The Most Terrifying Buildings in Literature

6 July 2019
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From Crime Reads:

We’ve all read enough ghosts stories to know to stay far away from haunted houses. A night at Hill House? Never. An overnight stay at The Amityville Horrorhouse? You’d have to kill me first. Even an invitation to visit Manderley, the opulent estate at the heart of Rebecca, might give one pause.

Apartment buildings and hotels are a different story. They’re less frightening because they’re the opposite of a house—tall and imposing, with dozens of floors, hundreds of rooms, people constantly coming and going. After all, there’s safety in numbers.

Yet there are a few buildings—most fictional, one that was all too real—that you should never go near, let alone spend a night in. These are the buildings of nightmares. Places where bad things happen to good people, where neighbors can’t be trusted, and where something sinister lurks behind every locked door.

Building: The Central Plaza Mansion

Book: The Graveyard Apartment, by Mariko Koike

When choosing an apartment building, it’s best to avoid ones situated right next to a cemetery. And a crematorium. And a Buddhist temple. That’s advice the Kano family should have followed before moving into this apartment complex in the suburbs of Tokyo. As soon as they arrive, their daughter’s pet bird dies. Then that bird’s ghost starts visiting in the middle of the night. Then their neighbors begin to flee the building. Then things really start to get weird.

. . . .

Building: The Manderley Resort

Book: Security, by Gina Wohlsdorf

Unlike the estate at the heart of Rebecca, this is a Manderley you don’t want to dream about. As hotels go, it’s a beauty. But as overworked staff members prep the resort for its grand opening, a masked killer roams the halls. Make that two masked killers. Or maybe three, because the all-knowing, all-seeing narrator watching the horror unfold via security monitors doesn’t seem too interested in trying to stop the carnage.

Link to the rest at Crime Reads

And speaking of Manderley.



25 June 2019

Not much to do with writing, but perhaps a writing prompt.

The premise for a new movie PG just stumbled upon, Yesterday, is that due to some cosmic occurrence a small-time struggling musician is the only person on the earth who remembers The Beatles and their songs. For everyone else, The Beatles never existed.

Here’s a trailer:

From The Wall Street Journal:

How much is an idea worth? In show business it often depends on who came up with it.

In the surreal comedy “Yesterday,” a struggling musician catapults to fame by singing Beatles tunes as if they were his own, following a freak occurrence that erases the band from the world’s collective awareness.

The real-life story behind the movie, in theaters Friday, tracks nearly the opposite trajectory: A struggling screenwriter comes up with an original idea, but can’t get the project made until he passes the torch onto someone much more famous.

. . . .

Moderately successful TV writer Jack Barth had spent many a hard day’s night trying to write for the big screen, penning more than 20 scripts over the course of his career—none of which he had ever managed to sell. Then, inspired partly by his own failures, the 62-year-old Mr. Barth had the idea for “Yesterday,” and spent a few years trying to get his script made into a movie. But it wasn’t until Richard Curtis—the acclaimed writer and director of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Love Actually”—heard Mr. Barth’s idea that the dream started to become a reality.

Although Mr. Curtis had experience adapting other people’s ideas—most notably with Helen Fielding’s novel “Bridget Jones’s Diary”—in this case he preferred to write his own version of the story. Mr. Barth, selling his idea for what he calls “a fair price,” hoped for the best, knowing he no longer controlled the film’s fate. He didn’t reveal the price.

Mr. Barth credits Mr. Curtis with writing a charming movie, even though their respective scripts take different turns; in Mr. Barth’s more cynical version, the film’s protagonist, also named Jack, fails to attain stardom.

“My view was, even if I woke up and I was the only person to know “Star Wars” or Harry Potter, I probably wouldn’t be very successful with it, because that’s kind of the way things have gone for me,” Mr. Barth says.

. . . .

“When I wrote my version I hadn’t actually read Jack’s; that was the deal,” Mr. Curtis says. “So I guess it was my natural instinct that went for a more optimistic version.”

. . . .

Because of his decision to sell the script, Mr. Barth can’t take credit for writing the movie and isn’t accorded the coveted “Screenplay By” credit. Instead, he shares the less prestigious “Story By” credit with Mr. Curtis, which means he is also ineligible to receive major awards.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

The Biggest Book-To-Movie Adaptations of the Summer

21 June 2019

From BookBub:

Every book lover experiences a little thrill when news breaks that their favorite book will be adapted into a movie. Whether you enjoy seeing cherished characters fleshed out on screen or cataloging the differences between book and film, seeing the movie version is all part of the literary experience. During these hotter months, cool off in a theater while watching one of these amazing novels brought to life. From childhood favorite Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark to bestselling hit Where’d You Go, Bernadette, here are the biggest book to movie adaptations summer 2019 has to offer.

A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron

Expect as many laughs and as tears from this heartwarming sequel to 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose (based on Cameron’s book of the same name). Starring Dennis Quaid, Josh Gad, and Marg Helgenberger, A Dog’s Journey tells the story of Bailey — now reincarnated as a beagle named Molly — who is adopted from an animal shelter by C.J., the young granddaughter of Bailey’s original owner, Ethan. Pet lovers and book lovers alike can also look forward to the third book in the trilogy, A Dog’s Promise, set to be published in October of 2019.

. . . .

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Cate Blanchett stars as Bernadette, a former brilliant architect who doesn’t like interacting with people or leaving the house. When she disappears, it’s up to her 15-year-old daughter, Bee, to find her. Bee learns unexpected secrets about her mother and must travel to the literal ends of the earth — Antarctica — to solve the mystery of her disappearance. The movie also boasts a cast of blockbuster actors like Kristen Wiig, Billy Crudup, and Laurence Fishburne.

Link to the rest at BookBub

When the Irish Invaded Canada

18 June 2019
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From The Wall Street Journal:

Late in the evening on May 31, 1866, a private army of several hundred Irish rebels marched through Buffalo, N.Y., and crossed a narrow section of the Niagara River into the British colony of Canada. An unlikely invasion had begun.

The commander of the force, John Charles O’Neill, was a native of County Monaghan who had immigrated to the U.S. as a child and served in the Union Army during the Civil War, suffering severe injuries at the Siege of Knoxville in 1863. O’Neill was a member of the Fenian Brotherhood, the American branch of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, an oath-bound secret society dedicated to the violent overthrow of British rule in Ireland. A largely forgotten figure in the annals of Irish history, O’Neill emerges as the quixotic hero of Christopher Klein’s “When the Irish Invaded Canada,” which details a madcap series of cross-border Fenian raids between 1866 and 1871.

The Irish revolutionists were a quarrelsome lot, riven by factionalism, financial mismanagement, British informers and a major strategic dispute. O’Neill was among those who believed that an invasion of Canada, led by Irish-American veterans of the Civil War, would be the first step in winning Ireland’s freedom, an idea vociferously opposed by James Stephens, the leader of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, who thought a Canadian incursion would be “suicidal.”

“The objective point is Ireland,” Stephens insisted, “not Canada, Japan, or any of those distant regions that do not concern Irishmen.”

By the time O’Neill’s ragtag army reached Canadian soil, we are told, 200 of the soldiers had abandoned the cause, “some dissuaded by second thoughts, others lured into passing saloons by the gratification awaiting at the bottom of a whiskey bottle.” Yet on June 2, a few miles from the border in the village of Ridgeway, the Fenians succeeded in defeating several hundred Canadian militiamen. The victory marked, according to Mr. Klein’s accounting, the first time Irish soldiers defeated forces of the British Empire since the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745. It was the high moment of the Fenian raids, a symbolic victory over British hegemony that, according to the Nation newspaper in Dublin, “fills our people with tumultuous emotions impossible to describe, impossible to conceal.”

. . . .

A few days later, a Fenian force of a few hundred men repeated the farce 80 miles to the west, marching upon a large gathering of Canadian militia and British troops at Trout River. The retreat was closer to a stampede. “Had the Fenians remained upon the ground ten minutes longer,” wrote a New York newspaper, “not one of them would have been left to tell the tale.”

Upon returning to the U.S., O’Neill, who had escaped conviction in the Ridgeway invasion, was found guilty of violating U.S. neutrality laws for his role in the Eccles Hill disaster. In true Irish nationalist tradition, he gave a stirring speech from the dock on July 29, 1870: “No matter what may be my fate here—I am still an Irishman, and while I have tried to be a faithful citizen of America, I am still an Irishman, with all the instincts of an Irishman.” President Ulysses S. Grant, who sputtered his contempt for the Fenian troublemakers, eventually issued an unconditional pardon. “The lure of the Irish vote,” Mr. Klein writes, “ultimately proved too powerful for Grant.”

. . . .

His military career over, O’Neill turned to real estate, urging Irish families from the East to relocate to settlements he established on the Great Plains. “We could build up a young Ireland on the virgin prairies of Nebraska,” he wrote, “and there rear a monument more lasting than granite or marble to the Irish race in America.” The town of O’Neill, Neb., is named for him.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

PG did a little checking and found that O’Neill, Nebraska, is a town of about 3,700 people located in Northeast Nebraska near the South Dakota line.

O’Neill has not let memories of its Irish founding die and is the home of the world’s largest permanent painted shamrock, located in the middle of the town’s main intersection.

The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles

16 June 2019

An 8.5 minute film

A Rare Bookstore That’s Still Thriving in New York City

16 June 2019

A 2.5 minute film.

Brooklyn’s Most-Cluttered Bookstore

16 June 2019

A seven-minute film.

Turned Pages

16 June 2019

As even the least-observant visitor to TPV has noticed, PG has been on a video spree. He promises this will not continue, but he will post a handful of additional book-related videos he has discovered during his brief video journey.

The following 8-minute documentary is titled Turned Pages.


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