Friday, April 3, 2009

Book News, In Brief

It's called nepotism, y'all: President Obama's half-sister has a book deal. The details have yet to be hammered out, but who cares -- she's Obama's half-sister!
(See also: Bill Clinton's Brother's Acting Career, George Bush Jr.'s Presidency)

In an effort to lessen their $217.8 million debt, Borders will close the majority of its remaining Waldenbooks stores. Too bad they couldn't charge an hourly fee to the bums sprawled out in the aisles sipping cold cups of crappy coffee. They'd make billions.
(See also: Barnes & Noble Execs Get Salaries Frozen)

The next time someone tells you that the future of bookselling is niche bookstores, tell them to shut the f**k up. In the last week alone, San Francisco's Babylon Falling and LA's Cook's Library have both announced that they're going out of business -- and these stores were as niche as niche could be.
(See also: The 1,670,000+ search results for the phrase "bookstore closing")

Whether it's Pam Anderson as the unlikely bookstore employee in Stacks, or Sandra Bullock as the even less likely 'high powered book editor' in this June's The Proposal, Hollywood has never shied away from using the book industry as a backdrop for its lame stories and ludicrous casting. The Guardian UK asks, 'Um...why?'
(See also: The LATimes' What Does Publishing Mean To Hollywood?)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Go, Look!

My favorite cult movie site, Twitch, ran a piece yesterday titled, Adapt That! Five Grossly Unfaithful Book to Film Adaptations...That worked! In it, they make a compelling case for the way that movies like Blade Runner, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, and O Brother Where Art Thou scrapped the minutia (and sometimes the plot) of their source novels in favor of looser, more abstract translations. Depending on your tastes, it's either gonna be food for thought or stay up late and debate bait.
Well, what are you waiting for? Go, look!

Humorous Excerpts From Recent Comics Reviews

Chris' Invincible Super-Blog on Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #55:
Tarot won three awards, and not a single one of them was for Most Haunted Vagina. Instead, in addition to giving “Best Indy Villain” to a character who hasn’t been a villain in like eight years, the Internet voters behind Project Fanboy awarded Tarot both “Best Title” and “Best Indy Title.” Seriously. That actually happened. And one can only assume that it’s issues like this, wherein Tarot goes to the Witchity County Fair and divines the future by groping a naked woman with ouija board tattoos (with “Yes” and “No” on her breasts, naturally), that have convinced people that this is THE ABSOLUTE BEST THAT COMIC BOOKS HAVE TO OFFER.

Tucker Stone on X-Force/Cable: Messiah War # 1:
It's about a team of mutants led by Wolverine and Bosley'ed by Cyclops, watching them sent into the future to catch up with a time-hopping Cable and his ward, a fantastic little girl New Mutant the cover depicts as having 11 inch long legs, all so that they won't be caught by a guy named Lucas Bishop that used to have a curly mullet that made Lionel Richie's hair look subtle, and they have to watch out for a guy named Stryfe, who dresses like a professional wrestler with no sense of humor mixed with the metalworks empire of King Arthur....Keeping up with whatever the fuck this is supposed to be about ain't easy. They probably give Harvey Awards for that.

From Comics Worth Reading's review of Camelot 3000:
The space fantasy Camelot 3000, by Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland, postulates King Arthur returning in the year 3000 in order to save the earth from alien invaders.
Strangely enough, that's not the humorous excerpt, but the po-faced plot summation. Here's the funny:
The dialogue is talky, with plenty of exposition, in the style of 80s comics. They were beginning to write for adults in those days, but they were still figuring out how to do it. Instead of trusting the audience to bring more to the table, often the approach was one of still explaining what the reader saw on the page but with bigger words and purpler prose.

Alright, so Mike Sterling isn't reviewing a comic here, but he is reviewing a listing from Diamond Comic Distributor's newest catalog:
Page 418 - Monopoly 1935 Deluxe 1st Edition. Released just in time for another Depression! Now that's good nostalgic marketing...oh, wait.

Semi-Related: Am I Seriously The Last Person On Earth To Realize That Watchmen's Laurie Juspeczyk Intends To Become The Comedienne?

Liberal Booksellers Have A New Anti-Kindle Argument!

The Kindle is Conservative!
(Or at the very least, it's the learning tool favored by the far right.)
(Well, at the moment anyway.)
According to Amazon's own bestseller listings, 6 of the top 10 Kindle-ready e-books are either outright conservative (Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto by Mark R. Levin), semi-conservative (Stephenie Meyers' wait-'til-marriage vampires books), or a giant leap back for the women's movement (I was gonna put Steve Harvey's Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man here, but I guess I could just re-list the Meyers' oeuvre, couldn't I?).
The overly-simplistic, semi-jingoistic moral: Electric cars, good. Digital books, bad.

(Tune in tomorrow, when I'll use the Conservatives' fears and an inevitable shift in the bestseller listings to create an anti-Kindle argument for the Right.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Inquiring Book Bloggers Want To Know...

Inspired by the series finales of both Battlestar Galactica and Y: The Last Man, Second Printing wonders, What are your favorite beautiful endings?

I don't know if The Guardian UK is hoping to shock the literary elite out of their hoi polloi pretensions, or if they just really love Half-Life. Either way, they're asking, Are computer games a literary genre?

This next one's a simple yes or no question, but the answer reveals you to be either shallow or deep, artistically bent or aesthetically inept, a font fetishist or a freakin' idiot. Author Joanna Campbell Slan asks, Do you judge a book by its cover?

Abe Books is technically our competition (well, in the same way that the Ford Motor Company was Big Daddy Roth's), but my dead, Alzheimer-y Granny would've found this question charming, so I'm including it anyway: Do you own a cookbook that has been handed down to you by your mother or father, grandmother, or even great grandparents? If so, which one(s)?

Last month, anti-gay author Scott Lively (whose book, The Pink Swastika, purports that Hitler and other high-ranking Nazis were gay) was scheduled to speak at a Falbrook, CA country club. Protest threats from gay rights organizations (and, one suspects, a few historians) caused the caustic Q&A to be canceled. The LGBT Book, Film & Video Blog asks, Was this an example of censorship or public safety?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Recommended Viewing:
C.K. Williams' Poetry for all Seasons of Life

Related: Ghostface Killah's Whip You With A Strap

Tuesday's Tips for Flailing Writers

Soothe your unfounded and unwarranted paranoia: The Publetariat explains where and how to copyright your work.

Kung Fu Monkey found a unique way to use the corporate world's b.s. to flesh out his fictional characters: He gives 'em all a '360 degree review.'

A second link to The Publetariat! This time they're investigating the science & psychology behind writer's block, then offering some simple suggestions for getting past it.

StorytellersUnplugged proclaims, "Your first draft is always going to suck." While this sounds like the sort of soul-crushing patter I spew here daily, they mean it encouragingly. Honest!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Am I Seriously The Last Person On Earth To Realize That Watchmen's Laurie Juspeczyk Intends To Become The Comedienne?

I was just reading an article over at The Hooded Utilitarian in defense of Alan Moore's female characters. Apparently, some folks think Moore crafts crappy dames, despite the fact that he's probably created more multifaceted (and just plain fascinating) female characters than just about any other comic book writer (outside of the Hernandez Bros. and Charles Schultz).
So anyway, I was reading the article, totally agreeing with everything that the author was saying, experiencing that subtle ego boost one gets when one reads their opinions expounded upon in a way in which one is incapable of doing oneself, when I came across this:
Finally, in her final panel in the book, Laurie is shown speculating about getting a new costume with protective leather and a mask, and perhaps a gun. She also says "Silk Spectre" is too girly and she wants a new name. The implication is that she's going to become the Comedian.
Wait. Whoa. Hold up a second. How did I miss this the first five times I read Watchmen? I consider myself a pretty aware fellow, yet somehow I never took Laurie's line to mean anything more than, 'I've gotta get something more protective than this sheer skirt.' Am I the only one? A quick read through the article's comments section would seem to insinuate I am. And what's worse, I LOVE THIS BOOK! I can't imagine what I might've missed in the books I only mildly adore.
But am I the only one that this has happened to? Has anyone else ever missed something so obvious, so significant, in a book they've read multiple times? And if so, would you care to share? Anonymous admissions of obliviousness may be submitted to the comments section below.

Book News, In Brief

Five years after the first wave of blogger book deals, USA Today checks in on the blogosphere's current place in the publishing industry.

The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais picked up the prize for The Oddest Book Title of the Year. Runners-up included Baboon Metaphysics and Curbside Consultation of the Colon.

As the internet, Twitter, and 24 hour news stations increase the speed of information delivery, the publishing world is being forced to pick up their pace. Or, as the NYTimes puts it, You've Read the Headlines, Now, Quick, Read the Book.

Turn over any book and you're likely to see at least one hyperbolic book blurb penned by a well-known author. Now open that book and start reading. You may find even more blurb-marketing, only now it's coming from fictional characters.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Special Weekend Update:
Book News, In Boston

The rumors started circulating last weekend, and by Wednesday, the story was all over the internet: Twilight fans at Boston Latin were viciously attacking their classmates, biting their necks and then drinking their blood.
On Thursday, school officials held a press conference to deny the allegations and calm concerned parents. With a pale pallor and unblinking eyes, they admitted that while Boston Latin may have a problem with classroom bullying, they've never had any documented cases of vampiric bloodletting. This must've sounded a helluva lot better in person than it does in print, because no sooner had the school officials ducked out of the sunlight than both the parents and the press dispersed, seemingly satisfied with what they had heard.
Thankfully, the mini-van Van Helsings at were treating this threat with the seriousness it deserved. In an effort to unmask the undead, they put together a quick quiz for kids confused as to whether or not their dreamy-looking classmates were actually vampires. An excerpt:
1. Does the Suspected Vampire (SV) disappear whenever sunshine breaks out?
2. If caught in sunshine, does SV dazzle like diamonds?
3. Does SV speak as though James Dean and Marlon Brando had a lovechild?
But will this be enough to curb the curse of cannibalistic immortality, or has it already spread beyond containment? Did this month's hemoglobin-heavy Hollister hoodies damn us to a Summer full of blood-splattered bikinis? And what happens when the second wave of Twilight fans -- the thirty-something 'cougar' crowd -- finally gets wind of this trend? Will fangs be bared at Forever 21?
Only time (and the success of the second film) will tell.

(Image swiped from