Monday, March 01, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 2/27

As always, this post will list the books that came in my mail last week. And -- also as usual -- I haven't read any of them yet. But this week saw only a short stack -- possibly affected by a slight snowstorm affecting the Northeast that you may have heard of -- and so there's the very real possibility that I could actually, in a few weeks, read all of these books and review them more fully. (You'll have to stick around to see if that actually does happen.)

First up is Paul McAuley's new novel, Gardens of the Sun, the sequel to last year's The Quiet War, which was itself related to a series of stories McAuley has been writing in this setting for more than a decade now. I haven't gotten to Quiet War yet -- though it's second-from-the-top of one my many stacks of books that I intend to read, if that means anything -- but I liked many of those stories, and I've found McAuley to be a more impressive and strong writer the more SFnal he is. (In particular, his late '90s "Confluence" trilogy is magnificent and one of the major works of the field of this last generation.) The Quiet War novels and stories take place in a medium future, during (or, in the case of this book, in the aftermath) of that staple of SF, the war between the inner and outer solar system. And Pyr is publishing Gardens of the Sun on March 9th in trade paperback -- that's just about a week from now, so it should be showing up in stores (and virtual retailers) already.

To switch gears substantially, I also got what looks like a really neat Young Adult novel -- partially in a typeset-to-look-like-handwriting prose, partially in semi-comics drawings and panels -- called Happyface. It's the first novel from Stephen Emond, who previously did the comics series Emo Boy, and it looks to be following in the footsteps of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, though for a slightly older (though wimpy in its own way) audience. Happyface is the first person story of a teen boy, apparently known here only as "Happyface," who decides to reinvent himself when his family moves to a new town and documents his new life in his journal. I like seeing interesting combinations of comics and prose; I like first-person stories; and I've never outgrown my affection for novels about (and for) oddball teen boys -- so I hope to really like Happyface. Little, Brown is publishing it in March, so it, also, should be available in most stores any day now.

And the rest of what I got this week was in a box from probably my favorite Canadian comics publisher, Drawn & Quarterly. (Ask my sons; I was coming back from a grocery-shopping trip with them and exclaimed something like "Oooh, a box from D&Q!" when we walked up the front steps.) I haven't yet found a D&Q book that isn't amazing in one way or another; so far, their imprint on a book is an infallible indicator of quality. The only thing I'd ding them on is that their press releases don't note when books are (or will be) published -- so I'm assuming that these three books are all already available, but one or more of them may instead be coming out in the near future.

First was John Porcellino's Map of My Heart, a new collection from his zine King-Cat Comics, collecting stories and pieces from 1996-2002. It's also celebrating the 20th anniversary of King-Cat; Porcellino started the minicomic in 1989. I've almost bought the previous King-Cat collection, King-Cat Classix, several times, and I've enjoyed Porcellino stories in the Ivan Brunetti Anthology of Graphic Fiction and in Best American Comics 2006. (I also reviewed his short, non-King-Cat non-fiction comics biographical sketch Thoreau at Walden.) So it's more than time to read a whole book of his quiet, matter-of-fact work, with its simplified drawing style (at times reminiscent of New Yorker cartoons).

Then I was happy to see D&Q's reprint of Dylan Horrocks's well-regarded graphic novel Hicksville, which is another book I've been meaning to read for several years now. It's the story of an antipodean town where everyone loves comics -- not, sadly, true of the non-fictional Hicksville much closer to me -- and the outside reporter who comes there in search of a story. It's great to see this book back in print, and I hope it finds a new generation of readers.

Speaking of new generations, the third and last book from D&Q this week was Thirteen "Going on Eighteen", the latest in their "John Stanley Library" series, reprinting various comics that writer-artist worked on in the '50s and '60s. As you can guess from the title, this one is a teen comic; the book reprints the first nine issues (from 1961) of what was then a major entry in a strong genre of comics. (It must have been nice when commercial comics had more than one genre!) I have to admit that I haven't looked at any of the D&Q Stanley books they -- they substantially pre-date my own childhood, so I don't have any direct connection to them -- but they all look impressive, in their Seth-designed boards, and I'm piling them up in anticipation of a John Stanley binge sometime soon.
Listening to: Dragonette - Jesus Doesn't Love Me
via FoxyTunes

No comments:

Post a Comment