The Literary Lifespan of 'Twilight'; The Birth of 'Annie Hall'

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Today in publishing and literature: the 2009 Man Booker winner is the latest prestigious literary property to be gobbled up by HBO, Diane Keaton's inventive memoir has some great Woody Allen stories, and the late Michael Crichton's scribbles have become a book about killer bugs and an evil CEO..

  • HBO will partner with the BBC to produce a four-part miniseries based on Hilary Mantel's 2009 Man Booker prize winner Wolf Hall. The book deals with Tudor England, the rise of Thomas Cromwell, and most important to viewers with parents don't know how to use their TV's parental control feature, is chock-a-block full of steamy, historically accurate sex scenes. So long, Paz de la Huerta! Peter Straughan, co-writer of the allegedly still upcoming Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, is doing the script. Mantel, meanwhile, is already hard at work on Wolf Hall's two bound-to-be-explicit sequels. [The Guardian]
  • When author Richard Preston arrived to finish the book Michael Crichton had been working on before his death in 2008, he received a partially manuscript and two notebooks full of not-particularly-helpful words, phrases, and stray thoughts, including: 
  • "SIMPLE." 
  • "Romantic?"
  • "'Heart of Darkness.' What is it about nature?"
  • "Robots: attacking?"

Somehow, Preston was able to fashion the fragments into Micro, which The Wall Street Journal describes with admirable earnestness as a "high-concept adventure story with tiny robots, killer insects and an evil CEO of a nanotechnology firm." (See how he worked the robots in?) Considering Crichton only had one-third of the 400 page manuscript done before his death, some of which was just a list of possible character names, the accomplishment would seem to be Preston's. The executors of Crichton's estate were more skeptical, and wouldn't let him make any notes about the manuscript. They did, however, send him to Hawaii to research flowers, along with the behavior of solitary wasps and bombardier beetles. The book is out next week, but we're willing to wager the solitary wasps are up to no good, and that the evil CEO of the nanotechnology firm is in on it. [The Wall Street Journal]

  • Diane Keaton's new memoir Then Again is written as a "collage" that mixes Keaton's words with the huge scrapbook collection her mother Dorothy Deanne Keaton Hall left behind after her death in 2005. This concept sounds like the kind of thing that would be confusing at best and pretentious at worst, but according to The New York Times' Janet Maslin, it's neither. "Instead," Maslin writes, ""it is a far-reaching, heartbreaking, absolutely lucid book about mothers, daughters, childhood, aging, mortality, joyfulness, love, work and the search for self-knowledge." There are also some great Woody Allen anecdotes, like how he used to send her letters addressed to "Beet Head" and "Greetings Worm." In one letter, Allen writes: "I have decided to let your family make me rich! It turns out they are wonderful material for a film. A quite serious one, although one of the three sisters is a fool and a clown. (I think you can guess which one, ducky!)” And that's how Annie Hall was born. [The New York Times]
  • Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books have sold more than 100 million copies since 2005, which can cited as proof that Meyer's  mopey teen vampires are just a fad or that they've already achieved immortality in the young adult literature genre. But will 14-year-olds in 2031 even bothering choosing sides between Team Edward and Team Jacob? Vulture's Amanda Dobbins doubts it. The frenzy over the films, she argues, has sustained interest in the books. Without the buzz that each new film generates, the books will exist on the shelf alone to fend for themselves. Which is a problem, because "Meyer's plot" central plot, though irresistible, is entirely replicable, and certainly no one is reading the books for her prose." The writing just isn't good enough for anyone to seek it out once it falls out of fashion. [Vulture]

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