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Book News Thursday: 20 Under 40, Sad News for Tolkien Fans, and More

  • Named: It's that time again, when The New Yorker picks its list of "20 under 40" great writers worth watching. This decade's list includes Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (32), Joshua Ferris (35), Jonathan Safran Foer (33), and Z Z Packer (37). The New York Times gets a behind-the-scenes peek.

    The new list has its own distinctions. A significant number of the writers hail from outside the United States or have parents who do. All but two (Ms. Obreht and Ms. Russell) are in their 30s. And there is an even number of men and women, a characteristic that Deborah Treisman, the magazine’s fiction editor, called "a rewarding accident, in terms of what it says about equal opportunity on the literary playing field these days." (The 1999 list included only five women, The New York Observer noted in May.)

    Can't you just feel the terror of all those 29-year-old Great Writers suddenly pounding their keyboards in a furious bid for their chance to make the next list?

    And what do you think about the list, Dear Reader? Who doesn't belong and who was unfairly omitted? Shout it out!

  • There, but Gone Again: After more than two years of work on the screenplay (with Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh), Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro has relinquished the helm of the feature film adaptation of The Hobbit.

    Guillermo del Toro announced today on the OneRing.net — the official Middle Earth sounding board — that he's stepped out of the directing assignment on the two film versions of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit, though he will continue to collaborate as a writer.

    iO9 looks at why del Toro's departure may not be a bad thing. (I wish I could disagree, but the comments about Hellboy II are pretty much spot-on.)

    To the surprise of many, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, who's already a producer/writer on The Hobbit, didn't step into the directing chair, leaving the field open for some of EW.com's suggestions (but let's hope not ALL of them).

    Meanwhile, del Toro will have more time to develop other feature projects and continue his series of vampire novels that began with last year's The Strain.

  • Total Eclipse of the Heart: You know the next Twilight Saga movie, Eclipse, is nearly here when the actresses start appearing in Vanity Fair promotional shoots like this one.

    For the July issue of Vanity Fair, Norman Jean Roy photographed the spooky beauties of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse — five vampires (Dakota Fanning, Nikki Reed, Ashley Greene, Elizabeth Reaser, Bryce Dallas Howard) and one lone lady werewolf (Julia Jones). Nancy Jo Sales was on set, where, between takes, the girls mused on the gothic romance that has everyone palpitating.

    Yes, it's true — I'm palpitating. I thought it was the sickness I just got over, but no, it seems the broody, hunky sulkiness of the Twilight movies is the cause. Actually, this part I kind of like:

    Elizabeth Reaser, who plays vampire mom Esme, exclaims on the attractive young men of Twilight: "Oh, it gets so old, you have no idea," says Reaser. "It has no effect on me. They're all gorgeous and lovely boys. … You just want someone interesting and weird at a certain point. I have a massive crush on Larry David."

    You have no idea how badly I'm hoping Larry David plays a vampire in the new film. Alas, I have to wait until June 30th to find out.

  • Interview with the Vampire Writer: Speaking of vampires, it's turning fashionable for even literary types to dip their pens into the blood-soaked well of the undead.

    Case in point: Justin Cronin, who achieved some literary fame for his novels Mary and O'Neil and The Summer Guest, and is now descending into the underworld.

    Justin Cronin is the author of an epic, multimillion-dollar, 766-page novel that stars bloodthirsty creatures that run in packs and savagely kill people at night. And he's planning to turn it into a trilogy.

    So he is prepared for the inevitable comparisons — another vampire book? — that could accompany the publication on Tuesday of "The Passage," the sprawling saga of a girl named Amy who is one of the victims of a covert military experiment that went horribly awry and its bloody aftermath.

    Of course, Cronin asserts, "I have not read Twilight." If you don't believe that, challenge Cronin in person on Wednesday, June 30th, when he reads at Powell's City of Books on Burnside.

    Click here to read the essay Cronin wrote for the 10th anniversay of Powells.com.

  • Catching Up with BEA: I've been out sick all week, so I'm playing catch-up. Here are some wrap-ups from last week's Book Expo America in New York:

    The New York Times: "most of the talk involved e-books and their ramifications."

    The Los Angeles Times: "it was possible to find writers, independent publishers and executives optimistic about the future, but many remain guarded and grim."

    PC Magazine says it was "hard to reconcile the show's booming attendance with the seemingly endless reports of an industry on life support."

    At the Huffington Post, Jason Pinter writes about why BEA "is essential to the publishing industry."

  • Just Awesome: You can keep your e-i-books. I look forward to the day when all books are printed by Lego presses:

Book News Round-up:

  • Robert Kirkman's acclaimed comic series The Walking Dead is being turned into a TV series for AMC — yup, the guys who show Mad Men and Breaking Bad. If it's even half as good as either of those shows, it might actually be great.

    Here's a sneak peek at some of the zombies.

  • Apparently, hell has frozen over: Larry McMurtry comes to eBook.
  • CNN on the eBook dilemma: "[Publishers] want to choose one format and have it be available everywhere, but the industry may be standing in its own way before a widely accepted universal format becomes available."
  • The Wall Street Journal on how vanity presses have gone digital.

÷ ÷ ÷

Chris Bolton co-created the all-ages webcomic Smash, which will soon be published by Candlewick Press, and created the comedy series Wage Slaves. His short story "The Red Room" was published in Portland Noir from Akashic Books.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Portland Noir (Akashic Noir)
    Used Trade Paper $8.50

  2. Twilight Saga #3: Eclipse Used Mass Market $3.95

  3. The Unnamed Signed Edition
    Used Hardcover $5.95
  4. The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again
    Used Mass Market $3.50

  5. The Strain (Strain Trilogy #1)
    Used Hardcover $7.95
  6. The Summer Guest
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  7. Mary and O'Neil Used Trade Paper $6.50
  8. The Passage
    Used Hardcover $5.50
  9. The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye
    Used Trade Paper $8.00

5 Responses to "Book News Thursday: 20 Under 40, Sad News for Tolkien Fans, and More"

    Michael Kirkman June 3rd, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    In my opinion, the list overlooked Peter Nathaniel Malae, the author of What We Are. Yes, it's only Malae's first novel, but it's a strong voice. Malae has a lot of talent with language and he deals with some major contemporary themes in his book. I think he didn't make the list because his book obviously won't sit well with certain groups. But the list shouldn't be based on popularity. It should be based on the ability of the author (potentially) to be one of the greats. Can you honestly tell me that some of the choices on that list can manage that?

    Gustav Clint June 3rd, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    I think it's awfully hard to predict who's going to be truly great, Michael. A lot of the people you might of bet on from the 1999 list didn't really amount to much.

    Michael Kirkman June 3rd, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    That's my point. ZZ Packer? She has been working on a novel for 6 years. She has only published one collection of short stories. How did she make the list?

    Lisa June 3rd, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Benjamin Percy...his first novel debuting in late September with a Whiting Award and great collection, Refresh, Refresh.

    Rusty June 7th, 2010 at 10:30 am

    In defense of the ZZ Packer selection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere is my favorite short story collection of maybe the past two decades, and has had a couple of other stories published since as well as some non-fiction. I mean, Jonathan Safer Foer has two short novels (and the nonfiction book on carnivores/vegatarians) and I dare say he'd be at a tippy-top of the "amount published" ranking.

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