There are several excellent entries for this venerable contest celebrating terrible first sentences for imaginary novels, but my favorites are these:
The gutters of Manhattan teemed with the brackish slurry indicative of a significant though not incapacitating snowstorm three days prior, making it seem that God had tripped over Hoboken and spilled his smog-flavored slurpie all over the damn place. -Eric Stoveken Allentown, PA A quest is not to be undertaken lightly--or at all!--pondered Hlothgar, Thrag of the Western Boglands, son of Glothar, nephew of Garthol, known far and wide as Skull Dunker, as he wielded his chesty stallion Hralgoth through the ever-darkening Thlargwood, beyond which, if he survived its horrors and if Hroglath the royal spittle reader spoke true, his destiny awaited--all this though his years numbered but fourteen. -Stuart Greenman Seattle, WA
She walked into my office on legs as long as one of those long-legged birds that you see in Florida--the pink ones, not the white ones--except that she was standing on both of them, not just one of them, like those birds, the pink ones, and she wasn't wearing pink, but I knew right away that she was trouble, which those birds usually aren't. -Eric Rice Sun Prairie, WI
Brace yourselves, dear readers: we are getting yet another Hollywood remake of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Normally this news wouldn't result in anything other than the fervent hope that its star wouldn't be as prone to overacting as Kenneth Branagh, but further information has our hopes up. According to Variety, this new version--called "Frank"--will feature some significant changes from the original:
"[The movie] centers on a teenage prodigy who's on the cutting edge of cell research in medical school and is encouraged by her guidance counselor to take a break from the lab and make some friends. After several unsuccessful attempts at socializing with her peers, she decides to use her scientific prowess and piece together a friend out of the med school's instructional cadavers."
Sounds... kinda gross, actually. (I suppose the ickiness level will depend on how realistic the special effects are.) But gross and interesting, which is more than I can say for most adaptations of classic books.
MTV.com has begun streaming their '90s-era bizarre-yet-fascinating cartoon adaptation of Sam Kieth's even more bizarre-yet-fascinating comic book series The Maxx. As I (distantly) recall, the series focused on a homeless dude who might or might not be a superhero in this place called The Outback, and his relationship with his social worker, who had all kinds of dark past. It was like a 1000% creepier, more grown-up version of The Tick. I remember enjoying both the cartoon and the comic book, so I'm looking forward to re-acquainting myself with the story.
There's a fabulous article over on Sleep is For the Weak about the comics of North Korea, which are apparently chock-full of propaganda-y goodness. (In The Great General Mighty Wing, pictured right, a hard-working civilization of bees is forced to simultaneously fight off attacks from encroaching ant and spider armies.) The plot summaries and images are fascinating, and offer readers a glimpse of a rarely-seen art form. It's well worth checking out.
Another manga creator is taking a break due to poor health: according to AnimeNewsNetwork, NANA author Ai Yazawa is putting her popular series (read our review of the movie adaptation here) on hold due to a sudden illness. As Ms. Yazawa will need several months' worth of treatment and recovery, the next issue of NANA is being put on indefinite hiatus.
Our best wishes to Ms. Yazawa for a speedy recovery, and our sincere sympathy to NANA's many fans!
According to the AnimeNewsNetwork, there's a new manga coming out from Special A's Maki Minami. The series will be called Seiyū ka—!, and ANN describes its heroine thusly:
"Hime Kino, a 15-year-old freshman girl who pursues her dream of becoming a voice actress by enrolling in Hiiragi Academy's seiyū course. Hime dreams of one day playing the heroine in her favorite (fictional) anime, Mahō Senshi Lovely Blazers."
It sounds cute, and I always liked Special A, but I sincerely hope the mangaka has A) gotten over her habit of devoting, like, four pages per volume to the exact same series recap, and B) learned to draw more than one style of guy, because I had a hell of a time telling her male characters apart.
I'm just not sure about this upside-down bookshelf project:
It looks kind of cool, sure, but how do you get the books (especially the ones on the ends) down? And, once they're down, how do you put them back? Because it doesn't look like they'd just slide back into place, and I'm not exactly known for my patience.
The English-language trailer for Hayao Miyazaki's latest film (the Little Mermaid retelling Ponyo) is finally up, and while they didn't quite sync up the voices and the mouths, it still looks pretty great:
I do not enjoy tragic love stories. I rolled my eyes when Anna Karenina offed herself, I failed to sympathize with the plight of Newland Archer, and I spent most of The Great Gatsby wanting to kick both Gatsby and Daisy in the shins. It's not that I have no sympathy for real tragedy, but self-inflicted misery leaves me cold—which might be why I couldn't get into Marjane Satrapi's Chicken With Plums, no matter how beautiful the text or intimate the illustrations. (And they are both astoundingly beautiful and deliciously intimate—I am always astonished by how much nuance Satrapi can convey with deceptively simple words and images.)
Chicken With Plums is the story of Nasser Ali Khan, a celebrated musician and Satrapi's great-uncle. Living in late-1950s Tehran, Nasser Ali is unhappily married and disappointed in all but one of his children. When his wife breaks his beloved tar—an Iranian lute—over her knee during an argument and he is unable to find a replacement, Nasser Ali takes to his bed and decides to die. Over the eight days of his decline, Satrapi guides her readers through the primary events of his life (a grim childhood, a love affair gone awry, his mother's death), and shows glimpses of his children's futures.
In the press notes for Chicken With Plums, the story is described as being that of a man who "gave up his life for music and love". While that certainly sounds romantic, it doesn't quite match what I got from the book. Satrapi portrays her great-uncle as a bad spouse, a resentful brother, a biased father, and the kind of man so wrapped up in his own world that he would literally rather die than continue to live surrounded by imperfection. Nasser Ali's story is fascinating and his suicide-though-rapt-self-involvement rings depressingly true, but it is hardly the stuff dreams are made of.
USA Today has a bunch of exclusive images from Tim Burton's upcoming adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, but if this is the kind of thing we're going to be subjected to, I'm not sure I'm old enough to see it:
The Wall Street Journal recently posted an essay about the brisk market for grim YA literature, wondering when the nation's teenagers became "connoisseurs of disaster". The author, Katie Roiphe, speculates that there might be a link between young readers' tastes and the national news:
"Right now, though, the motif of impending disaster—about a job that will be lost, a house that will be foreclosed, a case of swine flu that will sweep through the nation—looms large in our culture, and it may be no coincidence that the dominant ambiance of young-adult literature should be that of the car crash about to happen."
To which I say: whatever. Does the author think a zillion teens in 1997 spent their allowances seeing Titanic for the third time because they were looking for metaphors about Congress debating phasing out the $1 bill? Because I think not. From Catherine Morland to the present, teenagers have always liked to read (and watch, and draw, and sing) about melodrama. If they're lucky they grow out of it.
If not, they turn to Oprah for further reading suggestions.
Two Wordcandy staff members were at a Seattle-area mall over the weekend, and ran across this wonderful device. In case you can't tell from the picture, this is a book-and-candy vending machine stocked with Charlaine Harris, Susan Juby, and some other stuff we haven't read. Pretty awesome, huh?
In happier manga news, Shueisha's You magazine has announced that Kozueko Morimoto's Gokusen manga will return for two more issues in July. Gokusen ended in 2007 after a seven-year-long run, but the author decided to revisit the story in honor of the July 11th opening of the live-action movie adaptation.
According to AnimeNewsNetwork, the next installment of Tomoko Ninomiya's Nodame Cantabile will delayed because Ms. Ninomiya has been rushed to the hospital to treat acute appendicitis. The manga's return date will be announced in Kiss Magazine once the author's health has improved.
You know, I was fine when I heard that Being John Malkovich director Spike Jonze was heading up the movie adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. I was calm when they used an Arcade Fire song in the trailer. But the news that they've hired the wildly overrated Dave Eggers to write a novelization of the screenplay is straight-up depressing. (Also a little confusing. Shouldn't a novelization of a screenplay based on a book be, well, the original book?)
If this whole project gets any more hipster-twee they're just going to start showing it exclusively at Urban Outfitters.
Maya Slater's, um, unique reworking of Pride and Prejudice, The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy, is finally out here in the U.S., and I'm wrestling with temptation. I strongly suspect I will regret reading it—remember, guys, this is the book where Mr. Darcy jumps a chambermaid, has sex with hookers, and pals around with Lord Byron—but curiosity has always been my besetting sin.
Is $14.95 too great a price to pay, or should I hunt this one down via alternate sources?
Amy Poehler has signed on to star in a film adaptation of Jarrett Krosoczka's upcoming children's graphic novel series Lunch Lady:
I love me some Amy Poehler, and the combination of her + a series that describes itself as being about "a mild-mannered school cafeteria server who secretly dishes out helpings of justice as she and her assistant investigate wrongdoings" sounds like it is made of win.
In happier manga-related news, AnimeNewsNetwork says that Nodame Cantabile creator Tomoko Ninomiya is planning to launch a new manga miniseries called Noda-Can BS (short for "Nodame Cantabile Backstage") in the September issue of Kodansha's Kiss Plus magazine. Each installment will be four pages long, and focus on supporting characters in the series.
...unfortunately, we'll have to pay more to read it, but even that can't cast much of a damper over this news.
People have pointed out (quite correctly) that manga used to cost anywhere from $15 to $20 per volume, and the industry survived somehow. However, that was several years ago, when publishers released far fewer titles and the market was limited to devoted fans, not twelve-year-olds shelling out their allowances for the ten-millionth volume of Fruits Basket or Naruto. I'm not saying these price hikes will kill the industry, but I think they might lose more readers than they're bargaining for. After all, those twelve-year-olds are feeling the economic pinch, too, and I bet "But, Mom, my manga costs more!" isn't going to convince their cash-strapped parents to give them more spending money.
Does Katniss feel any love toward Peeta? Which character can you relate to the most? Where did you get the idea for Rue's death song?
It seems like an artificial way to interact with fans, but seeing as my first question would be "Why did you choose such a stupid ending for the Underland Chronicles, and are you ever going to write another book to fix it?", that might be a smart move.
Twilight fans and manhwa fans take note: The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Cam "Evil James" Gigandet will star opposite Paul Bettany in Priest, an adaptation of the well-known horror/Western/Gun Fu manhwa by Hyung Min-Woo. Gigandet will apparently play a half-vampire sheriff in the movie, while Bettany will play a warrior priest.
Note: Speaking of typecasting, hasn't Bettany already played his fair share of creepy religious dudes?
Apparently, some dude who calls himself John David California has written an unauthorized sequel to J. D. Salinger's classic novel, and the reclusive author (who hasn't given an interview in nearly 30 years) has gone to court to try to block its publication.
The book is called 60 Years Later: Coming Through The Rye, is dedicated to Salinger, and features "Mr. C", a character that appears to be a Holden Caulfield, now a 76-year-old escapee from a nursing home. It is already available in the U.K., and, should Mr. Salinger's legal efforts fail, will be published in the U.S. in September.
At long last, The Highest Tide author Jim Lynch has written another book. Border Songs is due out on June 16th:
I am super-excited about this book (The Highest Tide was 100% awesome!), but I was saddened by the discovery that, once again, the British get a cover that looks both more novel-like and much more attractive:
China Miéville recently spoke with Doug Brown, one of the staff members from Powell's Books, about his new book The City and the City. Over the course of the interview he used the word "paradigm" eight times, referenced Jan Švankmajer as an inspiration, and said the phrase "academic milieu" in a non-ironic way. Reading it was like a horrific tour of the most pretentious experiences of my entire educational career, and, sadly, he didn't even mention the possibility of a sequel to Un Lun Dun.
Great news! According to the Times, Janet Evanovich is co-writing (with her daughter) a graphic novel for Dark Horse Comics based on her Metro Girl and Motor Mouth books. According to the article, Ms. Evanovich is justifiably stoked:
"We’re comic book fans; we’re huge Nascar fans,” Ms. Evanovich said in a telephone interview. “[The graphic novel] allows me to feed my Nascar addiction and comic book addiction all at the same time.”
The book is expected to come out next year, and I trust it will be awesome.
Gakuen Alice fans take note: according to AnimeNewsNetwork, Amazon's Canadian site has listed an upcoming Tokyopop release of Tachibana Higuchi's earlier work, M to N no Shouzou ("Portrait of M and N"). This isn't guaranteed, of course--Amazon's listings do not always indicate definite release plans, and Tokyopop isn't the most reliable source anyway. However, this does seem like a promising sign that this, uh, "unique" romance (between a masochistic heroine who goes crazy with lust at the slightest hint of violence and a narcissist hero who can't pass by a mirror without spending hours obsessively contemplating his own beauty) MIGHT be available here in the States soon.
(Note: This idea is way creepier than yesterday's horror-story toilet paper.)
Del Monte Superfruit Smoothies has created a line of limited-edition ‘licence to chill’ popsicles inspired by the stirring sight of a shirtless Daniel Craig as James Bond. 'Daniel Craig topped our poll of Britain’s coolest celebrities and thanks to our Del Monte lolly replica he is officially immortalised as super smooth and licensed to chill,' according to a Del Monte spokesman. Behold:
I feel vaguely guilty eating gingerbread men (it seems mean to start by chomping off their heads, but isn't eating the arms and legs first just prolonging their suffering?), so I cannot imagine wanting to eat such a lifelike replica of some dude's head and torso.
Even a hot dude's head and torso. But I suppose it takes all kinds.
According to Yahoo! News, the Japanese have brought us another glorious new product: a horror story printed on toilet paper. Each roll of the paper contains several copies of a nine-chapter novella written by Koji Suzuki (who wrote the story the Ring movies were based on).
According to the article, "[The short story is] set in a public restroom, takes up about three feet (90 centimeters) of a roll and can be read in just a few minutes". The toilet paper will sell for 210 yen ($2.20) a roll.