Monday, April 19, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 4/17

It's a short list this week, so there's every chance that I'll actually get to read all of these books before long -- but I do need to point out, as I do every week, that I haven't read any of them yet.

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers is the new novel from Thomas Mullen, whose first book, The Last Town on Earth, was widely praised (USA Today Debut Novel of the Year, Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year, James Fenimore Cooper Prize). It's the story of two bank-robbing brothers, Jason and Whit Fireson, in the mid-30s depths of the Great Depression, who are cut down in a hail of bullets, but may not be exactly dead -- and, from the title and some hints in the flap copy (and the fact that Random House sent it to me, specifically), I suspect that there's some fantastic element to their survival. Whatever the reason, Firefly Brothers is a major literary novel from what we in the business like to call "Little Random," and hit store shelves in hardcover on January 26th. (Which begs the question of why I'm seeing it now -- perhaps, unlikely as it may seem, this book is getting a second publicity push after three months on the market? I took a quick look at its numbers in that book-industry sales tracking system that will remain nameless, and it's been chugging along at a slow pace that's probably depressing someone at Random.)

From the sublime (I hope) to the ridiculous (patently), next in my stack this week is College in a Nutskull, compiled and edited by Professor Anders Henriksson. It's another one of those lists of dumb things people say, of the subcategory "students getting classwork wrong." Most of the examples of that I've seen -- there are several lists working their way through e-mail at any given time, like tapeworms in the Body Internet -- heavily crib from each other and may have been circulating for years or decades. But this book claims to be all-new, entirely from Henriksson and his colleagues, and so all sourced from actual, and presumably recent, boneheaded university students. So if you would like to weep at the ignorance of the present generation, this is the book for you -- it was published by Workman in February. (I guess this was the week for publicists to catch up on their mailings to minor bloggers!)

And last for this week is the latest manifestation of the current literary craze: the zombie mash-up. In true brand-extension fashion, Seth Grahame-Smith's novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (on which he had no little help from a Miss Austen) begat the prose prequel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, and has now shown further fecundity in begetting Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel. It's credited to Austen and Grahame-Smith, as adapted by Tony Lee and illustrated by Cliff Richards. (Note well the 's' in 'Richards' -- though it would be much more amusing if Cliff Richard had turned to drawing comic books in his retirement.) If you've held off on reading the original novel because you preferred a version with more pictures and fewer words -- or if you just can't get enough of Bennets slaughtering the undead with their parasols -- Del Rey will have the graphic novel version in stores everywhere on May 4th for your delectation.
Listening to: Fishbone - Bonin' In The Boneyard
via FoxyTunes

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