The Great Gatsby debuted in 1925 to poor sales and mediocre reviews. So how did it become one of the most famous novels in America? At Slate, Cristina Hartmann explains how Fitzgerald’s opus, which netted the author royalties worth a grand total of $13 in his lifetime, went on to become a classic. Related: our own Bill Morris on a book about the novel by Sarah Churchwell. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
“The plot, obviously, is kind of difficult to explain, like an earnest, pared-down, hipster Foucault’s Pendulum. Not only are all of the plot turns above laid out through a multiframed narrative, replete with several people’s footnotes, but the events are interwoven with disquisitions on the history of map-making, Situationist philosophy, urban planning, and pop music.” At Slate, our own Lydia Kiesling reads Catie Disabato’s The Ghost Network. (ICYMI, Dan Lopez reviewed the book for The Millions.)
You’ve read Elif Batuman’s dissertation on the double-entry book-keeping of novelists (pdf), but now your “debit” balance is low. (Whose isn’t these days?) Enter Sheila Heti and Misha Glouberman. They can document your very essence. The Paris Review has an excerpt from The Chairs Are Where the People Go.
Elmore Leonard was a very cinematic writer, yet why are most adaptations of his work so bad? Christopher Orr explores what he calls the “Elmore Leonard paradox” in The Atlantic. “Most of the early adaptations of Leonard’s crime work missed his light authorial touch, opting instead for somber noir.” Pair with: Our own Bill Morris’s essay on why Leonard was such a good writer.
Remember when Colson Whitehead wrote about his experiences at the World Series of Poker? Well, the Zone One author is back at it again, but this time with dispatches from London’s Olympic Village. I wonder if he’ll share any gossip about Vince Vaughn and the US Women’s Soccer team…
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.
Junot Diaz, author of Pulitzer-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, started his auspicious career in the most unlikely of imaginary places: crafting stories for his friends in the tabletop roleplay game Dungeons & Dragons.