December 01, 2011

{The Leftovers}


I Just finished reading Tom Perrotta's novel The Leftovers and I remembered why this guy is one of my favorite authors. He writes another story about suburban struggles, only this time the novel opens with the people who've been 'left behind' after a rapture-like phenomenon.

Read an excerpt right here

Order the novel here

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October 05, 2009

{Tom Russell/Calexico}


First off, I wanna redirect you towards this incredible essay by Tom Russell on the El Paso, TX/Juarez, Mexico border, the culture, the drug wars, his own travels, and what drew him to move there!

(Heads up, it's fascinating but in-depth and it runs about 8-9 pages.) The Rumpus is a cool site that's attracted some serious literary talent; Rick Moody has a regular column there.

Tom's piece is accompanied by his own paintings and it's riveting. It chronicles his own travels in that region, the bar where the margarita was inventing, the history of colonialism out there, and the current bloody struggles taking place. His writing style is interesting too; he's clearly read his share of Graham Greene, Kerouac, and Bukowski. (He's also writing a book of his correspondence w/ Bukowski.)

Also, Tom's new album Blood and Candle Smoke, recorded w/ members of Calexico, is out now.

Read Where God and the Devil Wheel Like Vultures: Report from El Paso Right Here

Stream Tom's new album Blood and Candle Smoke, recorded w/ members of Calexico Here

Order the album (and get tour dates) Right Here

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July 29, 2009

{That Summertime Sound}


It’s the summer after his freshman year of college, and the 19-year-old narrator of Matthew Specktor’s That Summertime Sound has two options: return home to Los Angeles, to a city and a family that hardly notice him; or journey to the heart of America—Columbus, Ohio—for a summer of unexpected and life-defining experiences.

Set against the Columbus music scene of the 1980s, Specktor’s lead character treks to Ohio in search of his favorite band, Lords of Oblivion. Headed by eccentric frontman Nic Devine, Lords of Oblivion are the antithesis of the popular New Wave sound of the decade. The narrator quickly adapts to life in Columbus, dressing in the local thrift store fashions, finding an on-again off-again girlfriend, going out, sleeping late, and above all, seeing live music. Eventually, he meets and befriends Nic Devine, cementing a friendship that will define the summer.

That Summertime Sound reads like a music encyclopedia with constant references to seminal bands like The Feelies, Hüsker Du, Pere Ubu, and Uriah Heap. Specktor’s cinematic prose is so visual that the music and characters become a reality.

To accompany the release of the novel, the official site features audio recordings of readings done by: Jeremy Irons, James Franco, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.

Have a listen...

Jeremy Irons - "The Devil in It Somewhere"

Morgan Freeman reads - "This is Never Going to End"

James Franco reads - "Columbus Columbus Columbus"

Read excerpts from That Summertime Sound Site

Purchase That Summertime Sound Right Here

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June 16, 2009

{The Strain}


Below is the first installment of three trailers for Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s forthcoming novel The Strain, which is out now.

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing . . . So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city—a city that includes his wife and son—before it is too late.

Get more info from The Official Strain Site

Purchase the book Right Here

View the Book Trailer right here...

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May 11, 2009

{Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible!}

The Bible.tiff

Jonathan Goldstein is a humorist known for his observations on Jews, breakups, and Lenny Bruce. In his latest book Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible! old-fashioned storytelling meets the irreverent characterization of some of the world's most mythic personalities.

Here's an Adam and Eve excerpt from the book...

"The fruit was squishy and tart. She smooshed it around in her mouth. She squinted her eyes. It was a bit like trying on new glasses. It was a bit like an amyl nitrate popper. It was a bit like a big kiss on the lips right at first when you weren’t sure if you wanted to be kissed or not. She felt a thousand little feet kicking at her uterus. … The idea of her own nudity, as well as Adam’s, had always felt more like a Nordic, coed health spa thing; now, with the fruit of knowledge, it felt more like a Rio de Janeiro carnival thing."

Better yet here's a (14 min.) audio clip from This American Life titled "Adam an Eve"...

"Adam and Eve"

Here's a book trailer of Jonathan Goldstein's Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible (Part One)...

Here's a book trailer of Jonathan Goldstein's Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible (Part Two)...

Note: Goldstein has read nearly a dozen passages of the book on WireTap...they are archived Right Here

Purchase Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible Right Here

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October 27, 2008

{The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao}


Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize Winner and author of the best book I've read all year had an interview on NPR last week!

His Pulitzer Prize winning book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao revolves around Oscar, a sweet but overweight lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and also of finding love.

However, there is also a Dominican curse that has haunted the Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. The story touches on the life of Oscar and the history of his family at large with warmth and humor. Drown is a short story collection from Junot Diaz, which I would also recommend should you like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Listen to the interview with Junot Diaz Right Here

Purchase The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Right Here

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July 21, 2008



I will be at San Diego's Comic Con later this week looking for more info on this one!

Filmmaker John Woo has been hired to direct the adaptation of the forthcoming graphic novel Caliber that will debut next week at Comic-Con.

The comic will be narrated by the series' Native American Merlin, named Jean Michel, the five-part Caliber revolves around a pistol called the Lawmaker that one man is destined to wield. The comic story sets King Arthur and his knights as 19th century gunslingers in the Pacific Northwest.

Seeing as The Dark Knight may have changed the rules of adapting a comic book film, It will be interesting to see how Caliber will pan out.

Get more info from Radical Comics Site

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May 28, 2008

{Twilight Zone}


Generations of tv viewers have enoyed the creepy wonders of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone. Now a group of students at the Savannah College of Art and Design has re-imagined original Twilight Zone scripts as a series of eight graphic novels.

Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the cult phenomena comes the only graphic novel series based on the legendary show. The first two of eight graphic novels will be published this fall: "Walking Distance" and "The After Hours." These two classic Twilight Zone episodes from October 1959 and June 1960, respectively, are based on the original and unedited scripts in their entirety, written by Rod Serling. Artists from the SCAD sequential art department have taken on the challenge of creating this new dimension that will allow fans to make the journey from black and white videotape into the world of full-color images in a graphic novel.

Read (or listen to) the full story from NPR

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{When You Are Engulfed in Flames}


When You Are Engulfed in Flames is a forthcoming collection of essays by David Sedaris, which is set to be released on June 3rd, 2008.

Sedaris's sixth essay collection assembles essays on trying to make coffee when the water is shut off, associations in the French countryside, buying drugs in a mobile home in rural North Carolina, having a lozenge fall from your mouth into the lap of a fellow passenger on a plane, armoring windows with LP covers to protect the house from neurotic songbirds, lancing a boil from his backside, and venturing to Tokyo in order to quit smoking, which features the memorable line: "I hated leaving a hole in the smoking world, and so I recruited someone to take my place."

Sedaris fans will be happy to hear about his breakneck tour for this book. Beginning on June 4th, Sedaris will embark on a 29-cities-in-29-days tour of bookstores. This tour should be a good warm-up for his fall tour of theatres where he will perform at 33 venues in 33 days.

See his performance schedule right here

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May 19, 2008



Chuck Palahniuk's latest book titled Snuff (due in stores tomorrow) is about a pornstar (Cassie Wright) who intends to cap off her career by breaking the world record for serial fornication. On camera. With six hundred men. Snuff unfolds from the perspectives of Mr. 72, Mr. 137, and Mr. 600, who await their turn on camera in a very crowded green room. Leave it to the guy who brought us Fight Club and Choke to bring pornography into the realm of literary fiction, as this is sure to be a wild and funny ride.

Palahniuk has put together some funny vintage-inspired porno trailers to coincide with the book. Here's a couple of clips (Note: Not appropriate for work).

Cassie Wright's "The Wizard Of Ass"...

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Bang...

Order Snuff Right Here

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May 12, 2008

{Apocalypse How}


Apocalypse How is a comprehensive cataclysmic guide that walks you through the Nine Most Likely World-Ending Scenarios, and provides useful and hilarious advice on every aspect of surviving in the new world to come. The book is from Daily Show writer Rob Kutner and covers everything from food, shelter, and relocation to social life, dating, recreation and careers.

Stephen Colbert says, “If you buy only one book to accompany you through horrific worldwide catastrophe, make it this one.”

Read book excerpts from Chapters 3, 7, and 8 Right Here

Watch an animated promo titled Apocalyptic Exercises...

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May 07, 2008

{Unaccustomed Earth}


The beautiful and talented Jhumpa Lahiri has new book, Unaccustomed Earth in stores now!

We were big fans of her Pulitzer Prize–winning short story collection Interpreter of Maladies. We were notsomuch a fan of her novel The Namesake, however she returns to short story form for this new collection of stories titled Unaccustomed Earth.

Listen to Jhumpa Lahiri read a story from Unaccustomed Earth Right Here

Order the book and listen to a Meet the Writers interview Here

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May 01, 2008

{A Wolf at the Table}

Wolf At The Table.tiff

Augusten Burroughs new book, A wolf at the Table hit stores this week!

His 2002 hilarious, yet heartbreaking memoir Running With Scissors touched on his mentally-ill mother who deposited him with (at age 12) with her shrink. His 2003 laugh out loud memoir Dry focused on his years as an alcoholic and getting sober. With A Wolf at the Table he describes his early childhood with his father, when his parents were still married and living together. His memoir paints a picture of his father as a rage-filled alcoholic with a personality disorder.

Read a FREE chapter (as well as listen to some selected tunes) Right Here

Order the book and watch an interview with Burroughs discussing A Wolf at the Table Right Here

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April 23, 2008

{Comic Book Tattoo}


This July Tori Amos and Image Comics release Comic Book Tattoo, a 480-page, full color anthology adapting the themes and ideas behind Tori's songs.

“I have been surprised, excited and pleasantly shocked by these comics that are extensions of the songs that I have loved and therefore welcome these amazing stories of pictures and words because they are uncompromisingly inspiring,” says Amos. “It shows you thought is a powerful formidable essence and can have a breathtaking domino effect."

To assemble Comic Book Tattoo's diverse roster of talent, Amos worked with editor Rantz Hoseley to assemble a diverse roster including: Pia Guerra, Leah Moore, John Reppion David Mack, Hope Larson, Ryan Kelly, Jonathan Hickman, Colleen Doran, Eric Canete, Ted McKeever, Jock, Anthony Johnston, Dame Darcy, Carla Speed McNeil, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Mark Buckingham, Ivan Brandon, and C. B. Cebulski; as well as an introduction by Neil Gaiman.

Comic Book Tattoo will be in stores July 23rd.

See lots more artwork and read about more details from CBR News

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March 31, 2008

{The Donger and Me}


NPR recently featured an interesting story titled Long Duk Dong: Last of the Hollywood Stereotypes? There was also link to (our favorite graphic novelist) Adrian Tomine's comic strip titled The Donger and Me.

Read The Donger and Me here

Read (or listen to) Long Duk Dong: Last of the Hollywood Stereotypes? here

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February 27, 2008

{Beautiful Children}


I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but Charles Bock's best-selling novel Beautiful Children, about characters adrift in Las Vegas, is now being offered for free online.

Here's the description from Amazon:
A portrait of a mythically depraved Las Vegas, this sweeping debut takes in everything from the bland misery of suburban Nevada to the exploitative Vegas sex industry. At the nexus of this Dickensian universe is Newell Ewing, a hyperactive 12-year-old boy with a comic-book obsession. One Saturday night, Newell disappears after going out with his socially awkward, considerably older friend. Orbiting around that central mystery are a web of sufferers: Newell's distraught parents, clinging onto a fraught but tender marriage; a growth-stunted comic book illustrator; a stripper who sacrifices bodily integrity for success; and a gang of street kids. Into their varying Vegas tableaux, Bock stuffs an overwhelming amount of evocative detail and brutally revealing dialogue (sometimes in the form of online chats). The story occasionally gets lost in amateur skin flicks, unmentionable body alterations and tattoos, and the greasy cruelty of adolescents, all of which are given unflinching and often deft closeups. The bleak, orgiastic final sequence, drawing together the disparate plot threads, feels contrived, but Bock's Vegas has hope, compassion and humor, and his set pieces are sharp and accomplished.

Download the novel right here

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February 13, 2008

{Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure}


Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure is a new book featuring some six word memoirs by, well, famous and obscure people. Larry Smith, the founding editor of Smith magazine, and Rachel Fershleiser (Smith's memoir editor) capture real-life stories in six words — no more, no less. The collection has plenty of six-word insights from everyday folks as well as famous writers, musicians, etc.

Inspired by the idea that Ernest Hemingway was once asked to write a memoir in six words, writing "For sale: baby shoes, never used". The book takes twists on this classic concept of the six-word memoir and highlights a wide range of possibilities (i.e. short short story, autobiography, epitaph, shorter haiku, a meatier one-liner). Try it yourself, it's lotsa fun!

Here's some of my favs from both famous and obscure people...

'Fifteen years since last professional haircut' - Dave Eggers
'Couldn't cope so I wrote songs' - Aimee Mann
'Well, I thought it was funny' - Stephen Colbert
'After Harvard, had baby with crackhead' - Robin Templeton
'Catholic school backfired. Sin is in!' - Nikki Beland
'Savior complex makes for many disappointments' - Alanna Schubach
'Nobody cared, then they did. Why?' - Chuck Klosterman
'She said she was negative. Damn' - Ryan McRae
'A sake mom, not soccer mom' - Shawna Hausman
'Almost a victim of my family' - Chuck Sangster
'The psychic said I'd be richer' - Elizabeth Bernstein
'Grumpy old soundman needs love, too' - Lennie Rosengard
'Mom died, Dad screwed us over' - Lesley Kysely

View the Preview right here...

Six-Word Memoir book preview from SMITHmag on Vimeo.

Hear more about Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure from NPR

Purchase Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure right here

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February 07, 2008

{The Principles of Uncertainty}


I've recently read and enjoyed Maira Kalman's new book (based on her NY Times blog) The Principles of Uncertainty. The book is a mix of imaginative and moving illustrations, in which she reflects on life, love, and death. The Principles of Uncertainty is both poignant and funny.

Checkout some photo examples (in her book these clips are illustrated) from the NY Times

Watch an interview with Maira Kalman her illustrated column, turned book here

Order Principles of Uncertainty here

November 14, 2007



I enjoyed reading Adrian Tomine's new graphic novel Shortcomings so much that I pretty much devoured it in one short sitting. Tomine (pronounced toe-mean-ay) is most known for his Optive Nerve comics, but some of you may have also seen his work featured in The New Yorker, Details, or Esquire just to name a few publications. Tomine's art has also graced covers and posters for indie bands like The Eels and Weezer.

Read some rave reviews for Shortcomings from Jonathan Lethem and The Village Voice here, from the NY Times here, or from Paste Magazine here.

Visit the Shortcomings Mini-Site

Order Shortcomings here

Read a Q & A with Adrian Tomine from NY Magazine


Checkout some of Adrian Tomine's great artwork here

June 18, 2007

{The Gingerbread Girl}


I recommend picking up the new Esquire Magazine for the new Stephen King an added bonus Angelina Jolie is practically naked on the cover! "The Gingerbread Girl" is a 21,000-word novella covering 23 pages of the issue. Esquire Editor-in-Chief David Granger said "Over the last year, we've been trying to breathe life back into magazine fiction,the best way to do that is to publish nothing other than event fiction-stories that have something in addition to their literary merit to call attention to themselves."

The Gingerbread Girl tells the story of Emily, who flees to the secluded Vermillion Key off of Florida's coast after the death of her infant child. Her new neighbor also enjoys the privacy of the key, but the women he brings with him never return home. Emily's curiosity leads her right into the hands of the madman, but it's her legs that are her only hope for survival.

This isn't the first time Esquire has published original fiction, amongst the most notable are Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and Norman Mailer's "An American Dream".

Visit Esquire's site for more info or to subscribe.

May 28, 2007

{Love Is A Mix Tape}


I intended to post a lengthly review of this novel, but I never actually got around to doing it. So instead I will re-direct you to someone who has.

Read I Am Fuel You Are Friends' excellent review of Love is A Mix Tape right here or listen to a review from NPR.

Visit Love is A Mix Tape's MySpace or Love is A Mix Tape's Official Site for audio clips.

May 21, 2007

{Guy Ritchie's Gamekeeper}


Virgin Comics and director Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch) collaborate on the comic book series titled Gamekeeper. Early this month (or late last month, I can't remember) the first issue of Guy Ritchie’s Gamekeeper was released as part of Virgin Comics’ Director’s Cut imprint, a series of stories destined for the silver screen from filmmakers across the world. Director’s Cut titles have included John Woo’s Seven Brothers, and Shekhar Kapur’s Snake Woman, as well as upcoming projects with Terry Gilliam and Nicolas Cage.

After finishing the issue #2 director's cut, I'm still waiting for a little more character development, although the plot seems to be moving as we begin to learn about the anti-hero's (Brock) haunted past. I am also anxious to see what's in store from the other forthcoming Director's Cut titles.

Visit the official site for more info on this and other titles.

May 01, 2007

{Free Comic Book Day}


Don't forget that this coming saturday is Free Comic Book Day! See listing here

This will coincide nicely with the Spiderman 3 opening weekend. It looks like bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, Army of Darkness) will be making another Spiderman cameo for director Sam the story from the LA Times

March 07, 2007

{Captain America is Dead}


The Marvel Entertainment superhero is fatally shot by a sniper in the 25th issue of his eponymous comic, which arrived in stores yesterday. Read the full story here.

February 08, 2007

{The Dark Tower}


So, Stephen King's comic (for Marvel) came out yesterday with some comic shops staying open for midnight releases in what is the equivilent of a Harry Pottter release for the comic book world. Although with King not actually writing the story (albiet his name is the largest on the cover) some have gripped at just how much input Stephen King has had.

Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #1 (of 7) is written by Peter David & Robin Furth Art with Cover by Jae Lee & Richard Isanove. In the original story we're introduced to Stephen King’s Roland—an implacable gunslinger in search of the enigmatic Dark Tower, powering his way through a dangerous land filled with ancient technology and deadly magic. Now, I will go read my copy and judge for myself.

View the Trailer

October 30, 2006

{Amy Sedaris}


In the mood for entertaining? Well, you will be after reading (or listening to) this. Actress, author, and comedienne (and sister of author David Sedaris) Amy Sedaris has just released a new book titled I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. It is an "entertaining guide to entertaining" and includes recipes, meal plans, decorating suggestions, music choices, conversational ice-breakers, and hospitality tips to create the perfect evening at home. Whether it's an intimate night for two or a luncheon for twenty, Sedaris offers her own advice to make guests feel welcome and the host look good. I Like You is the essential handbook for full-scale entertaining the Sedaris way.

The inspiration for I Like You came from Sedaris's own domestic expertise. A notorious baker and cook, her famous cheese balls can be bought at Gourmet Garage and her cupcakes at Joe Coffee in New York City. Sedaris covers all aspects of home entertaining. Chapters titles include: A Greek Dinner Date; Grieving; Entertaining Children; A Rich Uncle Comes to Visit; Baby Shower; The Elderly; Cooking for Oneself; Picnic; and a variety of courtships, such as dating a hunter, a dieter, or an alcoholic. All chapters contain tips, hits and misses, and end with a critical evaluation of the event or a letter from a guest. Here's some audio clips (courtesy of her website)...


"Introduction (Continued)"

Planning A Party

Party Log; Grieving

"Grieving (Continued)"

"Recipe for Paul's Zucchini Fritters; Amy's Success Story (cupcake business)"

Her site also gives this bit of advice to those reluctant to purchase her book...

Dear Reluctant Shopper,
Welcome to my flap. If you are reading this, I can only assume that you're hesitating to buy this book. Maybe you're thinking I don't know anything about this book; I would like more information. Should I buy it based solely on the exceptionally striking cover shot? Well, that's a good enough reason for me. Do I really need to add that there's a secret poster you can see only after the book is purchased? A poster that involves plenty of skin and would make a perfect addition to any basement rec room? Why are you still reading?

Here's a recent (hilarious) clip of Amy Sedaris pluging her new book and chugging sangria on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Order I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence here.

Read an interview with Sedaris discusing her book, her 25 cent display table, and Strangers with Candy here.

October 12, 2006

{The Great and Secret Show}


The 6th installment of a 12-part adaptation of Clive Barker's The Great and Secret Show is finally out in comic form by IDW this month. This epic was adapted by Chris Ryall (Shaun of the Dead) and so far it's made me change my ideas about Barker. I don't want to run out and watch Hellraiser or NightBreed, but I am going to buy the rest of these comics. The series sets the stage for a battle between good and evil that will span many decades and different dimensions.I almost wince when I hear the words different dimensions, but it's damn good original story telling. The series is meant for mature readers so yes there is comic nudity. Unclothed drawings or not this is definitely worth checking out, but if you don't like H P Lovecraft's imagination or Stephen King's maddening ways to make crazy evil things make sense in our world then this might not be for you.

Wikipedia has a nice breakdown of the storyline.

For other installments go here.

September 27, 2006

{Civil War}

So, after a month-long delay, Marvel finally released the fourth issue of it's Civil War mini-series to comics shops last week, and frontloaded it with all sorts of plot twists: The supposed return of a long-absent hero turns out to be something much different, leading to the death of a second-tier character, which prompts several characters on both sides of the conflict to switch their allegiances, all of which builds up to the "good government" superheroes recruiting some "renegades" to track down the superheroes who are part of the resistance. Sound convoluted? It actually moves along at a pretty good pace. This is a Civil War trailer produced by!

June 28, 2006

{Possible Side Effects}


This is a collection of often hilarious essays by Augusten Burroughs (author of Running with Scissors and Magical Thinking). Possible Side Effects finds Burroughs dealing with issues like: alcoholism, a Nicorette habit, compulsive Web surfing, social isolation, and being unfit for employment. Much like David Sedaris, he manages to come off as warm, bitchy, and self-deprecating all in the same breathe. Burroughs keen sense of comic sensibility on everyday humiliations make this is a perfect light summer read.

Listen to 37 minutes of the audio book FOR FREE! Just go to iTunes podcast category and search 'audible audio book excerpts', and listen (and laugh) for me you won't regret it.

Purchase the book here.

June 15, 2006

{Put The Book Back On The Shelf}


Last March Belle & Sebastian released their latest album The Life Pursuit and a week earlier Image Comics released Put The Book Back On The Shelf: A Belle & Sebastian Anthology. It's 144 page, full color collection of stories inspired by the groups songs, over the course of their whole career. The stories range from a short amount of pictures that explain a simple concept, while others stories convey complex ideas inspired by the mellow indie pop sounds. Definitely, listen to the music as you read along, it sets the tone perfectly. On all fronts, this is much more than a cross-marketing idea. I can't wait for Image to do something like this again. Creative writers and talented artists collaborating to deliver something new and imaginative like this is exactly the kind of thing that attracts people that normally don't end up in the comic shop in and end up validating the industry a little more.

Purchase Put The Book Back On The Shelf here.

January 02, 2006

{Book Review}

{Favorite Reads of 2005}


As I find new hobies by the minute, time becomes an issue when it comes to whatever it is I'm reading. So this past year I tended to read more essays, short stories and graphic novels than ever before. Here are some of my favorites.

Bob Dylan- Chronicles Vol.1
I guess it should really come as no big surprise that Bob Dylan's memoir (much like his music) is riveting and full of insight and depth. Chronicles Vol.1 begins with Dylan's move from Minnesota to Greenwich Village circa 1960 and brings to life all the influential books he discovered, the establishments he frequented and the people he met. Greenwich Village comes alive through the pages as Dylan reflects on poignant moments in his life and encounters with people whom he found inspiration in (i.e. Thelonious Monk, Gorgeous George, Jack Dempsey, and Frank Sinatra Jr.). Dylan comments on the sorry state of radio (…some things never change). "I still kept turning the radio on. probably more out of mindless habit than anything else. Sadly whatever it played reflected nothing but milk and sugar and not the real Jekyll and Hyde themes of the times. The ‘On The Road’, ‘Howl’, and ‘Gasoline’ street ideologies that were signaling a new type of human existence weren't there, but how could you have expected it to be? 45 records were incapable of it."
You also get a real sense of his love for written word- "There was a letter from Archibald MacLeish waiting for me on the table. MacLeish, Poet Laureate of America-one of them. Carl Sandburg, poet of the prairie and the city, and Robert Frost, the poet of dark meditations were others. MacLeish was the poet of the night stones and the quick earth. These three were the Yeats, Browning, and Shelley of the new world, were gigantic figures, had defined the landscape of twentieth-century America. They put everything in perspective. Even if you didn't know their poems, you knew their names". He even slams the door on truth- "Truth was the last thing on my mind, and even if there was such a thing, I didn't want it in my house. Oedipus went looking for the truth and when he found it, it ruined him. It was a cruel horror of a joke. So much for the truth. I was gonna talk out of both sides of my mouth and what you heard depended on which side you were standing. If I ever did stumble on any truth, I was gonna sit on it and keep it down". Chronicles explores critical junctures in the early years of his rise to stardom and works it's way unto what would be called the later stages of his career. Simply put this memoir is a literary must for Dylan fans as well as those less enthusiastic to his music.

Chuck Klosterman- Killing Yourself To Live
Once again Klosterman’s uses his trademark ability to find meaning in pop culture. Here's a few exerpts:
(discussing his cd collection) "Another 30 percent of those 2,233 have been played less than five times, including one (The Best of Peter, Paul and Mary) I’ve never even listened to once-it’s still wrapped in cellophane (I store it next to a used copy of Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade in the hope that they will slowly fuse into a Pixies’ B-side collection."
"There are a lot of drunks in this world, but people in the Midwest drink differently than everywhere else I’ve ever been; it’s far less recreational. You have to stay focused, you have to work fast, and you have to swallow constantly."
"For a time, I thought it was Robert Plant’s overt misogyny fused with Jimmy Page’s obsession with the occult, since that combination allows adolescent males to reconcile the alienation of unhinged teenage sexuality with their own inescapable geekiness."

Lewis Black- Nothing's Sacred
Lewis Black has been a comic for the last 34 years...building a career out of yelling and screaming. With Nothing's Sacred Black delivers a collection of rants against stupidity and authority that are both hilarious and informative.

Sarah Vowell- Assassination Vacation
I sorta have a thing for NPR's “This American Life” contributing writers and I'm not exactly a history buff, but I find myself engulfed while reading about how Sarah Vowell spent a considerable amount of time and effort trekking to places associated with events of national tragedy...namely, the murders of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley.

Chieh Chieng- A Long Stay in a Distant Land
Chieng's debut novel is a family saga told through short and funny vignettes that span through three decades of the Lum family of Orange County, CA. in surprising detail.

David Sedaris- Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules
Sedaris put together an A-list anthology of his favorites that includes Katherine Mansfield's "The Garden Party," Flannery O'Connor's "Revelation," as well as stories by Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore, Tobias Wolff, Jhumpa Lahiri, Dorothy Parker and Patricia Highsmith. The epilogue (by Sarah Vowell) explains that the proceeds from this collection go to a nonprofit tutoring program designed to help students learn to write.

Nick Hornby- A Long Way Down
A Long Way Down is a novel about four people who meet in an unlikely way and dislike, yet understand each other. Not Hornby at his best but then again this guy could write the same word over and over and I'd probably say it was genius.

Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore-The Waking Dead
The Waking Dead is a wonderful example of just how engaging a well thought out zombie-horror story can be. Even non-zombie lovers can get a kick out of this on-going graphic novel.

Greg Pak and Greg Tocchini - 1602: New World
1602: New World is a 5 issue Marvel Comics Limited Series that is the sequel to the 1602 Miniseries (by Neil Gaiman). The story re-imagines marvel heroes in the year 1602...the plot in New World brings us from England to Roanoke where the hunt for the witchbreed continues.

December 03, 2005

{Book Review}

{The Underminer by Mike Albo & Virginia Heffernan}

underminer postcard_1.jpg The ironic thing about reviewing this book is that it's difficult to make negative remarks without coming off as an "underminer" yourself. Having stated that, this book has it's ups-and-downs, but proves to be an entertaining read nonetheless. The book uses a "point-of-view" narrative style, which doesn't pose a problem for me, but might to some readers. I happen to think this works much better as a performance...I could easily envision him performing the scenarios, which I believe Mike Albo has done. I was drawn to The Underminer awhile back when I heard Albo read an exerpt from this book on This American Life episode: The Allure of The Mean Friend. I cut the exerpt to give you an idea of what the book is about...give it a listen here . This might appeal to those who are fans David Sedaris' satire. Purchase The Underminer here .

December 02, 2005

{Book Review}

{Lads by David Itzkoff}

lads.gif A hilarious, poignant, and pessimistic bio of one mans rise through New York's publishing industry (...Details, Maxim). Touching and tempermental Izkoff creates a perfect balance of raunch and redemption which makes for some perfect light reading. Lads is both hysterically funny and painfully honest while providing an insiders look at the supposedly glamorous New York publishing world. This memoir extends far beyond Itzkoff's forays into the publishing business and will touch anyone who has ever experienced frustration, self-doubt, and loneliness. David Itzkoff is currently an senior editor at Spin magazine. Purchase here.