Today in publishing in literature: Joseph Heller was of two different minds about his time in the service, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will not let Roland Emmerich's aggression go unchecked, and the co-author of the Left Behind series gets a rich new contract.
- Auction house Nate D. Sanders is selling off two letters from Catch-22 author Joseph Heller, written to Northeastern University professor Jeff Nagel in the early 1970s, more than a decade after Catch-22 was published. What's remarkable is how many fond memories Heller still holds for the military, which appeared insane and incompetent in his book. Heller says he feels, "Much differently than Yossarian felt and much differently than I felt when I wrote the novel … In truth I enjoyed it and so did just about everyone else I served with, in training and even in combat ... I was young, it was adventurous, there was much hoopla and glamour." It's worth noting that when he wrote those words, the conflict in Vietnam was looking unwinnable. [Nate D. Sanders via GalleyCat]
- The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is supposed to be a charity that promotes the study of Shakespeare's works and does not engage in mild acts of civil disobedience. That's changed somewhat during the lead-up to Anonymous, the new Shakespeare-unmasked thriller from Independence Day director Roland Emmerich. Emmerich's a believer in the Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship, which holds that the 17th Early of Oxford was in fact the real William Shakespeare, which does not attract much interest from academics. This hasn't stopped the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust from responding with their own unique blend of pyrotechnics to protest the release of Anonymous. The trust has already started "covering Shakespeare’s name on several signs in Warwickshire, the British county that was the playwright’s home." They've also "taped over Shakespeare’s name on nine local road signs to coincide with the London Film Festival premiere" of the film, and promised to "cover up signs on 10 pubs and drape a sheet over a Shakespeare memorial in the playwright’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon" before the week is out. It's not entirely clear what point they're trying to make. Maybe it's imagine a world without Shakespeare? Shakespeare is so humiliated, he can't bear to watch the new Roland Emmerich movie? [Arts Beat]
- Jerry B. Jenkins, the co-author of the 16-book Left Behind series, has reached "a seven figure deal with Worthy Publishing for six new standalone books." Jenkins' Wikipedia page notes he's also written as-told-to biographies for athletes like Hank Aaron, Walter Payton, and Nolan Ryan, though we have to think the new deal is for more apocalyptic, end-of-days thrillers. [Publishers Weekly]
- Universal is moving ahead with an adaptation of The Janson Directive, a thriller Robert Ludlum was about 90 percent complete with when he died in 2002. The book was buffed into shape by a team of assistants, but the public didn't seem to mind. Sales for Ludlum books written by ghostwriters in the years following his death have been strong, and Universal just commissioned a fourth Jason Bourne movie based on The Bourne Legacy, which was written by Erik Van Lustbader in 2004. [Deadline]