Dream City

Comic strips, the 1933 World's Fair, gangsters, and book collecting are thrown into the stew pot in Brendan Short?s first novel, Dream City. Faintly echoing Michael Chabon?s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Short traces the arc of one comic fanboy?s life from Depression-era Chicago to the present day. As a child, Michael Halligan is an avid reader of Big Little Books --chunky, palm-sized dime novels that hit their peak 70 years ago. With titles like Flash Gordon on the Planet Mongo, Chester Gump at Silver Creek Ranch, and G-Man on the Crime Trail, the Big Little Books offer avenues of escape from Michael?s hard-knock life as the son of a numbers runner and an adulterous mother. As he grows, Michael tries to recapture his youth by collecting all of the Big Little series, including a rare edition given to him by none other than Buck Rogers at the World?s Fair. Diehard bibliophiles will be turned on by the book porn in Dream City, as when Michael states that his Big Littles with their "sturdy, vibrant spines" helped him to "forget himself and his life, at least for a while, and that just being in the same room with his collection made the world seem understandable and orderly." Just as Michael is immersed in fantasy worlds where good and evil are sharply delineated, Short attempts to paint a panoramic mural of 20th-century America and shows we've been in steady moral decay since the days of Buck Rogers and the Lone Ranger.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.