Friday, January 23, 2009

Recommended Viewing:
Talking Politics with Author/Former Spy
John le Carré

part 2, part 3, part 4

Book News, In Brief

During our current economic crises,  the only books publishers are rushing to publish are personal-finance books. (But who has the money to buy them?)

A new pop-up book documenting the history of the bra needs Cheree Berry's Hoorah for the Bra: A Perky Peek at the History of the Brassiere gets the press release-as-news item treatment here.

Remember the Australian print on demand author who got imprisoned in Thailand for talking smack about the Thai royal family? Well, Australia’s government has asked the royal family to pardon the author. Their argument? Dude Dud only sold seven copies!!!

Obama has been called everything from the second coming of Lincoln to the second coming of Christ. Now, thanks to 400,000 Japanese, he's being hailed as a second language teacher. Via NPR: A new book called The Speeches of Barack Obama tops the best-seller list on Amazon's Japanese Web site...The speeches are written in English with Japanese translations, and they're packaged with a CD...The publisher says speeches by U.S. presidents and presidential candidates are excellent for learning English.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Go, Look!

Buried deep within the archives of KCET Online is a four-part series of video interviews with some of today's best comics creators. Fans of Jaime Hernandez, Carol Lay, Johnny Ryan, and Esther Watson will want to take a look.

Book News...Culled From Elsewhere

The following two bits of political book news were nicked from Publisher's Weekly:

Bush's 'Black friend,' Condoleezza Rice, will spend the next few years writing books, giving speeches, and establishing herself as a least the William Morris Agency hopes so.

Ann Coulter, beware! Your biggest competition for the hearts and bile of right-wing housewives is about to muscle in on your book sales. Sarah Palin has hired superstar attorney Robert Barnett to broker her a book deal.

These next two manga news bits come courtesy of Journalista!:

Tomoko Ninomiya, the creator of one of Inkwell Michelle's favorite comics, Nodame Cantabile, has been sidelined by carpal tunnel syndrome.

The Hooded Utilitarian's continuing series, Manga: What IS the point? hits the nail on the head with part four: The Point of Manga is...To Cocoon.

These last two bits of poetry news come care of The Guardian UK:

American poet Jay Parini says Obama's inaugural address showed a master of "common speech heightened" at work. Translation for we simpletons: Parini thinks our 44th president is a poet.

On the flip side, Carol Rumens found Elizabeth Alexander's inaugural poem to be 'way too prosey,' and says, 'it fell flat.' This, only a day after Alexander's publisher announced a 100,000 copy print run of Praise Song for the Day: A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration. Ouch.

Inkwell Michelle's 30 Second Book Review

Moonheart by Charles de Lint
My tattered mass market copy of Moonheart shows proof on its creased cover that it has been well-read and thoroughly loved. This review of an older book (published in 1984) came about through a discussion with fellow bookseller Cristin about the kind of books that make your fingers itch with a yearning to fly through the pages. Moonheart is a delightful, fantastical book dense with mythology (Native American and Welsh), magic, and music. Sara Kendall and her Uncle Jamie co-own a wonderful, eclectic antiques and books shop in Ottawa. They live in a house that straddles our world and the “otherworld”, a primeval forest of ancient magic. When Sara discovers a Native American medicine bag with a gold ring, a bone disc, and a feather inside, her fate becomes entwined with the mysterious artifacts. Although it is so difficult to describe, Moonheart is a rich, vivid story that will appeal to fans of literary fantasy such as John Crowley’s Little, Big and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Book News, In Brief

Naomi Wolf embraces today's technology, declares YouTube > books!

Semi related (in that it's about the internet's effects on traditional reading habits), The Millions book blog asks, Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Screen?

Even less related (although it does use the words 'big' and 'bad'), The Big Bad Book Blog has a couple of tips for authors facing those dreaded new year's returns.

Not at all related (but believe me, I tried) is GalleyCat's piece on Hollywood screenwriters slumming it in the kids' lit world. Now after wasting an evening suffering through a sh*tty CGI flick with your kids, you can look forward to reading them an equally sh*tty bedtime story written by those same Tinseltown auteurs!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Author du Jour:
President of the United States, Barack Obama

Abbreviated Biography:
Barack Hussein Obama II (born August 4, 1961) is the 44th President of the United States of America, and the first African American to be elected to this position. Not only that, dude loves books -- writing them and reading them!

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
Barack Obama in His Own Words

A brief clip of Obama talking about books/his favorite book as a child:

Additional Links:

NYTimes article: From Books, New President Found Voice
Amazon's Omnivorous Blog used the above article to compile the most up-to-date list of books Obama's mentioned and/or been seen reading.

Only a little over an hour to go...

(Thanks to for posting this first!)

Tuesday's Tip for Flailing Writers

Print On Demand Authors Beware:
Easily offended politicians will find you, no matter how pathetic your print run is.

Via CNN reports that an Australian author has been sentenced to three years in prison in Thailand for publishing a book which contained passages perceived as insults to the country's royal family -- a crime in Thailand:
"Harry Nicolaides was arrested last August over a 2005 book called
Verisimilitude, which includes a paragraph about the king and crown prince that the authorities deemed a violation of the Lese Majeste law… Only 50 copies of the book were published, and only seven were sold."
I'm making jokes, but this guy's story is actually pretty effed up. To read the CNN article in its entirety, click here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What The Wild Things Look Like

I admit it. I'm obsessed with the idea of a Spike Jonze/Dave Eggers/Jim Henson Co. film adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are. That's why I make it a point to pore over every single shred of info I can find regarding it. Today's news nugget? A first look at all of the Wild Things, care of Spike Jonze' skateboard company, Girl. Go to for more pics.

(A hearty hug to Twitch for the initial link.)

Comic Book Review:
Disappearance Diary by Hideo Azuma

Like Ditko & Lee's Amazing Spider-Man and Chris Claremont's Uncanny X-Men, Hideo Azuma's Disappearance Diary is escapist wish fulfillment at its finest. Only, instead of the adolescent power fantasies made by Marvel, Azuma's autobiographical comic is a flee-from-responsibilities fantasy crafted especially for adults.
Chronicling Azuma's various 'vacations' from work-a-day reality, Disappearance Diary follows the author/artist through homelessness, alcoholism, and finally, rehab. If this sounds like yet another depressing memoir, fear not. Disappearance Diary is a pity-free comedy, or as Azuma says in the comic's second square, "This manga has a positive outlook on life, and so it has been made with as much realism removed as possible." And Azuma keeps this promise. No matter how bad things get, he chooses to highlight the absurdity of the situation rather than the tragedy. Foraging for food and alcohol becomes a treasure hunt. Getting arrested is treated as a comedy of manners. Hell, even the violent crime that results in his hospitalization is only given one panel and two goofy sound effects! Of course, this casual approach to autobiography does have its drawbacks. Anything approaching introspection is given the boot, and one can't help but wonder if the comic wouldn't have benefited from a little more emotional depth. For example, the fact that Azuma repeatedly abandons his wife while he's on these misadventures is glossed over completely. Would Disappearance Diary have had more resonance if Azuma delved into the hurt he caused others and/or the guilt he felt in doing so? Probably. But asking such a question isn't reviewing the book for what it is, but for what it isn't. So then, what is Disappearing Diary? It's a delightfully drawn, hilariously scripted account of one man's repeated escapes from society's expectations and requirements. It's a playful reminder that we all have the choice to just walk away from it all. And -- last but not least -- it's an engaging bit of armchair escapism for wage-slaves everywhere.

For a quick peek at a couple of pages, click here.

Go, Look!
(or: Book Links, In Lieu of News)

Literary editor Robert McCrum attacks the aged in his newest Guardian UK piece, Let's Face It, After 40 You're Past It.

My first exposure to comics was an old, hardcover collection of George Herriman's Krazy Kat. Needless to say, few comics have been able to measure up since. Feel like a five year old me: Head on over to Craig Yoe's recently launched George Herriman site.

Over on LiveJournal, a Bookish member asked, "How do you all decide when to put a book down and stop reading? 50 pages? Something annoying you more than once? And do you feel guilty afterward?" From the length of the comments section, it appears everyone on LJ had an opinion.

Talk about late to the party! 100 Bullets is reaching its penultimate issue this Wednesday, and I only got around to reading the first trade paperback last week. Longtime fans of this engrossing crime comic should visit for an exclusive preview of the 99th issue. As for me, I've got some serious catching up to do.