Thursday, May 29, 2008

Did you know that ABCNoRio has a zine library?
Well, your chance to check it out is this Friday for their Zine Library Party. This time they are feautring comics creators as well as music from The Rude Mechanical Orchestra. Also, beer.

If I could draw a picture of how this makes me feel it would be as follows:
a sun with shiny rays
a big face with knocked-out tooth smile
a tree
an anarchy symbol


In other library news, Lynda Barry is going to be at the Philly Free Library to talk about her new book What It Is. Details here. Afterwards you can take a dip in Logan Circle fountain and yell thanks yous to all the people who have made your life better.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Rain? It's ok I guess...

Now all I need is a little sun.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Killer: Volume 1 by Jacamon & Matz

While searching the New York Public Library’s website for Archaia Studios Press books, I came across The Killer. The book, translated from French and complied from single issues, is the tale of a contract killer, his progression from mediocre student to conscience-less murderer and his relationship with his fixer. From the beginning, the bespectacled killer spouts macho bullshit such as: “I got no time for other people’s problems. Everyone for himself, that’s the only way. You’ve got to take risks if you want to make it. And I don’t mean just get by. I mean live like a man, not like a pig or a cockroach.” Most of the thoughts we are given access to are similar rationalizations of his work, his lack of compassion and many border on philosophical—if your philosophy is being interpreted to you by a precocious, but unpopular 15 year-old.

The only women who appear in this book for more than a single panel are sex objects (or bodies). This lack of womanhood gives the story a simple quality that detracts from the writing, which tries to be so hardboiled. The art is fine, but just that.

The Killer offers up merely a sketch of the intelligent, literature quoting, but appetite-free killer without the spare beauty of a film like Le Samourai; I can never figure out why some artists find this archetype so beguiling when it is merely predictable and boring. I don’t think I’ll be looking for volume 2.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Did you know that this year the Shirley Jackson Awards will be presented for the first time?

Here are the finalists and the blog.

I have read one of the finalists, Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand, and its choice (and the looks of some of the other finalists), it looks like the judges really took Jackon's legacy into account. She had the ability to recognize, and capture with absolute preciseness, the horror of living.

best comic feud ever

Ha ha ha!
(via journalista)

Do I have to mention again how much I love Kate Beaton? She asks the tough questions.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Big Book Sale Booty

above: paperbacks and paperweights

PHILADELPHIA-A few weekends ago

Every year the Friends of the Free Library of Philadelphia hosts a sale to benefit the library. Available are books gathered and sorted over the year by employees and volunteers of the Book Corner bookstore and everything from pristine copies of Barbara Taylor Bradford novels to obscure feminist texts could be had for mere dollars. At least, that was the protocol many years ago when I worked at the BC. I happened to be in Philly for the last day of this year's sale. This year there were no painstakingly applied colored dots on the sale books and, sadly, no good books to be found.

Inside, however, the stacks remained as stuffed and wonderful as I remember them. The floor looks nicer and there are more seating nooks than before, which, even though I was asked out on a date by a guy sitting on one of them not four minutes into browsing the fiction section, I think is a great idea. It seemed that a few of the malignant folks who hung around the store have found other places to be bad people; even so, i regretted to find that my kickass purchases still helped pay the salary of the horrible, book-ambivalent, staff-hating woman who caused my quick departure after her reign of mismanagement and arbitrary decision making began. I guess dreams don't come true, at least in Philly.


In New York, however, the reading continues.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

How I feel when I try to write sometimes.

leftovers from 2007- the last

Now, time for the quick and dirty. These last two books were left until the end because, though I enjoyed both, I could never really find the right words for them.
The Sleeping Father by Matthew Sharpe

Wow. Just wow. I found this on the dollar rack at The Strand shortly after reading all of Sharpe’s other work in preparation for a review that I wasn’t able to sell. Since much of the coverage of Jamestown talked about how different it was from TSF. Well, I loved Jamestown so I wasn’t sure that a book about suburban family dynamics could really live up to that screaming, violent, romp of a book.

TSF is much quieter, and instead of investigating exploration and plunder, it talks about fragility and family and love. The book’s action begins with the stroke of Bernard Schwartz, a sad and lumpy divorce and father of two, whose subsequent coma and recovery focuses all the suffering of his family and caretakers into a storm that threatens the small town Connecticut sky overhead. Sharpe’s teenage characters are good, especially the daughter Cathy who aches to find a shape for her pain the world is not right and so goes running for the delicious suffering of Catholic saints and self-repression. The idea that people who suffered so much, often on purpose, have secrets to the world is such a seductive, teenaged idea.

There are a lot of characters in this book but each stands out without poorly rendered quirks or tics. For every sad, punch-in-the-gut moment, there is a funny jab that comes unexpectedly and the narrative never settles into a rut, which is a feat, considering how much of the book happens in the characters’ heads.

If you come across this somewhere, snatch it up!

The Mount by Carol Emshwiller

I got this book as an afterthought in an internet purchase. The cover, painted by Shirley Jackson, caught my attention immediately and the fact that Small Beer Press publishes it was definitely a point in its favor.

Emshwiller imagines a future Earth where an alien invasion led to the human race becoming enslaved to the invaders, a race of lemur-like creatures with fragile legs and strong ideas about thoroughbreds called the Hoots because of the sounds they make to control others. At this point on the timeline, humans have become specialized pack animals for the Hoots, bred like animals, with allegiance only to the aliens they serve and the pack they belong to.

This world is made amazingly real by Emschwiller’s attention to detail (my favorite parts are the descriptions of nature in a place I imagine to be upstate New York) and ability to explain the bizarre motivations of the characters without being too show-and-tell. The main character Charley, a mount-in-training for the prince of his town, tells much of the story and he is 12 or so when the book begins. The way he things about things is necessarily childlike but I think Emschwiller relies on his ignorance and naiveté a little too much when trying to drive home the negative effects of the Hoots’ “human conformation” plan (slavery, my good friends. Slavery in the name of benevolence) on Charley and the humans around him.

If you are looking for a good example of world building then this might be just the thing for you—but be prepared for a few sections of exposition and dialogue that dance like a dead drunk.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I am still here, I'm just in the midst of a few projects such as Closet Rebuild 2008, Clean up Apartment for America (and baby A) and June Book Review Extravaganza!. Also, one of my longish time projects is shutting down as of this month and I am trying to decide what to do next. In the meantime, here are some cool things to check out:

MoCCA program
You're going, right?

An essay on my fave oral historian, Studs Terkel

A. M. Dellamonica's site
It is ugly, but it will lead you to some great science fiction. I haven't thoroughly checked her stuff out but the stories I have read so far, like "5 Good Things About Meghan Sheedy", have been excellent.