Monthly Archives: September 2011

Comics and Graphic Novels at the Brooklyn Book Festival

Calvin Reid -- September 19th, 2011

The Comics Writ Large and Small Panel at the Brooklyn Book Festival (l. to r.) Meg Lemke, moderator, Craig Thompson (Habibi), Anders Nilsen (Big Questions) and Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve).

Comics and graphic novels have always been a part of the Brooklyn Book Festival, held this past weekend on a beautiful fall Sunday September 18 at Borough Hall and surrounding sites. But this weekend the Brooklyn Book Festival 2011 seems to have really ramped up the involvement of comics artists at the one-day literary festival, incorporating cartoonists into a wide range of literary panels along with prose authors in addition to all-comics and youth comics panels.

The Quick Draw panel (l. to r.) Laura Lee Gulledge, Dave Roman and Raina Telgemier.

Indeed Meg Lemke, acquisitions editor at Teachers College Press and a member of the BBF youth committee, told PW that the festival worked to incorporate comics throughout the show’s programming. And Lemke was the moderator for one of the hottest tickets at the show, Comics Writ Large and Small, a public interview with three of the most acclaimed cartoonists of the moment about their newest works: Craig Thompson (Habibi, Pantheon); Anders Nilsen (Big Questions, Drawn & Quarterly) and Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve, D&Q). The event was held at the St. Francis College Auditorium, a block away from Borough hall and one of several additional venues (which included projection capability in order to show off comics and visuals) added to the festival to accommodate the growth in attendence.

And the show is definitely growing. The plaza at Borough hall was jammed with visitors from the time this reporter arrived around 10am on Sunday to moderate—if that’s the word—a  panel on drawing for kids featuring three cartoonists. The panel, Comics Quick-Draw!, was more of a tongue-in-cheek sports event  than a conventional panel—it was a packed outdoor tent full of parents and young kids, who were asked to tell the cartoonists to draw any kind of crazy thing—like, say, aliens eating bagels on the moon!—and the intrepid cartoonists did their best to comply. Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), Raina Telgemier (Smile) and Laura Lee Gulledge (Paige by Page) were great troopers and expert draughtspeople and the kids were screaming with delight by the end of the session (they also bum-rushed the stage at the end to claim the drawings). Comics aimed at kids were well represented with a combination of panels and workshops throughout the day featuring such cartoonists as Nick Bertozzi and Sarah Glidden.

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Better Than the Book: How ‘Drive’ Breaks the Rules

Gabe Habash -- September 19th, 2011

This article contains spoilers.

According to statistics, “The book was better than the movie” is the #2 most-said quote from people leaving theaters–behind “How does Kevin James keep finding work?”–and it’s been that way for decades. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule (exhibit A; exhibit B), but if there’s a story that’s been told both on a screen and on a page, you can safely assume the latter is the superior version.

But why? Why do books so often trump their screen adaptations? And what’s the key to the inverse: how can a movie be the pretty sibling for once? Luckily, this past weekend’s release of Drive starring Ryan Gosling, based on the spare novel Drive by James Sallis from 2005, is just such a rare case: it’s a story that works far better as a movie than as a book.

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The Big Stink that MFA Rankings Causes

Gabe Habash -- September 16th, 2011

Creative Writing MFA program rankings are an annual touchy issue. It’s a tradition that inspires folks to put their fists down with varying degrees of forcefulness, from measured and firm to frenzied and firm. The reason for all the hullabaloo is because MFA programs’ very existence prompts all types of reactions (see here here here here and here), so, one might argue, attempting to objectively rank something of dubious worth is like extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers.

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The Worst Book Ever is ‘Dildo Cay’

Gabe Habash -- September 15th, 2011

We know what you’re thinking: there are a lot of books out there, how could you possibly name one book the worst of all? And besides, we already picked The Worst Book Ever back in July, the masterpiece known as How to Avoid Huge Ships. But grant us a do-over on that declaration, because, boy, do we have a doozy for you today.

Dildo Cay is a book written by Nelson Hayes in 1940 and published by Houghton Mifflin and it’s also called Dildo Cay. Just wanted to stress that part. The cover of the book is pictured above, and its centerpiece, a far-off vertical shaft on the cay, does ridiculously little to dispel its unfortunate title.

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‘Atlas Shrugged’ Comes to iPads

Gabe Habash -- September 14th, 2011

Hitting the iPad App Store this week is Atlas Shrugged in an “Amplified Edition,” which means all types of bells and whistles for the tech-minded Objectivist out there. Ayn Rand’s magnum opus joins the small group of literary titles getting an electronic makeover: Pillars of the Earth was the first, and not so successful; then came The Waste land, which was crammed with additional content and received great reviews; then Kerouac’s On the Road became Penguin’s second foray into the amplified books market.

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‘Art is Useless Because…’: Letters from Famous Writers

Gabe Habash -- September 13th, 2011

Last month we featured a few letters from famous writers from the wonderful blog Letters of Note, which collects personal letters from famous figures from all areas. Being biased toward writers, we picked out a few more of our favorites. Enjoy!

Mark Twain to publishers Chatto & Windus: “There is humor in Dod Grile, but for every laugh that is in his book there are five blushes, ten shudders and a vomit.

Publishers Chatto & Windus asked Twain for a blurb for one of their books, Nuggets and Dust Panned Out in California by Dod Grille, which was by one of Twain’s friends, Ambrose Bierce. The publishers probably expected a kind word from Twain, but instead he ripped the book apart:

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What Will Amazon’s ‘Netflix for Books’ Do to Libraries?

Gabe Habash -- September 12th, 2011

Amazon is at it again–this time looking to open a lending library for digital books (also covered here). The details: Amazon is supposedly discussing with publishers a way to get books on the e-tailer’s digital platform so users could read an unlimited number for a subscription fee. The digital library reportedly would be part of Amazon’s growing Prime services, which put unlimited streaming video under its umbrella earlier this year, in addition to giving subscribers free two-day shipping for $79/year. Amazon’s digital books library, which would basically operate like a “Netflix for Books” (as a side note, it seems relevant to point out that Netflix has had problems since Amazon’s Prime Streaming Video feature was added), would, like every announcement Amazon makes, momentously affect others. This time, those “others” are libraries.

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5 Great Author Interviews from Charlie Rose

Gabe Habash -- September 9th, 2011

Charlie Rose has been on the air since 1991, and in that time, Rose has had some wonderful guests from the world of writing. For your Friday viewing, here are 5 of our favorites. Click the name to watch the entire interview.

5. Siddhartha Mukherjee (11/24/10)

Mukherjee, author of 2010′s Pulitzer Prize winner The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, tells you everything you’d want to know about cancer, including the etymology of the word (the Greeks said a tumor resembled a crab and the blood vessels around the tumor were the crab’s legs), the origins of chemotherapy, the wonder of gleevec, and tobacco’s association with the disease.

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The Article Everyone Who Loves Books Should Read

Gabe Habash -- September 8th, 2011

Keith Gessen’s new Vanity Fair e-book, How a Book Is Born: The Making of “The Art of Fielding” (available for Kindle and Nook), is a thorough and riveting study of books and their business, and anyone with an interest in writing should do themselves a great favor by buying it right now. It’s $1.99 well spent.

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Duck’s Cottage Bookshop Weathers Irene

Gabe Habash -- September 7th, 2011

Hurricane Irene has made its way past the East Coast, but stories are still emerging about the toll its taken on businesses and private citizens alike. At Publishers Weekly, we have heard from booksellers in affected areas who have told us their stories (see here and here), and yesterday we received an email from the owners at Duck’s Cottage Coffee & Bookshop in Duck, NC, which reopened on September 3rd.

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