Next month brings with it an onslaught of J.D. Salinger-related paraphernalia, with a new biography and associated documentary on the late author both due for release, for anyone who really wants to hear about it: where he was born, what his lousy childhood was like, and how his parents were occupied and all before they had him, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, since he didn’t really feel like going into it. What’s more, the authors of that biography say even more Salingernalia is forthcoming: The Associated Press took receipt of an early copy of Salinger and discovered therein that authors David Shields and Shane Salerno claim that ‘between 2015 and 2020, a series of posthumous Salinger releases are planned’.
FlatandJuicy – a company that aims to, in its own words, ‘provide a visual and creative voice for science, technology and cultural R&D expeditions’ – yesterday launched a Kickstarter for an ebook platform that hopes to do just that, providing ‘visual and creative interpretations’ of research missions worldwide. The campaign is to fund the publication of its first title, City of Elephants, focusing on The Berenike Project, a 30-year archaeological mission started in Egypt in 1994 that encompasses ‘war elephants, ancient cities, weapons, ships and armies, ambition and power in the ancient world – in a time when Greek kings sponsored science, learning, technology and exploration’.
Textbook rental company Chegg announced last week it was hoping to raise $150m in an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange. So what’s the inside track on the company that was most recently valued at $800m?
To the surprise of hopefully very few who have so much as glanced at a bestseller list since spring of 2012, business magazine Forbes’ annually released figures of the biggest sellers in publishing have revealed that, between June 2012 and June 2013, the highest-earning author in the world was EL James, the first-time novelist whose Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has made her $95 million (£65 million) over that twelve month period. James’ closest rival was veteran airport standby James Patterson, whose books have sold over 270 million copies since the publication of his debut novel, The Thomas Berryman Number, in 1976, and who made $91 million in the same timeframe. Both authors’ sales dwarfed third-placed Suzanne Collins, whose Hunger Games trilogy made her a mere $55 million, presumably helped along by the highly lucrative film adaptation of the trilogy’s first instalment. I’m sure she’s inconsolable.
In adaptation news I really thought we’d covered already, Paul Thomas Anderson – writer/director of The Master, There Will Be Blood and Boogie Nights and, to this writer at least, the best American filmmaker of his generation – is currently at work on a big-screen version of Thomas Pynchon’s most recent novel, 2009′s Inherent Vice. (Strictly speaking, it’s Anderson’s second time adapting someone else’s work, although he kept so little of Upton Sinclair’s Oil! for There Will Be Blood that it almost seems misleading to call that film an adaptation.)
As if the prospect of Anderson adapting Pynchon weren’t exciting enough – the first time any work of Pynchon’s has been adapted for the cinema, incidentally – the director has been assembling a fairly jaw-dropping cast for the project: Joining Anderson’s Master lead Joaquin Phoenix as Pynchon’s protagonist, stoner detective Larry “Doc” Sportello, are Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Jena Malone, Martin Short, Maya Rudolph, Jeannie Berlin, fellow Anderson regular Kevin J. O’Connor and, if persistent rumours are to be believed, Sean Penn. Now that cast has had another intriguing addition revealed: Widely adored singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom, making her own cinematic debut following cameo appearances in TV sketch show Portlandia and the video for MGMT’s “Kids”.
Word has come through over the past couple of days that Elmore Leonard, the prolific and acclaimed crime author, suffered a stroke over a week ago and is currently recuperating in hospital in Detroit, Michigan, the city he’s called home since he was nine years old. The 87 year old’s researcher, Gregg Sutter, confirmed Leonard’s condition to the Detroit News in a matter-of-fact, unsentimental fashion worthy of his employer’s terse prose: ‘Elmore had a stroke; it happened a week ago, last Monday. He’s doing better every day, and the family is guardedly optimistic. He’s showing great spirit. He’s a fighter, and we’re glad to see that.’
Get ready to break out the Citizen Kane references – and, by extension, the Mr Burns references – because Jeff Bezos, benevolent (?) overlord of the Amazon empire, apparently thinks it would be fun to run a newspaper, having just bought the Washington Post. The venerable D.C. institution has been under the control of the Graham family since 1946, and in the 13 years before that was owned by Philip Graham’s father-in-law, Eugene Meyer, who bought it at a bankruptcy auction. The paper’s present circumstances haven’t become quite so dire as those, but the $250 million Bezos has paid for it will no doubt be appreciated nonetheless.
PEN – the international writers association (Poets, Essayists and Novelists, if you were wondering) – has announced that this year, its prestigious Pinter Prize will be awarded to the revered playwright Tom Stoppard. The award was established by the organisation in 2009 in tribute, of course, to Harold Pinter, who died in 2008.
Popular mystery author David Hewson will this week release his latest novel, The Flood. His fans, however, will not be able to read it – at least in the strictest sense of the word – until some time next year, because the novel will initially see release exclusively as an audiobook, with print editions to follow at an as yet unspecified date. Further than that, The Independent reports, Hewson has intimated he may eventually move to writing exclusively for audiobooks.