Monday, July 04, 2011

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 7/2

Another week has passed, and below are the books that showed up on my doorstep, looking for love, during that time. I can't make a home for all of them here -- sometimes, with books, I feel like the woman in Bridesmaids who grabbed nine puppy "favors" at the shower -- so consider this a virtual adoption day. None of these books have been neutered, of course -- who would want a book that had been, besides the Rev. Bowdler? -- but none of them will make little messes all over your house. And so let me examine their papers as I try to figure out what their pedigrees are....

The cutest little thing this week is Sara Varon's new graphic novel Bake Sale, about an anthropomorphic cupcake who runs a bakery and plays in a band. It's ostensibly for kids -- like Varon's previous book, Robot Dreams, which I reviewed for ComicMix a few years back -- but she has a lovely simplicity to her lines and a dreamily matter-of-fact tone to her stories of odd creatures that works just as well for adults. Bake Sale publishes in September from First Second.

Also from First Second in September is Americus, a graphic novel written by MK Reed and drawn by Jonathan Hill. It's also aimed at least generally at younger readers, telling the story of a teenage boy caught up in his small town's drama when a group of religious "concerned citizens" try to get his favorite series of fantasy novels banned from the local library.

To switch things up, I also have here Midnight Movie, a novel -- told in semi-epistolary fashion, in blog posts and twitter feeds and interviews and other documents -- by the classic horror director Tobe Hooper with Alan (Paul Is Undead) Goldsher. (Goldsher, very tackily, is only credited on the inside of the book.) In the world of Midnight Movie, Hooper's long-lost first movie -- Destiny Express, made when he was a teenager -- is going to be screened for the first time ever at South by Southwest. Of course, since this is a Tobe Hooper story, death quick follows. Midnight Movie will be published on July 12th in trade paperback by Three Rivers Press.

Last year there was a major festschrift anthology -- look up the word if you don't know it; you're on the Internet already -- honoring Frederik Pohl, called Gateways. (It was edited by his wife, Elizabeth Anne Hull, who is pretty well known herself in the right academic circles.) This year -- this month, in fact -- it's coming back in a spiffy new trade paperback edition from Tor, and I hold a copy of that in my hands right now. Gateways has stories --- all brand-new last year, and not much older than that now -- from David Brin, Joe Haldeman, Cory Doctorow, Gene Wolfe, Greg Bear, Mike Resnick, and a bunch of others, plus a poem from Neil Gaiman, appreciations from a half-dozen other writers, and more. Fred Pohl was one of the men who made SF -- as a writer (alone, with C.M. Kornbluth, with Jack Williamson), as an early agent, and as a major editor for Bantam and Galaxy, so this book is very welcome.

Speaking of welcome books, Jim Butcher fans have spent an uncomfortable year waiting for Ghost Story -- the unlucky thirteenth book in his "Dresden Files" series -- since the end of Changes (which I reviewed last year) left Dresden in a very bad position. Ghost Story is coming from ROC as a hardcover on July 26th, and the publisher's description of the book gives away Changes's big ending -- it's hard to see how it could avoid that, though, and still talk about this book at all -- so, if you're running behind on this series, you'll want to keep below radar range for a while yet to remain unspoiled.

Moving back to works in comics form, I wouldn't have expected the Arcana series The Clockwork Girl to turn up as a single graphic novel from HarperDesign, but, then, I also wouldn't have expected it to turn into a major 3D animated feature, and the latter is coming this fall. (And those two projects are certainly not unrelated.) So: here's the full story, as told in comics form, by series creators Sean O'Reilly and Kevin Hanna, and you can read it in a nifty hardcover form on July 12th, or wait for a paperback edition that will arrive this fall with the movie.

And last for this week is another graphic novel from First Second: Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory, the third in George O'Connor's series about the Olympian gods. (I've already reviewed the first two -- Athena and Zeus -- and passed them along to my older son, who liked them as much as I did.) Hera will be in stores this very month, and I hope O'Connor continues with this series as soon as possible -- Hades is due up next, which should be impressive -- and for as long as possible.

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