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The Open Page: Book & Print News -- 11/18/07



1) Cemetary Dance Publications is releasing the horror anthology Midnight Premiere, edited by Tom Piccirilli. The 18 original tales in the anthology all offer a take on the idea of what if situations in horror films happened in real life. Some of the stories are by leading names in the horror field – Jack Ketchum, Ed Gorman, Tom Piccirilli, Thomas F. Monteleone and John Shirley. Other tales have the added twist of being written by people who’ve worked on horror films, behind or in front of the camera – scream queen Linnea Quigley, character actor William Smith, screenwriter/director Mick Garris, and Kyra Schon, who made an indelible impression as the little girl who becomes a zombie in the original Night of the Living Dead film.


2) The writing world lost two legendary authors recently: Norman Mailer and Ira Levin. Mailer, who died at age 84 after a long illness, wrote journalism, novels, books, screenplays, poems and essays to international acclaim and bestselling sales. He won the Pulitzer Prize twice for The Armies of the Night and The Executioner’s Song. He first came to prominence with his debut novel, 1948’s The Naked and the Dead, based on his experiences in World War II. (His son has optioned the rights to the work with plans for a remake film.) He was adamantly against the Vietnam War and ran for mayor of New York City unsuccessfully in 1969. Mailer’s last novel, The Castle in the Forest, was a fantasy novel that depicted a relationship between Hitler and the Devil.


Ira Levin, age 78, was the best-selling novelist of such horror and suspense novels as Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, The Boys from Brazil, and A Kiss Before Dying, all made into popular films. Rosemary’s Baby was published in 1967, about a woman who believes she has been impregnated by the Devil. It was made into an Oscar-winning movie starring Mia Farrow and directed by Roman Polanski. In his 1972 novel, The Stepford Wives, Levin presented a suburban Connecticut town where husbands replaced their wives with submissive robots. It was made into a film in 1975, starring Katharine Ross, and again in 2004, starring Nicole Kidman. Both stories have become cultural icons, with “Rosemary’s baby” and “Stepford wife” becoming part of the language. Levin also wrote plays, such as the comedy, No Time for Sergeants, and Deathtrap, both of which were also made into films.


3) Michael Chabon’s newest novel, Gentlemen of the Road, is not a SFF work, but a historical adventure, complete with swords, swashbuckling and exotic locales. In the author’s afterword for the book, the writer of the magic realism The Adventures of Cavalier and Klay and the SF alternate history The Yiddish Policemen’s Union satirizes the artificial distinction many make between “genre” fiction and “literature” by pretending to be embarassed at his earlier fiction work, written in what he calls the genre of late-century naturalism, in the same way that many “literary” writers act embarassed when asked to justify their own “genre” writings. The essay marks the new movement of many contemporary writers who seek to venture into the artistic areas of mystery, westerns, and SFF, without the limitations of outdated mindsets. Gentlemen of the Road is also illustrated by noted comics artist Garry Gianni.


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