Jaden Smith is going from an action movie career to starring in an adaptation of James McBride’s National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. Liev Schreiber will play John Brown. If you’re unsure about casting a rapper to play the protagonist, take it up with McBride, who is also producing the film.
Edward “The Godfather” Thorp has been widely recognized as the “father of card counting” since the publication of his bestselling book Beat the Dealer in 1962. Today, at 70 years old, the man’s impact on the card game is ubiquitous, but perhaps nowhere moreso than at Las Vegas’ annual Blackjack Ball.
David Lipsky writes for Harper’s about Letters to Véra, which collects Vladimir Nabokov’s letters to his wife of fifty-two years. As he puts it, “Companion, agent, live-in editor, bodyguard, and the dedicatee of almost all her husband’s books, Véra Nabokov, née Slonim, has reached a strange elevation in our cultural sky.”
Amazon, whose tense negotiations with Hachette in the past months have led them to slow ship-times for its books, offered last night “to fund 50% of an author pool—to be allocated by Hachette—to mitigate the impact of this dispute on author royalties, if Hachette funds the other 50%.” Of course, Hachette may find calculating and allocating damages awkward so soon after authors flexed their social-media muscle. Sidebar: Amazon claimed “989 of 1000” items sold would be unaffected by this continuing “business interruption,” which might mean a full 1.1 percent of their business comes from just one mid-sized traditional publisher—heartening news from an unlikely source.
Los Angeles Review of Books managing editor Evan Kindley reviews Michael Szalay’s Hip Figures: A Literary History of the Democratic Party, and says it “reminds us of a time, not long ago, when literary intellectuals set great store by mainstream political parties, and vice versa.”
Haruki Murakami‘s Norwegian Wood has been dropped from one New Jersey school’s syllabus due to “some words and language that seemed to be inappropriate as far as the parents and some of the kids were concerned.” His publisher A. A. Knopf has issued a statement in response.