Tag Archives: essays

‘Pretty Little Liars’ Star To Release Book of Essays

ian-harding-01-2015Is life imitating art or is art imitating life here? According to Entertainment Weekly actor Ian Harding, who plays teacher and writer Ezra Fitz on Pretty Little Liars, is releasing his own book of essays entitled Odd Birds this coming May.

His character on the teen phenomenon of a show is a writer and author, so it’s interesting to learn he writes in real life. While I’m deeply curious as to whether he got into writing since playing a writer on the show or if the show creators wrote that into the series, knowing that Harding himself liked to write, I’m also a little confused about the description of his book, as Isabella Biedenharn explains.

Harding will publish his essay collection, Odd Birds, in May 2017, EW can announce exclusively. Odd Birds will chronicle Harding’s life in Hollywood — including anecdotes from PLL — through the lens of bird watching, making it a fascinating and funny journey for readers of both celebrity memoirs and nature books.

How someone tells anecdotes about a teen television series through the lens of bird watching is pretty baffling to me. But I am interested to know if he’s as a good a writer as they make his character out to be on PLL!

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New Memoir from ‘Matilda,’ ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ Alum

mara-1You may not remember the name Mara Wilson, but you’ll remember her when you see the cover of her new book. The now grownup, out-of-the-limelight child actress is due to release a book of essays in September about growing up as the girl who starred in both Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire, among other movies, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Mara Wilson has left the industry, but apparently has become quite the witty writer over the years. Where Am I Now? will include anecdotes about Wilson’s first kiss, learning about sex, her mother’s death and accepting herself.

She’s one of those people whom I forgot existed, but I was such a huge fan of her movies growing up, I can’t imagine not reading her memoir. I’ve got to think she has a lot of interesting stories to tell.

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Anna Kendrick to Pen Book of Essays

Because Lena Dunham wasn’t enough, another twenty-something actress is setting out on becoming an essayist.

According to Page Six, this time it’s Anna Kendrick. The actress/singer is now adding author to her resume, with plans to write a book of autobiographical essays, due out in Fall 2016. Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster is publishing the book, which is said to include funny and embarrassing stories about the star.

The book does not yet have a title.

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Review: I Remember Nothing

Recap: Contrary to what the title of this book may seem to imply, I Remember Nothing is not a story about Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. On a much lighter note, I Remember Nothing is a nonfiction memoir, penned by the late, great journalist /writer /producer /director /screenwriter Nora Ephron. The book is a collection of essays about the past, present, and future, some personal, some more an outlet for Ephron to vent. Most are funny, some smart, empowering and thought-provoking, others sad, and a few are quite frankly odd.

In the chapter entitled “Journalism: A Love Story,” Ephron explains how she got her start writing as a journalist, from working in the mailroom at Newsweek to writing for the New York Post. The themes about sexism in the workplace and hard work paying off prevail here and feel inspirational. Other sections of the book discuss her divorce, friendship, and death. This is where we learn more about Ephron as a person and how she sees the world. Commentaries round out the rest of the book, including funny bits about email and short, odd, disposable chapters about things like Teflon.

Analysis: In all, reading about the life of one of the smartest, most successful, and iconically remembered creative female minds of our time was enjoyable. She is brilliant, and more importantly resilient. That comes across in her chapters on divorce and industry “flops” that she suffered. But if you read between the lines, Ephron not-so-subtly implies the state that she was in while writing the book. That is to say, Ephron had been diagnosed with leukemia a few years before penning I Remember Nothing. That information was not made public until after Ephron died in 2012. In retrospect, that knowledge better explains chapters like “What I Will Miss” and “What I Won’t Miss.” It’s lists like these that make it clear Ephron knew what road lay ahead. And what’s more, she faced it head-on.

In some sections — like the one about Teflon — I scratched my head in a state of “what the eff?” But other parts made me laugh out loud. And still others made me view the world in a different way. As a journalist, I felt that the journalism section of I Remember Nothing allowed me to connect with Ephron on a deeper level. I feel as thought I understand her quirks, and I respect her for them. But now, two after she’s passed away, I Remember Nothing helped me understand this great woman who I wish I had learned more about when she was still alive. We may not have Nora Ephron anymore, but we do have her words.

Get I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections in paperback for $11.71.

Or on your Kindle for just $5.

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Another Book from Mindy Kaling

kalingFor those of you who haven’t yet read Mindy Kaling’s memoir, you might want to pick up a copy. Why? Because she has another one on the way.

According to the L.A. Times, Mindy Kaling, star of The Office and The Mindy Project, is working on a second memoir. Entitled Why Not Me?, the book will be a collection of essays, with a variety of topics, as Carolyn Kellogg explains.

“So much has happened between the time I published my first book and now,” Kaling tells [The Times’ Yvonne] Villarreal. “The show; my mother passed away; so many of my friends have gotten married. I’m a godmother now, and a homeowner. There’s so much that has happened in that period of time that I wanted to write another book.”

Considering her first book was a bestseller, I have no doubt this one will be successful as well.

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Literary Prose on Chipotle Cups

I don’t know about you, but I typically think of Starbucks when I think of fast-food joints that sell or use products with noteworthy prose written on them. Not Chipotle. But thanks to author Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), that all has changed.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the author got involved with the fast-food Mexican restaurant when he complained of being bored, explaining in an email to Chipotle’s CEO that there was nothing to read when he ate there. Apparently a famous author complaining via email to the CEO of a company is rather impactful. The CEO and Foer worked together and enlisted authors, writers, and comedians including Toni Morrison, Malcolm Gladwell, George Saunders, Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman, and Bill Hader to contribute stories, essays, and other pieces — all of which have been printed on cups in Chipotle.

Foer told Vanity Fair that “what interested me is 800,000 Americans of extremely diverse backgrounds having access to good writing. A lot of those people don’t have access to libraries, or bookstores. Something felt very democratic and good about this.”

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Kindle Singles Publishing Soars

As newspapers and magazines continue to lose readership and fold, the way authors and journalists publish short stories, essays, and novellas has changed. Now, it’s going digital.

Amazon is one of the companies hopping on board. But instead of offering its own regular publishing platform like the one used for full-length novels, Amazon is publishing Kindle Singles. I told you about them a year-and-a-half ago, shortly after the service got underway. In the time since, the service has become quite successful.

According to The New York Times, Amazon Kindle Singles is a store under the Amazon umbrella, which sells the shorts for less than $2 each. Though Amazon keeps about 30% of the profit and rarely pays the author upfront, Amazon estimates the authors make an average of $22,000 through the service. It’s  one of the few publishing options that allows authors to make a profit off the shorts, as opposed to getting a flat fee. It’s also starting to gain a larger audience.

Most of the novellas, essays, and stories that are publishing run between 30,000 and 50,000 words, and while the publisher receives about 1000 manuscripts each month, the service is still extremely competitive. Since its January 2011 inception, Amazon has only posted 345 Singles.

It certainly does sound like a good concept for authors and journalists who want to get their short-form pieces published, but 345 published pieces in two years seems small, no?

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