Of all the many literary awards out there, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is the most egalitarian, international, and exhaustive in scope. This year, 169 libraries in 45 countries nominated 138 novels. All of the books must have been published in English or in translation in 2005. Libraries can nominate up to three books each. Taken as a whole, the literary proclivities of various countries become evident, and a few titles recur again and again, revealing which books have made a global impact on readers. Here are this year's highlightsOverall favorites: books that were nominated by at least five libraries.Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (one in Canada and five in the US)Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden (all six in Canada)Saturday by Ian McEwan (one each in England, Germany, Greece, New Zealand and Russia)The Accidental by Ali Smith (one each in Belgium, Brazil, England, Ireland and Scotland)The Kreutzer Sonata by Margriet De Moor (all five in The Netherlands)The Sea by John Banville (two in Ireland and one each in the US, Hungary and Czech Republic)You can also look at the list and see which books are favorites in different countries. Aside from Three Day Road in Canada and The Kreutzer Sonata in The Netherlands, several books were nominated by multiple libraries in the same country. Here's a few:In South Africa, Gem Squash Tokoloshe by Rachel ZadokIn New Zealand, Blindsight by Maurice GeeIn the US, Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala and March by Geraldine BrooksIn Australia, The Secret River by Kate GrenvilleThere were also several countries with only one library nominating just one book. Here are a few of those:From Pakistan, Broken Verses by Kamila ShamsieFrom Malaysia, The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash AwFrom Spain, Cold Skin by Albert Sanchez PinolFrom Suriname, Circle of Love by Soecy GummelsThe shortlist will be announced on April 4, 2007 and the winner on June 14, 2007.
Are you embarrassed about your lack of literary inheritance? You're not alone. Here's a great piece by Annie Liontas at The New York Times on those first, lonely forays into the literary world: "But I see my experience as an immigrant into the world of letters as a blessing. Being an outsider is the origin of my imagination; it gives me the constant consciousness that my perspective is only one of many and that there are myriad ways of being in the world. It grants me the gift of being attuned to the voices in the room, as well as all of those shut out of it."
In the fall of 2005, when my first novel came out, I was invited to speak to the Jewish Book Council, a group of representatives of Jewish community centers and synagogues from across the country. I was one of about 25 writers who were to stand before them that afternoon, in the first of two or three sessions they’d hold. We were all sorts of Jewish writers, corralled into a giant hall—a handwriting analyst who had written about the signatures of celebrity Jews, a young woman who had gone to China to teach English but had ended up starring in a soap opera there, and Ira Katznelson, the great Columbia University historian, who that year had written a book about racial inequality in 20th Century America. We were called up, one after another, and allotted two minutes each. They sat in front of us, mostly late-middle aged, mostly female, presumably Jewish, all of them with reading glasses and notebooks—the scariest possible bar mitzvah crowd, deciding whom to invite to speak to their particular audiences, in San Diego or Palm Springs or Shaker Heights. I was given an orange tag, not a red one, which meant I had to leave before hors d’oeuvres got served, and since my last name begins with B, I went early in the program. Usually I do pretty well in front of audience, but this time I blew it. Did I mention, when I got to the podium, that I had published a previous book of stories, or that the stories had won some big awards? Did I say that one of the awards I’d won had been Jewish? No. I told them I lived in Brooklyn, and I mumbled something about how my novel had been a labor of love, and how I hoped they would love it too, if they read it. Then I wandered past my seat (the only writer not to return to his seat), and went to the back where the wine glasses were (nobody else had touched a wine glass), and in full view of the ladies, downed a plastic glass of cheap Chablis. Still, I got a couple of gigs. Even now, a good half of the paid readings I get invited to are sponsored by Jewish organizations. In fact, Jewish readers took interest in me even before they had read me. When my first story was published in Zoetrope, there was an item about it in the Jewish Daily Forward, in their Walter Winchel-esque “Knickerbocker” gossip column, “Gabriel Brownstein has published a story.” —the assumption being (I guess) that their readers were rooting for a guy with my name. Even non-Jews take interest in me as a Jew. About 90% of the time I get book reviews assigned, the authors of the books are Jewish. I’m not complaining—those books have been good—but had my father dropped the second syllable of his last name, no way would you see my by-line on an article about Singer or Roth. “Are you a Jewish writer?” That’s the big question—the question every Jewish writer gets asked when he stands before a Jewish crowd. It’s a question about allegiance, I guess, about identity—and because the answer is so obvious (my last name is Brownstein, I’m sitting in a synagogue basement, hawking a book) it feels a little bit needling, posed with a raised eyebrow, and the eyebrow I imagine is my late Great Aunt Henya’s, drawn in an orange pencil to match her permanent’s rinse. I’ve worked out different replies. The rim shot: “No, I’m a Korean gynocologist.” Or “Yeh, yeh,” with the flap of the hand (Yiddish being the only language where a double positive is a negative). But the fact is inescapable: Were I to convert to Catholicism and to renounce the pen for dentistry, that would only make me a more interesting Jewish writer. As a kid, I’ll admit it, I thought of them like an all-star team, The American Jews—Saul “The Sultan of Swat” Bellow roaming right, Bern “the Iron Horse” Malamud at first, Grace “Pee-Wee” Paley, the slick-fielding shortstop, and in center my hero, Phil “The Jersey Clipper” Roth. All I wanted, maybe starting at about fifteen, was to be a utility infielder on that squad, maybe a pinch runner, but certainly to wear the uniform. And that uniform was never the long black coat and yarmulke. Alexander Portnoy wanted to be “just a center fielder,” not a Jewish center fielder. None of my heroes took the field with a big YIDDLE on their chest, or played for the home team. And that’s what drew me to them—their ambiguity, their irony, the same things, it turns out, Cleanth Brooks liked about literature. My team by now has won so many championships that their influence is pervasive. Everyone wants to wear the cap. It’s not just Updike with his Beck books. Barack Obama, on the campaign trail, acknowledged his debt to Bellow and Roth. Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is over-populated with brilliant, superreal Jewish caricatures—the assimilated Larchmont housewife, the downtown hippy, the neo-con sage—Franzen (not a Jew) even has a Jewish identity rediscovery subplot. Some of my favorite recent Jewish short stories have been by non-Jews, like Nam Le’s “Meeting Elise,“ about a New York painter’s colonoscopy, or Anthony Doerr’s beautiful requiem for a dying Holocaust survivor, “Afterworld.” Not long ago, William Deresiewicz wrote an interesting article in the Nation about the state of contemporary Jewish letters. He noted that the Jewish subcultures that spawned the great Jewish-American writers of the midcentury are all gone, and that it’s no longer possible to be a Jewish-American writer as Bellow and Roth and Malamud and Paley were, moving from the margin toward the center while embracing both. The Jewish writers of my generation whose subject is most overtly Jewish—Dara Horn, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Nathan Englander—tend to write historical fiction, and they seem not to be following the madcap assimilationist comedy of Portnoy’s Complaint but more the elegiac lyricism of Cynthia Ozick, as in The Shawl—a search for something lost, a search for authenticity. But that search for authenticity is not what I love. It’s not that I’m ambivalent about being a Jewish writer, but that the kind of Jewish writer I am is ambivalent. I’m more attuned to the dissonant chord than to mournful harmonies, and reading Ozick—ah, she’s so brilliant, nobody’s smarter—I can get uneasy. In the Puttermesser Papers, for instance, a character begins riffing on Yiddish, with its only one word for knife: “By us, we got only messer, you follow? By them they got sword, they got lance, they got halberd . . .. Look it up in the book, you’ll see halberd, you’ll see cutlass, pike, rapier, foil, ten dozen more. By us, pike is a fish.” And it’s feels like a sermon not a story, as if the character is mouthing the author’s beliefs, by us we’re gentle, by them they’re mean, and this for me shades quickly toward Ozick’s politics, the kind of Zionism that brooks no irony or ambiguity, or much sympathy at all for the other guy’s sufferings or cries for justice. What happens when Jewish fiction becomes identity fiction? Here we come to the difficult thing at the heart of this essay and the heart of contemporary Jewish-themed fiction, i.e., fiction about the Holocaust. Here, irony and ambiguity seem out of place: I may find my ethnicity comic, but Nazis most certainly won’t. Ozick’s "The Shawl" is not the first piece of fiction by an American-born Jew to re-imagine the horrors of the camps, but it is one of the most influential. And “The Shawl” is beautifully written, six-pages long and composed as if in a trance. A mother watches as her child is thrown against the electrified fence of a concentration camp: “And all at once Magda was swimming through the air. The whole of Magda traveled through loftiness. She looked like a butterfly touching a silver vine. And the moment Magda’s feathered round head and her pencil legs and her balloonish belly and zigzag arms splashed against the fence, the voices went mad in their growling.” In direct contradiction of Theodore Adorno’s dictum that “there can be no poetry after Auschwitz,” Ozick turns Auschwitz into poetry. Her writing, in some ways, is the antithesis of the flat-eyed, clear-eyed prose of Primo Levi, whose Survival in Auschwitz chronicles the awful banality of the place, and examines the daily bleakness of mass slaughter with his clinical chemist’s eye. As a writer you can’t help but be struck by Ozick’s audacity, but now, thirty years after “The Shawl,” it’s become habitual. Everybody turns Auschwitz into poetry—serious writers like Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss, and Englander, and less serious writers and film-makers and TV-show producers, all the way down to Holocaust kitsch like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. A world-wrenching mind-boggling horror—a set of horrors that no one can wrap their mind around—has become a genre, holocaust fiction. And like the Jewish comedy that I so love, the field’s open to everybody. I can hardly go two semesters of creative writing classes (at a Catholic school, natch) without getting a concentration camp story. And yet when I taught Survival in Auschwitz recently in a graduate literature course, my students didn’t much like the book. So dry, they said. So bleak. It was missing something. In most Holocaust stories, they said, you got that little ray of sunshine, of redemption—the triumph of the human spirit. Bellow, of course, didn’t much like being categorized as a Jewish writer. He was uncomfortable with Isaac Beshevis Singer (“too Jewy”) and joked that he, Malamud, and Roth were the Hart, Schaffner and Marx of American letters. The great Jewish writers of the 50s saw identity and history as unsteady things. Malamud’s “The Magic Barrel” ends with its hero running from rabbinical studies toward love, and the old matchmaker, Salzman, muttering prayers for the dead. The viewpoint in Roth’s late great Israel novels—The Counterlife and Operation Shylock—is doubled, two Roths, split identities, the whole concept of authenticity set ablaze. Perhaps in the work of contemporary historical Jewish novelists we’re seeing a counter-reaction, an attempt to put that fire out and reclaim all that was lost. Maybe people are done reading about ambivalent Jews. After all, you can be a Jewish writer these days, a Jonathan Lethem or a Joan Silber, and not really write that much as a Jew at all. Meanwhile, the very best of the current Jewish writers who write on Jewish themes, Michael Chabon and Allegra Goodman, have managed to leap the dichotomy between the old ironists and the new earnestness largely through the sheer force of human comedy. American-Jewish fiction remains rich in potentialities—infinite numbers of stories to be written about family, history, assimilation, Zionism, philo-Semitism, anti-Semitism, ideology, and power—no wonder people are still interested. I went to a conference not too long ago on Asian American writers, and “Are you an Asian American writer?” the writers were asked. For me, it was a little trip through the looking glass, and I wondered: Is this how it goes all over the country? You invite a panel of writers, troop them up under the fluorescents, and then ask, “For us or against us?” David Henry Hwang, the playwright, had a good answer. He said that for years he had resented the categorization, but in time he had come to terms with it. You have to get categorized, he said, one way or another—Jewish writer, gay writer, women’s writer, sex writer, what have you. He talked of friends, fine playwrights with unspectacular careers, who had never been categorized, and said, look, that’s why they never took off. You need to get categorized in order to succeed. Truth is, these days, any writer who gets any attention should count himself lucky. A reader, somewhere, from some reason, is thinking of you—that alone should be cause for a happy dance. So, yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am a Jewish writer. Invite me to your community center, please! (Image: Seychelles Island-1, from zeevveez's photostream)
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I read Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan trilogy this year. I read it twice, actually. It made me want to quit writing. That sounds like the kind of cutesy thing you could say about any book you love, but in fact the reality of it was terrible, a sensation that lasted for days, a blend of nausea, fog, and loss. How can I explain it? Reading those books -- My Brilliant Friend, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of a New Name -- it was as if I had spent my whole life training to be a world-class swimmer, waking up at dawn to do laps, eating the right stuff -- and then, all of the sudden, swimming in the ocean one day, I had been joined briefly by a dolphin and realized, oh, of course, that’s what swimming actually is. That is: There’s a difference between naturalism and naturalness. Naturalism is still a mode. Ferrante’s early books are great, but they’re modal, full of the effects a novelist can use, beautifully deployed, but effects. By the Neapolitan trilogy, those effects are gone. As a consequence it has less immediate line-to-line dazzle than what we’re used to calling great fiction these days, The Flamethrowers, for example, or even The Days of Abandonment, but what she buys with the sacrifice is a consuming naturalness. There’s not a single moment of falseness across all the thousand pages of the books. In general, even the best novelists enter their texts; the great ones do it almost imperceptibly, but still, behind Walter’s love of birds in Freedom, for instance, you just sense Jonathan Franzen’s love of birds, a weak but noticeable magnetic draw from character to author. Whereas Ferrante works so closely to her characters’ motivations, more closely than any novelist I’ve ever read, that it means the books are not so much realistic as that they are a reality. The result is intoxicating, art with all the beauties of a made thing and the authenticity of a discovered one. It’s like a garment without seams that fits perfectly, or like those Vija Celmins rocks. It’s like the opposite of the Pompidou Center. The last 20 years have seen the ascent of James Wood’s idea that what the novel offers uniquely is an encounter with another consciousness, and now we’ve arrived at the cultural triumph of his particular theodicy, Karl Ove Knausgaard and Ben Lerner. Those (wonderful) authors get rid of the problem of the novel by entering it overtly, and while that allows an magical nearness to them, it’s a solution that’s also an impoverishment, because it foregoes plot. An acceptable loss, you might say. I wonder. Wood’s pressure toward interiority almost seems to me to forget the structure of life, which is so crucially at once internal and external. Life has actions in it. In reading a novel, it’s profound to experience the self-in-other in memory or contemplation, but it’s sometimes just as profound to experience the self-in-other during moments of decision. In Ferrante, we have both -- they’re told in the first person, but they’re the story of more than a single person, of many equally weighted people. The plotting of their stories is so skillful, indeed so unplotted, in the sense that life is unplotted, in the sense that we don’t know the future, that as readers we suddenly exist both in other actions and in their actors’ consciousness of them. Not the latter alone. I read a lot of things in 2014, and I would like to imagine I’ll look back on the year and remember rereading Patrick O’Brian, whose achievement as an author of historical fiction I consider as great as Hilary Mantel’s, or Six Memos for the Next Millennium and Mythologies, which have both been rattling in my mind since winter, or the mysterious and beautiful 10:04, or the funniest book I read all year, a fantastic self-published novella that if there were justice in the world would upend pro sports, Goodell vs. Obama by PFT Commenter, or the fifth volume of Marcel Proust, finally I’m almost done. But realistically, Ferrante is who will stay with me. It’s considered unsophisticated to be normative about authors. Leave it to Buzzfeed, leave it to the Mike Trout zealots. I get that, but at the same time I also think it’s important to believe in greatness, and I don’t think it’s always wrong to calibrate it. I don’t know if Ian McEwan is greater than Don DeLillo, or whatever. What I do know is that before 2014, I thought Philip Roth was the greatest novelist alive. Now, for me, he’s second. More from A Year in Reading 2014 Don't miss: A Year in Reading 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 The good stuff: The Millions' Notable articles The motherlode: The Millions' Books and Reviews Like what you see? Learn about 5 insanely easy ways to Support The Millions, and follow The Millions on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr.
Very interesting article from the NY Times today about Amazon and used books. Many assume that Amazon's ample selection of used books represents a grave threat to authors and publishers, but some economists who looked into the issue found evidence that just the opposite is true. The key point: "When used books are substituted for new ones, the seller faces competition from the secondhand market, reducing the price it can set for new books. But there's another effect: the presence of a market for used books makes consumers more willing to buy new books, because they can easily dispose of them later." Read the whole article here.
1. The Dream Several years ago, while going through a box of books at my job, I came across Wake of the Perdido Star, a work of fiction authored by actor Gene Hackman and Daniel Lenihan. Intrigued, I peeped inside and read the following: 'The cook has told me there be salted cod and bits of cheese for supper,' he said. 'If you like, I'll fetch you some.' 'Speak to me not of food, for I am soon to die.' I was so charmed by this discovery that I immediately founded a celebrity book club and emailed everyone I knew [actual excerpt]: "I have decided to start a celebrity book club. There is another celebrity book club, where celebrities read books. In this club we will read celebrities' books, but only if they are novels and full of magic and imagination." Like many enterprises I have undertaken with great verve and style, this club foundered due to my own delinquency; some loyal friends in fact read Wake of the Perdido Star (one of them really liked it), but we never met to discuss, act out dialogues, and drink beer like I promised in my invitation. And today, a thwarted virgin, I've still yet to read a single celebrity novel in its entirety. I was reminded of this abandoned book club because the other night I had a dream where I met James Franco and we forged a very deep sort of friendship and he started writing me long letters on a typewriter. "If James Franco writes you long letters on a typewriter," I wondered in the dream, "Is it cheating?" Then I woke up with a visceral desire to read his fiction (this also feels like cheating). 2. Feeling Frisky Garth, in a humorous post last year, riffed off the news of Michael Cera's appearance in McSweeney's and alerted us to the trend of celebrity fiction in the pages of high-faluting publications. But I think this phenomenon has been with us for decades (maybe even centuries). There is something about celebrity novels that seems intrinsically against nature, like cats playing the piano. Celebrities are perfect the way they are. They don't need to be great writers in addition to being great thespians or singers (or shatteringly attractive, or whatever it is that made them famous). More importantly, the appearance of their books signifies a great injustice; celebrities, by virtue of their fame, get the opportunity to publish, an opportunity out of reach for most of us here in the great unwashed. I'm not being fair, of course. Celebrities are people too, not vessels for our pleasure, and they should do what they please with their lives. If you're an artist, you're an artist, and your art will out. Also, writing fiction is hard, and many of us have tried to do it with excruciating results, which we keep quietly to ourselves. But all celebrity novels are not created equal. Some celebrities demonstrate (appear to, rather, since I can't say for sure) an admirable flexibility of medium and a great deal of facility with the written word. Furthermore, they seem to actually want to express themselves, and not simply to diversify their media portfolios. On the other hand, many celebrity-cum-authors seem to lack even passing familiarity with books, any books at all, and the habitual contents thereof; many enlist aides just to get the woeful sentences onto the page. When Lauren Conrad (she played "Lauren" on The Hills) writes a novel (three novels, in fact), it rouses my inner Marx. Or maybe Robespierre. With this in mind, inspired by the afterglow of my James Franco reverie, and remembering my foundered book club, I've started this bibliography of celebrity fiction. The trend pieces about actor-writers (and Franco, always Franco) on sites like, for example, the ominously named Frisky, identify a paltry ten titles and call it a day. I think we can do better. 3. The List It turns out that tracking down celebrity novels is not all that easy. Some of the books, unsurprisingly, seem to have slunk off in shame. For now I'm not counting children's books, because most celebrities seem to have dabbled in children's fiction (and pacifism) at some point in their careers. I'm also not counting novels based on movies. "Celebrities" is defined here as famous people famous for things other than writing novels--I'm casting the net wide. So who am I missing? And what did I get wrong? Pedro Almodovar. Fuego en las Entranas (1981), El Sueno de la Raison (1980). I would love find these, also to be able to read Spanish. One synopsis I found says that Fuego, a novella, is about a vengeful maxi pad magnate. Pamela Anderson. Star (2005), Star Struck (2005). Scantily clad autobiographical fiction. Lionel Barrymore. Mr. Cantonwine, A Moral Tale (1953). Sounds decidedly unsalacious. Glenn Beck. The Overton Window (2010). Basically this book is about David Plouffe or somebody being awakened from his shallow existence to the grim realities of PEOPLE WHO HATE FREEDOM. Glenn Beck apparently calls this a "faction," i.e., fiction+fact. But the thing about neologisms is, is that you can't make one out of something that is already actually a word with its own meaning. Like, I might want to call this book a "diction" (you do the math), but I can't because it WOULDN'T MAKE SENSE. Barbara Boxer and Mary-Rose Hayes. A Time to Run (2005). B.B. novelizes the liberal agenda. Marlo Brando, Donald Cammell, David Thomson. Fan Tan (2005). I think this counts--Brando came up with the scenes and some of the premise, Cammell wrote the treatment, and then Thomson, after Brando's death, filled in the blanks for publication. The result had Louis Bayard asking, "Why does a novel written in the early 1980s feel like something that had lain at the bottom of the sea for half a century prior?" Jimmy Buffett. Where is Joe Merchant? (2003), A Salty Piece of Land (2006). Adventure, beaches, sea planes, presumably margaritas. Ed Burns, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Siju Thomas. The Dock Walloper (first in the series is 2008). Like the other celebrity comic book impresarios on this list, it's hard to tell exactly what the celebrity's role is in the process. Tim Burton. The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories (1997). Gruesome yet whimsical vignettes and illustrations (Gorey-esque?). Bruce Campbell. Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way (2006). This doesn't sound like a novel, but it is. Naomi Campbell. Swan (1996). Famous supermodel gets blackmailed, has adventures. Yawn. Johnny Cash. Man in White (1986). I am learning so much compiling this list. Like that Johnny Cash wrote Biblical fiction about the Apostle Paul. Michael Cera. "Pinecone" in McSweeney's 30 (2009). I found what I think was an excerpt online and I was unmoved. Lynne Cheney. Sisters (1981). Holy crap. Before Lynne Cheney was busy penning epics like America: A Patriotic Primer (J is for Jefferson, E is for Extraordinary rendition), she wrote a sexy lesbian sex book. Lauren Conrad. L.A. Candy (2010), Sweet Little Lies (2010), and there's another one coming out in October. These purported fictions are about a girl who goes to Los Angeles to be in a reality show. The woman has published three books in one year! This is the shit of which rebellions are fomented. Wes Craven. The Fountain Society (1999). Cloning, secret military societies. Macauley Culkin. Junior (2007). Autobiographical fiction featuring stream-of-consciousness rants, quizzes, doodles, dad issues. Sounds awfully post-modern. Tony Curtis. Kid Andrew Cody and Julie Sparrow (1977). I can't find out what this was about, but it ended with a lawsuit against Curtis, brought by Doubleday. Bob Dylan. Tarantula (1965). Bob Dylan wrote an experimental novel, which was apparently so bad that he claimed he was coerced into writing it. Frederico Fellini and Milo Manara. Viaje a Tulum (1990). I really don't know if this counts, but it sounds cool. It's a script that Fellini abandoned, which was taken up by Manara and turned into a graphic novel, and I think Fellini added some of the art. There was a translated edition also, Trip to Tulum (1990). Carrie Fisher. Postcards from the Edge (1987), The Best Awful (2004). Hollywood, full of crazy characters and mad-cap adventures! James Franco. First there was "Just Before the Black" in the March 24, 2010, issue of Esquire. Not to jeopardize our budding relationship in my mind, but I did read this, and I'm not really sure I understand what Franco was going for here. Disturbed young tough, first-person narrative, ruminations like "I wish I was Mexican, or Hebrew, I mean Jewish, I mean Israeli, or Mexican Jewish, or Mexican Jewish gay." It's bizarre. Palo Alto, his collection of short stories, is coming this October. More restless youth in California. It got some good blurbs. This I will maybe pre-order. James Franco, would you like to be in my book club? Please email me to discuss. Newt Gingrich, William Fortschen, Albert Hanser. Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War (2003), Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8 (2007), Days of Infamy (2008), Grant Comes East: A Novel of the Civil War (2004), To Try Men's Souls: A Novel of George Washington (2009), Never Call Retreat: Lee and Grant, the Final Victory (2005), and 1945 (1995). Revisionist history with Newt! Sounds like a blast. Gene Hackman and Daniel Lenihan. Wake of the Perdido Star (1999). Adventures on the high seas. Hackman also appears to have a thing for historical fiction; he also wrote Escape from Andersonville (2008), a civil war novel, and Justice for None (2006), a 20th century noir (all with Lenihan). Ethan Hawke. The Hottest State (1996). Aspiring authors trying to make it in New York, have sex, talk about life. Ash Wednesdsay (2003). Young man goes AWOL, leaves pregnant girlfriend. Reunites with pregnant girlfriend, embarks on roadtrip. Elia Kazan. The Arrangement (1967). The Greek-American son of rug merchant struggles with success, adultery, pursuit of the American Dream. Don Draper? Kazan also wrote The Anatolian (1982), America America (1962), The Understudy (1974), The Assassins (1972), Acts of Love (1978), and Beyond the Aegean (1994). Hugh Laurie. The Gun Seller (1998). A zany spy novel, evidently with shades of Wodehouse. (Our own Andrew has already more extensively discussed the fiction of Laurie and his sometime on screen collaborator Stephen Fry) Janet Leigh. House of Destiny (1995). Rags to riches, bellboy to famous Hollywood producer. Dream Factory (2002), more Hollywood. John Lennon. A Spaniard in the Works (1965). Goofy stories filled with puns and spoonerisms. Courtney Love, Ai Yazawa, Misaho Kujiradou, D.J. Milky. Princess Ai (first 2004, several volumes thereafter). Courtney Love does manga. Michael Madsen. The Complete Poetic Works of Michael Madsen Vol. 1, 1995-2005 (2005). That Michael Madsen is a prolific enough poet to necessitate delineation by volume number is for some reason a serious mind-fuck. "Why do some men ask for a beating?/ You can see it in their faces,/ You know… they need it./ I beat a guy/ With a tire iron once ..." Also, Burning in Paradise (1998). Drugs, sex, sadness. Steve Martin. Shopgirl (2000). A young woman sells gloves, feels adrift, does it with a rich man. Made for tepid and weird film, I thought. The Pleasure of My Company (2004). A guy with obsessive-compulsive disorder befriends single mother, hearts are warmed. Wasn't this the premise of As Good as it Gets? Willie Nelson and Mike Blakeley. A Tale Out of Luck (2008). Rustlers and so forth. Leonard Nimoy. You and I (1973), Will I Think of You? (1974), Come be With Me (1978), Warmed by Love (1983), A Lifetime of Love (2002). Nimoy also put out a book of photographs he took of plus-sized women in which he talked shit about the fashion industry. Leonard Nimoy is the best. Chuck Norris, Ken Abraham, Aaron Norris. The Justice Riders (2006) and A Threat to Justice (2007). Yes, Chuck Norris is a novelist. Life has lost all sense and meaning. Bill O'Reilly. Those Who Trespass: A Novel of Television and Murder (1998). There is something really dorky about writing thinly-disguised autobiographical mystery thrillers. Bill O'Reilly totally has a dozen more of these in his nightstand drawer. Sharon Osbourne. Revenge (2009). Two sisters hungry for fame, one "will stop at nothing to get what she wants." I propose a fifty-year moratorium on the phrase "will stop at nothing to get [x]." Katie Price. Angel (2006), Crystal (2007), Angel Uncovered (2008), Sapphire (2009), Paradise (2010). Quoth the author to The Guardian: "I'm not going to lie, I don't sit there with a typewriter and write it, of course I don't . . . I don't have time to do that." Sir Michael Redgrave. The Mountebank's Tale (1959). From the earlier generation of actor-turned-novelists. The one synopsis I could find (by the author's son Corin) makes this title sounds suspiciously literary for a celebrity novel. Carl Reiner. Enter Laughing (1958), NNNNN: A Novel (2006), Just Desserts: A Novellelah (2006). You know in the movie Wet Hot American Summer when Michael Showalter plays the wisecracking elderly emcee at the camp talent show, the one who says "I went to camp so long ago that fucking Jesus Christ was my counsellor"? I think these novels might sound something like that. Nicole Richie. The Truth About Diamonds (2005), Priceless (2010). Daughter of famous musician is rich, goes to parties, does drugs, does rehab, etc. etc. etc. What an imagination! Send this woman to the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Joan Rivers and Jerrilyn Farmer. Murder at the Academy Awards (2009). There is nothing about this book I don't think I can learn from the title. Mickey Rooney. The Search for Sonny Skies (1994). Ugh, title puns. William Shatner. Jesus, so many. Tek Series (1990), Man O'War (1996), Quest for Tomorrow series (1997), Assorted Star Trek titles (with other authors). William Shatner appears to have written (or authorized, maybe) several thousand of these, with several other people. Wesley Snipes, Antoine Fuqua, Peter Milligan, Jeff Nentrup. After Dark #1 (2010). Wesley Snipes does comic books. Britney and Lynne Spears. A Mother's Gift (2001). Little Holly is a born singer. She gets a scholarship to a singing school, everyone makes fun of her homespun, she feels ashamed of her roots. Blah, blah, blah. Sylvester Stallone. Paradise Alley (1977). Apparently the book came before the movie, and Stallone wrote it. Courtney Thorne-Smith. Outside In (2007). The fictional heroine is a failed movie actress turned television star with a hyphenated last name. That is just lazy. Meg Tilly. Singing Songs (1994), Gemma (2006), Porcupine (2007), First Time (2008). These sound like really intense titles for young adults and grownups, all dealing with childhood sexual abuse and trauma. Ivana Trump. For Love Alone (1992), Free to Love (1993). Calling these books novels really seems like a stretch. I'm not even sure that she changed the heroine's name, and her own glamor shot is on the cover. Mae West. Sex (1926), The Drag (1927), Babe Gordon (1930), Diamond Lil (1932), Pleasure Man (1975). I think some of these are novelizations of plays that she wrote. Mae West sounds like kind of a badass. Gene Wilder. What is This Thing Called Love? (2010), My French Whore (2008), The Woman Who Wouldn't (2008). I find it bizarre and delightful that Gene Wilder writes short stories about love and historical romances featuring Chekhov. So that's what I've got. I welcome your additions, revisions, and quibbles.
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