Literary Potpourri ~ August 29 and 30


“Barbarian Days” by William Finnegan
“Paper Towns” by John Green
“The Jezebel Remedy” by Martin Clark
“Wicked Charms” by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton
“Crooked” by Austin Grossman
“Oregon Trail” by Rinker Buck
“Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party” by Alexander McCall Smith

Patrick Nolan, Associate Publisher and Editor in Chief, Penguin Books

A preview of the summer’s hottest books in wide range of genres: fiction, nonfiction, travel and occult. Elaine speaks with Patrick Nolan of Penguin Books about the publishing house’s distinguished 80 year anniversary.

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Green Eggs And Ham Coming To Netflix


Netflix is cooking up “Green Eggs and Ham” with help from the estate of Dr. Seuss, executive producer Ellen DeGeneres and Warner Bros. TV Group. A 13-episode animated TV series will be adapted from the classic 1960 children’s book, continuing the adventures of some of its characters.

Cindy Holland, Netflix’s VP of original content, channeled Dr. Seuss’ famous meter in announcing the deal:

“We think this will be a hit
Green Eggs and Ham is a perfect fit
for our growing slate of amazing stories
available exclusively in all Netflix territories.
You can stream it on a phone.
You can stream it on your own.
You can stream it on TV.
You can stream it globally.”

EL James’ Husband To Write Movie Sequel Script


EL James, the author of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, has enlisted her husband to write the script for the sequel. Niall Leonard, who is married and has two sons with the British author, is an author himself, in addition to being a screenwriter. He’s written for the British TV shows Air Force One Is Down and Wire in the Blood, among others. He’s also the author of the Crusher book series. He worked on the script for the first Fifty Shades, but was not credited.

“Niall is an outstanding writer in his own right, with multiple established credits, and we are lucky to have him join Team Fifty,” says producer Michael De Luca.

James, whose real name is Erika Leonard, has been credited with keeping a strong amount of creative control when it comes to Universal’s adaptations of her books. On the first film, she clashed with director Sam Taylor-Johnson about many aspects of the film, including the ending. Neither Taylor-Johnson nor screenwriter Kelly Marcel are returning for the sequel. Due to the exit of Taylor-Johnson and Marcel, and the fact that stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, are negotiating for more money for the sequel, there hasn’t been much news on the follow-up. The first film earned a massive $568.8 million worldwide.

There have been rumors circling that James wanted to write the screenplay herself. But having her husband work on it may be a happy compromise since he has screenwriting experience that James lacks.

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Reese Witherspoon To Perform New Harper Lee Title


Actress Reese Witherspoon will narrate the audio version of the year’s hottest book, Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. The unabridged audio version will be released simultaneously with the book on July 14. Witherspoon is set to hit the recording studio this month.

Lee’s new novel, written in the 1950s but recently rediscovered, is a sequel to her classic To Kill a Mockingbird.

“As a Southerner, it is an honor and privilege to give voice to the Southern characters who inspired my childhood love of reading, Scout and Atticus Finch,” Witherspoon said. “I am eager for readers to be transported to a pivotal time in American history in the manner that only Harper Lee’s gorgeous prose can deliver.”

Witherspoon, 39, who was born in New Orleans, is a book lover who has brought some of her favorite recent titles to the big screen. She starred in and was a producer on Wild and a producer of Gone Girl. Along with Nicole Kidman, Witherspoon has optioned Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, in development for TV.

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George R R Martin Is Expanding His TV Reach


The Game of Thrones author is developing a new series with HBO. The potential series is called Captain Cosmos and centers on a young science fiction writer living in 1949 at the dawn of the age of TV. The writer spends his time penning stories no one else would dare to write.

The series is in early stages of development at the network, where Martin has an overall deal. The pilot is being written by Michael Cassutt, a writer and co-executive producer on SyFy’s Z Nation.

The proposed series is not expected to be a big time commitment for Martin, who announced he was dialing back on appearances in order to focus on writing The Winds of Winter, the long awaited sixth installment of his Song of Ice and Fire series. The previous book, A Dance With Dragons, was published in 2011.

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HBO has announced the air dates for its miniseries adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s novel The Casual Vacancy, with the British slice-of-life drama set to premiere in a two-night block in late April. The first two hours of the miniseries, produced in association with BBC One, will debut in the States on April 29, with the third and final hour airing the following night.

Of course, British viewers won’t have to wait nearly as long to see this take on Rowling’s tale of bitter infighting, class warfare, and vicious rumors during an election in a small English town. The Casual Vacancy will air on BBC One on February 15, more than two months before its American debut.

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James Franco, who got his start on 1999’s cult-favorite TV show Freaks and Geeks, is set to return to the small screen. He’ll star as Jake Epping in the Hulu original series 11/22/63, based on Stephen King’s 2011 novel.

Described as “part thriller, part love story,” the series follows the life of a high school English teacher enlisted in a time travel plot to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Franco shouldn’t have trouble finding inspiration for his teacher role – the actor is currently teaching courses at UCLA, CAL ARTS and USC.

J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot Productions is producing the nine-hour series. Craig Erwich, Hulu’s Senior Vice President, Head of Content, wrote on the site’s blog: “This direct-to-series order marks a monumental deal for Hulu as we partner with J.J. Abrams and Stephen King, two of the most celebrated storytellers of our time.

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Bestselling Books Of 2014

We’ve all seen the critics’ lists for their top picks of 2014, but which books actually sold the most? Here is the Nielsen BookScan list of 2014’s Adult Top Bestselling Titles:
1. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
2. “Gray Mountain” by John Grisham
3. “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline
4. “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt
5. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
6. “Sycamore Row” by John Grisham
7. “Revival” by Stephen King
8. “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James
9. “Inferno” by Dan Brown
10. “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd
1. “Killing Patton” by O’Reilly/Dugard
2. “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young
3. “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand
4. “Strengths Finder 2.0” by Tom Rath
5. “Make it Ahead” by Ina Garten
6. “A Portrait of My Father” by George W. Bush
7. “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo
8. “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown
9. “Guinness World Records 2015”
10. “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman

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Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn To Work Again With Ben Affleck

Team Gone Girl is reuniting for another dark tale of suspense and danger. Only this time, they’re headed for remake territory, as David Fincher, Ben Affleck and Gillian Flynn will create a new version of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers On A Train.”

The new thriller, currently just called Strangers, is an update of the original story. Flynn will write the script about a film star (Affleck) deep in the middle of an Oscar campaign who needs to hitch a ride when the private plane he’s been using to jet around the country breaks down. He believes his luck has changed when a wealthy stranger offers him a lift to Los Angeles on his own swanky aircraft. Things take a turn for the complicated from there.

Fincher and company are keeping the rest of the details to themselves for now. The 1951 film, adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel, saw Farley Granger playing Guy Haines, a bored tennis pro who meets a stranger on a train (Robert Walker) and concocts a scheme to swap murderous acts with the wealthy socialite psycho in the hopes that they can both get away scot free. Of course, it doesn’t quite work out that way.

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Is “The Girl On The Train” The New “Gone Girl”

“The Girl on the Train” thriller, published Jan. 13 in the U.S., is flying off shelves and already has landed a movie deal.

The book by Britain’s Paula Hawkins, made its debut at No. 1 on The Wall Street Journal best-seller list for hardcovers and e-books combined.

After an initial print run of 40,000 copies, the book is in its 10th printing in the U.S., with more than 250,000 copies out, according to the book’s publisher, Penguin Random House imprint Riverhead Books. Publishing rights have been sold to 33 territories around the world and DreamWorks has acquired the film rights.

That’s a promising start for a page-turner that many have anointed the successor to Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.” Since its publication in June 2012, Ms. Flynn’s thriller has sold more than 7.6 million copies and been a fixture on best-seller lists—first in hardcover, then in paperback.

Hawkins’s book is a mystery that unspools through different untrustworthy points of view. “The Girl on the Train” has three narrators—all women. The main one, Rachel, is an alcoholic who occasionally blacks out and can’t trust her own memory. Rachel commutes by train and, looking out the window, sees the same couple having breakfast every morning in a house by the tracks. She assigns them names, and feels that she knows them. After learning that the woman in the couple has disappeared, Rachel realizes she’s witnessed something that could be crucial to solving the case.

This is the first novel to appear under Hawkins’s real name. The 42-year-old author grew up in Zimbabwe and moved to London, where she now lives, when she was 17. Before “The Girl on the Train,” she wrote women’s fiction for hire under the pseudonym Amy Silver, fleshing out plotlines and characters assigned to her. Those books, which were published only in the U.K., were mostly romantic comedies. That genre, it turned out, wasn’t her strong suit.

The stories “kept getting darker and darker,” Hawkins said in an NPR interview. “I’m not a joyful, romantic person. I can be, but I’ve got a proper dark side and I enjoy indulging it.”

“None of us can think of another debut that has exploded out of the gate this fast,” said Madeline McIntosh, president of the Penguin Publishing Group. “As to why it’s caught fire, I think it’s really come down to the read.

Janet Maslin of the New York Times wrote “‘The Girl on the Train’ has more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since ‘Gone Girl,’ the book still entrenched on best-seller lists 2½ years after publication because nothing better has come along.” Others have drawn parallels to the suspense and voyeurism of Alfred Hitchcock. “Nothing replicated my response to ‘Rear Window’ until I read Paula Hawkins’s debut novel, ‘The Girl on the Train,’ ” Kim Kankiewicz wrote in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

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