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Results 26 - 50 of 59,535
26. Korean literature abroad

       After the apparent success of Shin Kyung-sook's Please Look After Mom abroad the Koreans are apparently busy, as Kwon Mee-yoo reports in The Korea Times, Looking for next Shin Kyung-sook.
       Kim Ae-ran is one hopeful -- though her success has been in other languages, not English -- while: "earlier Korean writers, such as Yi Mun-yol [Our Twisted Hero, etc.] and Hwang Sok-yong [The Guest]" are (regrettably) being written off as producing less: "universal themes in lively style" .....
       And:

The LTI said that in addition to Kim, Park Min-kyu and Kim Young-ha were also drawing attention from translators interested in Korean literature.
       Dalkey Archive Press' Library of Korean Literature is leading the Korean-charge into English, and among their upcoming offerings is Park's Pavane For a Dead Princess (see their publicity page), which I should be getting to soon.
       Kim Young-ha has done quite well in English -- I Have the Right to Destroy Myself, etc. -- though I'm not entirely reassured by the claim that: "More than 40 of her works have been translated and published overseas" (as Kim is a dude).

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27. Juja review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nino Haratischwili's Juja.
       This 2010 novel was her debut -- and it was longlisted for the German Book Prize; she's been getting a lot of attention for her Das achte Leben (Für Brilka), her just-released 1200+ pager that (somewhat controversially) missed this year's German Book Prize longlist cut. (I have a copy and warmed myself up for it with Juja.)
       Interesting sidenote: Georgia-born Haratischwili writes in German under this name -- but literary agent Rachel Gratzfeld lists her (in English) transliterated as Nino Kharatishvili (note, however, the URL-spelling ...).

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28. Review: Teen Titans: Earth One, Volume 1

 Review: Teen Titans: Earth One, Volume 1

by Jeff Lemire, Rachel Dodson, Terry Dodson
On Sale Date: November 25, 2014
9781401245566, 1401245560
$22.99 USD / $26.99 CAD
Hardcover 144 pages
Comics & Graphic Novels / Superheroes
— — —

Once again, DC Comics reinvents a major franchise as part of their “Earth One” series of original graphic novel series.

This time, it’s Teen Titans.

Superheroes don’t exist in this DC series (which stands-alone from other “Earth One” series).  So how do you re-create a team of super-heroes which were originally teen versions of the Justice League?

You take a bit of X-Files, mix in some Superman mythology, then borrow from DC’s rich history of secret laboratories and genetic engineering, add a few tropes from Runaways, and give it a “real world” setting.

So we see the genesis (literally and mythologically) of Terra, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Raven, Starfire, Tempest, and Jericho in this volume.

As with Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, this volume borrows from the mainstream DC Universe, sometimes heavily, sometimes with a throwaway reference (like a soldier named “Trainor”).

The origin story uncovers mysteries, and teases more to come.  (Raven is the nexus of the group, linking to TEN other individuals, according to the visions perceived by her Navajo grandfather.)

Fans of the previous Teen Titans comics will find lots of interesting tangents from well-known characters.  Those who know the mythology of DC will have lots to contemplate, as much is implied and explicated.

 Review: Teen Titans: Earth One, Volume 1Neophyte readers will easily understand the characters, their secret history, and the unknowns they face.  While I read a review copy via Adobe Digital Editions with somewhat jaggy art,  Terry and Rachel Dodson’s art is very clean and dynamic.  A variety of panels and layouts are used, but do not deviate from the traditional left-right grid.  The eye flows easily from one panel to the next.

The only objectionable part of the story?  Perhaps the teens smoking tobacco.

I’ll recommend this for middle school readers, on up to those who enjoy a good meaty superhero tale.  I’m intrigued to discover more (especially who the diamond totem on the cave refers to…)!

Here’s hoping DC keeps to an annual schedule of publishing future volumes.  (148 pages equates to about six months of comic book art work.)

Meanwhile, while we wait, there are additional Superman and Batman volumes scheduled, and Grant Morrison is adapting Wonder Woman with Yanick Paquette.

Myself, I look forward to the day when each month offers a new “Earth One” volume!

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29. What would an independent Scotland look like?

The UK Government will no doubt be shocked if the referendum on 18 September results in a Yes vote. However, it has agreed to respect the outcome of the referendum and so we must assume that David Cameron will accept the Scottish Government’s invitation to open negotiations towards independence.

The first step will be the formation of two negotiating teams — Team Scotland and Team UK, as it were. These will be led by the governments of both Scotland and the UK, although the Scottish Government has indicated that it wants other political parties in Scotland to join with it in negotiating Scotland’s position. We would expect high level points to be set out by the governments, the detail to be negotiated by civil servants.

The Scottish Government anticipates a 19 month process between a Yes vote and a formal declaration of independence in March 2016.

What then would an independent Scotland look like?

The Scottish Government plan is for an interim constitution to be in place after March 2016 with a permanent constitution to be drafted by a constitutional convention composed of representatives of civil society after Scottish elections in May 2016.

The Scottish Government intends that the Queen will remain head of state. But this and other issues would presumably be up to the constitutional convention to determine in 2016.

Similarly the Scottish Parliament will continue to be a one chamber legislature, elected by proportional representation, a model rejected by UK voters for Westminster of course in a referendum in 2011.

The Scottish Government seeks to keep the pound sterling as the currency of an independent Scotland. The UK Government’s position is that Scotland can use the pound but that there will be no formal currency union. After a Yes vote this position could change but the unionist parties are united in denying any such possibility.

The UK has heavily integrated tax, pension, and welfare systems. It will certainly be possible to disentangle these but it may take longer than 19 months. In the course of such negotiations both sides may find that it makes sense to retain elements of close cooperation in the social security area, at least in the short to medium term.

Flags outside Parliament by Calum Hutchinson. CC-BY-SA-2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.
Flags outside Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh by Calum Hutchinson. CC-BY-SA-2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Scottish Government has put forward a vision of Scotland as a social democracy. It will be interesting if it follows through on plans to enshrine social rights in the constitution, such as entitlements to public services, healthcare, free higher education, and a minimum standard of living. The big question is: can Scotland afford this? It would seem that a new tax model would be needed to fund a significantly higher commitment to public spending.

A third area of great interest is Scotland’s position in the world. One issue is defense. The SNP promises a Scotland free of nuclear weapons, including the removal of Trident submarines from the Clyde. This could create difficulties, both for Scotland in seeking to join NATO, but also for the remainder UK, which would need to find another base for Trident. The Scottish Government rejects firmly that it will be open to a deal on Trident’s location in turn for a currency union with London, but this may not be out of the question.

Another issue is that the Scottish Government takes a much more positive approach to the European Convention on Human Rights, than does the current UK government. In fact, the proposal is that the European Convention will become supreme law in Scotland, which even the Scottish Parliament could not legislate against. This contrasts with the current approach of the Conservative Party, and to some extent the Labour Party, in London which are both proposing to rebalance powers towards the UK Parliament and away from the European Court in Strasbourg.

Turning to the European Union, it seems clear to me that Scotland will be admitted to the EU but that the EU could drive a hard bargain on the terms of membership. Compromises are possible. Scotland does not, at present, qualify for, and in any case there is no appetite to join, the Eurozone, so a general commitment to work towards adopting the Euro may satisfy the EU. The Scottish Government also does not intend to apply for membership of the Schengen Area but will seek to remain a part the Common Travel Area, which would mean no borders and a free right to travel across the British and Irish isles.

The EU issue is also complicated because the UK’s own position in Europe is uncertain. Will the UK stay in the EU? The prospect of an in/out referendum after the next UK general election is very real. Another issue is whether an independent Scotland would gradually develop a much more pro-European mentality than we see in London. Would Scotland become positive rather than reluctant Europeans, and would Scotland seek to adopt the Euro in the medium to longer term? We don’t know for now. But if the UK votes to leave the EU, then this may well be the only option open to an independent Scotland in Europe.

To conclude, a written constitution, a stronger commitment to European human rights standards, a more pro-European Union attitude, and an attempt to build a more social welfarist state could bring about an independent Scotland that looks very different from the current UK. However, the bonds of union run deep, and if Scotland does achieve a currency union with the UK it will be tied closely to London’s tax structure. In such a scenario the economies, and therefore the constitutions, of the two countries, will surely continue to bear very many similarities. Much also depends upon relationships with the European Union. If the UK stays in the EU then Scotland and the UK could co-exist with a sterling currency union and a free travel area. If the UK votes to leave then Scotland will need to choose whether to do likewise or whether to align much more closely with Europe.

The post What would an independent Scotland look like? appeared first on OUPblog.

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30. Murakami Haruki profile

       In The Guardian Steven Poole profiles Haruki Murakami: 'I'm an outcast of the Japanese literary world. Critics, writers, many of them don't like me'. (I sort of get that pretty much every author likes to portray/sell him/herself as an 'outsider' who doesn't fit in the 'establishment', but surely Murakami is about as 'outcast' (in Japan or anywhere) as poor misunderstood Jonathan Franzen is in the US -- i.e. not in the remotest possible way (except in the eyes and hurt feelings of the ultra-, super-sensitive author's own beyond-deluded mind). Get a grip, Haruki -- for foreign purposes, you are the "Japanese literary world" (which no doubt rubs some of your compatriots the wrong way), and as to being: "Always the duckling, never the swan" ... come on.)
       Great to hear that he's a fan of:

Norwegian novelist Dag Solstad, whom he is currently translating into Japanese from English ("He's a kind of surrealistic writer, very strange novels. I think that's serious literature").
       A bit disappointing that the Japanese will only get the great Solstad's work second-hand (as opposed to translated directly from the Norwegian) -- but the Murakami-imprimatur will likely get him a larger audience than he otherwise would find. The book in question is apparently Solstad's Professor Andersen's Night.

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31. International Congress of Translators

       At Russia Beyond the Headlines they report on the III. Международный конгресс переводчиков художественной литературы -- the recently held Third International Congress of Translators -- in A labor of love or a science ? Experts gather in Moscow to discuss translation

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32. Per Olov Enquists Pris

       Since 2005 (Juli Zeh) they've awarded the Per Olov Enquists Pris annually at the Göteborg Book Fair, and this year Dorthe Nors tilldelas årets PO Enquist-pris, as the Karate Chop-author will get the prize.
       A solid list of previous winners -- but nothing close to the master, Per Olov Enquist, himself.

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33. Singapore Literature Prize shortlists

       They had some issues with the judges this year at the Singapore Literature Prize -- several withdrawing over the controversy surrounding the National Library Board withdrawing and pulping three children's books from their collection -- but they've now announced the shortlists for the 2014 prize. Admirably, they have multiple language categories -- English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil.

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34. Out with the old?

Innovation is a primary driver of economic growth and of the rise in living standards, and a substantial body of research has been devoted to documenting the welfare benefits from it (an example being Trajtenberg’s 1989 study). Few areas have experienced more rapid innovation than the Personal Computers (PC) industry, with much of this progress being associated with a particular component, the Central Processing Unit (CPU). The past few decades had seen a consistent process of CPU innovation, in line with Moore’s Law: the observation that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles every 18-24 months (see figure below). This remarkable innovation process has clearly benefitted society in many, profound ways.

gra econ
“Transistor Count and Moore’s Law – 2011″ by Wgsimon – Own work. CC-BYSA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

A notable feature of this innovation process is that a new PC is often considered “obsolete” within a very short period of time, leading to the rapid elimination of non-frontier products from the shelf. This happens despite the heterogeneity of PC consumers: while some (e.g., engineers or gamers) have a high willingness-to-pay for cutting edge PCs, many consumers perform only basic computing tasks, such as word processing and Web browsing, that require modest computing power. A PC that used to be on the shelf, say, three years ago, would still adequately perform such basic tasks today. The fact that such PCs are no longer available (except via a secondary market for used PCs which remains largely undeveloped) raises a natural question: is there something inefficient about the massive elimination of products that can still meet the needs of large masses of consumers?

Consider, for example, a consumer whose currently-owned, four-year old laptop PC must be replaced since it was severely damaged. Suppose that this consumer has modest computing-power needs, and would have been perfectly happy to keep using the old laptop, had it remained functional. This consumer cannot purchase the old model since it has long vanished from the shelf. Instead, she must purchase a new laptop model, and pay for much more computing power than she actually needs. Could it be, then, that some consumers are actually hurt by innovation?

A natural response to this concern might be that the elimination of older PC models from the shelves likely indicates that demand for them is low. After all, if we believe in markets, we may think that high levels of demand for something would provide ample incentives for firms to offer it. This intuition, however, is problematic: as shown in seminal theoretical work by Nobel Prize laureate Michael Spence, the set of products offered in an oligopoly equilibrium need not be efficient due to the misalignment of private and social incentives. The possibility that yesterday’s PCs vanish from the shelf “too fast” cannot, therefore, be ruled out by economic theory alone, motivating empirical research.

A recent article addresses this question by applying a retrospective analysis of the U.S. Home Personal Computer market during the years 2001-2004. Data analysis is used to explore the nature of consumers’ demand for PCs, and firms’ incentives to offer different types of products. Product obsolescence is found to be a real issue: the average household’s willingness-to-pay for a given PC model is estimated to drop by 257 $US as the model ages by one year. Nonetheless, substantial heterogeneity is detected: some consumers’ valuation of a PC drops at a much faster rate, while from the perspective of other consumers, PCs becomes “obsolete” at a much lower pace.

Laptop and equipment. Public domain via Pixabay.
Laptop and equipment. Public domain via Pixabay.

The paper focuses on a leading innovation: Intel’s introduction of its Pentium M® chip, widely considered as a landmark in mobile computing. This innovation is found to have crowded out laptops based on older Intel technologies, such as the Pentium III® and Pentium 4®. It is also found to have made a substantial contribution to the aggregate consumer surplus, boosting it by 3.2%- 6.3%.

These substantial aggregate benefits were, however, far from being uniform across different consumer types: the bulk of the benefits were enjoyed by the 20% least price-sensitive households, while the benefits to the remaining 80% were small and sometimes negligible. The analysis also shows that the benefits from innovation could have “trickled down” to the masses of price-sensitive households, had the older laptop models been allowed to remain on the shelf, alongside the cutting-edge ones. This would have happened since the presence of the new models would have exerted a downward pressure on the prices of older models. In the market equilibrium, this channel is shut down, since the older laptops promptly disappear.

Importantly, while the analysis shows that some consumers benefit from innovation much more than others, no consumers were found to be actually hurt by it. Moreover, the elimination of the older laptops was not found to be inefficient: the social benefits from keeping such laptops on the shelf would have been largely offset by fixed supplier costs.

So what do we make of this analysis? The main takeaway is that one has to go beyond aggregate benefits and consider the heterogeneous effects of innovation on different consumer types, and the possibility that rapid elimination of basic configurations prevents the benefits from trickling down to price-sensitive consumers. Just the same, the paper’s analysis is constrained by its focus on short-run benefits. In particular, it misses certain long-term benefits from innovation, such as complementary innovations in software that are likely to trickle down to all consumer types. Additional research is, therefore, needed in order to fully appreciate the dramatic contribution of innovation in personal computing to economic growth and welfare.

The post Out with the old? appeared first on OUPblog.

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35. 2014 Ignatz Award Winners IN FULL

agnatz2 2014 Ignatz Award Winners IN FULLWe’re live blogging the 2014 18th Annual Ignatz Awards—there’s a palpable buzz in the air as not only the traditional agentry of the awards un rolls, but additional pageantry in the shape of a wedding and a prom are on tap. As a reminder, the Ignatzes are perhaps the ONLY awards in any medium where people race back from dinner just so they can attend! The secret? brevity and a chocolate fountain!

And with no further ado, let’s get to it. Warren Bernard started out thanking the alt.weekly crew, including Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and Charles Burns. Mike Thomas is our mc and will be officiating at the Hanselmann wedding.

IN 20145 the dates will be Sept. 18-19, and it will be a 21st Century focus with Michael DeForge, Matt Bors, Lilli Carre and Luke Pearson. In 215 will be choosing and with Bill K will be curating show at the Society of Illustrators dedicated to Alt.weekly cartoonists. The SOI has joined up with SPX! and what else can happen. Lynda Barry Ellen Forney, Millionaire, Knight, Sorenson, Derf and more will be in the show, the show will open in early March. BE THERE.

Sturm says there are the two reasons that the Ignatzes are the best awards; it’s the shortest and the coolest award—a brick.

IF we are in the glden age of comics, then all the cartoonists in this room are the gold,” says Sturm to an awwwwwww. And then I said…awwwwwww. “As an idle remember of this tribe I can tell you from experience it doesn’t get any easier, but that is why tonight is a night we revel. It’s important to take a break from our drawing boards and tablets to celebrate our accomplishments.”

Fabulous Sasha Steinberg Velour is out to present Outstanding Story to Meredith gran. “Comcis is the most fun thing I can imagine doing, I wake up thinking about them and go go bed thinking about them I can’t think of anything I want to do more.”

Chuck Forsman came out to Present outstanding Anthology to Qu33F edited by Robert Kirby. The Next presenter is is Alec Longstreth who presents Best Series to Jason Shiga who delivers an amusing speech plugging his Patreon campaign. GIVE TO JASON SHIGA. AND THE BEAT!

Sasha has taken over as host and delivers some fierce intros.

Brandon Graham presents Promising New Talent to Cathy G. Johnson. “I love coifs it’s a very imprint medium to me, I love this culture and this community that we’ve cerated I feel very welcome in it. It can also be frustrating. I feel like this year and many years in the past a lot of our peers have experienced harassment, esp. female peers and I think we need o work harder to reject this,” PREACH IT SISTER!

Eleanor Davis says it’s great that everyone loves comics even though it strange that we all fell in love with it. But the nominees ensure that people will keep falling in love with comics. And the inner is Sam Alden who says merely Thank You. Aisha Franz from Germany present Best Minicomics to Sophie Goldstein, who thanks her teachers at CCS, a class of 2013 grad. A very strong year, it turns out. Sophie Yanow presents Outstanding ONline Comic to EVan Dahm a very popular winner. “This show is important to me, comics are my life so thanks for liking it.”

Paul Karasik presents Outstanding Graphic Novel. Karasik urges everyone to go around and find someone who is not busy and buying something from them. “I found some very storage things today for $3 so that’s your assignment.” He presents best Graphic Novel to Jillian Tamaki for This One summer. Finally John Porcellino come sour to give Outstanding Artist to Sam Bosma. Hey I voted for him! AND now, let’s have a wedding! And let’s all give all our love to COMICS!

Outstanding Story
*“Brownout Biscuit” (from Octopus Pie): Dead Forever, by Meredith Gran
“Destination X,” by Jon Martz
“The Grassy Knoll,” by Nick Drnaso
“Jobs,” Life Zone, by Simon Hanselmann
“Mom,” Viewotron #2, by Sam Sharpe

Outstanding Anthology or Collection
Amazing Facts and Beyond, by Kevin Huizenga and Dan Zettwoch
The End, by Anders Nilsen
Eye of the Majestic Creature (Vol. 2), by Leslie Stein
*QU33R, edited by Robert Kirby
Sock Monkey Treasury, by Tony Millionaire

Outstanding Series
The Black Feather Falls, Ellen Lindner
*Demon, by Jason Shiga
Powdered Milk, by Keiler Roberts
Sky in Stereo, by Sacha Mardou
Towerkind, by Kat Verhoeven

Promising New Talent
Luke Howard — Trevor
*Cathy G. Johnson – Jeremiah; Boy Genius; Until It Runs Clear
Nick Offerman — Orange; Onions
Keiler Roberts — Powdered Milk (series)
Daryl Seitchik — Missy

Outstanding Comic
Blammo #8, by Noah Van Sciver
Cosplayers, by Dash Shaw
It Will All Hurt #2, by Farel Dalrymple
Misliving Amended, by Adam Buttrick
*Wicked Chicken Queen, by Sam Alden

Outstanding Minicomic
The Grassy Knoll, by Nick Drnaso
*House of Women, by Sophie Goldstein
Never Forgets, by Yumi Sakugawa
Test Tube #1, by Carlos Gonzales
Up to the Top, by Ian Sampson

Outstanding Online Comic
Band for Life, Anya Davidson
Big Dogs at Nite, Dane Martin
Demon, Jason Shiga
On Hiatus, Pete Toms
*Vattu, Evan Dahm

Outstanding Graphic Novel
The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley, by Kim Deitch
The Boxer, Reinhard Kleist
Boxers & Saints, by Gene Luen Yang
*This One Summer, by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
War of Streets and Houses, Sophie Yanow

Outstanding Artist*Sam Bosma — Fantasy Basketball
Kim Deitch — The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley
Sophie Goldstein — Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell; Edna II; House of Women
Ed Piskor — Hip Hop Family Tree (Vol. 1)
Jesse Reklaw — Coach Tag

2 Comments on 2014 Ignatz Award Winners IN FULL, last added: 9/15/2014
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36. John Cheever's (Queer) "Country Husband"


Going through some of the secondary literature on John Cheever in preparation for a class in which I assigned the students to read his 1954 story "The Country Husband", I was surprised to find no discussion of the story within a queer context. My search was not comprehensive, but the connection seems so obvious to me, and so illuminating for the story, that I'm surprised it isn't mentioned by most people who write about Cheever's tale.

Paging through Blake Bailey's comprehensive biography of Cheever makes the connection even more obvious than the story itself does, for Bailey notes that Cheever's journal "in the early months of 1954 was filled with self-loathing on the subject" of homosexual desire. It's a running theme throughout the book, as Colm Tóibín points out in an insightful essay on Cheever and Bailey's biography for the London Review of Books:
The problem was partly his intense inhabiting of the domestic sphere and the suburban landscape, as though this were a way of shutting out the wider world, and partly his refusal even to recognise his own homosexuality as anything other than a dark hidden area of the self which could not be explored. ‘For Cheever it would always be one thing to have sex with a man,’ Bailey writes, ‘another to spend the night with him. The latter was a taboo he would rarely if ever violate until a ripe old age.’ In his journals he wrote: ‘If I followed my instincts I would be strangled by some hairy sailor in a public urinal. Every comely man, every bank clerk and delivery boy, was aimed at my life like a loaded pistol.’ One of his best friends in his twenties was Malcolm Cowley, through whom he had briefly met Hart Crane. Cowley’s wife had been on the ship with Crane when he committed suicide in 1932. A homosexual lifestyle, Cowley had warned Cheever, ‘could only end with drunkenness and ghastly suicide’. As one of Cheever’s colleagues in the Signal Corps in World War Two remarked: ‘He wanted to be accepted as a New England gentleman and New England gentlemen aren’t gay. Back then you had no idea of the opprobrium. Even in the Signal Corps, even in the film and theatre world, you were a second-class citizen if you were gay, and Cheever did not want to be that.’
Of course, in 1954 Cheever could not write a short story about his desires and have it published by The New Yorker, even if he had wanted to (Alan Gurganus's "Minor Heroism" is reportedly the first openly gay story the magazine published, a story sent to the magazine by Cheever, who had been Gurganus's teacher and was, rather to Gurganus's chagrin, in love with him. It appeared 20 years — almost to the day — after "The Country Husband"). But the torment of the story's protagonist, Francis Weed, is one entirely familiar to anyone who has ever repressed socially unacceptable feelings.


On a general level, "The Country Husband" is a story about the struggle to keep chaos out of an ordered society: it is a story of repression and abjection. It opens with a fall: an airplane makes an emergency landing. Francis is on the plane, and once he makes his way back to New York, he first tries to tell a (male) friend about his experience, and then his wife and family, and none of them are particularly interested or able to hear him. The crash seems to them an absurdity or impossibility, something that can't be admitted into their consciousness. Francis lives in a world that seeks to keep the world itself at bay, a psychically gated community where everyone "seemed united in their tacit claim that there had been no past, no war — that there was no danger or trouble in the world."

Various forces threaten the perfect, memoryless, painless order of Shady Hill: the dog Jupiter, the little girl Gertrude, and, most insistently, memories of the war years. War imagery fills the story on nearly every page right from the beginning, where the pilot of the crashing plane sings a song popular with Allied soldiers. The most obvious insertion of the war into the story is the moment where Francis recognizes that the Farquarson's maid is a woman he'd see in France in 1944, a woman subjected to "public chastisement" for having "lived with the German commandant during the Occupation". The description of her torture is harrowing: the mayor of the village condemns her, her hair is cut off, she's stripped naked, jeered at, spat upon. We know nothing of why she lived with the German commandant, or what that entailed exactly, or if she did it out of love or traitorous sympathies or simply the hope of gaining some extra rations — but her crime is clear and at least implicitly sexual. Francis remembers her, and the memory brings in the chaos of the war, but it also reminds him of what happens to anyone who transgresses the mores of a village.

(From a biographical standpoint, it's interesting that Cheever sets this scene in Normandy and, clearly, 1944. He was in the military that year himself, and missed going over to D-Day by pure luck. Almost all of the men he knew in his regiment died in the attack on Utah Beach and afterward.)

The overt transgression of the story is that Francis falls in love with the babysitter. (I expect this was a cliché even in 1954, and the very predictable, banal nature of the transgression is, it seems, part of Cheever's point.) Francis behaves terribly, even assaults her and very briefly entertains the idea of raping her. His desire is a sprawl of chaos, a threat of destruction. It poisons his family life and his friendships. Finally, he goes to a psychiatrist (as Cheever did the year he wrote the story, though Cheever went to discuss "homosexual concerns", impotence, and alcohol abuse), where, because he was insistent that he must see the doctor that day, he is confronted by police who think he might be a man who has been sending death threats. The police are there as representatives of social authority — the enforcers of normality and punishers of deviance — and they further heighten the sense of peril for any transgressor. When the doctor asks Francis what his problem is, he says, "I'm in love." The doctor tells him to try woodworking, and Francis finds some happiness in this. Woodworking, Timothy Aubry notes, "as a part of a 'do-it-yourself' movement was a constitutive aspect of a self-help culture that attempted to affirm the average white-collar worker’s belief in his power and masculinity."

That the ridiculous, impossible, yet dangerous and destructive love for the babysitter can be read as a placeholder for homosexual desire (and gay panic) seems to me to be become legitimate not only when we consider the plot and character relationships in the story, or Cheever's own biography, but also through an examination of three passages, and in particular three words.

The first two are relatively close together in the story: "The photograph of his four children laughing on the beach at Gay Head reproached him" and "The look Francis gave the little girl was ugly and queer, and it frightened her".

Of course, today, when the meanings of gay and queer denote homosexuality first and foremost, no writer or reader could ignore those meanings, but in 1954 the words meant differently. But they didn't not mean what they do today.

George Chauncey's Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World 1890-1940 is a useful text here, particularly the introduction in which he outlines the evolution of such words as fairy, faggot, gay, and queer. He quotes a writer from 1941:
Supposing one met a stranger on a train from Boston to New York and wanted to find out whether he was "wise" or even homosexual. One might ask: "Are there any gay spots in Boston?" And by slight accent put on the word "gay" the stranger, if wise, would understand that homosexual resorts were meant. The uninitiated stranger would never suspect, inasmuch as "gay" is also a perfectly normal and natural word to apply to places where one has a good time.... The continued use of such double entendre terms will make it obvious to the initiated that he is speaking with another person acquainted with the homosexual argot.
Chauncey writes: "The term gay began to catch on in the 1930s, and its primacy was consolidated during the war. By the late 1940s, younger gay men were chastising older men who still used queer, which the younger men now regarded as demeaning."

Thus, while the reference to Gay Head beach (on Martha's Vineyard) primarily serves to evoke a particular location, to a reader "wise" to a particular double entendre, it may have an added meaning. Similarly, Francis's "ugly and queer" glance. Both words are used in sentences about children, which evokes not only the common 1950s homophobic associations of queers with pedophiles, but also attaches a homosexual association to the products (offspring) of good, manly heterosex. The photograph reproaches Francis not only by reminding him of the happiness that is possible with his family when he doesn't transgress, but also by reminding him of the perverse, nonprocreative desires that torment him. His glance at Gertrude is ugly and frightening because it is queer.

Then we have the ending, which I can attest will cause many snickers when read aloud to adolescents today. A cat dressed up in a doll's dress and straw hat runs away from whoever put it into such an inappropriate, uncomfortable costume:
"Here pussy, pussy, pussy!" Julia calls.

"Here, pussy, here, poor pussy!" But the cat gives her a skeptical look and mumbles away in its skirts. The last to come is Jupiter. He prances through the tomato vines, holding in his generous mouth the remains of an evening slipper. Then it is dark; it is a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains.
While it is perfectly innocent in 1954 to call out "Here pussy!" to a cat, the more vulgar contemporary associations of that word were well established then. By the end of the 19th century, the word was used as slang for vulva or vagina, and its use as slang for someone timid, gentle, or effeminate goes back to the mid-19th century.

And so the story ends with a cat wearing a doll's dress, being chased with a word that has slang associations for both female genitalia and unmanliness, followed by a dog that clearly stands for joyful but also threatening chaos, and the whole story ends with a reference to Hannibal, who, our textbook helpfully notes, "attacked the Romans from the rear".

Francis's gay panic is also, and perhaps primarily, a panic of effeminacy. War is the most manly of activities, and it haunts him. The world of Shady Hill confines him and reduces him in a way war did not — the manly virtues of the military within what was in World War II a staunchly homosocial milieu. His illicit, inappropriate, absurd desires are the chaos that escapes his repression. The exact nature of those desires doesn't much matter; it's the excess that counts. Woodworking will let him be happy for a little while, but there is no reason to read the ending as a happy one.

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37. Is Arabic really a single language?

All language-learners face the difficulties of regional variations or dialects. Usually, it takes the form of an odd word or turn of phrase or a peculiar pronunciation. For most languages, incomprehension is only momentary, and the similarity — what linguists often refer to as the mutual intelligibility — between the standard language taught to foreigners and the regional speech pattern is maintained. For a language such as French, only the most extreme cases of dialectical differences, such as between Parisian and Québécois or Cajun, pose considerable difficulties for both learners and native speakers of dialects close to the standard. For other languages, however, differences between dialects are so great as to make most dialects other than the standard totally incomprehensible to learners. Arabic is one such language.

The problem that faces most learners of Arabic is that the written language is radically different from the various dialects spoken throughout the Arab world. Such differences appear in a variety of forms: pronunciation, vocabulary, syntax, and tenses of verbs. The result is that even the most advanced learner of standard Arabic (or ‘the standard’) might find herself completely at sea on the streets of Beirut, while it is also conceivable for a student to complete a year of immersion in Cairo and not be able to understand a text written in the standard language.

The most diligent and ambitious of Arabic students, therefore, is required to learn both the standard and a regional variant in order to cover all the social situations in which they might use the language. This, however, will not solve their dilemma in its entirety: Moroccan Arabic is foreign to Levantines, while Iraqi can be quite a puzzle for Egyptians. Even the mastery of a regional variant along with the standard will only ease the learner’s task in part of the Arab World, while making it no easier in other regions. This phenomenon, in which a number of quasi- or poorly-intelligible dialects are used by speakers of a particular language depending on the situation in which they find themselves, is known as diglossia.

Two pages from the Galland manuscript, the oldest text of The Thousand and One Nights. Arabic manuscript, back to the 14th century from Syria in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Two pages from the Galland manuscript, the oldest text of The Thousand and One Nights. Arabic manuscript, back to the 14th century from Syria in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

A many-headed beast

The source, or rather sources, of diglossia in the Arab world are both manifold and contentious. In part, regional differences come about from contact between Arabic speakers and non-Arabic speakers. Moroccan Arabic, for example, borrows from Berber, while Levantine dialects (spoken in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, and Jordan) have Aramaic elements in them. The dialects of the Persian Gulf area show the influence of Persian and Hindi, both of which were the languages of important trading partners for the region’s merchants. Finally, the languages of imperial or colonial administration left their imprint on virtually all dialects of the Arab World, albeit in different measures. It is for this reason that native speakers may choose from a variety of words, some foreign and others Arabic, in order to describe the same concept. Thus a Moroccan might use henna (from Berber) or jidda for grandmother; a Kuwaiti might buy meywa (from Farsi) or fawaakih when he has a craving for fruit; and a Lebanese worker might say she is going to the karhane (from Ottoman Turkish) or masna` when heading off to the factory.

Dialectical differences are not just a matter of appropriations and borrowings. Just as many non-native learners have grappled with the complex structure of the Arabic language, so too have many native speakers of Arabic. For all its complexity, however, there are certain nuances that standard Arabic does not express with efficiency or ease. This is why the regional dialects are marked by a number of simplifications and innovations, intended to allow for greater agility and finesse when speaking.

For example, Levantine dialects make use of agent participles (faakira, the one thinking; raayihun, the ones going; maashi, the one walking) instead of actually conjugating the verb (‘afkuru, I am thinking; yaruuhuuna, they are going; tamshiina, you are going). However, these same dialects, as well as Egyptian, have also created a series of verbal prefixes — small non-words that come before the conjugated verb — in order to refine the duration and timing of an action when conjugated verbs are used: baya’kal, he eats; `am baya’kal, he is eating; raH ya’kal or Ha ya’kal, he will eat. Such distinctions are familiar to speakers of English, but are not immediately apparent in Arabic, whose verbal system seeks to stress other types of information.

The more the merrier

Indeed, this display of innovation and human creativity is one of the strongest motivations for learning Arabic, whether standard or colloquial. Arabic might require as much effort and commitment as the acquisition of two or three Indo-European languages in order for a non-native speaker to be able to communicate in a meaningful way. However, it also opens the door to understanding the manner in which humans use and adapt language to their particular contexts. The diglossia issue is one that causes complications for non-native learners and native Arabic speakers alike, but it is also a fascinating showcase of the birth and evolution of languages that challenges our preconceived notions about good and bad speech, and the relative importance and value of dialects.

Heading image: Golden calligraphy by Quinn Dombrowski, CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Flickr.

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38. Eight facts on the history of pain management

September is Pain Awareness Month. In order to raise awareness of the issues surrounding pain and pain management in the world today, we’ve taken a look back at pain throughout history and compiled a list of the eight most interesting things we learned about pain from The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers by Joanna Bourke.

  1. In the past, pain was most often described as an independent entity. In this way, pain was described as something separate from the physical body that might be able to be fought off while keeping the self intact.
  2. In India and Asia some descriptions of varying degrees of pain involved animals. Some examples include “bear headaches,” that resemble the heavy steps of a bear, “musk deer headaches” like the galloping of a running dear, and “woodpecker headaches” as if pounding into the bark of a tree.
  3. In the late twentieth century, children’s sensitivity to pain was debated. There were major differences in the beliefs of how children experienced pain. 91 % of pediatricians believing that by the age of two a child experienced pain similarly to adults, compared with 77% of family practitioners, and only 59% of surgeons.
  4. It had long been observed that, in the heat of battle, even severe wounds may not be felt. In the words of the principal surgeon to the Royal Naval Hospital at Deal, writing in 1816, seamen and soldiers whose limbs he had to amputate because of gunshot wounds “uniformly acknowledged at the time of their being wounded, they were scarcely sensible of the circumstance, till informed of the extent of their misfortune by the inability of moving their limb.”
  5. Prior to 1846, surgeons conducted their work without the help of effective anesthetics such as ether or chloroform. They were required to be “men of iron … and indomitable nerve” who would not be “disturbed by the cries and contortions of the sufferer.”
  6. Concerns about medical cruelty reached almost hysterical levels in the latter decades of the nineteenth century, largely as a consequence of public concern about the practice of vivisection (which was, in itself, a response to shifts in the discourse of pain more widely). It seemed self-evident to many critics of the medical profession that scientists trained in vivisection would develop a callous attitude towards other vulnerable life forms.
  7. In the 19th century it was believed that pain was a necessary process in curing an ailment. In the case of teething infants, lancing their gums or bleeding them with leeches were painful treatments used to reduce inflammation and purge the infant-body of its toxins.
  8. John Bonica, an anesthetist and chronic pain suffer himself established the first international symposium on pain research and therapy in 1973, which resulted in the founding of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP).

Featured image credit: The Physiognamy of Pain, from Angelo Mosso, Fear (1896), trans. E. Lough and F. Kiesow (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1896), 202, in the Wellcome Collection, L0072188. Used with permission.

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39. Should Scotland be an independent country?

On 18 September 2014 Scots will vote on the question, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’

Campaigners for independence and campaigners for the union agree that this is an historic referendum. The question suggests a simple choice between different states. This grossly over-simplifies a complex set of issues and fails to take account of a range of other debates that are taking place in Scotland’s ‘constitutional moment’.

Four cross-cutting issues lie behind this referendum. National identity is but one. If it was simply a matter of identity then supporters of independence would be well ahead. But identities do not translate into constitutional preferences (or party political preferences) in straightforward ways. In the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections more people who said they were ‘British and not Scottish’ voted for the Scottish National Party than voted Tory. Scottish identity has survived without a Scottish state and no doubt Britishness will survive without a British state. Nonetheless, the existence of a sense of a Scottish political entity is important in this referendum.

Party politics, and especially the party systems, also play a part in the referendum. Conservative Party weakness – and latterly the weakness of UKIP in Scotland – north of the border has played into the sense that Scotland is politically divergent. This trend was highlighted by William Miller in a book, entitled The End of British Politics?, written more than thirty years ago. It has not been the geographic distance of London from the rest of the UK so much as the perceived ideological distance that has fuelled demands for Scottish autonomy. Polls continue to suggest that more people would be inclined to vote for independence if they thought Mr Cameron and his party were likely to win next year’s general election and elections into the future than if Labour was to win. It is little wonder that Mr Cameron refuses to debate with Mr Salmond.

Alex Salmond. Photo By Harris Morgan. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Alex Salmond. Photo By Harris Morgan. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The dynamics of party politics differ north and south of the border. Each side in the referendum campaign works on the assumption that membership of the EU is in Scotland’s interest, suggesting that Scotland will find itself outside the EU if the other wins while a very different dynamic operates south of the border. Debates in immigration and welfare differ on each side of the border. While there is polling evidence that public attitudes on a range of matters differ only marginally north and south of the border, the much harder evidence from election results, evident in the recent uneven rise of UKIP, suggests something very different.

It is not only that different parties might govern in London and Edinburgh but that the policies pursued differ, the directions of travel are different. In this respect, policy initiatives pursued in the early years of devolution, when Labour and the Liberal Democrats controlled the Scottish Parliament, have fed the sense of divergence. The SNP Government has only added – and then only marginally – to this divergence. The big items that signalled that Holyrood and Westminster were heading in different policy directions were tuition fees and care for the elderly. These were policies supported by all parties in Holyrood, including the then governing Labour Party and Liberal Democrats. There is fear in parts of Scotland that UK Governments will dismantle the welfare state while Scots want to protect it.

The constitutional status of Scotland is now the focus of debate. This is not new nor will the referendum resolve this matter for all time, regardless of the result of the referendum. Each generation has to consider the relationship Scotland has with London, the rest of the UK, and beyond. This is currently a debate about relationships, articulated in terms of whether Scotland should be an independent country. Relationships change as circumstances change. The backdrop to these changing relationships has been the party system, public policy preferences and identities. The role and remit of the state and the nature of Scotland’s economy and society have changed and these changes have an impact on the constitutional debate.

Adding to the complexity has been a development few had anticipated. Both sides to the debate report large turnouts at public meetings, engagement we have not witnessed in a long time with a far wider range of issues arising during Scotland’s constitutional moment than might have been suggested by that simple question to be asked on September 18th. Prospectuses on the kind of Scotland people want are being produced. This revival of political engagement may leave a legacy that reverses a trend that has seen decline in turnout, membership of political parties and civic engagement. That would make this referendum historic.

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40. Playing Man: some modern consequences of Ancient sport

Playing Man (Homo Ludens), the trail-blazing work by Johan Huizinga, took sport seriously and showed how it was essential in the formation of civilizations. Adult playtime for many pre-industrial cultures served as the crucible in which conventions and boundaries were written for a culture. Actions were censured for being “beyond the pale”, a sports metaphor for being “out of bounds”.

A quasi-sacred time and space set apart for games were a microcosm for the lives of all who played and for the spectators. Sport was a place in which individual merit was the rule and performance was regulated by the terms of the event.

The Ancient Olympic Games, an invention of the 700s BCE, preceded Athenian Democracy by about 200 years, and yet those earliest Games allowed any free citizen to participate and win the supreme Panhellenic crown. Yes, probably most of the first contenders were wealthy by token of having more leisure time to train and travel to the festival. 

Yet in the pre-democratic centuries, the sporting model showed that what counted was individual ability and acquired skill, not status by birth. So the era of rule by tyrants and elite families was balanced by models of egalitarian display in the stadium in footraces, wrestling, boxing, and other track and field events.

Chariot racing was of course still the exclusive domain of the wealthy, a vestige of heroic tradition, but the athletes contending mano a mano ushered in more meritocratic ways. The Greek custom of requiring athletes in track and field and combat events to participate in the nude underscored this democratic ethos, perhaps popularized among the communally oriented Spartans by 600 BCE, but soon adopted universally by all Greeks.

The double entendre in my title “playing man” is intentional, with allusion to the sense that sport has been for most of history and globally a performance by and for males. For the Greeks, athletics were for men only, with a few interesting exceptions, notably girls’ ritual races at Olympia to ask Hera for a happy marriage.

In the modern Olympics, there was no women’s marathon race until 1984, almost 90 years into the games. Even then, in 1984, only 25% of all Olympic participants were female; today it is still at less than half (45% in 2012). The first women boxing events came in 2012. 

A competitor in the long jump, Black-figured Tyrrhenian amphora showing athletes and a combat scene, Greek, but made for the Etruscan market, 540 BC, found near Rome, Winning at the ancient Games, British Museum. Photo by Carole Raddato. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
A competitor in the long jump, Black-figured Tyrrhenian amphora showing athletes and a combat scene, Greek, but made for the Etruscan market, 540 BC, found near Rome, Winning at the ancient Games, British Museum. Photo by Carole Raddato. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Women’s participation in sports at all venues and events has slowly improved over the last 30 years, thanks to gender equity movements as a whole. Still, males have been the participants in and the most avid audiences for competitive sports globally throughout history.

Is it tradition and culture or nature (testosterone and men’s greater muscle bulk) that has driven this trend? Scholarly disagreement continues, but the answer must include nature and culture, with nature perhaps playing a heavier role. The attempts to bring women’s sports to the fore have largely not succeeded: world viewers, broadcasters, and corporate sponsors overwhelmingly prefer male contests.

Overt displays of machismo characterized the ancient Greek contest, or agôn, whence our term agony, the pain of struggle. Combat sports of boxing and wrestling topped the popularity charts and the rewards at the festivals that gave valuable prizes.

At the Olympics, there were no second or third place prizes; only first counted, and one boxer said “give me the wreath of give me death”. Many were brutalized or killed, as is shown on vases in which blood streams from the contestants.

The Greeks were overly familiar with violence meted out by men in war on a daily basis, and so violent sport here did not inspire violence. But the association of athletes with Homeric heroes maintained the display as acceptable and even superhuman (see the funeral games of Iliad 23).

Greek sport, then, is worthy of our attention as the model in many ways for our own very different contests. Yes, the modern Olympics appropriated the Greek ones for its own very different aims. But arguably the ‘deeper’ social inheritances from the Greek men who “played” are, on the one hand, a greater egalitarianism, and on the other a heroized violence and machismo with which we all still wrestle.

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41. Approving books in ... the Maldives

       You'd figure they might have more pressing concerns in the Maldives -- the 1000+ island nation of barely 350,000 is infamously the lowest-lying in the world, and likely to go under as sea levels rise ... soon -- but, no: as Ahmed Naish reports in Minivan News: New regulations mandate government approval before publishing literature, as they've gone for Iranian-style control of what gets published, as:

New regulations enacted yesterday will subject the publication of prose and poetry in the Maldives to government approval.
       On the one hand, it's good to hear that there's a vibrant enough publishing industry locally to necessitate such a law (though I couldn't find any data on how much is actually published annually). Still, never good to hear 'explanations' such as:
The stated purpose of the 'Regulations on approving literature published in the Maldives' (Dhivehi) is "that literature published or made public in the Maldives fit Maldivian laws and regulations as well as societal norms".

The rules are aimed at "reducing adverse effects on society that could be caused by published literature."
       I'm curious what those adverse effects are -- why no examples ?
       So approval must be sought from the National Bureau of Classification -- scroll down for some examples of 'latest approved books' (and note a disconnect between the depicted book-covers and the descriptions of the approved books if you click on them).

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42. '100 Best Novels, in Translation, Since 1900' ?

       Ah, the irresistible lure of the list -- and novels in translation since 1900 ? Sounds promising.
       It's Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn who offer up their personal (and ranked) 100 Best Novels, in Translation, Since 1900 at CounterPunch. A couple of odd limitations here: they: "limited each writer to one entry" (apparently because: "otherwise, novels by Georges Simenon and Roberto Bolaño might have dominated the list") -- and they each had: "unlimited preemptory challenges to be invoked against writers we hated. Thus no: Gunter Grass or Michel Houellebecq."
       There are a few slips -- misattributed languages, misspelled names ('Steig Larsson') -- and it's an odd mix of greatest-hits and very personal choices; still, one could do (much) worse.
       I've read a whole lot of these (I didn't count, but probably haven't missed more than a dozen or so) -- though most of them (classics, by and large) long before I started the site, so the number under review at the complete review is considerably smaller. Those would be:

       I still have a lot more books to read before I'd venture to list my top-100; several of these would likely make it -- and several would definitely not.

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43. AKO Literatuurprijs longlist

       They've announced the 25-title strong longlist for the AKO Literatuurprijs, one of the leading Dutch literary prizes.
       Among the books in the running: ones by authors with (other) titles under review at the complete review: Maarten Asscher (2 titles, including Julia en het balkon), Arnon Grunberg (11 titles, including Tirza), and Peter Terrin (The Guard).
       At NRC Boeken they have short quotes from their (Dutch) coverage of each longlisted title, in Wat schreef NRC over de genomineerden ?
       And the only title I see coming that will be available in English soon is the Maarten Asscher, from new publisher Four Winds Press, Apples & Oranges; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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44. Free Comic Book Day Promotes ‘Alien’ Metal Dildo Doubling as a Bottle Opener

I think the money makers at Diamond Select Toys are secretly testing the market for an upcoming adult toy line.

The Free Comic Book Day Facebook page posted a typical a nerd baiting question with no possible answer: who would win in fight between Spider-Man’s most popular nemesis Venom or the cult classic 80’s extraterrestrial nightmare Xenomorph? Of course this wasn’t a sponsored post to promote Diamond Select Toys wide variety bottle openers, but it sure as hell looks like it. The comments are full of well informed, substantial arguments on who would come on top. But some Facebook users couldn’t help to mention the fact that the Xenomorph opener bares a striking resemblance of a penis.

alienvsvenom Free Comic Book Day Promotes Alien Metal Dildo Doubling as a Bottle Opener

How could Venom fare against Xenomorph’s veiny, long shaft and bulbous mushroom tip? I couldn’t image using this cold metal bottle opener bringing any kind of pleasure aside from opening a cold brewski, but the people of the Internet will find a way. Nonetheless, you can’t but help but appreciate the H. R. Giger work on the Alien series. Diamond Select Toys would like to remind you that Christmas is around the corner, and this would make a good stocking stuffer. Talk about gag gifts. *This was not a sponsored post by Diamond Select Toys.*

alienopener Free Comic Book Day Promotes Alien Metal Dildo Doubling as a Bottle Opener

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45. Annihilator #1: Where the Personal Meets the Weird

ann 01 cov promo lr 1600x1068 Annihilator #1: Where the Personal Meets the Weird

By Matthew Jent

Annihilator #1

Writer: Grant Morrison

Illustrator: Frazer Irving

Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher

Book & Logo Designer: John J. Hill

Genre: Sci-Fi/Horror

 

“Get this black mass on the floor.”

Annihilator begins with a black hole, but the thrust of its story concerns Ray Spass (pronounced space, as in outer), a screenwriter whose big hits are a few years behind him. He still gets “paid to be weird,” but nearly everyone he meets — his new landlord, his agent, the FBI — is gently prodding him to produce something now, something new.

But like a ray of light trapped by a black hole’s gravity well, Ray’s creative process is slow and stuck. He keeps turning in rough act ones to his agent, unable to get any closer to what his story is really about.

So Ray does what anyone would do. He moves into a haunted house.

Well, maybe. Ray’s not the most reliable point of view character, so those voices, those fleeting glimpses of figures and boots and hands reaching out from the dark? They might be real, they might be ghosts, or they might be his own imagination running away with him.

Hey, I like it when Morrison writes about the Justice League. But I’d much rather spend time in a world like this, where the personal meets the weird. That’s what Morrison does best.

Ray’s screenplay-in-progress, also called “Annihilator,” is about Max Nomax, a prisoner on the edge of a black hole seeking “the cure for death.”  Ray’s girlfriend has left him (or died, or disappeared), and Ray writes his own emotional wasteland into the screenplay. When Max meets Baby Bug-Eyes, a walking, talking teddy bear and “artificial emotional companion,” he kicks him across the room.

Ray is writing a story about being trapped at the edge of a black hole from a house with a growing sinkhole in the yard. Ray thinks of himself as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, writing his own unfinished Kubla Khan. Ray’s work is interrupted by a party of prostitutes he’s invited over himself, creating his own obstacles to prevent his self-perceived work of genius from being completed. Because it can still potentially be a great work of art if it’s never properly finished, right?

The meta-masterstroke for this six-issue series would be to release everything but the final issue, freezing it in time. We’ve all heard about Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Gilliam’s Don Quixote, Moore and Sienkiewicz’s Big Numbers — unfinished projects with so much potential for greatness they have their own gravity. But part of their mythology is that they remain undone. They don’t have to stand up to the same kind of critique as finished projects, because their endings live in our imaginations.

Frazer Irving’s art is reminiscent of 90s Vertigo comics, but without the muddy rushwork that could populate some of those monthly books. Ray is drawn as moody and darkly attractive, with a tuft of black curls erupting from one quarter of his otherwise shaved head. The art loops and curves, drawing the eye, possessing a gravity of its own. Sometimes it’s like looking through a distorted peephole or an iPhone panorama picture. Sometimes it’s like being on a rail or a rollercoaster that pulls you along. Sometimes it’s like a shifting floor, using your own sense of balance to push you in the direction you should go.

Irving’s style is a nice mashup of some of Bernie Wrightson, ghost-bear-style Bill Sienkiewicz, and Jim Starlin at his cosmically most alluring, especially when Max Nomax flashes his spooky smile. Even without Morrison’s big ideas, that’s a visual space opera I would sign up for. With Morrison, I’m trusting that Annihilator is going to get even weirder, and I’m excited to see what Irving can do.

Sinkholes. Black holes. A black mass. This is Morrison’s best, most confident book in years.

Maybe the “cure for death” sought by Max Nomax is actually an eternal pause button, becoming frozen in space and time, at least to the perspective of an outside observer. We see the light slowing down, but to the light itself? It crosses over that point of no return. Do you want to be frozen, or do you want to see what’s on the other side?

The light knows things we do not.

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46. discardingimages: angry bats'Northumberland Bestiary', London...



discardingimages:

angry bats

'Northumberland Bestiary', London ca. 1250-1260.

LA, J. Paul Getty Museum, MS. 100, fol. 37r



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47. CCS offers the The Applied Cartooning Manifesto at SPX

001 Manifesto CCS offers the The Applied Cartooning Manifesto at SPX
I just arrived at SPX and the thrill of excitement over comics is a palpable thing, as the young and the young at heart (Saw Jules Feiffer walking around) gather to talk about what they love. but making a living at what you love remains a blithely ignored question mark (at best) or a looming storm cloud that colors everything (at worst.) Addressing this, James Sturm who runs the Center for Cartoon Studies, and Marek Bennett will have free copies of The World is Made of Cheese, The Applied Cartooning Manifesto at the show. The entire PDF will be available for download this Sunday,  but stop by the CCS booth to get your own copy. Sturm writes:
[T]his conversation about making ends meet as a cartoonist has always been around (and something that I’ve explored before, re: Market Day) and seems to be on the forefront of people’s minds. At SPX, with SO many cartoonists around, it will certainly be an undercurrent. So this pamphlet is a part of that conversation.
And here’s a preview of what everyone will be talking about. 003 Manifesto CCS offers the The Applied Cartooning Manifesto at SPX 004 Manifesto CCS offers the The Applied Cartooning Manifesto at SPX
005 Manifesto CCS offers the The Applied Cartooning Manifesto at SPX 006 Manifesto CCS offers the The Applied Cartooning Manifesto at SPX 007 Manifesto CCS offers the The Applied Cartooning Manifesto at SPX

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48. Z2 Comics announces Henni by Miss Lasko-Gross for 2015

Henni cover 06 Z2 Comics announces Henni by Miss Lasko Gross for 2015

Miss Lasko-Gross has gained attention for her two autobiographical comics, Escape from Special and A Mess of Everything, but her new book will be more of a fable. Henni is the tale of a young girl named Henni who lives in a structured society where religion is the last word of the law. She goes off on her own to discover truth and adventure. The story is drawn in s style reminiscent of classic children’s books, contrasting carefree childhood with the struggle against dogma.

Lasko-Gross will be at SX this wekeend with an 8-page preview. In the meantime,  here’s a look at some pages. Henni will be out in January 2015.

Z2 Comics, which is run by Josh Frankel, previously published Paul Pope’s Escapo and Dean Haspiel’s Fear my Dear.

henni 000a Web Z2 Comics announces Henni by Miss Lasko Gross for 2015 henni 000b web Z2 Comics announces Henni by Miss Lasko Gross for 2015 Henni 001 Web Z2 Comics announces Henni by Miss Lasko Gross for 2015

 

 

1 Comments on Z2 Comics announces Henni by Miss Lasko-Gross for 2015, last added: 9/15/2014
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49. Long Beach Comic Con Programming begins roll-out

LBCC Logo Long Beach Comic Con Programming begins roll out

The convention season never stops, and West Coasters will be enjoying the sights and sounds of the Long Beach Comic Con on September 27-28th at the Long Beach Convention Center. Now in its sixth year, LBCC has found a spot for itself as a comics focused show on a seaside setting. You can check out the eclectic line-up of  guests of honor in the PR below, and the programming is beginning to be announced, with two panels that regular Beat readers will probably enjoy, focusing on banned books and YA graphic novels.

Saturday the 27th at 2 PM room 103C

Forbidden Knowledge: Banned Books Week Event

Literature was the first form of entertainment and education passed down through the generations. Sometimes the books that have given so much to so many need protecting. Find out how you can help make sure the books you love will always be available to new readers. Joshua Hale Fialkov (THE BUNKER; THE LIFE AFTER) and SALON contributor and novelist Samuel Sattin (THE LEAGUE OF SOMEBODIES) will talk with moderator Alan Kesinger
Sunday the 28th at 3 PM Room 103A/B

YA Riot: Stories for a Young Adult Audience
Join best-selling YA novelists Leigh Bardugo, Cecil Castellucci, Melissa de la Cruz, Michael Johnston, and Margaret Stohl as they discuss the variety of forms young adult writing takes, from fantasy, to graphic novel and more, and their own approaches to writing in the constantly shifting world of YA.
Robin Benway, moderator

And here’s the genreal info:

To celebrate its sixth year, Long Beach Comic Con is unveiling new initiatives including the show’s first ever Guests of Honor, this year’s official sponsors including media sponsor the Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex and programming devoted to a broad range of attendees — from cosplay enthusiasts to young adult readers. Long Beach Comic Con will be held on September 27 and 28, 2014 at the Long Beach Convention Center, where exhibiting publishers will include Archie Comics, Aspen Comics, Bottled Lightning, PaperFilms, Skybound Entertainment, Storm King Productions, Top Cow, and Valiant Entertainment, among others.

For the first time in its history, Long Beach Comic Con is announcing guests of honor for this fall’s show:

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Archie Comics’ AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE)

Mike Allred (Marvel Comics’ SILVER SURFER)

Laura Allred (Marvel Comics’ SILVER SURFER

Sandy King Carpenter (Storm King Production’s ASYLUM)

Joe Casey (Man of Action)

Amanda Conner (DC Entertainment’s HARLEY QUINN)

Chris Dingess (Skybound Entertainment’s MANIFEST DESTINY)

David Gallaher (Bottled Lightning’s THE ONLY LIVING BOY)

Joe Kelly (Man of Action)

JT Krul (Aspen’s JIRNI)

Mike Mignola (Dark Horse Comics’ HELLBOY)

James O’Barr (THE CROW)

Jimmy Palmiotti (PaperFilms’ SEX & VIOLENCE)

Jamie S. Rich (Oni Press’ Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks)

Duncan Rouleau (Man of Action)

Steven T. Seagle (Man of Action)

Marc Silvestri (Top Cow)

Richard Starking (Image Comic’s ELEPHANTMEN)

Babs Tarr (DC Entertainment’s BATGIRL)

“We’re thrilled to have more guests at this year’s show than we’ve ever had before,” said Martha Donato, Long Beach Comic Con Executive Director and Co-Founder. “We recognize that attending conventions is a major commitment for comic book creators and we want to honor and celebrate some of the people who’ve joined us for six years running, as well as the writers and artists who are traveling across the country to attend our convention for the first time.”

As in past years, attendees will be treated to a wide array of programming. Highlights include:

* Panels devoted to fan favorite comic book characters including Batman, the Crow and Hellboy.

* Comic Book Publisher Spotlights moderated by BLOODY DISGUSTING, COMICVINE, IGN, THE NERDIST and others.

* Hero Complex moderated panels of pop culture, running the gamut from Robot Chicken to Young Justice to Women in Comics.

* A Young Adult panel featuring best-selling novelists Leigh Bardugo, Robin Benway, Cecil Castellucci, Melissa de la Cruz, Michael Johnston, and Margaret Stohl

* A Banned Books Week discussion led by the Newport Beach Branch Library

* Cosplay panels.

* Horror programming with guests like Dan Brereton (NOCTURNALS) and Mike Huddleston (THE STRAIN).

* Kids programming with KaBOOM! and creators like Eric Esquivel (BRAVEST WARRIORS), Travis Hanson (TANNER JONES AND THE QUEST FOR THE MONKEY STONE), Mike Kunkel (HEROBEAR)  and Hannah Nance Partlow (ADVENTURE TIME). There will also be interactive panels where Tone Rodriguez will teach kids how to draw the Simpsons and Futurama characters and Peter Paul will teach “how to draw your dragon.”

* Animation panels dedicated to popular cartoons like GARGOYLES, SPECTACULAR SPIDER MAN, YOUNG JUSTICE, X-MEN and DISNEY AFTERNOON, and appearances by Greg Weisman and the Man of Action.

* Screen Junkies Presents: Honest Trailers The Panel

* #MakeComics workshops where aspiring writers and artists can learn from comic book greats including Jon Bogdanove (POWER PACK), Tim Bradstreet (HELLBLAZER), Brian Buccellato (DETECTIVE COMICS), Joshua Fialkov (THE BUNKER) and Whilce Portacio (THE PUNISHER). Over two days, workshops will walk through the entire #makecomics process: from writing and drawing to running a Kickstarter and even publicizing the comic.  

“Our programming has been a huge growth area for us this year,” said Phil Lawrence, Co-founder and Sales Director of Long Beach Comic Con. “We’re running more than 80 high quality panels over two days. There’s something for every fan, whether you want to hear about the latest from Image Comics or need tips for designing and building your first cosplay.”

Growth also extends to the show’s official sponsors. The CW’s The Flash, GenZe by Mahindra, the Laugh Factory, SGX Print, and the SUN NEWS have already signed on as official sponsors, and additional announcements are expected to follow in the coming weeks.

Enjoy an exciting weekend full of exceptional guests and exhibitors, and engaging panels, at Long Beach Comic Con, Saturday, September 27 from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sunday, September 28 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm at the Long Beach Convention Center. Tickets are available now through the website: www.longbeachcomiccon.com.

“Our ticket sales are significantly up from last year at this same time,” said Donato. “If you’re thinking about attending this year’s show, I recommend buying your tickets in advance before we sell out and arriving both days before the show opens.”

Follow Long Beach Comic Con on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and information.

0 Comments on Long Beach Comic Con Programming begins roll-out as of 9/12/2014 9:06:00 PM
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50. The Meteor Hunt review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jules Verne's The Meteor Hunt, the University of Nebraska Press 2006 edition that restored the text to Verne's original (more or less), as opposed to the widely circulated Michel Verne-edited/manhandled version.

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