Snowstorm Books, Wallace Stegner Novel Adaptation, and More


Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—from publishing reports to academic announcements to literary dispatches—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today's stories:

Last week, best-selling author Philip Pullman resigned as patron of the Oxford Literary festival in response to the festival’s refusal to pay its participating authors. At the New Statesman, editor Danuta Kean further considers the problem of not paying authors to appear at literary festivals, and argues that it especially affects underrepresented writers of diverse backgrounds: “Not just because the author will have worked for days preparing a talk or reading the work of fellow panelists, but because being paid with ‘exposure’ rather than hard cash undermines the already precarious diversity in our literary culture.” (Bookseller)

Electric Literature features an interview with National Book Award–winning novelist Joyce Carol Oates, in which she discusses her latest novel, The Man Without a Shadow (Ecco, 2016), how her writing practice has changed over multiple decades, the social responsibility of the writer, and the complexities of the human mind.  

The New Republic’s former longtime literary editor, Leon Wieseltier, is partnering with Steve Jobs’s widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, to launch a new, as-yet-unnamed, critical journal that will cover technology’s effects on our lives. Wieseltier will not, despite rumors, be buying back the New Republic; current owner Chris Hughes recently announced he is putting the magazine up for sale. (New York Magazine, Wall Street Journal)

Deadline reports that Wallace Stegner’s critically acclaimed 1987 novel, Crossing to Safety (Random House), has been optioned for film. The novel is “a semi-autobiographical tome about two academic couples who meet in Madison, Wisconsin, and follows their marriages and friendship over the course of several decades.” David Bloomfield will write the screenplay. This will be the first time any of Stegner’s novels have been adapted for screen.

Meanwhile, Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey has joined the cast of the forthcoming J. D. Salinger biopic, Rebel In the Rye. Spacey is set to play Story magazine editor and Columbia University professor Whit Burnett, a primary mentor of Salinger. The film is based on the 2012 biography, J. D. Salinger: A Life, by Kenneth Slawenski. (Yahoo! News)

Whether you are in blizzard territory this weekend or not, curling up with any of the suggestions from the Washington Post’s list of snowstorm books is probably a good idea.

“The awful simile is a mainstay of literary prose,” says Paris Review web editor Dan Piepenbring. A simile often “doesn’t age well” either, but it’s hard to resist smiling (or cringing) at some of the bizarre similes Piepenbring lists from Greenville Kleiser’s 1917 book, Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases. We’ve all used this one, right? “Laughter like a beautiful bubble from the rosebud of baby-hood.”