September 10 2011 Literary Fiction Newsletter
– Rosamunde Pilcher, September (1990)
LATEST ARTICLES ON THE SITE
Quiz – Before They Were Writers
You know Samuel Clemens got his pen name, Mark Twain, from his job as a riverboat pilot. What were the former occupations of the writers in this quiz?
Judging 5 Books by Their Trailers
Love ’em or snub ’em, preview trailers are now integrated into many authors’ promotional routines. Here are five of the latest.
BOOKS ON MY NIGHT STAND
Agatha Christie’s Murder of Roger Ackroyd, a graphic novel by Bruno Lachard
First published in France in 2004, this is one of only eight comic-book adaptations of Christie printed by Harper so far. It’s like reading Poirot in the world of Tintin – and it works. It works far better than the BBC TV production released in 2000, in which Christie’s narrative sleight-of-hand was all but abandoned and the story reworked beyond recognition. The only good thing about it was David Suchet’s Poirot.
The graphic-novel format allows Dr. Sheppard to narrate, as he does in Christie’s novel. The first panel shows the village of King’s Abbot just before dawn, train tracks on one side, church spire in the distance. Sheppard’s opening words frame the rest of the story: “Almost five in the morning. I reread my manuscript for the last time. It all started with the death of Mrs. Ferrars on the night of 16 September ... ” Muted colors create a noir-ish atmosphere and suggest – wordlessly, subtly – that what we’re seeing may not be what we should believe.
Given the mystery’s solution, I can see how the novel might be impossible to render word for word in images. Yet, as illustrated brilliantly in this book, Lachard succeeds where BBC screenwriter Clive Exton miserably, utterly failed.
TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
Booker Prize 2011 shortlist
The always anticipated Booker shortlist was announced on September 6. The six contenders are:
The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes (third time on the shortlist)
Jamrach’s Menagerie – Carol Birch (longlisted in 2003)
The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt
Half Blood Blues – Esi Edugyan
Pigeon English (debut novel) – Stephen Kelman
Snowdrops (debut novel) – A. D. Miller
I have Kelman on my bookshelf, and I’ll be dipping into it soon between work reads. I’ve also heard good things about the Barnes.
Have you read any of the shortlisted books? If so, what did you think of it? Please share your thoughts, or – if you dare – predict which one will win! The prize will be awarded on October 18.
Literary Fiction Editor, BellaOnline
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