Friday High Five: Gatsby, Novelist Death Threats and Satire in China
We share our favourite finds from the internet this week.
Jon Stewart and comedy in China
Jon Stewart has recently discovered that he’s a hit in China, from the millions of viewers who see his show in scattered internet clips. He recently joked that maybe he’s working the wrong continent, in a segment called ‘The Daily Show with Imperial Puppet’, peppered with China-specific jokes, seemed designed to push the boundaries. (‘What do you call a hundred Taiwanese citizens in a bathtub? Chinese! Because Taiwan does not exist independently.’)
The New Yorker tells why Stewart’s niche popularity ‘bodes well for the future of satire in China’.
Death threats to True Blood author Charlaine Harris
In a scenario that seems straight out of a Stephen King novel (specifically, Misery), Charlaine Harris has received death threats, suicide threats … and threats to cancel book orders … from passionate fans displeased with the romantic conclusion of her final Sookie Stackhouse book.
It’s all about Gatsby this week … and opinions are divided on whether the film is a clever and faithful adaption of the book, whose beautiful surfaces and preoccupation with style over substance match Fitzgerald’s classic - or a travesty.
Nicki Greenberg adapted Gatbsy in an inventive graphic novel version a few years ago; she writes on the Readings blog about adaptations, her love of Gatsby and the ‘especially tough challenges’ it poses to those translating it for the screen.
It’s ‘lurid, shallow, glamorous, trashy, tasteless, seductive, sentimental, aloof, and artificial. It’s an excellent adaptation, in other words,’ writes Joshua Rothman in the New Yorker, while the magazine’s long-running film critic, David Denby, hated it. ‘Luhrmann’s vulgarity is designed to win over the young audience, and it suggests that he’s less a filmmaker than a music-video director with endless resources and a stunning absence of taste.’
The Guardian agrees with Denby, calling it ‘ bombastic and excessive, like a 144-minute trailer for itself’. James Franco has defended the film, too. ‘Would anyone object to a production of Hamlet in outer space? Not as much as they object to the Gatsby adaptation, apparently.’
This is Water
David Foster Wallace’s famous commencement speech has been made into a short film. It’s very literal, and a bit distracting from the words, but it’s also quite beautifully shot and edited, and a worthwhile curiosity.
New ‘non-literary’ editor for New York Times Book Review
A new editor has recently been appointed to the New York Times Book Review - one with, according to the Guardian, ‘pretty much, no writerly or literary credentials’. Her gigs include writing a few non-fiction (apparently ‘non-literary’) books, being children’s book editor at the review, and blogging with the Huffington Post. There is speculation that her appointment may signal a shift in priorities for the editor’s position - from literary chops to the ability to make and raise money.
‘While the NYTBR has been at the very center of the book business in New York and has been the most influential voice in book culture for the better part of a century, it is surely hard to say quite what to do with this weighty history. Not to mention, how to squeeze a buck out of it.’