Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Big Stone Gap Movie, a Memoir and What I'm Reading

 Not only have I read every book that Adriana Trigiani has written, but so has my mother, and we've both loved every chapter of her Big Stone Gap series. Now I have been reading on Facebook about the movie version of the books that is being filmed right now in Big Stone Gap, with a stellar cast and crew. I can hardly wait for the movie to hit theaters, though they have their work cut out for them to try and better Trigiani's wonderful novels.

Jenna Elfman at Tales of the Lonesome Pine.

What do author Adriana Trigani and bookseller Wendy Welch have in
common? Their town. A movie is currently in production based on
Trigani's novel Big Stone Gap. It is set in the town that also happens
to be home to Tales of the Lonesome Pine Bookshop http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz18968734,
which did a star turn of its own in co-owner Wendy Welch's book, The
Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community,
and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book.

Star-gazing is well underway in the town
where recent sightings have included Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson, Whoopi
Goldberg and Jenna Elfman, the Roanoke Times reported, noting that "of
all the big names roaming around Big Stone Gap these days, none draws
forth more local appreciation than Trigiani, the hometown girl who moved
to New York and made it big but held off making her movie for more than
a decade until she found just the right deal to do what she really
wanted to do all along: make the movie about Big Stone Gap in Big Stone

Welch's bookstore and cafe have been "a destination for some of the
movie folk, including Elfman, who plays Iva Lou, the bookmobile
librarian, in the movie."

 An insider's view of famous publishing houses and famous literary magazines? Sign me up!

Review: My Mistake: A Memoir
A bout with cancer--now in remission--led Daniel Menaker (Good Talk) to
reflect on his past and his career in publishing. He tells that story in
My Mistake, with a breezy wit and fascinating insider portraits of
people with whom he has worked over the years.

Menaker's "demanding, deep, wide in scope" classes at Swarthmore
prepared him intellectually and emotionally for the work he would do
later and the losses (parents, brother) he would suffer. He reads a
piece by Tom Wolfe about the New Yorker, then edited by William Shawn,
and its "hermetic, self-involved, highly ritualized life." He applies
for and lands a job at this "brilliant crazy house."

He starts out as one of their legendary fact checkers, on the 19th floor
of an old office building in midtown. The typing pool works in a "kind
of glass cage," while Roger Angell's office is "magisterial." Menaker
becomes another cog in the magazine's elaborate editorial process, as
one person after another scrutinizes every page of copy. No word or
phrase is too trivial for careful inspection; we establish, for example,
that the tool used to tighten bolts on the space shuttle is a ratchet
wrench, not a monkey wrench. After publishing his first story in the
magazine, he moves up to copy editor, where he edits Pauline Kael's
movie reviews (she tells him the result "doesn't sound like me, really")
and attends film screenings with her ("Oh, that's just awful").
Eventually, he becomes the magazine's fiction editor.

After Tina Brown takes over, the amount of fiction is cut in half,
"shunted from the front of the magazine to the back." So, after 26
years, when an opportunity to join Random House comes along, Menaker
takes it. His first acquisition: George Saunders's CivilWarLand in Bad

He quickly learns the business. "150 more or less worthwhile books are
published every week in this country," he reports--all part of a "grand
cultural roulette" in which your chances of winning are very small. He
becomes Random's editor-in-chief, and works with some very fine writers:
David Foster Wallace, Salman Rushdie, Michael Cunningham, Elmore
Leonard, Billy Collins, Elizabeth Strout and Colum McCann, to name just
a few. "I have never seen better days. No mistake." --Tom Lavoie

I bought three delicious hardback books while at Island Books 40th Anniversary Celebration this past Sunday, "Mrs Poe" by Lynn Cullen,  "Longbourn" by Joe Baker and "The Spymistress" by Jennifer Chiaverini. I also just got copies of "Still Foolin Em" by Billy Crystal and the final book in the Ruby Red trilogy, "Emerald Green" by Kersten Gier. I am halfway through "Mrs Poe" and it is proving to be un-put-downable and thoroughly gothic, romantic and chilling. The latter because it is horrifying to consider how little power women had in society in the 19th century. Women were considered property and if their husbands left them, women of the middle or upper class had little recourse if their cheating husbands didn't send them money to help raise their children. Thus the woman who falls in love with Edgar Allan Poe is at the mercy of the male head of household in which she's living while waiting for her wastrel artist husband to return. Yet Poe himself is allowed much more leeway to meet her in secret, kiss and woo her, because he's a man, and his consumptive wife can be left at home with her mother while Poe runs all over town.
Still, an interesting study in the power of writing, both prose and poetry, which held sway over society in the 19th century, almost as much as classical music and musicians such as Franz Liszt were the rock stars of their day.

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