News

Author Shames Person Who Leaked Upcoming Novel, and More

Cover artwork for The Girl In the Green Silk Gown

Editor's Note:

Also in your Signature Need-to-Know: Tom Hanks ad-libs as Falstaff, Madeleine Albright’s warnings about fascism, and a pilot for House of Leaves.

Such is the demand for Seanan McGuire’s new book The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, someone shared an e-version of the corrected proof to an illegal download site –  a full week before its release. Devastated by how this could affect sales, and in turn, her chances of selling her publisher on a sequel, McGuire issued a blistering, impassioned series of tweets aimed directly at the culprit. “I am so sorry you disliked my book as much as you obviously did…” she opens. “There’s no other reason you would have done this, right?” Readers and fellow authors have been boosting the signal, including Neil Gaiman, who shared it and added: “If you like an author or a book, don’t do this.” Here’s hoping her well-chosen words will result in a pre-order sales bump that muffles the effects of the theft.

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The crisis in Detroit’s education system has reached a point where a class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of students to hold Michigan state officials responsible. In response, U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III tossed the case last week, ruling that the vital importance of literacy to a child’s survival does “not necessarily make access to literacy a fundamental right.” Odd, since education determines whether or not someone’s able to read or understand the Constitution in the first place. The Atlantic notes: “Usually, such education-equity cases wend their way through state courts, as all 50 state constitutions mandate public-education systems, while the country’s guiding document doesn’t even include the word education.” The case will now move on to the Federal Appeals court in Cincinnati.

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To be a teacher, it stands to reason that you ought to know a thing or two – but what, exactly? And what’s the fairest way to test would-be educators? Until recently, Michigan (yep, we’re still picking on the Great Lakes State) has used SAT scores as its standard for basic skills, but Gov. Rick Snyder just signed a law eliminating the need for any basic skills test whatsoever. This is meant to help alleviate the state’s teacher shortage, and education experts appear to be torn on this decision. While tests like the SAT can be a barrier to certifying “individuals who, with appropriate support and remediation, have the potential to become excellent teachers,” it stands to reason a person should be able to pass some kind of basic skills test before getting a classroom of their own — as is the case in all but four other states.

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Getting interviewed about your book is any writer’s dream come true, until suddenly it isn’t. It’s Football, Not Soccer co-author Silke-Maria Weineck has opened up about her recent experience: not only was the interview she recorded stripped from Anders Kelto’s feature on the book, but her writing partner Stefan Szymanski ended up being credited as its sole author. Weineck believes the punishment should fit the crime: “I think he should simply be sentenced to reporting only on women’s work for a year, and be banned from using British accents.” (Following this dust-up, NPR issued a small correction at the bottom of their post.)

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Mark Z. Danielewski just threw House of Leaves fans for a loop, sharing a link to the full pilot he’s written for a potential adaptation. As the article points out, once upon a time Leaves might have seemed unfilmable, but thanks to adventurous production companies like Netflix who aren’t afraid to fiddle with format, the author’s trippy horror tale could actually end up on screen. The question that’s killing us is whether singer/songwriter Poe would consider lending her music to such a project after all these years – her 2000 album “Haunted” served as a powerful companion piece to her brother Mark’s book, with many direct references to the text.

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Using the word “queer” to describe mere (and mostly male) homosexuality is one of the media’s laziest habits when reporting on LGBTQ issues, and unfortunately it’s contagious. Writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Matthew Lax takes aim at this disappointing phenomenon, making an example of the decidedly un-queer art that was selected for display at L.A.’s Queer Biennial – a glut of “dick art, selfie-porn and Instagrammable priapic performance” that ended up omitting fresher, less obvious explorations of gender and sexuality. He cites the late Cruising Utopia author José Esteban Muñoz, who wrote: “Queerness exists for us as an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is queerness’s domain.” Funny, isn’t that supposed to be artists’ domain as well?

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E.B. Bartels’ compilation interview “I Talked to 39 Women Who Write Nonfiction, and Here’s What I’ve Learned” is exactly what it sounds like, and some of the insights contained therein will make you wish these conversations were had all the time. Just kidding, they are: Bartels writes an interview series for The Advocate entitled Non-Fiction by Non-Men, which is worth following by and by. Among the many realizations for writers that await in the LitHub piece, here’s this from A Cup of Water Under My Bed author Daisy Hernández, who tells Bartels: “When you are going to write about other people, you are going to make mistakes. You cannot possibly see everything and predict everything, so you need to anticipate that you will make mistakes along the road and you will rectify that when the time comes.” Naturally, she backs that up with an example from her own experience.

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In a new book, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright outlines the risks of fascism within democratic societies, as well as the rewards that tempt certain leaders into adopting fascist strategies. “I don’t think fascism is an ideology,” she tells The Guardian. “I think it is a method, it’s a system.” While she declines to specifically define President Trump as fascist, she does describe him as “the first anti-democratic president in modern US history,” citing his attacks on the American institution of the free press, which she considers to be distinctly reminiscent of Josef Stalin. Albright considers Fascism: A Warning to be a measure taken against the complacency that can slowly creep in as individual freedoms erode one by one.

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As an student of St. Hilda’s – Oxford’s last-remaining all-women college – Nadifa Mohamed observed the long shadows that past traditions can cast over the present, and the future, of young women who matriculate at institutions like these. Writing about the experience for LitHub, she details the anachronistic joys of living in a place jokingly described as a “Virgin Megastore,” and also dismantles the illusion of safety in numbers when it comes to protecting young women from abuse. “Our bodies as bait, as communal property, as dangers to ourselves and others,” she writes, “were concepts that climbed over the walls into our college and into our minds.”

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With one passion project after another, Tom Hanks has been batting at cinematic slow-balls for so many years that it’s easy to forget how hard his job can be – and how good at that job he still is.  In a recent production of Henry IV, the actor was forced off-script to cover an interruption caused by a medical emergency, and ended up ad-libbing on stage as Falstaff for nearly five minutes – a mini-eternity, as anyone who’s ever appeared onstage can attest. Fortunately for drama teachers everywhere, the entire thing was caught on video, which you can watch, fretfully, below.