Tag: JosephHeller

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What a Catch! George Clooney to Star and Direct New ‘Catch-22’ Series

It’s been nearly two decades since iconic Hollywood film actor George Clooney has graced television screens, leaving the small screen behind for cinema, working both in front of and behind the camera. 

 

Now, this Hollywood’s leading man will make a return, reportedly signing on to both star in and direct an adaptation of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.

 

The six-episode series is slated to begin production in the early months of 2018 in accordance with Paramount TV and Anonymous Content. Though the adaptation hasn’t found a network yet, with Clooney joining production we’re sure it won’t be too long. 

 

Based on Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel, Catch-22 is a story set in Italy during World War II and focuses on the war tale of Captain John Yossarian, a US Air Force bombardier. The story essentially explores the conundrum Yossarian faces, the bureaucratic rule referred to as Catch-22, in which the definition of insanity as opposed to sanity both heed undesirable results leaving the subject in a no win-situation.

 

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In other words, as Yossarian becomes troubled by his war experiences he finds himself both unable to leave and vulnerable if he stays. 

 

Clooney will play the role of Colonel Cathcart, Yossarian’s commander. He’ll transfer his ability to lead through his role as the director of the film, working alongside producer Grant Heslov, and co-writers and executive producers Luke Davies and David Michôd.

 

Though it’s been a while since Clooney left his last major role on the acclaimed medical series ER to focus on film, he is certainly a Hollywood veteran. Having been nominated for eight Academy awards spanning his work as a writer, director, and actor (he won two), we’re quite certain his return to the TV screen will be a breeze.

 

Featured Image Via ‘OTV’/’Amazon’

Margaret Atwood Playboy

14 Iconic Authors Bare It All in Playboy Without Taking Their Clothes Off

Whether you love him or hate him, there’s no denying the effect Hefner’s work has had on both the literary and publishing worlds. In memoriam of Hugh Hefner’s life and career, we’ve put together a list of some of the most notable authors and interviews published in Playboy to prove that yes, some people really do read it for the articles. 

 

Margaret Atwood Playboy

I had so much fun making the featured image that I couldn’t not also make a full cover. Enjoy. / Image Via The New Yorker, Photoshopped by yours truly.

 

If you’ve got a subscription to Playboy, be sure to check out the Playboy Archive for digital copies of magazines ranging from 1954 to 2007.

 

1. An Interview with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Image via Wikipedia

 

In 1964, just after he had won the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sat down with Alex Haley for a series of interviews, which were then edited together for the magazine’s January 1965 issue. The interview is the longest interview King gave to a publication. Ever. King speaks of his observations of the Civil Rights Movement (at that point) and the first time he remembered experiencing racism. He was forced to stand on a bus, not too dissimilar to Rosa Parks’ story, which later inspired him to stage a bus boycott. 

 

2.  Haruki Murakami, author of Norwegian Wood

 

Haruki Murakami

Image via Time Magazine

 

Japan’s most popular author and one of the “world’s greatest living novelists”, Haruki Murakami has written bangers like Norwegian Wood, 1Q84, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Kafka on the Shore. ‘The Second Bakery Attack‘, first published in 1992, was later published in a collection of short stories called The Elephant Vanishes: Stories.

 

3. Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse-Five

 

Kurt Vonnegut

Image via Wikipedia

 

Vonnegut first appeared in Playboy in a 1973 interview. Most notably, though, the magazine was the first to publish an excerpt from Armageddon in Retrospect, Vonnegut’s first posthumous collection. The collection features several new short stories, a letter Vonnegut wrote to his family during his time as a prisoner of war in World War II, drawings, and a speech written shortly before his death.

 

4. Jack Kerouac, author of On the Road

 

Jack Kerouac

Image via CMG Worldwide

 

Playboy published two of Kerouac’s stories during his lifetime: Before the Road, a short story prequel to On the Road published in 1959, and 1965’s Good Blonde.

 

5. Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451

 

Ray Bradbury

Image via Wikipedia

 

During the first years of Playboy’s life their budget only allowed for reprinted stories, and in 1954 they published a serialized version of Fahrenheit 451. ‘The First Night of Lent’, Bradbury’s first original story for the publication in 1956, was among the first previously unpublished stories the magazine sent to print.

 

6. Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale.

 

Margaret Atwood

Image via The New Yorker

 

Atwood’s first foray into Playboy was in 1991 with the publication of ‘The Bog Man’. ‘The Bog Man’ recounts the discovery of a 2,000 year old man during a trip between a Canadian student and the married archaeology professor she is in love with. Atwood’s other works published in Playboy include The Bad News (2006) and The Age of the Bottleneck (2008).

 

7. Gabriel García Márquez, author of Love in the Time of Cholera

 

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Image via Inspire Portal

 

Published in 1971, Marquez’s short story ‘The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World‘ is about a ridiculously handsome dead body that washes up onto shore and enchants an entire village. If you’re unfamiliar with Marquez’s work, I absolutely recommend A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings.

 

8. Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels

 

Ian Fleming

Image via Ian Fleming

 

According to John Cork, founding member of the Ian Fleming Foundation, “by 1960 Ian Fleming, James Bond, and Playboy magazine became a nearly synonymous cultural force, truly united with Playboy‘s publication of [Fleming’s story] The Hildebrand Rarity.” Fleming’s 11th book, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, was published simultaneously as a hardcover in Britain and serialized in Playboy from April to June 1963.

 

9. Roald Dahl, author of The BFG, The Witches, and many others

 

Roald Dahl

Image via Penguin Books

 

Dahl’s only non-children’s book, My Uncle Oswald, was based on ‘The Visitor’, a story written for and published in Playboy in May of 1965. You wouldn’t think a beloved children’s author would fit in with the publication but Dahl describes main character Oswald as “the greatest fornicator of all time”, so. Dahl’s first original story for Playboy was ‘A Fine Son’, published in 1959.

 

10. Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22

 

Joseph Heller

Image via Biography.com

 

Heller refers to his short story ‘Yossarian Survives’ (published in Playboy in 1987) as a lost chapter of Catch-22. The story describes Yossarian’s training at Lowry Field Air Force base in Denver, Colorado. Fans interested in reading this ‘lost chapter’ can find it in Catch As Catch Can: The Collected Stories and Other Writings.

 

11. Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club

 

Chuck Palahniuk

Image via Chuck Palahniuk

 

Palahniuk is no stranger to getting published in Playboy, but I’m including him for a reason very close-to-home. When I was twelve-years-old, rifling through my best friend’s stepfather’s magazines, I found what would eventually become one of my favorite short stories. Palahniuk’s controversial short story ‘Guts was first published in the March 2004 issue of Playboy. ‘Guts’ is part of Palahniuk’s short story collection Haunted: A Novel.

 

12. Hunter S. Thompson, father of Gonzo journalism

 

Hunter S. Thompson

Image via Rolling Stone 

 

The Great Shark Hunt graced Playboy‘s pages in 1973 and was later published in a book of autobiographical essays of the same name. Over his career, Thompson’s work appeared in Playboy on a number of occasions.

 

13. Truman Capote, author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Three Stories.

 

Truman Capote

Image via Mom Advice

 

In the January 1984 issue of Playboy, Capote retold some of the most outrageous stories from friend and playwright Tennessee Williams’s life. It wasn’t the first time Capote was featured in the magazine. He was also the subject of a 1968 interview about his writing career, the role of Jewish writers in the American literary scene, and his views on capital punishment.

 

14. An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates, author of 56 novels, and a lot more.

 

Joyce Carol Oates

Image via Lewis Center for the Arts

 

The 1993 interview calls Oates:

 

one of the most prolific writers in America. Her critics even complain that she writes too much. She has written more novels than Nobel laureate Saul Bello, more short story collections than John Updike, more books of essays than Norman Mailer, more words of poetry than Emily Dickinson and more plays than Chekhov. Critic Harold Bloom considers her “our true proletarian novelist.”

 

Featured image via The New Yorker, improved via my own photoshop abilities.

Feature Image Courtesy of Amazon/Vanity Fair

Top 10 Classical Novels That Received Dreadful Reviews

 

Most of us have grown so accustomed to classical works of novelists being regarded as the epitome of literary excellence that we become unaware of the problematic aspects of these stories. Even the most beautifully written and well-arranged prose can suffer under the bitter scrutiny of critical minds. For these enduring works of literature that have lasted decades or even centuries, their initial response were not always positive. 

 

Here is a collection of some of the harshest and most scathing commentaries well-known authors have received. The titles mentioned are not listed in any particular order.

 

1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

 

Via Amazon

Image Courtesy of Amazon

 

Catch-22 has much passion, comic and fervent, but it gasps for want of craft and sensibility… Its author, Joseph Heller, is like a brilliant painter who decides to throw all the ideas in his sketchbooks onto one canvas, relying on their charm and shock to compensate for the lack of design… The book is an emotional hodgepodge; no mood is sustained long enough to register for more than a chapter.” — Richard G. Stern, The New York Times Book Review, 1961

 

2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

 

Amazon

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“But the most conspicuous lack, in comparison with the classics of the fearsome-future genre, is the inability to imagine a language to match the changed face of common life. No newspeak. And nothing like the linguistic tour de force of A Clockwork Orange – the brutal melting-down of current English and Slavic words that in itself tells the story of the dread new breed. The writing of The Handmaid’s Tale is undistinguished in a double sense, ordinary if not glaringly so, but also indistinguishable from what one supposes would be Margaret Atwood’s normal way of expressing herself in the circumstances. This is a serious defect, unpardonable maybe for the genre: a future that has no language invented for it lacks a personality. That must be why, collectively, it is powerless to scare.” — Mary McCarthy, The New York Times, February 9, 1986

 

3. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

 

Via Goodreads

Image Courtesy of Goodreads

 

“At a conservative estimate, one million dollars will be spent by American readers for this book. They will get for their money 34 pages of permanent value. These 34 pages tell of a massacre happening in a little Spanish town in the early days of the Civil War…Mr. Hemingway: please publish the massacre scene separately, and then forget For Whom the Bell Tolls; please leave stories of the Spanish Civil War to Malraux…” — Commonweal, 1940

 

4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

 

Via Amazon

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“This Salinger, he’s a short story guy. And he knows how to write about kids. This book though, it’s too long. Gets kind of monotonous. And he should’ve cut out a lot about these jerks and all that crumby school. They depress me.” — James Stern, The New York Times, 1951

 

5. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

 

Via Goodreads

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“The short, flat sentences of which the novel is composed convey shock and despair better than an array of facts or effusive mourning. Still, deliberate simplicity is as hazardous as the grand style, and Vonnegut occasionally skids into fatuousness…” — Susan Lardner, The New Yorker, May 17, 1969 Issue

 

6. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

 

Via Goodreads

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Lolita then, is undeniably news in the world of books. Unfortunately, it is bad news. There are two equally serious reasons why it isn’t worth any adult reader’s attention. The first is that it is dull, dull, dull in a pretentious, florid and archly fatuous fashion. The second is that it is repulsive… 

Past the artistic danger line of madness is another even more fatal. It is where the particular mania is a perversion like Humbert’s. To describe such a perversion with the pervert’s enthusiasm without being disgusting is impossible. If Mr. Nabokov tried to do so he failed.”  — Orville Prescott, The New York Times, August 18, 1958

 

7. Ulysses by James Joyce

 

Via Literary Hub

Image Courtesy of Literary Hub

 

Ulysses appears to have been written by a perverted lunatic who has made a speciality of the literature of the latrine… I have no stomach for Ulysses… James Joyce is a writer of talent, but in Ulysses he has ruled out all the elementary decencies of life and dwells appreciatively on things that sniggering louts of schoolboys guffaw about. In addition to this stupid glorification of mere filth, the book suffers from being written in the manner of a demented George Meredith. There are whole chapters of it without any punctuation or other guide to what the writer is really getting at. Two-thirds of it is incoherent, and the passages that are plainly written are devoid of wit, displaying only a coarse salacrity [sic] intended for humour.” — Aramis, The Scandal of Ulysses in The Sporting Times, April 1, 1922

 

8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

 

Via Livejournal

Image Courtesy of LiveJournal

 

“How a human being could have attempted such a book as the present without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters, is a mystery. It is a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors.” — Graham’s Lady’s Magazine, July 1848

 

“We rise from the perusal of Wuthering Heights as if we had come fresh from a pest-house. Read Jane Eyre is our advice, but burn Wuthering Heights.” — Paterson’s Magazine, February 1848

 

“What may be the moral which the author wishes the reader to deduce from his work, it is difficult to say; and we refrain from assigning any, because to speak honestly, we have discovered none but mere glimpses of hidden morals or secondary meanings. In Wuthering Heights the reader is shocked, disgusted, almost sickened by details of cruelty, inhumanity, and the most diabolical hate and vengeance, and anon come passages of powerful testimony to the supreme power of love—even over demons in the human form. The women in the book are of a strange fiendish-angelic nature, tantalising, and terrible, and the men are indescribable out of the book itself.”  — Douglas Jerrold’s Weekly Newspaper, January 15, 1848

 

9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 

Via Vanity Fair

Image Courtesy of Vanity Fair

 

 

“Let us hope that One Hundred Years of Solitude will not generate one hundred years of overwritten, overlong, overrated novels.” — Jonathan Bate, The Telegraph,  Sep 25, 1999

 

10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

Via Vanity Fair

Image Courtesy of Vanity Fair

 

“Altogether is seems to us this book is a minor performance. At the moment, its author seems a bit bored and tired and cynical.  There is no ebullience here, nor is there any mellowness or profundity. For our part, The Great Gatsby might just as well be called Ten Nights on Long Island.” — Ralph Coghlan, St. Louis Dispatch, April 25, 1925

 

Despite the dissatisfaction as manifested in the bitter remarks of critics, these classical works survived through generations and earned a highly-esteemed ranking on modern readers’ minds. It is only normal that a piece of prose should elicit mixed responses and sometimes stir dissonance between reviewers and readers. Depending on social and cultural factors, even if certain artistic efforts are not entirely appreciated upon its initial release, they may still have a chance or success and see to the light of day in the future.

 

Feature Image Courtesy of Amazon/Vanity Fair

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10 Classic Books That Almost Had Different Titles

Book titles are important: along with the cover, they’re one of the first things we notice when we pick up a novel. We’ve grown so used to some famous book titles that we barely think about them anymore. Of course The Great Gatsby is called The Great Gatsby; why wouldn’t it be?

But the truth is, it almost wasn’t. And F. Scott Fitzgerald isn’t the only literary figure who switched up a famous title at the last minute. Here are 10 incredible examples of famous book titles that were almost completely different.

 

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Which number followed the “Catch-” in Catch-22 was debated by Heller and his publisher for a while. Heller considered 11 and 18 first, but they were discarded to avoid confusion with the film Ocean’s Eleven (the original 1960 version) and Leon Uris’ Mila 18, respectively. 22 was eventually picked simply because it was 11 (Heller’s original choice) doubled.

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

We gave this one away in the introduction, but how crazy is it that Fitzgerald’s greatest work was almost called something else? In fact, Fitzgerald was considering several different titles, including Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires; Gold-Hatted Gatsby; On the Road to West Egg; Trimalchio in West Egg; Under the Red, White, and Blue; and our personal favorite, The High-Bouncing Lover.

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Rowling’s debut already had a title in the United Kingdom, of course, where it was known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. But her publisher, convinced that an American audience wouldn’t know what the Philosopher’s Stone was, wanted to change the title to something more accessible. According to Philip W. Errington’s book on Rowling’s work, the publisher wanted Harry Potter and the School of Magic. That was lame, and Rowling knew it: she insisted on something more specific, and the “Sorcerer’s Stone” was born.

 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Harper Lee made a lot of changes as she worked on her famous novel (the recently published Go Set a Watchman is essentially a very early permutation of the work.) At some point, her working title was Atticus. It changed to To Kill a Mockingbird as Lee expanded the novel and made it less about Atticus Finch.

 

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck wasn’t originally going to call his brief classic Of Mice and Men. Instead, he was going to go with Something That Happened. Maybe he thought the original title gave away too much of the plot?

 

1984 by George Orwell

Orwell’s original title was The Last Man in Europe, but his publisher thought 1984 was catchier. Orwell was a serial title changer: he also dropped the subtitle from his classic Animal Farm, which was originally going to be Animal Farm: A Fairy Story. He also considered A Satire and A Contemporary Satire as titles for Animal Farm, both of which seem rather obvious.

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s original title for Pride and Prejudice was First Impressions. Not bad, but it doesn’t quite have the melodic ring that the famous chosen title has. Plus, it doesn’t pair nearly as neatly with Sense and Sensibility.

 

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Have you read Twilight? No, not that Twilight. We’re talking about William Faulkner’s greatest novel, The Sound and the Fury, which was originally supposed to be called Twilight. Really!

 

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway’s original title for The Sun Also Rises was Fiesta. That would certainly have given the cover a bit of a different tone! We can see why Fiesta would have been appropriate, but we think everyone’s glad that Hemingway stepped it up a bit in the title department.

 

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy’s magnum opus is a powerful volume, but we don’t think it would have been quite as powerful if Tolstoy had gone with the original idea for the title. Tolstoy’s original title translated to “All’s Well That Ends Well,” which doesn’t quite do justice to his epic novel. The chosen title, War and Peace, was a real upgrade.

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The Guardian Wants You to Help Name the Greatest English-Language Novels

Have you seen The Guardian’s list of the 100 Best Novels Written in English? Put together by writer Robert McCrum, the list is pretty comprehensive; but, if you ask The Guardian‘s readers–it has its flaws.

The Guardian’s avid readers were quick to critique every aspect of McCrum’s list, including his methodology (McCrum limited himself to one book per author) and the list’s diversity (readers noted a lack of women authors, authors of color, Irish authors, Nigerian authors, Indian authors, and even Canadian authors.) Individual authors omitted include David Foster Wallace and Kurt Vonnegut. The angry readers have a point; looking at the list, it’s hard not to notice the prevalence of white, British, male authors.

The Guardian has taken all of this criticism in stride, and they’ve come up with a pretty charming way to appease their readers: the publication is inviting all of its critics and fans to contribute their own nominations.

You can write up your own nomination on the Guardian’s website. The Guardian is asking for the book title, author, and an explanation as to why it deserves to be included. The publication is also asking for the name of the book you’d boot from the list to make room, so you’ll have to make some tough choices if you want to nominate a novel!

You can play puppeteer with the Guardian’s list here, and you can view the original list of 100 novels here. What will you be adding to the list? 

Image courtesy of The Guardian