Books

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RIP J.D. Salinger

Author J.D. Salinger, possibly the world’s most famous recluse, has died at age 91. Despite the fact that he only published one novel, a few novellas, and a few dozen short stories, Salinger was one of the most respected and revered American writers in history. His novel, 1951’s The Catcher in the Rye, is widely considered a masterpiece, the quintessential story of the isolation of adolescence. It’s one of the most-widely banned books in schools and libraries around the country, not only for the one instance of “Fuck”, but for its anti-establishment themes. It’s also highly overrated.

I’m fairly convinced that the primary reason for the cult of Salinger, with members ranging from hippie English professors to would-be assassins, is not the quality of his work, but rather his self-imposed exile. Salinger stopped publishing in 1965 and rarely granted interviews. The lack of information coming from the man himself led people to fill in their own meanings to his work, attributing depth and meaning where it may or may not be present. In my mind his greatest contribution to culture is nothing he wrote, but simply serving as the model for the character of Terence Mann in Field of Dreams (don’t believe he was the model? In the book Shoeless Joe, on which the movie is based, the reclusive author Ray meets is Salinger, not Terence Mann).

Inglourious Basterds bar sceneJust in time for Christmas, Quentin Tarantino’s masterful Inglourious Basterds is coming to DVD and Blu-Ray. And it’s not some sort of slapped together, bare bones, rush job either. It’s a two-disc edition, with all sorts of bonus material. It comes out December 15th, but you can pre-order it 50% off at Amazon. Mom, if you’re reading, you don’t need to ask what I want for Christmas…

Let’s shift from movies coming out on DVD to movies getting ready to made. If you’re a fan of Chuck Klosterman’s writing you’ll be happy to know that his book Fargo Rock City is getting made into a movie. That, in and of itself, is kind of interesting. But what makes it more interesting is WHO is making the movie: Craig Finn, lead singer of The Hold Steady, and Tom Ruprecht, a writer for Late Night with David Letterman. No word on a release date yet, but you can bet I’ll be there.
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a collage of Dr. Seuss drawings
In a perfect world today would have been Theodor Geisel’s 105 birthday. Unfortunately this imperfect world has to find a way to muddle through without his shining presence, since he died in 1991. Fortunately he left behind enough works to keep us stocked up on magic and wonder for years to come. Let’s take this opportunity to take a look back at some of my favorite Seuss works.
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Author Michael Crichton
Author, television producer, and filmmaker Michael Crichton died Tuesday at age 68 after a battle with cancer. A Harvard-educated doctor, Crichton left medicine to pursue writing. His books, including Jurassic Park, typically served as cautionary tales about the unexpected repercussions of unchecked scientific progress. In addition to his writing, he directed films like The Great Train Robbery and Runaway, and teamed with Steven Spielberg to create ER, which has seemingly been on TV forever. CNN has more details.

If you’ve been following the Harry Potter series of books or movies you undoubtedly know we’re due for the next big-screen installment of the young wizard’s tale. This November we get Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth film in the series. The whole cast is back, and director David Yates also returns after leading the last installment. Assuming the movie follows the book pretty closely, fans can expect more of the dark tone set by the last couple of chapters. Here’s the first trailer:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince comes to theaters November 21.


Pop Culture Will Eat Itself Presents the Best of 2007
Tonight another year slips into the mists of memory like mime into quicksand. And to celebrate, here’s what those of us a PCWEI think are the best things to remember about 2007:
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Worst Book Title Ever?

Cooking with Pooh
Ewwwwwww. Doesn’t anyone think about these things? I can see how some bad titles may slip through. But Cooking with Pooh?

Just a few days before it hits shelves Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has leaked onto the internet. This despite publisher Arthur A. Levine Books reportedly spending $20 million to keep it under wraps until it’s July 21st release. There are spoilers floating around, but don’t worry, you won’t find any of them here (though if you’re into that sort of thing you can reportedly find them here).

The leaked copy that’s floating around is actually a series of photographs. One of each page. Yikes. Can you imagine trying to read that? For Pete’s sake folks, it comes out in four days. Just put on your wizard’s cloak and wait in line with the rest of the freakshow.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows leaked

Coverage of the link at BoingBoing, Salon, and ComNetSlash

Charlton Heston
Behold, verily I say unto you that if thou needest some churchin’, but thou hasn’t the time to get to church, head on over to The Brick Testament to see The Bible recreated in Legos. Above is Charlton Heston bringing the 10 Commandments down from the mountain. Below is Evan Noah loading all the animals onto the ark.

Noah.  It’s me.  The Lord.  Riiiiight

Recording the BeatlesOMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG

It’s called Recording the Beatles. And it looks like pretty much the most awesome book ever written. Over at BoingBoing it’s hyped as:

Insanely exhaustive documenting of EVERYTHING related to the Beatles recording sessions, including beautiful, almost-pornographic photos of every mixing board, mic, tape deck, etc. ever used in a Beatles session.

This seems to be a must-have for any Beatles fan or gearhead. Or maybe just us music dorks. Either way I ordered mine today.