Best of 2010: Lit Podcasts

Hey folks,
The Beat Goes On.

2010 Best Literary Podcast: Books You Should Read

At the beginning of the year this felt like the podcast that had been left to die. It's happened often enough in my history with podcasts that I barely took notice. To be honest Books You Should Read had never really shown it's full potential as a podcast. In the beginning there wasn't a regular host and it was reliant on listener provided content. Without a really strong execution and push from the Simply Syndicated crew this podcast fell silent quickly.

Enter Kennedy Gordon. Gordon, who was a relative novice to podcasting in the beginning, took the reigns of this show. Although he was a bit stilted in the beginning (oh and the sound! yikes!) I was won over by his anti-snobbery stance and wide variety of commentary. He clearly enjoys reading books of all kinds and enjoys sharing them with the listeners. It's become a new favorite for me amongst the often snooty world of literary commentary.

However as much as I enjoy listening to Kennedy, what put this podcast over the top are the episodes involving the "Leeds" book club. These episodes feature four friends who live in the town of Leeds in the UK, two men & two women, who pick a genre then each discuss a book in that genre. Their wonderful free-wheeling discussion will have you choking with laughter and writing down recommendations. These episodes are truly a treat and are few and far between. I highly suggest the recent episode featuring their discussion of "chick lit." You'll thank me.

More, More, More. Book Slave.


Best of 2010: Television Lit Adaptation

Hey folks,
Marching on.

Best Television Lit Adaptation: Sherlock

My television watching has gone way down this year as I become less interested in "appointment" television. However there were a few high quality options in this category that made this choice difficult. But those who read here regularly won't be surprised that this great offering from the BBC was an easy selection. I've raved about it already here, so I won't go on too long. Just to say that these three television films were not nearly enough. Cumberbatch is a fantastic modern-day Sherlock Holmes. It's hard to imagine anyone else playing Holmes in this context. He is well-paired with Martin Freeman as Watson. Each actor presents a contrasting energy to their scenes together which makes them a great duo. None of this should work, but it does. Do yourself a favor and see it before it comes back in Fall 2011.

Also Worthy: The Walking Dead, Emma (2010)

More to Come. Yes Indeed, Book Slave.


Best of 2010: Movie Lit Adaptation

Hey guys,
Time to Reflect and choose what was worthy of remembrance from the previous year. Here we go.

Best Movie Literary Adaptation: Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series

It could of gone so wrong. This is why the Swedish film adaptations of the Millenial trilogy books, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Girl Who Played With Fire and Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest , should be considered small miracles. The Swedes got it right. All the way down the line in my opinion. These movies were engaging, kick-ass, and perfectly cast. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed these films as each one hit my cinema in quick secession.

The filmmakers, first Niel Oplev and later Daniel Alfredson, do not shirk away from the violence that is necessary to understand the stark message of these books. Larsson sought to expose what he felt was a misogny that lies underneath a seemingly sedate Swedish society. Their is a refreshing lack of stylization or downplaying of the violence that is perpetuated on the protagonist. However there are also throw away moments of casual misogny between male characters that also point to Larsson's intentions. This key understanding of the source material allows the writers to shape a fast-paced action film that can discard hefty prose for highly charged visuals. It is unique entertaining filmmaking without the trappings of commercial studio meddling.

However the glue that makes this movie work is the fantastic performance from actress Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander. Such a difficult, insular, character would be a challenge for even the most talented of actresses, but this complete unknown nails it. Her performance is dynamic and spell-binding. Rapace shows us the intelligence (and sometimes scary) emotions behind the punk snarl. The closed off facade is barely breached by journalist Mikael Bloomquist, also well played by Michael Nyvquist, but she still has a long way to go. And she also convincingly kicks ass.

Thankfully these films are available long before the now filming American version. I highly recommend checking them out. Good luck David Fincher, you've got some mighty shoes to fill.

Also Recommend: True Grit, Never Let Me Go, The Social Network, Winter's Bone, Tamara Drewe

More to Come I assure you, Book Slave.


Holiday Ramblings

Well I hope that you all had a fine Christmas yesterday. That you were all able to spend time with your families, and consider what matters most: gross commercialism. Nah I'm just kidding. Actually this holiday weekend I listened to two wonderful versions of one of my favorite holiday writings-O'Henry's Gift of the Magi. Nothing like a little literary irony to stoke those heart fires. Here's a link where you can hear a reading which charmed me. I also enjoy Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas In Wales, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and Joyce's "The Dead". To me these are must-reads. Why would you settle for less? (One might add Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory" but that story gives me the creeps. I'm still scarred by the television movie version that featured Capote as narrator. His voice still haunts me.)

I can thank my mom for a wonderful nerdy gift. My brother and I were gifted framed original movie posters from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Wonderful since my brother and I are huge Indiana Jones fans.

Another highlight was watching my luddite brother trying to figure out his new Ipad. Regardless of his avoidance of technology in general, he was very pleased. My mom and I had to explain that he'll have to sign up for an Itunes account to get the full use out of the tablet. He was still hesitant. My brother and I are strangely dissimiliar in some matters and completely alike in others. On one side he's not a big reader and plays video games. He loves Hulu and Youtube. He refuses to get a library card. Yet he loves history as I do, and shares a love of nerdy science fiction like Star Trek. Full of contradictions that kid.

This year the literary haul was thankfully light. I think folks are getting the notion that more books is not what I need. I've got plenty, I assure you. Many folks are psyched to utilize their new Nooks and Kindles this year, but again, I'll stick to the physical thing. Although I hope that you all get enjoy your digital devices nonetheless.

All and all I had a wonderful holiday, I hope that you all did as well. Book Slave.


A Little Puppini...

Hello All,
A merry christmas to you, Constant Reader. Here's a treat for you all. Enjoy.

Happy Holidays. Book Slave.


Things I Learned this Year 2010, Lit-style

So it's that reflexive time of year as we gallop from Christmas to New Years. Warning: Self-indulgent navel gazing ahead.
Here's a few things I feel as if I've learned:
-Oh I wish I could read that Mark Twain Autobiography. However if the book is more than 400 pages, then I won't read it.
-Finding a great book club or reading group is awesome. There's a gaping hole left behind when they are gone. I miss my book club. *sigh*
-I love io9, AV Club, and Neil Gaiman's blog.
-1b1t was a wonderful experiment. It showcased the "best" of what the internet can be used for.
-Great Literary adaptations are possible without being completely purist. For example: The Walking Dead, Girl With A Dragon Tattoo series, BBC adaptation of Emma (2010).
-Pairing Unlikely Directors & Writers with the right material can lead to wonderful results. For example Mark Romanek/Alex Garland and Never Let Me Go, Aaron Sorkin and The Social Network, Steven Moffat and Sherlock.
-Endings are difficult.
-Facebook is a key social media tool. It's not something to be afraid of.
-I'm still not interested in Digital Comics.
-Even having an internet interview will give you 15 minutes of fame. Even when you're a geek.
-Librarians shouldn't need databases to do reader's advisory. It's not that hard to keep a list of books to reccommend in your head. Or dare I say it: Just Read Books.
-I await the day when Ipads/tablets will revolutionize library work. I dream of a day when there are no more reference desks.
-Thank you JMS, Danny Way, and Andy Diggle. I was successfully able to drop Superman, Wolverine, and Daredevil thanks to you.
-Joe Kelly should write Amazing Spider-Man. All the time.
-I can cut down on my library reading pile. It feels good to do so.
-Twitter is a wonderful thing if only so that you can follow Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Steve Martin.
-There are still too many books.

I'm sure there's more. However I have Christmas to do. So have a great holiday! Book Slave.


I Don't LIKE Vampires, But I Liked This: American Vampire vol. 1

Here's some thoughts on a book that I finally finished.

I Don't LIKE Vampires, But I Liked This: American Vampire vol. 1

Ever since it started coming out last year I've heard good things. American Vampire was not on my personal must-read list when I first saw it solicited. I had never heard of Scott Snyder. And just the idea of another vampire series made my throat fill with bile. The rise of the "sensitive" vampire has been a tough pill to swallow for me as a reader. This is not the kind of vampire that I want to read. While I will concede that vampires can be sexual, they should not be romanticized. Vampires are vicious violent parasites who prey on the vulnerabilities of those who are weaker than they are. This is the original template designed by Bram Stoker in the 19th century. There was no romance, or existential angst involved.

So whose to blame for this shift? It's the commercial economic power of the teenage girl. Teenage girls will buy into anything that plays on their own romantic notions. Having been a teenage girl myself, I can verify this as true. Shrewdly this vulnerability has been cultivated into a commercially viable source of income for a dying publishing industry. I don't blame them at all for getting what they can out of it. However this is not the kind of "vampire" that I am interested in reading about. Maybe it's my age, some jaded cynicism, what have you.

So when it came to American Vampire, I cast it aside. But then I started to hear that this series was good. It was cool. And it was different. Well I picked up the hardcover when I got the chance and found out that this series fulfills the hype. It delivers on the kind of vampire template that I want to read. How delightful! And surprising!

American Vampire is an original series that is set in LA in 1925. The main protagonist is a hard working girl named Pearl, who can barely make ends meet. She ends up trapped by a horrible group of European vampires, which leads to battle between "old school" vs. "new school." Pearl ends up being helped by a charming, slick, white trash vampire named Skinner Sweet. Sweet is the subject of an enjoyable backup story which is written by Stephen King.

I was delighted by the mix of terror and western that Snyder and King bring to the vampire genre. It feels fresh and new and unique. The western genre naturally lends itself to a harsh realism that fits my preference of the violent vampire. These writers have created a darwinist world with the violence to back it up. Praise is also due to brazilian artist Rafael Albuquerque with his bright reds, and monstrous depiction of these frightening supernatural beings. Vampires in this world are not "beautiful" and they don't sparkle. Thank God.

American Vampire is well worth checking out. I urge those who may have been turned off at first to check this book out.


Reading List 12/21/2010-12/28/2010

Hello Constant Reader,
Here's the last Reading List post of the year. I just want to say thank you for those who have been sticking out during these lean times. Between computer and time issues it's been tough to keep up a regular posting schedule. However as we head to the end of 2010 there'll be those normal reflective posts that the end of the year seems to demand. So thanks for sticking around, I hope these scribblings bring a modicum of connection between us. And also I like to ramble about books. S0 there's that.

Reading List 12/21/2010-12/28/2010
The Odyssey: A Graphic Novel- Felt like reading something epic. And it is my favorite story of all time.
The Final Solution

Entertainment Weekly

Oh it's a lot. Fables #100, Amazing Spider-Man Big Time, Fantastic Four, Walking Dead. All the heavy hitters.

Looking forward to catching up on some reading now that my time has freed up a bit.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Me, Sherlock, and Television.

Hey folks,
It's time for some serious talk. Maybe a little ranting. Enjoy.

Those Damn Brits: Sherlock and Literate Television

Why can't we have literate television on network television here in the United States?

I asked myself this question as I was watching the amazing new series Sherlock. In this new BBC series quintessential detective Sherlock Holmes and his faithful assistant Dr. John Watson are rebooted to modern day. As played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock is the same arrogant bastard who has created a career for himself as "police consultant." In the first episode of the series he meets up with combat veteran Dr. John Watson, who has returned from Afghanistan with a little PTSD and a limp. In classic fashion they team up to solve a mystery and end up moving into a flat together at 221 Baker Street.

When I first heard about this "reboot" I was filled with uncertainty. Is this what we really need? Another Sherlock Holmes? I just didn't see the point. Also didn't see why television needs a modernized version. There's a severely dumbed down version of CSI's that fill that niche. In the United States it seems we've shifted our crime fighters from cops to scientists. This makes sense completely because one relies on anti-heroes (The Wire, Homicide, NYPD Blue) and the other relies on the age old debate of Science or Nature (Bones, CSI). These have become comfortable formulas for the American public. In the last 10 years American audiences want to watch professionals doing their jobs well. This has led to the glut of CSI's and Law & Order's that dominate our television landscape. These shows are all the same. They are all a comfortable formula of crime fighters with an easy morality who do their jobs well.

Unfortunately, those type of shows aren't good enough for me. I want complexity. I want to be challenged. I want my television to share the same thrill that I feel when I read a great novel. "Literate" television for me includes the following aspects:
  • -A narrative thru-line so that each episode feels like it's part of a bigger story.
  • -A continuity that respects the fact that the audience knows when characters are being consistent with prior events.
  • -Themes and motifs that are longstanding and lasting.
  • -Effort on the part of the production team to create an interesting and fascinating world.
  • -Complex characters that take more than a sentence to explain.
  • -A world of complex moral values, which reflects our own.
I can't be alone in this.

Now just to be clear: I am not a television snob. I love television. Now more than ever it is the medium that reaches the largest audience and can have the greatest impact. However I don't think it's wrong to expect television to pander to highest common denominator, rather than the lowest. I feel as if by raising our expectations and refusing what's comfortable then the entire culture wins.

The only place lately that I've been able to be satisfied with the storytelling quality is in science fiction. I am confident that Lost will go down in history as one of the finest network television shows every produced. It not only demanded that it's audience think and pay attention but it never apologized for being smart. The short-lived Pushing Daisies was delightfully witty and charming. The show never sacrificed what made it so wonderfully original to chase ratings and audiences. To this day I still don't understand why American audiences passed it by. These days I have to go to cable to find novelistic storytelling that isn't science fiction. And even with Mad Men and Breaking Bad, it seems that I'm still chasing sci-fi to find the narrative challenge I crave.

I enjoy watching PBS, Masterpiece Theater, and BBC America aplenty. The educational bent of their programming does tend to get a little dry. However when it comes to "entertainment" programs PBS tends to import everything from BBC. As I understand it in the British Broadcast System each series is paid for in advance, so each series is guaranteed a definite number of episodes. A series will finish its run no matter what the ratings are. So every show has a chance to improve or go downhill. At least it will finish. The BBC never seems to compromise storytelling and character in the name of ratings. Their willing to do 18 part literary adaptations alongside comedy programming like Spaced. Both sides of the scale show the high quality value that seems absent from American network television. And each series is a complete compact chapter. When it's done, it's done. If only network television on this side of the Atlantic were willing to take those risks.

Which brings me back to BBC's Sherlock. In three 90 minute episodes writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss captured all the wonderful things about Sherlock Holmes with a post-modernist spin. In this modern world Sherlock Holmes is a crime fighter but also a complex human being. He works as a scientist. Purposely distancing himself from human emotion but still having a clear moral code. Moffat and Gatiss have found a way to twist Holmes arrogance into a sort of off-kilter nihilism.

How important is it to Holmes to be proven right? What is he willing to sacrifice? This uncertainty makes his final confrontation with James Moriarty in episode three wonderfully thrilling. Moriarty is equally scary due to his amoral code. Holmes can only be saved from the mutually assured destruction scenario presented by Moriarty because he refuses to be beaten.
Holmes has a keen sense of right and wrong, however he is fueled by an inner need to show that he is better than everyone. This arrogance is universal in those who are steeped in the scientific method.

Of course he is humanized by Dr. John Watson, who is a substitute for the audience. They are a great pair of equals in this adaptation. Watson has the skills of a soldier. He is a killer if it's necessary to save other human beings. Yet he is exasperated by Holmes lack of "caring" about those who are under the threat of the mad bomber in episode three. Watson fills in the gaps of humanity that Sherlock is missing within himself.

This is dynamic storytelling. So of course it's British. I'm just saying that it doesn't have to be.

Have a great holiday! Book Slave.


Reading List 11/23/2010-11/30/2010

Hey Folks,
Getting back to normal around here at the Reading List. At first I was very busy with job #2 & then the internet decided to go wonky. The combination of these things have made me somewhat unreliable. I don't want to lie with you Constant Readers. However look for some more action around the Reading List as we come around to the end of the year.

Reading List 11/23/2010-11/30/2010
Cowboy Ninja Viking
A Room of One's Own

People-Folks I am human. Every once and awhile...

Spiderman #645-647

Also got some Bones Season 5, some Walking Dead episodes. And then there's THANKSGIVING!

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Me, Conservatives, and Meghan McCain

Ready for some politics folks? Feels strangely appropriate at the moment.

Meghan McCain, Republicans, and Me: Dirty Sexy Politics
So I finally finished Meghan McCain's book Dirty Sexy Politics. As I've mentioned before I am a pretty liberal minded citizen who lives in a very conservative state. While I am constantly surrounded by the overtly Republican-minded, I've never felt that my political beliefs shared the same bed with that mind-set. However I also feel that everyone has the right to their own opinions and beliefs. I don't get upset until someone tries to force their politics onto me. Nor is it my right to tell others that they are wrong in their belief system.

I have a feeling that I would get along with Meghan McCain just fine. Throughout her behind the scenes chronicle of the McCain presidential campaign of 2008, she portrays herself as a moderate. She seems able to balance a pro-life standpoint with a pro-gay marriage stance. These beliefs can both exist within the same conservative person. That she also has no problem with drinking beer, pre-marital sex, and Rock Band, also shows that human beings are wonderfully multi-faceted. No one should expect that all conservatives are the same.

In the end McCain's book makes a plea for the conservatives to open up their umbrella to allow more moderates underneath. She writes at being taken aback by the ambition and grandstanding of Sarah Palin. Did she anticipate the political monster that would emerge out of Alaska? Perhaps. However McCain is very careful not to be too critical of her own party. This makes Dirty Sexy Politics a fun breezy read, but in the end it's insubstantial. If she really thinks that the Far Right is going to roll over and give up their political clout she is sadly mistaken.
The Far Right has successfully created a political machine centered around wedge issues and an ignorant citizenry. Meghan McCain may be adorable and fun but if she wants to influence conservative minds she needs to strive for a more critical voice.

Have a great weekend! Book Slave.


Too busy to read & politics.

Hey Folks,
This week and the next are very busy for this usually boring lass. I have somehow ended up in the crazy position of throwing a swanky party for high class monied individuals. However I will say that I'm carrying around a book that ended up being somewhat prescient. I initially picked up Meghan McCain's book Dirty Sexy Politics because of her interview on Jon Stewart.

Now long time readers will know that I am far from Republican, but I'm interested enough in politics that I want to see both sides. From what I can tell it seems that Meghan McCain sees herself as pulling the Republicans away from the fringe parties. As a person who is the same age as her I am interested in her point of view. I live in a highly conservative state, however the majority of the politics here is very sheep-like. Voters in my state tend to vote strictly based on party and religion alone. All you have to do is look at our election results this week to be able to draw that conclusion.

However I think that the countries political landscape is very vitriolic. Anger and rage and shouting. Nobody wants to pay taxes and everyone's shocked that years of deficit spending has caused all kinds of infrastructure problems. It would be incredibly naive to believe that if we just change parties that everything will fix itself instantly. This is just not possible.

At an early age I understood that in order to make informed decisions you need to be able to see things from all sides. One of my favorite early political books is titled All's Fair. It follows the political romance of James Carville and Mary Matalin. They were each key political players on opposite sides of of the 2002 political campaign. At the same time they are opposing each other politically they are attempting to maintain a relationship outside of the public eye. It's very entertaining, insightful, and balanced. I reccomend it if you can find a copy.

I think that an informed electorate is a key to successful citizenship. These days this is easily forgotten as we all embrace whichever side we are on. Let's not forget this. Complex problems, require a multiple POVs. So I've decided to give this book a chance. And let's face it, it's probably all I have time for and seems a bit amusing. I mean look at that cover.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Reading List 10-26-2010 to 11-2-2010

It has been a weekend of blowing, storming, cold fall weather here in my part of the universe. I love fall, but not this version of fall. However I guess beggars can't be choosers eh? Here's the plan for this week chums:

Reading List 10-26-2010 to 11-2-2010
This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley-I've had this on the TBR for awhile but I thought it an appropriate read as I gear up for NaNoWriMo.
American Vampire by Scott Snyder-Season appropriate eh?
Hellboy: The Wild Hunt-Also season appropriate, however more importantly the library wants it back.

Four Four Two

More backup issues. Whoohoo!

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Altruism, Gaiman, And All Hallows Read

For those who follow the magical writer Neil Gaiman this is old news. However I thought that I would add my thoughts to the chorus of praise. He has suggested that for Halloween this year that everyone give a "scary" book to friend, family, or stranger. He then put out a call to his legion of fans for a name for this idea and he chose the phrase "All Hallows Eve." I have to say that I am continually impressed with Mr. Gaiman's use of his influence to promote literacy.

He is clearly a man who wants use his powers for good, rather than fame or book sales. Any cynic would claim this to be a promotional stunt, but Mr. Gaiman doesn't have any new book release to sell. I think that Mr. Gaiman is a lover of books, hell here's a picture of his library:He also was very willing earlier this year to participate in the crowd sourcing experiment "1 book 1 Twitter" project, which centered around his book American Gods. Now in theory he may have earned from book sales, but he also was willing to sit for two sessions of Q&A from Twitter followers. That's private time spent on an older book which he didn't have to do. Mr. Gaiman continues to use innovation "crowd-sourcing" opportunities to keep in touch with his fanbase. He's a long-time blogger and was one of the first authors to use Twitter. However it is original ideas such as "All Hallows Read" that will continually pick him up new readers. I feel that his altruism will continually gain him fans in the book community. He never seems to be out shilling on talk shows or tearing other writer's down in order to succeed. No diva behavior, just a modest good nature. I've never met the man, so I hope that this characterization is true.

So give a scary book this Halloween. It's better than candy. Book Slave.


An Explanation & Reading List 10-19-2010 to 10-26-2010

So Indeed there was no posting last week, however there was a reason. It may not be completely reasonable but it is the truth dear readers. And really this just between us right?

The story begins with last week where I found myself lost. I never lack for reading choices but I felt compelled to stir things up. As a constant reader, and because clearly I'm somewhat OCD, I enjoy creating elaborate systems/schedules/methods that will dictate what I grab from the TBR mountain.

In the past I've used the following organizational methods:
*Page Length-Shortest to longest
*Chronological-Oldest to Most recent
*Alphabetical by authors last name

Then it can get more tricky:
*Type of book-paperback, trade, hardcover, other. Then Chronological.
*or then alphabetical by subject
*Or then alphabetical by authors last name...

As you can see it's pure madness really. I blame a dual career in Libraries and Book Stores for this craziness. These things are also to blame for the size of my TBR pile but I digress...

Anyway I find that I like to use one method for awhile and then change things up. Last week I was ready for a change. Hence a reorganization began! And I discovered that I really need to burn through some of these books. There's new piles folks...It's not good.

So after that long explanation here's the plan this week:
Reading List 10-19-2010 to 10-26-2010
New Avengers Vol. 4
Two or Three Things I Know For Sure

Four Four Two

Yes folks I have caught up on the new books. So it's time to dig into the Back Issues. Which is nice.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Reading List 10/5 to 10/12

Hey folks,
I have gotten much reading done this weekend and thrown some books to the side at least for the moment. You'll see in the upcoming days.

However here's a plan for this week:
Reading List 10-5 to 10/12
A mega stack of comic goodness. Involves some ASM, some Fables, some Flash, some FF. Good times all around.

Accidental Billionaires
New Avengers vol. 4
Battlefields vol. 4

Four Four Two

Got some good stuff coming up this October. Have a great week! Book Slave.


Curing the Virus: Censorship in Libraries

As Banned Book Week winds down I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts. Librarians love to share their mutual disgust for book challenges. It is a painful process to reevaluate whether a book should be in the collection or not based on a complaint of one individual. (Most) Librarians love books and feel that information should be freely accessible to all.

But then their are other people who feel that their only action is to self-censor their library. This willful hiding/destruction/theft of materials is the bane of a librarians existence. Ever tried to find a book and it's not there? It is dreadfully annoying and means disappointing a patron. These actions also indicates a stubborn arrogance on the side of the self-censor(s). They believe that they know what is best for everybody. Their opinion matters more than anybody else so they are going to save the community. This savior complex is prideful hubris. How dare anyone tell me what I should be able to read? I can make my own choices, thank you very much.

However before I trot off on my librarian high horse I want to share this story with you all. Starting in the fall of 2008 two library workers took upon themselves to self-censor Alan Moore's graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentleman: The Black Dossier. The entire wonderful story is contained here. To me this story illustrates a fine point: Even those who proclaim to love books will take it upon themselves to circumvent the system. For these women it was a crime of opportunity, rather than desperation. Nobody is immune to the virus of censorship.

If you are a parent then monitor what your kids are reading. Talk to them about books that you are unsure of. Heck even read the books with them and then talk about it.

If you are a kid and you read a book that disturbs you, then talk to your parents about it. Or your teacher. Or your friends. Perhaps that book wasn't appropriate for your age level.

If you are a librarian then spend every moment possible building up your reader's advisory. Develop a list of "clean" books. Develop a list of books for multiple age levels. Be proactive.

If you are a librarian administrator then develop a transparent book challenge process. And keep up with other book challenges across the country. Communicate any concerns you may have with your selectors about placement.

Above All: Do Not Be Give In To Those Few Book Banners Who Would Make Choices For All Of Us.


Reading List 9/28-10/5

Hey folks,
I know: more of the same. However, future necessity is gonna require some changes coming up. Or some other lit may suddenly catch my attention. I must admit the wonderful transition from summer to fall as well as other insistent plans are making it rough. Focus is hard to maintain. I guess I should keep my eyes on those pesky goals I set for this year. Time for the final push eh?

Here's the plan this week:
Reading List 9/28-10/5
Accidental Billionaires
The Town (formerly known as Prince of Thieves)
(Hey, these books are long. I'm working at it.)
Hellboy: The Great Hunt

Four Four Two October 2010

Some Amazing Spider-Man on tap along with some more comic goodness.

Alright look for some censorship commentary this week. More to come. Book Slave.


Let There Be Free Expression.

Hey folks,
If you've been cruising the blogs this week, or perhaps your local book supplier, it'd be hard not to be knocked over by the commentary on Banned Books Week. Of course it's important to shine a spotlight on this horrible practice and discuss why it should not happen. In the past I have ranted and discussed this topic as is my desire. However this year I feel as if oftentimes we free speech and expression proponents are preaching to the chorus.

For all our liberal anger this ignoble practice still exists all over the country (if not the world). Book challenges and attempts at censorship are made by individuals from all walks of life, even librarians themselves. I read these stories and marvel at the stupidity of it all. These days I find that yelling and getting angry, like certain conservatives, just ends up creating a lot of noise. Logic and the law needs to be employed in the defense of free expression. Does your library have a transparent process to deal with book challenges? Highlight that. Show your patrons that this is not an issue of us vs. them. Book Banners/Challengers are not necessarily monsters. They are simply ignorant, scared, attention seekers. They see themselves as saviors of the community. They have the ability to file a claim, go thru a process, and have their opinion heard. Just like everyone else. Otherwise it's everyone's free choice to decide what to read, think, and express to others here in the United States. While any book banner has the right to disagree with my opinion, they don't have the right to say it is illegal for me to express it.

However while I am preaching tolerance today, I also feel that we should battle for Free Expression. Free Expression and Free Speech lies at the foundation of this countries ideals. Let us not forget. I have been reading the transcripts of the Howl obscenity trial this past week. For those who need some background: In 1957 Allen Ginsberg's poem Howl was published along with some of his other works such as America. A subsequent obscenity trial was brought against Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who ran City Lights Bookstore, the poem's new domestic publisher. Feel free to read more about it here. I ran up against this wonderful passage from the closing argument of defending attorney Jake Ehrlich:
"Let there be light. Let there be honesty. Let there be no running from non-existent destroyers of morals. Let there be honest understanding. In the end four-letter words will not appear draped in glaring headlights, but will be submerged in the decentralization of small thinking in small minds."

Amen, I say amen. Book Slave.


Emotional Honesty: Ginsberg & Kerouac

Hey folks,
So I've been interested in finding some books about "the beats" since I saw the trailer for the upcoming film Howl. It centers around the Howl Obscenity trial back in 1957. If you have not seen it, well I can provide:

Anyway so in my wanderings I found some pretty comprehensive books that were highly enjoyable if not a bit self-reverential. It is true that the "beat" generation have been romanticized to such a degree that it's difficult to sort the mythology from the truth. A de-mythologizer would look at this motley group and say that all they see is a bunch of drunken-partiers who didn't want to get a job. They lucked onto a post-World War 2 disillusionment and rode it. They also didn't seem to like women very much. All these statements are most likely true. However these writers were necessary at a time when the country could of gone in many different directions. Civil Rights and economic depression fueled a group of young people who didn't know where they fit in. This bohemian crowd wasn't interested in the 50s ideal and saw the cracks inherent in that mythology.

However, everybody's gotta eat. Every writer wants to be heard by someone. I don't believe that the writers themselves are to blame for the commercial machinations of their exploiters. Getting published isn't easy. Ginsberg and Kerouac hustled and pushed themselves. As many drunken nights as they spent these guys were compelled to pour out their heart and souls on the page. The outpouring of emotion is felt on every page of Howl and The Subteraneans. Even with a certain amount of success these writers could go one of two ways: Embrace it or Resent it.

Kerouac and Ginsberg are illustrations of this dichotomy. Kerouac lived with a conflicted resentment that ended up killing him. Kerouac's novel Big Sur illustrates this in painful detail. He didn't want to be associated with the hippie movement. Yet he couldn't turn away their money. Unfortunately it was alcohol that ended up winning in the end. He chose to be numb, a cowardly way out especially for a man who felt compelled to share so much of himself in his writing. Without emotion he couldn't write, and without writing he didn't have an outlet. Alcohol became his undoing and a premature death.

Ginsberg on the other hand ended up embracing Buddhism and finding true love. While his 1950s work such as Howl and Kaddish are full of anger and frustration, his later work does show a hint of reconciliation. Ginsberg found peace in the spiritual, rather than the sensual. His life-mate Peter Orlovsky was not interested in any piece of his success. He wanted the man, rather than any association with the "beat" generation. They were together for more than 30 years. Ginsberg rushed headlong into being a part of the hippie movement which matched up with his philosophical sensibilities. Although one gets a sense that as the whole "beat" generation notoriety faded, he was still able to express his soul. The Fall of America, published in 1974, is just as honest as his earlier work. Rather than fade he embraced the "peace" movement and lived a much happier, emotionally honest life centered around a positive force: love.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I wish that more focus was thrown Ginsberg's way, rather than the "cool but doomed" Kerouac. Hopefully this year Ginsberg will make a comeback into the public consciousness. Of course I would love to see poetry reach that level of societal importance again. The "beat" generation were important and necessary in difficult times. Where is our modern literary movement? I crave some emotional honesty. Perhaps now is the time for it again.


The Beats: Subterraneans and Kerouac.

Hey Those Out There In the Great Beyond,
How are you? If you're tired of me talking about Graphic Novels and Funny Books well here's a break. A few years ago while still harboring delusions about the stability of an English degree I took a class on Beat Literature. It was taught by Don Revell who is that kind of English teacher you dream of but never really get a chance to take a class from. He's crazy, irreverent, magical and deeply feels the poetry he's teaching. If you get a chance I highly reccommend checking out his poetry or attending a reading/class.

Anyway, I came to Beat Lit relatively late in regards to my poetry/modern lit experience. As a teen I was not really the rebellious type, my upbringing was full of pragmatism. Workaholics don't have time for drunken rambles and road trips. So while I found Beat Lit intriguing, I looked more toward structural formalist poetry. Modern poetry just didn't make any sense to me as a teenager, and I didn't feel it was relevant. Perhaps Beat Lit isn't really meant to be appreciated by those who haven't experienced a measured amount of turbulent existence. Maybe I just wasn't ready for it.

So I didn't end up picking up 20th century poetry until I was in my early 20s. Now my 20s ended up being the cliched self-discovery odyssey that should be expected. That could be the reason that I responded so strongly to On the Road upon first reading it. (I've talked about it before so I won't go in depth.) Kerouac's Sal Paradise is a reflective surface. The only identity he has is the women, friends, and alcohol that he surrounds himself with. It is not until the end that he discovers that only he can express his own emotional turmoil. He cannot rely on his friends, only himself. In our mid-20s this is an essential lesson. One must develop their own self-identity in order to move on to the next stage. How can you care about someone else if you don't know who you are yourself?

The main characters of Kerouac's novella The Subterraneans, exemplify this dilemma. Leo and Mardou are lost within their surroundings. Their lives are a desperate mixture of extreme emotions and actions. These two are able to equally mete out love and pain within their short coupling. The highs are high and the lows are low. Neither seems to be able to tell the other what they need or expect from each other. Clearly they do not know, because they don't know themselves as individuals. To cope with this Leo drinks too much. Mardou goes to see an analyst. Neither seems to do any good. The ending of their relationship is inevitable.

Knowing that the main character Leo is meant to be Kerouac, The Subterraneans is a form of confessional prose. Writing is Kerouac's safest method of coping with his extreme emotions. Otherwise he ends up drinking too much and getting into bar fights. His prose style tumbles out to the reader as he tries to convey his emotional turmoil. Kerouac needs to share his thoughts and emotions with the reader. He is begging for someone to explain to him what went wrong with Mardou. This emotional style requires the reader to bend a sympathetic ear. It's easy to toss him off as unbearably solipsistic, however Kerouac has no other healthy way to share his turmoil.

For me beat literature contains a wonderful emotional honesty that can be refreshing. Too often, as adults we are urged to loose our humanity in order succeed. "Grow Up" we are told. Kerouac explores the consequences of not being able to integrate his own extreme emotional state and a healthy self identity. Kerouac never manages to do so, and ends up alone.

I'll be writing more about Beat Literature this month so stay tuned. Book Slave.


Reading List 9/21-9/28

Hey guys,
Has it really been two weeks? Woah. Sometimes it gets away from you.

Here's the plan:
Reading List 9/21-9/28
Accidental Billionaires
The Town (formerly known as Prince of Thieves)

Rollingstone -Do you see that Mad Men cover? Gorgeous.

Some Amazing Spider-Man on tap along with some more comic goodness.

Look for some upcoming posts to fulfill your literary commentary needs for the rest of the month. Enjoy, Book Slave.


Reading List 9/7/2010-9/14/2010

Hello All,
Oh it’s fall and I feel the strange need to clean and improve. I finally put up new curtains (only took 3 years!), not to mention throwing out that office chair that became dangerous to sit in. I also feel the need to clear out some of these books I’ve got lying around. We’ll see what hell that well-intentioned thought brings.

Reading List 9/7/2010-9/14/2010
The Last Olympian
-AKA the last Percy Jackson book!
The Subteraneans-Feel like some beat literature in prep for Howl
Accidental Billionaires-In prep for The Social Network

Four Four Two

All caught up! Time for some back issues.

That’s all folks! Have a great week! Book Slave.


How did I get here?: Rasl & Revolver

Hey Guys & Gals,
So last week I happened to pick up two graphic novels which were bizarrely similar. This was completely by chance. Or was it?

Wherever you go, there you are: Rasl vol. 2 & Revolver
Despite the fact that I am scientifically handicapped in many ways, I enjoy thinking about theoretical physics. Someday I want to read books about string theory and Schrodinger’s cat. I did read Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Nash’s paper on game theory. Didn’t understand much of it, but I do want to. This same fascination exists with parallel universes. Does every decision you make create a split where the different options play out? Is there different versions of you playing out these scenarios on an infinite number of Earths? It was just my luck that two new graphic novel’s I read this week scratched this itch.

Jeff Smith’s new series Rasl finally came out with his Vol. 2. It’s horribly frustrating that this series is being released in single copies quarterly. Due to the infrequency I just gave up and moved to trades. So it seems like forever since I read Vol. 1, but I vaguely remember the plot enough that I can continue to enjoy this series. Rasl centers on a former scientist turned art thief who jumps around parallel universes. He’s also being chased by a lizard and screwing around with various women.

Unfortunately I am completely turned off by the amoral behavior of the main character. Issue 6 works very hard to make the case that Rasl is a hero. But it’s really too late. It’s very hard to root for a guy who screws everything on two legs and gambling away his art theft money. Meanwhile his girlfriend is waiting for him in a parallel universe under threat. Rasl doesn’t seem to care though.

Vol. 1 dealt with setting up this crazy premise so now in Vol. 2 Smith gets his geek on. Having made it to 6 issues Smith feels confident enough to experiment with non-linear storytelling. The best issue of the series is a mix of science history and flashback as the story of Nikola Tesla is put together with a flashback into Rasl’s past. Rasl, is becoming as lost as Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five. He’s a man lost in time and space. Using non-linear storytelling, Smith puts the reader into the same confused state as the main character. This is complex work and wonderfully compelling in it’s execution. I just wish I could get more invested in the motivations of the main character.

I’ve already spoken here about my love of Matt Kindt. Oh yeah, also here. His latest OGN Revolver is another wonderful work to add to his canon. Revolver centers around a main character who finds himself bouncing between his normal banal existence and an apocalyptic parallel universe where he’s forced to kill and survive. He carries his memories and experiences into each world. This starts to wear on him as he realizes how materialistic and meaningless his normal world is compared to a world gone to hell. He struggles to find a purpose. This a natural reaction for someone in their mid-20s, whether their dealing with a world gone crazy or just “the mall.”

Kindt shows amazing skill regarding sequential art. He uses all the facets of the artistic medium to show the emotional journey of the main characters. His art style is rough on purpose, however his composition within the panel can be breathtaking. I was particularly impressed with a full page image where bodies are falling from skyscrapers above. This is clearly meant to bring back images from 9/11 which is echoed when we discover that this is an act of terrorism that pulls the world apart.

In an interesting twist the terrorist is not a religious fundamentalist, he’s a condescending moralist. This is a masterstroke. How often in our mid-20s do we question those who are supposedly moral superior? How often do they end up being wrong? In Revolver Kindt uses a unique premise to tell a story of self-discovery. It’s amazing that he still manages such an upbeat ending that is not sappy in the slightest. Don’t Miss This Book.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


The Last Book Club Meeting?!! Perhaps.

Hey All,
So longtime readers (I delude myself that their are a few of them) will recall that I attend The Hard Boiled Book Club at my local bookstore the last tuesday of the month. It's moderated by my old co-worker and fellow writer Zach Sampinos. The focus is on new alternative fiction which means the choices can often be odd but are never boring. Unfortunately my attendance has been a bit sporadic as of late because of life stuff getting in the way. Well tragically it turns out that my work wants me to work Tuesday nights from here on in. This bums me out because it's nice to have an excuse to read something new and meet with cool people every month. But such is life so other than the occasional schedule wrangling I'll have to let it go. Well maybe things will change in the future...we'll wait and see.

So this last Tuesday we sat and discussed Sean Ferrell's novel Numb. In this first novel the main character is a man who suffers from amnesia and a condition where he feels no pain. (This is actually real, read about it here.) Due to both these strange circumstances the main character lives an existence that is completely in the present. As I began this novel I was sure that this novel was going to take a typical path. However Ferrell has another intention entirely. Numb it turns out is a commentary on our insta-celebrity culture. Through very little machinations of his own the main character ends up being a freak oddity on Youtube. In this novel Ferrell uses clear cut satire to comment on what he feels is the difference between art and superficiality. Fame vs. real substance. These are the issues he wants to explore.

As important as these subjects are I was dissapointed when the ending came because I felt that we were finally learning something about the main character. He is a horribly passive character. This is pointed out to him by several characters. He is pushed and pulled by everyone else. It isn't until the very end that he takes initiative. It is a fist-pumping moment. I dearly wish that it had come sooner in the narrative. Otherwise the narrative is full of characters that I highly disliked (Emilia, Mal) or didn't know enough about to become invested in (Hiko).

In the end Numb has great moments in it, but lacks character development. Ferrell needs to decide whether he wants his stories to be commentary on subjects or characters. Some writers do both equally well. I'm willing to give him a chance on his next book to see what happens.

Enjoy! Book Slave.


Hey they're making a movie of that.

Hey folks,
Looking at my calendar I noticed that it's September. September! Yeah!

Don't get me wrong. Summer can be awesome. In my neck of the woods it means insanely high temperatures, the ritualistic burning of my fair skin, and a dryness that will suck every drop of moisture from your body. Oh but I digress.

For me the fall season means that my two passions collide: movies and books. Traditionally high class movie adaptations appear in the fall so that they can be released as award-bait. Hollywood's cynical calculation is my gain as I get excited seeing what's coming up. I will always support movie-adaptations of books because it does drive people to check out the original source material. Whether the movie is good or bad, readers will be naturally drawn to the original which is a great thing. Anything that leads to more reading by our civilization is a beneficial act.

Case in point: Recently I was motivated to finally read Never Let Me Go because I saw the trailer for the upcoming film. I ended up loving this book and now I'm even more psyched for the movie. (read my review here) Now it's completely plausible that this book may have sat on my TBR pile for another 5 years if this movie adaptation didn't happen. Sometimes it takes the simplest of reasons for one book to push to the top.

As I've written before I'm not a purist. I don't expect movies and books to be the same. I'll save that for BBC. I actually expect a screenwriter and director to bring their own style/interpretation to the material. We've all seen Pride and Prejudice a billion times. Same goes for Jane Eyre. I don't want to see what I've seen already. In some strange cases the movie is better than the book. It does happen every once and awhile. I've felt that the Swedish movie adaptations of Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy have been phenomenal. However I also feel that the streamlining of the plot elevates the material. Larsson's books sometimes suffer due to too much detail and not enough editing. The movies increase the action and tension but cuts down on some of the tedious details that I don't care about. If you get the chance to check out the Swedish movie versions I highly reccommend them based on Noomi Rapace's performance alone.

Anyway here's three book to movie adaptations coming out this year (along with the aforementioned Never Let Me Go) that I am now compelled to read the book based on the trailers that I have seen:

*Accidental Billionaires
by Ben Mezrich. This is the original source material for the film The Social Network.

*The Adjustment Bureau
by Philip K. Dick.

*Prince of Thieves
by Chuck Hogan. This is the original source material for the film The Town.

Look for these reviews in the future. (Well Maybe...) Have a great mid-week! Book Slave.


Reading List 8/31/2010-9/7/2010

Hello you all,
Here's the plan for this week.

Reading List 8/31/2010-9/7/2010
Revolver-OGN by Matt Kindt, not a treatise on the classic Beatles album
Rasl vol. 2

Daredevil, Walking Dead, and assorted issues.

Four Four Two- It's soccer season! Or should I say football?

I have been a somewhat lazy reader as of late but I do want to kick it up a notch this fall. There is much to catch up on before the fall movie-adaptation season begins. More on that soon.
Have a great week! Book Slave.


Reading List 7/24/2010-7/31/2010

Hey folks,
Here's the reading plan. Please note that just because a book changes, it doesn't mean that it won't reappear. I shake things up, unexpected books drop into my lap, or I'm behind on posting. Just roll with it. I do.

Reading List 7/24/2010-7/31/2010
Numb-The Last Book Club book. Sad.

Some random issues. Strangely I'm kinda caught up on the weekly pile. Finally catching up on the back log.

Four Four Two.

Currently stuck in a West Wing k-hole. I can't stop!

Have a great week! Book Slave.


We are Sex bob-omb! Here to make you feel sad and stuff!

Hey folks,
Catching up on some reviews for books that I read last month during the insane period.

Great Expectations: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
Just gonna make myself clear up front: I love Scott Pilgrim. Ever since I took home and read volume one titled Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, I was hooked. I remember sitting down with volume 1 and reading it in the course of an afternoon without being able to stop. It was so much fun. I got instantly caught up in this video game-esque world where vanquishing opponents turns them into coins. So finally we come to Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour. For me, your humble reader, expectations for this conclusion were ridiculously high. Waiting 18 months will do that. As I picked up my pre-ordered copy I was nervous. Would I be elated or disappointed? Well having read the book I’d use a different word to describe my feelings: Surprised.

Writer/Artist Bryan O’Malley finished up his epic with a lot of action, a touch of darkness, and ultimately a hopeful ending. I did not predict that nearly ¾s of the book would be the final battle between Scott and the “super-boss” Gideon Graves. Although we had some cameos from side characters, and wrap up to their stories, this really came down to the triangle of Scott, Ramona, and Gideon. He eschews the focus on characterization in order to give us as much visual eye-candy as he can.

O’Malley has shown great improvement in his use of sequential art over the years. He has always emulated a manga-esque panel style. He mashes it with video games visuals to create a unique look. In volume 6 O’Malley uses this to explore dreamscapes and psychology more in-depth than in previous entries. In particular this pertains to Ramona and her own relationship issues. I found this very interesting because Ramona has maintained an air of mystery and emotional aloofness. It’s been implied that this enhances her attractiveness. It is her ability to constantly be cool but unattainable that has so many evil ex-boyfriends willing to fight for her.

This was a surprising turn in characterization to shift the focus to Ramona. Whereas the book is called Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour it could easily be called Ramona’s Darkest Therapy Session. Like Scott Ramona has her own issues to overcome that are linked to her fears. I never expected any of this from this series. Ramona has been held up on a pedestal until the aforementioned Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe. Call me pathetic or a “shipper” but I’ve always felt invested in the Scott/Ramona romance. I’ve felt that Ramona is a great dream girl in volumes 1-4. Her supercool ever-changing hair color and deft use of the subspace highway are just a few of her awesome attributes. However I was not happy when in Vol. 5 Ramona suddenly became an unlikable character. It was like a betrayal to see this sudden turn in character. She’s pissed and unhappy with Scott at the end of Vol. 5. Now I see that O’Malley was laying the groundwork to de-mystify Ramona in Vol. 6. As we head into the final confrontation Scott and Ramona are on equal footing which completes an emotional arc for the two of them.

Ultimately this elevated storytelling shows a maturity in O’Malley’s writing. It’s unfortunate that O’Malley doesn’t extend this to the side characters as he wraps up this story. I was really hoping for a cool ending for Kim Pine, Stephen Stills, and Wallace. These characters are fun enough to have spin-off books of their own. Instead O’Malley settles for some cheap laughs. I was not impressed and it felt like a step back compared to the finale that O’Malley gave Scott and Ramona. The lack of characterization with these side characters, especially Kim Pine, was particularly cheap.

Endings are hard. As a fan of the series I wanted everything to be great. In the end it turns out that Vol. 6 fits in somewhere in the middle quality-wise. I still feel that the series peaked during volumes 3 & 4 with its strong focus on the characters and relationships. However it’s not like the final volume ruins the whole series for me. It’s hopeful view of Ramona and Scott’s emotional journey is enjoyable, without being schmaltzy. It’s unpredictable and ambiguous which is one of the wonderful things about Scott Pilgrim. I hope that O’Malley continues to maintain this aspect of his style. Can’t wait for his next book.

Hey here's the past reviews for the other books in this series in chronological order (BTW I read Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life before the blog, so no past review to link): Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, Scott Pilgrim vs. the Infinite Sadness, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


A little Self-Promotion...

A little self promotion if you please. Within this link is an interview about yours truly. It mostly focuses on The Graphic Novel Club, a program that I started up this year and have been trying to build.

Salt Lake City Weekly-The Graphic Novel Club

Enjoy your weekend! Book Slave.


Things I've Learned...Comics Edition

Hey folks,
So I finally had some time to sit back and get thru that comic stack that’s been mocking me. Comics yeah. My old friends.

Here’s some conclusions I came to.

5 Things I Learned from Comics this Week

1. Captain America is awesome again. I was very close to dropping the book after the last storyline. Brubaker brought me back with #606, which was the beginning of this new storyline with Baron Zemo. I love how this story delves into the complex psychology of Bucky Barnes. He's been through some stuff being the Winter Soldier and all. With Steve Rogers, the original Cap, back from the dead, Bucky really has to convince us that he has the mental stability to hold the Captain America mantle. Can't wait to see what's next. Still don’t care about the Nomad backup though.

2. Sadly I’m gonna pass on Birds of Prey. I want to love it, but I don’t. Maybe I’ll come back to it in trade.

3. Sea Bear and Grizzly Shark was awesome! C’mon They Get Mixed Up! I’ve loved Ottley’s art on Invincible and he’s a local so I picked it up just for fun. It was remarkably gruesome but hilarious. Ifanboy was right.

4. Fantastic Four is the best Marvel comic right now. It’s wonderfully consistent, smart, and dynamic, without relying on flash. Hickman has made me love a book that I never thought I would even read.FF is worthy of everyone’s attention.

5. The ending of Walking Dead #75 is wonderfully amazing. Kirkman is a magical SOB. You trade-waiters are missing out.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Reading List 8/17/2010-8/24/2010

Hey folks,
Here’s the plan for this week. So nice to see things getting back to normal eh?

Reading List 8/17-8/24/2010
Last Olympian
Chronicles Vol. 1-Due to the fact that I am seeing Bob Dylan in concert tonight. Yes let me repeat that: I am seeing Bob Dylan tonight! (Very excited)

Amazing Spider-Man-the last two arcs The Grim Hunt & One Moment In Time. I'm so behind. Then some random issues of comics that I've picked up over the last little while.

Four Four Two

In addition to this fine reading I've now got time to do the following: Re-Watch the magic that is West Wing. Finally watch Skins Series 1. And the next series of MI-5. It’s nice to be a bit slovenly.

Enjoy your week! Book Slave.


Don't call it a Comeback & Never Let Me Go

Hey folks,
Yes I am back. I’ve been horribly absent from this blog but trust me it was because of a worthy cause. When I’m not lost in the written word I like to find ways that I can keep myself busy. So that’s where I was. But now I’ve returned like that cat that came back. Thank you those who’ve stuck around to read my literary rantings. I’ll try not to stay away so long.

Never Let Me Go: Go Get the Tissues.

Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro has been sitting on my TBR pile for a long time. I was motivated when I saw the trailer for the new movie adaptation. That trailer pushed me to the point where I finally picked it up and entered the world of Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy. These three friends are all students of Hailsham, a boarding school for those who are “special.” The story is told in flashback thru the eyes of Kathy who works as a “carer.” I am being purposely vague because I don’t want to lessen the emotional impact of this story. He is subtle in such a way that may lose readers who seek out melodrama. There are neither bombs that explode nor people held at gunfire. The stakes, however, remain just as crucial to our metaphysical existence. What does it mean to have a soul? What does it mean to be human?

Ishiguro uses a limited narration that keeps the readers at a distance. At first Hailsham seems like any other boarding school but slowly the reader gains a feeling of something more sinister. This underlying feeling that there is something “different” about the world in which these characters exist drove me forward. Even though I knew that Kathy’s tone of melancholy meant that there would be no happy endings. Kathy’s acceptance of this makes Ishiguro’s indictment of this society even more tragic. Tears welled up in my eyes upon the devastating climax because it was all so inevitable.

This book hurt my soul. I’ve talked before about books that I can’t read in public because I’ll end up making an emotional mess of myself. Well add another book to the list.

Oh by the way here’s that trailer I was talking about:

It’s good to be back. Have a great summer night, Book Slave.


A little Ranting & Reading List 7/27-8/3

Hey Folks,
Don't worry I'm still alive! This summer is a very busy thing for your humble reader/blogger. This week I had the chance to sit back and dive back into the wonderful magical world of the reading experience. That respite was a moment of sweet salvation from a very hectic time. It was a great reminder that no matter how crazy the world can get (and it can get crazy), there's a place that you can escape to. Reading is not about just "getting thru it." It's not about getting the slate clean. Even when you have "homework" if what you are reading is well-written then it's not "work." Literature, books, the written word, whatever you want to call it, should be a joy. Let's not forget.

Alright, stepping down from my personal pillory, here's the plan this week.

Reading List 7/27-8/3
Battle of the Labyrinth
Batwoman: Elegy

A gorgeous stack of goodness.

Four Four Two-World Cup Wrap Up.

Google Reader Catch Up Continues. It's at the point where it's not 1000+ which constitutes a lot of hard work folks.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Reading List 7/13-7/20

Hey folks,
So I'm much less busy now that certain Alt Press Festivals are over. Hopefully posting here will become more regular. The Alt Press Festival was a massive success with good music, art and sock puppetry. In fact if you look on certain social networks (such as the Facebook) you'll actually find a decent picture of yours truly, as well as the other committee members. So you'd think that I would just take it slow after such a massive undertaking but no you'd be wrong. Well wasn't it Frances McDormand who said "Be Bold and Mighty Forces will come to your aid" ? So here's the plan this week:

Reading List 7/13-7/20
Powers Definitive Hardcover Vol. 1
With the Old Breed

A wonderful stack of comic goodness.

Gotta catch up on the Google Reader. It's overflowing.

And that's it folks. Seriously. Have a great week! Book Slave


Reading List 7-6-2010 to 7-13-2010

Oh poor neglected blog. Don't worry I'll be back to posting regularly, I know that you believe in me.

Here it is:
Reading List 7-6-2010 to 7/13/2010
Batman #866, Amazing Spider-Man 632-635, Fables 96, New Avengers 1, Captain America 606, Walking Dead 73, Fantastic Four 580

I'll also try to attack the Google Reader Inbox. It's overflowing.

And that's all folks. Seriously I may squeeze in a short book, but otherwise I don't have time this week. I'm very busy.

Have a great week, Book Slave. (Well really just Slave this week.)


If only the makers of Jonah Hex had Listened.

Hey folks,
After I've seen a few disasterous literary adaptations come down the pipe lately I felt compelled to write the following. If only anyone in charge were actually reading. *sigh*

5 Ways Not to Eff-Up A Literary Adaptation

1. It's about the characters.
As long as it's clear that Frodo needs Samwise to save him from the Ring, then I don't care what you change. It is these characters that we love and are willing to follow. That can't be replaced by a special effect or story twist. Strong consistent characters can steer any successful page-to-screen adaptation.

2. It's got to be an interesting World.
The world of the movie has to be made interesting and new by the writers, directors, and cast. The original author went to a lot of trouble describing the world inhabited by these characters. At least do the author the favor of doing the same when you translate it into a visual medium. Actually it might be a good thing just to let the author do the screenplay. If they want to. What you got to lose?

3. Casting is Key.
I don't care if you get the hottest "It" girl/guy of the moment, if she's not right for the part, then your sunk. And not all actresses are Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren or Cate Blanchett. Those actresses can do any part on earth. Frankly if I heard they were gonna be the leads in an adaptation of anything, I would buy a ticket. I tell anyone who will listen that a great performance from any actor will always gain more than a mediocre performance from a "star" actor. Cast for talent not popularity. Please.

4. If it's not good. Then it's not good.
Okay so you may be able to fool those folks who go see anything the first day it comes out, but a book will outlast a bad literary movie adaptation. In the end that bad movie will end up in a bargain bin at Walmart. Go ahead put it out in January, March or September. However no fan of a book wants to see a poor adaptation of their favorite book. If the movie looks like it's gonna be bad, then just cut your losses and move on to the next project. Don't change the ending, or recast, or bury it. Just don't make the movie in the first place.

5. Not Every Book is Meant to Be a Movie.
It's true. For every great movie adaptation of a book that everyone said "couldn't be done" their are utter abhorrent mistakes. Books and movies are two different mediums. One is visual. One is created with words only. Not everything can or should be both. There are also books that are so iconic that you may want to avoid adaptation completely. I'm looking at you On The Road.

So having said all this here are 5 books that I think would make great movies if done right:
Special Topics In Calamity Physics by Marissa Pessl
Northline by Willy Vlautin
Alias by Brian Michael Bendis
Winesburg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane by Sean McKeever

Have a great weekend! Book Slave.


Admittance of fault: I Kill Giants

Hey folks,
Alright mark this day in your calendars: I was wrong. Okay I admit it. The following is an explanation of how I ended up enjoying I Kill Giants.

First a flashback: Back in July 2008 I picked up a single issue of an independent comic named I Kill Giants. There was a lot of buzz on the mini-series and it was just 2.99 so I decided to go for it. At the time I hadn't heard of Joe Kelly, who was writing the series. Of course now he's one of my favorite writers after reading his work on Amazing Spider-Man and Deadpool. However in the summer of 2008 I was of a different mindset altogether. After flipping through the first issue I was unimpressed. Maybe it was the heat, but I thought it was derivative of what I had seen in fantasy before. A young girl, different from her peers, who escapes into a fantasy world of her creating which may or may not be real sounded like a Pan's Labyrinth ripoff to me. So I gave it a pass.

However during the next 6 months I Kill Giants was all anyone who reads comics could talk about. It was the Essex County Trilogy of 2008. But still I resisted. Sometimes I have this bizarre irrational stubbornness that makes me retreat from anything that is overtly popular. For the same reason I refuse to see Avatar or read Harry Potter. I fully admit that it's foolish but there it is. I felt the same way about I Kill Giants and so even when the trade came out I said no.

Well then I read Joe Kelly's Amazing Spider-Man arc earlier this year. It was hilarious, funny, and witty. Basically everything I want in a Spider-Man comic. Then I heard a great interview that he gave on Ifanboy and I found out that Kelly had been writing comics since the early 90s. He knows comics. So when I saw the I Kill Giants Titan Edition come thru I decided to give it another chance.

So here it is: I Kill Giants is a wonderful story about a very effed-up 5th grade girl named Barbara Thorson. Barbara keeps two secrets from the world: One is a hammer capable of toppling giants. The other is something far worse. She is different, closed off socially, and finding strength in making the world around her fantastical. But their is obviously something wrong in the Thorson household. The question is whether Barbara is the one with severe emotions problems, or whether she has created a coping mechanism to deal with an external force. Writer Joe Kelly and artist JM Ken Niimura are very savvy to leave us guessing until the final issue. Barbara is an unreliable narrator, but not in a cynical way. The writer is not trying to trick us or smugly wink with hipster cynicism. Rather Barbara's extreme POV endears us to her. She creates a world where she is the strongest person she can be.

However as we find out in this carefully crafted tale, this is not a story of good vs. evil. Barbara cannot kill the most horrifying thing out there: the unknown. Even giants are easier opponents. She has to create a world that she can control because in the "real world" she is helpless. I was very impressed by how Kelly and Niimura deftly switch between POVs. We get to see Barbara from multiple sides who try to understand and help her. It's a very emotional tale at the end. Barbara Thorson goes through a very rich character journey. The reader experiences Barbara's epiphany at the same time that the reader does, which makes it very involving.

So in the end I highly reccomend I Kill Giants. Okay. Are you happy?

Have a great week. Book Slave.


It's a busy time.

Hello Y'all,
Having a great week? I hope so. In fact tomorrow is my b-day! It's also going to be a day where USA and England win and move on the next round (I hope, please, let it happen). A lot of things. Here's the plan this week.

Reading List 6/22-6/29
Love & Blood - Soccer baby! yeah.
The Ecstatic- Book Club book. I Love my book club.

A stack to catch up on. End of the month/fiscal year comic crash.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Reading List 6/15/2010-6/22/2010

Hey World,
How are you? Hope you are all having a good summer wherever you reside on this spinning orb. I am a busy bee, but I cannot avoid the lure of the printed page.

Reading List
American Gods-In order to catch up with 1b1t I'll need to read a chapter a day. Can I do it? To Be Continued.
Love & Blood-Decided to pick this up off the TBR pile because it's a World Cup-centric book. By the way I love world cup! Go SPAIN!
Hellboy: The Wild Hunt-Because it'd be weird if I wasn't reading a graphic novel.

Four Four Two

Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, and some older comics. Apparently since I dropped some comics that haven't been good lately (Wolverine I'm looking at you!) means that it's easier to work through my comic stack. Who knew?!

World Cup baby. World Cup. Have a great week! Book Slave.


Time Travel & Booster Gold.

Hey folks,
A short return to a series I love. I love it so much I've talked about it here and here. Have I mentioned I also love time travel? Oh I do. I do.

Booster Gold Effs Up Everything, Again: Booster Gold Day of Death

I first met Booster Gold in the pages of 52. If you have not read that excellent series then I urge you to do so, especially if you are a DC fan. In 52 Booster emerged as the first character who tried to fill the superhero void when Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman decided to take a break after Infinite Crisis. However it turns out that Booster's major character flaw is that he will do anything for fame and fortune. He is a bit of a douchebag, but he does in the end want to do the right thing. It's just that occasionally he strays. Since the end of 52 Booster's been working with Rip Hunter in his own title Booster Gold. I've loved reading this series in trade paperback, so the moment I saw a copy available I had to snatch it up.

And it didn't disappoint. Time travel is a difficult gambit. It often becomes of question of whether you believe that one can change the future by manipulating a significant event or if you follow a philosophy that some events are just always going to happen. It's complicated. It can hurt your head if you think about it too hard. Booster Gold follows the idea that somethings are just "supposed" to happen, it's been deemed "solidified time." This is illustrated in Booster Gold #5 where Booster cannot stop Barbara Gordon from being shot. He desperately tries again and again but tragically it's just meant to happen.

This precedent regarding the rules of time travel, which was established by Geoff Johns, is key to the story arc in Day of Death. In this arc Booster is sent by Rip Hunter to get some info from the Bat Cave since Bruce Wayne has disappeared. But being Booster Gold, well he screws things up. This is not a spoiler-with Booster it's pretty inevitable. Thank God for Rip Hunter. Of course it is the pairing of these two men that makes this series wonderful. They are polar opposites in a "Odd Couple"-kind've way. It's very entertaining as written by Jurgens in this arc.

Back to time travel, writer Jurgens continues to use these issues to show us DC readers what parts of comic continuity are important. The DC universe needs Dick Grayson and the Teen Titans; Dick Grayson is supposed to become Batman and help Damian; these events are "solidified time." Without this series of events then the DC Universe will be in a bad place. Rip and Booster have to put things right. Will they? C'mon this is a comic book. While the ending was slightly predictable I still enjoyed this series because it doesn't wrap itself in convolution. It's still pretty simple to understand. Even for Booster.

Have a great week! Book Slave.