Author News and Book Reports

John Cleese declares 'there is no hope' for this mad world, and he's 'never been happier' for it
So, anyway...English actor, comedian, writer and film producer John Cleese, most famous for his classics The Monty Python Flying Circus movies and BBC hit Fawlty Towers TV series, took the stage before a wildly enthusiastic audience at the 2014 Miami Book Fair International for an interview with NPR's books associate editor, Petra Mayer, featuring stories and observations from Cleese's recently released autobiography So, Anyway... (Crown Archetype; November, 2014), beginning with Cleese's early interest in psychology. After a quick lesson on the psychology of comedy, Cleese reminisced about working with his unique friend and co-founder of The Monty Python Flying Circus Graham Chapman, telling the story of Chapman's debate debacle at Oxford University, where he came as carrot. Cleese then went off on a riff about how the world's gone mad, and he's decided to write two more books, the final book in his autobiographical trilogy would be titled Why There Is No Hope. Pointing to America's 'demonstrably failed' democracy as an example, Cleese declared he has 'never been happier' now that he knows there isn't any hope that anything can be done to stop the madness. Comparing today's comics with those of the past, Cleese hailed Sid Caesar and the late greats of comedy, including Buster Keaton, W.C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin and Peter Sellers, commenting on Dr. Strangelove, the fake languages invented in The Life of Brian, and the famous Black Knight sketch in The Holy Grail. Taking questions from the audience, Cleese recalled the two chances he had to work with Mike Nichols but lost the parts to Robin Williams and Anthony Hopkins; the story of how George Harrison saved The Life of Brian with last minute funding; offered advice on 'living with no hope'; gave insider talk on special projects in the future; held forth on why he believes pop culture is 'less creative' these days; offered remembrances of Douglas Adams, famous for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; gave a shout out to Assholes: A Theory By Aaron James, a professor of philosophy at the University of California at Irvine; and revisited life on the set of Fawlty Towers.

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George Clinton and Questlove cover doo wop to hip hop with Ben Greenman: Multiple awards winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame icon George Clinton and Ahmir 'Questlove' Thompson, founder of the thinking person's hip hop group, The Roots, the highly influential, hit record-selling hip hop group since 1995 and currently nightly performers on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, do a literary duet, orchestrated by co-author and The New Yorker editor Ben Greenman, on their memoirs covering R&B from doo wop to hip hop.

Siri Hustvedt, Susan Minot, and Francine Prose lead the way with passion and intellect in fiction: Three of America's leading contemporary literary fiction writers take the stage to read from and talk about their work.

Roz Chast finds balance between personal experience and art in her NBA Finalist graphic memoir: Staff cartoonist at The New Yorker and bestselling childrens and adult graphic books author Roz Chast talks about the things aging parents avoid talking about and reads from her National Book Award Finalist Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?

Anand Gopal reports from Afghanistan and finds No Good Men Among the Living: Afghanistan correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and The Christian Science Monitor, Anand Gopal reads from his NBA Finalist No Good Men Among the Living and talks about his investigation.

Evan Osnos meets the new China in its Age of Ambition and brings home the 2014 National Book Award: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and National Book Award-winning author Evan Osnos reads from his NBA winner: Age of Ambition and talked about how he gained the trust of ordinary Chinese people to write his popular 'Letters from China' blog, the basis of his award-winning non-fiction book.

Rabih Alameddine rocks a 72-year-old woman's voice in his NBA Finalist: An Unnecessary Woman: Jordan-born American-based Guggenheim Fellow, painter, and author Rabih Alameddine reads from his 2014 National Book Award Finalist and talks about the challenges of writing in a woman's voice.

Phil Klay reads 'Bodies' from National Book Award winning short story collection: Redeployment: U.S. Marine Corps Iraq War veteran Phil Klay reads from his National Book Award winning collection of short stories: Redeployment.

Emily St. John Mandel injects a note of hope in post-apocalyptic NBA Finalist, Station Eleven: Prize-winning, internationally acclaimed author Emily St. John Mandel highlights her 2014 National Book Award Finalist fourth novel, Station Eleven, with a reading at the 2014 Miami Book Fair International.

Chris Matthews harks back to the days when 'compromise' was not a dirty word: Author, MSNBC cable TV news anchor, political pundit, and former U.S. congressional staffer Chris Matthews presents his latest book, Tip and the Gipper, at BEA 2013.

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