One-Minute Book Reviews

March 18, 2008

The Impact of Arthur C. Clarke (1917–2008) Recalled by Three-Time Caldecott Medal Winner David Wiesner

Filed under: Science Fiction — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:36 pm
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Arthur C. Clarke, who has died at the age of 90, got little respect from some literary critics, who dismissed him as a writer of futuristic potboilers. But his science-fiction influenced some of the most respected authors of our time. They include David Wiesner, who honored Clarke’s best-known novel in The Art of Reading: 40 Illustrators Celebrate RIF’s 40th Anniversary, in which popular artists re-envision a scene from a favorite book. Wiesner chose to re-imagine one from 2001: A Space Odyssey, a book that had captivated him in his youth: He’d seen Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 movie version, and when he saw the novel in a book-club catalog, he had to have it.

“The book turned out to be as fantastic and absorbing as the movie, and I couldn’t put it down,” he says in The Art of Reading. He was “fascinated by the way the same idea had been presented in two different mediums, one visual and one literary.” He’s still fascinated by such links: In 2007 Wiesner, one of America’s most admired children’s authors, won his third Caldecott Medal for Flotsam, a picture book about a boy who finds a magical camera.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

March 12, 2008

And the Most Famous American Novel About a Call Girl Is …

Filed under: Classics,Novels — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 4:39 pm
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The answer to this morning’s pop quiz …

Were all of your English teachers squeamish about assigning books about prostitutes? Or were you just distracted by Eliot Spitzer’s resignation?

It took more than 12 hours to get the answer to this morning’s pop quiz, “What’s the most famous American novel about a call girl?” But Impreader nailed it: It’s Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Modern Library, 176 pp., $14.95).

Yes, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) is a party girl instead of a call girl in Blake Edwards’s 1961 movie. But the Hollywood standards of the pre-Klute era required the sanitizing. Holly’s life has a sadder, if no less interesting, cast in Capote’s short novel. As the filmmaker and short story writer Garth Twa puts it in 101 Books You Must Read Before You Die (Rizzioli/Universe, $34.95):

“Pushing the boundaries and paving the way for the revolution to come, Holly is a gamine — sexually free, hedonistic, a prostitute. She lives for the moment, damns the consequences, and makes up her morality as she goes along. Like her cat without a name, she is unfettered, untameable.”

(c) 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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