Today in books and publishing: The western canon is getting the graphic novel treatment, another James Joyce story for children involving cats has surfaced, and Portlandia has inspired a faux-travel guide.
A short story about cats that James Joyce wrote for his grandson in 1936 has been published for the first time by a small publishing house in Irelnd. It's called "The Cats of Copenhagen," and publisher Ithys Press thinks it's in the same league with "The Cat and the Devil," an earlier cat-centric story the Ulysse author composed for his grandon. That story was included in the 1957 collection The Letters of James Joyce. The letter containing "The Cats of Copenhagen" is part of the Zurich James Joyce Foundation's collection, and is only seeing the light because the author's published work entered the public domain at the start of the year. Fritz Senn, the founder of the Zurich Joyce foundation, is outraged by the story's publication, primarily he's worried the "very belligerent" Joyce estate will sue him, since it's unclear if their copyright on Joyce's unpublished work is also up. Kids should enjoy the story because it's about a city that doesn't have any cats for unknown reasons, but publisher Anastasia Herbert promises Joyceans they'll find plenty to enjoy, calling it "an anti-establishment text, critical of fat-cats and some authority figures, and it champions the exercise of common sense, individuality and free will." (But about cats!) Since the 200 limited edition copies are selling fror €300 to €1,200, we're going to have to take her word on that. [The Guardian]
This is going to be fun: Robert Crumb, Will Eisner, and 128 other illustrators are going to condense the western canon (not to be confused with the Russian canon) into a three-volume graphic novel that will total 1,334 pages in length. The first volume (From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liasons) is coming out in April, with part two (Kubla Khan to the Brontë Sisters to The Picture of Dorian Gray) due in July. The final installment (From Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest) is scheduled for October. [The Guardian]
Robert Harris is writing a screenplay based on The Fear Index, his much buzzed about new thriller about a rogue stock-picking program that threatens to destroy the world. Harris has done this before, adapting his book The Ghost Writer for Roman Polanski, but it will be interesting to see what he does with that Ezra Klein character. [Book Buzz]
Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein created Portlandia and now they've landed a deal with Grand Central Publishing to write a faux travel book about their heavily bearded metropolis called Portlandia: A Guide for Visitors. It's due out in November [GalleyCat]
Kathryn Schulz -- who is the new book critic at New York magazine. She replaces Sam Anderson, who left for The New York Times Magazine last year. It's been a nice start to the year for Schultz, who was also recently given National Book Critics Circle’s Nona Balakian Prize for Excellence in Reviewing. [The New York Observer]