Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 9:03 am
Matthew Specktor is the author of the forthcoming novel American Dream Machine.
Some books love to be loved. They make their moves on us softly, they butter us up. Who doesn't love Atticus Finch or Franny Glass? These people resemble our better selves, and it's easy, from there, to love the books that contain them. So why is it that whenever someone asks me what they should be reading, I steer them instead toward one of the most loathsome characters in contemporary fiction, Philip Roth's Mickey Sabbath?
Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 11:05 am
Part of a book critic's challenge is to sift through piles of new publications, panning for literary gold. In a way that makes us what one of my favorite children's book heroines, Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking, called a "turnupstuffer" — "Somebody who finds the stuff that turns up if only you look." Or like Dickens' optimistic Mr. Micawber, who was always sure something good would turn up.
Gary Ross has penned and directed some big Hollywood hits like Big, Pleasantville and The Hunger Games. But for the past 15 years, his obsession has been something much more personal: a Dr. Seuss-ian children's book called Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind.
It started when Ross got a call in 1996 from fellow screenwriter David Koepp. Koepp was up against a tight budget and approaching deadline with his debut directorial effort, The Trigger Effect. Its heroine had to read an as-yet-unwritten bedtime story to her child.