Friday, April 24, 2009

April Vacation's Anti-Education Quote of the Day

Five for Friday:

"I hated school so intensely. It interfered with my freedom."
Nobel Prize winner, Sigrid Undset

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."
Mark Twain

"Common sense is in spite of, not as the result of education."
Victor Hugo

"I believe that school makes complete fools of our young men, because they see and hear nothing of ordinary life there."

"Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."
Oscar Wilde

Boston Based Book News, In Brief

What's the Craiglist killer reading? Not Gray's Anatomy, apparently.

Bostonist reports, "Walden Pond is good for transcendentalism. And fishing!"

Anne Bromer is a Boston bookseller who specializes in miniature books. Among her many tiny tomes is a first edition of the Emancipation Proclamation and the first book on birth control -- which doubled as a sponge! (Ewww!) (Kidding.) (Still: Ewww!)

In an effort to 'cull its vast holdings,' the Boston Public Library is preparing to sell a number of items from its extensive special collection. So far, the library's collections committee has discussed parting with three items: a Crehore piano, a series of large-scale Audubon prints, and a collection of Tichnor glass printing plates that were once used to make postcards. In contrast to this, whenever the Falmouth Public Library holds a sale, all they offer are tear-stained Harlequin Romance novels, crumpled copies of The Cape Cod Times, and Harry Potter books with poorly drawn penises in the margins.

While we're on the subject of romance novels, newspapers, and disturbing genitalia, allow me to excerpt this TOTALLY AUTHENTIC BOOK REVIEW from The Fairfield County Weekly:
You know what romance novels did for me? They taught me about oral sex before I knew what a clitoris was. That scared the shit out of me. I was, like, 9. And so I may have missed my chance at being the kind of romance-novel reader a lot of women are. The sameness of the stories and their boring predictability grew old fast for me once the sex-ed was out of the way. I was done with them after I'd basically learned everything to expect from sex before ever even seeing an R-rated movie. There have been reports lately that romance-novel sales are up in a time when the economy's kept book sales down. People — mainly women — are still picking up their paperbacks and taking comfort in the drama and erotica of the contemporary romance novel. But now it turns out there's a whole genre of romance where you don't even need to know what a clitoris is. Women all over are starting to dig into the still-small but fast-growing world of gay romantic fiction. And this month a screw-up at got more people than ever paying attention.
To continue reading (and really, how could you stop?), click here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Comic Book Review:
Gus & His Gang by Christophe Blain

French cartoonist Christophe Blain approaches the Western genre in much the same way as the chapbooks of old. His stories are short, exciting, melodramas full of bank robbers and beautiful women (and occasionally, bank robbers who are beautiful women).* But where the chapbooks downplayed the chit-chat in favor of the action scenes, Blain does the opposite. The bank heists, train robberies, and poker games in Gus are often brief, four or five panel affairs, while the title character's inept attempts at wooing can easily eat up four or five pages. Normally, this might imply an artist's unease with action, but with Blain, this is clearly not the case. He's one of those rare, Kirby-esque cartoonists whose every brush stroke packs a punch. So why would Blain even bother to write a Western if he was only going to use the genre as a Christmas tree with which to hang his brightly colored characters and vivid, engaging, and above all, hilarious dialogue? For the same reason that novelists like Elmore Leonard and film directors like Howard Hawks did: because it's fun.
Let's back up a second, back to my comment about Blain's 'Kirby-esque' art. What I'm referring to here is not an aping of the King's aesthetic, but a kinship in the kinetic energy that each of these artists is able to summon through their work. Like Kirby, Blain's art is quick. It moves quick, it reads quick, and it often feels like it was drawn quick. If you took out the color and the word bubbles, it could easily be mistaken for thumbnail sketches. But by keeping this loose approach, Blain is able to give his work a 'pop' often missing in the 'cleaner' lined comics.** You find yourself visually surfing the squiggly, swirling curves of Blain's lines instead of staring stiffly at the page. Blain's modern day, American equivalent might be Paul Pope (no surprise, considering how strongly Pope was influenced by French comics), although where Pope approaches his work as Capital-A Art, Blain's cartooning feels more like the madcap lunacy of the original MAD magazine crew.
In a world where academia and the Academy Awards have turned most Westerns into stoic examinations of 'Man's relationship to Nature' or 'Man's inhumanity to Man,' it's sorta refreshing to read one where the overriding theme is 'Boy + Girl.' Or, to put it in a pull-quote: In Christophe Blain's Old West, the cowboys spend the majority of their time getting struck by arrows. Not Indian arrows, but Cupid's.

*I wanted to throw the word "intelligent" in here, too, but I didn't want to seem like I was trying too hard to sell the work as an Old West story featuring new millennium sensibilities. The fact is, the women in this story are mostly girlfriends, daughters, and wives. The three main characters are Gus and his gang, and so everyone else we meet is -- to some extent -- defined by their relationships to them. That said, as the story progresses, Gus & His Gang actually becomes more about Clem (one of Gus' two-man 'gang') and his complicated relationships with his wife (Ava), his daughter (Jamie), and his mistress (Isabella). Abbreviated solo stories and quiet, stolen moments do an amazingly economic job of fleshing out Ava and Isabella, to the point where the reader knows their motivations and inner workings as well as, if not better than, the male leads'. I can only speak for myself here, but a week after reading it, it's 'Clem & his girls' who still linger loudest in my head.

**To keep my Kirby comparison going a li'l longer, compare a page of Jack's pencils to its final, inked incarnation. Kirby enthusiasts aren't exaggerating when they complain that most of the King's inkers unintentionally sapped some of the life out of his work.

To sample seven pages, click here.

April Vacation's Anti-Education Quote of the Day

Two by Albert Einstein:

"Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school."

"Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual."

30 Second Book Review:
In The Woods by Tana French

Irish author Tana French has written an engrossing debut novel that is both a police procedural and a psychological thriller. It's about a team of detectives - Cassie Maddox and Rob Ryan - attempting to solve the murders of two children committed twenty years apart. But there's a twist. Ryan was the lone survivor in the original case, and he is still haunted by the experience. Not only that, Maddox is the only one who knows her partner's secret, and it's drawing her in dangerously close to the case. Set in contemporary Ireland, In the Woods is an intelligent, exciting story with a well crafted plot.
Reviewed by: Kay

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Recently Blogged Bookstore Experiences:
The Good, The Sad, and The Ugly

The 'Good' comes care of The Inside Flap. It's the sweet, brief tale of a man finding an out-of-print book in a small, non-profit bookstore -- the charming sort of place that actually hangs a sign saying, "We're not for profit, please don't steal from us!"

The 'Sad' is brought to you by Comic Book Resources, and this one's told from the shopkeeper's perspective. It's about the weird relationships that evolve between clerks and their longtime customers. While normally I'd make some sort of snide joke, this story is just too damned depressing. (Enjoy!)

The 'Ugly' comes from the Booksellers Global Union #666. It's a LiveJournal group dedicated to documenting the autobiographical b*tchings of those of us in the bookselling business. Here, you and your fellow wage-slaves are welcome to share your worst experiences, vent about annoying customers, and list the stupidest questions you were asked today. It's one of my daily blog-stops, and one of the 'internet ideas' I'm most jealous of.

April Vacation's Anti-Education Quote of the Day

Two sirs, with love:

"All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education."
Sir Walter Scott

"Education would be much more effective if its purpose were to ensure that by the time they leave school every student should know how much they don't know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it."
Sir William Haley

Book News, In Brief

And the 10 Most Challenged Books of 2008 were...

A teaser poster for the second Twilight film, New Moon, has been leaked to the web. And by 'teaser,' I mean, 'Dude is such a tease.'

Stardoc author, Sheila Kelly, has posted a depressing bit of dream-killer over at the Genereality Blog: The (Fiscal) Reality of a NYTimes Bestseller.

The oldest dust jacket known to prehensile thumbed man was recently found in a library at Oxford University. Funny, it looks sorta like McSweeney's web page.

A new iPhone app has been released which deals specifically with indie bookstores. It allows you to browse the Indie Next List and Indie Bestseller Lists, search for any in-print book with the option to buy it online from the indie bookstore of your choice, and comes equipped with a 'Store Finder' feature which locates indie bookstores in your area.
Related: MediaBistro reports, Book Applications Increase 280 Percent

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cool Covers from Upcoming Comics

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
#25 is available for pre-order here.
The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley is available for pre-order here...or in our store!

Detective Comics #854 is available for pre-order here.
Deadpool #11 is available for pre-order here.

Johnny Boo #3 is available for pre-order here...or in our store!
Mijeong is available for pre-order here...or in our store!

Related: I swear to everyone from Christ to Krishna that I didn't see Super Punch's 4/20 post, Favorite DC Comics Covers for July 2009, until an hour after I'd finished f**king with the html to this one. 'Great minds,' I guess.

Updated: For the record, none of the sites linked to here -- or anywhere else on our site -- provide us with any sort of payment, credit, or compensation. When we post something like this, it's because we think it's cool. When we accompany these posts with purchasing links, we do so only so that similarly interested parties can easily obtain their own copies. Trust me, when it comes time to whore myself out, it'll be on a street corner, and I'll be in drag.

April Vacation's Anti-Education Quote of the Day

A special 2-for-1 Tuesday with author Ivan Illich:

1. "School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is."

2. "Together we have come to realize that for most men the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school."

Tuesday's Tips for Flailing Writers

Topic Turtle has 5 Reasons Good Writers Fail.

43 Folders offers 20 Ways To Hack Yourself Out Of Writer's Block.

Holt Uncensored lists 10 Mistakes Writers Don't See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do).

Storytellers Unplugged has put up a detailed post describing the the duties of the copy editor.

Alexander McCall Smith, author of the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, warns of the uncomfortable confrontations that result from fans (1.) connecting too closely to characters and (2.) confusing your characters' personalities with your own.

Literary agents: You can't live with ' can't do much more than print-on-demand publishing without 'em. In keeping with this 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' dichotomy, I'm offering up two opposing pieces on literary agents: Storytellers Unplugged's pro-agent piece and The Militant Writer's anti-agent piece.

We're #5! We're #5! (well, alphabetically)

I was halfway through a super long post about the many ways in which the recently departed J.G. Ballard's book, Crash, had helped to form my sexual identity when I rec'd an email informing me that our humble blog had been chosen as one of Follow The Reader's 'Favorite Bookstore Blogs.' While this did wonders for my e-ego, it completely took me out of the salacious-yet-somber mind state that one must be in when one writes an obituary/memoir mash-up.
Oh, well. It's probably for the best. I have trouble believing that any of my exes were actually going to email me back with the hi-rez scans of our old crash scene photos, anyway. Some people are funny that way.
R.I.P. Mr. Ballard.
We're #5! We're #5!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Recommended Viewing:
Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess

For young girls, sappy parents, and romantic dreamers everywhere...

Single Sentence Comic Review

Panel five brings to mind that ol' 1990's chestnut, "Sh*t just got real."

Image excerpted from: Darryl Cunningham's The Streets of San Diablo
Image swiped from: The Comics Reporter

April Vacation's Anti-Education Quote of the Day

"All too often education actually acts as a form of aversion therapy, that what we're really teaching our children is to associate learning with work and to associate work with drudgery so that the remainder of their lives they will possibly never go near a book because they associate books with learning, learning with work and work with drudgery. Whereas after a hard day's toil, instead of relaxing with a book they'll be much more likely to sit down in front of an undemanding soap opera because this is obviously teaching them nothing, so it is not learning, so it is not work, it is not drudgery, so it must be pleasure."
Alan Moore, from a March, 2009 interview with Salon

Book News, In Brief

Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, has announced the topic of his next novel: The life of Abraham Lincoln, vampire hunter.

Most professor's lectures only feel like they last forever. Some actually do. Fifty years after Strunk & White's The Elements of Style was published, and a little over a year after Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture hit the bestseller lists, both books are still selling strong.

The ancient Roman book trade and the publishing world of today have more in common than just a predilection for toga parties. According to The NYTimes, both share an unhealthy obsession with bestsellers, countless exploited and impoverished authors, and a fondness for celebrity book launches.

Within hours of Hugo Chavez handing Barack Obama a copy of Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, the decades-old political/history book rocketed to bestseller status. This make it official: Obama has officially joined J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer as the third godhead in the '00's literary bestseller trinity.

It's a never-ending alimony for Tessa B. Dick! Ms. Dick, the last of Philip K. Dick's five divorced wives, has filed suit against two of Dick's daughters. Tessa claims that, "under the terms of her divorce agreement with the author," she is owed money for the film adaptations of Ubik and A Scanner Darkly. This, only two months after announcing her plans to 'rework' and self-publish The Owl in Daylight, the novel P.K. Dick was working on at the time of his death.