Five things we loved this week
Our literary round-up of the last seven days
1. The Man in Black and the Gunslinger: revealed
The longer the wait, the sweeter the result; an adaptation of The Dark Tower by Stephen King is finally – finally – underway. This ambitious project has a few failed attempts in its wake, so before you roll your eyes and say: ‘We have heard this before’, this time, it really is ‘all-go’. The central characters have been cast: Mathew McConaughey will play the Man in Black and The Gunslinger will be played by Idris Elba. In the words of King himself, and quoting the first line of The Gunslinger (the first novel in the series, on which the adaptation will be based): “It is official: The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.” Will Stephen King enjoy the adaptation though? Fingers are firmly crossed.
2. Word-Smiths swing through the seasons
Two highly esteemed Smiths are to release new books this year: Zadie Smith and Ali Smith. Zadie Smith’s Swing Time is "a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them” set in North-West London and West Africa, while Ali Smith’s Autumn, which is the first of a four-part book series named after the seasons, is “a stripped-branches take on popular culture, and a meditation… on what richness and worth are”. But what we want to know is: did they coordinate their releases? Is there a secret Smith Society and is Wilbur Smith the chair-person?
3. Guinness, literature and a tiny book
Did they really put a man on the moon in 1969? Who cares, a Russian scientist Vladimir Aniskin has created the world’s smallest book! Two in fact; the books, which measure 70 x 90 micrometres, or 0.07mm by 0.09mm, are being submitted to The Guinness Book of Records for verification. We hope they have the world’s biggest microscope…
4. Bath Literary Festival is Forever Mockingbird
As part of their ‘Forever Young’ theme this year, the Bath Literary Festival held an event on Sunday during which the ultimate coming-of-age story was debated. While many would assume existential curmudgeon Holden Caulfield and novel Catcher in The Rye would scoop the title, after a long and passionate debate, the panel named To Kill A Mockingbird as the winner. See, mooching around and hating phonies at 17 is fine, but if you happen to be able to skewer people’s hypocrisies and foibles at 6, as Scout does, that is far more impressive. As for who would win in a fictional fight: my money would always be on Scout.
5. Good news is good news
I don’t know about you, but I never even look in my junk folder. I imagine a Pandora’s box of out-of-date coupons, fake Nigerian royalty asking for money and offers of Viagra. But Australian author Helen Garner looked – and thank goodness she did – because she found that she had won a $150,000 literary prize. When she read that the email offered ‘good news’ and someone ‘just needed her phone number’, understandably, she though it was a hoax. It was only later that she discovered the truth: she had won the prestigious Windham-Campbell Award. The moral of this story: Modern life teaches us to be suspicious but sometimes, good news really is what it says it is – good news.
Holden Caulfield is a dropout who has just been kicked out of his fourth school. Navigating his way through challenges of growing up, Holden dissects the 'phony' aspects of society, and the 'phonies' themselves: the headmaster whose affability depends on the wealth of the parents, his roommate who scores with girls using sickly-sweet affection.