Thursday, November 29, 2012

Teen Survey: Aidan

Meet Aidan, a teenager who frequently drops by the bookstore to discuss comics, movies, and random hypothetical situations with me. Aidan is a high school student who perhaps one day would like to make a living contributing to commercial projects so he "doesn't have to eat Ramen every day." His friend described his drawings as "realistically anime-ish."

Recently, while discussing the works of Mike Mignola and lamenting the fact that he couldn't attend an upcoming comic book convention, I asked if he wanted to take part in the GuysLitWire survey. "I love surveys!" he exclaimed, and so: 

Name: Aidan

Age: 16

Books recently read for fun: Scott Pilgrim graphic novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley (Aidan and his girlfriend recently attended a convention dressed as Scott and Ramona.)

Books recently read for school: The Crucible by Arthur Miller; Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder

Books in your to-read pile: Too many to list!

Favorite authors and illustrators: Alan Moore. I like Watchmen. All of his stuff is good. V for Vendetta is good, and so is League of Extraordinary Gentleman. I like his original graphic novels better than the movie versions. The Killing Joke is good, and it's got Batman in it!

Favorite superhero: Batman. Batman. Obviously Batman.

Favorite genres: Everything! I like sci-fi. I like fantasy. I like historical fiction. I like all of them. I like good things. I like all the things.

Why do you like comic books? Because they are fun. [I like] great illustrations and great stories.

Favorite movies: The Godfather; This is Spinal Tap

Do you listen to music (or TV) while you read? No. It's distracting.

Do you finish every book you start? No.

In conclusion: Aidan is a fan of boiled eggs and warm socks. Not together.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rebel Fire by Andrew Lane

Rebel Fire by Andrew Lane (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins #2)

I am not a purist in my love for Sherlock Holmes. I adore the Steven Moffat/Mark Gatiss BBC reboot of the series. I only don't like that it takes forever for a new season to come to the US (Moffat! Gatiss! *shakes fists*) I love the Guy Ritchie movies. I love the 1980s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett in the title role, even though the episodes can be a little cheesy. I'd probably like Elementary, except I don't get the channel in my basement apartment. But I also have a strange love for books that tell about the childhoods of established characters.* Rebel Fire is, as you can see, the second book in the Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins series (also called Young Sherlock Holmes series). In this book, Sherlock, his tutor Amyus Crowe and Virginia Crowe, Amyus's daughter, catch up with John Wilkes Booth. Everyone thought Booth to be dead after he assassinated Lincoln, but he survived (although his mind did not) and is being used as a pawn in a plot by Confederate sympathizers to invade Canada. Like the first book in the series, Death Cloud, the plot twists are rather silly. Yes, the plot twists in Doyle's stories are also improbable, but these books really push my ability to suspend disbelief. I also fought a bit against the characterization as it feels like Sherlock is headed towards a Robert Downey Junior adulthood while Mycroft is headed towards a Mark Gatiss with a big side of mushy brotherly love that struck me as totally out of character even though I did get a case of the feels when I read those scenes. Still, the book was not short on adventure, show-offy Bond villain speeches or improbably action sequences and I enjoyed reading it, even if I couldn't quite fight the urge to roll my eyes at some of the choices Lane made. My snobby literary critic side warred with the side of me that also enjoyed Librarian: Quest for the Spear, and the cheesy action story side won the day as far as Lane's books are concerned.**

If you like this series, there are at least 5 novels and a novella, according to Goodreads. Book two was originally called Red Leech when it was released in the UK, a nod to a weird, silly and kinda gross plot twist in this book. It seems like only books 1 and 2 have been published in the US but you can get books 3-5 from different sellers on Amazon if you're interested.

*Although apparently I hated this back in 2011, when I reviewed  Death Cloud. Go figure.
** Lane has also written a Torchwood book! Set, as far as I can tell, sometime between series one and series two of the show! Which means Iantoooooooo! Squeeeeee!
cross posted at (Library Lass) Adventures in Reading.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Let's Holiday Shop for Ballou High School Library!

In the midst of your holiday shopping madness, just in case you have a few dollars to spare, we here at Guys Lit Wire wanted to let you know that the students of Ballou High School in Washington DC would be delighted to receive a gift or two at their library. Their wish list at Powells Books has been updated with a ton of sale books (A TON!!!) and between those titles and so many great condition used options there are a crazy amount of titles under $10. We'd really appreciate it if you think of Ballou this holiday season and shop at Powells (the nation's largest independent bookstore and a mainstay of the Portland downtown scene). Be sure to provide the mailing address below if you haven't shopped the wish list before, check out our earlier book fair info here and for a post full of Ballou Library pictures, take a peek here. You can also follow Ballou on twitter or like them on facebook. Happy holiday shopping, y'all and thanks in advance for buying books for this great school library!

Mailing Address:
Melissa Jackson, LIBRARIAN
Ballou Senior High School
3401 Fourth Street SE
Washington DC 20032
(202) 645-3400  

[Post pic of students "Rappin' and Poetry for Teen Read Week", last month.]

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Freshwater Mermaid by Gregory Maguire / One Teen Story

The future of fiction in the digital age may be the short story – and it's close cousin the serial novel – but one of the bright spots in this future has its roots in a print format more akin to the DIY zine scene. On its tenth anniversary, the singularly-focused One Story has given birth to One Teen Story. The concept is simple: a publication dedicated to showcasing a single story that can be digested in one sitting with no further distractions. In addition to a print format, digital editions are also available, with deals for classroom sets available to teachers.

I've loved and subscribed to One Story for years and One Teen Story seemed such an obvious extension that I wondered why no one else had come up wit the idea before. There's been a slight bit of confusion surrounding my subscription and I have only received the second issue, but I feel confident that this sample is enough to gauge the quality of those to come.

"The Freshwater Mermaid" by Gregory Maguire is a meditation on the loss of innocence and the loss of parents. Carter-Ann has the absolute horror of witnessing a terrorist bombing that kills both of her parents just before starting her senior year. What follows is the survivor's grief and guilt seems to have hollowed Carter-Ann into a shell of her former self. Word, music, nature, all of it has lost its voice, its beauty, its reason as she goes through the motions like a shell-shocked observer of life. And when her boarding school roommate leaves her in charge of her tropical fish, naturally one of them dies almost instantly, forcing Carter-Ann to awkwardly process the situation in the cold, matter-of-fact world that has become her daily existence. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Boy21 by Matthew Quick

“If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the way.” Author Matthew Quick uses these particular words from poet Seamus Heaney as a section break late in Boy21, and how fitting they are for Finley and Russell, the two main characters of this outstanding young adult novel. And how fitting for all of us, this message of finding our way through language. Isn’t this what novels are meant to do? Even sports novels?

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Pillowman, by Martin McDonagh

Martin McDonagh's play The Pillowman opens with the interrogation of a writer who does not yet know why he has been dragged before the authorities of this totalitarian state. His confusion is an appropriately disorienting introduction to the play's blackly comic tone, the same attempt to find footing that one experiences between the predominant menace and the breathing spaces of bleak humor.

As the questioning progresses, Katurian, the writer, learns to his horror that several recent murders follow the manner of deaths that have occurred in his stories. What emerges is a look at the ironic implications of stories having a life on their own.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Odes to Opposites, by Pablo Neruda

...Go ahead, get going,
give your heart a rest.
Go ahead and sing your song.

I'm still the same, aren't I? The one
who knows the river
by the way its water flows?

All I know is this: in that very place
my heart has been knocking
at a single
knocking since yesterday, from afar,
since long ago,
since my birth --

that place where the dark echo
of the singing
answers, and I sing,
an echo
I only
by its blind hissing,
by lightning
striking the waves,
by waves' thick froth in the night.

And so, time,
you've sized me up in vain.
In vain have you hurried
to stay a step ahead
of this wanderer...

[From Ode to future time (Oda al tiempo venidero)]

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What one Good Turn Deserves

Ghost stories are meant to be retold. It's a kind of ritual, adapting what scares us to fit our immediate social, technological and political environment.

Henry James wrote The Turn of the Screw in 1898. In it, a wealthy man hires a governess to look after his orphaned niece and nephew. The children live in a remote country house with a handful of servants. The man asks that he never be bothered regarding the children, no matter what happens to them. The governess finds the children rather strange (though their isolation could account for this) but then she also starts seeing the ghosts of a former governess and a former servant killed under mysterious circumstances. She begins to suspect that the ghosts are haunting the children and threatening them to keep the haunting secret.

In The Turning, Francine Prose rewrites James' story in a contemporary setting. The governess is replaced with a "babysitter" -- and a male one at that -- hired just for the summer. The remote country home is made even more remote by placing it on an island, disconnected from phone, Internet and television and radio broadcasts. The babysitter, Jack, relates the haunting to his girlfriend in a series of increasingly paranoid letters.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Why I Vote Event

WhyIVote2012-2.jpg We are all over the web with this event - a roundup post at Chasing Ray will be updated with quotes as the posts go live and I'll keep adding to it as more folks join in. Go see what folks (in as nonpartisan a way as we can manage :) have to say on the subject of voting and the issues that matter to them. And more importantly, GO VOTE!!!!