Saturday, May 30, 2009

Recommended Viewing:
Elmore Leonard on Charlie Rose

I dissed dude's new book here, but he's still one of my all-time favorites. Skip to the 33 minute mark, then enjoy.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Book News, In Brief

Haruki Murakami’s new novel, 1Q84, is already a hit in Japan, despite the fact that it's not being released until today, and that everything about book has been kept a secret except its enigmatic title.

Streisand stalkers take note: You may soon have the blueprints necessary for a successful home invasion. According to the AP, Babs "has reached an agreement with Viking for A Passion for Design, an illustrated book...that includes photos of the Malibu, Calif., oceanfront compound she worked on for more than five years, and of other residences, back to her early years in New York."

In an uncharacteristically generous move, the government of Afghanistan has provided its people with free, summer beach reads. The reports, "The Afghan government quietly dumped more than 1,000 Shiite Muslim texts and other books from Iran into a river after a local governor complained their content insulted the country's Sunni majority."

More Google Book Search b.s., this time from across the Atlantic. According to, "EU ministers are today (28th May) expected to call for an investigation into whether Google has breached EU law. The German government has said that Google has 'stolen a march' on rival digital library projects with its Google Book Search." To read the whole piece, click here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Comic Book News, In Brief
(accompanied by an awkward bit of autobiographical over-sharing)

I first heard of Real Deal via the Beastie Boys' magazine, Grand Royal. After ordering a few issues and falling head-over-heels in love with its bizarre blend of blaxploitation and Gary Panter-esque art, I sent a ten question interview to the creators (artist Lawrence Hubbard and writer HP McElwee), hoping to run something about them in my fledgling fanzine. Not only did they respond tout de suite, they answered all of my questions in the angry, over-the-top voices of their crooked pimp characters. I was in heaven! This being the early-90's, though, I was apparently the only one enjoying such blatant badass-ery. The interview was met with a small handful of angry, feminist hate mail (ironically: mostly from men), immediately ranking it as the most popular thing I'd ever done!
Ah, but how time changes everything. It's now fifteen years later, and indie/arty comics publisher PictureBox is preparing to re-acquaint the world with Real Deal's hysterical brand of blaxploitation at this summer's MoCCA. They've even got an interview with Hubbard on their ComicsComics blog. (Sadly, McElwee died of a stroke and heart attack at age 43.)
I'm telling you, if you enjoy those old, 70's Pam Grier/Jim Brown/Fred Williamson flicks, or the Wayans brothers' spoof, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka!, or the crime fiction of Chester Himes, or even the surreal comic stylings of Archbishop Don Magic Juan, you'll want to check out Real Deal.

Bonus! Comic Book News for those uptight, upright citizens uninterested in graphic storytelling in the urban milieu:

Sock Monkey & Maakies wunderkind, Tony Millionaire, provided the art for Elvis Costello's newest album, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane. Enjoy it big, bold and up close here, or wait for the teeny, tiny, iTunes recreation come June 2nd.

Lists! We all love lists! They make order out of chaos and provide us with helpful shopping hints. Timothy Callahan, author of Grant Morrison: The Early Years, delivers a bit of both with his Top 5/Bottom 5: The Best & Worst of Grant Morrison.

Need a conversation starter for your next dinner soiree? Sacred comics cows get branded as barely B-grade beef when negatively reviews A Drifting Life and The Hooded Utilitarian re-runs his unenthusiastic review of Fun Home.

You're invited to a house warming Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel's place! The party takes place July 11 at the Cleveland, Ohio boyhood home of genius Jerry. The house was recently restored to its original appearance thanks to the generous donations of wealthy fans of classic comics.

30 Second Book Review

Road Dogs
by Elmore Leonard
Elmore Leonard is back, and he's brought three of his most popular characters with him. Out of Sight's super-cool criminal, Jack Foley, LaBrava's not-so-cool criminal, Cundo Rey, and Riding The Rap's wishy-washy psychic, Dawn Navarro, all return in this, the second most blatant Hollywood cash-in in Leonard's otherwise outstanding career. While not as lifeless as 1998's Get Shorty sequel, Be Cool, Road Dogs is nowhere near the effortless masterpiece that the aforementioned Out of Sight, LaBrava and Riding the Rap were. Why? Well, to me, Leonard's best moments are often those where nothing happens plot-wise and the characters are allowed to just riff endlessly. Unfortunately, this is the first of his books where it actually feels like nothing's happening and that the characters are riffing endlessly. Oh well, it's not like this is going to be Leonard's last book. The man has over 40 novels to his name. And it's not like this is a sign that his talent has left him, either. Leonard's last book, 2007's Up In Honey's Room, was one of his best yet.

One line pull-quote: Curious fans of the Jack Foley character might want to wait for the inevitable movie version.

Related: Today Is Elmore Leonard Day (I Hope You Remembered To Wear Your Gun)

Book News, In Brief

Manga publisher Viz will be "standardizing the pricing" on all of their titles later this year. Currently, their Shonen Jump titles are $7.99, while their Shojo Beat books are $8.99. By November, they'll all be $9.99.

From The Guardian UK: The fat years of the printed word are over. Even if books get dirt cheap, readers simply don't have the time or motive to invest in them. [...] There's been a loss of authority in the serious book. Masochistic? Click here for more.

Either my continued digs at NPR for being classist and condescending were completely misunderstood, or the Stephanie Meyer reverse-backlash has begun. Every Prius' pre-set radio station claims, Real Men Read (And Love) Twilight — Really.

Sad news for sales reps. Publishers Weekly reports: Ingram Marketing Group announced today that about half of respondents it surveyed are “open” to using e-catalogues instead of print catalogs. Click here to read the whole article. Online. Instead of on paper.

Print on demand website has devoted a forum thread to the open discussion of Google's controversial Book Search. (And by discussion, they mean unfounded doomsday soothsaying, aggressive & anonymous self-aggrandizement, and naive regurgitations of the Long Tail theory. Fun!)

I've been talking a lot of poop about comic book cover art lately, so when I saw Every Day Is Like Wednesday's post about the much maligned cover to Marvel Divas #1, I felt a touch of blogger kinship. Their angle: Yes, it is completely unfair to judge a book by its cover. On the other hand, what's so unfair about judging a book cover by itself? Click here to read.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cool Covers from Recent Releases:
Sometimes Simple Says It All

by Von Boeselager, Fehrenbach and Fehrenbach.
B Is for Beer by Tom Robbins.

In Yer Face
by Ismael Alvarez.
We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism by J. Derbyshire.

Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior
by Geoffrey Miller.
High: Confessions of an International Drug Smuggler by Brian O'Dea.

Book News, In Brief is Back!
(ain't nothing changed but my limp)

We've seen some pretty crummy looking books since we started dealing in used product, but none of them have come close to the crappy condition of this one.

Continued weak sales and after-tax charges have added to Borders' first quarter losses. Lest you think we're gloating, a confession: Our Memorial Day weekend sales could've been a little more memorable.

Fortune Magazine has compared the launch of Amazon's Kindle to Apple's launch of the iPhone. While the sales figures were staggering different (500k to 200 million), Fortune feels confident that Amazon is gonna clean up with the Kindle in the next few years. Via.

The Millions Book Blog recently compiled over a dozen movie trailers for a book club focusing on books that were made into films. This inspired in me a 'Bookselling For/To Dummies'-style idea: Using the trailers from film adaptations to sell the books that they were based upon. warns, "A decline in the amount of children's poetry being published has reached 'crisis point' according to Chris ­Holifield, director of the Poetry Book Society." This, despite the fact that nearly every Twittering/Facebooking/livejournaling poet's work could be considered best.

One last link, this one less book news than retail news. A recent poll found success rates as high as 83% for folks haggling for discounts. Note to our customers: Don't. Even. Think. About. It.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Author Event

Saturday, May 30, 4:00 PM
Cynthia Riggs
Death and Honesty

Author talk, Q&A, book signing, and complimentary refreshments.
In Death and Honesty, Victoria Trumbull, the ninety-two-year-old poet/sleuth, discovers a neighbor’s body in the home of one of the three town assessors. The assessors have been skimming off tax money from wealthy landowners and stashing it in their own special retirement funds. Then the private pilot of the not-so-holy clergyman husband of one of these landowners is found dead, floating in his employer’s pond, his face gnawed by snapping turtles. Finally, searching for old documents in the attic of Town Hall, Victoria discovers a third body, that of the long-missing assessors clerk. In order to tie all the threads together and solve the murders, Cynthia again teams up with her old friend and rival, Emery Meyer, now working as the landowner’s chauffeur.
It’s another entertaining mystery, as only Riggs can spin it, infused with the flora and fauna of Martha’s Vineyard.
Cynthia Riggs, a thirteenth-generation Islander, lives on Martha’s Vineyard in her family homestead, which she runs as a bed-and-breakfast catering to poets and writers. She has a degree in geology from Antioch College and an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College, and she holds a U.S. Coast Guard Masters License (100-ton). Click here to visit Cynthia's website.

Posted by Inkwell Michelle

Vacationing Blogger Presents:
Recycled Posts #5-14

To quote my-damned-self,

"When The Economy Needs Stimulating, Your Hard Earned Dollars Are The French Tickler!"

Gift Tips for the Bookish: the complete collection...thus far.

Live blogging returns tomorrow!