Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cory Doctorow

Now that I have read 3 books by Doctorow, and listened to one audiobook, I am riding the bandwagon of fans. Neil Gaiman's opinion led me to Doctorow (OK, someone I work with told me to read Doctorow, and someone else told me Gaiman thought Doctorow was great) and I'm very glad.

Read Little Brother, Eastern Standard Tribe, and Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. Find a copy of Wastelands Stories of the Apocalypse or just click on the title of Doctorow's story, "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth," depending on how you prefer to "take" your stories. I listened to the podcast of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and was thrilled with it. Go! Now!

Yes, Doctorow's stories are dystopic; they're not happy, but Little Brother has a good attitude of fighting authority and damn it, I'm on the bandwagon and you should be sitting next to me here!

Graphic Novels

A friend of mine prefers to call them "funny books," and we don't call them comic books anymore, mostly because comic books makes people think of books printed on poor quality paper that rips too easily and tends to bleed ink. I like some graphic novels and I'm going list them here.

Spiegelman's memoirs; Maux, Maux 2, Breakdowns, and In the Shadow of No Towers are wonderful. Breakdowns shows Spiegelman's talents as an artist and show how he uses art to further his narrative. Maus and Maus 2 are great books to introduce people to graphic novels who might shy away from the format. Breakdowns and In the Shadow of No Towers are really for people who enjoy graphic novels, because they both use the art to move the story more than (I think) the earlier two books do.

Marjane Satrapi's memoirs also are a wonderful example of how art should be used to tell stories. The art allows the reader to look at the horrors of life before the revolution but still maintain some distance.

Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot is what happens when someone decides to write a literary biography in a graphic novel format. It is a brilliant idea, because it allows the reader to access the literature on different levels. It's got a full bibliography in the back for people who NEED the references, but there's no reason that literary criticism can't be fun, and this was a brilliant way to address Lewis Carroll's work.

Talbot also wrote "Tale of One Bad Rat," which is both about Beatrix Potter and her short story of the same name, but also how abused children can use both art and literature to help them cope with awful things that happen to them. The heroine of this book is an incest survivor who has run away to escape her abuser. Like Satrapi's books, Talbot uses art to make us look at awful crimes and see them for what they are.

Old Man's War Tie-in

OK, I'm showing my nerd shirt now, but one of the lines I really liked in John Scalzi's "Old Man's War" was when a character would say (and he said this several times), "I'd explain it to you, but you don't have the math." "The Black Hole War," by Leonard Susskind, will help you understand the math. Susskind's book is about Quantum Mechanics and Black Holes while Scalzi's books are science fiction, but Susskind made me think that I actually understood how things worked. So if you've finished Scalzi's series about John Watson, and think you want to understand the math, try "The Black Hole War."

Then, when you're finished with "The Black Hole War," try ""The Day We Found the Universe." And don't come crying back to me when you realize you've LEARNED something.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

All This Heavenly Glory

You don't like chick lit. But you like novels about women, just women who aren't stupid and who don't still hang out with people they don't like anymore. Like how in Julia and Julia someone says, "I don't think you like your friends." If that's what you think, read "All This Heavenly Glory," by Elizabeth Crane.

Fringe Festival 2009

I saw Vote and was very amused, and it wasn't until I was leaving the theater that I realized the play was about the campaign and voting, not about the election. The play ends before we can learn who is the new Student Council President!