A couple months ago, I linked to a new Granta series in which authors select one of their own first sentences and recall how they came to it. This week, Patrick French explains the first sentence of a nonfiction piece titled “After the War” (available in Granta 125) by digging up an old photograph that shows how the Edwardian English were “stitched and machined into a grid of expectations.”
There's just something about David Foster Wallace's writing that makes people want to adapt it. We've written about this phenomenon before - there have been Infinite Jest-inspired radio tributes and music videos, series of illustrations, even a novel-in-legos. Interest in adapting Wallace's work doesn't seem to be slowing, and earlier this month Public Theatre put on an experimental performance of passages of his writing and interviews, A (Radically Condensed and Expanded) Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, which both Salon and Hyperallergic reviewed.
Watching your book be adapted into a film can be a challenge for an author. At Vulture, John Green discusses his involvement in The Fault in Our Stars adaptation, which he has nothing but positive things to say about. "It was a joke on the movie that I cried every day. But I cried every day because they were good every day!" The film's full trailer was released this week, and in case you still haven't read the novel, here's our review.
Recommended Reading: All of the New York Times Book Review’s “Money” issue is worth a look, but in particular I recommend checking out Chris Ware’s original graphic short story. (Bonus: the Building Stories author recently contributed to our Year In Reading series.)
David Denby wonders: After nearly 150 years have passed since its initial publication and countless imitators have blunted its artistic radicalism does Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground still pack a punch? For more contemporary readings of Dostoevsky, see Rob Goodman's recent article on forensics, The Brothers Karamazov and the death of the courtroom drama.
"We connect with books in an intellectual way, but the most valuable relationships we have with them are emotional; to say that you merely admire or respect a book is, on some level, to insult it. Feelings are so fundamental to literary life that it can be hard to imagine a way of relating to literature that doesn’t involve loving it. Without all those emotions, what would reading be?" Joshua Rothman on "The History of 'Loving' to Read."
"I didn’t really understand what reading was for. If I wanted a story, the thing to do was to get my grandmother to read it to me. Then listening to her voice, her story-reading voice which always sounded a little incredulous, marvelling, yet full of faith, bravely insistent, and watching her face, its meaningful and utterly familiar expressions—lifted eyebrows, ominously sinking chin, brisk little nods of agreement when, as sometimes happened, a character said something sensible—then I would feel the story grow into life and exist by itself, so that it hardly seemed to me that she was reading it out of a book at all; it was something she had created herself, out of thin air... But one summer I had the whooping-cough, and afterwards I could not go swimming or jump off the beams in the barn or boss my little brother, because by that time he had the whooping-cough himself. My grandmother was off somewhere, visiting other cousins. So I swung on my swing until I got dizzy, and then for no reason in particular I took the Child’s History out of the bookcase in the front room, and sat down on the floor and started to read." Alice Munro writes about A Child's History of England, the first book she ever read.
The internet has allowed self-publishing to become tremendously popular, but writers have been limited in their ability to create custom designed books. A new site called Blurb is offering book creation software that allows you to build your own book. Then they print it for you. It's meant for creating a one off gift or keepsake, and the prices seem somewhat steep, but it's probably better than what you would get from a professional print shop.The Bookfinder.com Journal discusses the US Copyright Office's new report on orphan works ("Orphan works are copyrighted materials whose owners are difficult or impossible to locate, meaning they can no longer be purchased, reprinted, cited at length, or otherwise built upon. Books can get 'orphaned' for all sorts of reasons.") New rules will hopefully make it easier to republish out of print work that has disappeared because copyright holders cannot be found.The Baltimore Sun reports on a man who tried to build his book collection by checking out more than 402 books on as many as 10 different library cards. The fine? Three years in prison.