paper trail

Nov 16, 2012 @ 12:41:00 am

Katherine Boo, author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers

The screenwriter behind Slumdog Millionaire is writing the film adaptation of Ben Fountain’s award-winning Iraq war novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. The novel is about a group of American soldiers who survive a firefight in Iraq and return home to a hero’s welcome, and has been called the “Catch-22 for the Iraq War.” Also, in the New York Times, John Williams talks with Ben Fountain and The Yellow Birds author Kevin Powers about their approach to writing war novels.

Professional misogynist Tucker Max has some advice for writers looking to avoid the extra costs that can accrue through publishing houses: do it yourself. For his third book, Max decided to outsource most book-making activities to freelancers, leaving Simon & Schuster to distribute the book, and Max’s employees to take care of copyediting, design, printing, and marketing costs. He ended up tripling his revenue, but cautioned that there are only about 250 authors working today who sell well enough to pull off the same trick.

Roxanne Gay introduces Guernica’s two-part series on erotic fiction.

In honor of National Novel Writing Month, wherein participants attempt to write a novel over the course of November, the Awl’s Alex Balk has decided to share the conceit of his unfinished postmodern novel. “Here was the idea: the book would be told solely through reviews written by its protagonist. There would never be a line of dialogue. You would only be able to follow the character's development through the bio appended to each review.” Balk never completed the project—partly because he’s a “ low-on-energy, low-on-inspiration kind of guy,” and partly because of the “off-the-charts pretension and showy postmodernism-run-amuck behind the concept.” Still, it’s fun to read about.

“I suppose it ultimately depends on the book,” Henry Holt president Stephen Rubin said of the ideal relationship between biographers and their subjects. In light of the Petraeus scandal, he noted that he “would prefer if they didn’t have sex, because you lose a sense of perspective objectivity when you are romantically linked.”