Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What the.....?

I won't lie to you; I do not understand the current fascination with taking classic works of 19th century literature and "invigorating" them with supernatural gore.  Have you missed this trend?   Deliberately avoided it?  Well, like any literary phenomenom (i.e. Harry Potter), there's a slew of authors out there that are willing to ride the coattails of a winning formula.  Here's some examples:
  • Mummies and Mansfield Park by Vera Nazarian
  • Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters
  • Jane Slayre by Sherri Browning Erwin
  • The Undead World of Oz by Ryan C. Thomas
  • Emma and the Werewolves by Adam Rann
  • Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim by W. Bill Czolgosz
  • Vampire Darcy's Desire by Regina Jeffers
  • Robin Hood and Friar Tuck: Zombie killers by Paul A. Freeman
  • The War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies by Eric S. Brown
  • Alice in Zombieland by Nickolas Cook
If you lean more toward a nonfiction take on the flesh-eating walking dead, perhaps you might prefer a biography:
  • Queen Victoria, Demon Hunter by A.E. Moorat
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
Seth Grahame-Smith started this whole thing with his mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which proved so wildly successfully that it not only spawned this mass of imitators, it was made into a graphic novel (of course!).  We've just added this to the collection, along with the prequel Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith.  You know, if you're into that sort of thing.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Murder City

    Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the global economy's new killing fields, by Charles Bowden, is not your standard investigative journalism piece about Mexican drug cartels and violence at the U.S.-Mexican border.  Rather than a dry litany of dates, times and interviews with policy makers, Bowen's book is more narrative.  It comes across almost like a novel: a litany of anecdotes tied together with the thread of violence.  The fact that it is told in the present tense adds to the sense of immediacy, and allows the reader to follow through a year of escalating criminal activity as though you are there in Juarez. 
      In January of 2008, the murders begin with 5 policemen.  By the end of the year there were 1,652 recorded murders and by the summer of 2009 the murder rate was over 300 victims a month.  Policemen, drug peddlers, teachers, students, shopkeepers, housewives and addicts become statistics in a city where violence becomes the norm and dead bodies show up in every neighborhood.
The constant stream of stories overwhelms the reader by the end of the book and demonstrates how you can become numb to violence.  Very powerful, very compelling, very depressing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What do I do with all those fabric scraps?

If you're a quilter or sewer, then you probably have bags of fabric scraps collecting in your closets: beautiful colors, patterns or textures that you hate to part with because you're sure you can find a use for them.  Well, we have two new books at the public library that may help you display your fabric finds to their best advantage.
Keepsake Baby Quilts From Scraps presents 9 different baby quilt patters specially designed to use small amounts of fabric.  Designer Julie Higgins focuses on simple repeating patterns that are great for beginning quilters (or even advanced quilters who are working 'under the gun' to prepare for a baby shower).
Inchies: create miniature works of art using textiles and mixed media techniques is a collection of great ideas for sewers, felters, painters, beaders and textile artists.  Edited by Peggy Donda-Kobert, the projects in this book include silk, Tyvek, angelina fibers, and yarns but the basic building block for these concepts is a simple square of fabric cunningly detailed with beads, thread, paint and jewels.  Your end result can be as elaborate or as minimalist as you want.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Graphic history

We have a fascinating new book on the shelves that presents the waste and brutality of World War I in a graphic novel format.  It was the war of the trenches is the work of French artist Jacques Tardi.  Pulling in recollections from his grandfather (a WWI vet to whom this book is dedicated) and various books and films about the war (there is a nice bibliography in the back), Tardi leaves the 'facts' of the war to other writers and instead focuses on the 'feel' of war.  This is a collection of memories, instances, and anecdotes that convey the reality of trench warfare.  Although it is told from the perspective of the French footsoldier, Tardi points out in his introduction that the experience was universally brutal for all sides.
This is not our only graphic novel that deals with historical events.  If you are moved by Tardi's work, try these other graphic novels:
  • The Vietnam War : a graphic history by Dwight Zimmerman, art by Wayne Vansant
  • Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco
  • The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefèvre, & Frédéric Lemercier
  • Che: a graphic biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón
  • Nelson Mandela : the authorized comic book by the Nelson Mandela Foundation