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Posts Tagged ‘Ross MacDonald’

Los Angeles Review of Books Unveils Preview Site

While the Los Angeles Review of Books won’t officially launch until late 2011, the literary criticism publication unveiled a preview site today.

The site opened with “The Death of the Book” by Ben Ehrenreich. The site will be updated with daily content, including Geoff Nicholson writing about silent film star Buster Keaton, Jane Smiley exploring the work of novelist and biographer Nancy Mitford, and Jefferson Hunter writing about private detective novelist Ross Macdonald and oil spills.

Here’s more about the new site: “The complete Los Angeles Review of Books site, launching in late 2011, will be much more complex and multidimensional, featuring reviews and essays, reader discussion forums, video of author interviews and events, an IMDB style archival reference database for the book world, and much more, taking full advantage of the latest web technologies. Reviews of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, memoir, philosophy, art, science fiction, young adult, children’s and more, will have multiple links leading through the site, allowing readers to follow their inclinations into new territories, finding new books, authors, and genres.”

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Now Kids Know: Superman’s From Ohio, Not Krypton

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If you’re going to Bryant Park to watch tonight’s free outdoor screening of Superman: The Movie, take a look across Sixth Avenue and see if you can spot Marc Tyler Nobleman—he’ll be at a table with vendors from the children’s bookshop Books of Wonder, selling copies of Boys of Steel, his picture book biography of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the writer and artist who created Superman back in the 1930s. Of all the things to write about for young audiences, how did Nobleman settle upon the story of two twentysomethings from Depression-era Cleveland? “The Siegel and Shuster story has never been told in a standalone narrative volume for any age,” Nobleman noted in a recent email, but more importantly, it’s a story with “an accessible angle (everyone knows Superman) but a mystery backstory (few know who created him, when, or how).”

(It is not, however, always the happiest of stories—although Nobleman’s main tale celebrates Siegel and Shuster’s unbeatable optimism, a three-page afterword details decades of misfortune after selling their original story—and all rights to the character—for $130, until the pair were finally awarded pensions and a permanent creators’ credit on every comic book featuring Superman.)

“It’s a natural to tell their story in illustrated format because their character essentially launched one of the most iconic visual mediums of the 20th century, the comic book,” Nobleman continued; the pictures are provided by picture book veteran Ross MacDonald. “We’ve actually never met and first emailed only after his work was completed,” Nobleman says of the collaboration, but “his style is so suited to the material and he was a pleasure to work with, gracious and inventive.” As a followup, Nobleman is already deep into research on a book about Bill Finger, a comic-book writer who played a vital (uncredited) role in the creation of Batman and his most famous villains.

A Further Look at Random House Films

The WSJ’s Jeff Trachtenberg turns his attention to the partnership between Random House and Focus Features and its first collaboration, the Sofia Coppola-directed “Reservation Road”. It’s based from a book by Jonathan Burnham Schwartz and stars Jennifer Connelly and Joaquin Phoenix. The plan is to release two or three such films each year, culled from Random House’s backlist of 33,000 titles. So far, titles in the works include Dean Koontz‘s THE HUSBAND, Ross MacDonald‘s THE GALTON CASE and Yasmina Khadra‘s THE ATTACK. The partners will share production costs, hoping to recoup their investments by selling foreign distribution rights and bringing in other investors. In exchange for its investment, Random House has a voice in picking screenwriters, directors, and actors.

Random House says its move into the film business isn’t mainly about increasing profits via movie tickets and DVDs. Rather, it’s about selling books. “We’re doing this primarily to sell more books as movie tie-ins,” says Peter Olson, CEO of Random House. “If the movies do well at the box office and as DVDs, that’s an additional bonus.” A strategy which worked in a big way with the tie-in to PERFUME (sales jumped to more than 100,000 copies sold from 13,000 copies annually for Patrick Suskind‘s novel) and which offers high hopes for Schwartz, now betting that movie will also give a boost to his next novel, THE COMMONER, published in January by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday. “My hope is that it will catch some of the wind from the movie promotion,” he says.