15 January 2011

Even MORE new books!

I'm stocked up for the New Year. The last shipment arrived yesterday--this time from Amazon. I've been trying for a year to find the rest of the fabulous Criminal series by Ed Brubaker (writer) and Sean Phillips (artist). I had volumes 1, 3, and 5, but my nearest comic shop (Ashland) never seemed to stock the rest of the set. So I simply ordered volumes 2 and 4 on-line. The stories are standalone but also overlap, and are told with multiple flash-forward-and-back sequences, but they never lose their grip on you. The colors by Val Staples are pitch-perfect and bring the whole thing to life. If you are looking for noir, look no further. Brubaker is a master storyteller and the illustrators capture the characters and action perfectly. I'm a big John Shirley fan, and ordered his latest--Bleak History--as well. Mr. Shirley is not an easy guy to pigeon-hole. Sure, most of his stuff is fantasy/horror/sci-fi, but that's like saying James Joyce wrote about Irish people. It's true, but useless. John Shirley writes brilliant fucking shit that will explode your brain. How about that?

What's on your book pile?

10 January 2011

New books!

Right on top of Out of the Gutter 7 is the latest shipment from Ziesing Books. (Don't know Ziesing? Time to find out.) Sitting on top is Charles Willeford: a 1986 Hoke Moseley novel called New Hope for the Dead. Underneath that is a Dave Zeltserman title: 21 Tales from New Pulp Press. It seems I share a link with Mr. Zeltserman. One of the stories in the collection--Adrenaline--originally appeared in Out of the Gutter 2. My story--Tweaker--is in the same issue. (That tells me I should get off my butt and write more stories!) Then there is the inimitable Walter Mosley: a new series featuring Leonid McGill, PI. It's called The Long Fall. The bottom of the heap is a 1986 Mysterious Press hardcover: Veil, by George C. Chesbro.

I can't wait to get started! What's new in your book basket?

09 January 2011

Out of the Gutter 7

The new Out of the Gutter magazine is here--number seven! It now has the Gutter Books imprint and the look and feel of the trade paperbacks in that line. OOTG7 is the "U.S. vs. U.K." issue, alternating an American story/author combo (edited by Matt Louis) with a British Commonwealth story/author combo (edited by Pulp Press' Danny Hogan). I enjoyed the variety of tone and language in the tales--the back-and-forth setup was fresh and fun. The stories were consistently excellent, and the whole layout and format of the new issue is first-rate. All OOTGs are organized by length. There's a "Flash" section followed by a "10 Minute Read Department" and a "15-20 Minute Read Department" (as well as various non-fiction pieces). Don't let the "gutter" name fool you. This may be graphic, hardcore crime writing, but it is skillfully executed by serious folks. Tough times call for tough fiction! Buy Out of the Gutter 7 and you not only get a fine read but you support a truly independent publishing venture.

03 January 2011


I discovered an excellent new astronomy blog called Prime Time. I was looking for help with Uranus. Uranus is the favorite planet of schoolkids everywhere. They always ask if you have pictures of Uranus. Nowadays you are supposed to say Uranus like "urine us" which isn't any better. The alternative is "your AH-nus" which just sounds like you are being snooty. Tonight, with the help of the description and map on the aforementioned Prime Time blog I was able to see Uranus. This week it is in the same binocular field with Jupiter, and with a little patience I was able to pick out the far distant planet once known as "The Georgian Star." I'm lucky to live in a place with dark skies. Even though I live in town and there are all the usual sources of light pollution (like streetlamps and porch lights) visibility is still very good. The hardest part is keeping the binoculars steady! Once I could do that I could see Uranus easily. The bluish-green tint the planet is known for would jump out at me when I averted my eyes from the spot. Uranus is more than a billion miles from Earth, closer to two billion, in fact. That's a long way for the sunlight to get there and back again so we could see it this week.

01 January 2011

Penelope: journey's end

I have come to the end of James Joyce's Ulysses. The final episode is known as "Molly's soliloquy" and consists of a running internal monologue bereft of ordinary sentence structure and punctuation. We get to listen in on Molly Bloom's mind as it runs on and on like all minds do, intermixing the past, present, and future with impressions, feelings, and half-formed thoughts as well as vivid descriptions, precise details, and surprising insights. We know nothing of the real Molly in the rest of the book and have only her reputation and the things the other characters think and say about her to form an idea of her make-up. The long journey into her unregulated, unselfconscious mental stream reveals a complex woman full of contradictions. She enjoys her extramarital affair and fantasizes about other lovers, but also reminisces about falling in love with Leopold Bloom, realizes the depth of her feelings for him, and resolves to give their marriage a fresh start. Molly is petty and self-absorbed, but also sensitive and empathic. She's ignorant--i.e. uneducated--but intelligent and perceptive. There's enough Molly there to either love or hate and that seems to be the point. Joyce hasn't made anything easy in Ulysses and it is no surprise that Molly is an enigma as well. You could argue just as easily that Molly represents the divine or the debased, that she's an earth-mother or a harlot. I would imagine that the real Molly is like all of us--a little of both and a lot in-between. Joyce refuses to settle the argument and forces us to take all of Molly, the good parts and the bad parts. It is interesting that Molly's favorite word is "yes" and that she uses it almost like punctuation (think of "like" and "um" and "you know" in conversation) throughout the monologue. The whole episode begins and ends with the word "yes." Her last thoughts are of Bloom and her love for him. The book, for me, ended on a hopeful note. Despite the myriad of injustices done to us each day, the suffering, and the failed dreams, there is still a chance at love and renewal. Life goes on in all its confusion and uncertainty and each day is its own epic struggle to understand and be understood.

A healthy and prosperous 2011 to all of you!