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Posts Tagged ‘Fiction / News

‘How To Talk To Girls’ – The Film

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Alec Greven talking to Ellen DeGeneres on her chat show

Alec Greven talking to Ellen DeGeneres on her chat show

Little Alec Greven rise to super stardom goes from strength to strength as it was revealed earlier this week that his best selling book is to be turned into a film.

Twentieth Century Fox has picked up the film rights to How to Talk to Girls an advice guide penned by the nine-year-old.

According to the magazine Variety ‘How To Talk To Girls’ is the first of a four-part series. It was published on 25 November by HarperCollins, conveniently a sister company of Fox. The film deal covers all four publications.

Fox is still to appoint a writer or announce a producer for the film. Production co-president Alex Young is said to have liked Greven’s book.

‘How To Talk To Girls’ was originally a third-grade project, which resulted in a pamphlet that he went on to sell at his school’s book fair.

The advice in the book ranges from facts of life to how to get a girl’s attention, all from the unique perspective of a nine-year-old. Greven also offers advice on how to talk to girls, crushes, and how you should never act desperate. A given really.

To read the original news piece about Alec Greven’s surprise best-selling book click here.

Have a look below for a video featuring the writing boy wonder:

Discussion:
Is this a fad? It’s got to be a fad right?

Words: Dean Samways

Economic downturn makes for unhappy reading

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Not even the boy wizard could help Waterstones profits last year (Waterstones)

Not even the boy wizard could help Waterstones' profits last year (Waterstones)

Waterstones today announced figures that suggest the book market has been effected by reduced customer spending during the current economic climate.

The retailer’s parent company HMV saw Waterstone’s like-for-like sales drop 3.1% in the 26 weeks between April and 25 October. The comparison showed a 1.4% fall when adjusted for the phenomenal impact of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on 2007’s result.

The report also shows HMV has suffered market deterioration since the end of October which is in line with the well-documented downturn in consumer confidence. It is quoted in saying the book market has seen a ‘marked deterioration’ in the five weeks to 29 November.

Waterstone’s operating loss before exceptional items increased in the first half year to £9.3m from £8.9m in 2007.

According to HMV the book market as a whole shrunk 5% during the period and had been particularly hit by poor performances by non-fiction publications.

What is perhaps more worrying is the continued work with year-on-year losses. Before tax losses for the group were £27.5m, against £28.7m a year earlier.

Of course this doesn’t mean that novel writing has to be unprofitable. Self-publication can be a fantastic way of getting your work read by a wider audience and earning money on the side.

The Scribbler will be looking to publish advice and guidance on the best means of self-publication in early 2009.

Keep it here for all the best news, reviews, features and interviews on the literary industry.

Take a look at a book launch that really should have peaked Waterstones’ profits last year. The irrepressible Russell Brand and his Booky Wook in Waterstone’s Piccadilly:

Discussion:
Has the credit crunch stopped you buying the number of books you would normally like to? Have you resorted to library loans? Aspiring writer? Would you consider self-publication if publishers begin a campaign of turning authors away due to the economic climate? Let us know below.

Words: Dean Samways

Potter spell continues to mesmerise

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The Moonstone edition of the book was auctioned in December 2007

The Moonstone edition of the book was auctioned in December 2007 (Wikipedia)

Every aspiring writer wants to think their latest project will strike a chord with the majority and propel them to literary super-stardom (though writing for the audience is the killer of creativity – Ed).

Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen but for one author her fictional wand waving speccy protagonist has made her books almost as renouned as the complete works of Shakespeare.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by JK Rowling has become the fastest-selling book of the year.

Hitting shelves only three days ago it didn’t take long for copies to fly off again and straight into the carrier bags of a few hundred thousand satisfied customers.

The first in the author’s collection not to feature Harry Potter shifted 368,000 units last week compared to 73,000 copies of the Guinness Book of Records 2008, its closest rival.

Phil Stone of The Bookseller magazine told The Daily Telegraph: “None of the other big releases managed to get near the sales figure for Beedle the Bard.”

“I would be very surprised if it is not Christmas number one, but it’s not a dead cert.”

Nicknamed the ‘unofficial Potter farewell’ The Tales of Beedle the Bard, is a collection of five fairy tales which got a mention in the final wiz-boy book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Six super-rare-handmade-by-the-author-special-editions of the book were given away last year to people most closely connected to the Harry Potter series. A seventh was made and sold in auction to raise money for a children’s charity. Amazon bought the unique copy for almost £2M!

JK Rowling is interviewed about The Tales of Beedle the Bard below:

Discussion:
What is it that makes Rowling and Potter so darn popular? Is there anyone who comes close to her kind of fame? Are there any novel ideas rattling around in your head that could become supernova huge?

Words: Dean Samways

Classic literature on a Nintendo?

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Is this the new book? The Nintendo DS

Is this the new book? The Nintendo DS

Books no longer need be read in the traditional stinging paper-cut inducing way.

We already have e-book readers to turn the electronic pages of our favourite book but now Nintendo are furthering the technological revolution reshaping the publishing industry.

The so-called ‘touch generation’ of Nintendo DS users are pioneering a new concept in videogaming, using the groundbreaking hardware to read classic literature.

A collection of popular novels will be released on 26 December. The DS release will be entitled 100 Classic Book Collection.

Developed in partnership with publishing heavyweight HarperCollins the collection will include classics like Jules Vern’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in Eighty Days as well as tales from legendary detective Sherlock Holmes.

The software also features a brief synopsis of each book and recommends reads based on what mood you are in.

It has been well documented that more books will be available via the DS’ Wi-Fi function. The initial package will set you back the modest fee of £20.

100 Classic Book Collection available on the Nintendo DS on 26 December

100 Classic Book Collection available on the Nintendo DS on 26 December

Discussion:
The Nintendo Wii has managed to redefine gaming for many users but the question still remains will the 100 classic books collection redefine reading DS users across the globe?

Words: Seamus Swords & Dean Samways

How to talk to girls – Tips from a nine-year-old

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Can all men learn something from lil Alec Greven?

Can all men learn something from lil Alec Greven?

There are many difficult subjects for writers to tackle, but a nine-year-old boy getting to the bottom of the eternal mystery of nine-year-old girls seems to be a unique one. The pre-teen version of Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus (boys are from the climbing frame and girls are from the sandbox anyone? – Ed) started out as a school creative writing project for young American Casanova Alec Greven.

The hand written pamphlet proved to be a surprise hit at his school’s book fair and the story was picked up by local news. The leaflet soon turned into a full-blown called How To Talk To Girls. Alec was then invited onto a US TV chat show which led to a publishing deal with HarperCollins. The hardback is now available across the the United States.

In an interview with the New York Post he revealed his inspiration for writing the book. “I saw a lot of boys that had trouble talking to girls.”

The book includes some very eye-opening pearls of wisdom. In an extract from chapter three he writes: “Stop showing off, go easy on the compliments and be wary of ‘pretty girls’. It is easy to spot pretty girls because they have big earrings, fancy dresses and all the jewelery. Pretty girls are like cars that need a lot of oil.”

His mother has put Alec’s success down to the fact he is an avid reader.

Here is the boy himself talking to the New York Post about his book:

Discussion:
So have you learnt anything from lil’ Alec? Are all the pretty girls the ones with big earrings? Case in point, Jackie from Hollyoaks. What will Alec’s next work be? A Mills & Boon tribute?

Words: Seamus Swords

On The Road in Birmingham

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The manuscript scroll of On The Road by Jack Kerouac (BBC)

The manuscript scroll of On The Road by Jack Kerouac (BBC)

The scroll manuscript of On The Road, dubbed one of the most important pieces of literature of modern times, is now on show in Birmingham. Jack Kerouac’s genre defining novel was typed out furiously on 120ft of tracing paper so he didn’t have to stop, with only the power of coffee keeping him going. Now 50 years after the book was published in the UK the Barber Institute in Birmingham is showing one of the world’s most valuable and celebrated manuscripts.

The exhibition’s curator Professor Dick Ellis has admitted there was a lot of competition getting the scroll, which ironically has spent most of its life on the road.

“We’re very excited indeed,” he said. “This is an iconic manuscript. It is a record of the huge effort Kerouac put into composing it. It was 20 days of typing 6,500 words a day, flat out, in spontaneous composition. He wanted to record things with the most possible accuracy using the spontaneous technique. His typewriter became a compositional instrument.

Truman Capote once accused Kerouac of typing rather than writing; I would say he was learning the ability of using the typewriter like a jazz instrument, like a saxophone. He also had an incredible memory. And he had great speed at typing, he became a lightning typist. He came to be able to use a typewriter in a way that has not been seen before or since. Kerouac said he wrote fast because the road was fast.”

Of the total 120ft of printed text around a fifth will be on show in a specially built cabinet. Although visitors may have to tilt the heads slightly to read parts of the script, Ellis believes that it will help give visitor an insight into what Kerouac was all about. The scroll was bought by Jim Irasy owner of American football team Indianapolis Colts and is currently on a worldwide tour of museums and galleries. The scroll will be on show in Birmingham until 28 January.

The Guardian yesterday produced a quality blog post discussing whether or not Kerouac would be able to cope with modern day writing tools such as Word. Have a read here.

Listen to Kerouac read from On The Road accompanied by pretty pictures of the man himself below:

Discussion:
Who will be going to Birmingham to see this amazing artifact of modern literature? Does anyone know of any other quirky ways of writing a novel? Would anyone consider writing a book by hand these days and if so, why?

Words: Seamus Swords

Gonzo is nearly upon us

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A poster for the Gonzo documentary on Hunter S. Thompson

A poster for the Gonzo documentary on Hunter S. Thompson

How did this almost slip under The Scribbler radar?

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, the celebrated documentary by Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney, is finally hitting UK cinemas on 19 December.

Almost a year after the feature length documentary made its cinematic debut at the Sundance Film Festival British audiences will finally get to see Gibney’s uncanny account of gonzo journalism‘s forefather.

The film addresses the major events that made Thompson such an influencial figure not just in literary circles but also political ones too. For example, his intense and ill-fated relationship with the Hell’s Angels, his near-successful bid for the office of sheriff in Aspen in 1970, the notorious story behind the landmark Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, his deep involvement in Senator George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign, and much more.

As an extra treat the entire motion picture is narrated by Johnny Depp.

Naturally we will follow any developments on this, the most exciting film release of the year. Keep it The Scribbler for the first review of Gonzo.

Read Gonzo’s Sundance review right here.

Have a look at the trailer below:

Discussion:
Are you looking forward to Gonzo? How many of you admire HST? Is he primarily a storyteller or journalist? Can his infamous subjectivity be used objectively?

Words: Dean Samways

Unsung superheroes

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Some of the superheroes you may be familiar with but what about the ones youre not?

Some of the superheroes you may be familiar with but what about the ones you're not?

Following a rather extended stint of comic book news pieces on The Scribbler we thought it only fair to extend the run with another.

Den of Geek, a website devoted to all things geeky, has compiled a list of eight comic book characters that have been cruelly left out of that select circle of characters turned into Hollywood movies.

With near on 80 comic book adaptations in the pipeline the website believes that these eight characters would translate well into celluloid heroes and villains; and with the Batman and Spider-Man screen renditions being some of the most profitable films of recent years many producers are looking for the next big thing.

Here is a selection of the characters chosen:

Vampirella – Sexy-woman-in-revealing-costume-who-kicks-ass is one of the most successful concepts in Hollywood but even Halle Berry couldn’t turn the idea into a success in the ill fated Catwoman. However, if adapted with a pinch of salt, Vampirella could well become a cult hit. Think Robert Rodriguez’s stripper/vampire romp From Dusk till Dawn and your half way there. The creator Forrest J. Ackerman is holding up the rights for a better film version after the poorly received straight to video release in 1996 so it may be a while until someone can persuade him to take the plunge once again.

Strontium Dog – The long running 2000AD series hasn’t had the best of luck when adapted for the silver screen. Judge Dredd was laughed out of the cinema by most and left many fans disappointed. The spaghetti western style of Strontium Dog is a big reason as to why many think it would make a good film adaptation. The other big argument for Strontium Dog is that the maverick mutant bounty hunter Johnny Alpha is the stuff of Hollywood dreams. Although creator John Wagner created a weird dystopian future for Strontium Dog, the good guy hunting down the bad guy is on page one of Hollywood action narrative 101.

Satana – Running along the similar lines as Vampirella, the leading lady Judith Camber channels a sexy Succubus ‘Satana’ to kick the asses of her oppressors in skimpy and revealing outfits.  Like Vampirella any successful film version will have to take a tongue and cheek approach, despite this many filmgoers would enjoy a woman unleashing hells fury onto her enemies. You know what they say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Man Thing – Some studios that own the rights to a comic may rush out a film version simply to keep the rights for a later, and hopefully, better release. This happened in 1994 with the Fantastic Four and just over a decade later the bigger, and possibly better, Fantastic Four was released. A 2005 straight to TV version of the Man Thing has left many fans hoping that there will be a full-scale cinema release in the near future. Man thing calls upon the old comic book favourite of a scientist injecting himself with his own serum just to have it turn him into something nasty.  Many fans believe that the central character has a close link to Robocop, something seemingly nasty and evil motivated by good intentions he hardly understands whilst at the same time still wishing for his previous human life. It may sound complicated but this idea has been the solid base for comic book characters past present and future.

These are the most viable adaptations, as some of those picked out by the site will take something special to be adapted to film. The tale of Howard the Duck is a strange one. A cigar-smoking duck from a duck-based alternate universe stuck in our place and time with no powers except for a hard-line attitude. Only the bravest scriptwriters need apply to remake that one.

Comics and graphic novels look set to dominate our screens for a while to come and as this small selection of neglect raw material shows, even the most diverse comics could make it from the comic book store and into cinemas.

Take a look at the trailer for possibly the greatest Marvel movie of all time, and no it’s not Spidey:

Discussion:
What comic book characters do you want to see given the silver screen treatment? Which heroes and villains would work best and why?

Words: Seamus Swords

Books of 2008 – The Scribbler Readers’ Poll

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Is Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk your book of the year?

Is Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk your book of the year?

As the 2008 slowly eases through its final chilly days and colder nights we wanted to ask you the question that has been on our lips since starting this humble blog.

What have been your books of 2008? As you hopefully saw earlier today, The Guardian has asked public figures but now we are asking you, the Great British fiction fan.

This year has been a healthy one for releases of great fiction but which have particularly enchanted you? Have there been any that have prompted moments of deep thought, a revelation, a tear, a smile, a giggle, a spell of nausea or, more interestingly, a great deal of self-reflection?

We’ve listed 2008’s most notable new novels (disclaimer: it’s not necessarily what we’ve enjoyed) to provide you with some inspiration. It’s out hope that this feature will generate lots of debate and discussion not only about the books of the year but also what makes a good piece of fiction. Uses the comments box accordingly.

So, come on then, what will it be?

The year in literature:

Watch Chuck Palahniuk interview the protagonist of his book Snuff, porn priestess Cassie Wright below:

Discussion:
Come on then? What was your favourite book of 2008 and why? Why that book and not another? We want a full blown discussion going on.

Words: Dean Samways

Lost beat novel ‘not worth the wait’

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And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tankes by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs

And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tankes by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs

The US press has been hard at work this weekend dosing the flames of hype that have been rising around one of the literary world’s most anticipated releases ever.

As previously reported on The Scribbler a long delayed novel co-written by beatnik founding-fathers Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs is finally available to buy.

The writing of and originally planned release of And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks was surrounded by scandalous mystery. Over 60 years ago, when Kerouac was 23 and Burroughs 30, the scholars were arrested by the New York Police Department for helping a friend cover up a murder.

After they were released and cleared of the charges the pair decided to collaborate on a novel based upon the case. While Kerouac was pleased with the work American publishers unanimously disagreed.

While some sources cite this as being the reason why the book was so delayed, others state a pact was made between the writers and the real killer, one Lucien Carr that the novel would not be published until Carr passed away in an attempt to protect his name.

Thus the manuscripts were locked away and remained unpublished until this month when Grove Press did the right thing and treated it to some long deserved daylight.

Associated Press writer Bruce DeSilva this weekend damningly wrote: “The characters are aimless, intellectual wannabes who spend most of the book engaging in vacuous conversations while wandering from one seedy apartment and bar to another in pursuit of sex, drugs and whiskey.

“It is impossible to work up much concern for what will happen to any of them.”

DeSilva also added: “The crime, with its bohemian characters and hints of paedophilia, was a lot more interesting in the newspapers of the day than it is in the novel.”

The said crime was one of passion. Carr, the son in a well-to-do family, had become the object of obsession for the victim David Kammerer who met Carr years earlier in St. Louis while working as his Boy Scout leader. Kammerer reportedly followed Carr to New York where the older man met his demise at the end of Carr’s scout knife. The murderer then filled his pockets with stones and sent him to the bottom of the Hudson River.

Carr quickly confessed to Burroughs and Kerouac who in turn did not call the authorities, in fact it is claimed Kerouac helped get rid of the murder weapon. Eventually Carr was brought to justice and was found guilty of second-degree murder but was only given a two-year sentence after his lawyer argued that the crime was committed in self-defence from homosexual, paedophilic predator. Carr served his term and later led a successful career as an editor. He died in 2005.

William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac relaxing

William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac relaxing

DeSilva believes while the crime caused a sensation in 1944 New York and gave the writers a lot to write about ‘they failed to do much with it.’

Describing the book, DeSilva said: “The story is plodding, the characters uninteresting and the writing listless, with few hints at the innovative styles that would later make these writers icons of the beat generation. Perhaps the book will be of interest to literary scholars, but Grove could have posted it on an obscure internet site and spared the rest of us.”

DeSilva goes onto to protest: “Kerouac and Burroughs changed the names of all the characters, including themselves. Inexplicably, they also changed the murder weapon, turning the delicious detail of the scout knife into a hatchet. As ‘Mike Ryko’ and ‘Will Dennison’, the authors take turns narrating the story in a hard-boiled style, trying to write like Mickey Spillane and making a mess of it.”

Kerouac and Burroughs may have made a mess of the book in one reporters eyes but fans of beat writing and contemporary literature should remain enthusiastic about a release by two of the world’s most renowned authors that has been a closely kept secret for some 60 years. Posthumous releases are always something to look forward to.

Keep it The Scribbler Blog for a review of the novel in the coming weeks.

To buy your own copy of And The Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks click here.

There’s a 71 minute documentary on Jack Kerouac below if you have the time and the patience to watch it, we did:

For a William S. Burroughs video cast your eyes below:

Discussion:
Has anyone read the book? What is your opinion of it? Is it on a par with Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, regarded as one of the best pieces of crime writing ever produced?

Words: Dean Samways