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  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2017/10/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , answered prayers, , anthony trollope, , , , , , , , , , j. g. ballard, , joan weigall, , , , , , , , , the adventures of huckleberry finn, the macdermots of ballycloran, the martian, , , , through the looking glass, , why I want to f*ck ronald reagan   

    15 of the Most Infamous Deleted Chapters in History 

    Revision is a vital aspect of creation; all authors delete, re-write, and occasionally burn entire manuscripts with tears streaming down their faces. Most of the time, deleted chapters occur so early in the writing process that they’re not relevant—or interesting. They’re just the cost of doing literary business. Sometimes, though, the story behind excised material is almost as interesting as the finished version of the book it comes from. The fifteen chapters listed here didn’t make it into the published version of the book—but that hasn’t stopped them from being part of the conversation.

    Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
    Heller’s classic 1961 novel, one of the funniest, darkest, and most complex ever written, took about eight years to write—and remains the defining work of Heller’s career. Put simply, if you’re discussing Joseph Heller, you’re discussing Catch-22, and even Heller seemed to accept this towards the end of his life. Much of his late output was directly connected to his first novel, and in 2003 he published the collection Catch as Catch Can which contained two deleted chapters from Catch-22: “Love, Dad” and “Yossarian Survives” (both of which had been previously published). The chapters provide some background on Nately and Yossarian while offering some of Heller’s most savage mockery of the military—and both chapters work perfectly well as standalone stories, making them perhaps the rare examples of chapters deleted from books because they were too good.

    Dracula, by Bram Stoker
    Stoker’s novel is one of the most influential in all of history, but it originally ended a bit differently from the version you’re familiar with. A deleted chapter detailed Dracula’s castle literally falling apart as he dies. It’s not very long—a grace note, really—and there are several theories as to why Stoker excised it very close to its publication. Some people think he might have been envisioning a sequel and wanted to hedge his bets. Others think he might have worried about being accused of stealing the concept from Edgar Allan Poe. Whatever the reason, reading the chapter does change the tone of the novel just enough to make it significant.

    The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
    Wilde’s only novel originally contained a great deal of homosexual imagery, sexual allusions, and other edgy stuff that made his publisher’s head explode. So his editor forced him to cut a great deal of this “objectionable” material. Even so, the book created a stir upon publication, as it still contained passages that outraged a lot of people, and so Wilde revised the book a second time in an effort to make it acceptable. Wilde’s reward was a novel everyone is still reading and, of course, a few years in jail simply for being a homosexual. In 2011 the uncensored version of the book was finally published with the deleted chapters restored, so you can now read the book in all its dirty glory.

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
    In the early versions of Dahl’s beloved book there were actually eight kids brought into Wonka’s factory, and they had some different adventures—including the original chapter 5, which brings the children and their parents into the Vanilla Fudge Room, where a literal mountain of fudge is worked on by Wonka’s servants with picks and hammers, sending boulders of fudge down to the floor where they’re grabbed by cranes and sent on wagons into a hole in the wall. Sounds delightful until two of the kids and their parents ignore Wonka’s warnings and ride the wagons to what they think will be fudge heaven. Instead, Wonka reveals that the fudge is tipped out of the wagons into a machine that pounds it thin then chops it up. Dahl’s publisher thought this was a bit too nasty for kids, and so the chapter was deleted and didn’t see the light of day until 2014.

    The Martian, by Andy Weir
    The Martian by Andy Weir went through a lot of revision. The original version posted on Weir’s website—still available online if you know where to look—is very different from the final version. A few years ago Weir went on Reddit for an unannounced, secret “Ask Me Anything” session and revealed the original epilogue of the story, which featured Mark Watney cursing at a child who asks him if he’d return to Mars if they asked him. It’s actually kind of a delightful ending, and one we wish they would have included in the movie.

    Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
    The original ending of Dickens’ famous novel was kind of dark and sad: Pip and Estella meet years after the events of the novel, but instead of a bittersweet moment implying a future for the two, both are simply bitter, and they part on savage terms. Dickens liked this ending because he thought it was unexpected and original, but his Beta Readers disagreed, so he changed the chapter to the version we’re all familiar with. After publication he went back and revised the final line, coming up with the perfect “I saw no shadow of another parting from her.”

    Why I Want to F*ck Ronald Reagan, by J. G. Ballard
    In the late 1960s, Ronald Reagan was something new: one of the first “media politicians” who knew that how you said something was more important than what you said, as well as one of the first “far right” politicians in mainstream politics. Although a decade and a half from the presidency, he made an impact that J.G. Ballard found interesting, and he wrote a short work styled as an academic paper describing bizarre experiments to measure Reagan’s sexual appeal. It was meant to be challenging and confrontational—and it sure was. It was originally included in Ballard’s collection The Atrocity Exhibition, but the American publisher of the book actually destroyed the entire printing rather than let it loose on the country. Let that sink in: the publisher destroyed every copy of the book rather than publish this. If there’s a better reason to read it, we’re unaware.

    A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
    It’s well-known that the last chapter of Burgess’ novel was deleted before it was published in the United States; the publisher thought the “softer” ending in which Alex starts to mature and see that his behavior in the earlier portions of the book was wrong would turn off American readers. Indeed, many still prefer the way the book ended in the truncated version, which is also the beat Stanley Kubrick’s classic film version ends on: Alex dreaming of violence, thinking “I was cured all right.”

    The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
    Wells’ novel about a man who invents a time machine established not just one of the sturdiest sci-fi tropes of all time, but a template for the modern speculative novel. Wells’ publisher insisted he add a section showing mankind’s ultimate evolutionary fate, and Wells obliged under protest, writing a chapter in which the time traveler escapes the Morlocks by traveling into the distant future, where he encounters small mammals which he determines are the descendants of humanity. Wells never liked it and had it removed as soon as he was able, and while the story, which you can read under the standalone title “The Grey Man,” is interesting, the book is much better without it.

    Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
    Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice in Wonderland is more Alice than Alice in many ways. The illustrator working on the book sent Carroll a note saying he wasn’t inspired by the “wasp chapter”, and suggested none-too-subtly that if Carroll were looking to cut the book down a bit, the Wasp part would be the place to start. No one knew what he was referring to, however—until 1976 when the missing “Wasp in a Wig” chapter was put up for auction. One problem, however: no one has ever been able to verify that this was actually written by Carroll. Reading it, the reason people have doubts is pretty clear: it’s awful. Either Carroll cut the one example of bad writing he ever managed…or he didn’t write it.

    Picnic at Hanging Rock, by Joan Weigall
    Weigall’s 1967 novel was a sensation at the time, despite the fact that it literally had no ending. The story of college students who disappear while visiting Hanging Rock in Australia was originally ended with a pretty crazy explanation of everything that happened, but Weigall’s publisher suggested the book might do better without the, um, crazy part and so the final chapter was deleted (you can read it here if you want), meaning that the story just stops, and no explanation is offered at all for the mystery. This actually fueled the book’s success, making it into a “must read” at the time. If the Internet had existed in 1967, this book would have broken it.

    The MacDermots of Ballycloran, by Anthony Trollope
    Trollope had very low expectations for his first novel, and these were borne out when it didn’t do very well. Although the novel has gained in reputation since its initial lackluster publication, you have to be careful to get the original 1847 version, because Trollope later hacked his book to death in an effort to…improve it, we guess? He deleted three chapters and changed a great deal of what makes the original novel interesting (mainly the Irish dialects, politics, and the character flaws). The revised version isn’t nearly as good, and the three missing chapters are, ironically, some of the best writing in the book.

    Answered Prayers, by Truman Capote
    Capote’s transformation from brilliant writer to alcoholic gadfly took about twenty years, and in that time he continuously accepted advances and signed contracts for Answered Prayers, a novel he never got around to finishing. Four chapters were published in magazines (the first, “La Côte Basque 1965,” was so obviously based on his real-life friends and acquaintances Capote pretty much lost every friend he had) and they’re pretty hefty, amounting to a novel’s worth of text if put together. But several other chapters have been referenced in Capote’s correspondence—and he claimed he’d written the final chapter first so he’d know where he was going—that have yet to turn up anywhere.

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
    Twain, never one to be typical, wasn’t satisfied to delete a mere chapter, instead opting to delete 665 manuscript pages, essentially an entire shadow version of his all-time classic novel. Twain paused work on the book for three years, and scholars have long argued over where exactly he broke off and what he changed when he returned to the book. The deleted chapters contain plenty of material not present in the final book, and have proved invaluable in trying to determine Twain’s intentions and process.

    Persuasion, by Jane Austen
    Austen was one of the most meticulous writers of all time, and put a lot of effort into revising her novels. Persuasion is one of the few in which we can compare early drafts to see how the novel developed, and Austen’s deleted chapters show a ruthless approach to improving the pacing of the plot and the creation of her characters. Assembling earlier versions of the novel show what her original inspiration was, how her ideas changed as she worked, and cast some light on the sausage-making underneath the charming and compelling narratives Austen created.

    Did we miss any famous deleted chapters?

    The post 15 of the Most Infamous Deleted Chapters in History appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 6:40 pm on 2017/03/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , the martian   

    5 Novels That Sold Movie Rights Before They Were Even Published 

    Usually there’s a natural order to the world: the sun rises in the East, new books come out on Tuesdays, and if a book sells enough copies, someone will eventually buy the film rights. Wait, scratch that last one—the business of entertainment has grown so competitive in recent years, it’s becoming more and more common for books to sell film rights extremely quickly—often even before the book is published, before anyone knows if it is going to connect with readers at all. Here are five recent examples, though whether or not they will all make it to the screen remains a mystery.

    Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly
    Shetterly began work on Hidden Figures in 2010; the film rights were sold to William Morrow in early 2014, while she was still polishing the final draft. In fact, Shetterly was still working on the book while the film was being made, which is all kinds of unusual. The project wandered through a few studios as the producers—Shetterly among them—sought the right fit. You certainly can’t argue with results: not only has the book been a breakout bestseller, the film made box office bank and garnered major awards love. The combination of a relevant civil rights story, Shetterly’s scholarship, and the convergence of Hollywood talent made this gamble pay off big time.

    The Hate U Give, by A.C. Thomas
    Thomas’ novel, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, has been racking up buzz at an overwhelming rate. First, it sold at an auction in which no fewer than 13 publishing houses vied for right to publish it. Proving that buzz begets buzz, that scramble led directly to a heated competition the film rights, which were eventually sold (perhaps “awarded” is a better word) to Fox 2000, which quickly assembled a team to bring it to the screen, including actress Amandla Stenberg (known for her role as Rue in first film of The Hunger Games), director George Tillman Jr., and screenwriter Audrey Wells—all before the cover had even been designed. It’s easy to see why: the story demands to be told. It’s about a black high-school student—navigating between her outsider status in both her impoverished neighborhood and the tony prep school she attends—whose life is sent into chaos when police shoot an old friend dead right in front of her at a traffic stop. Books don’t get more timely, and the excitement around this debut just keeps growing.

    The Martian, by Andy Weir
    Weir’s crazy journey from disappointed wannabe author to huge success story is pretty well known, and this one’s a bit of a cheat. Weir posted The Martian to his blog as a serial, and later self-published it. It went on to rack up tens of thousands of sales, and a phenomenon was born. The fact that it sold print publishing and film rights simultaneously, therefore, isn’t much of a surprise. What is surprising is that Weir never left his house as the big money deals were signed: he hates to fly, and so he negotiated every single contract over the phone with people he’s never met. Of course, by the time he was making those calls, the book had already been proved a winner, so no one was being particularly psychic.

    World War Z, by Max Brooks
    Sometimes, selling the film rights quickly doesn’t mean the film will make it to the screen any time soon. Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company bought the film rights to Brooks’ zombie war classic in 2006, a few months before the book was actually published, because the actor had read an advanced copy and loved it—in fact, he outbid Leonardo DiCaprio to secure them (if you’re an author, that’s a sentence you dream of reading about your own book). The first screenplay written was tossed aside, however, as the difficulties in filming a story structured as a sprawling, global oral history became apparent. By the time four credited screenwriters were done and several years had passed, the end result was an over-budget action film that bore little resemblance to the novel—but it did perform well enough to inspire a sequel.

    City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg
    Think back to the halcyon days of 2015, when it seemed like all anyone could discuss in terms of books was Hallberg’s City on Fire. Hallberg actually sold the film rights even before he’d even sold the book to a publisher, which has to be some sort of record. Also probably a record was the $2 million advance he received for a debut novel by a non-celebrity. The fate of the film is in severe doubt, however, and while Hallberg’s literary career is probably going to be fine, kids who might have to write reports on this doorstopper are going to have to wait a long time before there’s a movie they can download instead of reading it.


    The post 5 Novels That Sold Movie Rights Before They Were Even Published appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 9:01 pm on 2016/01/05 Permalink
    Tags: , great adaptations, , , , the big short, the martian   

    Adaptations Take Center Stage at the 2016 Golden Globes 

    The 73rd Golden Globe Awards are upon us, and the nominated films include adaptations of some of our favorite books of the last few years (and, in one case, one of our favorites of the last 50). Books have always made great source material for films, and these five Golden Globe-nominated pictures manage to avoid all of the traps of adaptation, turning great stories into great movies, sometimes by faithful translation, and sometimes by spinning off into new directions. In either case, these five works are as brilliant onscreen as they are on the page.

    Carol, based on The Price of Saltby Patricia Highsmith
    There have been a number of memorable motion pictures made from the works of Patricia Highsmith, Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley among them. Known for her psychological thrillers, the notoriously prickly author published her second novel, The Price of Salt, under the pseudonym “Claire Morgan” because she was concerned about reaction to the book’s lesbian themes. Homosexuality wasn’t unheard of in books of the 1950s, but Salt was unusual because it wasn’t written for shock value or to make a point about the doomed and tragic nature of lesbian romance. Fast-forward to 2015, and the long-in-the-works film from director Todd Haynes (Far from Heaven, I’m Not There) is the most nominated movie at this year’s Golden Globes, vying for five statues, including Best Motion Picture in the Drama category. The story of a young photographer (Rooney Mara) and her slow-burning romance with an older woman (Cate Blanchett) has made a glittering transition to film.

    The Revenant, by Michael Punke
    Director Alejandro Iñárritu wasted no time in the wake of the awards success of 2014’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), which took home a Golden Globe for its screenplay (and, incidentally, an Academy Award for Best Picture). He’s back with one of the year’s most talked-about films, The Revenant, starring the always-reliable Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. It’s based on Michael Punke’s 2002 novel, an almost-true story of real-life trapper Hugh Glass, who is mauled by a bear and left for dead in the unsettled American west of 1823. It’s a harrowing story of survival and revenge, as Glass seeks vengeance against the companions who abandoned him. Alongside the Best Picture—Drama nod, DiCaprio and Iñárritu earned individual nominations.

    Room, by Emma Donoghue
    Based on Emma Donoghue’s harrowing and deeply felt 2010 novel, Room stars Brie Larson as Joy Newsome, who has been held captive for seven years in a small, squalid room—the same room in which she gave birth to her son, Jack, a product of rape by her kidnapper, and in which she now raises that beloved son. When Joy and Jack mount a successful escape attempt, the wider world presents a host of new challenges. While Joy is traumatized and resentful of the time she’s lost, her son is disconnected and struggles to understand the reality of a world outside the confined space he knew so well. Donoghue wrote the screenplay, which has been nominated for a Best Screenplay award, and the film is a favorite to win Best Motion Picture—Drama.

    The Big Short, by Michael Lewis
    They’re not all quite so heavy. The Golden Globes splits Best Motion Picture awards into separate Drama and Musical or Comedy categories. The Big Short is nominated in the Musical or Comedy category, though not everyone is likely to find the subject matter funny. The film is based on Michael Lewis’ 2012 book, which tells the behind-the-scenes story of the credit and housing bubble that developed in the 2000s. You know—the one that burst so dramatically around 2008, and took your 401K with it. The film focuses on three sets of people who get wind of the gathering storm and manage to, with varying motives, make a ton of money from the situation. Director Adam McKay is mostly known for comedies like Anchorman, so this is a real departure; his success in turning an acclaimed nonfiction bestseller into a highly nominated film is even more impressive.

    The Martian, by Andy Weir
    It’s a bit surprising that The Martian is nominated as a Musical or Comedy in the Best Picture category, but Mark Watney is probably one of the funniest film characters of 2015. Director Ridley Scott and star Matt Damon made for an impeccable team, translating the danger, adventure, and sly sense of humor of Andy Weir’s hard sci-fi novel to the big screen. As in the movie, the book follows an astronaut stranded on Mars in a very believable near-future as he fights to survive a decidedly inhospitable world. Watney leaps off the page, bringing a sense of humanity to the science fiction premise, and the film maintains the carefully measured blend of humor, drama, and suspense. Damon and Scott are nominated alongside the film.

    Which books are you cheering for at the Golden Globes?

  • Monique Alice 6:00 pm on 2015/11/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , kate morton, , , the lake house, the martian, the nightingale, why leave the house?   

    5 Books to Keep You Inside on Black Friday 

    There are two kinds of people in this world: There are the people who love Black Friday (the hustle and bustle and holiday cheer), and the people who don’t (the parking, the crowds, the constant fear of being trampled for standing too close to the last half-price flatscreen). If you are one of the former, I commend your positive attitude and wish you a wonderful holiday season. If you are one of the latter, follow me down a rabbit hole of amazing books that will shelter you from the mayhem occurring at your nearest shopping outlet. If you dig into one of these reads after your turkey, you’ll be done just in time to fire up the laptop for Cyber Monday. Happy reading (and shopping) this holiday season!

    The Lake House, by Kate Morton
    The newest novel by the author of The Secret Keeper is a spellbinder of a book. Sadie is a young whip-smart detective who stumbles upon an intriguing old manse in the English countryside while visiting family. Captivated by the abandoned estate’s air of mystery, Sadie reaches out to its elderly owner, Alice. Sadie is soon astonished by the many layers of secrecy and deception that permeate the house’s history, beginning with a little boy’s disappearance in 1933. As the tale unfolds, the reader is never quite sure whom to trust—this book keeps you guessing right up until the sucker punch of an ending. You might want to make sure to have snacks on hand before you start this one, because you’ll be glued to your favorite chair until the very last page.

    The Martian, by Andy Weir
    Chances are, you’ve heard of the recent movie adaptation of The Martian starring Matt Damon. Well, as is always the case if you’re a book lover, the book is even better! Imagine, for a moment, the kind of guts it takes to not only be an astronaut, but to be among the first astronauts to go to Mars. Got it? Great. Now, imagine the guts it takes not to immediately lose it if, after an unforeseen crisis, the rest of your crew takes off and leaves you alone on Mars because they think you’re dead. You have no way of communicating with Earth, and even if you did, your supplies will never last long enough for help to arrive. This is exactly the pickle that Mark Watney finds himself in, but luckily, he is pretty dang gutsy. Mark is determined not to give up, and readers will want to hang in there with him for the long haul.

    A Little Life, by Hanya Yanigahara
    This story begins when four college friends make their way from a Massachusetts campus to the Big Apple to begin their respective careers. At first, it seems like the quintessential New York coming-of-age tale—a lawyer, an actor, an architect, and an artist adrift in the big city and trying to make their respective ways in the world. However, it soon becomes clear that this book is all that and so much more. Yanagihara’s finely wrought characters capture the reader’s imagination for the three-decade span of the book, careening back and forth between life’s most joyous highs and desperate lows. This is a book that tackles the complex manna of the human experience: friendship, love, trauma, disappointment, and the darkest of our secrets. A light read? Not so much. But this critically acclaimed book promises to make you see your own life and loved ones with a renewed sense of gratitude and inspiration.

    The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
    It’s 1939, and Europe is ablaze with the effort to repel the Nazis. Vianne sees her husband, Antoine, off to the frontlines and tells herself that the Germans will never set foot on French soil. So, she is beyond terrified when Nazi boots land not only in her town, but on her foyer when troops commandeer her home. She and her daughter are forced to live among the enemy, and to resist in whatever hidden ways they can without being discovered. At the same time, Vianne’s sister Isabelle is falling hard for a handsome rebel who may not be who he seems. In the pages that follow, Vianne and Isabelle fight to stay true to themselves and preserve their way of life. This historic novel is an ode to sisterhood, the French character, and the ways in which women also fought the Second World War.

    Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    The Fault In Our Stars author John Green has knocked another one out of the park with Looking for Alaska. This book is a heady brew, indeed—one part weirdness, one part infatuation, one part crisis, and several parts heartbreak. At first glance, it might appear to be a book about being a teenager, and in some ways, it is. In reality, though, just like The Fault in Our Stars, it’s a book about being human that happens to feature teens. When you think about it, there must be a reason we continue to find teenaged characters so compelling long after we leave our own teen years behind. John Green makes you wonder whether the reason is that the teenage years represent our best and worst selves—the time when we are full of hope and also full of anger, brimming with love and concurrently as selfish as they come. Like teenhood, the beauty of Green’s work is in its potential to be many things all at once.

    What book will you be diving into on Black Friday?

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