Friday, January 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Edgar Allan Poe!

Book News, In Brief

Harry Potter fans rejoice! Your cloak of invisibility is one step closer to reality.

CSI: Berkley: Businessweek Online conducts an autopsy on a dead indie bookstore.

Fed up with a publishing industry filled with phony memoirs and crappy self-help books, The Huffington Post dares to speak out 'In Praise of Fiction.'

Call me a hypocrite, but as much as I shake my head at Rob Liefeld and Joe Quesada's attempts to cash in on Obama-mania, I've gotta admit, a Kyle Baker-penned Obama comic has me excited. If you've read Baker's Why I Hate Saturn, you know why.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Blog-Jacking: 101 Reasons To Stop Writing

Breaking News: Publishers, Agents Report Sharp Increase in “Unpublishable” Submissions
By Stephen Jayson Harris
New York — At the end of a week filled with news of layoffs at some of America’s biggest publishing houses, editors and literary agents are reporting a dramatic increase in the volume of unsolicited manuscripts and query submissions — many of which are considered “unpublishable, even unreadable”. Editors and agents interviewed for this story claim that their slushpiles have more than doubled since the 1st of December, a pattern that has been repeating and escalating for the last ten years, and no-one is sure what is causing the increase.
“I don’t know where all this is coming from,” said one editor who wished to remain anonymous and employed. “By Wednesday, my email Inbox looked like I’d somehow subscribed to a live submission feed from BookSurge or Lulu. By Friday, the mail was stacked up floor to ceiling in the hallway outside the company offices. With the financial crisis, we can’t even afford to feed our interns, so I’m stuck going through the slush. And all of it seems so … unpolished, like a first draft, like they’d just finished writing it the day before. Who’s writing all this stuff, and why are they sending it to me, and why now? Why does the end of November always mean a deluge of crap?”
To finish this damning indictment of the wannabe writers among us, click here.

Democrat Book News, In Brief
(cuz there's just as much stupid book news coming from the left)

It doesn't matter how you voted, pushing propaganda like this on your kids is just...creepy.

According to, Obama is on his way to becoming this year's most popular comic book character. And the reason why is so very, very Washington DC: money.

Go, Tell Michelle is a new book compiling the opinions and advice of a bunch of Michelle Obama fans with waaay too much time on their hands. It's being billed as "messages of hope and advice for the new First Lady," although "quick ca$h-in" seems equally apt.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Recommended Viewing:
Sarah Vowell on The National Post

Although I've never forgiven Vowell for letting her Incredibles character become a boring preppy at the end of the movie, I still begrudgingly love her books. Today's 'Recommended Viewing' features Ms. Vowell talking about her new tome, The Wordy Shipmates, as well as a li'l about her next book, a history of Hawaii from the European settlement on. (Plus, today's posts are turning out to be uber-liberal, and what's more liberal than an NPR personality?)

Republican Book News, In Brief

Political puppeteer Dick Cheney is writing a book. When I first heard the news, this book cover immediately popped into my mind.

Okay, so this second news bit isn't actually Republican. But let's face it, Frank Miller's world view is a helluva lot closer to Bush's than it is Obama's. Anyway, click here for Alan Moore's Frank Miller Parody. (Thanks to Journalista for the link!)

The Guardian UK has taken Kaylene Johnson's biography of Sarah Palin and condensed it to one easy-to-read page. The key line: Sarah's potential was realised when she came seventh in the Wasilla Miss Congeniality competition in 1979. Ouch.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Comic Book News, In Brief

Back in the 1960's, possible politician Caroline Kennedy had a series of gag comics made about her. A few of them were...well...oddly prescient. Star-struck voters can click here to read.

I don't know who the girls and gays crave more these days, Dash Shaw or Craig Thompson. (Sorry, Paul Pope; you got too old for lusting after.) But if you're on Team Thompson, click here for a glimpse at his newly completed, not yet published, Habibi.

2009 promises not only the newest volume of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but also all of the thoroughly engrossing Alan Moore interviews that go along with it. And if you act fast, you can contribute a question to the chit-chat Moore will be having with The Forbidden

Author du Jour: Jen Hadfield

(lifted en masse from
Hadfield was born in Cheshire in 1978. She won an Eric Gregory Award in 2003 and was given a Scottish Arts Council Writer's Bursary in 2002 to help her complete her first collection Almanacs which was published by Bloodaxe in 2005. She used her Eric Gregory Award to fund a year's residence in Canada, where she has family, giving readings from Halifax to Vancouver. She continues to indulge her passion for getting words onto objects, and uses linocut, photography, woodwork, bookbinding and fly-tying in her artist books, which she calls “Rogue Seeds”.

Although an English writer, study, residence and travel in Scotland and Canada have been central to Hadfield's poetry thus far. Almanacs is a reassuringly different debut, hard to pin down, and with no signs of stepping in the prints of the previous generation. Kathleen Jamie has called her “a zestful poet of the road, a beat poet of the upper latitudes”, while Tom Leonard described “a quick mind abroad . . . a coquettish dance of nature’s primal forces . . . a whole and committed poet”.

Hadfield is certainly a nature poet, but a dazzling, contemporary one and her work never suffers from the shallow philosophizing or haughty self-reflection which undermines much poetry centred on landscape and travel. Even when set in remote places, her work is infused with colloquial speech, cars, popular music, modern myth. How fabulous to discover such a responsive poet, excited by her surroundings, who so clearly delights in matching experience and language.

Jen Hadfield is an excellent performer of her poems and refreshingly hard-to-place on the contemporary British poetry map. In spirit, perhaps, she is closest to Edwin Morgan, the senior Scottish poet who has ranged across the whole of such a map with equal parts seriousness and levity. For a poet still in her mid-twenties, she offers not just promise, but a direction for other young writers to follow.

But Wait! There's More:
(a biographical update, care of The Guardian UK)
A relative newcomer to poetry who has been widely praised for her passion and awareness of the natural world has tonight won one of the genre's grandest awards – the TS Eliot prize for poetry.

Four Poems by Hadfield:
In The Same Way
No Snow Fell On Eden
Melodeon On The Road Home

Related Links:
Hadfield's blog, rogueseeds
Hadfield selects her Top Five Musical Moments

Book Review: The Woman Warrior
by Maxine Hong Kingston

I don’t know much about mytho-biography, but I get the sense that Maxine Hong Kingston wrote the flagship of the genre. The Woman Warrior has all the mystery, wonder, and torment of an ancient myth, while being rooted in her own life. She successfully conveys a sense of what it must be like to be a first generation American of any background, finding themselves in between two cultures, having allegiances to both though struggling with reconciling the conflicts that arise. Growing up in San Francisco, going to both American public and Chinese cultural schools, and working in the family laundry, the author draws heavily on the influence of her mother’s “talk-stories” (tall tales), which gives the book its mythological feel. This book is a fascinating look into the convergence of two major cultures happening in one person.
Review by Wendell 'Scutopus' Edwards

Monday, January 12, 2009


Okay, so when I first saw the SFist article insinuating that this Alexander Co. Bookstore window display was intentionally racist, I assumed that SFist was simply courting controversy. I mean two Obama books and a book on primates? It could've been an unintentional pairing, right? But then I looked down to the next row...and they've got a copy of Stuff White People Like sitting there.
What were they thinking?

Book News, In Brief

My oh my, how times have changed. This first link will lead you to The NYTimes' review of The Uncrowned King, "a biography of the young William Randolph Hearst (and a) story about the rising power of the press in the late 19th century." This second link'll lead you to an article about the current Hearst Corp. and their 'You wanna buy a newspaper?' woes.

Senseless tragedies like the one pictured here can be avoided...but not if we can help it! Via Publisher's Weekly: A new government regulation that requires testing of all products aimed at children 12 and under is causing headaches for publishers, booksellers and manufacturers. Books, audiobooks and sidelines fall under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which is set to go into effect Feb. 10; industry organizations are attempting to get books excluded from the Act.

The Australian's Roy Williams has penned a lengthy screed regarding the popularity of How-To books. Oddly, the best part of his thesis isn't his diagnosis as to why they're popular ("the hectic pace of day-to-day urban living, and the drive for efficiency and profitability in all spheres."), but his brief review of Mark Crick's Sartre's Sink at the very end. Who knew there was a How-To book out there featuring chapters like 'Painting a Paneled Door with Anais Nin' ("She felt every stroke of the brush as though its pure bristle were moving on the surface of her skin") and 'Putting Up a Garden Fence with Hunter S. Thompson'?