I was out on Salon.com and ran across this interesting discussion by Laura Miller of whether book trailers (now the norm) are really a good thing. Does anyone actually decide to read a book based on the trailer? I have to admit I usually run across the trailer after I’ve already read the book, or decided I’m not going to read it and the trailer is just a curiosity.
But one of the best parts of this article is a link to a Herman Melville Book Trailer at Gallery Cat. It’s really advertising literary T-shirts by David Bukszpan but it’s great for a laugh.
Galley Cat has more so enjoy yourself.
But look at this one, for something really clever.
And I checked on Wordcat.org and there are US libraries that own Going West and other Maurice Gee books.
Trailers, do you like them or think they’re just a silly marketing gimmick?
A colleague suggested Bryant & May mysteries a long time ago, so as I passed by the new book table this one popped out at me. Bryant & May as the matchstick advertising of the thirties suggests is a perfect match.
The books are all about strange and nefarious London crimes sorted out by the PCU (Peculiar Crimes Unit), think NCIS with a crazy assortment of British police officers. Christopher Fowler gives a little background you might find interesting before embarking on this series, and also check out his blog.
In Bryant & May on the Loose the PCU has offended the higher rungs at the Home Office and have been ousted from their headquarters. Bryant has taken to bed, even a headless corpse won’t get him up. When Meera Mangeshkar, one of his former Detective Constables is attacked by a man dressed as a stag, adorned with steel antlers, Bryant finally moves into action. Soon other bodies without heads are turning up. Fowler’s book explores the historical underbelly of London, this time, King’s Cross. It also takes a stab at corporate greed, gentrification and the inevitable urban decay.
The novel twists and turns like the King’s Cross streets but eventually all loose threads are nicely drawn together with a very shocking ending.
I probably should have started with the first book in the series, Full Dark House. Absolutely intend to go back and read all the others. This is one series I don’t want to let slip away.
P.S. My friend at work loved the Water Room. Be aware there seem to be a lot of different book covers for the series.
Young Bill Young here, writing on Kitty’s blog once again. (Thanks for the space, Kitty!)
About a year ago, I realized that much of the recent geeky entertainment I’ve been enjoying touches upon a common theme: Identity. Indeed, what is a person?
Let’s start at the beginning with the reimagined Battlestar Galactica television series. The cylons (robots) of the new series had evolved to look like us. When they died, they downloaded into new bodies and retained their memories. They laughed, cried, slept, loved, killed, nurtured, sulked, experienced joy and understood complex ideas. Were the cylons truly alive? Did they have souls? It’s ironic that the very first line of dialog in the series is a cylon asking a human this question: “Are you alive?” Ironic, because the humans struggle throughout the series asking that very same question about the cylons.
I was intrigued by the show enough to read a couple of pop culture books that discussed the issues presented on my television (including those issues of identity and what it means to be “alive”): Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy: Knowledge Here Begins Out There and Cylons in America: Critical Studies in Battlestar Galactica. Heady stuff, with a number of references to Ray Kurzweil’s idea of the coming singularity, when humans transcend their biological limitations in order to relate to superintelligent AIs. Really heady stuff!
Over this past year, I’ve found myself exploring this subject in other books and shows. For example, I’m watching Josh Whedon’s Dollhouse. Persons who have their memories erased are called dolls. They are imprinted with the memories of others and sent on missions. Does a doll actually become this other person? Is the doll still the person they were before their memories were removed, or is a person a collection of ongoing memories?
Then it was on to Robert Venditti’s graphic novel The Surrogates, in which people use humanoid remote control vehicles to interact with each other. This is similar to the idea used in James Cameron’s movie Avatar, except in Cameron’s work, the “remote” is actually a biological entity.
Even my most recent guilty pleasure, Jenna Black’s series on demon exorcist Morgan Kingsley, addresses the horror of real identity theft during possessions.
Now I’m reading David Brin’s Kiln People. In this future, people can download their memories into clay duplicates (dittos) that are sent out to work, to party, to accomplish menial tasks, or to perform a mission that would be dangerous to a biological person. The ditto has all of the memories of the original person (the rig) up to the time of downloading. Dittos are short-lived, lasting only about a day. Dittos must get home in time to download their memories in order to continue “to exist.” When the rig downloads the ditto’s memories from the day, those memories become part of the orignal’s experience as well.
There is a slightly chilling scene where a ditto awakens and observes “his” rig, and you realize that, at the point where the two sets of memories diverge, a new person has been born. Dittos may be shortlived, but that doesn’t stop a human rights movement promoting the idea that “Dittos are people, too.”
I suppose this obsession with identiy and personhood in recent science fiction could all be a natural extension of themes ignited by Willliam Gibson’s groundbreaking Neuromancer, as well as the real science and technology that is evolving around us. I don’t expect to live to see Kurzweil’s singularity, but if I do, I wonder if I will wake up some morning and ask, Am I me?
It’s so sad that Robert Parker has passed away. Spenser and Stone will certainly live on for his many fans. His writing style spoke to young and old (my mom and I both read Spenser novels), male and female. The Spenser TV show as well as the made for TV movies of Jesse Stone added an additional audience. All librarians know his books moved off the shelves from the seventies through a lively readership of today. We’re all sorry there won’t be a new Parker novel to look forward to reading.
just a few titles to remember him by and the list goes on and on and on….
Young Bill Young here. So many thoughts are spinning in my head, and it’s all because of this little book by Pitchfork editor Mark Richardson, part of the 33 1/3 book series on groundbreaking music albums. After reading this little tome, what can I say? I could write about the joys of reading about a favorite rock album (Zaireeka) or a favorite rock band (The Flaming Lips). I could write about the impact this album (if you can call it an album) has on the ongoing conversation about how music is experienced in our highly technological world. I could write about the seeds of creativity, and how Oklahoma’s own Flaming Lips charted a new path under adverse circumstances. I could write about music as art; music as a catalyst for change and discovery; music as event versus music as solitary entertainment. All of these issues and more are covered in Richardson’s amazing take on this unusual masterpiece of sound.
If you’re not familiar with Zaireeka, let’s start with Richardson’s own words:
“The Flaming Lips‘ 1997 album Zaireeka is one of the most peculiar albums ever recorded, consisting of four CDs meant to be played simultaneously on four CD players.”
You get the picture of how challenging it could be to even experience Zaireeka as it is intended. Not only do you have to find three friends with portable stereos, you also have to sync up each of the eight tracks individually. Richardson continues:
“Zaireeka is the anti-headphone and the anti-mp3. It purposely makes the two biggest developments in end-user music in the last 30 years irrelevant. Zaireeka is not mobile. It is not personal. It is not solitary, cannot be easily controlled, and cannot easily be consumed in small doses. So another way to think of Zaireeka is as a one-off piece of technology that comes in a highly inconvenient dead-end format, which is a rather extraordinary kind of thing for a rock band to make.”
Richardson pays homage to the works’s format by breaking his book up into four sections, with each section having eight “tracks.” The first section explores the idea of Zaireeka, and how its format requires a communal experience (with at least four people) — an idea in direct conflict with the personal soundtracks of the mp3 player generation.
The second section explores the nature of the band known as the Flaming Lips, how the departure of guitarist Ronald Jones provided a spark for musical exploration, leading to the Parking Lot Experiments (where the band provided up to 40 cassette tapes to be played simultaneously in car stereos) and, eventually, Zaireeka. In addition to losing Jones, the other musicians—leader Wayne Coyne, multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd, and bassist Michael Ivins—were approaching the end of their Warner Brothers contract. The possibility of being dropped by the label in an album or two only added a fearless quality to the band’s experimentation.
Section three reviews the music, and how it is never the same–the sounds of individual stereos/boomboxes differ, the acoustics of different spaces differ, and synchronization can be a bitch! Beyond the intricacies of format, Richardson finds that Zaireeka represents the best music of the Lips up to that time, first-tier psych rock:
“(The opening song) feels like a foot kicking through a door, opening up another world beyond it. And the ensuing sequence of songs builds that world out beautifully.”
Section four is what follows the release of the album: the critical reception, the band’s boombox experiements at concerts, the Zaireeka listening parties held by Lips fans across the country, and the path to The Soft Bulletin, the subsequent album that would attract a host of new fans to the Lips.
What sticks with me most about this book, though, is Richardson’s own reaction to Zaireeka. Section Four, Track Eight is “One Listener’s Story.” Richardson, a self-identified Gen-Xer, writes about the personal impact of two seminal 1997 artistic works— Zaireeka and David Lynch’s movie Lost Highway. Here are two quotes from the book:
“The experience of listening to Zaireeka was overwhelming, but more than the actual event, it got my mind going. I started to reflect on the artistic possibilities of confusion, and somewhere around that time I came to value experiences that existed outside of understood categories.”
“A movie like Lost Highway seeps into your subconscious, and to appreciate it you have to trust yourself to make sense of pieces that don’t necessarily seem to fit together. Seeing it in 1997, the year I heard Zaireeka, I began to sense that a universe of abstraction previously unavailable to me was starting to make sense.”
And such is the power of art. It is important to note that Coyne’s name for the album is a combination of two words: Zaire (chosen as a symbol of anarchy after he heard a radio report on political instability in that African nation), and Eureka (I have found it!). Amidst the confusion, stress, and disaffection that too often makes up our modern world, there is always great beauty and meaning to be discovered. And that’s why we need art.
Who wants to have a Zaireeka party?
You like an author or you stand in line to get an autograph or you just happen to meet one at an author event, panel, etc. and you realize they’re really a pompous jerk. They seem way to enamored with their own persona. Do you stop reading them? Do you just wonder how someone with so little social skills could write insightful works? Does it matter what an author is like in person if they know how to write? Do we divorce ourselves from discourteous behavior or boorishness and appreciate the written word?
What say you????? Thumbs up to the writer or thumbs down.
Powell’s blog is alway a good spot to find the latest in books and book news. And they have excellent links to other lit blogs. Try your hand at nominations for the Puddly Award. Hurry you only have until January 31st to enter.
PW (Publisher’s Weekly) has five blogs to pick from.
January 21st is the date for Oklahoma Literary Landscapes, in case you’ve ignored all my previous entries on this event.
Full Circle Bookstore tomorrow night, January 12, at 7:00 p.m. has Lou Berney signing, Gunshot Straight:
My sister in law seemed a little surprised (but she knows me, so not really surprised) that the person that I most admire is Anna Zilboorg. Knitters will all get it. Anna left MIT and went to Big Stone Gap, Virginia to led a hermit’s life of prayer and knitting. She creates the most beautiful patterns; gorgeous mittens, socks, hats, many using ethnic patterns. In my newest Knitter’s magazine there’s a wonderful article about her. She’s creative, has a beautiful spirit and understands the need to make something.
“One of the most basic human needs is to make necessity beautiful. Everything has to be beautiful: a quilt, a kilim, a mitten, a sock. ”
“And now, necessity has almost disappeared from our lives, certainly in America, and everything is disposable–but there’s still a point in making it beautiful.” –Anna Kilboorg, interview in Knitter’s
It feels good to admire someone who understands simple pleasures and finds the beautiful in the necessary. Even if you don’t knit just pick up one of her books at the library or the bookstore and feel the beauty of the every day.
A few of my 2009 OKIE AUTHOR’s of MERIT are:
Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman Cooks has hit the road running. It’s a gorgeous book, wonderful pictures, yummy recipes, folksy articles and makes you Okie proud.
I had begun to feel William Bernhardt’s Ben Kincaid mysteries were getting a bit stale, but with Capital Offense I think he is definitely back in the game, and Nemesis: The Final Case of Eliot Ness is hitting the ball out of the park.
Dr. Blue Clark has given us a new Guide to Indian Tribes of Oklahoma. We’ve desperately needed this updated and authoritative work.
Marcia Preston is always a good author to pick up. The Wind Comes Sweeping is a 2009 selection. I’ve always really enjoyed her mysteries, I hope she is going to do some more of those in 2010. Speaking of mysteries Donis Casey has a new Alafair Tucker mystery, The Sky Took Him.
For the Younger Young Adult readers you can never go wrong with Anna Myers. Go for Spy (about Nathan Hale)or her new one, Time of the Witches. She has solid plotting, good characters, and usually the books are based on an historical event.
For the Older Young Adults who need spicy vamp tales, give the Cast mother and daughter team a try with the House of Night series.
Just a few of the OKIE’s out there, giving us plenty of choices for our reading palates.
Need to find ways to keep track next year of your 2010 reads. Try out one or two of these suggestions.
Jessamyn West at librarian.net has a clever way to keep track of what she’s reading. I’ve never thought to keep track of whether I read more male or female writers or my average reads per month.
If you like to share titles with others or want to find titles others are enjoying, try GoodReads .
AllConsuming is a strange but interesting place to proclaim your latest consumption of books, movies, food, just about anything.
If you have a whole library of books you need to keep track of and have somehow missed hearing about LibraryThing, give it a try.
I think I’m going to try my own version of Jessamyn West’s book statistics. Who knows what categories I might come up with by next December.
I always hate to make New Year’s Resolutions. That’s usually the kiss of death for any proposed changes to my life. So I’m hunting for a new word to get this year off on a better foot. Hmmm… online dictionary has these Synonyms:
aim, boldness, constancy, courage, dauntlessness, decidedness, decision, declaration, dedication, doggedness, earnestness, energy, firmness, fixed purpose, fortitude, guts, heart, immovability, intent, intention, judgment, mettle, moxie, obstinacy, perseverance, pluck, purpose, purposefulness, purposiveness, relentlessness, resoluteness, resolve, settlement, sincerity, spirit, spunk, staunchness, staying power, steadfastness, stubbornness, tenacity, verdict, willpower.
I’m leaning toward a “Gutty Fixed Purpose ” ; “Dogged Fortitude” or maybe “Plucky Purpose”, whichever way I go it needs to be a better effort than my lame attempts last year. My past promises to myself; to read more, write better reviews, quit procrastinating, etc. have not been realized. So with a Sincere Spirit I hope to improve my blogging this year, take you along for some great reads, highlight Oklahoma authors and remind you and myself that reading is fun, relaxing, entertaining and informative.
So lets start the New Year with Oklahoma’s Creativity Coach, Romney Oualline Nesbitt’s book, Secrets from a Creativity Coach. It’s a great tool to get your life and creative juices flowing. I first heard about this book at the Red Dirt Book Festival’s author book review panel. I had been feeling overwhelmed by work, blogs, housework, and all the other annoying minutiae of everyday life. The review got me hooked.
Ms. Nesbitt has some very good, practical advise. She’s in the life coaching, creativity promoting business. She shares her techniques in the book by focusing on people, just like us, having a hard time getting their act together. She gives examples of how to turn things around by doing very simple changes. Her six changes to combat procrastination and perfectionism (my own downfall) are :
1. Be Present. “Be present in your seat whether that is at your computer, drawing table or piano bench.” “You can’t write a novel while you’re mowing the lawn. You can’t paint a portrait while you’re at the mall.” In my case, it’s you can’t read a book when you have the television on.
2. Stay. Get in your work space and stay there. She suggests using a timer if you have to. Give yourself a chance to get those creative jusices flowing. “Give yourself the gift of time.”
3. Don’t Look Back. I think I like this suggestion best. I’m always going back over why I didn’t accomplish something. Romney says: “Administer your own absolution. Forgive yourself for your pattern of inaction and start anew.”
4. Believe in the power of “good enough”. Every thing around you doesn’t have to be perfect for you to get going. Just getting started is the way to go. There’s no perfect time or place.
5. Take action and don’t stop. “Write one word, one sentence, squirt out your paints, or put your hands on the keyboard.” “Start and don’t stop. Do something!” I personally need to stop thinking about doing something and actually do it.
6. Today! “Today is the best possible day to begin, don’t wait for Someday.
and I’m going to add a seventh step, Go out and get this little book, start your New Year off with some optimism and creativity.