Excavated Capote Excerpt Published; Mario Vargas Llosa Talks 'Fifty Shades'

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Today in books and publishing: Vanity Fair grants publication to unearthed portion of Answered Prayers; Mario Vargas Llosa considers E.L. James; Nora Roberts is a boon for Boonsboro.

Part of Capote's Answered PrayersTwo weeks ago we told you about a stack of Truman Capote's papers recently discovered collecting dust in the New York Public Library. We noted that Vanity Fair promised to publish a six-page excerpt of a chapter from Capote's legendary unfinished novel Answered Prayers, and here it is. This portion, entitled "Yachts and Things," finds the narrator cruising through the Greek islands with "an Italian friend," his family, and "a distinguished and rather intellectual woman." But the trip has been soured by the sudden death of one of the captain's family members. The passages show off Capote's flair for vividly descriptive language, and evoke the kind of languid high society leisure you'd expect from his work. [Vanity Fair]

Erotica fans prefer E.L. James to Mario Vargas Llosa. Imagine how withered one must feel when, after a lifetime of writing critically revered erotica, a Twilight fan who thinks people scream "argh!" during sex comes along and blows your sales figures out of the water. Mario Vargas Llosa seems to be taking E.L. James' success in stride, though. When asked during a talk at the Americas Society about the swelling interest in erotica following the Fifty Shades phenom, the Nobel laureate said, "I have tried to do it but without the same success." He admitted he hasn't read Fifty Shades (though he says, "I hope it's fun"), but he dropped this pearl about writing sex into fiction:

When a novel is focused only on the sexual experience, it can be monotonous, repetitive, it can become a tedious experience. However the sexual component can't be excluded from a great novel, as well as eroticism. It is very difficult to exclude sex because sex is a very important part of human life. Eroticism is the expression of civilization while sex is brutal, is something animal. 


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Nora Roberts brings business to small Maryland town. If the hamlet of Boonsboro, Maryland is known for anything, it's Nora Roberts. What Twilight did for Forks, Washington, this mega best-seller has done for her hometown. The Washington Post notes that "When she has a book signing, people come from all over the country." Not only that, but her husband runs the town's bookstore (complete with a Nora Roberts Room, of course), and her son owns a restaurant there. One shudders to think of how Boonsboro would fare if the Roberts economic bubble were to burst. [The Washington Post]

What P.J. O'Rourke reads. A name that regularly appears in the pages of The Atlantic can also be found in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review. P.J. O'Rourke is this week's "By the Book" interviewee, and we learn the right-leaning humorist has been revisiting classics lately. He just finished Jane Eyre, which he enjoyed so much that he tried to get others to read it too. "I told my wife she had to read it," he says. "She’d just done so (which I didn’t remember either) and gave me a look that conveyed Charlotte Brontë’s message to all men: The secret of a happy marriage is to have a burning house fall on you." We also learn that and O'Rourke wants presidents to read Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, doesn't truck with e-readers, thinks Ian McEwan is overrated, and can't stomach any book touching on current events: "I can write that junk myself," he says. [The New York Times]

A Ben Fountain novel will get the Slumdog treatment. Ben Fountain was nominated for a National Book Award this year, but lost to Louise Erdrich. No matter though, because his novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk could soon reach a much wider audience thanks to plans for a high-profile film adaptation. So far, screenwriter Simon Beaufoy—an Academy Award winner for his work on Slumdog Millionaire and the scribe behind an upcoming adaptation of Suzanne Colins' Catching Fire—has been attached to the project. The story centers on a group of Iraq war veterans who return home only to be called upon to make publicity stops, culminating at a Dallas Cowboys halftime show. [New York Daily News]

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