Culture

Mara Wilson Salutes Matilda’s 30th Birthday

From “Matilda” (1996) by Tristar Pictures

Going by the publishing date, this year Matilda would be celebrating her thirtieth. Who better to wish her many happy returns than Mara Wilson, the actress who brought the character to life in the 1996 film? As a result of tackling the role, Wilson has spent the rest of her life being associated with Roald Dahl’s heroine, in ways both enjoyable and … otherwise. In this stunning piece for Vanity Fair, Wilson reveals what she’s learned from this character over the years, and what she thinks Matilda would be doing now, as a thirty-year-old, twenty-first-century woman. As Wilson points out, this is a tougher question than you might think: “What do you do when you’ve read every book in the library and banished a tyrant by age seven

📖 📖 📖

Garrard Conley’s memoir, Boy Erased, isn’t just a coup in LGBTQ individuals’ fight against anti-gay conversion therapy; it’s also a salvo on behalf of parents, as the figure of Conley’s mother, Martha, looms large throughout the book, a presence that ended up luring major star power to the adaptation’s cast, in the form of Nicole Kidman. Now the New York Times turns its eye to the elder Conley’s journey to accidental stardom; naturally she’s enthralled with Kidman’s portrayal, but has some notes for the costume department: “I think they picked out a few too many Wal-Mart tops.” This article is also an opportunity for Martha to address questions viewers may have about her own complicity in the trauma of her son’s attempt at conversion. “I was doing the homework that I should have done before we took him, and that’s part of my guilt right there,” she recalls, adding her voice to those calling for such programs to be banned nationwide. “You should not believe that even one part of it is good. We want it to be illegal.”

📖 📖 📖

If you’re curious about Ursula K. Le Guin’s posthumously released book of poetry, head directly over to Electric Literature, where three of the poems have been posted in their entirety. Some of these are imbued with an entirely new meaning now that the author has passed away – especially this line from “Ancestry,” which reads:

I am such a long way from my ancestors now
in my extreme old age that I feel more one of them
than their descendant.

📖 📖 📖

Studios have known for years that Robert Jordan’s seemingly endless Wheel of Time series (fourteen books and counting) has potential for small-screen glory, but so far no one’s stepped up to adapt it – until now. The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Amazon will be tackling the franchise as a new series helmed by “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” showrunner Rafe Judkins. In case you’ve been too afraid to investigate Robert Jordan’s books in the past (for fear of getting sucked into a reading vortex that might take years to escape), the article points out that they’re set in a world where magic exists and can only be used by women, and also that the series “draws on numerous elements of European and Asian culture and philosophy, most notably the cyclical nature of time found in Buddhism and Hinduism.” How many years will the Amazon series go on? Once it manages to get rolling, it may outlast us all.

📖 📖 📖

Actual bricks-and-mortar bookstores might be on the endangered species list, but they’re not going down without a fight. Publisher’s Weekly reports on a new campaign called “Love Your Bookstore,” which challenges readers to visit and help promote their local haunt – and then in turn challenge their friends to do the same. The campaign’s website has all the details, including resources for booksellers so they can court customer participation. Ever notice how you never see commercials for bookstores? Programs like this are a way for book lovers to help close that gap.

📖 📖 📖

Who knows what you’ll be doing on the day when your work is finally recognized? Author Caitriona Lally just won the 2018 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, an award curated by Trinity College Dublin. Not only is that Lally’s alma mater, but she also happens to currently work there, as a cleaner. In this interview the author discusses her novel, Eggshells, and explains what she plans to do with the coveted prize money: “This is a very boring answer. I wish I could say Vegas or something exciting, but it’s practical. Mostly, it’s bills, daycare fees and very mundanely, we need a water tank for the attic.” Caitriona Lally, we salute you!

📖 📖 📖

Meanwhile, over in Poland, The Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski is regretting a decision he made in 1997 to sell the rights to his series to a video game company for a lump sum. “They offered me a percentage of their profits,” he explains in an interview. “I said, ‘No, there will be no profit at all – give me all my money right now. The whole amount.” Two decades later, the games have made a fortune, and Sapkowski isn’t seeing any of it. He’s suing for royalties, but the outlook is grim. As this article reports: the company in question insists “it acquired the rights to the franchise legitimately and legally, and has already paid the author in full,” and has refused the author’s demand for the $16 million he feels he ought to have made.

📖 📖 📖

Between now and December 2, visitors to New York City should add this to their itinerary: a temple paying homage to Oscar Wilde has been erected in a Methodist church, and several events celebrating the author’s life and work are scheduled to take place. The organizers have made sure that all proceeds gathered from the “Oscar Wilde Temple” will be donated to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center, conveniently located right across the street.

📖 📖 📖

Just when we think we’ve seen everything Narnia has to offer, Netflix comes along and dares us to reconsider. A new development deal will see the streaming-service-turned-studio producing Narnia stories across multiple TV and film projects, and The AV Club notes that this deal is even bigger than it sounds on paper, since this marks “the first time that the same company has held the rights to all seven Narnia books.” This means they may very well go ahead and re-adapt The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, just to keep it all in the family. The article also points out that the ongoing C.S. Lewis project may be Netflix’s chance to openly compete with Amazon’s much-ballyhooed Lord of the Rings reboot, which kind of makes one wonder: who on Earth (Middle- or otherwise) is going to have time to watch all this TV?

📖 📖 📖

Sooner or later, any character actor worth their salt will end up dressing down to play a celebrated author, and it’s finally Melissa McCarthy’s turn in the literary heist movie “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” In the trailer below, you’ll be introduced (or re-introduced) to Lee Israel, the real-life biographer who turned to crime when her books stopped selling. On the subject of her own reading habits, McCarthy is refreshingly honest: “I always joke that someday I’ll be literate again. I don’t read as much as I used to — I have kids now and I work,” she admits. “But nothing can make my mind go somewhere else the way a book can, and I still love a tangible book.”