I typically don’t carry grudges, but I still haven’t forgiven HBO for canceling Carnivale, and that was years ago! There’s nothing worse than being in love with a story, only to have economics take the tale away from you before it’s finished.
This fabula interruptus happens in the comic book world as well. Comics long ago adopted the serial form. (When I was a youngster, there would occasionally be a two-part story; and a three-part story was a *really* big deal.) Original comics are now born to tell a specific story that may run dozens of issues before the “series finale.” Alas, comic book series are as susceptible to cancellation as your favorite television show.
I only recently discovered Book of Lost Souls, Vol 1 (a compilation of the first six issues of the comic with the same name). I loved it, only to find out that there is not and never will be a Vol 2. The comic died after that sixth issue. We will never find out the ultimate fate of Jonathan or his new friend, the cat named Mystery. And is the Dark Man god or the devil, or something else? Nope. Won’t ever know. Rats!
Then there’s A Distant Soil. I’ve been waiting and waiting for the final installment. Will it ever come?
But the most disappointing story interruption for me is the great comic book Drafted. In this story, the entire human race is forced into military service by an alien race in order to save Earth from a hostile extraterrestrial threat. Twelve issues were released, and a stunning revelation was made in the final full-page panel of issue 12. And then… nothing! I can’t find any information on the web about future issues. Searching for the author Mark Powers turns up nothing about plans for Drafted. There is a report that the work is being turned into a movie, but I can’t find additional information about that either.
In the meantime, I wait, wondering if these great stories will ever find an end.
Have you been affected by a story interrupted?
Library Breaks over. I know I could watch Old Spicey over and over… But time to get busy.
I’m taking a few days off and I desperately need to clear out some house clutter. I’m a big fan of Clean House but I think it just makes me feel better about my smaller mess. So far I’ve finished two Interlibrary Loan books, vacuumed up a ton of dog hair and gathered up boxes and bags for Habitat for Humanity pick up.
Death by Cashmere by Sally Goldenbaum. Here’s a knitting cozy set in a lovely Massachusetts seaside fishing village. Izzy Chambers has bought a small shop in Sea Harbor to start her dream job of owning and running a knitting shop. She’s left a high powered lawyer job behind and painful memories and is creating a life in the same town as her Aunt Nell. She’s also a very creative and talented knitter.
There’s a small knitting circle of Izzy, Nell, Cass (local fisherwoman), and Birdie (80 year old go-getter). Lots of lovely knitting talk, great food at knitting and townie get togethers, and Goldenbaum interjects local history and memorable Sea Harbor characters. Izzy has rented out her above the store apartment to Angie Archer, town gadabout with a loose reputation. Angie is working at the Museum doing research for an exhibit, while making time for boyfriends and nights out. When Angie turns up drowned in the harbor, Izzy and Nell realize they never really knew much about her. Besides the death of Angie, someone is poaching lobsters and creepy breaking and entering happens at the store apartment.
Suspicions grow, Nell leads the investigation into the crime, never believing it was an accident. I find with cozies, a lull in the middle and this book is no exception, but it pick ups nicely. So find out how a beautifully knitted cashmere sweater winds it way through all the story’s twists and turns. See how local history, secrets and town characters reveal a darker side of harbor life. Susan Goldenbaum has a nice hand drawing small town characters within a strong setting. And for once I started with the first book in the series, and it looks like she just finished her third, Moon Spinners. So in between knitting projects pick up a mystery with the knitter in mind. (Free pattern at the end of the book!)
Upon recommendation of Young Bill and Sadie I ordered Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer on Interlibrary Loan. To say this is a great graphic novel is an understatement. If you are going to try out one graphic novel, make this one your first choice. It had all the action and characters I remember as a kid reading comics, but it also has the real adult issues that remind us we’re all human even the super heroes among us. Listen to Brad at NPR tell his story about writing these comics. It’s very interesting what Brad has to say about our post 9/11 world. (I couldn’t get the video to insert, so go on over to the NPR site)
This graphic novel is a combination of a seven DC comic mini series. Someone is after our super heroes’ families, Elongated Man’s wife is dead. What protects us? What secrets might have been instrumental in creating this force for revenge? Did revenge beget revenge? The characters are easy to identify with, sadness, tragedy, loneliness, and failure. There are also many lessons about the power of love, and that it may be our ultimate salvation, even after great cost.
Rags Morales brings it all together with his glorious illustrations. At the end of the graphic, is a discussion between Brad and Rags about how the illustrations combine with the dialogue to create mood, emotion and story. I thought the afterword brought a great perspective to the novel, how illustrations and words are intertwined so tightly in comics.
This is a book I’ll be thinking about long after I’ve sent it back to the library, and that’s the criteria for a great read.
Okay, back to cleaning…
Discovered this great parody of the Old Spice commercial! It was a link within this great little article: Why The Next Big Pop-Culture Wave After Cupcakes Might Be Libraries. The video is from the Brigham Young University library, and it’s wicked good! Enjoy the break!
If you read this blog from time to time, you know how much I love science fiction. There’s a dirty little secret I’ve been keeping that I’m ready to reveal: I’ve never read perhaps the most famous science fiction novel ever written: Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.
I’ve owned it for some time, but it wasn’t until I was discussing great works of science fiction with a friend that I was really moved to pick it up and crack the cover.
So now I’ve started the book (the original uncut version depicted at left) and I’m on page 231, and I’m… absolutely appalled!
It’s not the Sci-Fi or suspense elements that upset me. The story elements dealing with a human raised by Martians, the glimpse into the Martian world, the unbelievable powers of young Valentine Michael Smith, and the political intrigue surrounding the foundling, are all fascinating. No, it’s the fact that this is one of the most sexist books I have ever had the displeasure of discovering.
Now, I know this was published in 1961 (you just have to watch Mad Men to discover, or remind yourself in my case, what it was like back then), and I expect a book to be a reflection of its time, but take a look at this quote from the novel:
He knew that such twisting of the tiger’s tail was dangerous, for he understood the psychopathology of great power as thoroughly as Jill Boardman lacked knowledge of it…”
“He” is news reporter Ben Claxton. Jill is his love interest, and she’s a nurse. So… a news reporter knows more about psychopathology blah blah blah than a nurse who probably had a course that covered psychopathology blah blah blah. The reason Ben knows more, and the reason all of the male characters are written as superior to the female characters is because of ONE BIG REASON: Men are better than women. Sorry, but this misogynistic attitude seems to soak every page of this so-called classic.
Surely, there’s a reason for this. Surely, the author must be setting us up for some kind of stunning social commentary. Is there a point to the fact that Martian-born Valentine Smith is the only character who does not look down on women? Will he reveal that men and women are of the same species, shocking the Earthlings? Is there a point to any of this? Have I wasted my time?
HELP! Should Young Bill Young keep reading this book?
Young Bill here’s the Old Spice hunk, giving the heads up about libraries, I think the heat is getting to us.
ABC has the most wonderful situational comedy set in a library. Unfortunately, it’s not our ABC, it’s the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and the name of the television show is simply The Librarians. It’s wicked fun! But the only way you can see it in America is to order the DVD from ABC, and watch it on a region free DVD player. (Totally worth it!) Enjoy your Library YouTube Break!
Check out what Australian librarians think of the show before you return to working mode.
Going along with the discussion of To Kill a Mockingbird and whether we can understand an Atticus Finch or the people of Maycomb, Alabama, I found an interesting essay on Picher, Oklahoma that made me think again about whether we make presumptions about other people and places that are not always fair or accurate. The essay is in the book, Hard as the Rock Itself: Place and Identity in the American Mining Town, by David Robertson. Picher has been plagued by severe environmental problems as a result of lead and zinc mining in the early twentieth century. Despite all the problems and subsequent health concerns Picher “retains value as a community and home for many.” So who are Picherites and why would they want to hang on to their beseiged landscape.
First Picher started as a prosperous and booming mining community during the heyday of the Tri-State Mining District. These were tough people, surviving harsh conditions and proud of their ability to endure and make a living from the land. Then the Great Depression, labor conflicts, and plenty of unemployment contributed to deteriorating living conditions. This gave rise to social reformers, like Charles Morris Mills, claiming Picherites “lacked the commonest incentives for decency”, and other scathing reports by journalists and social reformers marked the town as a doomed community. While social reform was definitely needed, the feelings and actions of the people who called Picher home were completely left out of the perception of these well meaning folks. Times changed, problems remained, outsiders thought Picherites should leave, the town had fallen to the fate of many small rural communities, population loss, and hard economic times. Later as mines closed, environmental conditions worsened, the government sought relocation for the citizens, why did people stay?
Some insight lies in the booklet produced by the Picher Centennial Committee, C. Allan Mathews describes Picher in this way” “We’ve a long way to go. On the other hand we’ve come a long way too!”.
“Picher is sixty years old. She’s not the lusty lead and zinc boomtown of yester-year. She’s put her roots deep. She’s weathered those intangibles common to evey boom camp…That has been the story of her past. Perhaps that, more than anything else, is her future. By every conceivable, logical deduction, these chat piles should have been her tombstone. But there was a human factor that can’t be overlooked in the miracle that is Picher. A people who wouldn’t give up.” –C. Allan Mathews, resident.
So my response to Malcolm Gladwell and all the other Malcolm Gladwells comes straight from Atticus Finch, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
For a much better understanding of the culture of mining communities and the people who lived and still live there, check out Hard as the Rock Itself.
It’s a Pulitzer Prize winning novel that has been translated into almost 50 languages and read by 40 million souls on the planet. To Kill a Mockingbird is celebrating its Golden Anniversary this year. Its publication and reception was a watershed moment in American history (the issue of race would never be the same), and the media is giving the work and its reclusive author their fair due. Here’s a round-up of some info from around the web…
Bill Whitaker with CBS Sunday Morning filed this report that aired on Sunday, July 11.
Here’s a New York Times article on anniversary parties celebrating the book.
Britain’s Daily Mail has this fascinating piece on Harper Lee. (We had no idea that Lee and Truman Capote had known each other since childhood.)
Gilbert King writes for the Huffington Post on Thurgood Marshall and Atticus Finch.
Another Huffington Post link: Anna Quindlen on the Greatness of Scout.
And here’s a interesting post by Jesse Kornbluth, editor of Head Butler. (To Kill a Mockingbird is a woman’s book? Atticus Finch is a feminized male? Gosh! Who knew?)
There are thousands of web articles out there, but we’ll wind up our round up with this Monroe Journal piece from Lee’s hometown of Monroeville.
The truly amazing thing about this anniversary is that we’re still discussing this book, 50 years after its publication. Aside from all of the popular and literary commentary on the work, the power of the book is the connection it creates with individual readers. So… now it’s your turn. What do you want to tell us about your experience with To Kill a Mockingbird?
I’ve read three books recently that are composed as letters to the reader from the author. Rather than traditional scholarly works, these are opinion pieces where the author is specifically arguing a point of view. In each case, the author has felt the need to “respond” to a particular issue. Interestingly, the approach of addressing the readers via this format begs the audience (much more than traditional non-fiction books) to have a reaction: to nod in agreement, shake their head in disagreement, and to think about the issues themselves.
David Boren’s A Letter to America is in response to the cynical bipartisanship in American government. It’s a thoughtful read that calls for a truce between the waring parties to solve the problems our country faces.
Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation is in response to the many letters he received following the publication of his book The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. Harris argues against the dangers of religion. Not surprisingly, members of the faith community have offered their own letters in response: Letter to a Christian Nation: Counter Point by RC Metcalf and Letter from a Christian Citizen by Douglas Wilson.
In The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, author Naomi Wolf warns that the Bush administration’s post-911 policies threaten our civil rights and our way of life.
I don’t know if these books have changed any minds, but I started wondering if their success was turning into a trend in literature: the book as letter as opinion piece. A search on the Internet says “probably not.” Recent titles do include Hill Harper’s Letters to a Young Brother and Letters to a Young Sister, but Harper’s works were inspired by Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke, a recent compilation of correspondence written in 1903. These books, like Maya Angelou’s Letter to My Daughter, are about inspiration and the passing on of wisdom and advice, not about changing public opinion or arguing for new policies.
My online search did turn up a wonderful book that I’m definitely going to investigate: Letters from the Earth by Mark Twain. This compilation of fragments, short stories and essays was published in 1962. The title piece includes “letters written by Satan to his fellow angels about the shameless pride and foolishness of humans,” according to a review on the Amazon.com site. Now, those are some letters I want to read!
Glad this Monday is over! I need a break. How ’bout you? Mr. Bean visits a rare book collection at the library. If you’re a fan, this works as a humorous Library YouTube Break. If you’re not, it’ll just frustrate the heck out of you unless you imbibe a bit before viewing. Happy week!