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Book News for Monday, October 12, 2009

  • What's the Rumpus? The Los Angeles Times looks back at Maurice Sendak's revolutionary children's book Where the Wild Things Are.

    An angry boy, talking monsters and a six-page, wordless wild rumpus: When Maurice Sendak sat down to write what would become "Where the Wild Things Are," he didn't quite know what he was getting into.

    "I didn't have a social conscience that I was doing anything different," Sendak, 81, says from his Connecticut home. Mostly, the Brooklyn-born illustrator, then in his early 30s, was excited to tackle his first full picture book. "It was all my own and in full color. It's hard to imagine now, with everyone doing them. But emancipating children was far from my mind."

    Now, the fruit of Sendak's labors is a major motion picture written by Dave Eggers (who also penned a sort-of novelization) and directed by Spike Jonze.

    Will it be any good? The Philadelphia Daily News hopes it maintains the book's innocence, noting several other big-screen transformations of classic kid-lit.

    If you can't get enough of all things Wild: Newsweek interviews Eggers and Sendak, Entertainment Weekly has a long cover story excerpted online, and the Chicago Tribune looks at the journey from page to screen.

    Hollywood insider Anne Thompson worries about the film's box-office chances, despite its high profile:

    Jonze is a gifted filmmaker who has crafted an exquisitely beautiful, magical film that will be embraced by many, mostly people of whatever age who are still in touch with their inner child. It will likely play best to really young kids. (Truth is, Jonze and Eggers' script is a tad dull, as was Eggers' other co-writing gig for Away We Go.) After the brilliantly intuitive and sensitive opening sequence and the initial discovery of the animals, the movie slows to a crawl as the characters do a lot of talking. Advance tracking indicates the movie will open well, in the $25-million range. But how will it play? And does it have a chance to make back its costs?

    If these questions are less than compelling to you, may I suggest you sit down in a comfy chair with Sendak's original book and let the wild rumpus begin?

  • Read All About It: The New York Times tells the tale of Nina Sankovitch, who has read a book each day for a year and posted a review on her blog.

    In a time-deprived world, where book reading is increasingly squeezed off the page, it is hard to know what’s most striking about Ms. Sankovitch's quest, now on Day 350...

    Helpful reminder that we have more time than we think, if we did not waste so much of it? Envy-inducing lesson in parenting? (The kids are all dedicated readers, too.) Meditation on the channeling of grief? (She was inspired, in part, by the need to make sense of her oldest sister’s death.) Gentle celebration of the glories of books?

    There's some of all of that in Ms. Sankovitch's Proustian year (so far minus the Proust) of reading avidly — late at night, waiting to pick up her kids, at the United States Open.

    But perhaps what stands out most is that, at a time when reading books can feel like a pre-Internet anachronism, she did it mostly because, well, she wanted to.

    I know, you're wondering the same thing I am: And what is her day job that gives her this much free time? Read the article to find out. (Hint: husband is a lawyer; set teeth to "Gnashing.").

    Or just wait for her inevitable book deal. Then the movie based on the book.

Book News Round-up:

  • Fun with Twitter! Tomorrow at noon (EDT), Odd and the Frost Giants author Neil Gaiman will tweet the first line of a story, which his fans will continue on Twitter. One word: yikes.

    Click here to join the frenzy!

  • Some Southern California book-lovers are concerned that Book Soup's purchase by Vroman's bookstore of Pasadena will make the L.A.-area bookseller less independent.

    For the sake of the readers — and former Powell's employee Tavis, who can be found on the Book Soup blog — we sure hope not.

  • Today, Portland State University is hosting a screening of a new film called Portland: Quest for the Livable City, part of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy's "Making Sense of Place" series.

    Incorporating historic footage of Portland's growth as the self-proclaimed "City that Works," and recent interviews with city leaders and neighborhood residents during the battles over ballot measures on the land-use planning system, this one-hour documentary film chronicles the complex challenges of aspiring to be a more sustainable metropolis with a smaller carbon footprint.

    One of the interviewees is our very own fearless leader, Michael Powell!

    Check out the trailer here:

    Tomorrow night at our Burnside store, Wrestling with Moses author Anthony Flint will appear in conversation with Carl Abbott, Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at PSU. It starts at 7:30pm — don't miss it!

÷ ÷ ÷

Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.

The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Where the Wild Things Are (Caldecott...
    Used Trade Paper $4.50
  2. Odd and the Frost Giants
    Used Hardcover $7.50
  3. The Wild Things
    Used Hardcover $7.95
  4. Swann's Way: Remembrance of Things...
    Used Trade Paper $2.95

One Response to "Book News for Monday, October 12, 2009"

    Tavis October 12th, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Here's a more positive article from Jacket Copy -- the LA Times book blog:

    I know you'll love this line, Brockman:

    "If a bookstore can be a pair of skinny jeans, Book Soup is one, and they're black."

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