Friday, April 8, 2011

Book News: Celeb Memoirs, Egan vs. Franzen (Again), and More Hunger Games Casting Announced

I love a good celebrity memoir, and in this week's book news I give you two upcoming or recent titles that fit the bill (and one that satisfies my foodie side, too):
  • Eva Longoria's Eva's Kitchen: I saw Longoria in an appearance on The View earlier this week (not live -- I'm at school then, teaching middle schoolers how to write and such -- but via my DVR), and they had a table absolutely laden with recipes from this cookbook. They looked fabulous, with fresh and healthy flavors. It isn't exactly an autobiography, but Longoria's love for cooking did come from her family and her childhood in Texas. According to USA Today's interview with Longoria this week, the Desperate Housewives actress called the cookbook "much more than a cookbook filled with recipes: 'It's a memoir of my life through food.'"
  • Tina Fey's Bossypants: EW's Shelf Life blog calls Fey's newest project "the literary equivalent of a satisfying night of sketch comedy." In this memoir-like book, funny woman Fey presents slices of her life past and present in various forms: essays, autobiographical sections, and even Saturday Night Live scripts. I loved Fey on SNL, loved Mean Girls years ago when it came out in theaters, and like 30 Rock (although I'm definitely not what you would call a hard-core fan of the sitcom -- I'm more of a watch-it-on-Netflix-instant-after-the-season-is-over kind of fan). I think Fey is brilliant, and I can only imagine a memoir would be written with the same clever wit she shows on the small (and big) screen. (Also read comedian and actress Janeane Garofolo's review of the book for NPR.)
Last week I wrote about how much I love the LA Times book section (and their book blog Jacket Copy), especially because they post lots of bookish lists. This week they did not disappoint, and in fact featured both a list and a contest all in one, with their "Favorite L.A. Books" poll. The response was so overwhelming, they've broken it up into multiple categories. Visit their site to vote, or just to browse their list of L.A. books (which is what I did).

The Morning News wrapped up their 2011 Tournament of Books with Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Sqaud beating out the other finalist, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. Egan's Goon Squad has made big headlines recently. I first heard about the book on the Book Lady's Blog. Then Egan was in the running for the National Book Critics Circle Award, in which she also beat Franzen's Freedom to win. The LA Times came under fire when their article about the NBCC award featured a photo not of winner Egan, but of loser Franzen. Their staff explained the decision and later replaced the photo of Franzen with one of Egan and her book cover. Egan was granted a write-up in the LA Times' Jacket Copy this week after her ToB win.

This was all particularly big news after all the press about Franzen that has popped up in the past year or two: Newsweek called him an "insufferably self-important writer," Oprah feuded with him (although they later made up), and Jodi Piccoult got into a media war with him.

Liam  Hemsworth (Gale) with Miley
Finally, an update on the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games casting was released this week. Galleycat reported that Josh Hutcherson (who played the teenage son in last year's The Kids Are Alright) will play Peeta and Liam Hemsworth (who played the male lead in The Last Song, then famously dated Miley Cyrus in real life) will play Gale. I haven't seen either actor in either movie, so I can't make any judgment calls on these casting choices. I'm sure the Hunger Games websites will explode with people who are both happy and unhappy, as they did when Jennifer Lawrence was cast as Katniss.

This weekend, I will be finishing several review copies of books I've received in the past few weeks. I am loving Nancy Woodruff's novel My Wife's Affair, which was released in trade paperback last week. I also have the southern novel Catfish Alley by Lynne Bryant to read over the weekend. I am still enjoying Irish writer Roisin Meaney's Semi-Sweet via NetGally (ebook) and listening to The Help on audio from Happy reading!

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