On today's menu:
1. This news has shaken the cozy-mystery community to its core: Agatha Christie is about to get a Disney makeover with a new version of dear old Miss Marple starring Jennifer Garner (cute but dubiously-talented star of 13 Going on 30 and Dude, Where's My Car?). Our favorite septugenarian sleuth will now be "rebooted" as a young perky thing poking around St. Mary Mead. Or perhaps transplanted to America. With or without a Hummer, a cell phone and a leopard-skin clutch purse. Let's just hope she doesn't burst into a Glee-ful musical number. The reaction from readers has been swift, loud, and outraged. The UK's Telegraph called it a "travesty," and went on to say:
I have nothing against films that put a new spin on an old favourite. But take away Miss Marple’s trademark grey curls, her penchant for tweed, and the delicious implausibility of a woman of her age and station solving crimes in the first place, and what are you left with? Well, you might have a perfectly interesting character, ably and charmingly played by Garner. But she certainly won’t be Miss Marple.Entertainment Weekly counters with:
But is a youthful Miss Marple really such a travesty in itself? True, part of the charm of the Marple series is that a member of a typically ignored demographic takes center stage and solves crimes that baffle young whippersnappers. And yes, bringing Marple to the modern era is a dangerous proposition....But classic literary figures don’t last as long as Marple has unless they’re durable — we should have faith that she is a strong enough character to survive a (metaphorical) face-lift. Think of Sherlock Holmes: The BBC’s recent Sherlock: A Study in Pink featured a 34-year-old Benedict Cumberbatch playing the middle-aged sleuth, and the result was one of the most relevant adaptations in recent memory.Good point. I absolutely loved the BBC's "rebooted" Sherlock Holmes and thought it was a smart blend of the old with the new. Nonetheless, Disney has a lot of pissed-off Marple fans on their hands right now (some of them undoubtedly armed with knitting needles). Shortly after I posted news about the studio deal on my Facebook page, Facefriends started chiming in with: "Where's that Dislike button when I need it?" and "Nooooooo!!!" and, on Twitter, "Don't think 'sexy' & 'Miss Marple' have ever gone together. Agatha Christie must be rolling in her grave." So, what do you think? Has Disney done the right thing turning a "biddy" into a "badass"? Spout off in the comments section.
2. Staying in the "everything old is new again" frame of mind, Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers is being remade for the 333rd time. This time in......wait for it.....3-D. It was only a matter of time before D'Artagnan went all slow-mo on the Royal Court's ass.
3. Still staying with the Young and Hip: The New York Public Library has announced the finalists for the eleventh annual Young Lions Fiction Award:
Citrus County by John Brandon (McSweeney’s)
Vida by Patricia Engel (Grove Press)
The Instructions by Adam Levin (McSweeney’s)
Death Is Not an Option by Suzanne Rivecca (W.W. Norton & Company)
Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne (Harper Perennial)
The award honors the works of young authors carving deep first impressions in the literary world and comes with a $10,000 prize which can be applied toward botox injections for Miss Marple as she prepares for her first 3-D film.
4. Coming soon to an ebook near you: sound effects. My Kindle has long had the ability to play music files I can listen to in the background as I thumb through my enovel; but this is a tech-feature which is tied directly to the text on the screen. From what I gather, the sound effect is triggered when you turn to the page where the file has been embedded. By planting audio files in the ebook version of Ken Follett's Fall of Giants, for instance, Pan Macmillan hopes to deepen the reading experience. Cat Botibol, the creative director of the agency hired to work on integrating the aural experience into Follett's novel, explains: "The 3D sound idea came from looking at the act of reading and how we could enhance that without detracting from the beauty of transporting people's imaginations to other places through narrative....Video clips and pictures seemed to almost detract from the experience because they take you away from the actual text and bring visuals into your mind that might be different from how you are imagining the story.":
By clicking on a link at the start of a passage, the user can hear audio that simulates life in the First World War trenches, in a Welsh coalmine, in an East End military uniform factory staffed by women, and at an opulent dinner party in Moscow before the revolution. The trench scene combines the shattering noise of a ferocious barrage with the sounds of a soldier running across no man's land, with the audio matched to the text of the book at the pace of a typical reader.As Roger Ebert noted in his Twitter feed: "Novels with sound embedded? Sounds as promising as Smell-o-Vision."
5. Jillian Tamarki spent the better part of two months embroidering these covers for Penguin Classics. Lovely, just lovely.
6. In an essay at Beyond the Margins ("Shhh; When a Reaction to Your Work Really Means Shut Up!"), Robin Black (author of If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This) offers words of wisdom about how authors should deal with criticism--both from professional critics and the "nattering nabobs of negativism" at Amazon:
So why do we writers care what insults some hothead spews?It's too bad that author Jacqueline Howett didn't read Black's advice before she decided to follow the Alice Hoffman playbook on a bad two-star review which mostly criticizes the ebook version of Howett's novel, The Greek Seaman, for "numerous proofing, typo and grammar issues." Witness Howett's authorial meltdown in the comments section of this review at BigAl's Books and Pals. Do NOT try this at home, all you young and sensitive writers!
Beyond the obvious fact that it’s inherently unpleasant to have people call you nasty names and demean your work, it’s also likely that such personal invective feels so bad in part because its opposite, the love with which some readers so generously respond, feels so good. If we are to let ourselves believe all the praise, how do we not take in all the hatred too? Live by the Amazon review; die by the Amazon review.
7. In a conversation with Amy Minton for Hobart literary journal (link opens to a pdf), Victor LaValle (Big Machine) has some smart, engaging things to say about the writing process. The interview is full of choice cuts, but I particularly loved this quote about the author's "voice" in a piece of writing (even if LaValle is unknowingly riffing on a quote from an Old Spice commercial):
"....when I read people who have mastery over their voice I always find (always) that when I meet them or hear them speak I can detect the same essence that I discovered on the page. It must be like when a grade school teacher has parent conferences and finally gets to meet the mother and/or father of the child they’ve been dealing with all year. The parent walks in the room and almost instantly the teacher says, Ah yes, of course you’re her parents. For me, that’s when you know your narrative voice is successful. When it’s undeniably, recognizably yours. Even in the dead of winter, covered head to toe in a snow suit and a scarf, you can stand at the edge of the playground and say, That one, right there. That’s my kid."
8. According to the latest Lunch Weekly email, there are some big deals in literature a-brewing. Keep your eye on the horizon for these books coming from beloved, bestselling authors:
- #1 NYT bestselling author of The Historian and The Swan Thieves Elizabeth Kostova's untitled new novel, set in the U.S. and Eastern Europe, moving between the past and present and combining elements of suspense, myth and folklore, moves to Libby McGuire for Ballantine, with Jennifer Hershey to edit, for publication in 2013.
- NYT bestselling author Amy Tan's The Valley of Amazement, set in 1890-1940 San Francisco and Shanghai, about a painting called the "Valley of Amazement" that is passed along through three generations of women of the same family, moves to Dan Halpern at Ecco.
- Author of The Impressionist, Transmission, and My Revolutions, Hari Kunzru's Gods Without Men, a multi-stranded narrative set in the Mohave Desert revolving around the disappearance of an autistic little boy whose parents find themselves at the center of a media witch hunt that kicks off a malestrom of events, where the present is connected with the past, before the boy is found mysteriously changed, moving to Carole Baron at Knopf, for publication in spring 2012.
- NYT bestselling author of Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons Charles Frazier's Nightwoods, set in rural North Carolina in the 1950s and telling of a young woman who cares for her murdered sister's twins, to Random House, for release in October 2011.