songs that pay homage to the literary life ("10 Songs About Books, Writers and All Things Literary,” Jan. 4, 2011). They span several decades and generations. See which ones you recognize. Here’s a sampling:

“Sylvia Path,” by Ryan Adams (2001)

“Paperback Writer” by The Beatles (1966)

“1984” by David Bowie (1974)

“Hemingway’s Whiskey” by Kenny Chesney (2010)

“Yertle the Turtle” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1985)

For more on literary or other lyrics, check out The Arts -- Web Sites by Subject -- Lyrics on the library’s Web site.