Peter Jackson, beloved director of The Lord of the Rings movies, has turned his talents to an adaption of a very different book. He has directed a film version of Alice Sebold‘s The Lovely Bones (see the trailer here), the story of a young girl who is murdered and looks down on her family and killer from heaven. Saoirse Ronan will play Susie Salmon, the novel’s heroine. Ronan is perhaps making a career of cinematic adaptions of novels–she was nominated for an Oscar for her performance as Briony Tallis in last year’s film version of Ian McEwan‘s Atonement. Susan Sarandon, Rachel Weisz, and Stanley Tucci also star.
The Atlantic interviews Erin Gruwell, a teacher whose methods for teaching her students about prejudice became the basis of a book (and subsequent movie) called The Freedom Writers. Named after a group of bus-riding civil rights activists, the students in her classes wrote lengthy journal entries — many of them relating to their own personal traumas — in order to compare them with diaries by historical figures. Writing journals, Gruwell says, helped her students learn to like schoolwork.
Recommended Reading: The New York Times’s feature on Dana Spiotta. “When Dana Spiotta was working on her fourth novel, Innocents and Others, she sat beneath a huge bulletin board pinned with her sticky notes and research materials: lists of relevant words (passion, transformation, intimacy) and ‘seeing’ devices (zoetrope, stereoscope, camera obscura), and photographs of Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard and the Maysles brothers. ‘It’s like walking into the book,’ Spiotta told me. ‘You feel it all around you.’” To prepare for her upcoming release, revisit our review of Stone Arabia.
Was Miami made for the mystery novel? The most iconic mysteries and detective novels are anchored firmly in their sense of place, and no place is more hospitable to commodifiable crime and violence than sunny South Beach. If it’s more Florida weirdness you’re after, look no further than our own Nick Moran.
Last week, I wrote about the disparity between Norman Rockwell’s inner life and the cheerful art that made the painter famous. In the new issue of The Atlantic, James Parker writes about the “unconscious energy” of Rockwell’s work, while on the magazine’s website, Jennie Rothenberg Gritz republishes an old article that examines how Rockwell’s style could seem outdated even in the fifties.