Friday, July 31, 2009

Batman has a proposal for Catwoman

The cartoonist Darwyn Cooke is an extraordinary talent. He had already proven himself to superhero fans with a taut psychological examination of Bruce Wayne (“Batman: Ego”), a down-and-dirty heist adventure (“Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score”) and an audacious revisionist look at the formation of the Justice League (“The New Frontier”).

Now Mr. Cooke has turned his eye toward the guys and dolls that make up the world of Parker, the single-named, downright criminal antihero created by Richard Stark (the novelist Donald E. Westlake, using a pseudonym, who died last year). The result is a wonderfully engrossing graphic-novel adaptation of “The Hunter,” the 1962 book in which Mr. Stark introduced his frequent protagonist.

“The Hunter” is about a hijacking caper that ends poorly for Parker: not only is he double-crossed, but his wife, Lynn, is a coerced accomplice in his downfall. He’s shot and left for dead in a building set ablaze. He survives, of course, and tracks his enemies to New York City, bent on revenge. Except for omitting a scene or two involving an Upper West Side bodega, the adaptation is faithful to the novel, down to the opening and closing lines.

- George Gene Gustines, The New York Times

Read further here.

View excerpt: 'Whatever happened to the Caped Crusader?'

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Booker longlist pits fiction's finest against first kiss-and-tell chimp

Literary heavyweights AS Byatt and JM Coetzee were today named on this year's longlist for the Booker prize – which also features a first-time writer purporting to be Tarzan's chimpanzee.

The broadcaster James Naughtie, who chaired this year's panel of five judges, called the line-up of the 13 writers on the longlist, chosen from 132 books, "one of the strongest in recent memory" with "a span of styles and themes that make this an outstandingly rich fictional mix".

There were notable omissions: Anita Brookner, for her much praised Strangers, Sebastian Faulks, his novel A Week in December, and not one Asian writer listed. But Naughtie said it would have been "death" to judge by box-ticking and they had had to decide on the individual merit of the books, not reputations.

Of nine former winners considered this year two were longlisted. Byatt, who won in 1990 for Possession, is nominated for The Children's Book, her detailed exploration of the Edwardian cult of childhood, and Coetzee, who won for Disgrace, is named for Summertime.

Three first-time novelists are named on the list, including James Lever who wrote the hilarious Me Cheeta, his "biography" of the chimp movie star; Samantha Harvey, who also featured on this year's Orange prize shortlist for her Alzheimer's novel The Wilderness; and Ed O'Loughlin for Not Untrue & Not Unkind.

- Mark Brown,

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Unfinished Foster Wallace novel finds UK publisher

Hamish Hamilton says The Pale King is 'as good as Infinite Jest' and will publish it in 2010.

The late David Foster Wallace's unfinished final novel, The Pale King, is set for publication in the UK next year following an intensely contested auction between six British publishers.

Foster Wallace, author of the virtuosic, 1,000-page masterpiece Infinite Jest, killed himself last September following a long depression. His wife discovered piles of a manuscript for the novel Foster Wallace had described as the "Long Thing" in their garage, and detailed structural outlines have subsequently come to light.

"I think it's as good as Infinite Jest. I'm really, really blown away by what I've read," said Simon Prosser, publishing director of Penguin imprint Hamish Hamilton, who won the battle for UK rights. "It's absolutely incredible. The level of writing is so high. It's just so tremendously sad that he didn't realise how close he was to what he wanted to achieve."

Always critical of his own work, Foster Wallace struggled to write The Pale King, corresponding with Jonathan Franzen and Don DeLillo about his worries, telling Franzen that in order to complete it he would have to write "a 5,000 page manuscript and then winnow it by 90%, the very idea of which makes something in me wither and get really

interested in my cuticle, or the angle of the light outside". He compared writing it to "trying to carry a sheet of plywood in a windstorm", his longterm editor Michael Pietsch told the New Yorker.

- Alison Flood, The

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ashes to Ashes

R.I.P. Frank McCourt.

Frank McCourt, a former New York City schoolteacher who turned his miserable childhood in Limerick, Ireland, into a phenomenally popular, Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, “Angela’s Ashes,” died in Manhattan on Sunday. He was 78 and lived in Manhattan and Roxbury, Conn.

- William Grimes, The New York Times

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Where The Money Went

By Kevin Canty

“Sometimes it seems to me that anger is the engine of a marriage, the power that drives all the other parts. Each of us is doing half and feeling like it’s three-quarters. Each of us has it exactly as hard as the other, and suspects the other of having it easy. Both of us take care, and suspect the other of carelessness.” So says the nameless narrator of “No Place in This World for You,” just one of the struggling men in Kevin Canty’s latest collection of short stories. His son, Walter, is a biter, his wife, Carol-Ann, goes out for runs and doesn’t return for hours, and his real estate clients aren’t buying. Mr. Canty’s stories are set in a West that’s defined more by tourists than cowboys, and his characters reach out for love, though they know its futility. They’ll have another drink too, though they know where that leads.

- Amy Virshup, The New York Times

Friday, July 10, 2009

Food for Thought

Mmm... Winter.

Time to snuggle up with a toasty book, bottle of red and your favourite prix fixe.
In fact, apart from being able to stoke the fire and eat immoral amounts of full-flavoured food, we think Winter has very few redeeming qualities.

We’re glad it’s almost at an end, but to tide us over till Spring, here are Pulp’s latest ‘foodie’ reads:

Food for Thought: Thought for Food: A Reflection on the Creative Universe of Ferran Adria
Contributor(s): Todoli, Vicent (Editor) Hamilton, Richard (Editor)
EAN: 9788496954687
Hardcover, 400 pages
July 2009
Available to order – 4 weeks

A thought-provoking and visually compelling exploration of artistic expression and gastronomic creativity through the work of the worlds most revolutionary chef, Ferran Adria.

Fasting, Feasting
Anita Desai
Paperback, 240 pages
1.57 cms H x 21.03 cms L x 14.07 cms W
EAN 9780618065820
January 2000
Mariner Books
In Stock

Anita Desai's latest book, hailed as unsparing, yet tender and funny, brilliantly confirms her place among today's foremost Indian writers. 'Fasting, Feasting' takes on Desai's greatest theme: the intricate, delicate web of family conflict.

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone
Contributor(s): Ferrari-Adler, Jenni (Editor)
EAN: 9781594483134
Riverhead Books
Paperback, 272 pages
July 2008
Available to order – 2 weeks

In this delightful and unexpected collection, writers, foodies, and others ruminate on the distinctive experiences of cooking for one and dining alone.

Breakfast at Tiffany's: And Three Stories
Truman Capote
Paperback, 192 pages
1.37 cms H x 20.17 cms L x 13.41 cms W
EAN 9780679745655
March 1995
Vintage Books USA
Available to order – 2 weeks

In this seductive, wistful masterpiece, Truman Capote created a woman whose name has entered the American idiom and whose style is a part of the literary landscape. Holly Golightly knows that nothing bad can ever happen to you at Tiffany's; her poignancy, wit, and naivete continue to charm.

The Incredible Book Eating Boy
Oliver Jeffs
Hardcover, 32 pages
1.19 cms H x 28.78 cms L x 22.68 cms W
EAN 9780399247491
May 2007
Philomel Books
Available to order – 2 weeks

Like many children, Henry loves books. But Henry doesn’t like to read books, he likes to eat them. Big books, picture books, reference books . . . if it has pages, Henry chews them up and swallows (but red ones are his favourite). And the more he eats, the smarter he gets. He’s on his way to being the smartest boy in the world!

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Anthony Bourdain
Paperback, 312 pages
2.08 cms H x 20.55 cms L x 13.69 cms W
EAN 9780060899226
January 2007
Harper Perennial
Available to order – 2 weeks

The updated edition of the wickedly funny and insightful bestseller filled with "25 years of sex, drugs, bad behaviour, and haute cuisine," now includes three new chapters about the author's adventures since the book was originally published.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Mary Ann Shaffer
Paperback, 290 pages
1.80 cms H x 19.86 cms L x 13.77 cms W
EAN 9780385341004
May 05, 2009
Dial Press
Available to order – 2 weeks

In 1946, writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition
Irma S Rombauer
Hardcover, 1152 pages
5.84 cms H x 24.31 cms L x 17.27 cms W
EAN 9780743246262
October 31, 2006
Scribner Book Company
Available to order – 2 weeks

Superb value for money. Seventy-five years ago, a St. Louis widow named Irma Rombauer took her life savings and self-published a book called "The Joy of Cooking." Her daughter Marion tested recipes and made the illustrations, and they sold their mother-daughter project from Irma's apartment.

The Coroner's Lunch
Colin Cotterill
Paperback, 257 pages
1.88 cms H x 19.20 cms L x 12.85 cms W
EAN 9781569474181
November 15, 2005
Soho Crime
Available to order – 2 weeks

When an elderly doctor takes over as state coroner of newly formed Communist Laos in the late 1970s, he unexpectedly stirs the bureaucratic pot and unravels three complicated and intertwined murder plots his superiors want to sweep under the carpet.

The Tiger Who Came For Tea
Judith Kerr
Paperback, 28 pages
0.51 cms H x 27.18 cms L x 21.34 cms W
EAN 780007266449
November 2008
Available to order – 2 weeks

First published 35 years ago, this reassuring and funny story is now available in a large picture-book format. When Sophie and her mother sit down for tea one afternoon, they are joined by a hungry tiger who eats all the food in the house until there's nothing left to cook for supper. Full-colour illustrations.

Bone In The Throat
Anthony Bourdain
Paperback, 304 pages
2.08 cms H x 21.31 cms L x 13.59 cms W
EAN 9781582341026
September 2000
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
In Stock

When wannabe chef Tommy Pagano settles for a stint in his cousin's restaurant in Little Italy, he has no idea the place is Mafia-run, and that one of the specialties of the house is chopped gangsters. Back by popular demand, 'Bone in the Throat' is chef Anthony Bourdain's acclaimed first novel.

Naked Lunch
William S Burroughs
Paperback, 208 pages
197 x 130 mm
EAN 9780007204441
May 2005
HarperCollins Publishers
In Stock

WELCOME TO INTERZONE! Say hello to Bradley the Buyer, the best narcotics agent in the business. Check yourself into the hospital where Dr Benway works - but don't expect adrenalin if you need it (the night porter shot it up for kicks). Meet Dr 'Fingers' Schafer, the Lobotomy Kid, and his greatest creation, 'The Complete American De-anxietized Man', a marvel of invasive psychiatry who has been reduced to nothing but a spinal cord.


Subscribe to this monthly mailing list by emailing

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bibliotherapy for Idle Parents

How can the idle parent make the most of story time?

Tom reminded us that stories must grab your children, otherwise it’s a waste of time putting your all in; using funny voices and fabulous expression. His moment of enlightenment was when he saw how his children sat transfixed, wide eyed and still, through each chapter of ‘Treasure Island’ (full of death and killing) after fruitless sessions of ploughing through ‘Watership Down’ to their wriggles and interruptions, even though he gave the text the whole package! Indeed Tom and I both agreed that casting aside vapid horrors such as the ‘Magic Kitten’ and ‘Rainbow Fairy’ collections, and instead choosing books you can bear and more importantly enjoy is essential to the Idle Parent’s reading aloud experience.

- Charlotte Raby, The School of Life

Read the rest of the article here.

To find out more about bibliotherapy click here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Who is Sookie Stackhouse?

I have watched with fascination as the books in Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series have clawed their way up into the New York Times bestseller list. I had seen them mentioned in various articles and top ten lists and the like but had always dismissed them as silly vampire dross with only novelty value. But they stayed. And then more arrived. Today there is a convincing coven of eight Sookie novels in the NYT top 35 paperback mass fiction list.

So who is Sookie Stackhouse? She is the mind-reading Louisiana cocktail waitress with a penchant for vampires in The Southern Vampire Mysteries, a series of nine novels first published in 2001. The first book, Dead until Dark, won the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Mystery.

Sookie's supernatural escapades are said to be addictive. HBO is currently planning the third season of True Blood where Sookie is portrayed by Oscar-winning Anna Paquin. The first season received critical acclaim and won several awards, including one Golden Globe.

USA Today described the series as "Sexy, witty and unabashedly peculiar, True Blood is a blood-drenched Southern Gothic romantic parable set in a world where vampires are out and about and campaigning for equal rights. Part mystery, part fantasy, part comedy, and all wildly imaginative exaggeration, [True]Blood proves that there's still vibrant life — or death — left in the "star-crossed lovers" paradigm. You just have to know where to stake your romantic claim."

Pulp is selling Sookies individually at R79, and the boxed set at R558.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The joy of exclamation marks!

Exclamation marks used to be frowned upon. Now look what's happened! We use them all the time! Hurrah!!! But what is it about the age of email that gets people so over-excited?

There is a town of 1,471 happy souls in Quebec called Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!. The second "Ha!", amazingly, is part of the town's name, not my commentary on the first "Ha!". Unlike, for example, the Devon town of Westward Ho! Ho! There, the second "Ho!" is mine. Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! is the only town in the world whose name has two exclamation marks. It will remain so until Wolverhampton is renamed Wolverhampton!! to highlight its funky new Black Country vibe, which, all things considered, seems unlikely.

Or maybe I'm wrong. After all, exclamation marks - those forms of punctuation derided by the funless and fastidious - are making a comeback, thanks to an internet renaissance that is bleeding over into every form of written communication. Once it was bad form to end a paragraph with an exclamation mark. Now it's borderline obligatory. Once it was enough to put a sign on your door: "Back in five minutes." Now, without the flourish of an exclamation mark, that sign lacks verve or at least zeitgeisty voguishness. Go figure!

- Stuart Jeffries,

Read the rest of the article here!

Friday, July 3, 2009

From crack houses to evil aliens

James Frey targets a million little readers

Controversial writer James Frey has been outed as the co-author of a hot new children's book, as yet unpublished. But why all the mystery?

Not content with penning the third book of the Bible, James Frey, who wrote of his struggle with drug addiction in a controversial memoir, is turning to children's books.

As ever with Frey, who was found to have fabricated parts of his autobiography, A Million Little Pieces, there are layers within layers to this latest book deal. Last week it emerged in the New York Times that a young adult novel was being hawked to publishers as a collaboration between a bestselling writer and an emerging new author. The book, called I Am Number Four, is about a group of alien teenagers who take refuge on Earth when their planet is attacked.

The New York Times outed Frey as the author, and yesterday reported that HarperCollins Children's Books had acquired North American rights in the first four books in what is being billed as a series, starting with I Am Number Four.

Film rights have also been acquired by Dreamworks for a high six-figure sum, added the Hollywood Reporter, with Michael Bay (director of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) lined up to produce and possibly direct.

As yet Frey himself has not commented on the deal, telling website Gawker – where he interned for a day – that he could "neither confirm nor deny that I had anything to do with that book". However, he has posted a link to the New York Times piece revealing him as the author on his official website, also linking to a story revealing more of the plot details. The evil aliens are from the planet Mogadore, who destroyed the planet Lorien in order to take its natural resources; they follow the planet's teenagers, who develop special powers aged 15, to Earth to complete the job.

- Alison Flood,

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cathy Haynes on the fun to be had lying about books

A recent Mori report revealed that 40% of us resort to lying about having read certain books just so we can join in with a conversation. My cynical side seizes on this as dismal evidence that we’re buckling with indignity under the weight of “must-reads” the media piles upon us daily. But my upbeat, airy self wonders if the statisticians have stumbled upon and misinterpreted a fantastic party game being played all over the land where everyone is re-imagining the content of books in a splendid frenzy of creativity.

I would never condone ths misrepresentation of an important work; the urgent content of some books is vital for us to encounter critically and debate collectively. But perhaps there is a playful liberation in the 40%’s fraudulent resistance to the tyranny of booklists. What’s more, that we’re able to bluff a conversation about a book we’ve never read suggests at least 40% of us are much better at creative storytelling than we might have expected.

In The School of Life’s Play course we experiment with an old parlour game. It’s the one where you choose three obscure books, read their covers aloud and ask players to write what they think is the first line. An umpire then reads out the results with the real first line of the book buried somewhere among them, and asks the group to choose which is the real one. I’m prepared to bet as much as a fiver that no matter how many times we play this game, the group will always mistakenly identify one of their own lines as the real thing. But perhaps 40% of us already knew that, and are busy playing the game up and down the land.

- Cathy Haynes, The School of Life

Cathy Haynes is part of The School of Life's faculty. To find out more about the Play course click HERE. Photo by Jeff Mermelstein.