Shelf Life Book news, reviews, trends, and talk

Category: Books (71-80 of 2019)

From damsel to hero: Gwen Stacy's awesome turn as Spider-Woman

For all of its many faults, one of the best things this spring’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had going for it was Emma Stone in the role of Gwen Stacy.

The film’s script, unfortunately, didn’t really do her any favors, up to and including—here’s your spoiler warning—her death at the end of the film. Purists might disagree; they’d cite the fact that the film stays true to the comic-book source material and that it was a watershed moment for comics. They’d be right about those things: That’s what Gwen Stacy does. She dies. But with each passing year, it seems less like necessary canon and more like missed opportunity—as a new comic book released this week shows.

READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Nielsen Bookscan reports boom in graphic novel sales

graphic-novels.jpg

Americans have bought 5,618,000 graphic novels in 2014, Nielsen Bookscan reports—a 10-percent increase over last year. The rising success of the genre can be attributed to reliable fan favorites (The Walking Dead, Batman and Diary of a Wimpy Kid), the comeback of manga (Attack on Titan, Naruto, and One Piece), and breakout bestsellers like the space opera/fantasy series Saga (Image Comics), which topped lists in both its digital and paper formats. Similarly, Diamond Comics Distributors reports a near 4-percent rise in year-to-date sales and a near 6-percent rise in year-to-date units moved. The graphic novel business, including digital and periodical comics, made more than $870 million in 2013. [Publishers Weekly]

Other news indicating a resurgence in graphic novels is FilmNation Entertainment’s purchase of the film rights to The Undertaking of Lily Chena dark novel about “corpse brides” that “was inspired by an Economist article about the tradition of post-mortem marriage in China.” The New York distributor plans to turn the Danica Novgorodoff work into a Chinese-language movie, reporting it has had success in similar Chinese ventures before. [Mediabistro]

Another bestselling novelist is in the making his enthusiasm for the military known: James Patterson is donating 180,000 of his hardcover books to American troops. “Every day the men and women of our armed forces sacrifice on our behalf. I can’t think of a more deserving group to receive these books.” [USA Today]

What We're Reading Now: 'The Bone Clocks' by David Mitchell

The-Bone-Clocks

I came by David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks by accident. Well, I accidentally saw it, and accidentally took it from Matt’s desk while he was away at lunch, and accidentally started reading it, and then—and how could I have known this would happen?—I couldn’t stop reading it. So I didn’t. I accidentally love it.

Mitchell paints a mad, mad world that seems hilariously familiar as our 15-year-old protagonist, Holly, gets in a screaming match with her mother over her older boyfriend. Screaming and stamping, she moves out. He’ll take her in!, she’s sure of it.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t take her in. He sleeps with her best friend, instead. And that’s where it all begins. READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Alison Bechdel's next graphic memoir due in 2017

Geniuses never rest. Earlier this week, cartoonist Alison Bechdel was selected as a MacArthur genius grant recipient, but she hasn’t wasted any time getting back to work. The author has sold her next graphic memoir, the follow-up to 2006’s Fun Home, to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The Secret to Superhuman Strength should hit shelves sometime in 2017. [The New York Times]

HarperCollins imprint Ecco plans to release ISIS: The State of Terror, by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger, in January 2015. Meanwhile, Howard Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, is rushing Jay Sekulow’s 30,000 word e-short—Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore, released Monday—to print. Physical copies are due on Oct. 15. [Publishers Weekly]

Ahead of Thursday’s referendum on Scottish independence, authors from the state have weighed in on the issue. J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) and Denise Mina (Field of Blood) say Scotland should remain a part of the United Kingdom, while A.L. Kennedy (Paradise), Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting), and Val McDermid (The Mermaids Singing) support the independence movement. [The Los Angeles Times]

We’ve all seen Nora Roberts rocket to the top of the bestseller charts time and time again—27 times, to be exact—but the author currently has a number one hit under her alternate pen name, J.D. Robb. But Festive in Death isn’t the first such hit Robb has scored. Other books in her 39-installment “Death” series have occupied the top slot, including Concealed in Death, Calculated in Death, and Treachery in Death. [USA Today]

National Book Awards longlist for Fiction released

station-eleven

The National Book Award longlist for Fiction includes some new blood along with some well-established names. Young authors Molly Antopol and Phil Klay received their first nods for their debut story collections, and John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats got a nod for his first novel Wolf in White Van. The list includes two Pulitzer Prize winners, Marilynne Robinson and Jane Smiley, and a previous National Book Award winner, Richard Powers. Read on for the full longlist. READ FULL STORY

Women dominate this year's BBC National Short Story Award shortlist

Today the BBC announced an all-female author shortlist for its National Short Story Award. The nominees are Bad Dreams by Tessa Hadley, The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Francesca Rhydderch, Kilifi Creek by Lionel Shriver, Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets by Zadie Smith and The American Lover by Rose Tremain.

The five stories “tackle pivotal moments in a woman’s life from girlhood to middle age, including sex and love, death and disintegration,” the BBC reports. All the authors have established a body of critically acclaimed or award-winning work—Shriver and Tremain have been nominated for the award before— except for Welsh newcomer Francesca Rhydderch, who made her debut this year with The Rice Paper Diaries. This is the third all-female list in the past nine years.

“The short story form has a unique ability to capture a single defining moment,” says Chair of Judges Alan Yentob. “It invites us to dive headfirst into another world… In their very different ways these five stories do just that.” The winner and runner-up will be honored on Sept. 30 at BBC’s Radio Theatre, and the ceremony will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.

On the Books: In-depth Joan Rivers bio announced

Today Little, Brown and Co. publisher Reagan Arthur announced in a press release that it has inked a deal with Vanity Fair veteran Leslie Bennetts for a tell-all biography of the late entertainment icon Joan Rivers. JOAN RIVERS: A Life, set for publication in 2016, “will be the definitive book about Rivers’s tumultuous, victorious, tragic, glamorous, and fascinating life.”

Bennetts is best known for her in-depth profiles of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities from Brad Pitt to Meryl Streep—as well as being “the only reporter ever to evoke tears from Hilary Clinton in an interview.”

The publishing deal, a collaboration between Little, Brown Editor in Chief Judy Clain and Kuhn Projects’ David Kuhn, will also make the book available in ebook format and as an audio book from Hachette Audio.

“Rivers’ career was also enormously significant in American cultural history, breaking down barriers for women in television and comedy and continually redefining the acceptable boundaries of truth-telling for women in public life,” Bennett said. “It’s hard to imagine a more compelling subject for a book—or one that would be more fun.”

The University of Exeter is commemorating the 60th anniversary of the day William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was first published by sharing a handwritten draft of the influential classic with the public. Judy Carver, Golding’s daughter, is loaning the draft of this syllabus staple, and others from the author’s archive, to Exeter on a long-term basis so that scholars, students, and Golding fans everywhere can see into the early stages of a masterpiece in the making. While Carver is adamant that her dad’s work remains well preserved, “we also believe that it’s time for readers to see something of the process that produced these works.” [The Guardian]

Over 50 of Ireland’s finest cake makers will celebrate Roald Dahl day this Saturday, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with artistic confections inspired by the beloved author’s classic children’s books. The cakes include a giant blueberry Violet (the girl who was too greedy for her own good), one of the bald baddies from The Witches, and a life-size Willy Wonka himself. You can see the rest of the creations in a gallery from The Telegraph.

Skinner Inc. will auction off a valuable collection of previously undiscovered letters by iconic Beat writer Jack Kerouac. The pieces—17 letters, two postcards, and seven damaged fragments of letters—will be sold separately, at an estimated $2,000 to $5,000 apiece. [The Los Angeles Times]

Author Stephen King will hit the road Nov. 11 for a book tour to promote his new novel Revival, with stops in New York, Washington D.C., Kansas City, Wichita, Austin, and South Portland. [Mediabistro]

National Book Awards nonfiction longlist announced

ROZ-CHAST

The National Book Foundation announced its Longlist for the 2014 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Finalists will be revealed on October 15.

The Nonfiction Longlist includes the first cartoonist, Roz Chast, to be honored by the National Book Awards in the adult categories, a Pulitzer Prize Winner, and a number of distinguished historians. READ FULL STORY

'Zero' review: Being a spy will really mess you up

Zero is a comic book with a conceit that starts out simply: Should spies akin to James Bond exist in the real world, they would be irreparably damaged people. So what if one of these broken, efficient killing machines discovered that he was being used by the wrong side? What would that look like?

Written by Ales Kot and illustrated by a different artists every issue, Zero tells the story of Edward Zero, the best operative in a mysterious Agency, in the middle of a crisis of conscience. Trained from the age of 10 to be a killer, put on drugs to suppress his emotions, and placed on the front lines of a secret war that will radically change the entire world, Zero’s story unfolds bit by bit over a 20-year span beginning in 2018 and ending in 2038. With a nonlinear structure, the reader knows from the beginning that Zero defects—the framing narrative places an old, weary Zero in front of a gun held by a child sent by The Agency, with the same drugs and training Zero had burning through his system. Each issue tells a story involving Zero or one of his associates set in that time period and beyond. Each chapter offers a peek into the messy, broken, and violent headspace of its characters and asks you to sort it out. It’s a fascinating, disconcerting work.

The experience of reading Zero isn’t always a smooth ride. There’s an intricate density to the storytelling—Kot often manages to pull off the difficult trick of constructing each issue with a satisfying, self-contained story that’s complemented with cryptic clues about the near-future world it’s set in and devastating revelations that affect the ongoing plot. And while there’s a lot of thought put into every script, the pacing is highly irregular, and the nonlinear story can make for jarring transitions. But Zero does everything else so well—from art to design to dialogue and beyond—that a sometimes hard-to-follow plot is more of a feature than a bug. The experience of reading a comic book is rarely a prolonged one, and as such having reasons to reread, to pore over slowly and contemplate the ways a particular artist suits a particular story, are all good things.

With Zero on hiatus until October 29, now is the perfect time to pick up the first two volumes, An Emergency and At the Heart of It All, which collect the first 10 issues of the series. Designed by Tom Muller (who is also responsible for the striking look on the single issues), the trade dress for both volumes feature one of the most striking designs for a standard trade paperback in recent memory. The upper portion of the cover is devoted to abstract imagery that reflects the themes of the book—An Emergency is a messy collage designed to look like it was ripped off pages from the comics within, just like its protagonist is broken down and stitched together again into something bleak and impenetrable. Similarly, the second volume takes key art from the next batch of issues and distorts them, much like a signal that isn’t quite clear. It’s a strong setup for what’s to come, even if that isn’t entirely obvious. On both volumes, the lower third of the cover starkly lays out all the relevant information: series, title, price, and credits. It’s an eye-catching look that begs to be talked about and read.

One caveat: Zero is, in a word, violent. There is a graphic brutality on display that some readers will find uncomfortable. While that’s the point, it doesn’t make it any easier to read. In interviews, Kot describes Zero alternately as “what if James Bond was real” and an exploration of “bleak male rage,” expressing the importance of following up depictions of violence with equally considered looks at its lasting, devastating effects. With the help of the many other talented artists whom he has collaborated with, Kot has done exactly that: tearing down the psyches of characters we often encounter in action movies, and inviting us to wander through the rubble.

It’s a disturbing place.

Watch Neil Patrick Harris take shots and do magic in his book trailer

NPH-Choose-Your-Own-Autobiography.jpg

Neil Patrick Harris has chosen to frame his memoir as a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and the new book trailer adheres to that same spirit, allowing viewers to choose what they want to see the multihyphenate star doing. Well, it’s not quite that interactive. Instead, you can watch little Neils simultaneously juggle, do his Hedwig and the Angry Inch vocal warm-ups, perform magic tricks, eat saltines, or take shots of “pure rubbing alcohol.” The most adorable option is obviously watching Harris and his husband, David Burtka, reenact the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp.

The memoir, titled Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, is described as a “revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life.” Or, as Harris explains in the trailer, “throughout the book, at random times, you’ll get to choose what happens to you next.”

Latest Videos in Books

Advertisement

From Our Partners

TV Recaps

Powered by WordPress.com VIP