Stories move from here to Hollywood

Books & Authors

July 31, 1994|By James H. Bready

Local authors with books on the way to a second life as movie or TV series:

* Stephen Dixon, whose New York novel "Garbage" will be produced by Orion Pictures. Some of the proceeds, says Mr. Dixon, of the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, will go toward younger Dixons' college tuition; some toward a second pair of glasses for himself.

* Sun film critic Stephen Hunter (whose next novel, "Dirty White Boys," is due out in September from Random House) is in the Hollywood-option stage with no fewer than three of his suspense thrillers: "Point of Impact," "The Day Before Midnight" and, already, "Dirty White Boys." "Point of Impact" is the one closest to production.

* Anne Tyler's "The Ladder of Years," after publication next June, is to become a Lawrence Kasdan movie -- he directed her 1985 novel, "The Accidental Tourist."

* William Manchester's continuing biography of Winston Churchill, "The Last Lion," is the title of and basis for a $25 million CBS-TV mini-series, part of next year's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. Anthony Hopkins will have two roles: Churchill and his father before him. Emma Thompson will be Clementine Hozier Churchill. Mr. Manchester, biographer of H. L. Mencken, historian ("Death of a President") and former Evening Sun reporter, will be a consultant.

*

Vince Fitzpatrick's life of Gerald W. Johnson, "By Reason of Strength," will be out early this fall from St. Andrew's College Press (Laurinberg, N.C., $14.95). Johnson, "the Sage of Bolton Street," was originally a North Carolinian; his editorial page writings at The Sun (1926-1943) and his many books and magazine articles, down to his death at 89 in 1980, provided his biographer with abundant material. "The man's productivity staggers me," Mr. Fitzpatrick reports.

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The 31st Street Bookstore Cooperative will celebrate its 21st birthday with a 21-percent-off sale -- today. The party, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., at 425 E. 31st St., will include readings by three authors: Mariah Burton Nelson, Anndee Hochman and Penny Mickelbury.

*

James D. Dilts is the winner of this year's Railroad History Book Award, for his "The Great Road: The Building of the Baltimore & Ohio, the Nation's First Railroad, 1828-1853." The national Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, conferring the prize, said that "The Great Road" is "now clearly the standard work on its subject" and that Mr. Dilts "has recovered and brought to life one of the most important episodes in the formative industrial history of the U.S."

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Among prices realized at the recent periodic rare-book auction of Baltimore Book Co. (including buyer's premium): for an E. Sachse & Co. lithograph of a Civil War encampment in Patterson Park, $605; for an 1842 Baltimore city directory, $250; for Karl Shapiro's first (1935) book, "Poems," $330. Two early F. Scott Fitzgerald books, first editions, went to a dealer in Germany.

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Charles County, deep in Southern Maryland, is currently a scene incursions -- from the Washington power elite, who use it as a residential refuge. Back in Colonial times, Charles had standing all its patriarchal own, Jean B. Lee records in "The Price of Nationhood: The American Revolution in Charles County" (Norton, $29.95). But after the Revolution many people left, and growth and progress passed it by, leaving the county defenseless today.

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Long ago, Baltimore west of Jones Falls belonged to Charles Carroll Jr. of Annapolis (father of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence); eastward, the Fells, English Quakers, owned big acreage. In 1730, you could have bought a 1-acre lot along Forest Street (now Charles), Calvert or Long (now Baltimore Street) for 40 shillings -- i.e., 2 pounds. There were killings in real estate in those days (if you didn't put up "a substantial house within 18 months," your lot reverted to Carroll).

This, and more, is the subject of "Parceling Out Land in Baltimore, 1632-1796" (Maryland Historical Society, $5), by Garrett Power of the University of Maryland School of Law. Maps, quaint tract names and echoes of rascally dealings enliven Mr. Power's narrative.

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RTC "The North Fights the Civil War: The Home Front," by J. Matthew Gallman of the Loyola College history faculty (Ivan R. Dee, $22.50) is the latest volume in Dee's American Ways Series. Did the war result in whole new directions in political, social and economic life? Dr. Gallman, examining the evidence assembled by previous scholars, has doubts.

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