April reading &c.

Sat 29 Apr 2006 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

Jane Jacobs died yesterday in Toronto at the age of 89. She lived there because she thought it was one of the best cities in the (Western) world. Her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities has had a great effect on city planners (and should be read by the people guilty of suburbing this country to death). She synthesized a ton of information and makes it palatable to the general reader. One smart woman. You could do worse than read more of her books.

– Meant to post a link to this obit for Muriel Spark who wrote many enjoyable books gave Maggie Smith the role of a lifetime.

– The Zoo Press story keeps going the rounds and Tom Hopkins won’t let it go — yay!

– Mad comic book update. As in, update on a mad comic book, not a long, impassioned, knowledgeable update on many comics. Mostly because while traveling we are piling up comix at our local comic shop (hoping they have added the new Kevin Huizenga titles) which means that at some point there will be champagne, chocolate truffles, and a pile of comics-day. Always a day to look forward to.

Meanwhile, the people at NBM keep putting out these absolutely crazy Lewis Trondheim books (as do Fantagraphics — great days for picturebook lovers). First “read” (as they’re often wordless) some of the minibooks (Diablotus was noted but not much said about it in LCRW 4) and loved the whimsy — not something that’s generally hugely popular around here — cut with irony.

Meanwhile, the people at NBM keep putting out these absolutely crazy Lewis Trondheim books (as do Fantagraphics — great days for picturebook lovers). First “read” (as they’re often wordless) some of the minibooks (Diablotus was noted but not much said about it in LCRW 4) and loved the whimsy — not something that’s generally hugely popular around here — cut with irony.

The latest NBM book is Dungeon Twilight Vol.1 Dragon Cemetery. There’s a whole complicated back story about a stopped planet with a dark side and a light side (hmm, think of the storms at the dark/light edge!) but what’s really going on is an absolutely mad quest with the Dust King, a barbarian-in-training rabbit who named himself after his hero, Marvin, giants, love (why not?), and so on.

If, since you stopped reading Conan and Rider Haggard, you miss the mountains of skulls those titles often featured; quick, order the book.

Talking of poetry (and we know you were as you are a secret poet (except your secret is out now!) and you have been gleefully using April, NatPoMo to you, to push chapbooks on everyone you know, you bastard) here’s an enthusiastic if uninformed recc: Joshua Marie Wilkinson’s Lug Your Careless Body Out of the Careful Dusk is great. It’s made up of seven long poems, you can read part of one here — which was also published in a chapbook, A Ghost As the King of the Rabbits.

Poetry is like stained glass windows, there’s light coming through and it illuminates the world in odd ways. Some people like it, some don’t. The light coming through here is hypnotic (hey, isn’t all poetry to a certain extent?) and addictive.

Strange Horizons are in the midst of their spring fund drive. Please consider supporting them. With Scifi.com closing Scifiction last year and the recent closing of Fortean Bureau this is an especially good time to support Strange Horizons. Also, they have some great gifts (including a limited edition of Mothers & Other Monsters) and even memberships. Ok, it’s always a good time.

I doubt Strange Horizons will have Kelly Hogan singing backup the way the amazing Neko Case does on her current tour (Do Not Miss), but they do have annual Reader Awards and apparently readers are enjoying speculative poetry and getting put off starting a small press, yay!

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Also, in reviews, Third Place went to a review of Magic for Beginners by Geneva Melzack. Congrats to all the winners and thanks to all the readers who read and voted.

One of the nice things about editing the Year’s Best Fantasy is that people will sometimes send or give you books. (Of course, sometimes we can’t track down the books we’d really like to read which sucks.)

Last year at some convention Scott Thomas (I think!) gave us a copy of his book, Westermead. It sat on the shelf (we have a section of the office where Year’s Best materials pile up. It is not always pretty or tidy.) for a while until one of those days when a stack (in this case a stack is the length of one’s arm) was moved to a reading area for some quick smart reading. Westermead slowed everything right down. Its a collection of linked stories that borrows from nineteenth century pastoral novels without being the usual pastoral fantasy. It isn’t just the odd twists that the stories take, it’s the embedded stories and mythologies, the depth of the world glimpsed at in the margins. In some ways this was more reminiscent of the pastoral novels of Thomas Hardy or the short stories of M.R. James than other fantasy novels. Either way, a treat. Westermead is also available in a beautiful over-sized limited edition.

A review of Justina Robson’s Living Next Door to the God of Love. Is it the title that makes readers love this book?

Publishers Weekly did their annual science fiction and fantasy issue (yes, we all have issues) including a good piece on the state of the nation by by Gwenda Bond.

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