Want to reverse a book ban? Start giving away free copies of the novel at your bookstore. Earlier this week, we reported that Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man was taken out of the Randolph County, NC school curriculum. But less than week later, the ban has already been lifted due to intense community backlash and a local bookstore undermining the decision. Board member Matthew Lambeth said, “I felt like I came to a conclusion too quickly.”
Year in Reading alumnus Alexander Chee writes about the impulse to write fiction, his first novel, and unpublished manuscripts in an essay for the Center For Fiction’s Why Fiction Matters series. “The first story I ever invented for public consumption was in a book report back in grade school. I had made a vow to read every book in my grade school library, and at some point, as I made my way through them, I remember very clearly understanding that there was simply no way my teacher would know about every book ever published—this was before the Internet—and so I decided I would make one up and see if she noticed.” Pair with this Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.
Tim Weiner won the Pulitzer Prize for Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. Then, four years after its publication, he received a box of J. Edgar Hoover’s “personal files on [FBI] intelligence operations between 1945 and 1972” from a well-connected D.C. lawyer. That treasure trove of information has since wound up in his recently published book, Enemies: A History of the FBI, and he sat with NPR’s Terry Gross to talk all about it.
Even though William Faulkner once described Hollywood as the “plastic asshole of the world,” he spent two decades writing screenplays there. At Garden & Gun, John Meroney examines Faulkner’s film career, including writing for Howard Hawks and having an affair with his secretary. Pair with: Our essay on Cormac McCarthy’s attempt at screenwriting.
Jane Campion‘s Bright Star was released in theaters today. Read the New York Times‘ favorable review and watch a clip of Campion’s take on the romance between Romantic poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). According to papers on both coasts, it is Cornish who shines brightest: the NYT applauds her “mesmerizing vitality and heart-stopping grace.” You may recognize Whishaw as the demented/gifted perfumier Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from Tom Tykwer‘s adaptation of Patrick Suskind‘s 2001 novel Perfume: The Story of a Murder.