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Posts Tagged ‘Joan Didion’

Halberstam Selected As Next Out of the Book Author

Powell’s has made their choice for the next “Out of the Book” film after debuting the concept with Ian McEwan‘s ON CHESIL BEACH. This time, they will debut a film based on David Halberstam‘s THE COLDEST WINTER: AMERICA AND THE KOREAN WAR, published by Hyperion on September 25. The 28-minute film will be produced by series creator Dave Weich of Powell’s Books. The director is once again Doug Biro of Hudson River Films.

Shelf Awareness further reports that the movie will premier on November 11, when McNally-Robinson shows it at Two Boots Pioneer Theater. Between November 12 and December 15, the film will be shown across the country at events hosted by 75 independent booksellers that, as with the Ian McEwan film (shown by 54 booksellers), will include panel discussions, live music, special guests – the latter part especially important in light of Halberstam’s recent passing. The film will rely on some of Halberstam’s friends and feature commentary from Joan Didion, Seymour Hersh, Robert Caro and Bob Woodward.

Friends Will Tour for Halberstam’s Final Opus

And speaking of Hillel Italie, he also reports on what friends of the late journalist and historian David Halberstam are planning for THE COLDEST WINTER, Halberstam’s final published work that will be released by Hyperion this October. Joan Didion, Seymour Hersh, Doris Kearns Goodwin and others will read coast to coast to spread the word about Halberstam’s account of the Korean War.

“He thought that it was the best work he had done since The Best and the Brightest,” says Halberstam’s widow, Jean Halberstam, referring to her husband’s book on Vietnam. “He had been thinking about doing this book since he was in Vietnam. It was always in the back of his mind.” Highlights of the promotional tour will include Didion reading in New York City; former basketball great Bill Walton in La Jolla, Calif.; Hersh in Washington, D.C.; Anna Quindlen in Milwaukee, and Goodwin and fellow author Samantha Power in Cambridge, Mass.

The Verdicts Come in on Magical Thinking Play

And so far, the reviews for the adaptation of Joan Didion‘s bestselling memoir THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING – playing at the Booth Theater until June 30 – are, shall we say, less than kind. “An arresting yet ultimately frustrating new drama,” says the New York TimesBen Brantley, and he’s being one of the more generous critics. Peter Marks at the Washington Post also wanted to like it but said the one-woman show starring Vanessa Redgrave “is too much like an austere alternative to “Oprah,” an adaptation that replaces the supple mystique of the book with the driest kind of earnestness.”

But most of the vitriol is dished out by the Wall Street Journal‘s Terry Teachout. He admits up-front he wasn’t a fan of Didion’s original memoir: “I found it hard to shake off the disquieting sensation that Ms. Didion, for all the obvious sincerity of her grief, was nonetheless functioning partly as a grieving widow and partly as a celebrity journalist who had chosen to treat the death of John Gregory Dunne as yet another piece of grist for her literary mill.” So when the show opens with a speech that, in Teachout’s words, “has all the subtlety of the proverbial blunt object,” he figures his reaction to the adaptation and to Redgrave’s performance (“she never lets you forget that she’s acting”) won’t be very positive. By the end, after which the lights obligingly go up on a billboard-sized reproduction of the glossy dust-jacket photo of the author and her family, Teachout “half expected Ms. Didion to be signing books in the lobby after the show.” Ouch.

The Everyman’s Library Turns 100

everyman.gifThe Wall Street Journal’s Tom Nolan focuses attention on the centenary of the Everyman’s Library, founded in 1906 by bookbinder-turned-publisher Joseph Malaby Dent to preserve great works of literature. The books found a fan in Knopf editor-in-chief Sonny Mehta, who read them while growing up in post-colonial India. “They were cheap, they were accessible, one found them in bookstores,” said Mehta. “If you were given books as gifts, they tended to be Everyman’s…..A lot of my early reading with classics — though one didn’t even know they were classics, I mean whether it was Dumas or Jules Verne or anything else — that’s what they tended to be.”

Which is why, as competitors like the Library of America and Modern Library encroached the market and paperbacks made classics even cheaper, Everyman’s fell into the hands of UK publisher Tom Campbell in 1990 – who needed an American partner, which turned out to be Mehta. A revived line, with an initial 46 titles (Austen to Zola), was debuted by Random House UK and Knopf in the U.S. in 1991. Since then, the Everyman’s Library — with old and new incarnations celebrating a combined 100th anniversary in the year just completed — has done 500 titles and sold 12 million books.

One avowed fan is Joan Didion, whose seven volumes of non-fiction were recently collected in the Everyman’s edition WE TELL OURSELVES STORIES IN ORDER TO LIVE. “I don’t know if you remember what it was like,” the California-born writer asked recently by telephone from New York, “to first have a book in your hand, whenever it was that you first bought a book? A whole lot of [its appeal] had to do with the way it looked and felt. I remember very distinctly: Somebody gave me a merchandise award at a bookstore in Sacramento, and I bought a Modern Library of Emily Dickinson and the collected poems of T.S. Eliot. And the Eliot had a smooth yellow cover; and the Emily Dickinson had sort of a classic Modern Library cover…pink and gray and black. I mean, it was the physical appearance of these books that meant a whole lot to me, then.”

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