Book Geek Bulletin: Nerdfighters and Fowl Weather

Book Geek Bulletin header for September 15, 2015

Book Geek Bulletin is a regular feature where we round up what’s going on in the world of literary culture and books—both here in Minnesota and around the world.

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Local Lit | Global News | Page to Screen

Local Lit

NerdCon: Stories logoOn October 9 and 10, 2015, Vlogbrothers John and Hank Green will be bringing the inaugural NerdCon: Stories to the Minneapolis Convention Center. The convention—which was announced about six months ago but hasn’t received all that much news coverage or promotion—will be a “diverse gathering” dedicated to storytelling of all kinds, from books to music to tabletop games. Special guests include Lev Grossman (The Magicians), Joseph Fink (Welcome to Night Vale), Téa Obreht (The Tiger’s Wife), Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicle), Jacqueline Carey (Kushiel’s Dart), and more—the list is still growing.

Citizen book coverCitizen by Claudia Rankine, published by Graywolf Press, has won the PEN Literary Award for poetry. It was previously a finalist for the National Book Award.

Announced this morning, Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón, published by Milkweed Editions, made the poetry longlist for the 2015 National Book Awards.

The Twin Cities Public Television documentary The Art and Life of George Morrison: A Beyond the Book Special—a collaboration between TPT, the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, and the Minnesota Museum of American Art—is up for an Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award.

Applications are now open for the Midwest Book Awards and the St. Paul Sidewalk Poetry Contest.

On September 19, 2015, the Friends of the Northeast Library will be hosting Salon Nordeast, a conversation between local authors John Jodzio (Get In If You Want to Live), Julie Schumacher (Dear Committee Members), Neal Karlen (Augie’s Secrets: The Minneapolis Mob and the King of the Hennepin Strip), Brad Zellar (Conductors of the Moving World), and Sarah Stonich (Vacationland).

Humble Bundle is running a Neil Gaiman “Rarities” bundle, consisting of early, little-seen, and even previously unpublished work. The offer is available until September 23, 2015. (If you’re not familiar with how Humble Bundle works, click here for a rundown.)

For another way to add to your collection, Half-Price Books is having a massive sale at the State Fairgrounds September 25–27, 2015.

Chapter2Books in Hudson, Wisconsin, will be moving to a different space in its current building—the area now occupied by vintage shop Hello the House, which is closing at the end of the month. The bookstore will remain open during the move.

MPR posted a nice interview with Coffee House Press publisher Chris Fischbach on September 2.

Minneapolis Public Schools officials and Utah-based company Reading Horizons are under fire for books distributed to Minneapolis classrooms that were “laden with racial and cultural stereotypes.” The books were immediately pulled after district training with teachers—so they never reached students—and officials previously apologized for insufficient vetting, but school-board members are demanding a public apology from Reading Horizons and monetary compensation for the district. MPS paid $1.2 million to Reading Horizons for the “Little Books.”

And details have been trickling in for the Harry Potter pub crawl created by Maria Balogh/Brooms & Brews—originally called Harry Potter and the Night That Shall Not Be Remembered and now the Pub-Crawl-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. Keep up to date by following the Facebook event page and Brooms & Brews. Over 8,500 people have now RSVPed yes for the event, taking place September 26, 2015.

Global News

In our September 1 bulletin, I mentioned that Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin, author of self-published phenomenon The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, had signed with a literary agency. The very next day, it was announced that he had made a deal with Penguin Random House for an immediate reissue in ebook on September 8 and in print and audiobook on October 2—plus two additional books. Publishers Weekly “has heard,” but not confirmed, that Ehrlin received a seven-figure deal.

Recent book deals of interest as reported by Publishers Lunch:

  • The Big Sheep, the newest book by sci-fi author Robert Kroese (Starship Grifters, Mercury Falls), to be published by Macmillan in March 2016 and described as “Sherlock meets Blade Runner
  • The next two installments in Kristi Charish’s Owl series, Owl and the Electric Samurai and Owl and the Tiger Thieves, both for publication in 2017 and “pitched as Indiana Jane meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
  • And, speaking of Buffy, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s yet-untitled “guide to the art of food crafting”

The Big Sheep book cover  Why Not Me? book cover  Best American Poetry 2015 book cover

Today is publication day for several celebrity books: Why Not Me?, a collection of essays by actor and writer Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project, The Office), whose previous book was a New York Times bestseller; Yes, My Accent Is Real, a book of autobiographical essays by The Big Bang Theory actor Kunal Nayyar; and Never Broken, a memoir from singer-songwriter Jewel.

Also out today are Gamelife by Michael B. Clune, a “memoir of a childhood transformed by technology” from the author of White Out: The Secret Life of Heroin, and A Carlin Home Companion by Kelly Carlin, a memoir by the daughter of late comedian George Carlin.

Furiously Happy, the second book by Jenny Lawson—better known as the Bloggess—comes out September 22, 2015.

Banned Books Week is September 27 to October 3, 2015. Bustle rounds up 25 of the most banned books of the last 15 years.

A revamped and redesigned Pottermore, the official Harry Potter fansite and community that originally launched in 2012, will be going live soon. Among other changes, the site is doing away with the Hogwarts house sorting feature and games and hopes to appeal better to existing fans of the series (rather than trying to attract new readers).

In awards news:

  • President Obama awarded the National Medal of Arts on September 10 to a group that included a number of authors, among them Stephen King and Tobias Wolff.
  • September 10 was also the 80th celebration of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, which “recognize books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures.” Click here to view the five category winners.
  • This year’s National Book Awards will honor author Don DeLillo with its its medal for distinguished contribution to American letters at the NBA ceremony on November 18, 2015. DeLillo, whose novel-writing career has spanned almost 50 years, will publish his next book, Zero K, in May 2016.

More book-related content was released last week from John Oliver, whose back-to-school web special included a handy “Who Dies at the End” guide for classic novels.

And if you thought with there wouldn’t be any controversies in this edition now that the Hugos are over, think again. The normally well-regarded annual anthology The Best American Poetry was published September 8, but most talk about the actual work has been overshadowed by the revelation that one of its poets, Yi-Fen Chou, is actually a white man—Michael Derrick Hudson—writing under a Chinese pen name. The anthology’s editor, award-winning writer Sherman Alexie (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian), has defended including Hudson’s work.

Page to Screen

Artemis Fowl book coverThe Tracking Board reports that Kenneth Branagh will direct the “long-awaited” adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl for Disney and the Weinstein Company. Harvey Weinstein secured the rights in 2001, the same year the novel was published, but the film project has had a long road to production (see the TB article for more details). Branagh, originally known for directing and acting in Shakespearean productions, has more recently played Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and directed Marvel’s Thor and the live-action Cinderella film.

Director Danny Boyle has confirmed that the entire main cast of Trainspotting will return for a sequel. The original film adapted Scottish author Irvine Welsh’s novel of the same name, and the sequel will be based on Welsh’s follow-up, Porno, which was published in 2002.

Three films based on books are opening September 18: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the second installment adapted from James Dashner’s YA series; Black Mass, from the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill; and Captive, from the book by Ashley Smith and Stacy Mattingly.

A trailer has been released for The Danish Girl, based on David Ebershoff’s novelization of the life of transgender pioneer Lili Elbe, which opens in New York and L.A. on November 27 before getting a wider release in December. The film stars Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and is directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech).

A new trailer is also out for Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. It, too, gets a full US release in December.

And something missed in our last installment was the trailer released August 30 for The Shannara Chronicles, an MTV series based on the fantasy novels by Terry Brooks. The cast includes Lord of the Rings veterans Manu Bennett (who more recently has appeared in Spartacus and Arrow) and John Rhys-Davies.

Clips have been released for London Fields, based on the “noirish mystery” by Martin Amis, and Go with Me, based on the short novel by Castle Freeman Jr. The latter is being directed by Daniel Alfredson, who has directed most of the Swedish adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy.

HBO’s TV movie based on The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust by Diana Henriques is moving forward. Barry Levinson will direct the project, which stars Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Alessandro Nivola. In addition to Henriques’s book, the film will also pull from Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family by Laurie Sandell.

In casting:

  • Game of Thrones may have found its Euron Greyjoy and has definitely cast Sam’s brother, Dickon Tarly
  • Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max) will play the lead in Danny Strong’s J. D. Salinger biopic, Rebel in the Rye
  • Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel) has been cast as the female lead in the Steven Spielberg adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One
  • Patton Oswalt has been added to the cast of The Circle, based on book by Dave Eggers, joining Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, John Boyega, and Karen Gillan

And Goosebumps doesn’t hit theaters for another month, but Sony is already talking about a sequel.

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