The Diary: Hilary Mantel; Todd Solondz; Tennessee Williams; Patti Smith; Nicolas Cage

Read 'em and weep (with eye strain)

Fans of Hilary Mantel's 'Wolf Hall', the bookmaker's frontrunner on the Booker prize shortlist, will be pleased to learn that after consuming this epic tome about Henry VIII's minister, Thomas Cromwell, they can look forward to a sequel. The historical novelist, who was celebrating her nomination at the Orangery in Kensington, said the minister's story will continue in the same vein, with the king's wives appearing in the background. "I'm not sure when I'll finish it but it could be published the year after next," she said. Earlier, Sue Perkins, one of the Booker judges, spoke of the pleasure and the pain of reading 130 books in the line of duty. "The prescription for my glasses has changed. It was tough and it coincided with the busiest period I've ever had... I was also filming for three documentaries. It got to the stage where I was coming back from filming and running the bath, and reading two novels, and I really was reading them."

Talking baloney

The most ridiculous question over the first week of the Venice Film Festival surely came during the press conference for Todd Solondz's latest film, 'Life During Wartime'. "Mr Solondz," asked a member of the press, "I wonder if you could explain the use of the final words of the film, 'freedom, democracy, oblivion'? Were they used in a specific order, because the cadence sounded well together?" After a moment's silence, the director replied: "I'm confused by your question. I don't have such big ideas. I'm not an intellectual."

Clouded vision

A theatre in Northampton will premiere a Tennessee Williams play called 'Spring Storm' that has never been seen outside America. Written in 1937 under his original name, Thomas Lanier Williams, whilst still a student on a playwriting course at the University of Iowa, it was penned the same year that his sister had a lobotomy, to apparently cure her of "madness". Taken out of circulation in 1943, Williams posted 'Spring Storm' to his mother to keep safe. It was not until 1962 that it was rescued from hibernation and not until 1999 that it was published. It is part of a season at the Royal & Derngate Theatre of early plays by Williams and Eugene O'Neill, beginning in October. The cast will include Liz White, best known for her parts in 'Life on Mars' and 'Miss Marple'.

Songs of influence and exhibitionism

The veteran rocker Patti Smith is to go public with her love of the 18th-century poet and visionary William Blake. She is to perform in the bookish surroundings of the Morgan Library and Museum in New York to celebrate the new Blake exhibition, according to 'The Art Newspaper'. She is performing a concert at the library in November with her daughter, Jesse, which will include poetry and music inspired by Blake's self-published, engraved artists books. The show, 'William Blake's World: A New Heaven Is Begun', opens on 11 September.

Back on the beat

Nicolas Cage, who stars in Werner Herzog's controversial remake of Abel Ferrara's 'Bad Lieutenant', which was screened at the Venice Film Festival and co-stars Eva Mendes, described his role as a corrupt cop in unabashedly Shakespearean terms to a roomful of journalists. After a heroic act the detetctive is landed with crippling spinal pain for the rest of his life. He said: "At first, I was thinking Richard III, with the shoulder." Herzog, meanwhile, said he resolved to make up with Ferrara, who was due in Venice some days later and who had distanced himself from the idea of a remake of his classic. Herzog said: "We really should meet up over a bottle of whisky." He has in the past said that the two movies are not connected.

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