Today in publishing and literature: Charlie Kaufman is writing a book, Hemingway's softer side, and a new scene from The Pale King makes us miss David Foster Wallace.
Charlie Kaufman has cemented a deal with Grand Central Publishing for his first novel. Nobody knows what it's called, what it will be about, or how much the Adaptation screenwriter stands to earn from his foray into the land of literature. Though if the novel is anything like his scripts for Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation., Synecdoche, New York it will ultimately be a sweet, simple story about the importance of memory and our capacity to love and be loved in return, which will incorrectly be described as transgressive and Out There, because Charlie Kaufman's name is on it. [Deadline]
Margaret Wise Brown wrote Goodnight Moon, a much-beloved bedtime story. She was also a bit of a card: she had affairs with men and women, spent her first royalty check on a cart loaded with flowers and was once scolded for trying to bring "giant orange trees and live birds" into her Paris hotel room. She also didn't care much for children, telling a Life magazine reporter, "I won’t let anybody get away with anything just because he is little.” It's enough to make Katie Roiphe wonder if the best children's writers are adults who "don’t understand adulthood" and "haven’t moved responsibly out of childhood the way most of us have, into busy, functional, settled adult life." She reaches a bit, wondering: "Is it possible that the most inspired children’s book writers never grow up?" Probably not. Everyone, whether we like it or not. But holding on to childish things, recalling the sentiment of someone three-feet tall and constantly ignored -- that's doable And the best know how. [Slate]
Fifteen previously unseen letters from Ernest Hemingway have been made available to the public, courtesy of The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. The library bought the letters in November from Gianfranco Ivancich, a stranger he bonded with in a Venice bar over their shared war experiences in 1949 and continued to correspond with. The 15 letters show a non-blustery, non Hemingway-y Hemingway, who was particularly broken up after shooting his cat, Uncle Willie, who had been hit by a car and broke two legs. "Certainly missed you," he informed Ivanich. "Miss Uncle Willie. Have had to shoot people but never anyone I knew and loved for 11 years. Nor anyone that purred with two broken legs." [The New York Times]
Attention David Foster Wallace fans: The Millions has posted a previously unpublished scene from The Pale King, his unfinished last novel. We never quite could crack the 70-page barrier on that one, but are tempted to give it another shot after reading this oh-so-acrobatic multi-clause sentence. He writes:
Charles Lehrl grew up not in Peoria but in nearby Decatur, home of Archer Dentists Midland and Lehrl said a city of such relentless uninteresting squalor and poverty that Peorians point with genuine pride at their city’s failure to be as bad as Decatur, whose air stank either of hog processing or burnt corn depending on the wind, whose patrician class distinguished itself by chewing gum with their front teeth.
DFW, you were a gem. A frustrating gem, but a gem nonetheless. [The Millions]