TIME Books

Tom Hanks Will Publish Short Story Collection

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - October 02, 2014
Actor Tom Hanks on location for "St. James Place" on October 2, 2014 in New York City. (Bobby Bank--GC Images) Bobby Bank—GC Images

Oscar-winning actor was inspired by his typewriter collection

Tom Hanks will soon be able to add “author” to his resumé, having secured a publisher for a collection of short stories inspired by his beloved typewriter collection.

Hanks, who recently published a story in the New Yorker, said his hobby of collecting antique writing machines had motivated him to take to the typewriter keys himself.

“I’ve been collecting typewriters for no particular reason since 1978 – both manual and portable machines dating from the thirties to the nineties,” the Oscar-winning actor said in a statement. “The stories are not about the typewriters themselves, but rather, the stories are something that might have been written on one of them.”

The collection, to be published by Knopf-Doubleday, doesn’t yet have a release date or a title.

TIME Culture

Fun With Numbers: 666 Has Good Meanings, Too

Rogerson is the author of Rogerson's Book of Numbers.

It may be devilish to some, but it can also mean 'things go smoothly'

Saint John saw the beast “rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy,” which seems to fit temptingly close to the old Phoenician-Canaanite myth of a sea monster Lord of Caos (Yam/Lotan) coming up out of the deep to do battle with a hero god like Baal/Hadad. In amongst the complex imagery of John’s Book of Revelations, some commentators have argued that the seven-headed beast also represents the seven Roman emperors who had been responsible for the degradation of the Temple, the destruction of Jerusalem and the persecution of Judaism and its heretical offshoot – early Christianity. Counting back from John’s contemporary, Domitian, these seven emperors would be Titus, Vespasian, Nero, Claudius, Caligula,Tiberius and Augustus.

But it is the 666 number that most resonates, the numerical value Saint John ascribes as the mark of the beast: “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore-and-six.” This hint at numerological coding allows (with different values given to each letters) that 666 would seem to identify ‘Nero Caesar’ when written in Hebrew (it was Nero who organized the first popular pogrom against the Christians after the great fire of Rome). 666 is also the number created when you list – or add – the first six symbols of the Roman numeral notation together, as in D (500), C (100), L (50), X (10),V (5) and I (1).

[But] in Chinese, 666 is a tonal equivalent for ‘things go smoothly’ and a favored number. It also has an alliance with the roulette table, as the sum of all the numbers on the wheel.

Excerpt from Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World by Barnaby Rogerson. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers copyright © 2013 by Barnaby Rogerson. First U.S. Edition Published October 28, 2014, by Picador USA. All rights reserved.

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

J.K. Rowling Felt the ‘Purest Dislike’ for Harry Potter Villain Dolores Umbridge

J.K. Rowling at the Southbank Centre in London in 2012.
J.K. Rowling at the Southbank Centre in London in 2012. Lefteris Pitarakis—AP

"Every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil”

Just in time for Halloween, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling published a new essay Friday about one of her greatest villains: the Hogwarts professor and witch, Dolores Umbridge.

The nasty Umbridge is one of the characters for whom Rowling “feel[s] the purest dislike,” according to the 1,700-word essay, posted to her website Pottermore (account required). “Her desire to control, to punish, and to inflict pain, all in the name of law and order, are, I think, every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil.”

Rowling also reveals that Umbridge is actually based on a real-life person, though the author is careful not to reveal her identity. She does reveal that “[t]he woman in question returned my antipathy with interest. Why we took against each other so instantly, heartily and (on my side, at least) irrationally, I honestly cannot say.”

Harry Potter fans have long been familiar with Umbridge and her cruel ways, as the character was first introduced in the 2003 novel Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. At the time, Umbridge was the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic.

But Rowling also reveals new details about Umbridge in her Pottermore essay, including the fact that Umbridge is a “half-blood”—the daughter of a wizard and a Muggle (a regular person). The author also writes that when Umbridge forced Harry, who was in detention at the time, to cut the words “I must not tell lies” onto the back of his hand, she became the only person other than Lord Voldemort to leave a permanent physical scar on the boy wizard.

In addition to the new essay about Umbridge, Rowling has also published more brand new writing to Pottermore for Halloween and to celebrate the launch of The Order of the Phoenix onto the website. The new entries include details about the creatures Thestrals, the history of the wizarding prison Azkaban, Rowling’s thoughts on professor Sybil Trelawney and an introduction to the wizarding practice of Naming Seers.

Read next: Harry Potter Site Teases New J.K. Rowling Story

TIME

The Vampire Lestat Returns, Still the Same Bratty, Glamorous Immortal

PRINCE LESTAT
PRINCE LESTAT

Anne Rice is the author of 34 books, including The Vampire Chronicles.

An exclusive excerpt from Anne Rice's new novel, Prince Lestat

In the beginning were the spirits. They were invisible beings, heard and seen only by the most powerful sorcerers or witches. Some were thought to be malevolent; some were praised as good. They could find lost objects, spy upon enemies, and now and then affect the weather.

Two great witches, Mekare and Maharet, lived in a beautiful valley on the side of Mount Carmel, and they communed with the spirits. One of these spirits, the great and powerful Amel, could, in his mischief making, take blood from human beings. Tiny bits of blood entered the alchemical mystery of the spirit, though how no one knew. But Amel loved the witch Mekare and was ever eager to serve her. She saw him as no other witch ever had, and he loved her for it.

One day the troops of an enemy came—soldiers of the powerful Queen Akasha of Egypt. She wanted the witches; she wanted their knowledge, their secrets. This wicked monarch destroyed the valley and the villages of Mekare and Maharet and brought the sisters by force to her own kingdom.

Amel, the furious familiar spirit of the witch Mekare, sought to punish the Queen. When she lay dying, stabbed over and over by conspirators of her own court, this spirit Amel entered into her, fusing with her body and her blood and giving her a new and terrifying vitality. This fusion caused a new entity to be born into the world: the vampire, the blood drinker. Akasha became the first vampire, and her King, Enkil, the second. All vampires were descended from them.

At the dawn of the Common Era, an elder, a keeper of the Divine Parents, abandoned Akasha and Enkil in the desert for the sun to destroy them. All over the world young blood drinkers perished, burnt to death in their coffins, their shrines, or in their tracks as the sun shone on the Mother and Father. But the Mother and Father themselves were too strong to perish. And many of the very old ones survived as well, though badly burned and in pain.

A newly made blood drinker, a wise Roman scholar by the name of Marius, went down to Egypt to find the King and Queen and protect them so that no holocaust would ever again ravage the world of the Undead. And thereafter Marius made them his sacred responsibility. The legend of Marius and Those Who Must Be Kept endured for almost two millennia.

Lestat’s voice waked the Queen from millennia of silence and slumber. She rose with a dream: that she would dominate the world of human beings through cruelty and slaughter and become for them the Queen of Heaven…

Lestat once again wrote the story. He had been there. He had seen the struggle for power with his own eyes. He gave his testimony to everyone. The mortal world took no notice of his “fictions,” but his tales shocked the Undead. It became the legacy of all blood drinkers the world over to know they shared a common bond, a common history, a common root.

This is the tale of how that knowledge changed the tribe and its destiny forever.

Excerpted from PRINCE LESTAT by Anne Rice. Copyright © 2014 by Anne Rice. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

Harry Potter Site Teases New J.K. Rowling Story

Trick or treat?

Last week, J.K. Rowling’s website Pottermore announced that the writer would be unveiling a new 1,700 word story about Harry Potter characters on Oct. 31.

While fans were told that the story would focus on Dolores Umbridge, a former Hogwarts professor that Pottermore referred to as “one of the most malicious Potter characters,” little else is known about the new tale’s content. However, recent social media updates have been hinting at what Rowling has in store on for us on Halloween.

For example, will it involve Bellatrix Lestrange?

Here are some other hints:

Rowling released a different story based in the Harry Potter world in July.

MONEY

You Can Be the Next ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ for $10,000

Book with cover with woman with mask and question mark over face
MONEY (photo illustration)—iStock (book); Joseph Desire Court/DEA/A. DAGLI ORTI/Getty Images (cover)

Writers are selling character names—but no, it's not for personal gain.

Tracy Chevalier, author of the 1999 novel-cum-Scarlett-Johansson-flick Girl With a Pearl Earring, is one of seventeen authors auctioning off character names for upcoming novels—not to pay for giant-mansion-hiding hedges—but to fund therapy for survivors of torture living in the U.K.

Other authors participating include Margaret Atwood, Ken Follett, Julian Barnes, Pat Barker, Ian McEwan, Robert Harris, Will Self, and Zadie Smith.

The November 20 auction is for books in the works (so no, you can’t actually be Johan Vermeer’s fictional servant this time) and you can start bidding today.

Chevalier says she auctioned off the name of a minor character in a book for £800 (about $1,300) last year but would require a bigger donation—to the tune of $10,000— for a main character.

No matter how generous the donation, however, it’s important your name isn’t already famous for other reasons. “It’s not going to work if you’re Bill Gates,” Chevalier says.

This isn’t the first time authors have used a similar stunt for charity: Stephen King, John Grisham, Dave Eggers, and Game of Thrones author George RR Martin have all done the same for causes including a wolf sanctuary and food charity.

The Kardashians did not respond to requests for comment on how much it would cost to star in the next edition of gaming app Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.

TIME Books

Cook Up Some Drug-Free Treats With the Breaking Bad Cookbook

Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) - Breaking Bad _Season 5 - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC
Frank Ockenfels—AMC

The spoof recipe book promises “No meth-in around”

Action figures may be off the table for your favorite Breaking Bad fan this holiday season, but thankfully, something even better is hitting the market: a Breaking Bad cookbook, titled — what else? — Baking Bad. (This project is so ripe for puns, it’s a wonder it’s taken this long for someone to cash in.) For starters, there’s the mysterious bestselling author’s pen name, Walter Wheat. Then there are the recipes within, from Ricin Crispie Treats to Fring Pops.

The publisher promises that the recipes are “98% pure but 100% edible,” no Hazmat gear required — a regular old apron should do the trick. Some of the concoctions, like Mr. White’s Tighty Whitey Bite gingerbread cookies, sound appealing. Others, like the Tortuga Tart — which features a slab of ham perched atop a turtle-shaped pastry — appear better suited for presentation than for gastronomic pleasure.

The book goes on sale on Nov. 6, but until then, you can get cooking with a handful of recipes on BuzzFeed UK. It’s probably prudent not to send your kid to school with Meth Crunchie cupcakes, but you can certainly enjoy them at home — with the promise of nothing more than a sugar high.

TIME Culture

7 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know About Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman
Knopf

In her new book, Jill Lepore explores how the suffragist movement, Fascism and the lie detector inspired the creation of the most popular female superhero of all time

Even the most devout Wonder Woman fanatics probably didn’t know that the heroine’s creator, William Moulton Marston, a psychologist, lived with and had children with two women at the same time. They also probably didn’t know that he had slightly strange theories about the benefits of bondage. Nor is it common knowledge that the character, which debuted in 1942, was inspired by the leaders of the suffragist movement.

In her new book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, which hits shelves Tuesday, New Yorker writer and Harvard professor Jill Lepore delves into the life of the man who created Wonder Woman. The book comes just as Wonder Woman is swooping back into the cultural consciousness with her invisible jet. Israeli actress Gal Gadot will play Wonder Woman in 2016′s Batman vs. Superman and will get her own solo film in 2017.

Here’s just some of what Lepore uncovered:

1. Wonder Woman was inspired by Margaret Sanger (and other suffragists)

Creator William Moulton Marston, a psychologist, was deeply interested in gender dynamics, women’s rights and the suffragist movement.

He also fell in love with one of his students at Tufts, Olive Byrne, who eventually lived in his house with him and his wife in a sort of polyamorous relationship. Byrne happened to be Sanger’s niece, and Byrne’s mother, Ethel, and Sanger together opened what eventually became the first Planned Parenthood in 1916.

When Marston hired a woman named Joy Hummel to help him write Wonder Woman, Olive Byrne handed her one book to use as background: Margaret Sanger’s Woman and the New Race.

2. There’s a reason she’s bound up all the time

A recurring plot point in the early Wonder Woman comics was that if the superhero was bound by a man in chains she would lose all her Amazonian powers. So Wonder Woman was bound—a lot. This choice was partly inspired by the suffragists who chained themselves to buildings during protests and used chain symbolism to represent men’s oppression of women. But Marston was also preoccupied, perhaps even obsessed with, bondage.

He had a theory that women enjoyed submission and bondage and teaching young girls of that virtue was one of the purposes of the comic: “This, my dear friend, is the one truly great contribution of my Wonder Woman strip to moral education of the young,” Marsten wrote to his publisher after he was accused of sadism. “The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbound force to enjoy being found—enjoy submission to kind authority, wise authority.”

Wonder Woman’s subjugation was extremely controversial: Wonder Woman was banned in the 1940s because of the overt sexual nature of both her dress and the sexual nature of her near-constant bondage.

3. Wonder Woman was partly a response to the rise of the Nazis

The first comic book superhero, Superman, hit the stands in 1938. But shortly thereafter, comics came under fire: critics said Superman could be interpreted as a fascist—an all-powerful ubermensch that would have a negative influence on American children. (Remember, the rise of the superhero coincides with the rise of Nazi Germany.) Parents demand that the books be burned.

Superman publisher, M.C. Gaines, reads an article written by Olive Byrne for Family Circle saying that comic books might be good for kids. Gaines asks Marsten to help him save comic books, and Marston recommends a female superhero, reasoning that comic books are too violent and need a touch of femininity. Enter Wonder Woman.

4. The Lasso of Truth had a real-life parallel in Marston’s life

In the Wonder Woman comics, the heroine’s Lasso of Truth forces anyone in its snare to be honest. The weapon was likely inspired by Marston’s own creation of the lie-detector test in 1913. The basic test consisted of taking someone’s blood pressure as they answered questions. Any elevation in blood pressure signaled a subject’s guilt. In 1923, Marston fought to have results of his updated lie detector test used in courtrooms. But the courts rejected the machine, citing too high a frequency of error.

Marston was none-too-happy with this conclusion. In an autobiographical moment in the comics, Wonder Woman tries to get confessions made with the help of her Lasso of Truth admissible in court.

5. Wonder Woman was designed as a feminist icon

Anyone who has read Wonder Woman comics will be able to recognize the feminist underpinnings of her story. But readers probably don’t know that Marston broke from the rest of popular culture by asserting not only that kids would be interested in reading a comic about a woman but that she would be essential to their education in teaching them about gender equality.

“Like her male prototype, ‘Superman,’ ‘Wonder Woman’ is gifted with tremendous physical strength,” Marston wrote in the press release announcing her creation. “‘Wonder Woman’ has bracelets welded on her wrists; with these she can repulse bullets. But if she lets any man weld chains on these bracelets, she loses her power. This, says Dr. Marston, is what happens to all women when they submit to a man’s domination.”

He concludes: “‘Wonder Woman’ was conceived by Dr. Marston to set up a standard among children and young people of strong, free, courageous womanhood; and to combat the idea that women are inferior to men, and to inspire girls to self-confidence and achievement in athletics, occupations and professions monopolized by men.”

6. Despite that, she started out in the Justice Society as a secretary

Wonder Woman was admitted to the Justice Society with heroes like The Flash and Green Lantern after a survey of comic book readers found that the vast majority of girls and boys wanted her there.

But in a 1942 comic penned by Justice Society writer Gardner Fox, all the superheroes get to go off to fight the Nazis, except for Wonder Woman who must stay home and reply to the mail. Marsten was, of course, infuriated by this turn of events.

7. Wonder Woman has run for president in the comic books twice

Wonder Woman ran for office in a comic book written by Marston in 1943, and then again in a cover story in Ms. magazine in 1972. She didn’t win either time. Maybe she should try for 2016.

TIME celebrities

The Unauthorized Beyoncé Biography Will Be Better Than Any Authorized Biography Ever Could Be

Beyonce "The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour" - New York
Beyonce performs on stage during "The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour" at the Barclays Center on December 19, 2013 in New York, New York. Larry Busacca—WireImage/Getty Images

The book will chronicle the singer's rise from childhood performer to international celebrity

Like many of her contemporaries in the entertainment industry, Beyoncé is a brand. And this brand has many facets: singer, dancer, entertainer, designer, philanthropist, wife, and mother.

Of course, Beyoncé is a person first, a brand second. But the force behind that brand — the carefully crafted public relations operation that helps rake in the cash — obscures the person that the brand is selling, presenting an altered facsimile of the person behind the brand. Consumers, meanwhile, are expected to equate that presentation with the person herself.

All of this is to say: today’s announcement that an unauthorized Beyoncé biography will hit bookstores in the fall of 2015 is welcome news for those interested in the woman behind the brand. Biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli, who will write the book, is no stranger to the mega-celebrity profile; his subjects over the last three decades have included Diana Ross, Frank Sinatra, Madonna, and most famously, Michael Jackson.

But the key word in this soundbite is “unauthorized.” This means that Beyoncé herself won’t participate in the project, and the biography’s content will be gleaned from interviews with secondary sources. The word “unauthorized” suggests that we should probably take the book with some skepticism, because Queen Bey won’t have signed off on the story it spins. But the fact that she’s so tightly controlled her image until now leaves one wondering which version requires taking more grains of salt: the one she’s approved or the one she hasn’t?

Take, for example, the 2013 HBO documentary Beyoncé: Life Is But a Dream, which was not only authorized, but featured heavy participation from its subject. The film purports to “strip away the veneer of stardom” and offer up the real Beyoncé in its stead. And it literally does strip away the makeup, offering a visual to match its stated goal. But for all its Neutrogena-clean wholesomeness, the production feels self-consciously manufactured. It swaps out the image of the diva for the equally fabricated image of the girl next door, one edited truth for another. Every revelation has been carefully weighed for the way it will land.

Following her mini-concert at the MTV Video Music Awards in August, Beyoncé accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award from her husband, Jay-Z, with daughter Blue Ivy in tow. The trio was all tears and kisses, the picture of family harmony. The Twittersphere immediately launched into debate: Were the smiles genuine, or was the performance still going? Were we witnessing a publicity stunt staged to counter the tabloids’ insistence on trouble in paradise? Throughout Beyoncé’s career, it’s always been difficult to parse out the genuine from the affected.

In the Washington Post last week, Eve Fairbanks lamented what is sometimes lost when we switch from the third-person to the first. “All that sad and subtle truth, all the disconnect between how we imagine ourselves and who we really are — the disconnect that underpins the whole tragicomedy of human life — [is] lost,” she writes. “Sometimes the deepest truths are the ones we cannot ourselves quite face.” And that, in a nutshell, is why the unauthorized biography will probably tell us more about Beyoncé than the authorized one ever could.

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