Saturday, June 23, 2007

Crack is wack. Goodreads ain't!

A friend of mine recently invited me to create an account at goodreads. Once I examined the true glory that is this website (free, I might add) I began to foam at the mouth and break into a sweat that would even make Whitney Houston cringe. I am now a hopeless shell of a human being...not satisfied with my life until I can get to my computer for my next goodreads fix.

Here's what you can do at goodreads: You can make an unlimited list of the books you've read and want to read. You can sift through titles & editions by using their wonderful database...You can write reviews and rate your books. There are open forums for discussion...people ask eachother & respond to questions about themes, topics, characters...etc. You can make a personal profile that includes a picture of yourself, etc. (this is optional). There's probably more...but I'm having fun with those aspects of the site for now. Choosing the books to put on my shelves & creating shelf categories is enough to keep me occupied until I grow a beard and long fingernails like Rip Van Winkle. That was revolting. My apologies.

Also, you can meet people from around the globe! I haven't gotten the whole "friendster" element of it together yet, as I just created my account two days ago. Apparently, though, you can find friends based on their interests and book choices. What a marvelous way to meet someone!

Right now, I'm reading If On A Winter's Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino. There are many underlying stories within this marvelous novel, but one of its main themes puts me in mind, as it explores a friendship that blossoms due to two main characters' mutual interest in a certain book.

It's so wonderful to discuss books on such a grand scale! It's such an aesthetically pleasing, simple website. The only annoying aspect of it is that it seems to be connected in some way to's search engines...Also, it seems to support the big chain bookstores and I could give less than two craps about supporting big business...It's actually very frustrating and upsetting!Despite that rather massive flaw, I've managed to enjoy my experience on thus far.

Check it out if you're so inclined. I'm pretty sure you'll be hooked after the first five minutes.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Something Borrowed, Something New

Not that either of these books are going to have especially surprising endings (spoiler alert: innocence slaughtered!), but OJ's shelved slasher fic and the new Harry Potter have allegedly been leaked to the internet. Confirm your suspicions here and here.

He's A Terminator Like You, Right?

If brick & mortar bookstores thought that and the internet was a threat, what will they think of the ominous object known simply as 'Espresso'? The Espresso is a vending machine which prints public domain books on demand. At present, it has over 2.5 million titles to choose from. It averages roughly two books every seven minutes, including binding and trimming. The $50,000 objet d'art has already been put into operation at the New York Public Library's Science, Industry and Business Library, with the New Orleans Public Library, the University of Alberta, the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont, and the Open Content Alliance in San Francisco all clearing floor space to fit them in come the fall.
(all info via 1, 2)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Today's Links: Bacchanalian Book Reviews

Via The Tom Standage's A History Of The World In Six Glasses divides world history into the beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and Coca-Cola ages, seconding my suspicions that I am an ooold (hic!) soul.

Via The House of Mondavi, The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty by Julia Flynn Siler explores how the first family of wine's bitter feuds, self-imposed adversity and 'profits above all' thinking led to their demise. It sounds depressing -- you'd better have a drink on hand to help cheer yourself up.

Via Philobiblos: "Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life is on its surface the story of the successful attempt by the author and her family to live as locavores for a year - that is, eating, almost exclusively, foods that were produced within an hour's drive of their farm in Virginia (if not directly on the premises). This book is more than that, though - it's a clarion call for more sensible eating practices, an ode to cooking/canning/gardening, and a nicely-written account of an agricultural year (in Virginia, at least)."

Via Powell' Recently deceased radio legend John Peel's recently released auto/biography, Margrave of the Marshes features funny, rambling anecdotes about himself and the the musicians he helped make famous. According to reviewer Rain Taxi, the book contains "more (anecdotes) per page than any other memoir I have ever read." A quickie: "Subjected during a television appearance to a duet between Aretha Franklin and George Michael, (Peel) remarked on camera, 'You know, Aretha Franklin can make any old rubbish sound good, and I think she just has.'"

Two from the 33 1/3 series*:
Via The San Francisco Bay Guardian: Kate Schatz tips her cap to PJ Harvey with her fictional novella, Rid of Me. Says reviewer Amanda Davidson: "It is a testament to her vision that the book doesn't follow the narratives of Harvey's songs too literally or linearly...but (instead) the text mainly draws from the music atmospherically."
Via Matthews Stearns' 'song by song, line by line, moment by moment' chronicling of the recording of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation.
*Is it just me, or does anyone else see this series becoming the indie rock equivalent of those Star Wars extended universe novels? The fact that geeks -- whether their tattoos are nautical stars or Death Stars -- are usually obsessive completists and eager consumers hints at a similarly enduring future for both.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Children Read Comics. Discerning Connoisseurs Of Highbrow Literature Only Read About Comics.

Marvel is preparing to launch an anthology comic which will feature hot 'indie' cartoonists writing and drawing short stories featuring the big M's traditional stable of superheroes. Already signed on are Paul Pope, Johnny Ryan, James Kolchalka and Michael Kupperman. Editor Aubrey Sitterson talks about the project with

Optic Nerve creator Adrian Tomine is profiled in Publisher's Weekly.

Peter Milligan, the writer of such weird and witty comics as X-Statix, Enigma and X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl, has a new series coming out in July titled The Programme. For a brief description, head over to the DC/Wildstorm website.

Over at, author Tim Callahan blogs briefly about the early work of Grant Morrison to promote his recently released book, Grant Morrison: The Early Years. Do y'all smell a sequel in the works? (Come to think of it, I smell a second sequel, as well. This one to be penned by Morrison himself, writing about the work he's yet to write but has already read while out gallivanting in his astral form.)

One Last Plug, For Those Who Prefer Their Pictures Without Words

The artwork in Colin Ord's book, Magic Moving Images: Animated Optical Illusions, has nothing to do with comic books. Still, it's so simple and cool I thought I'd pass on this brief video demonstration. (

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Misery Lit: Making Its Authors Smile

The past ten years has seen a huge increase in the publishing of 'Misery Lit' -- lurid, true-life tell-alls often revolving around the author's rape or torture or self-mutilation or something similarly horrific. While the trend started off as an off-shoot of the traditional biography, it has since morphed into something much closer to pulp fiction...only without the fun dialogue, memorable characters and great cover art. While no one knows how long the trend will last sales-wise, the long-running success of The Jerry Springer Show attests to the number of folks who are ready and willing to write their woes for the world to read. After all, it's not only a therapeutic release, it's a possible money maker, as well.

Esther Addley has written a piece in the Guardian UK on the newly minted genre, and while she begins by trying to take a properly/predictably solemn approach to it, you can feel her suppressing the urge to call the lot of them a bunch of shameless, exploitative, self-aggrandizing exhibitionists throughout. Towards the end of the article though, Addley abandons any appearance of unbiased journalism and begins poking a bit of fun at the writers of Misery Lit, as well as their employers. Here's an excerpt:

"The only challenge for editors, in fact, is to find enough dreadful tales to feed the market. Happily, after their first book proves a surprising success, many successful authors, like Pelzer, find they have another volume in them. Kathy O'Beirne and Howarth are both currently writing sequels to their first memoirs. As for Glass: 'HarperCollins and the agent were saying, 'Have you got another story to tell?' and I said, 'Yes, I have got quite a few.'"

Yes, these suffering artists are "happily" discovering that they have "quite a few" untapped tragedies still left to write about, and their editors are delighted. That means that we as the weary and emotionally battered readers will soon have experienced enough secondhand horrors to write Misery Lit novels of our own -- about the reading of Misery Lit novels! Talk about the sexually abused snake eating its own drug addicted tail...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Retire Early

Looking to collect a few quick fatwa dollars? Salman Rushdie has been earmarked for knighthood. Dress like a palace guard and hide the weapon in your big caterpillar-looking hat.



Oh, and congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Rushdie.

Shades of Ambrose Bierce

Tom's Glossary of Book Publishing Terms is a witty collection of 're-definitions' reminiscent of Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary. Listed below are a few examples from his website.

EDITOR: A writer with a day job.

MAINSTREAM FICTION: The pretense that there is a group of readers who can be reached through writing that is sufficiently unspecific as to exclude no one.

NOVELLA: A short story that has not been edited.

LITERATURE: Designation applied to titles judged unsaleable.

AUTHOR: A large class of individuals (approximately three times as numerous as readers) serving a promotional function in book marketing or providing make-work for editorial interns.

After reading a few, the cynicism is catching. Here's one of our own:


A tangible catalog for future online purchases.

A reasonably priced (i.e. free) alternative to Starbucks.

A privately funded Boys & Girls Club of America a.k.a. "A Place to Go Besides the Streets."

A Daycare.

A place to make a list to take to the library.

The only place besides Ebay that will sell your self-published memoirs.