Comics Collector in Hot Water

29 05 2009

I wrote about this on one of my other blogs.  I’m not surewhy I didn’t put it here.





Book Review: Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

18 05 2009

Everything Ravaged, Everything BurnedThis book has been getting a lot of attention from the New York Times and I see why. This is a stunning debut collection of stories from author Wells Tower.  Everyone in this collection is down. Down on their luck, down in terms of money, and down in terms of mood. Yet all of these characters have compelling stories and adventures that don’t seem to get them anywhere while defining who they are.

From the mental aquarium in The Brown Coast, to the tension of riding in the car with an ex’s new lover in Down Through the Valley, to viking raiding parties in the title story Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned you watch lives slowly burn themselves toward the end of their fuse.  Sometimes they pop, other times they fizzle.  

The writing in this collection feels effortless.  It’s clean anf each story takes on it’s own voice. To be honest, this is one of the best collection of short stories I’ve read in years.





Repost: New Music – Jakob Dylan

20 04 2009

So I went to see Jakob Dylan on June 6th at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I knew he was touring without the Wallflowers and hadn’t yet heard his new album, which comes out on June 10th (though I did pick up a copy after the show).

Jakob DylanThe tour is in support of his new album Seeing Things and I’ve got to say that both the show and the new material were pretty good. For those of you who haven’t been to the Lincoln, it’s an old theatre with the seats ripped out and a small balcony. In essence it’s like seeing an artist play in your living room. It’s quite an inimate venue and Dylan’s new acoustic set and underscored band were ideal for the space.

The band played one or two older songs off of Bringing Down the Horse including Three Marlenas. The highlight of the night may have been an impromtu solo version of Josephine off that album. However, the newer material led the way and was a pleasant surprise. At one point of the evening Dylan asked the crowd if they were ready for some uplifting material and then rolled into evil is alive and well. Dylan’s sense of sarcasm was also well placed when dealing with a giant drunk woman who seemed to be screaming so loud over the music that I could hear her from 30 feet away over the music.

Other highlights off the new album included valley of the low sun, everybody pays as they go, something good this way comes, and on up the mountain. The new songs are haunting, quiet, moving, and show some maturity in Dylan as a song writer. The ninety minute set moved along at a nice clip and felt much fresher than most times when an artist plays new material.

Hearing the songs live first may have helped but I’d rate the new album as a 7 out of 10.

UPDATE:  Upon further listening, this album keeps getting better and better.





Dollhouse

27 03 2009

A quick word about Dollhouse, Joss Whedon’s new show.  So far, I’ve enjoyed the premise. There has been, however, a huge difference between the episodes that have been written by the Fox bullpen and the one written by Joss Whedon. Whedon’s writing (as also evidenced in The Astonishing X-Men) is far stronger than a lot of what is on television.  

It would be nice to see Fox not take a good idea and beat it into a tired formula like they’ve done with Fringe. Let’s hope Whedon can take some control over his show.





Recent Reading

11 03 2009

inhobokenFirst up is the Christian Bauman novel In Hoboken.  It’s the story of Thatcher, a young folk singer recently discharged from the army, who moves in with his friend James in Hoboken (of course).  The book chronicles Thatcher and the people he meets, including members of the music community and Orris, a mental patient who at times feels like the most real character.

Overall, I found the book well written and enjoyable, but the plot ambles along never really going anywhere.  It ends kind of flat, failing to wrap up or even address some of the issues in the characters’ lives.  

The second thing I’ve been reading is Marvel’s title, Secret Warriors.  

secretwarriors_01_cover1

Nick Fury has discovered that the only person he can trust is himself and it’s kind of crazy awesome.  So far we’ve had a new team of young heroes, Skrulls, and Hydra.  I like how this book is trolling the back alleys of Marvel’s Dark Reign. I’m hoping to see this book cross over into the rest of the Marvel universe (and vice versa).  It would be great to see Captain America and others all show up.  

Well, off to the pile of comic books and books remaining.

I almost forgot to mention, I recently also finished Stewart O’Nan’s a Prayer for the Dying.  A beautiful but heartbreaking book that can be difficult to read.  Essentially it’s a tale of a small town after the U.S. Civil War that experiences a diphtheria outbreak and is threatened by wildfires.  Written in the second person, the book grapples with the moral implications of what must be done and then often asks, how do you live with it?

prayer_for_the_dying1Overall, this is one of the best books I’ve read in the past year or so.  That being said, there were times I had to put it down.  What happens throughout the story is sometimes depressing and disheartening.  Not only do you feel for Jacob, the main character, but you cringe as you feel the novel’s world sliding slowly out of control.  

That being said, I’m starting to really admire O’Nan and his writing.  He can change voice, style, and subject so easily from book to book, yet still manages to produce great work.





Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

7 02 2009

oscar-waoI just finished  The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and I have to say I was quite impressed.  The novel is the rambling story of Oscar and the DeLeons, a Dominican family with a rough history.  Originally appearing in pieces in the New Yorker, the story follows not only Oscar, but his mother Beli, his sister Lola, his grandmother La Inca, and his reluctant but best friend Yunior.

The story weaves its way in and out of Patterson, NJ and the DR.  Moving through time to show the parallels between three generations of a family obsessed with the Fuku.  

The narrator is largely Yunior, speaking as though he were Uatu thexmen8a1 Watcher, helpless to prevent the story from unfolding.  He tells much of the story using sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book metaphors comparing Beli (Oscar’s mother) to Unus the Untouchable of X-Men fame.  Using almost the omnipresence of the Watcher, Yunior moves back and forth through time, showing the troubled history of Lola, Beli, Beli’s father & La Inca, and Oscar.  Each story reveals more and more that hint at the fate of Oscar’s story.  

In the end, Yunior is much like Nick from The Great Gatsby, a part of the story and struggling against larger forces.  His life never quite turns out the way he hopes and he’s unable to stop the hand of fate and movement of the Fuku through the family.  

I can totally see why this book was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and think that so far it’s the best book I’ve read in 2009.  While it’s still early in the year, it’s going to set a high standard for the other books I read this year. 

Shannon also read this book and reviewed it here.

Up next for me, Steward O’Nan’s A Prayer for the Dying.





The Oscars

22 01 2009

The Oscar nominees came out today. While for the most part I’m not surprised or upset by the choices, I am horrified that The Dark Knight was snubbed for best picture. When pieces of crap like Titanic and Chicago can win, but The Dark Knight is locked out of contention it makes the Oscars look like the Grammy’s or the Emmy’s.

Essentially I believe the Academy has lost all the credibility it built up with last year’s win for No Country for Old Men.