In honor of Free Comic Book Day—it’s tomorrow! You go into any comic book store and they give you free comics—here are some of our favorite books about comics (and a few bonus treats).
Tom De Haven‘s thrilling and evocative novel, It’s Superman!, returns Clark Kent to his Depression-era roots for an adventure that sheds comic excess and focuses on what makes the Man of Steel human.
De Haven’s got a great nonfiction look at Supes, too: the new Our Hero, a fantastic look at the character’s real-life origin story, his ups and downs, and his lasting cultural impact.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning fictional take on the comic industry’s birth and golden age has achieved modern-classic status for a reason. The thrill of creativity taking flight has never seemed more visceral.
Of course, with the rise of comics came the rise of comic book-detractors. David Hajdu explores all sides of this epic censorship controversy—including the publication of the famous anti-comics screed, Seduction of the Innocent—in The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America.
POW! Fun bonuses:
*An excellent interview with award-winning graphic novelist and Bay Area local Gene Luen Yang, author of the new (and likewise excellent) Prime Baby.
*A hilarious analysis of gender-swapped superheroes (um…possibly NSFW).
*This speaks for itself: videos of Tim Gunn critiquing superhero costume choices.
Keep feeling super with Margaret in Oakland’s reading Antonio Machado‘s “Last Night While I Was Sleeping”:
That’s it for the month, guys! Check out all 30 videos for the 30 days of April here. And then vote for your favorite! The winner—along with the winning voter, who gets a mysterious(ly awesome) prize—will be announced in May!
There’s that old joke about sausage (no, not that one): you may love to eat it, but you don’t want to know how it’s made. Fortunately, we bookworms are safe: the process of creating a book—as depicted by Funnel Inc. for the Madison, Wisconsin, publisher Webcrafters, Inc.—is completely palatable…if apparently performed entirely by the calm, blank-faced people who usually occupy airplane safety information cards. Click on the image above to enlarge it, and have fun tracing your way through the whole epic process. We only wish they’d make a Book Publishing: Vice City video game.
Also fun? Karen in Oakland’s reading of Graham Foust‘s “Difficulty Swallowing”:
But if you really want to level up, check out the full archive of videos and then vote for your favorite here! Prizes and glory await!
Author-playwright-essayist-screenwriter-director David Mamet has a new book out—Theatre (come by the Brentwood store to snag a signed copy!)—and unsurprisingly, plenty of opinions!
Presenting David Mamet’s…
The Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian
Powell and Pressburger’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
And speaking of favorites…remember to vote for your fave poetry video here! Though first, check to see if you’ll get swayed by today’s selection, Thomas in Brentwood reading Rae Armantrout‘s “Simple”:
(Psst! The full archive’s still here, by the way!)
We know what you’re thinking: Yeah, so those Diesel chumps have posted a poetry video every day for the month of April. So what? What have those videos really done for ME…aside from move me and inspire me and awe me down to my very soul? Sure, that’s nice and all, but where’s the tangible benefit, dudes?
Good, if slightly rude, question, entirely made up reader! And here’s the answer: if you review (or check out for the first time) all our videos and vote for your favorite, you could win a fun and exciting prize! That’s right: comment here (or email Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org) with your pick for the best poetry video of the month—and even better, the reason why you liked it—and you’ll be entered into the drawing to win. We’ll unveil the winner—and the winning video—here on the blog in May. How’s that for poetic justice?
Hmm, we wonder if today’s selection could be the one? It’s Geo in Brentwood reading Jorge Luis Borges‘ “James Joyce“:
So check out the full archive of videos and comment with your vote!
National Poetry Month is winding down, but there are still some wonderful web-based poetic treats to be found. We love the book spine poetry patrons at Somers Library in Somers, New York, created. And we think the following video, in which the Princeton Tiger talks to Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon about the literary merits of Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” (and Muldoon compares the song to King Lear!) is just about one of the best things we’ve ever seen:
Of course, we still think our own poetry videos are pretty sweet, too. Here’s Thomas in Brentwood reading Pier Paolo Pasolini‘s “Prayer to My Mother”:
Slouch toward Bethlehem with Anna in Brentwood as she recites W.B. Yeats‘ “The Second Coming”:
Don’t lack all conviction; check out the full archive of poetry videos here!
Be ridiculous and shameful with Steffi in Oakland as she reads Arda Collins‘ “Pool #13″:
Then check out the full archive of poetry videos here!
Alison (she’s everywhere!) reports:
One of my favourite book events of the year is almost upon us: The L.A. Times Festival of Books is happening this weekend! As a bookseller and reader, this is a dream come true. The sight of so many booklovers enjoying themselves on the UCLA campus can bring a tear to my eye. They truly represent Los Angeles in all its glory. To see children running not to be late for an author speaking relieves all the fears of reading going out of fashion. Authors in conversations, on panels, being interviewed; poets reading aloud—how can you choose from this plethora of riches?
Sometimes the choices are made for me as I am not organised enough to get the advance tickets and halls are often full by the time I get to them. However, that still leaves too many options. Should I go to the panels to support the people I know? A lot of the same writers will join panels with different themes each year, thus promising the familiar coupled with new ideas. How about choosing by the moderator? We have some consistently great ones working. They will skilfully pick at the seam until little gems of wisdom are pried loose. So much to take into consideration!
However, I think that I may have finally worked out the perfect system: zero in on the hall that has the most appealing events and camp out there to secure a seat. This may be Rolfe on Sunday:
12:00 — Art of the Critic, mod by David L. Ulin. Everyone can join in on this one.
1:30 — Fiction: The California Way, mod by Antoine Wilson
3:00 — Life on the Edge: Violence and the West, mod by Marc Cooper
So maybe I should stop looking at the programme before I get more distracted, and just see where the word takes me. Hope to see you there!
But first, see Joey in Malibu read Shel Silverstein‘s “Where the Sidewalk Ends”:
And check out the full archive of poetry videos here!
So it seems that Twitter has donated its entire public tweet archive to the Library of Congress. How were we to know that we were all making history…140 characters at a time? The question is, will the archive truly prove to have historical merit—will it be like a Pepys’ Diary for our era—our will it, 50 or 100 or 1000 years from now, show itself to be an endless catalogue of what people ate for lunch and which celebrities were fleetingly thought to be hot? (With the exception of our tweets, of course, as they are without a doubt universally witty and astute.) We can just picture future historians curling their fingernails into their silver jumpsuits and bemoaning the hours spent searching through references to Justin Bieber. “This is worse than Domesday Book!” they’ll cry. “Why oh why didn’t we become future!booksellers? They get to wear such smashing spacesuits while floating through the stratosphere stacks!” Yup, that’s totally how it’s gonna go down.
No, but seriously: what do you think about the use of Twitter as an historical archive? Or as way for The Royal Shakespeare Company to reinvent the drama of Romeo and Juliet in a new medium?
While you’re pondering that, check out Nell in Malibu’s reading of W.S. Merwin‘s “Child Light”:
The full archive of poetry videos is, you guessed it, right here!
In the long tradition of a good book being an excellent way to make the best of a bad situation, the Guardian‘s got a fun quiz on volcanoes in literature. It doesn’t, however, include the (true!) bit from Javier Marias‘ wonderful Written Lives about the time Malcolm Lowry, author of Under the Volcano, punched a horse. In the face.
Since we’re clearly being highly serious today, here: have a bonus Great Gatsby comic.
Oooh! And another bonus! Nell in Malibu reads Y.B. Yeats‘ “Lake of Innisfree”:
Check out the full archive of poetry videos here!