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On the Books Aug. 23: Neil Gaiman's HBO deal for 'American Gods,' Kathryn Stockett's legal battle centers on handwritten note

Neil Gaiman

(Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

++ Novelist Neil Gaiman has nabbed a deal with HBO to adapt his most successful novel, American Gods, into series for HBO. Gaiman told a crowd at the Edinburgh International Book Festival that he plans to write the pilot, the finale, and perhaps some episodes in the middle. He joins Sloane Crosley, Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman, and Tom Perrotta in the slate of authors recently tapped by HBO to try their hand at writing for television. Echoing Salman Rushdie’s praise of cable television as a storytelling medium, Gaiman said, “I was doing a couple of screenplays, and was incredibly grumpy at the idea of doing 124-page stories with beginnings, middles, and ends and was determined that the novel should be formless and would have lots of ends, and several beginnings, and middles all over the place. So I actually like the idea that HBO are doing it.”

++ As in the best-selling novel and hit film The Help, words are proving unexpectedly powerful in author Kathryn Stockett’s real-life legal battle.

Ablene Cooper, an African American housekeeper who works for Stockett’s brother, sued Stockett for allegedly creating a character of her likeness in The Help without her permission. Both sides of the case point to a handwritten letter from Stockett to Cooper. As the Associated Press reports, part of the letter reads, “One of the main characters, and my favorite character, is an African American child carer named Aibileen. Although the spelling is different and the character was born in 1911, I felt I needed to reach out and tell you that the character isn’t based on you in any way.”

Follow Stephan on Twitter: @stepephan

Originally posted August 23 2011 — 11:05 AM EDT

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