Displaying articles for: December 2010

The Bottoms

Upon its independent debut in the 1980s, the Black Lizard imprint earned distinction by reprinting older classics of the crime fiction genre:  Thompson, Goodis, Willeford.  Since its acquisition by Random House as part of the Vintage line, Black Lizard has spotlighted more recent books by living authors of no lesser stature, such as Jonathan Lethem and Nicola Griffith.  In bringing us Joe Lansdale's quietly brutal, harshly elegaic novel The Bottoms, originally issued in the far-off year of 2000, the current editors have once again established that the noir lineage continues to flourish in the twenty-first century.

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Sizing Up the Universe

National Geographic is simply the admirable gold standard for a certain type of coffee-table volume about the natural and manmade worlds and their many intriguing points of intersection.  Solid, substantial, humanistic and civilized, albeit seldom pioneering.  Vividly if sometimes a bit conservatively illustrated, with gorgeous photos and savvy graphics.  Informative text in a transparent style, lending itself to easy ingestion by bright youths or curious adults seeking to enlarge their horizons.  Reading a NatGeo book always makes one feel virtuous, humble and, in most cases, proud to be a human.

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Secrets of Second Grade

Seven-year-old Bean (she only hears her full name Bernice Blue when getting into trouble) lives with her bossy eleven-year-old sister, Nancy, and her mom and dad in a house on Pancake Court. She's the kind of kid that gets along with everyone--at the center of the neighborhood action.  So when Ivy, a little girl the same age, moves in across the street, why wouldn’t Bean say hello?

 

Where Bean’s hair was usually in tangles, Ivy’s long red curly hair was always in place. Beside Ivy wore dresses and her nose was always in a thick book. Bean only wears a dress when her mom makes her and big books make her restless. And then there is  the “kiss of death” --her mom keeps saying that they should be friends because Ivy “seem[s] like a nice girl.” Well,  that's the last kid that Bean would want to be friends with. Verdict: “Boring.”

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The Littlest Pirate King

The strikingly elegant yet somehow alluringly naïve artwork of French graphic novelist David B. will be most familiar to English-speaking readers through his masterful autobiographical tome, Epileptic, concerning his malfunctioning brother and their lifelong sibling tug-of-war full of mingled compassion and disdain.  With The Littlest Pirate King, David B. applies the same skills and angle of attack that served him so well in a naturalistic, personal mode to a highly fantastical tale, one in fact penned by another writer.

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April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.