- Views & Opinions
Brian Selznick and Edwidge Danticat, authors of two of the fall’s most anticipated works for young people, both know something about living in multiple worlds.
Selznick has been traveling, in his mind, among movies, printed books and digital texts. He worked on drawings for The Marvels, a 600-page adventure across the centuries that alternates between text and illustrations, while adapting his novel Wonderstruck for a planned feature by Todd Haynes. He has also finally allowed his distinctively illustrated stories to be released as e-books, and upon completing The Marvels thought of how he could convert it for digital readers.
“The challenge is always to make the story feel like it can only be told in the medium it appears,” Selznick says. “When I’m creating a new story, it always begins as a book, but once it’s finished, figuring out how to adapt it to other media is a fun challenge.
“In the end, storytelling is storytelling, and each medium has its own demands and opportunities unique to it.”
Danticat’s Untwine is narrated by the teen daughter of Haitian immigrants as she recovers from a serious car crash. Untwine was a switch in style for Danticat (best known for such adult works as the novel The Dew Breaker and the memoir Brother, I’m Dying). It was also a journey back to a younger self.
“I had to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of observing. Each story requires you to inhabit a character and I had to come as close as possible to becoming the narrator,” Danticat says.
The next few months will feature books for all ages by authors of all ages — from a new Rookie Yearbook by teen star Tavi Gevinson to a memoir by the 100-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner Herman Wouk — with a few Nobel laureates in between.
Wouk, a published author for nearly 70 years, shares his rare perspective in Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author. Near contemporaries also have books out. The Rev. Billy Graham, 96, collaborated with son Franklin on Where I Am. A.E. Hotchner, 95, writes of his late friend Ernest Hemingway in Hemingway in Love. Stan Lee, 92, tells his story in words and illustrations in Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir.
Punk and New Wave music are old enough that some of the leaders are writing memoirs, from Elvis Costello and Chrissie Hynde to Patti Smith and Carrie Brownstein. A classic rock ‘n’ roller, John Fogerty spares no one in Fortunate Son, while the man who helped discover such Fogerty heroes as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, is the subject of Peter Guralnick’s Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Actors also are looking back, including Debbie Reynolds, Burt Reynolds (no relation) and Drew Barrymore. Mindy Kaling offers the latest on her life in Why Not Me? Mary-Louise Parker addresses friends, family members, lovers and other men in Dear Mr. You, a series of intimate and polished essays that have received blurbs from Mary Karr and Leslie Jamison. Jesse Eisenberg’s humor pieces, many of which ran in The New Yorker, are collected in Bream Gives Me Hiccups.
The fall is publishing’s prime showcase for literary fiction, with novels by Jonathan Franzen, David Mitchell and Elena Ferrante, along with works from Nobel laureates Patrick Modiano, Orhan Pamuk and Kenzaburo Oe. Posthumous work is coming from Lucia Berlin and Oscar Hijuelos, and the writings of the late Primo Levi are being issued in a three-volume set, with an introduction by Nobel winner Toni Morrison.
David Lagercrantz continues the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series with The Girl in the Spider’s Web and Anthony Horowitz has written a new James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis. J.K. Rowling resumes her alternate life as crime writer Robert Galbraith with Career of Evil. George R.R. Martin explores the back story of Westeros in A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. Margaret Atwood, author of such dystopian novels as The Handmaid’s Tale, conjures more nightmares in The Heart Goes Last.
“It’s getting easier (to create dystopias),” said Atwood, whose new book features a community of rotating prison inmates. “You’re just putting together a mosaic of what’s around you, putting together things that are already happening somewhere or have happened and seeing what this mix produces.”
Current events will be reviewed from the left by David Brock in Killing the Messenger: The Right-Wing Plot to Derail Hillary and Hijack Your Government and from the right in Exceptional, by former Vice President Dick Cheney and daughter Liz Cheney. Chelsea Clinton’s It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going! is a primer for civic engagement. Her mother, presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton, contributes a foreword to Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose, by Melanne Verveer and Kim K. Azzarelli.
Other nonfiction releases include memoirs by Gloria Steinem and Donna Karan and a biography of former President George H.W. Bush by Pulitzer winner Jon Meacham. Stacy Schiff, whose books include the best-selling Cleopatra and the Pulitzer-winning Vera, looks back to the 17th-century witch trials in The Witches: Salem, 1692.
“The similarities between the oral culture of that time and the Internet are approximately 100 percent,” Schiff says. “Something is mentioned once and suddenly it’s everywhere. It’s amazing the way slanderous news travels. And what we say is indelible. That’s what happened in the 17th century. Witchcraft accusations wouldn’t go away.”