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All Articles by William Shelton

Dune's Difficult Book-to-Screen History

By William Shelton • September 19, 2021

Like most fans of the novel Dune, I await with great anticipation the forthcoming film version directed by Denis Villeneuve, which had me thinking of its previous adaptations. Despite its place as one of the most popular science fiction books of all time, its previous journeys to the screen have not lived up to the book’s hype…

When Gossip Was Currency

Hedda Hopper and Louella Parson's Hold on Old Hollywood

By William Shelton • June 09, 2021

In old Hollywood, gossip was hard currency, and there were two doyennes who dealt in the coin of the realm: one a frustrated former actress, and the other a queen of yellow journalism who spent decades working for William Randolph Hurst. Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons served as the moral arbiters to the stars. Their hold over Hollywood, alongside the famous Hays code, controlled the lives of stars of the silver screen in unexpected ways.

A Brief Look at the History of Cookbooks

By William Shelton • May 17, 2021

Since our species first discovered that the application of fire enhances the taste of food we have been cooking. No doubt, soon thereafter, one of our primitive ancestors asked another how they prepared their saber-toothed tiger that made it taste so different and special. Thus the passing on of recipes began...

Historical Fiction of the Civil War

By William Shelton • April 09, 2021

The span of days between April 9 and April 12 mark the pivotal dates of the start and end of the American Civil War. This terrible time of rending brought many changes to the social, political, and philosophical consciousness of the United States. Almost as soon as hostilities ceased in April of 1865 those who had witnessed it, participated in the conflict, or observed from the safety of foreign shores, began putting pen to paper to tell of the experience. Here are some recommendations.

The Venomous Pens of Feuding Authors

Some of the Most Cutting Remarks of 20th Century Writers

By William Shelton • March 29, 2021

Casting disparaging remarks about contemporaries seems to be a hallmark of great writers. Afterall, Andre Gide could never decide if he worshiped at the shrine of Oscar Wilde, or despised his poisoned pen flamboyance. Particularly among the post World War II American writers that published so prolifically, they measured their own success by the personal failures of their fellow writers. Here we offer a peek at some of the most enduring feuds of writers like Gore Vidal and Anais Nin.

Herbert & Heinlein

Two Pillars of Sci-Fi

By William Shelton • March 12, 2021

The genre of science fiction writing has two great pillars representing the wonder and promise of future worlds, and the intricate technology as yet unimagined, except by their questing minds. Frank Herbert and Robert Heinlein were contemporaries who saw sci-fi through these different lenses.

The Man Behind Perry Mason: Erle Stanley Gardner

How His Real Life Informed His Writing

By William Shelton • February 02, 2021

Starting in 1923 a young attorney, who was suspended from Law school for boxing, and found the actual practice of law mundane and boring, began typing out with two fingers hair raising legal yarns involving the most salacious of crimes. It was the incomparable Erle Stanley Gardner, a man who did more to defend the rights of the downtrodden than his literary creation, Perry Mason. Learn more about the life of the man that created the famous detective.

The Tumultuous Friendship of Truman Capote and Harper Lee

By William Shelton • December 28, 2020

Born in New Orleans, Truman Capote was frequently deposited at the Monroeville home of his eccentric cousins. The location had only one redeeming quality for him: next door lived a young girl who would initially beat him up, then befriend him—She was Nelle Harper Lee. From then on their worlds and works collided, bringing the world some of its most enduring classics, as well as an enduring literary feud.

In the Game of Life, Play Chess, Not Checkers

What Chess Players Know About Life and the Books That'll Teach it to You

By William Shelton • December 08, 2020

For people unfamiliar with the game of chess, they can often be intimidated or bored by the prospect of trying it, but we know more about the game than we recognize, and we often "play" the game more than we realize. Luckily, the rules and strategies have been covered by several experts in books, and beyond that, the elements of the game can be understood through literature like that of Machiavelli. Learn more about this fascinating game with these book picks.

The Mystery of Manderley

Menabilly: The Real-Life Inspiration for DuMaurier's Rebecca

By William Shelton • November 25, 2020

During a holiday in Fowey, Daphne Du Maurier caught small glimpses of a mansion in the woods. "That's Menabilly, but you can't go there..." is what she was told. This mysterious house captured her imagination and her attention, and her determination to unravel the secrets of that home lead to one of America's most loved novels.

Embracing Faulkner

By William Shelton • September 26, 2020

When he was in college, our Regional Director William Shelton was told his writing was like Faulkner! And he…recoiled in disdain. For Faulkner newcomers and fans alike, William’s experience learning to appreciate the classic author gives a great understanding of why Faulkner has made such an impact.

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