It was shocking to find that New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid had died, of an asthma attack of all things, while reporting in Syria, especially when he’s put himself in harm’s way so many other times and emerged unscathed. Tyler Hicks, the Times photographer who was with Shadid when he died and who escorted his body out of Syria was, along with Shadid, among of the four journalists captured and held in Libya less than a year ago in the early days of the uprising there. Shadid’s reporting was brave and essential there and elsewhere. His death comes just weeks before the release of a memoir, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East.
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.
Kevin Courier is re-running interviews he did for the CBC in the 1980s on the Critics At Large site. Here’s his 1986 interview with Barbara Brenden, author of The Passion of Ayn Rand. Brenden’s book, Courier writes, “not only unveiled this polarizing figure” of Ayn Rand, but it “also illustrated the perils of blind faith and idolatry.” Given the Objectivist’s influence on a certain vice presidential candidate, this one’s worth a read.
The New Yorker has published the chapter of Salman Rushdie’s forthcoming memoir, Joseph Anton, that describes the circumstances of his life immediately after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s spiritual leader in 1989, called for his execution by proclaiming a fatwā on the writer, after the controversial treatment of Islamic history and the Prophet Muhammad in The Satanic Verses. PEN American, by the way, accepts donations online.
New this week: The Making of Zombie Wars by Aleksandar Hemon; A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson; The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato; The Love Object by Edna O’Brien; The New World by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz; Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes; Paris, He Said by Christine Sneed; Hugo & Rose by Bridget Foley; and Scavenger Loop by David Baker. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
“How can you write a complete story without a conventional plot? We often hear that in short stories, the main character must change. But in some stories, including some by Grace Paley, the characters don’t change. Instead, her stories change the reader. You’re different by the time you reach the end.” We’ve told you about The Atlantic’s “By Heart” series plenty of times before. This week, it’s Alice Mattison, who touches on everything from character development to the strange stories of Grace Paley.