Ender’s Game, Sci-Fi Classic Turns into Film

Fans of Orson Scott Card’s 1985 classic Ender’s Game  may be pleased to hear that the novel is being prepared for transition to film. Young Ender Wiggin arrives at Battle School and quickly rises to the top of the military academy which is desperately searching for a leader to ward off the alien formics, an antlike race threatening the world’s existence. Ender has to contend with harsh internal politics that make life at the average boarding school look like a picnic. Reports are that top stars are accepting key roles in the movie, to be released in March 2013. See EPL‘s extensive collection of Card’s novels, some of which feature detailed reviews and other information.

Shira S.

Don’t Mess With Shakespeare

A new film on Shakespeare which is being released in the U.S. on Friday is already coming under criticism. Anonymous (starring Rhys Ifans and Rafe Spall) maintains that aristocrat Edward de Vere is the true author of Shakespeare’s plays-an assertion that has the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust quite upset. “The trust, a British charity organization that promotes the study and life of Shakespeare, is protesting the release of the film by covering Shakespeare’s name on signs in Warwickshire, the British county that was the playwright’s home.” They have also covered signs on pubs and over the Shakespeare memorial in Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare scholars in America are upset as well. Read the rest of this article in yesterday’s New York Times.

For more on the authorship controversy, check out any of these EPL titles:

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, by James S. Shapiro, 2010

Shakespeare: The World as Stage, by Bill Bryson, 2007

The Case for Shakespeare: The End of the Authorship Question, by Scott McCrea, 2005

“Shakespeare” by Another NameThe Life of Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, the Man Who Was Shakespeare, by Mark Anderson,  2005

Alias Shakespeare: Solving the Greatest Literary Mystery of All Time, by Joseph Sobran, 1997

Shakespeare, in Fact, by Irvin Leigh Matus, 1994

Laura

Happy National Coffee Day!

If you’re looking to justify your second or sixth cup of coffee this morning, then my friend, you’re in luck.  Today from Philly to Phoenix and St. Paul to San Antone java junkies are hoisting their ceramic mugs high in celebration of National Coffee Day.  For the next twenty-four glorious hours, you can feel free to throw caution to the wind and make that extra coffee run, upsize to the venti, and drink in all the holiday cheer.  Chances are good, however, that after sipping Americanos all afternoon you’ll need some way to occupy your time as you lie awake into the wee hours humming with caffeine.  So as our holiday gift to you, allow us to present the following coffee-related books and movies in honor of today and your future sleepless night.  Without question, these histories, mysteries, travelogues, and thrillers are sure to become part of your Coffee Day traditions for years to come.

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Downton Abbey Addicts Rejoice

For anyone who loved the recent Masterpiece production of Downton Abbey and want to know more about its creator, check out this “behind the scenes” article in today’s New York Times.  Julian Fellowes is the quintessential “Renaissance man” – accomplished actor, author, and screenwriter, winning an Academy Award for his first produced screenplay of Gosford Park. And now we can look forward to the second season of Downton Abbey (beginning January 8).

–Laura

Did Stanley Kubrick, Always a Visionary Filmmaker, Forsee the iPad?

According to Samsung in a legal battle with Apple, Stanley Kubrick (and not Apple) designed the first iPad as seen in his 1968 classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Samsung cites a one minute clip from the film that shows two astronauts eating and using personal tablet computers at the same time. The two companies are “suing each other all over the world for patent infringement after Apple accused Samsung of blatant copying of its products.” You can read the article, watch the YouTube clip and make up your own mind. Better yet, just watch the film.

Laura

The New Yorker

This week’s New Yorker is chockablock with articles of great interest. Francisco Goldman gives a poignant account of his brief marriage, which ended in tragedy on a Mexican beach. Joan Acocella offers an illuminating article on British writer J.R. Ackerley (1896-1967), whose four books touched on his homosexuality at a time when being gay could have landed him in prison. And for movie fans, there’s a lengthy profile of Guillermo del Toro, the producer who gave us Pan’s Labyrinth and Biutiful. He has a house in Los Angeles filled with memorabilia like the vampire cape worn by Bela Lugosi, and he dreams of birthing another Frankenstein.

Mary B., Reader’s Services

A PKD Trifecta

Author Philip K. Dick

If good things truly come to those who wait then patient readers of sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick will soon have much to celebrate.  With word of a future festival, film, and book all cropping up this past month, it seems that for PKD fans good news has been multiplying faster than the android hordes in one of the late author’s dystopian future worlds.

First up for the PKD faithful was the late April announcement that the inaugural Philip K. Dick Festival will take place this summer on August 13th, 14th, and 15th.  Set to convene in the Colorado setting of PKD’s Hugo Award-winning novel The Man in the High Castle, the festival boasts an impressive line-up of speakers including the author’s former wife Anne Dick, the respected fan blogger David Gill, and PKD scholars from Fordham University and the University of Nebraska.  Don’t fret, however, if your summer schedule is already bursting with too many barbeques, ball games, and beach blankets for a trip to this mountaintop extravaganza.  There’s still plenty of PKD fun willing to travel to you.

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“Howl” at the Movies

Actor James Franco as poet Allen Ginsberg in the new film "Howl."

As the 2010 Sundance Film Festival wrapped up last weekend, word about one film in particular came echoing down the Utah mountainside to catch the ear of the literary community.  With a Grand Jury Prize nomination to its credit, the experimental biopic “Howl” has the book world buzzing.  Based on the life of poet Allen Ginsberg and the 1957 obscenity charges that brought his book Howl and Other Poems to trial, the film stars James Franco as Ginsberg and also features Jon Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker, David Strathairn, and Jeff Daniels.  A project eight years in the making, the original intent of Oscar and Emmy-winning directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman was to shoot a straight documentary honoring the iconic Beat poet and his landmark publication.  However, as filming progressed, the directors dropped any semblance of a traditional documentary in favor of an adventurously creative dramatic style in the spirit of the poem itself.  The film’s final version consists of the following four interwoven threads: a black and white reinactment of Franco’s Ginsberg reading “Howl” to an inspired coffeehouse crowd, a dramatization of the obscenity trial in San Francisco, a re-creation of a later Ginsberg interview in which he explains his craft, and an eye-popping, surrealistic animated sequence set to a reading of the poem.  To preview all but the animated segment, visit the following link:  “Howl” Movie Clips.

Although dates for the film’s widespread theatrical release have yet to be announced, there are plenty of great books, DVD’s, and CD’s already available to tide you over.  Whether you’re interested in diving deeper into the poem, learning the life story of an American icon, or examining a pivotal moment for free expression, check out the following titles for a “Howl”-related fix:

Howl: Original Draft Facsimile by Allen Ginsberg - Immerse yourself in the landmark poem itself with this fascinating book.  Included with a reproduction of the original draft of “Howl” are variant versions of the poem, annotations by Ginsberg, and an account of the first public reading.

Cover

Howl on Trial: The Battle for Free Expression by Bill Morgan and Nancy J. Peters – This book by Ginsberg’s archivist and a City Lights publisher offers a treasure trove of material related to the obscenity trial.  Included are court transcripts, newspaper accounts, photographs, and never-before-published letters between Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac, and Neal Cassady.

The Allen Ginsberg Audio Collection – This 3-CD set presents the iconic American poet reading a collection of his poems including “Howl.”

I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg by Bill Morgan – Using interviews with friends along with journals and letters, Ginsberg’s archivist presents an absorbing look into the poet’s professional and personal life in this definitive biography.

The Life & Times of Allen Ginsberg – This 2-DVD documentary from Oscar-nominated director Jerry Aronson examines Ginsberg’s life using home movies and clips from televised interviews.  Also includes public figures such as Timothy Leary and Johnny Depp sharing how Ginsberg influenced their individual careers.

Russell J.

The Dude Meets the Bard

"Two Gentlemen of Lebowski"

For some they are delicious literary treats akin to the chocolate and peanut buttery combo that made Reese’s famous.  For others they are as unappealing as a handful of nuts and gum.  Whatever your reading tastes, however, it is impossible to deny the raging popularity of “literary mash-ups” and their novel pairing of novels in titles such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.  Now with a slightly new twist on this genre-bending trend comes a merger of surrealistic film and Elizabethan theater titled “Two Gentlemen of Lebowski.”  Imaginative and entertaining, this latest mash-up was published via the Web earlier this month and has since gone viral.   

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The True Meaning of…whatever: Soothing your Inner Grinch

In 2nd grade, I played the title role in my school’s production of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, an experience that clearly warped me for life. Although I enjoy conspicuous consumption and fatty foods as much as the next person, the enforced jollity of the holidays has always grated on my embittered soul. For those of you who share the pain of repressing your inner grinchiness, here’s my essential holiday reading and viewing list.

You can take your Dickens, your Clement C. Moore, your Garrison Keillor.  For my money, no author captures the elusive spirit of the holidays like…Lemony Snicket. What true grinch  doesn’t identify with the misunderstood, Christmas-phobic Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming or the artistically frustrated  Lump of Coal whose holiday destiny falls short of his dreams?

Saving Hanukkah and Kwanzaa: The Hebrew Hammer

Santa Claus has been eliminated by his evil nephew, who plans to wipe out Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and all other competitors to Christmas. Who can save the day but a street smart  Jewish detective  and his bros from the Kwanzaa Liberation Front? This ethnic inflected parody of the Shaft/Superfly genre will have you laughing so hard you’ll plotz over the kinara. Sadly, EPL doesn’t own a copy but if you enjoy this preview, we’ll be happy to get it for you from elsewhere. Stars Adam Goldberg, Mario Van Peebles and Andy Dick. Rated R, 2003.

In God We Trust; All Others Pay Cash

Cult radio personality Jean Shepherd created the immortal Ralphie and his Red Ryder b.b. gun in this hilarious novel about Christmas in small town Indiana. Of course it became the basis for A Christmas Story, that refreshingly unsentimental look at mean-spirited Santas, overly confining winter garments, and unwise holiday gift choices.

If You Think Your Family is Nuts During the Holidays…

…try sipping mead Christmas Eve with a Dad who’s put Mom in prison, and 3 brothers who may be plotting to kill each other. Such is the happy family dynamic behind The Lion in Winter, the classic Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn film about the dysfunctional, yet highly entertaining home life of megalomaniac monarchs Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.  There’s a tv version with Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close, but it doesn’t quite match the fire of the original. Rated PG, 1968.

No true grinch list would be complete without Holidays on Ice, the modern classic that first brought David Sedaris and the caustic “Santaland Diaries” to national attention. The 2008 edition adds 6 new stories to the original collection; check out the audiobook to fully experience the Sedaris wit, or  download the e-audiobook version to your iPod or mp3 player!

Lesley W.