A deep dive to recommend if you haven’t already:
Barry Avrich is a Canadian filmmaker who was trying a few years ago to put together an unauthorised documentary about Harvey Weinstein. According to Barry, Harvey Weinstein wasn’t exactly supportive. Barry details the experience in his new book Moguls, Monsters, and Madmen: An Uncensored Life in Show Business, excerpted earlier this week in The Hollywood Reporter.
I was terrified reading the piece. So you can imagine how terrifying it must have been for Barry Avrich – then and now. He describes Harvey like a mob boss, a man who intimidates and colludes, who is so powerful he can control not only actors, producers, and studios, but even the New York Times, and ruins careers without compunction. Click here to get Barry’s account.
Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander fell in love during the filming of The Light Between Oceans while shooting last year. Have you read the book? I call it the airport-airplane book. I’ve not been on a single trip the last couple of years without seeing this book. It gets prime placement at all the airport shoppes and at least one passenger is reading it on all my flights. This is a fun game – try it! It’s amazing. As for the story, I liked it OK. A quick, engrossing trip read for sure. Like a way less annoying and way less obvious Nicholas Sparks novel. And, as with Nicholas Sparks novels, you’re supposed to cry.
There’s a new book that came out recently: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, another First Book Bitch. If you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you know a First Book Bitch is what I call a writer who doesn’t need two or three to find her groove. She totally kills it her first time out. Like Zadie Smith and Diana Evans and Nigel Shriver before her, Yaa Gyasi has delivered what will probably be my favourite book of 2016. This is an extraordinary first effort, so good that there was a bid-off over it last year and the manuscript – remember, it was her FIRST – was rumoured to sell for at least a million dollars. Every f-cking word is worth it.
The story is about two branches of a family tree beginning in Ghana during the slave trade. Even though Yaa takes us over continents and across oceans, and 300 years in between, every ancestor, every individual piece of the linked heritage, every stage feels close. She writes so vividly that you carry every character along with you as you meet the next – their history, their tragedy, their hope, all of it coursing through, multiplied by generation. Homegoing is a beautiful achievement. But my endorsement is nothing compared to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s:
“Gyasi’s characters are so fully realized, so elegantly carved—very often I found myself longing to hear more. Craft is essential given the task Gyasi sets for herself—drawing not just a lineage of two sisters, but two related peoples. Gyasi is deeply concerned with the sin of selling humans on Africans, not Europeans. But she does not scold. She does not excuse. And she does not romanticize. The black Americans she follows are not overly virtuous victims. Sin comes in all forms, from selling people to abandoning children. I think I needed to read a book like this to remember what is possible. I think I needed to remember what happens when you pair a gifted literary mind to an epic task.Homegoing is an inspiration.”
Please don’t be afraid of Homegoing because it’s hard. It’s not hard. It’s essential. It’s the work of a major new voice in women’s literature. Let me know what you think.
Last year, just before Michelle Williams and writer Jonathan Safran Foer got together, rumours were circulating around NY book circles that Jonathan tried to make a play for Natalie Portman. She was super into his book Eating Animals and wanted to produce the documentary. So they started exchanging emails. And supposedly Jonathan started crushing on her. And some believe that that’s why he left his wife. Natalie, however, was like, um, no thank you, I will stay married to my husband. Not only that, the story is that she then made sure to let people know, over email, that she wanted nothing to do with him. None of this has ever been substantiated. The expected title of Nicole Krauss’s next book (if you’ve never read her The History Of Love, you should) is How To Be A Man.