Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Winter's Tale, Perdition by Ann Aguirre, Nora Ephron and Downton Abbey

 I read Winter's Tale awhile ago, and I believe Mark Helprin has a rich and beautiful style of writing that puts me in mind of Patricia McKillip and John Steinbeck. I am looking forward to seeing how Hollywood adapts his book to the screen.

The first trailer has been released for Winter's Tale
based on the novel by Mark Helprin and starring Colin Farrell, Russell
Crowe and Jennifer Connelly. Indiewire reported that the book, "long
considered unfilmable... has been kicking around Hollywood waiting for
someone to take it on. And that someone is Akiva Goldsman, [who] has
written the adaptation and is making his feature debut with the flick.
And full credit to him, with the first trailer arriving this evening, it
looks like he's poured all he's got into it." The film is scheduled for
a Valentine's Day 2014 release.

Robert Gray's wisdom is always welcome on Shelf Awareness:

Sometimes it's just an unexpected conversation that helps books find me.
A couple of years ago at the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association
trade show in St. Paul, Minn., I had a long conversation about the
challenges and rewards of small press publishing with Steve Semken of
Ice Cube Press, based in North Liberty,Iowa.

In an era when anyone can hang a shingle declaring themselves an
independent publisher, it's important to recognize and congratulate Ice
Cube Press, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Semken recalled that in the beginning the role of publisher "latched on,
I think, because deep down, I cared about writing." Two decades later,
despite the dizzying array of changes the book trade has experienced, he
still has faith in the traditional approach: "In this day and age of the
doom and gloom of the book industry, I feel pretty lucky to be around
and still doing well.... To me, publishing is a storytelling business,
and the human race will always be addicted to stories."

And where are those stories to be found? Often, in the world of indie
bookstores and publishers. "I consider my press a natural partner with
independent booksellers," Semken noted. "We're both in pursuit of
sharing unique writing with passionate readers."

It's nice to work in a world where books find me. --Robert Gray, contributing editor

These are fantastic, funny and fascinating:

The Love lives of literary greats! Interesting!
Writers Between the Covers by Shannon McKenna Schmidt
Ian Fleming was a sadomasochist. F. Scott Fitzgerald was worried about his measurement; Hemingway allayed his fears. Edith Wharton carried on, while married, a long-term affair with Morton Fullerton. Did Dickens have a thing for his sister-in-law?
Following their tribute to literary landmarks in Novel Destinations, in Writers Between the Covers Shannon McKenna Schmidt (a Shelf Awareness contributing writer) and Joni Rendon have compiled a very different compendium of information about authors--gossipy and surprising, filled with all kinds of salacious stories about the writers we know and love (or think we know, at any rate).
Among the intriguing stories is that of Agatha Christie, who married a dashing aviator when she was 21. A decade later, her husband blindsided her with the news he was leaving her for another woman. They argued, he left to keep an assignation with his lover and Agatha disappeared. All available means were deployed to find the missing author--who was enjoying herself at a spa in another part of England, using the name of her husband's mistress. When she finally surfaced 11 days later, doctors diagnosed amnesia, but she would never speak of the incident. She divorced her him and later married Sir Max Mallowan, with whom she spent 40 happy years.
Few of the stories end so tidily. Much of the drama recounted in these pages was fueled by alcohol, drugs, bad tempers, confused gender roles--all the things that drive people to wild behavior. Sexual adventurism is an equal opportunity pastime, and the authors have a deft hand at portraying both men and women at their moral nadir--and, oh, how much fun it is to read about. --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.
Discover: Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon reveal the love lives of literary figures, sparing no detail--and no author.
Nora Ephron was one of a kind--a great author with a fabulous sense of humor. She was taken from the world last year, but I imagine this collection will be a great comfort to fans of her work, like myself.
The Most of Nora Ephron
The Most of Nora Ephron is an enormous compilation of the late writer's wit, perception and, most of all, her honesty about everything--even being flat-chested. The collection is divided into nine sections, each reflective of a part of her personal and professional life, from "The Journalist" and "The Screenwriter" to "The Advocate" and "The Blogger."
If you didn't make it to Broadway to see Tom Hanks in Lucky Guy, the entire script is included in the "Playwright" section. "The Foodie" shows Ephron trying out recipes, reading Gourmet, discovering the folly of an egg-white omelette, taking part in the Pillsbury Bake-Off and having guests for dinner. (Keep it easy, serve four things, make it fun.)
Everything was grist for Ephron's mill, and it's all here in this tremendous volume--including the complete screenplays of Heartburn and When Harry Met Sally. Her essays and journalism are filled with fascinating details, from the time that Las Vegas tycoon Steve Wynn put his elbow through a Picasso to the observation that the gap between Condoleezza Rice's front teeth is not as bad in person as it is on television.
Ephron was raised, she tells us, by an indifferent mother and a father who looked at everything as potential material. At the dinner table, he would say: "That's a good line; write it down." She took his advice--and we are all richer for it. --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.
Discover: A diverse selection, from essays to screenplays, of the wit, wisdom and unfailing sense of humor of Nora Ephron (1941-2012).

Great list of indie bookstores, among them Powells and Elliott Bay:

Noting that independent bookstores "are surviving, and in some cases
thriving, in an Amazon-ruled, post-bookstore chain environment that
shouldn't necessarily be hospitable to shops that handsell books to
locals," Flavorwire showcased "45 great American indie bookstores
(in no particular order) that sell new or used novels, art books, zines,
coffee, that biography you really need to read, and/or delicious vegan
treats--all of which are as important to their community as any business
you can think of, and deserve your support."

The good news is that even when "making a list and checking it twice,"
dozens and even hundreds of indie bookstores could be added.

Oh how I miss Downton Abbey on PBS, but we are told that it will be back for American audiences in 2014, hurrah!
PBS has renewed Downton Abbey for a fifth season
and will again appear under the Masterpiece Classic banner, Buzzfeed

"As American audiences ready themselves for the January 5th premiere of
Season 4, our devoted Downton fans will rest easy knowing that a fifth
season is on the way," said Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca

The Guardian explored Downton Abbey's literary lineage
tracing it back to Isabel Colegate's 1980 novel The Shooting Party, an
acknowledged influence for Julian Fellowes's creation: "For those
starting to wonder if Downton is in danger of going on so long that it
catches up with the 21st century, there is one book that reveals
Fellowes's motivations, intentions and predilections: The Shooting Party
by Isabel Colegate." 

Perdition by Ann Aguirre
I've read and enjoyed Aguirre's Syrantha Jax series of science fiction adventures, and I have also read most of her Corrine Solomon urban fantasies. So when I found Perdition, I assumed it was another book in one of the aforementioned series. 
Though it takes place in the Sirantha Jax universe, it doesn't really have much to do with the woman we met in the ground-breaking "Grimspace."
This novel takes place on a prison ship called Perdition, which is full of the most vile criminals the galaxy can muster up. The protagonist is Dred, the Queen of Queensland, which is one of five areas that have been carved out by various factions and are run by strange warlords. When new "fish" or prisoners are left on Perdition, these warlords come to pick out the best warriors for their territory, leaving the weak to die. That's the mileau of Perdition, violence and death. It's survival of the cruelest and most clever, and fortunately, the Dred Queen is both clever and adept at killing. She is also enough of a leader to recognize a kind of clone super soldier when he lands on Perdition. She takes him for Queensland, and with all the battles they must wage to stay alive, he becomes her right-hand man and eventually, her lover. 
The book begins with bloody battles and death, and continues in this violent and horrific manner for the entire novel. I am not a fan of horror or military fiction, nor am I a fan of politics, so this book was a hard sell for me to finish. Yet I did finish it, and I was glad that I didn't give up, as it has a kind of HEA that screams for a sequel. I would give the book a B, and recommend it to those who love military science fiction or horror fiction that has a science fiction bent.

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