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1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara



Wrenching.

I don't know a better word for Hanya Yanagihara's novel A Little Life, published earlier this year by Doubleday.

Heart-wrenching, yes. But more than that. Not just the heart. The brain, the stomach, all the organs and muscles. It is a full-body-wrenching experience, this book.

It's too early to say whether this is a Great Novel, whether it is a novel for the ages, a novel that will bear numerous re-readings and critical dissections and late-night litchat conversations; whether it will burn long or be a blip on the literary landscape. Who knows. It's not for me to say. What I can say, though, is that working through (sometimes rushing through) its 700 pages was one of the most powerful reading experiences of my life.

There are passages and situations in this book that many readers will not want to live with, will not want in their minds' eyes, and I can sympathize with that. Yanagihara's own editor said, "I initially found A Little Life so challenging and upsetting and long that I had to work my way through to appreciating it. ... (My private little descriptive tag for the book is 'miserabilist epic.')" Miserabilist isn't the right modifier for me, despite the many miseries in the book, but there's certainly an epic quality to the novel's expanse, at least in the everyday vernacular sense of epic. In a genre sense, though, A Little Life is seldom epic; indeed, it's often the opposite: instead of expanding across history and myth and fantasy, telling digressive and episodic tales of heroes and villains, it narrows the world, history, and myth into ahistorical psyches and bodies, constructing a world less of event than of feeling.


The central character in the novel, Jude, suffers relentless, overwhelming abuse through his first fifteen years, and that abuse leaves him physically and psychologically mutilated for the rest of his life. We are not spared descriptions of what happened and of what its effects were.

I do not usually read detailed descriptions of child abuse. I can think of very few works that benefit from such descriptions, and too often they seem to me to be a cheap and morally dubious way for the writer to try to gain the reader's sympathy for characters — who, after all, is more sympathetic than a child?

Now and then, though, a story justifies the detailed pain it describes, and this is, I think, very much the case for A Little Life. Without the detail, Jude's character would not make much sense. The events of the book are so extreme — extreme not only in pain, but in (occasional) joy — that to have the appropriate weight, the descriptions of violence done to Jude first by others and then to himself by himself must be vivid. And they are vivid. They serve to place us into Jude's body, to learn his world through his pain, which is the primary fact of his world.

In many ways, A Little Life fits into the classical mold of the melodrama, though there is a kind of moralism to melodrama that is absent from A Little Life. (Which is not to say that this novel lacks a moral or ethical vision — not remotely — but rather that it's not a book by Elizabeth Gaskell.) But Jude's childhood, particularly, is straight out of melodrama: the villains are grotesquely villainous, the (very) occasional heroes are saintly, and Jude's sufferings are extreme. Indeed, the representation of Jude's childhood is not just melodramatic, but gothic, complete with a monastery teeming with horribly malevolent monks.

The gothicism reminds me of Joyce Carol Oates, but A Little Life is more consistent and successful than any Oates novel I've read (and I've read quite a few, which is to say maybe 10% of her output). Oates's Wonderland, for instance, has an extraordinarily vivid, gripping first section, and there are some similarities in the way Oates presents the psychological experience of violence to the way Yanagihara presents it. But Wonderland falls apart after its beginning, unable to sustain or even really justify the intensity of its opening hundred pages or so. One of the many impressive qualities of A Little Life is how consistent it is, how well it sustains and modulates its intensity through hundreds and hundreds of pages recounting fifty years of Jude's life.

Though it is focused on Jude throughout, A Little Life is not only about him, but also about all the people who are important in his life, including three friends he met at college and who become his closest friends for life. Another of the impressive qualities of A Little Life is its nuanced charting of a group of male friends through three decades or so of knowing each other. We see how they know each other differently, even as they know each other together: Jude's relationship to each of his friends is different, and their relationships to each other are equally different. We see the friends in good moments and bad, and we see especially how friends who have known each other a long time can also hurt each other deeper than anyone else — and how the bond still holds even as its intimacy metamorphoses. We see how Jude and his friends change over time as they become successful, as their lives gain new depths and contours, and as they suffer immense loss.

The relationships in A Little Life are complex, too, in their flows of desire and sexuality. Garth Greenwell has suggested that this may be "the great gay novel" that some people have been calling for, and that may be true, but it's far more queer than gay: the relationships throughout the book shift from the sexual to the asexual, hetero to homo to bi to whatever. (No trans characters, alas.) Identities of every sort are slippery throughout the novel, and with Jude, two of the primary identity categories in contemporary American life, sexuality and race, remain ambiguous or unknown from first page to last. (In conversation, a character says of Jude, "...we never see him with anyone, we don’t know what race he is, we don’t know anything about him. Post-sexual, post-racial, post-identity, post-past. ...The post-man. Jude the Postman.”) At one point, an apparently heterosexual character's thoughts are presented to us as he considers the limits of his heterosexuality: "he’d had sex with men before, everyone he knew had, and in college, he and JB had drunkenly made out one night out of boredom and curiosity". The most important relationship in the book is one where the characters are described as "inventing their own type of relationship, one that wasn’t officially recognized by history or immortalized in poetry or song, but which felt truer and less constraining."

One interesting, risky choice Yanagihara made was to set A Little Life in a timeless New York City. Though the book spans decades, its New York doesn't really change, and there are no references to any identifiable historical events or to buildings and places that have significantly changed over time. There are few, if any, references to any sort of technological details that would fix a scene in a particular time. This is a world without Giuliani, without gentrification, without 9/11. It is not just a novel that doesn't really concern itself with political or social history, but rather a novel that goes out of its way to erase political and social history from its universe.

This should make me hate the book. But much as I like some political and social history in my fiction, what I like more than that is fiction that takes risks and strives for unique effects and vision. The risk Yanagihara takes in A Little Life is to make its setting obviously a fantasy, but not a fantasy like a big fat trilogy full of orcs and mages. That sort of fantasy lives and dies by its "worldbuilding"; A Little Life does the opposite: it builds its world not from references to culture, history, politics, etc. but through the psychic life of its characters. It is filled with the physical world, but the physical world it is filled with is Jude's, and what overwhelms Jude's physical world, to the point of nearly obliterating time and space, is his body. Jude's nervous system is to A Little Life what the Shire and Mordor are to The Lord of the Rings.

We are not, though, plunged into a psyche and its sensorium in the way that we are in, say, Woolf's The Waves. The narration in A Little Life is not stream of consciousness, but instead a fairly close third person limited point of view sprinkled with free indirect discourse. The point of view characters can change from chapter to chapter, but the perspective is still close. There are also a few important first-person chapters. The writing style is neither avant-garde nor especially "difficult" — indeed, if the book holds your attention, you'll likely find it to be frequently a page-turner.

The risk of setting the book in a rather blank world, a world of place names more than places, ends up paying off in spectacular and surprising ways. It produces some of the effects of stream of consciousness without being stream of consciousness because the way it presents its world is the way its focal character seems to perceive that world. Jude, unlike some of the other characters, is staunchly apolitical and apparently uninterested in history. He is (as we are) haunted by his personal history, but not a history of the world. In the monastery, he was only able to think about his immediate reality, and that habit of thinking goes unbroken for the rest of his life. He carries the monastery with him forever. Though his friends seem mostly to be conventionally liberal, and he has a strong desire for what he thinks of as justice, he holds no apparent political opinions, and enjoys working his way up in a corporate law office, a place other characters consider soulless and evil, but which is the only place Jude consistently can escape his terrors — it's a different kind of monastery for him, one that is comforting rather than scarring.

Yanagihara chose to make all of the characters successful in their professions and wealthy. This is another important part of the fantasy. They came from a variety of backgrounds (including racial backgrounds), but after college they all fairly quickly find professional and economic success. This is not, though, a book about the wonderful glamour of wealth. It's also not a book about the corruptions of wealth. The wealth of the characters seems primarily to be a plot device, as denuded of actual economics as the setting is denuded of actual history. The book's most determined (and determining) goal is to follow the effects of almost unfathomable childhood abuse on Jude throughout his life, to see how pain shapes him physically and mentally, and that goal would get messier without the ease of travel and association that wealth, power, and fame provide the characters.

In that way, A Little Life is not so much like a melodrama as it is like a classical tragedy, where the focus on royalty allows a kind of world-historical gravitas even when the world and history aren't really the work's concern.

And in truth, if Jude and his friends hadn't been as wealthy and successful as Yanagihara allowed them to be, there probably wouldn't have been as many pages to the book, because Jude would not have lived very long. It's hard to imagine him as a high school teacher, for instance, or a retail clerk; hard to imagine him making it through a life where he didn't have access to world-class health care and where he couldn't call in favors from well-connected friends and family. Jude has, as he acknowledges, an extraordinary life as an adult. That his struggles are still so painful, so unbearable, heightens the tragedy. We weep not because the pains of the rich and powerful are more painful than our own, but because we can extrapolate back to ourselves: we, without private drivers and personal assistants, without doctors at our 24-hour beck and call, without the means to fly across the world at any moment, without the ability to wrangle the press in our favor or to summon gaggles of lawyers and lawmakers — we would be crushed. As readers, we bear the pain alongside Jude, we feel our way along with him, but we only make it through because he can.

(Perhaps there is, then, a kind of political subtext to the book: To survive the kind of childhood Jude had, or even one more ordinarily traumatic, you'd have to be brilliant, highly successful, and wealthy. That most of us aren't even one of those things, never mind all three, allows some perspective on the cruelties of our systems.)

The world as these characters experience it is huge, punishing, and vertiginous: "They all ... sought comfort, something that was theirs alone, something to hold off the terrifying largeness, the impossibility, of the world, of the relentlessness of its minutes, its hours, its days." Here is one of the meanings of the novel's title: To survive, these characters must find ways to make life little, to bring it down to a comprehensible size, because otherwise they are lost. The struggle is all-consuming and agonizing, often unsuccessful, but the few and fleeting successes feel worth fighting for, worth fighting toward.

Why follow Jude's struggles, why subject ourselves to his pain and suffering? What pleasure is there in reading a book that fundamentally asks, "How much can a person bear? What sort of childhood can't be escaped?" Why keep turning the pages?

I don't have a simple, clear, or even perhaps convincing answer for that, but I will say this: I've read few novels with such vivid characters. I'm not a particularly immersive reader, and I suspect I resist imagining characters in novels as flesh and blood people more than many readers do. And yet the characters in A Little Life, particularly Jude and Willem, seemed to me alive both while I read about them and after. I could imagine them outside the stories that the novel tells. I could think about a "Jude-type person" or a "Willem-type person". I would have vehement opinions about who could play them in a movie adaptation.

How Yanagihara achieved this effect? I'm not entirely sure. The magical alchemy of fiction. It is far more than the sum of the words on the page. Partly, such an effect relies on what we bring to the words from our own experience. Even though my own life has been and is very different from that of the characters, I still felt, again and again, that the novel expressed something very deep within myself. It unlocked and unleashed emotions I hardly knew I had. And that, too, is part of its purpose: to extend imagination, to help us think and feel our way toward sympathy. In one of the first-person chapters, a character says, "Most people are easy: their unhappinesses are our unhappinesses, their sorrows are understandable, their bouts of self-loathing are fast-moving and negotiable. But his were not. We didn’t know how to help him because we lacked the imagination needed to diagnose the problems." In that sense, A Little Life is a pedagogical novel, a novel that seeks to teach us — or at least to exhort us — to open up our imagination so that perhaps we might better help each other somehow, somewhere. And so that we ourselves might be able to be helped.

I sweated through this book, I wept through it, I felt excitement and joy for the characters, pity and fear. Some days, I had to set it aside because it was all too much to bear. But I went back, always, until finally I reached the last pages, which were heartbreaking and beautiful, indescribably sad and also somehow liberating, even life-affirming, but not in some shallow, Hallmark way — instead, in delineating all the ways that even the most privileged life can go wrong, and showing when letting go of life is, if not acceptable, then certainly understandable, A Little Life illuminates the dignity in its title: these lives, some of them cut short, some of them filled with suffering, feel, in the end, immense.

He knew it was the price of enjoying life, that if he was to be alert to the things he now found pleasure in, he would have to accept its cost as well. Because as assaultive as his memories were, his life coming back to him in pieces, he knew he would endure them if it meant he could also have friends, if he kept being granted the ability to take comfort in others.

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2. Return of the Sandman Meditations


Boomtron just published my latest Sandman Meditation, this one on Chapter Two of The Wake.

"Sandman Meditation?" you say. "That sounds ... vaguely familiar..."

In July 2010, I started writing a series of short pieces called Sandman Meditations in which I proceeded through each issue of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic and offered whatever thoughts happened to come to mind. The idea was Jay Tomio's, and at first the Meditations were published on his Gestalt Mash site, then later Boomtron. The basic concept was that we'd see what happened when somebody without much background in comics, who'd never read Sandman before, spent time reading through it all.

I wrote 71 Meditations between July 2010 and June 2012, getting all the way up through the first installment of the last story in the regular series, The Wake. 75,000 words.

And then stopped. I read Chapter 2 of The Wake and had nothing to say. I tried writing through the lack of words, but the more I tried to write the more what I wrote nauseated me. I couldn't go on.


I got through 71 Meditations by only looking back once — in the piece on "Ramadan", I misread a word (yes, one word) and completely misunderstood the story. When Neil gently brought the mistake to our attention, I was shocked. So I went back and re-read "Ramadan" and what I'd written about it. Though in the immediate moment, I felt like a total idiot with entire chicken farms of egg on my face, I've come to cherish that mistake, because it showed just how carefully and subtly constructed so much of Sandman is, and how a simple slip in reading can make a text flip all around. It gave me a certain freedom, too. I'd always been terrified of making some dumb, obvious mistake in my reading of Sandman, because I know it's so well known by its passionate fans, and I didn't want to either let them down or annoy them. Once I made that big mistake, I felt somehow freer to go wrong, and that kind of freedom is necessary for writing. I went forward, trying hard not to think about whether I was writing well or terribly, thinking well or thinking badly, reading well or reading as if I'd never learned to read at all.

But by the 71st installment, my confidence fell apart. I was terrified that I'd written nothing but drivel, and the weight of that fear pulled me back. Why should anybody want to waste time reading what I've got to say about this? I wondered. This is a beloved series of comics, a beloved story full of beloved characters, an intricately woven tale that I'm just blundering through blindly. I couldn't do it.

Eric Schaller kept bugging me. "So are you ever going to finish your Sandman stuff?" he'd ask, and I'd change the subject.

I figured as more time passed, everybody would forget about my crazy reading experiment.

Jay Tomio remembered. I felt terrible for letting him down. He'd been so supportive, and I'd failed in the end. But he never seemed to hold it against me; he seemed to understand. It had been a long run. Boomtron went through some changes. The Meditations disappeared for a while. Then Jay started reconstructing, and so out of the blue one day I got a note: "Any chance you'd like to continue?" he asked.

I was terrified. A lot had changed. What would it mean to continue?

But continue I did, and continue I will. (I'll finish The Wake in the coming weeks, then continue on to Endless Nights. If all goes well, I think it would be fun to finish up with the recent Overture, to return full circle back to the beginning. Fingers crossed.)

As you'll see from the new piece, I thought of David Beronä, and I knew exactly what he'd say if he were here for me to ask about it. "Use the time you have," he'd say. "Do it now."

It's nice to be back.

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3. Crowdwatch: some deserving Kickstarters from Pak/Miyazawa, Dwyer and also Frogman

Normally I don’t do Kickstarter columns but so many of them are coming and so many of them are cool, I’m BREAKING WITH TRADITION.

§ Kieron Dwyer and Todd Rinker are trying to get funding for WEST PORTAL, a new creator owned series about…

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West Portal is the story of Dexter Allen, a struggling artist with a failed marriage and a young daughter.


After he’s diagnosed with a strange brain anomaly, Dex finds himself transported into bizarre worlds from popular fantasy and fiction.
One minute, Dex is reading a comic strip featuring Glint Granger, a space-faring sci-fi hero in the mold of Flash Gordon…





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…and suddenly, Dex is Glint Granger, trapped on some far flung planet, fighting for his life against evil alien Space Squids!

Catchy concept and the creators are seasoned pros so maybe give this a spin?

§ Greg Pak is a crowdfunding master, and now he’s teaming with artist Takeshi Miyazawa, colorist Jessica Kholinne and letterer Simon Bowland for  ABC Disgusting, a children’s alphabet book about disgusting things. I don’t think you need to know too much more than that. They’ve already raised more than $8000 of the $24,000 they’re asking and when you see the art you’ll give the rest:

ABC Disgusting tells the story of a boy trying to shock his older sister with an alphabetical series of disgusting things. But in the end, she hits him with what might be the biggest gross-out of all. 

WARNING: VERY DISGUSTING. (And maybe a little heartwarming.) INCLUDES FLATULENCE, LAMPREYS, MAYONNAISE MILK SHAKES, NOSE HAIR, ZOMBIES AND ZORILLAS.

“This is a book for anyone who’s ever laughed at a fart,” says Pak. “I’m also hoping it might be particularly great for reluctant readers, kids who might need a little more incentive to pick up and read a book.”

“I’ve been having such a fun time drawing it, I can’t wait for everyone to see it! It makes me proud to be able to reach new readers and, just maybe, inspire them to read more or even draw something silly,” says Miyazawa.

 

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§ Finally the third volume of Matt Fitch’s Frogman 3: The Death of Frogman is up. The artist is Gibson Quarter, and if this isn’t supposed to be a pastiche on 80s independent comics, I don’t know what is. They’re also about a third of the way so go for it.
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4. Heroes: Reborn Gets a Synopsis, Trailer, and Character Portraits!

Swiftly following last week’s debut of the “Where are the Heroes?” teaser trailer, NBC has released a flurry of Heroes: Reborn promotional material to get audiences excited about the return of the show.  First off, here’s our first glimpse of the heroes, some of whom you might recognize, in action:

Then there’s the official plot synopsis:

A year ago, a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas, left the city decimated. Blamed for the tragic event, those with extraordinary abilities are in hiding or on the run from those with nefarious motives.

Two such vigilantes include Luke (Zachary Levi, “Chuck”) and Joanne (Judith Shekoni, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2”), who are seeking to avenge a tragic loss.

Noah Bennet, aka H.R.G. (Jack Coleman, “Heroes”), has gone off the grid but conspiracy theorist Quentin Frady (Henry Zebrowski, “A to Z”) finds him and opens his eyes to the truth behind the Odessa tragedy.

While in hiding, some are discovering their newfound skills. Awkward teen Tommy (Robbie Kay, “Once Upon a Time”) just wants to be normal and win the girl of his dreams, Emily (Gatlin Green, “Criminal Minds”), but normalcy is virtually impossible after learning of a new ability that terrifies him. Coming from a very sheltered upbringing, a bold and ethereal teenager, Malina (Danika Yarosh, “Shameless”), has been told she is destined for greatness. In Tokyo, a quiet and unique young woman, Miko (Kiki Sukezane, “Death Yankee 3”), is trying to track down her missing father while hiding an extraordinary secret that will make her a force to be reckoned with. Elsewhere, a different type of hero is emerging through former soldier Carlos (Ryan Guzman, “The Boy Next Door”).

Odessa, from the word “Odyssey,” was the home of Claire Bennet and the very first place we ever saw in the Heroes universe.  It will be interesting to see the show return home and hopefully see the series return to form.  In addition to the aforementioned H.R.G. (Jack Coleman), a number of other characters from the original series have signed on to return, including Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka), Angela Petrelli (Christine Rose), Rebel/Micah Sanders (Noah Gray-Cabey), Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy), Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg), and The Haitian/René (Jimmy Jean-Louis).

Finally, we have a set of character portraits which feature old and new cast members:

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Ryan Guzman as Carlos, an army veteran who has just discovered his abilities

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Jack Coleman as HRG/Noah Bennet, father figure and government agent

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Danika Yarosh as Malina, a “sheltered” girl who has just discovered that “she is destined for greatness”

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Francesca Eastwood as Molly, a mystery character as of right now.

The 13 episode Heroes: Reborn miniseries will debut this fall.

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5. HKW International Literary Prize

       The've announced that Amos Oz's הבשורה על פי יהודה, in Mirjam Pressler's German translation (as Judas) has won this year's Internationaler Literaturpreis - Haus der Kulturen der Welt -- the big (€25,000 for the author, and €10,000 for the translator) German best translated (contemporary) book award; see also, for example, Sabine Peschel's report Amos Oz wins major German literature award at DeutscheWelle.
       It no doubt will appear in English translation eventually, but it hasn't yet. (Hey, why shouldn't it appear in ... say, Brazil before it comes out in the US/UK provinces, right ? I do note, however, without comment, that Oz is handled by 'literary' agent Andrew Wylie.)

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6. The story of DC’s library moving coast to coast

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With DC Entertainment not ensconced safely in the petri dish of the Burbank studio world, THR’s Borys Kit delivers the Story of the Move with two videos of the DC library then and now. Trigger warning: images of Steve Korte holding a whip.

The move west didn’t merely uproot the staff; it also meant a cross-country trip for DC’s celebrated library on Broadway, which was stored in a vault and included nearly every comic the company has published as well as a collection of licensed merchandise and oddities. (Collectively, DC’s copies of the first appearances of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are worth more than $2 million.)

Special movers, working with Warner Bros. Archives, packed nearly 100,000 comics and 8,000 hardcover books into 600 boxes, and a security team escorted them to a giant truck in mid-March. DC executives tracked the vehicle via GPS, and another security team oversaw the collection’s unloading. “It was like medevacking the heart from New York to Burbank,” says Nelson.


The front office certainly looks nice. I still feel a stab when I go up to the Carnegie Hall area, but sometimes puling stakes and moving is what it takes:

Overall, the move went as smoothly as possible, with no major damage to the collection reported. Nelson, whose office door boasts a transparent Wonder Woman image, says the new environment has affected employees and their work: “There’s a happiness that comes with being so close to the studio — seeing people they haven’t seen on a regular basis — and being in a creative space that feels like a comic company.”

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7. Check out the All-New, All-Different Amazing Spider-Man Costume

Man, Marvel loves their hyphens.

Dan Slott recently gave an interview to MTV regarding his and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli’s upcoming Amazing Spider-Man run, which begins following Secret Wars‘ conclusion in October.  In the article, MTV debuted new designs from the series including a brand new costume created by Alex Ross (Kingdom Come) and a Spider Mobile conceived by Camuncoli.

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As head of Parker Industries, the tech company that Doc Ock founded while his mind was in Peter Parker’s body, the newly restored Parker is now an incredibly wealthy inventor.  Slott promises that Parker will put this wealth to use by expanding his heroic operations beyond the Manhattan skyline, traveling to Shanghai, San Francisco, and London to face greater threats than ever before.

It’s worth comparing this new take on Spider-Man to the Batman Inc. era Dark Knight.  Bruce Wayne, as head of Wayne Industries, financially endorsed Gotham’s #1 vigilante and helped him expand Batman’s reach beyond his home city, much like Parker will help the web slinger do in Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man.

Spider Mobile = Batmobile

Did I mention that Spider-Man’s suit is high tech now, too?

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“The things this suit will be able to do and the innovations that Peter Parker has put into it will be astounding,” Slott noted, “and when you want to take something to the next level, you go, and make it look real, you go, ’hey Alex Ross, take your best shot.’ ”

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8. Rick Remender Leaves Marvel to Focus on Creator Owned Work

rickremenderLast night, Rick Remender announced his intentions to “take a break” from his work with Marvel comics.  The writer, known for his tenures on Uncanny X-ForcePunisher, and Captain America, says that he owes Marvel a great debt for enabling him to “provide for [his] family as it grew” and for taking a chance on him when he quit his first job as a successful animator to pursue his career in comics.

Before Remender worked with Marvel, he put out several books with Image, the most notable of which is Fear Agent with Tony Moore.  Creator-owned work has always been Remender’s greatest passion, though when he started out the market “didn’t seem to want such things.”  Recently, however, things have changed.  Remender currently writes a number of my favorite Image titles including Black Science; Deadly Class; and most recently, Low.  This work has become increasingly time consuming, and so:

For the next year, I’m only going to do work that the artists and I own.  Putting my ass on the line along with my partners, and try for the dream one more time.  To get back to doing what feeds my soul.  To be around for my family during some trying times and spend my work hours making comics with the people I want to, the exact way we want to make them, and owning and controlling the fruits of our labor.

Remender’s announcement comes on the heels of a number of creative shakeups for Marvel’s “All-New All-Different” line up.  Yesterday, Marvel announced that Jeff Lemire would take the reigns on the new Uncanny X-Men series.  Jonathan Hickman has previously stated that he would also be taking a vacation from the House of M following the end of Secret Wars.

Things are moving at a breakneck pace in the lead up to SDCC.  It’s hard to imagine how Marvel will top themselves at the convention.

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9. The Defence of Lawino review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A New Translation of Wer pa Lawino by Taban lo Liyong, his translation of Okot p'Bitek's The Defence of Lawino.
       I reviewed p'Bitek's own translation, and it's always interesting to compare translations; certainly, these make for a great comparative case-study.

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10. A West Ender’s stop on Broadway

We’ve got one day here and not another minute…”. Well, not one day exactly, but just five—a short week’s stay in NYC from England, and four nights to catch a few shows. So how to choose? The first choices were easy: two new productions of classic musical comedies, and as it happens, shows by the same team of writers. Betty Comden and Adolph Green were veterans of Broadway by the time they came to write On the Twentieth Century (1978), though merely young starlets when they first scored a hit with On the Town (1944).

The post A West Ender’s stop on Broadway appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. Massive Update to the All-New, All-Different Marvel Scorecard

Recently, a bunch of cover solicits from Marvel’s All-New All-Different preview book leaked.  We now have 46 titles on deck.  Besides some major shakeups we’ve previously covered such as Jeff Lemire debuting on X-Men and Rick Remender leaving Marvel to focus on his creator owned work, there aren’t any huge shakeups to the roster of creatives in this All-New world.

The titles below are organized alphabetically by series genre.


 

Avengers

44 - ATkk2Xh

37 - 2qAk7bB

43 - Tdr0H2W

32 - HIFD07X

11 - Spmf4KD

41 - 4Nz0yVE

07 - 43W3VWq

42 - IEk1WMy

21 - 70p97rW

ironman

36 - ZuxZOU0

23 - 4J0Pf2i

20 - IGvp0CM

25 - E7SkQDj

28 - Kew8UWI

35 - aSLqkXd

45 - 2UpoQmD

03 - ytbuy3e

13 - iE9ox9w

38 - W1pUgFs

X-Men

15 - Tzu7st8

17 - ab7wOjo

34 - f2AdjQO

18 - 7fVKtnP

19 - DXVmSei

16 - rYcdU2e

Spider-Man

 

09 - Jbm55Bu

01 - SAkP2iD

12 - BjHbvYb

30 - g9isagI

10 - 0JWbcIs

05 - CJhVBw4

06 - u8cZM4P

 

02 - ljGNgV7

04 - ugNDuxS

Inhumans 

22 - dcUhzOQ

29 - kVs76wb

39 - Fjfuj10

Guardians Of The Galaxy

31 - yWgNPSd

27 - fthKqXy

26 - rK2cwfc

 

Marvel has also announced a Gamora title with Nicole Perlman on scripts.

Potpourri

40 - Qh9neDV

33 - YuONto7

08 - r7iFeYN

24 - ay6cGJk

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12. Eventbrite Survey: conventions have achieved gender parity but some still feel unwelcome

EventBrite, the ticketing agency, caused a lot of talk last year when they released the results of the first survey of convention attendees with breakdowns on gender, spending and more.

They’ve done another survey this year, and the results are even more detailed. Rob Salkowitz has done a round-up over at ICv2 but the Beat has also been given an exclusive preview of some of the data on safety at the con.

The survey was done to provide greater insight into the multi-billion dollar fandom events and convention business, and surveyed 2165 total respondents over two weeks in May. Respondents were drawn from Eventbrite users, with a few from external respondents via social media. 94% of respondents attended a fan event or convention in the past 12 months, While the poll did not cover sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, it delved into gender, and the news is that as far as men and women go it’s now even steven. Also, there is far more gender diversity among purchasers of indie/alt.comix than among regular comics. And that attendees of Tabletop/role-playing games felt less safe than any other kind of event — perhaps because fans of these are actually USED to acting out? Just a guess there.

 

SO MUCH TO CHEW ON. For breakdowns read on:

 

 

Fandom Overall Has Achieved Gender Parity

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• Last year, in a survey using the same methodology and roughly the same sample size, the overall gender breakdown across all fandoms was 46% female, 54% male, but was 50/50 under age 30. (the survey did not provide a non-binary/other option in 2014)
• This year, gender identity breakdown across all responses was 48.9% female, 48.7% male, , 2.4% non-binary/other
• Fandom as a whole is trending female, with women very slightly outnumbering men in our overall sample.
• Under age 40, it’s 50.8% female/46.1% male/3.1% non-binary/other
• There are hardly any significant attitude or behavior differences expressed between male and female fans across most topics polled.





…but gender gaps remain across specific fan interest areas.

• Despite the overall trend toward women across all fan interest areas polled, no individual fandom is close to 50/50
• Tabletop and role-playing gaming and comic book fandom are where the boys are, clocking in at over 62% male.
• Female fans flock to anime/manga, science fiction and genre/comics-based media.
• Fans identifying as “non-binary/other” are most likely to be found in Alt/small press and anime/manga fandom.

Cosplayers are Intense Fans, Spenders, Frequent Con Attendees




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• 499 respondents, or around 23% of our sample, identified themselves as serious cosplayers and/or people who attend shows just to engage in cosplay
• The highest percentage – 29.4% – identified themselves as primarily manga/anime fans. 21% are fans of comic and genre-based media, and 17.7% science fiction and fantasy fans.
• More than 85% of cosplayers are under 40, with nearly 60% between the ages of 23-39.
• Cosplayers are predominantly female (62.5%), with 32% male and 5% non-binary/other
• Only 30% of cosplayers report spending less than $100 at shows. Most (42.7%) spend between $101-250, consistent with the spending patterns of non cosplayers.
• Cosplayers go to more cons than practically any other group. 64% of serious cosplayers attend 3 or more fan events per year. More than 27% attend 5 or more fan events per year.




Cons Generally Make Fans Feel Safe and Welcome
• When asked “In general, do you feel the fan events you attend do enough to make all attendees feel safe and welcome,” 7.2% of respondents (143 total)  said no. 92.8% said yes.
• Anime/manga and toy/collectible fans seem to feel their events do best, with fewer than 5% feeling unsafe.
• By far the worst fandom for safety is Tabletop/role-playing games, with around 17% of fans in that category answering “no.”
• Videogaming fans (mostly male fandom) response is at about 10%; comic and genre-based media (the most female fandom) is around the same.
• There were few statistical differences between how men, women and non-binary/other genders answered this question.




• Among those who feel unsafe and unwelcome:
o 53.5% are female, 45.1% are male, 1.4% are non-binary/other
o 20% are serious cosplayers. 44% do not cosplay at all.
o 40% have been going to cons for more than 10 years
o 35% spend $250 or more
o 85% go in groups of two or more, including family




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13. SDCC ’15: GoComics and Andrews McMeel signings with a ton o’ cartoonists

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I remember the days when seeing a real live comic strip artist was rare indeed, but now they’re coming out of their shell! GoComics and Andrews McMeel (publisher of all those comic strips collections you love so much)will be at Comic-Con (Booth #1503) and lots of cool folks—from Dana Simpson to Stephen Pastis—and books—Peanuts! Cul de Sac!—will be there. Here’s the list:

• A selection of books for purchase, including the recently released “Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: An Exhibition Catalogue,” which includes a fascinating, in-depth interview with Bill Watterson; New York Times bestsellers from The Oatmeal (Matthew Inman), including his most recent release, “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances”; “Breaking Stephan” by Stephan Pastis; and “Unicorn on a Roll: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure” by Dana Simpson and “Big Nate: Say Good-bye to Dork City” by Lincoln Peirce, two recently released offerings from AMP! Comics for Kids, especially for middle-

• GoComics, the world’s largest online collection of syndicated and web-only comics, offers an online catalog and mobile app providing iconic comics such as Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, Dilbert, Garfield and FoxTrot as well as other popular comics, including The Argyle Sweater, Jim Benton Cartoons, Pearls Before Swine, Phoebe and Her Unicorn and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (SMBC).

• Scheduled one-hour, free signings by creators including Brooke McEldowney (9 Chickweed Lane, Pibgorn), Dana Simpson (Phoebe and Her Unicorn), Greg Evans (Luann), Jason Chatfield (Ginger Meggs) and Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine).

• Daily giveaways featuring free GoComics PRO memberships, bookmarks, buttons and other comic-related promotional items, as well as daily drawings for major comic collections, including “The Complete Calvin and Hobbes,” “The Complete Cul de Sac,” “The Complete Far Side” and “Celebrating Peanuts.”

• In honor of the 30th anniversary of Calvin and Hobbes, archive-quality prints of the iconic first and last Calvin and Hobbes comic strips will be available for purchase. To celebrate the 65th anniversary of Peanuts, an archive-quality print of the first-ever comic strip (available in color or black and white) will also be

• GoComics will host daily Twitter giveaways (Thursday through Sunday) featuring the “Dear Mr. Watterson” and “Stripped” documentaries in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Calvin and Hobbes (while

• In partnership with Peanuts Worldwide, SDCC attendees are encouraged to visit the Peanuts booth (#1637) and ask for a “GoComics Ticket.” Attendees who present this ticket at the Andrews McMeel Publishing/GoComics booth (#1503) will receive exclusive commemorative Peanuts prizes, including a collectible 65th anniversary poster, Snoopy buttons, bookmarks, tattoos and a coloring sheet for kids (while

• GoComics T-shirts featuring the slogan “Read Comics Every Day” will be available for purchase for $20. Follow GoComics (@GoComics) and Andrews McMeel Publishing (@AndrewsMcMeel) on Twitter using #GoComics and #AndrewsMcMeel for real-time updates about giveaways, signings and the location of street teams distributing comic-related items. The on-site teams from GoComics and Andrews McMeel Publishing will also share photos via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest.

Andrews McMeel Publishing/GoComics Signing and Event Schedule:

All creator signings will occur at the Andrews McMeel Publishing/GoComics Booth (#1503). Exclusive SDCC 2015 prints or posters will be provided for free at all creator signings.

Thursday, July 9
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.: Jason Chatfield (Ginger Meggs)
2:00 – 3:00 p.m.: Jim Benton (Jim Benton Cartoons)
3:30 – 4:30 p.m.: Lalo Alcaraz (editorial cartoonist; La Cucaracha)


Friday, July 10
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Greg Evans (Luann)
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.: Brooke McEldowney (9 Chickweed Lane, Pibgorn)
2:00 – 3:00 p.m.: Dana Simpson (Phoebe and Her Unicorn)
3:30 – 4:30 p.m.: Paul Trap (Thatababy)



Saturday, July 26
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Steve McGarry (Badlands, Biographic, KidTown, TrivQuiz)
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.: Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine)
2:00 – 3:00 p.m.: Nick Seluk (The Awkward Yeti, Heart and Soul)
3:30 – 4:30 p.m.: Paige Braddock (creative director at Peanuts, Stinky Cecil, Jane’s World, The Martian Confederacy)



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14. Eternal Warrior, Dr. Mirage and X-O Manowar #50: News from the #ValiantSummit

The #ValiantSummit just wrapped, where the publisher announced a whole bunch of new titles and announcements from Valiant Entertainment’s comic book line in a live setting. One of the first and biggest announcements was X-O Manowar #50, a landmark achievement in publishing giving the current state of the industry. The issue will feature the writing talents of Robert Venditti — who launched the new Valiant Universe with X-O Manowar #1 alongside Bloodshot: Reborn artist Mico Suayan. The comic is shipping in 2016.

unnamed-32

Next up is Wrath of the Eternal Warrior, which Robert Venditti teased in our exclusive interview covering the Book of Death with the author — Venditti noted that the Eternal Warrior is one of his favorite characters in the Valiant Universe. Raul Allen is joining Venditti to draw the comic, which is launching in November. Also, the publisher debuted the cover to the first issue, a wraparound cover with David Lafuente linework.

68ec0c80-376f-4a89-80a8-71f9eb8fa136

The last issue of the previous Dr. Mirage series teased that the series was coming back, but Valiant has now confirmed the next comic entitled The Death-Defying Dr. Mirage: Second Lives. The comic is another four-issue mini with author Jen Van Meter and Robert De La Torre returning as the creative team set for a December debut.

unnamed-28-600x938

Valiant is releasing eight of their first issues for a dollar each in the publisher’s One Dollar Debut line. The comics company also released the information that the landmark Book of Death event has over 70,000 pre-orders. Take a look at the new trailer for the event here. The summit was a fine showing from Valiant, containing news that fans should be excited about while offering newcomers the chance to get in on a new #1 with Wrath of the Eternal Warrior and the publisher’s own One Dollar Debut line of comics.

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15. The Festival of Insignificance review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Milan Kundera's recent novel -- his first in over a decade -- The Festival of Insignificance.

       Interesting to see the mixed reactions to this -- and also how much review coverage there has been of it (the most, by far, of any book I 've covered so far this year).

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16. Titan at SDCC: Assassin’s Creed, The Blacklist, Heroes, Lenore and, of course, Doctor Who!

Titan has announced their full line-up of SDCC activities, and there’s lots to choose from with ten signing sessions and two panels, as well as a bunch of exclusive covers, merchandise and sneak-peaks of their upcoming titles.

triptych_

Their Doctor Who line gets it’s own panel this year, where details of a brand new Doctor Who miniseries will be announced, including which of the Time Lord’s many regenerations will star in it. From Titan:

Titan Comics gives you a sneak peek at the next chapters for the Doctor in all his incarnations – including sneak peeks at the direction of Year Two featuring the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors! Writer Cavan Scott and artist Blair Shedd discuss the smash-hit Ninth Doctor mini series! Writer Paul Cornell gives you a sneak peek at August’s comics cross-over event! Writers George Mann and Cavan Scott and cover artist Alice X. Zhang take you behind-the-scenes of the Twelfth Doctor SDCC exclusive short story edition. Plus, we reveal the next brand-new mini series – which Doctor is it going to be? Come along to find out! All attendees receive a FREE Doctor Who comic + prizes to win!

The Titan Doctor Who Comic panel is on Saturday July 11th from 3:30PM-4:30PM in room 5AB.

 

ASSASSIN’S CREED logo

Fans of Assassin’s Creed can look forward to Titan’s global premiere of  artwork from the upcoming comic series based on the hugely popular video game franchise at Titan’s other comics panel on Thursday July 9th from 2:30-3:30PM in Room 4. In addition, the panel features TV producers and writers from Heroes Reborn and The Blacklist who will discuss their work on series tie-in comics. Roman Dirge, creator/writer and artist of the cult-smash series Lenore will also be on hand to talk about his planned new work. From Titan:

Titan Comics takes you behind-the-scenes of major new projects including Assassin’s CreedHeroes and The Blacklist! See the global premiere of artwork from the new Assassin’s Creed comics, plus be the first to find out about the launch storylines and the all-new Assassins! Heroes Reborn Supervising Producer Seamus Fahey gives you a sneak peek at the new Heroes comic and special SDCC ashcan. The Blacklist TV show writer Nicole Phillips talks about writing the new The Blacklist comic series, which debuts at SDCC! PLUS! The artists of the creator-owned hits of tomorrow will be in attendance! Cult writer Roman Dirge gives you a ghostly glimpse at Lenore and his upcoming new projects! Artist Des Taylor takes you undercover of hit series Scarlett Couture! Harvey award nominated writer Mark Wheatley discusses his new remastered edition of Breathtaker! Plus, more comics talent and prizes to win!

blacklist

Want to grab an author-signed copy of that gorgeous, SDCC exclusive Heroes ashcan with art from Paul Pope? How about one of only 200 FREE Doctor Who: Four Doctors art cards signed by four Doctor crossover series writer Paul Cornell? Here’s the complete signing schedule, all signings taking place at the Titan booth #5537:

THURSDAY, JULY 9th

 

scarlett

Writer/Artist DES TAYLOR signs copies of Scarlett Couture from 12:30PM – 1:30PM

lenore

Writer/Artist ROMAN DIRGE  will be signing copies of Something at the Window is Scratching, The Cat Really with a Really Big Head and Lenore Pink Bellies: 4:00PM — 5:00PM

FRIDAY, JULY 10th

CCILogo-R

Heroes Reborn Supervising Producer Seamus Kevin Fahey will be signing copies of the Heroes comic SDCC ashcan with exclusive art from Paul Pope from 12:00PM — 1:00PM

doubleblack

The Blacklist TV show writer Nicole Phillips and cover artist Alice X. Zhang will be signing copies of The Blacklist #1 from Time:  2:00PM – 3:00PM

cavanzhang

Writers George Mann and Cavan Scott and cover artist Alice X. Zhang will be signing copies of Doctor Who: Twelfth Doctor SDCC exclusive short story edition from 4:00PM — 5:00PM

Did you miss Roman Dirge’s 7/9 signing? No problem. he’s back at the Titan booth on 7/10 signing copies of Something at the Window is Scratching, The Cat Really with a Really Big Head and Lenore Pink Bellies5:30PM – 6:30PM

SATURDAY, JULY 11th

shedd

Writer Cavan Scott and artist Blair Shedd will be signing copies of Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor series from 11:30AM – 12:30PM.

artcard
Writer Paul Cornell will be signing a FREE Doctor Who: Four Doctors art card. Only 200 available! From  1:30PM – 2:30PM.

Did you miss Writers George Mann, Cavan Scott and cover artist Alice X. Zhang on 7/10? Fear not, they’re back at the Titan booth signing more copies of Doctor Who: Twelfth Doctor SDCC exclusive short story edition from 5:00PM – 6:00PM.

SUNDAY, JULY 12th

home
Writer Max Davison, artist Matt Hebb, colourist Tracy Bailey and inker Jason Worthington will be signing copies of DreamWork’s Home #1 comic from 12:00PM – 1:00PM.

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17. Hedge funds and litigation: A brave new world

Hedge funds and other investment funds are emerging as sophisticated litigators, viewing litigation as an asset, which can create value and mitigate risk, rather than something to be avoided or feared. As a consequence, both the market and various legal systems are being disciplined and developed. How and why is this happening? Willing to litigate relentlessly and fearlessly, hedge funds will seek out and find gaps in documents and uncertainties in the law, and exploit them with ruthless efficiency, entering new legal territory and pushing the boundary of legal theories.

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18. Remembering Albus Dumbledore

Today we honor the death of one of the greatest literary characters ever created. Though Albus Dumbledore may have never breathed in real life, he was always alive in our hearts. His great wisdom reminded us that “happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” For “it is the unknown that we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more,” and we “should not pity the dead; [we should] pity the living, and above all, those who live without love;” especially when “[failing] to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been [our] greatest weakness.” Dumbledore taught us how to have the courage to be ourselves, and not pretend to be anybody else: “it is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” “It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” Dumbledore talked of love and acceptance; of others as well as ourselves because “differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” We must not forget the power of goodness, forgiveness and love, even in hard times: for even when “dark times lie ahead of us…there will be [times] when we must choose between what is right and what is easy.” We must not get caught up in flights of fancy; we must not dwell on what we want, or do not have, but be grateful for what we do have, because “it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

Please join us in honoring the bravery, wisdom, and love Dumbldore taught us throughout the Harry Potter series. For even though he lived in our hearts and our imaginations because “of course it is [all] happening inside [our] heads, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”

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19. Webcomic alert: Witness the economic struggle of the cartoonist in ICE CREAM by Alex Fellows

tumblr_nqj6w2y3Fq1uyxyalo7_1280.jpg

Here’s a comic that sums up all the money stuff we’ve been talking about for the last few weeks. The unnamed cartoonist in Alex Fellows’ ICE CREAM has just purchased a fancy refrigerator he can’t really afford. I think most of us will empathize with the financial soul searching, credit card juggling and marital discord that follows.

I could pull any number of panels in this comic but here’s just one.

tumblr_nqj6mtwxF51uyxyalo1_1280.jpg
Ouch.

I wasn’t familiar with Fellows work, but he won a Xeric in 2002 for Blank Slate and a Doug Wright Award for Best Emerging Talent in 2011 for his comic, Spain and Morocco. You can see more of his work here. I’ll definitely be following Ice Cream!

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20. Kafka manuscripts to National Library of Israel (probably)

       One of the more entertaining literary estate trials of recent years may have run its course, as a Tel Aviv District Court has rejected an appeal by the not-quite-heirs of Max Brod's remaining Kafka holdings (further appeals are, apparently, possible, however); see reports:

       As you might recall, Esther Hoffe wound up with a suitcase (and millions of dollars') worth of Kafka-papers from Max Brod -- and then lived forever (well, past the century mark, anyway). She sold some of them, and then passed on the rest to her daughter (the appellant here); the court seems to have frowned upon the cashing-in efforts - albeit with the rather curious argument:
"As far as Kafka is concerned, is the placing of his personal writings, which he ordered to be destroyed, for public sale to the highest bidder by the secretary of his friend and by her daughters in keeping with justice ? It seems that the answer to this is clear," wrote the judges.
       But, rather than doing right (finally !) by Kafka and ordering the long-overdue bonfire the papers are (probably) going to the National Library of Israel.
       Yes:
The court said Hoffe had no rights, and could not have any such rights -- as well as not having rights to any royalties -- for the documents Brod took from Kafka's apartment after his death. As for her holding on to such documents after Brod's death, she did do illegally and had no right to decide on the fate of the estate
       This is presumably correct, going by the letter of the law (well, the facts suggest there is some wiggle room here, legally speaking ...); the fact that Brod surely had no right (morally as well as by the letter of the applicable laws) either to do all the things he did with Kafka's manuscript unfortunately was not up for debate.
       I find it fascinating that everyone seems to be willing to give Brod the benefit of an overwhelming amount of doubt -- wink, wink, we all know what Kafka really meant (why ? because that's what we want to believe) -- while no one is willing to give Esther Hoffe the same courtesy: who is to say, after all, that Brod didn't intend for her to be the true beneficiary (he left her the papers, for heaven's sake, so she was already the nominal beneficiary), to be able do as she wished with the papers ? After all, if he hadn't, surely he would have seen to the proper disposal, one way or another, of the papers when he had the chance, rather than expecting the ambiguous testamentary dispositions he made to resolve things -- that's the argument re. Kafka, isn't it ? isn't it ?. (Even if Brod's instructions seem clear (and they really aren't), they are still nowhere as clear as Kafka's very precise instructions to Brod were: burn the stuff ! all of it !)

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21. Immune profiling of tumors may better stage early cancers

When immune cells infiltrate tumors in large numbers, patients do better. Now researchers aim to harness this immune response to predict outcomes. The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) in Milwaukee is coordinating an international effort to validate Immunoscore, an assay that quantifies this immune response.

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22. Bảo tàng Văn học Việt Nam

       Việt Nam News reports that First Vietnamese literature museum opens to public.
       Apparently: "construction did not begin till 2004" on the three-story building -- and it seems it took over a decade, until now, to get it all done.
       The first floor covers the 10th through 19th centuries, the second "writers of the early 20th century", the "third floor is reserved for writers of the anti-French revolution period (1945-54)". Apparently there's no room for anything resembling contemporary literature -- or it's been relegated to the basement ..... Read the rest of this post

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23. Hart-Celler and a watershed in American immigration

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the congressional passage of the Hart-Celler Immigration and Nationality Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It was the culmination of a trend toward reforming immigrant admissions and naturalization policies that had gathered momentum in the early years of the Cold War era.

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24. CWA International Dagger

       They announced the winners of the (UK) Crime Writers' Association yesterday, and the CWA International Dagger, for a crime-book "not originally written in English and has been translated into English for UK publication during the Judging Period" went to Pierre Lemaitre's Camille, in Frank Wynne's translation.
       Among the titles it beat out is Leif GW Persson's Falling Free, as if in a Dream, the last in his under-appreciated trilogy, and Deon Meyer's Cobra.

       (Bonus points and big applause for the CWA listing all the entries in the various categories: why can't all book prizes do this ?)

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25. 100 years of black music

Celebrate the end of Black Music Month with this timeline highlighting over 100 years of music created and produced by influential African-Americans. Kenny Gamble, Ed Wright, and Dyana Williams developed the idea for Black Music Month back in 1979 as a way to annually show appreciate for black music icons. After lobbying, President Jimmy Carter hosted a reception to formally recognize the month.

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