Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I've decided last minute to participate, and write a 50,000-word novel by November 30. I am scared beyond belief. But maybe it'll be fun?

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Halloween in Harlem"

In honor of the season and my recent trip to NYC, here's a link that everyone should check out: Halloween in Harlem, photography by Amy Stein.

(via Endicott Redux)

Book: Pretties

by Scott Westerfeld (2005).

I am thoroughly addicted to this series. I'm liking it more and more as I read. This book might have felt very much the middle bit of a trilogy, but it was still awesomely fun. We learn more about the world outside the cities--that big wide world is hiding a lot--and about who are our lead characters are as people. The slang was used a little too repetitively, but all that annoyance got lost once the action scenes would kick up again.

I'm making myself wait for the third, but I'm very excited to get there.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Book: Uglies

by Scott Westerfeld (2005).

Once again, Westerfeld comes through for me when I'm stuck in comic book limbo.

I don't think I'll end up loving this trilogy as fiercely as I love the Midnighters. But it's really good in its own way, and definitely worth taking the time. In fact, this book was pretty addictive. Everyone is likable, and everyone is flawed in ways that make them seem very real. The scifi stuff isn't bothersome (I'm not a huge fan of scifi in book form), and the dystopian society is really neat. Mostly, I just think it's awesome to teach kids about radical democracy and anarchism in the guise of a nail-biting thrill ride of a book.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Film: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Definitely in my top five for the year. A beautiful, strange, sad, slow meditation on what it means to meet your hero, and what it means to kill your hero. Possibly even better than Unforgiven in its demythologizing of the West. Except this movie is also about the South, and Southern men, and how they relate to one another, without any of those Hollywood bullshit codes of honor. And yet, for all its realism, it takes place in a world of heightened images and language.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
dir. by Andrew Dominik, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Book: Zeroville

by Steve Erickson (2007).

I broke my book-buying ban for the new Erickson novel, because he is truly one of my favorites. This book was good, definitely worth buying, but not quite as powerful and relevatory as The Sea Came in at Midnight. Erickson deals with a lot of the same set pieces here: LA, punk music and the punk scene in NYC, the historical era of the 70s and 80s. But the plot is a little confusing, possibly because it tricks you into thinking it's realistic when it's actually surrealistic.

Still, this was an immensely enjoyable read, and I'll keep following Erickson's work.

Theatre: The Wolves in the Walls

based on the children's book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean.

The trip up to New York to see this play was my birthday present from my mom, and it was totally and completely worth it. What a terrific production. The songs were fun, the technical aspects were amazing (Dave McKean's drawings done in light on the walls), and the puppets were so much fun to watch. There were even a few truly scary moments. And Pig Puppet was the cutest thing ever. I just can't say enough good things about this show.

TPB: New Avengers vol. 1

Breakout by Brian Michael Bendis et al (2005).

Read this quickly at a bookstore on a rainy night in NYC. It was really good, but I need to reread and take some time with it. I also need to start with Avengers Disassembled. Still, Bendis' New Avengers are becoming my favorite superhero team in comics. Well, second to the Runaways.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Comics: Thunderbolts

Faith in Monsters story arc by Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato (2007).

Hmmm, what a weird book. Not weird in a bad way, just... Well, we're following a team of supervillians, organized to capture unregistered superheroes. Right off the bat, I'm not sympathetic to our protagonists. I mean, I don't think we're supposed to be, necessarily--though Ellis does a good job of giving them some human moments. It just feels so strange to get the story from this perspective.

TPB: Watchmen

by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1985).

Dense and sad and amazingly good. Yes, this is a classic for a reason. I love the repetition of imagery, the juxtaposition of various conversations/storylines, the bits of prose writing that follow each issue.

I wish there were books like this being put out monthly right now.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Book: If on a winter's night a traveler

by Italo Calvino (1979).

I adore Calvino, ever since I read Invisible Cities in a writing class at Pratt.

This book is wonderful metafiction, writing about reading, ten unfinished novels, and the story of the Reader and the Other Reader, whose lives intersect as they keep chasing down books which have no endings. Calvino is a master--each novel is written in a different style, flawlessly, and at the same time, intertwined with larger hints and reflections of the big picture he's painting. I'll bet it's a favorite among grad students, one of those novels you could analyze and chart endlessly. For my part, I'm happy to note the stylistic sophistications as they pass underneath my eyes, and just keep reading.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

On the To Be Read list

Another entry on my totally unwieldy To Be Read list:

The published but unanthologized stories of J. D. Salinger. Particularly "The Inverted Forest."

(No, I have never read Catcher in the Rye, but I only just remembered that in my very first college class ever taken, I read "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" and loved it. So there.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Obsession of the day: Featherproof Books' mini-books, downloadable pdfs that you can print, fold, bind, and read. Completely addictive.

TPB: Fray

by Joss Whedon et al (2003).

How I missed this when it first came out, I have no idea. I love pretty much everything this comic has to do with, so it's a no-brainer that I loved it. I do think it's particularly interesting to read this story after seeing the end of season 7, and the beginning of season 8 in comics. I really wonder if Joss will actually connect the stories told between 2004(ish) and Fray's time, hundreds of years in the future. (In my head, there's a gap that can be bridged between Fray and Firefly, also, but I'll keep that rabid fangirl ranting to a minimum.)

Anyway, comics are awesome because you can do so much cool stuff that you can't with live actors, and comics are less awesome because I read really fast, and they tend to feel rushed. But that's okay. This comic was still totally cool.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

TPB: Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways

by Zeb Wells et al (2007).

Finally, the crossover I've been working to get to. It didn't disappoint. The whole Civil war thing is endlessly interesting to me, dealing as it does with civil liberties and taking a stand against the government. Every character and team has a different take on the issue, all stemming from their personal experiences and desires.

So the Young Avengers get all riled up when the see violence being aimed at the Runaways, a group of kids their same age. They disobey Captain America's orders and head out to LA to help. But the Runaways don't know who can be trusted--and they certainly don't want to get involved in the war of the adults.

Witty banter is exchanged, interactions occur, fights are fought, and it's all pretty awesome. The art looks really good in this book, true to the feel of both series' early issues.

TPB: Young Avengers vol. 2

Family Matters, by Allan Heinberg et al (2006).

Hmm... This one was a little bit less good than the first, but I still enjoyed it. The team is struggling with telling their families, the issues of identity are still being resolved (confusion over codenames), and a few big secrets are working their way out. Certain plot points feel contrived (like the introduction of a new member), and the final conflict is reminiscent of the showdown at the end of the last volume. But still, asses are kicked and fun is had. That's all I really came to this book asking for.

I will say, however, that I hated the art style for most of the Young Avengers Special, which is included here.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Film: Hollywoodland

Really good. Kind of distubring (Superman having sex, etc). And then really fucking sad at the end.

dir. by Allan Coulter, 2006

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Book: White Walls

by Tatyana Tolstaya (2007).

Brilliant, beautiful short stories. Tolstaya transforms normal situations and motivations into the bizarre, the fairytale, the sublime--she's very nearly the Russian Kelly Link. Favorites include: "Okkervil River," "Sleepwalker in a Fog," "Seraphim," "Limpopo," and the masterful "See the Other Side." (Actually I have even more favorites, but I don't have the table of contents in front of me.)

Unfortunately, in a volume with two translators, one is clearly the better at conveying both the feeling and the sense of a story.