Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Book 1: The Hunger Games
Book 2: Catching Fire
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Hills Branch Library 210 Washington St.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
In one of the most anticipated graphic memoirs of the Fall season, Caldecott Medal award-winning artist David Small relates his childhood spent suffering inexplicable and dreaded silences from his mother, radiology treatments imposed by his father, the madness of his grandmother, and escaping it all through his drawings and artistry. It's a beautifully told tale of heartbreaking family dysfunction reminiscent of Alison Bechtel's Fun Home or Dash Shaw's Bottomless Belly Button. This is a memoir that is sure to be an enduring example in the graphic novel cannon for some time.
Compared to your standard history of science books, which describe individuals, timelines, and advances, Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World takes on the history of the scientific method and casts it as a method of dispelling myths and fictitious notions. Written by one of the foremost thinkers in his arena, Sagan shows how--in our scientifically-advanced world--superstitions, conspiracy theories, and junk science still thrive and sends out the clarion call to develop more awareness through education and application of critical thinking. A discussion between Sagan and his cab driver may strike a cord with many of us, where the cabbie lays out his belief how life on Mars has been proven by the face on the surface on the planet--showing how pervasive our lack of scientific literacy can be.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Dork Covenant comically introduces us to the world of the maligned and misunderstood gamer as exemplified by resident dorks Matt, Igor, Carson, and Ken.
Kovalic's simplified black and white artwork places the emphasis where it belongs, on the characters and the plot. Some graphic novels draw the reader with great inking or smooth layering. Dork Tower offers something much more substantial.
The star of this volume is a gem for Lord of the Rings fans and can be found on pages 67-73. That strip captures the essence of this web-comic turned graphic novel.
Every volume sees growth in the plot and the characters. Kovalic touches on relevant issues from the time whether the invasion of collectible minis, the latest video game system, or being a Mac or PC person.
At the heart of Dork Tower are the characters. We feel their pain and their joy as they suffer unemployment, enter relationships, and support one another as friends should. Dork Tower has a little of everything and it starts with Volume 1: Dork Covenant. Grab it today from the Graphic Novel kiosk on the 2nd floor behind the stairwell. You won't regret it.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Between the 1970's and 1990's, the Boston crime world was impacted and largely run by one man from South Boston: James "Whitey" Bulger. What most of his associates didn't know was that Whitey Bulger was also an informant for the FBI. In Black Mass, two staff writers from the Boston Globe take on the difficult task of drawing together testimony and the FBI's secret files (as well as reading between the lines) in order to show how the FBI colluded with one of the most notorious gangsters in Boston. It's chilling to read as the facts pile up and serve to strengthen the argument that Whitey Bulger was the one controlling his relationship as an informant--getting away with murder, extortion, and drug running while drawing down threats presented to his own gang from La Cosa Nostra in New England. I'd suggest complementing the book by watching Martin Scorsese's take on the tale in his award-winning movie The Departed.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Bayou is the first print release from DC’s Zuda line, which begin as web-based comics created by amateurs and voted on by fans. Set in the Deep South during the dark years of Jim Crow, Lee’s life is thrown into turmoil as her sharecropper father is unjustly accused of kidnapping Lily, her white playmate. Setting out to find Lily takes her to the last place Lee saw her, in the bayou—which acts like the looking-glass in the Alice in Wonderland stories, transporting her to a mythological world. If the strength of Bayou is anything to judge by, more Zuda comics will be published in print format and pick up in popularity, and make sure to visit the page for Bayou on Zuda if you’d like to continue beyond the first volume released in print.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
At the height of the 1960s student anti-war movement, Mark Rudd’s name and face came to represent the nation-wide phenomena of student radicalism. He was a leader of the Columbia University strike of 1968 and went on to national leadership of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Weather Underground. Forty years later, we have his story. An insightful, thought-provoking and critical memoir it is. As crazy as the Weather Underground’s actions and ideas were, Rudd’s very personal account gives readers a clear understanding of just how it all came about: how a group of very intelligent, idealistic students could so misread their country to think that they were leading a Revolution in the United States. Just as the author is unsparing in his criticism of the SDS leadership and Weathermen (including his own role) he is unwavering in his criticism of United States foreign policy then and now. If you want a refreshing, insightful inside view of the anti-war movement, this is definitely a good choice.
Walter Vale is a widower teaching economics at a Connecticut university, living alone and no longer motivated by his work. In New York to present a paper at a conference, he goes to the apartment that he has not visited in some time but has kept since his wife was alive, only to discover a young couple living there. Despite their great cultural differences, Walter befriends Tarek, a Syrian citizen and drummer and gradually builds a friendship with Esi, his girlfriend from Senegal. One day, when returning from Central Park with Walter, Tarek is arrested for jumping a stuck subway turnstile despite the fact that he had paid. The police discover he does not have legal papers and transfer him to an immigrant detention center in Queens. Feeling responsible for and connected to Tarek, Walter decides to stay in New York to help and support him. Not hearing from her son, Tarek's mother arrives from Michigan to find out why, and she and Walter support one another while they attempt to free Tarek.
In Jim Burden's accounting of his life with, and without, Antonia Shimerda, readers are transported to the hardscrabble Nebraska prairie and the rural immigrant experience. When Jim first sees the Shimerda family, immigrants from Bohemia, disembarking from the same train that is taking him West to live with his grandparents, he has no idea the impact they will have on his life. Nostalgically, he remembers the good and bad times they had on their respective farms and creates his portrait of Antonia, an independent and tough survivor.
Lee mixes feminism and cultural awareness to create a sweeping story of first-generation Korean Americans finding their way between the old world and the new. Casey Han, her 22-year-old heroine, is having trouble turning her Princeton economics degree into a job. When her authoritarian father throws her out, she goes to her white boyfriend for solace only to find him in bed with two sorority girls. Just as all looks lost, she meets a rich school acquaintance, Ella Shim, who offers her a place to stay and convinces her fiance to help Casey get a job. Casey's taste for expensive clothes keeps her in debt, Ella's shyness makes it easy for her husband to cheat on her, and Casey's father's coldness makes it hard for her mother to ignore kindness from another quarter. With very broad strokes and great detail, Lee paints colorful three-dimensional characters and outlines inter-generational and cultural struggles brilliantly.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
The first in a two-volume series chronicling the life of the King of Rock and Roll, Peter Guralnick has written the definitive biography of an American Icon. If you don't like Elvis's music before reading this, you'll be a convert after finishing it. Be sure to read the book while listening to the recordings, such as Elvis's legendary and ground-breaking Sun Studio Recordings.