I raise a toast to you Edgar.

Hey Y'all,
Yes, tomorrow is Halloween. It's candy and costume time for the kids, and well for adults...we like to scare the hell out of each other. I've spent a lot of time talking about Stephen King this month. He is considered the King of Modern Horror literature. Some of his books like It, The Shining, and Salem's Lot are legitimately frightening. However King wouldn't be around without Edgar Allen Poe. I'm a real poetry gal, I love the stuff. The first poetry that I clearly understood, as much as an 11 year old can anyway, was his works The Raven and Annabel Lee.

The Raven and Annabel Lee are each about undying devotion. Also the narrator suffers from the contradiction of wanting to remember and at the same time wanting to forget. Memory is cruel reminder which Poe anthropomorphises in the form of the raven. Annabel Lee also embodies this sad feeling of loss. Even as a tween I recognized the dark romanticism that made Poe appealing to me. Sometimes I enjoy a little mist on them moors.

But none of that is any scary. I didn't really understand that Poe was scary until I began to dig into his short stories. The Tell-tale Heart, Masque of the Red Death, etc. are ghoulishly terrifying. Poe willingly exploits the darkness of his characters. The psychological effects of murder and death are scary because they are universal. Everyone, I don't care who you are, finds themselves tested morally and Poe shows the consequences of going the wrong way. It's great and compelling stuff.

One last Poe story. I have always loved the story of The Poe Toaster. I first heard about the Poe Toaster when I was in 6th grade. In our elementary school library I started reading Life Magazine because of the great pictures. I would read it rather than sit with other girls reading Cosmo. I guess I've always been strange. Anyway it was in Life Magazine that I read an article about the Poe Toaster. Every January 19, Poe's birthday, at his grave in Baltimore an unseen black clad figure visits the grave in the early hours of the morning. The figure raises a toast of cognac and leaves three roses at the grave. The Poe Toaster is rarely photographed or identified. Read more about it here. How cool is that eh? I personally hope they never reveal who it is. The coolness is in the mystery and tradition. Long Live Edgar Allen Poe!

Have a great weekend! Book Slave.


Lit Times Are Good For This Gal

How are y'all? I've had a great week! It was full of many highs of the literary kind. On Sunday I attended a matinee of a production of Frankenstein done in the radio show style. The production was really awesome with 4 actors reading all the parts. From what I know it was faithful to the plot line of the original book. I've never read Frankenstein, perhaps I'll give it a shot.

On Saturday was the Utah Humanities Book Festival and I was able to see some author panels. It was fun seeing Ann Cannon, who is a local author. I highly enjoyed a panel with Sara Zarr and Paul Fleischman where they questioned each other. If you want to read Zarr's fine blog, click here. Zarr is the author of Story of a Girl, which was nominated last year for the Newberry. She is also very nice. I was shocked that she remembered my name. Anyway it was fun, although still very low-key. I hope next year there's more that I'm interested.

Tonight I went to another meeting of the Hard Boiled Book Club. I've mentioned it before, to read that click here. Again it was another fun evening of discussion moderated by the mysterious Zach Sampinos. Our discussion centered around the book In the Miso Soup, which is reviewed below. This is a book I would never pick up on my own. Sampinos has thus far done an excellent job finding books that are off the beaten path. It was good times.

Well enough about how awesome my life has been lately. Onward! To the Reviews!

Apocalypse Handbook
I picked this up because it looked amusing and is written by a writer from The Daily Show. I found this book very funny in a black humor sort of way. It's very easy to go broad when talking about a subject as crazy as the end of days. While not really highly substantive and serious, I wanted a silly book. This fit the bill.

Ultimate Spiderman Vol. 2
Bendis continues his reboot of Spiderman starting from the beginning. In this story arc young Peter Parker fights the Kingpin and starts work for the Daily Bugle. I love the humor and characterization that Bendis brings to this story. In this volume he makes mistakes and then beats himself up for it. This reminds us again that Parker is just a teenager and he's still learning. Also Bagley continues to bring amazing art to the panels. I love his splash pages.

In the Miso Soup
As mentioned above this is a book I would never pick up on my own. The story revolves around the relationship between Kenji, a japanese guide, and Frank, a strange American. Kenji is hired by Frank to help him traverse the Japanese sex industry. Slowly tension builds as Kenji starts to believe that Frank is a serial killer. There's a lot of interesting ideas and themes, which are not really followed through on. Murakami seems intent on commenting on the objectifying of women in the sex industry, yet does not really stick to any clear statement. On top of all this is an unreliable narrator which makes you waiting for some kind of twist. That twist never comes. This is a book that I think climaxes about half-way through but then slows up to an ambiguous ending. So a great first half is squandered by a ponderous second half.

What's In My Bag


Spiderman Loves Mary Jane #3

Check Out Count: Fluctuating

Comic Pull List: Northlanders #11, Superman #681, Trinity #22

Have a Great Week! Book Slave.


Festival-going 2008

How are you? Good I hope. A short little entry tonight kids because this girl needs her sleep. Tomorrow I'll be at the Utah Humanities Book Festival at the Main Library, where I also work. If you've never been to my library well here's a picture for you.

Yep it's a pretty spiffy place to work. Anyway if you want to see the schedule and more info here's a link. I have been going to this event for at least 7 years strong. I even went to festival back when they were hosting it at Westminster College. In those days the event was a lot more local and academic. There were seminar sessions in classrooms and the main events were staged at the auditorium. I remember that I would go over the schedule the moment it came out and circle the sessions that I wanted to go to. Try to calculate travel time and find soda/junk food machines for snacks in between. I miss those days.

I think that when the new SLCPL library opened it became pretty obvious that every major event, no matter how dubiously literary, had to be staged there. Can't blame them really. It's a great space and very showy. Starting with the move to SLCPL this book festival got massive. In the last few years I've been incredible lucky to see such fine authors as Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Shannon Hale, Lois Lowry, Douglas Brinkley, and listen to Molly Ivins. It's due to the fact that they've had such big names that this year I am somewhat disappointed. There just isn't any one all that interesting this year. Well no BIG names as it were. Unfortunately I have to work during most of the day, but I have finagled some off desk time to check things out. I'm gonna be focusing on YA authors and sessions since that's a big part of my job.

So maybe I'll see you there. I'll definitely let you know if anything cool goes down. Well have a great weekend! Book Slave.


It's late kids.

Hey folks,
Excuse the late hour, the internet is being a bit difficult tonight. But really I don't think y'all are chompin' at the bit eh? Anyway Onward!

Invincible Vol. 1
Been meaning to pick this up for quite awhile. I was finally spurred on by fellow co-worker Justin and thank god I did. This book was awesome. I highly enjoyed it's blend of the traditional hero story with a meta-ironic sensibility. It actually really reminded me of Astonishing X-Men/Joss Whedon. This story starts out with teenager Mark finding out he has super-powers like his father. Mark decides to become a superhero and christens himself Invincible. Throughout this first two arcs he works on his superheroics with his dad. The last few issues when he finds out that there is a superhero murderer were incredible. Kirkman is great at dialogue and humor. I'll be picking this up.

What's In My Bag
In the Miso Soup
Aha-pocalypse Handbook


Echo #6

Check Out Count: Changing all the time.

Comic Pull List:Criminal 2 #6, Daredevil #112, Final Crisis #4, New Avengers #46, Runaways 3 #3, Secret Invasion #7, Superman New Krypton Special #1, Terry Moores Echo #7, Trinity #21

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Stephen King and his It

Hey world,
So you knew it was coming and it is the proper season. As I've mentioned before I picked up It in 8th grade, to read about that click here. As I was blazing through Stephen King's canon this magnum opus became one of my faves. I think it emphasizes what King as a writer does best.

King as a storyteller has two major strengths. He is able to take the fears that we all have and give them a physicality. His monsters are really metaphors for those things that we cannot control in the world and our own selves. I think that King also excels at building a world. In It that world is Derry Maine. Derry is not a real place, but King manages to give it a rich history that goes back 300 years. Whether it is The Barrens or the Black Spot King fills this place with a physical geography that is Tolkienesque. BTW Derry also appears in Insomnia, Dreamcatcher, and Lisey's Story, among others.

Admittedly I fell away from King's writing after The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. I think that I either grew out of the genre and Stephen started needing an editor. Yes, the man can churn out the books. I think that he peaked creatively around the mid-80s with The Stand and It. I haven't really seen anything that interested me enough to pick up in his latest offerings. We'll see what comes up in the future. Apparently Stephen's going to die at the typewriter with over a 1000 novels to his name.

So hold on to your seats kids because it's another edition of:

Lessons from Literature: It written by Stephen King

1. Adults cannot be counted on. Each of the members of Loser's Club have either been abandoned by their parents, or their parents are harmful to them. Beverly's father is flat out abusive, while Eddie's mother is overprotective. Ben's single mother tries to overcompensate with food and guilt. In a powerful scene Beverly is being attacked by hoodlums and she watches as multiple adults turn a blind eye. However, ultimately Bev is saved by an elderly woman who stops her car and scares off the boys. In the world of Derry it is the kids who have to step up and fight the monsters.

2. Kids are stronger than we think. King sets up each of his characters with a weakness which makes them a social outcast. Bill is a stutterer, Bev is poor, Mike is black, etc. But also they have a strength which allows them to battle the monster that preys on other children.

3. Good will win over evil. These kids are able to battle unimaginable evil. Later on when they are called back as adults to finish the job some of them are filled with fear. However they rise to the occasion because this evil must be stopped. It's not cool to prey on children.

4. It's valuable to learn a town's history. Mike, the only man who stays behind in Derry, becomes a historian as a result. His research makes up The Interlude chapters in between each Month chapter. It's easy to skip these chapters but if you do so you are missing out. Again here's King doing his patently world-building which makes this story Epic. By knowing the over-arching history of his town, Mike is able to see the bigger picture. He is able to rally the Loser's Club by showing them what heroes they really are.

5. Your local bully may be a budding psychopathic/sociopathic killer. I'm just saying.

6. Being the lone girl in a group of social outcasts means they will all have a crush on you. Yep I'm looking at you Beverly Marsh.

7. Haiku's can be romantic. Ben is able to put all his longing into 17 syllabyls. Man some people can't do that in a hundred pages.

8. 7 is a magical number. Listen to Richie, he knows that you need seven members for The Losers Club: Bill, Richie, Ben, Stan, Eddie, Beverly, and Mike. These kids find friendship in each other over the course of a summer. When you're a kid that stuff can happen and it's awesome.

9. In a fight against evil there will always be noble sacrifices. Not telling who, but at least one loss was shocking.

10. Clowns are damn scary. Seriously folks.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Bliss=Hot Chocolate

Having a great week? We had our first snow this week. I loved it! Got out the scarfs and had my first cups of hot chocolate. Oh! Maybe I'll make myself a cup right now! Anyway I'm looking forward to future! Screw all ironic cynicism, I'm going all post-ironic. Onward!

Fell Vol. 1
I think this graphic novel was wonderfully smart and twisted. This crime procedural, written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Ben Templesmith, follows Detective Richard Fell as he solves the horrible messed up crimes of Snowtown. If you thought Sin City was bad, it's nothing compared to this. Templesmith has an amazingly minimalistic art style that I loved in 30 Days of Night. It's distinctive and perfect for the darkness of this book. Detective Fell, as written by Ellis, is a classic detective archetype. Why has he been exiled to Snowtown? What is his past? Why is he so good? I am desperate to know.

If you look at the current webpage on the sidebar I've made a few changes. There's now a recent comments section, so please feel free to comment anytime. I'll always try to respond back. Also there is a new Blog Roll section that includes blogs from my fellow co-workers and friends. Please feel free to check those out, I think they're nifty.

What's In My Bag
Bird Watching
Invincible Vol. 1


Secret Six #2

Comic Pull List: Batgirl #4, Batman And The Outsiders #12, Captain Britain And Mi 13 #6, Dynamo 5 #17, Fables #77, Rasl #3, Trinity #20

Check Out Count: Getting Good.

Have an amazing week! Book Slave.


Self-Indulgent Navel Gazing and Sarah Vowell

Hello folks,
I have to apologize for tonight's entry I've decided to engage in some solipsistic navel gazing. Don't worry I'll be back to books soon enough.

On the book front I'm going to throw a little nibble at you. A few months ago I read Assassination Vacation, you can read about it here. Sarah Vowell, the author of Vacation, has a new book out titled The Wordy Shipmates. To promote she has been doing the rounds and here is a magical clip. Enjoy!

Me, Me, Me
The other day I was sitting in a meeting and someone said the following about me
"I think she (me) has 3 lives."

How do I do all the things that I do? Well I think there are a few reasons:

1. I don't get nearly enough sleep. Yes it's true. Since I was a kid I have always had trouble sleeping. I've been diagnosed with a sleeping disorder which I struggle with. As a kid I started reading before I went to bed and it's a habit I've kept.

2. I am an incredible multi-tasker. This comes from my mom, who is also able to do multiple things at one time. She can't help herself and neither can I. Yes I can manage to read a book, listen to a podcast and watch a soccer game all at one time.

3. I like to keep myself busy. No joke, sometimes it's kind of insane. Not very good at relaxing I rarely go on vacation. I also have been employed full-time for the majority of my grown-up life while also going to school. Graduated from college with 2 BA's this way. Yes I am kind of insane.

4. When I get into something, I go all in. If I'm interested in a subject I want to know all there is to know about it. This makes me a jack of all trades, master of none I guess.

5. Really I have very little else. Don't drink, do drugs, play an instrument, and I will be single forever. A proud spinster am I. (Sorry Mom!)

Well I hope you've enjoyed a fascinating self-indulgent trip into my head. Have a great week! Book Slave.


Debate This!

Hello Committed/Uncommitted Voters,
Yes another debate tonight. Did you watch? I hope so. I did and I was reminded how much I abhor the town hall format. I don't need to see more of candidates playing up to the crowd. Wandering around the stage, freaking out camera men and producers. Geez. Anyway It's October! Let's talk books, Onward!

X saves the World
I picked up this book because as a Generation X-er I really dislike it when my generation is maligned. We're whiners, sulkers, lack imagination, and our music is terrible. In this book writer Jeff Gordinier makes the argument that while some of these things are true that Generation X has found many ways to make the world better. I enjoyed it. This book is also a fun trip through the last 20 years. Especially enjoyed the chapters on film where he discussed two of my faves Richard Linklater and Quentin Tarentino. An interesting and entertaining read.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
I decided to pick this up after having seen the movie that came out this weekend. Nick and Norah are both music-loving young adults who are getting over incredible heartache. They meet in a club where Nick's band is playing and decide to spend the night falling in love. As they travel throughout NYC these two strangers manage to heal each other. This teenage romance was written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan in a format that I don't usually like. Each chapter alternates between the two main characters point of views. In this book it works because of the overlap of events is direct. I never worried about what was going on with Norah when Nick was narrating. The stream of consciousness monologues are written brilliantly. Cohn and Levithan captured every emotion from joyous ectasy to insecurity to pain and back again. I really loved this book and would love to see more of these characters. I laughed, I cried, it's better than Cats.

What's In My Bag
Four Four Two

Powers #30

Bird Watching

Check Out Count: Much Coveted.

Comic Pull List: Deadpool #3, Detective Comics #849, Final Crisis Revelations #3, Goon #29, Green Arrow Black Canary #13, Green Lantern #35, Secret Six #2, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane Season 2 #3, Stand Captain Trips #2, Trinity #19, Wonder Woman #25

Have a great week! Book Slave.


How Stephen King saved my teenage years

Here we are folks. I hope y'all watched the debate tonight. I did and I thought moderator Gwen Ifill did a great job. So I attended The Hard Boiled Book Club on Tuesday night and had a good time. There is a smart core group there and a very thoughtful moderator/leader in Zach Sampinos. I'll be attending again next month. To find out more about it, click here.

Let's walk again down memory lane with a theme that I think fits the month of October.

Life Changing Reads: Stephen King Edition

1. Carrie-Beginning in seventh grade I was thrust into a social situation that was akin to the horrible treatment of Carrie White. It's no shock then that I devoured this book after picking it up at Sprague library. I had heard of the movie before, but I'm not really a horror fan, so I had not seen it. I think it was the cover with it's drawing of a brown hair teen against a black background. That cover and the name Stephen King drew me in and I was hooked. I'm sure it didn't help my social identity to be sitting by myself reading Carrie, again, but I did not care. I was so enamoured with the book that I sought out all the different editions at book sales.

2. It-I picked this up when I was in 8th grade. At first I was daunted by the size (over a thousand pages!) but I became caught up in the challenge. I could take this on! And I did. Finished the book in 10 days, basically ignoring the rest of the world. It was the outsider characters that captured me in this book. I saw a little piece of myself in every member of the Loser's Club. And I'm afraid of clowns.

3. The Talisman-This story is more fantastical than I usually go for. However at it's center is a great heroes journey tale that I enjoyed immensely. Again another long one but in this case I think that it's all about the picaresque characters along the way. Especially Wolf. I read this the summer after 8th grade. I had read the first chapter sitting in the Barnes and Nobel out in Sugar House. Now this was the old school B & N that was in the same complex as Shopko and the dollar movie theater. This was the first B & N store in our area. I would wander around looking at books and mags but I had no money. After reading the first chapter I had to have that paperback. I begged my mom for 10 bucks so I could get it and she caved.

Have a great weekend! Book Slave.