Oh my, it feels like it’s been 100 years since I’ve read a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. They were all the rage in the 90’s! And I read so many of them as a teenager. So as an expectant mother myself, when I received this book as a gift, I was excited to crack it open and step into the nostalgia for the series and read some great stories about pregnancy, delivery and children.
It mostly lived up to the hype! There were some great emotional stories that brought me near tears, cute cartoons and funny stories that I read out loud to my husband. The book includes a pretty wide variety of real-life stories from those with infertility issues, those who adopted, those who delivered early and those who delivered late. Considering the book is now more than 20 years old (!!), it did feel a bit dated in its diversity. If it were to be published in 2021 for instance, I would expect there to be more inclusive stories of gay couples or interracial couples having children. But I understand that in 2000, those kinds of stories were not likely to be included.
I also was surprised to find that there were no “celebrity” entries. At some point as I was reading, I remembered many of the Chicken Soup books of yesteryear promoted the stories by “famous” people on the front cover. It was always exciting when you’d come across an entry from Maya Angelou or Garry Marshall.
I also remember feeling the stories were better written back in the day and cut to the heart a little more. But that also may be because I was a teenager when I was reading those books and not as well versed in good writing. It’s hard to come across profoundly gut-wrenching writing when the stories are submitted by amateurs.
Truly though, that does not detract from the stories and content itself! Reading the book made me grateful for the relatively easy and healthy pregnancy I’ve had, hopeful – and a little nervous! – for delivery and excited to be a mother.
Recap: When a book opens with a story about a tortoise and a hare, I first have to wonder if I’m reading a copy of Aesop’s Fables. But when the story turned into a version in which the hare loses and then demands a rematch against the tortoise, I knew we were no longer in Aesop’s territory. Thanks, B.J. Novak. The comedian and actor, best known for his role in The Office dives into his funny, sarcastic, sometimes dark and then surprisingly poignant mind with this collection of short stories that made me laugh and think.
The content of many of the stories seemed random: in “Dark Matter,” a guy visiting a planetarium; in “Walking on Eggshells,” a woman set on having sex with Tony Robbins; in “MONSTER: The Roller Coaster,” a focus group selecting the name of a roller coaster. Despite the premises, they often had strong, affecting messages at the end about what matters most to us as people, about whether it’s worth it to be in a relationship that may not serve you, about things not turning out the way we expect them to. With some of the longer short stories, including the one from which the book got its title “Sophia,” I came to expect something poignant at the end. In the case of “Sophia,” I didn’t ever get it.
Some stories, like “The Comedy Central Roast of Nelson Mandela,” were just plain funny, an opportunity for Novak to show off his comedic writing skills. Others were simple plays on words like “If I Had a Nickel” and “If You Love Something,” good for a nice chuckle.
Analysis: As someone who’d never actually read a book of short stories, I didn’t know what to expect and wasn’t particularly excited to read it. I doubted I would enjoy it without a central story powerful enough to keep me flipping through the pages. But color me shocked when I found that I really, truly enjoyed it. Sure, some stories were better than others. Some had me scratching my head (and not in a thoughtful way, more in a what-the-hell-was-that kind of way). But I caught myself laughing several times and stopping to think about some of the stories before going on to read the next ones. I also found that because some of the stories were so short, I was able to fly through the book. How Novak came up with some of the crazy, weird, and creatively thoughtful stories is impressive and delightful.
When you’ve spent so much of your professional life reading, analyzing, interpreting and acting out scripts, you learn a thing or two about the written word.
That goes for actor Tom Hanks, who’s now proving his chops in his debut book with Alfred A. Knopf, entitled Uncommon Type: Some Stories, due for an October release, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The book features 17 short stories revolving around typewriters, but ranging in story and style. Hanks started working on the stories two years ago and released a statement about the project:
“In the two years of working on the stories. I made movies in New York, Berlin, Budapest, and Atlanta and wrote in all of them. I wrote in hotels during press tours. I wrote on vacation. I wrote on planes, at home, and in the office. When I could actually make a schedule, and keep to it, I wrote in the mornings from nine to one.”
In recent years, there have been a lot of jokes made about how Tom Hanks feels like “America’s Dad.” He even did a bit about it on SNL in October. Much in the way that everyone wants to see what their “dad” does, they also want to read what he has to say. I have no doubt that Hanks’ book will not only sell well, but will also be impeccably written. He’s just …that kind of guy.
John Steinbeck is known for his great pieces of literature, like Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. But have any of you heard of his short story “With Your Wings”?
Didn’t think so.
According to Entertainment Weekly,you can now read the short story which was virtually unknown until now. The managing editor of The Strand magazine discovered the more than 70-year-old transcript of the story in the archives at the University of Texas at Austin.The Strand has since published the short story, which is about a black WWII pilot.
Apparently the story went under the radar because it had once been read on the radio by Orson Welles in July 1944, but was never published in a book or magazine. So it just became forgotten.
Now we all get to feast on a new, yet vintage, piece of literary history.
The stories in the book will apparently be “loosely connected to photographs of typewriters from Hanks’ personal collection.”
Yes, Tom Hanks loves typewriters. In fact, he loves them so much, he collects them and helped create an iPad app that lets people type and print documents as if it’s on an old-fashioned typewriter. But a book full of stories about pictures of typewriters? Seems a little iffy to me. But hey, whatever floats your boat!
It’s been roughly 90 years since F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the stories that were published in the Saturday Evening Post and later published in a collection entitled Taps at Reveille. But those stories will now be re-released in a newly edited version.
According to The Raw Story, the Taps of Reveille is being re-released including what editors believe are the versions of the stories F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote initially. The versions of the short stories were edited severely when they were published for the Saturday Evening Post in the 1920s and 1930s to exclude curses, racial slurs, religious slurs, and sexual content. At the time, Fitzgerald was criticized for not being more realistic about that era. But as it turns out, he was realistic about it; those sections were simply edited out, as Scott Kaufman explains.
Absent from the versions published in the Post were overt references to sexual acts or situations, statements of profanity, remarks betraying racism or antisemitism, as well as most mentions of drunkenness and all references to drug use. For example, in the story “Two Wrongs,” the despicable protagonist, Bill, describes a person as a “dirty little kyke,” a slur against Jewish people. Despite the fact that uttering the phrase made an unpleasant man more unlikable, [Fitzgerald’s literary agent Harold Ober] cut the remark before sending the story to the Post.
It’s unclear when the new edition of the collection of stories will be released.
J.D. Salinger died about four years ago, but just like Tupac and Michael Jackson, lots of his work is getting traction posthumously.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the author best known for his classic novel Catcher in the Rye had a number of short stories leaked not too long ago. Salinger’s stories, “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls,” “Paula,” and “Birthday Boy” were traced to an eBay auction that ended in September. The previously unpublished stories were sold for a mere 67 pounds ($110).
Before the leak, “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls” was only available at Princeton University. The other stories were available at University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center.
Through an agreement with Princeton University, “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls” was not meant to be published until 2060, 50 years after J.D. Salinger’s death. The story was originally published in Harper’s Bazaar and is thought to be a sort of prequel to the beloved Catcher in the Rye.
A short story written by a young Stieg Larsson (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) that’s never been published in English is set to be released this winter.
According to The New York Times, the famous Swedish author — who wrote one of the most successful crime series in history (The Millennium Series) — will have a story published that he penned when he was just 17 years old. It will be part of a compilation of Swedish crime stories, entitled A Darker Shade of Sweden, due out in February.
The Swedish author died in 2004, but some of the other authors whose work is included in the series are Henning Mankell, Maj Sjowall, and Eva Gabrielsson, Larsson’s long-time girlfriend.
Now, according toEntertainment Weekly and Indiewire, one of his essays is becoming a movie. Production is set to start next month on “C.O.G.,” which stands for “Child of God.” It’s an essay included in his 1997 book Naked. The essay tells the story of the time when a young Sedaris and a “fanatical Christian” tried to sell stones at a local fair.
The EW article goes on to list a number of Sedaris’ stories that could also be turned into movies. I’ll admit: I’ve never read any of Sedaris’ work. That being said, I must agree with EW‘s Stephan Lee that Sedaris’ work might be better suited to an HBO series than a feature film. It will, however, be interesting to see his stories translated to the big screen.
Children’s fiction. Young adult fiction. Women’s fiction. And now, men’s fiction. Esquire is trying to define what men’s fiction is by regularly publishing a new series of e-books written by men, starting this month.
According to The New York Times, the first volume became available yesterday, including short stories by Aaron Gwyn, Luis Alberto Urrea and Jess Walter. The stories are only being sold in e-book format. Another volume will follow every few months. Another three pieces will be published in the June/July issue of Esquire.
The new fiction pieces coming to the publication are important, especially as Esquire continues to pull out of the recession. Julie Bosman explains.
David Granger, the editor in chief of Esquire, said he has lamented the loss of space that magazines devoted to publishing fiction. The New Yorker is perhaps the most visible home for fiction in the magazine world, but many other magazines have cut back.
”It’s a struggle, because especially during the recession, we lost so many pages,” he said. ”Fiction begins to feel a little bit of a luxury.”
Do you think the new publications will open people’s eyes to men’s fiction? How do you define men’s fiction?