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Mara Wilson Donates Matilda to Kids Arrested at Border

Mara Wilson in “Matilda” (1996) by TriStar Pictures

Editor's Note:

Also in your Signature Need-to-Know: A TV deal for “The Invisibles,” and a letter about the time Hemingway caught a big fish.

Life is distressing enough for kids who’ve been detained at the US/Mexico border – they don’t need to suffer from a lack of reading material on top of that. Working with the organization 2000 Libros, 1996 “Matilda” star Mara Wilson provided 75 Spanish-language copies of Roald Dahl’s kid empowerment classic for immigrant children who aren’t currently with their families. If you feel moved to contribute to their entertainment options, here’s 2000 Libros’ wish list and instructions on how to contribute books.

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Here’s a blast from the past, aimed straight at your gut: excerpts from the surrealist cookbook released by Salvador Dali in 1973, more recently reissued by Taschen. The recipes (such as “Frog Pasties” and “Toffee with Pine Cones”) are actual treats served at the wild dinner parties hosted by the artist and his wife Gala, and the book’s bizarre imagery should help ease any anxieties you have about the meal turning out perfectly. “The jaw is our best tool to grasp philosophical knowledge,”Β  Dali insists.

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Author Quinn Cummings has a doozy of a showbiz tale to lay on you. In a series of tweets, she recalls the days she spent working for a high-power Hollywood talent agent, and an upset caused by Brian Dennehy’s Tony award forΒ Death of a Salesman. We won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say that it pays to have a professional-quality headshot taken, even if you have no aspirations to ever be in front of the camera.

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Research into the genre of superhero movies reveals that filmmakers often end up telling different stories than they meant to. Based purely on the amount of action that occurs on-screen, the good guys in these movies commit more violence overall – including murder – than their evil counterparts.Β  Also, an additional bit of data: “Male characters (good or bad) were involved in nearly five times as many violent acts than female characters.”

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If you ever felt you needed to choose between a career in politics or one as an author, Steve Israel would like to testify to the latter’s being far more ego-annihilating. In a new essay for the New York Times entitled “Why a Book Tour is More Brutal Than a Political Campaign,” Israel explains why the rejection and constant salesmanship that comes with embracing a life of letters feels like such a demotion from the steady stream of attention and engagement one can expect from working in Congress. “Once I sat in the Oval Office,” he writes. “Now I’m like the guy sitting at a flea market folding table, watching people pass him by, oblivious to his World’s Greatest Dad hand-painted mugs.” (His latest novel Big Guns is a satire inspired by the lobbying efforts of the NRA.)

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Over the years, Alan Moore has gotten the lion’s share of film deals for his esoteric brand of graphic novel wizardry (and has also hated nearly everything that resulted from them). Now it’s Grant Morrison’s turn, as Variety’s reporting that The Invisibles is among the titles included in a universal deal he’s signed with Universal Cable Productions. Hailing back to the mid-’90s, this series of comics served as many readers’ introduction to contemporary occult thought – Morrison even described The Invisibles as a “hypersigil” he created to help change culture. Decades later, it’s exciting to see that his characters still have myriad opportunities to accomplish that goal.

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It it was possible for George R.R. Martin’s fans to speed up the author’s creative process by sheer force of will, we’d have eleven new books by now. Instead, Martin has told The Guardian that he’s “been struggling” with the long-awaited next installment in his Game of Thrones series, which has become a “considerable weight to bear” due to relentless fan expectation. Lest you think he’s wimping out, it sounds like he’s taking this book and its characters very seriously: “The Winds of Winter is not so much a novel as a dozen novels,” he says, “Each with a different protagonist, each having a different cast of supporting players, antagonists, allies and lovers around them, and all of these weaving together against the march of time in an extremely complex fashion.” It will be worth the wait, so just sit tight.

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Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies was a hit that resulted in a successful film adaptation starring Nicholas Hoult, but for some reason, publishers lost the trail, and Marion is now releasing his final sequel independently. You can pre-order the book directly from Marion’s website, where earlier this year he commented on the events that conspired to the downfall of his franchise: The Burning World was released in February 2017, a time when news and cultural commentary was completely dominated by events related to Donald Trump’s inauguration, and Marion’s was among the dozens of books that “were supposed to be big,” which ended up making scarcely a ripple.

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Books like Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea don’t just come out of nowhere. A handwritten letter the author sent to the Miami Herald in 1935 recounts his struggle with a marlin – and with the sharks that robbed him of its meat – and must have served as part of the inspiration for the book. This letter recently sold at auction for over $28,000, and scholars note that it omits some of the apocryphal details of Hemingway’s expedition, such as his “using a machine gun on the shark, which purportedly attracted more sharks to the feeding frenzy.”

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This week, film and lit blogs are paying tribute to “Master and Commander,” the 2003 kickoff to what should have been a franchise of films based on Patrick O’Brian’ s series of novels. With blockbuster aspirations and a $150M budget, the film ended up being blown out of the water by that year’s Christmas comedy phenom “Elf,” and was overshadowed at the Oscars (where it had earned ten nominations) by the juggernaut “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.” As The Wrap observes, this film’s failure helped sealed the fate of an entire genre of film: the historical epic. Watch the film’s original trailer below, and consider hosting a 15th anniversary screening of your own.