Ever since Paul Thomas Anderson announced his intention to film Inherent Vice, there’s been a lot of hand-wringing over whether it’s even possible to adapt a Thomas Pynchon book for the screen. Now that it’s out, Geoffrey O’Brien investigates how faithful the movie is to the book, and whether or not that’s a good thing. Related: our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s review of the book when it came out.
In 1993, River Phoenix was working on Dark Blood, an independent film that was supposed to be the underdog surprise of the year. But when Phoenix died three weeks before shooting was supposed to wrap, the project stopped in its tracks. Now, almost 20 years later, the original director and editor are piecing the bits together, and they plan on screening it at the Netherlands Film Festival in September.
The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses is hosting their annual Spelling Bee Fundraiser on October 30th. New Yorker editor Ben Greenman will host the event, which will pit Jonathan Ames, Amor Towles and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures author Emma Straub against one another (and more) in a battle of lexicographic perspicacity. (Can you state the language of origin, please?) The event will be judged by none other than Jesse Sheidlower, editor of the inimitable Oxford English Dictionary.
New this week is Marilynne Robinson's collection of essays When I Was a Child I Read Books. Also out are Arcadia by Lauren Groff, The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits, and The Reconstructionist by Nick Arvin. Finally, the collected writings of the late and beloved critic John Leonard, Reading for My Life, is now out.
This year's Tournament of Books comes to an end today, after nearly a month of analyses, debates and thoughtful arguments. In the final round, Kate Atkinson's Life After Life squares off with James McBride's The Good Lord Bird, both of which are, in Héctor Tobar's words, "unorthodox, historical novels." Now that the verdicts are in, the only question is: who won? (You could also read the quarterfinal judged by our own Lydia Kiesling.)