by Campbell Geeslin

David Mitchell’s latest novel is The Bone Clocks. He was interviewed for The Guardian by Stephen Poole. In Clocks, ordinary mortals are offered a bargain: they will stop growing old forever if they provide the bad guys with a child for decanting every three years. A character in the book who is a literary agent says, “A book can’t be a half-fantasy any more than a woman can be half-pregnant.” But Poole says that a half-fantasy is what Mitchell has written.

Mitchell, 45, said, when he looks in a mirror, “I’ve taken to calling this my mid-life crisis novel.”

Near the end of the interview, Mitchell, who wrote the bestselling The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, said, “I’ve got my next five books planned out. That’s probably going to take me until I’m sixty.”


A PLUS: In a letter to Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, Edith Lank of Rochester commented on an essay, “Writers Old and Young.” Lank said: “Cynthia Ozick neglected to mention writing’s main attraction for the old: You can do it sitting down.”

GENRE SHIFT: Louis Begley’s new novel is Killer, Come Hither. It’s the 81-year-old Manhattan lawyer’s first thriller after a string of bestselling tales about scandals in high society.

He was asked about the shift and told The Wall Street Journal, “I’ve led a rather turbulent life, so mayhem is not a new thing to me. The notion of blood flowing and people being beaten up and so forth has never been far from my mind.”

Later in the interview he said, “The notion of writing has always seemed to me a very high calling.” Today, writing appears to be “what keeps me sort of sane and in good spirits.”

A CHANGER: Marco Pierre White is the author of a cookbook, White Heat 25, published in 1990, when he was 29. The New York Times called it “a bad boy’s manifesto” and said it “altered how chefs saw themselves.” No more plump and jolly. A “British celebrity chef,” White was skinny, bushy haired, with a cigarette dangling from his lip.

Heat begins this way: “You’re buying White Heat because you want to cook well? Because you want to cook Michelin stars? Forget it. Save your money. Go and buy a saucepan.”

A new and updated version of the book has just come out.

A MAGNET TOO: Alexander McCall Smith is the author of Emma: A Modern Retelling, published last week. He wrote an essay entitled “The Secret of the Jane Austen Industry” for The Wall Street Journal.

Smith began, “The poet W.H. Auden said of Sigmund Freud that he was no longer just a person but had become a climate of opinion. That is about as effusive a compliment as one can imagine, and very few thinkers or writers merit it. But one who undoubtedly does is Jane Austen. She is not only a climate of opinion, she is a movement, a mood, a lifestyle, an attitude and, perhaps most tellingly of all, a fridge magnet.”

LOOKING AHEAD: Jon Ronson is the author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. He was interviewed in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review. Asked what genres he enjoyed reading, he said, “I avoid anything that includes long descriptions of the countryside, or books with jacket images that include a barn door partially opened, in the distance.”

Asked what book hasn’t been written that he would like to read, he said: “My next book, in which I solve beyond doubt the most extraordinary mystery that I haven’t thought of yet.”

TIPS: Ann Packer is a best selling author. Her new novel is The Children’s Crusade. Parker wrote “Five Writing Tips” for PW. They were:

  • Write what you want to write.
  • Let yourself explore silly ideas.
  • Find some people you trust and ask for their help.
  • Revise, revise, revise.
  • Allow yourself to not work. “There are days when you’re better off taking a step away from your work—allowing for an unplanned break."

MULTI-GENRE: Larry Kramer, 79, started writing an “American history with a gay dimension” 30 years ago. The first volume of The American People: Search for My Heart, 775 pages, came out last week. A friend in publishing, Will Schwalbe, told The New York Times, “Larry lives to write. There’s no doubt in my mind that Larry’s writing is what keeps him alive.” The Times said the book blends “farce and tragedy, autobiography and fiction.”

Kramer "describes Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and other historical figures as gay."

The author told the Times: “Farrar Straus [his publisher] said call it a novel, that way the lawyers will leave you alone But I believe everything in the book is true. It may look like fiction, but to me, it’s not.” He is working on the second volume, due out in 2017.

OLD MANUSCRIPT: A book for children written 185 years ago has finally been published. The author was the future Queen Victoria and the title is The Adventures of Alice Laselles, by Alexandrina Victoria, Age 10 and ¾.

The London Telegraph said that the illustrations were created with the paper dolls that the author had played with as a child.

EXPANDING: Oyster, an e-book subscription service, is starting a digital bookstore. The New York Times says it is “taking aim at major retailers like Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble as well as rival subscriptions services.” Popular bestsellers will be available to Oyster users for the first time. The Times said, “Some publishers and authors remain wary of e-book subscription services, which they worry could devalue books in consumer’s minds.”

STAYING PUT: Toni Morrison, 84, has written a new novel, God Help the Child. In an article in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, she said that she keeps getting phone calls from journalists all over the world. “They are just calling to see when I’m going to die. So I’ll play it up a bit and say, ‘Oh, today my arms hurt, my chest is sore.’ Because, me? I’m not going anywhere soon.”

A TREE TALKS: Tom Angleberger is the author of the “Origami Yoda” series and has sold more than 3.3 million books worldwide. His new book is Rocket and Groot: Stranded on Planet Stripmall.

PW said the middle-grade novel is about “Rocket Raccoon and a walking, talking tree, Groot, as they crash-land on a planet made up of 99 cent stores, nail salons, dry cleaners, maniacal robots bent on customer service, and killer toilets.”

Publication is scheduled for March 2016.

PAST TIME: Brad Gooch, 63, is the author of a memoir, Smash Cut, published last week. The former model’s book is a memoir of the 1970s and ‘80s. He told The New York Times, “I started with, ‘Oh, that was such a book, great time,’ and then I discovered, as in writing novels, it’s about the characters.” It turned out that the main character was filmmaker Howard Brookner, who died of AIDS in 1989.

The Times said, “Smash Cut, which traces their evolution as a libertine couple, is a portrait of a city that no longer exists.”

Gooch’s first novel, Scary Kisses (1988), was a “polysexual roman a clef of Gooch’s modeling days.” The author said, “I saw it as an experimental novel written in film format.” Of the new book, he said, “Writing it was very special. I got to be back in a relationship with Howard and in a period that had a certain feeling and smell to it, almost.”

MEMOIR: Actress Taraji P. Henson plays Cookie on the hit TV show “Empire.” Now she has written a memoir that will be published next year by Simon & Schuster’s 37INK imprint.

BUSY: Hillary Mantel’s bestselling Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies appear on both stages and TV screens these days. Mantel was heavily involved in the two adaptations, but she now is working on the third book in the trilogy. She was quoted in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review: “I have to finish my book first, and I have to get it right: for my readers, and for myself, as this is the central creative enterprise of my life. It won’t agree to be rushed, but on the other hand, it is infused with energy, and part of that energy comes from the process of adaptation I’ve shared in.”

OVER DUE: Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard write books about the death of famous people. Their current bestsellers are Killing Patton and Killing Jesus.

Gregory Cowles in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review said it was only a matter of time until someone wrote Killing O’Reilly: A Parody. Courtney Bowman and Nicholas Bowman did it. Chapters include “Killing Dinosaurs,” “Killing Lennon” and “Killing! Killing! Killing!”