- Twice as Good: Allen Shawn's memoir Twin, about the impact of his twin sister being sent to a treatment center for autism at the age of 8, is getting a lot of buzz. The New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani calls it "an unsparing but deeply compassionate inquiry into his family's life."
It's a book that combines the sympathetic insight of Oliver Sacks's writings with Joan Didion's autobiographical candor and Mary Karr's sense of familial dynamics — a book that leaves the reader with a haunting sense of how relationships between brothers and sisters, and parents and children, can irrevocably bend the arc of an individual's life, how childhood dynamics can shape one's apprehension of the world.
Shawn was also interviewed on a recent Fresh Air with Terry Gross, in which he discussed some of the more candid elements of his book, including the affair his father (famous New Yorker editor William Shawn) conducted for many years with Lillian Ross.
- Lost and Found: Do all writers stick a manuscript in a drawer somewhere and forget about it, just to add a little posthumous intrigue for fans? (If they didn't used to, I'd imagine they will all start now.)
- Hail to the King: Okay, so it's a slow book news day. But that enables me to toss out links to things like an interview with actor Sean Bean, who played Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring, and will presumably live longer as Ned Stark in HBO's series Game of Thrones, based on the book by George R. R. Martin.
The Lord of the Rings was quite epic in its production scope, and this seem to have the same epicness, but with slightly less resources. Does that affect you as an actor?
BEAN: I didn’t find that it affected me at all. I think the amount of production value that was put into Game of Thrones was incredible, and it’s unlike anything I’ve seen on any other production, including The Lord of the Rings. It was a wonderful production, of course. I was very proud to be part of that. But, I was absolutely impressed by the detail, the sheer size of it, the craftsmanship in the studio and the sets for Game of Thrones. Everything was so detailed and so vast, and it was a lot of work. It was like working on a big feature film, every week. Each of the 10 episodes felt like a pretty hefty feature film. I think we really established a grand size. And, the fact it’s been done by HBO means you’re in good standing. You’ve got good people behind you. As I said, it’s an edgy, sexy, violent, dark, brutal piece where nobody’s safe, and there are so many twists and turns, and the characters are so well drawn. I think everybody who sees this is hopefully fascinated by what we’ve achieved.
The series premieres April 17th on (where else?) HBO.
- Bone of Contention: It might seem strange for the director of the gritty indie film Winter's Bone — a critical favorite (based on the acclaimed novel by Daniel Woodrell) that some believe could be a dark-horse Oscar contender — to follow that up with an update of Pippi Longstocking. But perhaps not; as Debra Granik mentioned in an interview:
As a kid, I got really envious of men's coming of age in movies. Their knowledge of darkness would grow, their compassion would grow, whatever it was, it felt like they would gain something, and the female coming of age often was punitive, like an unwanted pregnancy. We’re all like, "Oh God, I'm so glad I'm not her."
That makes me want to see whatever she comes up with. But let's just hope Pippi doesn't start dealing meth.
- No Alchemist for You: Bestselling author Paulo Coelho's books have all been banned in Iran.
- Book 'Em: Get ready to geek out on these libraries of the rich and famous. Hey, they're just like us, except their books have their own rooms instead of wobbling vertical stacks piled on the floor.
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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