- Big news for Harry Potter fans! J. K. Rowling has revealed that two characters will die in the next and final volume in the gazillion-selling series — but she coyly refuses to say which two.
Why, that Scottish minx! It's as though she's trying to build some kind of anticipation in her readership without spoiling the suspense. Pure marketing genius!
- James Shapiro won Britain's most lucrative nonfiction award, the Samuel Johnson Prize, for his book A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599. The prize is worth 30,000 pounds, or $55,000 U.S.
- Only Oprah could bring Harper Lee out of literary seclusion.
- The Supreme Court shot down an attempt by A. A. Milne's granddaughter (backed by Disney) to retrieve the rights to Winnie-the-Pooh from its longtime licensee and revert them to Disney. One can hope this means the beginning of the end of all those annoying straight-to-video Pooh flicks... though one probably shouldn't hope for too much.
- On the newly redesigned Slate, Stanley Crouch takes a look at Edgar Rice Burroughs; his most famous creation, Tarzan; and The Tarzan Collection, just out on DVD.
Not one of the six films in The Tarzan Collection is very good, but the unit of adventures reveals much about our naive conception of "purity" as it arrives in popular culture, where "something wild" always offers an answer to the problems and dilemmas that attend modern living.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife are finally together again after more than a century apart. Hollywood is already casting Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock to play their remains in the upcoming film.
- More from Slate: Meghan O'Rourke, whom our own Alexis loves dearly, takes a look at Linda Hirshman's Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World, which admonishes women for staying home with the kids.
What has riled everyone up isn't just Hirshman's message that only in the work force will women find fulfillment. It's that Hirshman attacked the sacred cow of the motherhood debate: the notion that it's a good thing liberated women are allowed to choose whether to work or stay at home — an intellectual paradigm Hirshman dubbed "choice feminism."
And if you're thinking O'Rourke is about to tear Hirshman a new one, think again:
It's when Hirshman is at her most radical — when she sets aside the language of personal fulfillment in favor of injunctions about the collective good — that she is at her most valuable. I would never write this book, but I'm glad somebody did.
Yowza! Sounds like someone needs to lock Hirshman in a room with To Hell with All That author Caitlin Flanagan and let them duke it out. Hey, speaking of whom...
- Did anyone else happen to notice that today's Review-a-Day from the Atlantic Monthly was written by former guest blogger Caitlin Flanagan? Just wonderin'.
- The Jamaicans are coming! The Jamaicans are coming!
- Monica Ali, author of Brick Lane and Alentejo Blue, writes about her writing process in the Washington Post:
How do you write? It's a question that comes up often; not one that I have seriously attempted to answer before. Sometimes "On a laptop" seems to suffice. That I rarely get beyond such superficialities is, perhaps, a reflection of my feeling that I don't need to know how I write.
She goes on to quote Nabokov: ""My characters are galley slaves." Which, Dave informs me, is my new official job title. He also muttered something I didn't quite catch — sounded like "Gor," maybe. I'll have to ask him about that later.
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Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com 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