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Have you ever seen the original Ocean's Eleven? The one from 1960, I mean, with Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra? You'd think, what with it being a Rat Pack movie, and with that cool cast and cool premise and all that good stuff, that it would be a FABULOUSLY ENTERTAINING movie.
Well, it isn't. I suspect that the guys had a great time MAKING the movie, but WATCHING it is another story. It's one of the rare cases in which the remake is a huge improvement on the original.
Anyway, my experience in reading Who Done It? was kind of like my experience with Ocean's Eleven: I appreciated the idea of the project more than the actual result. Who Done It? is a compilation of pieces by, like, 3/4a of the Who's-Who of the kidlit and YA world, edited by Jon Scieszka, and benefiting 826NYC. Which SOUNDS awesome: great people writing, awesome guy editing, super-deserving beneficiary.
But, like Ocean's Eleven, I suspect that reading the finished product might be more fun for the parties involved in Who Done It?'s creation than it is for the general reading public. The basic premise—a much-despised editor is murdered at a party and all of the authors in attendance have to provide their alibis—sounds fun, but for the most part, the contributions read like A) jokes that the majority of the book's readership aren't likely to be in on (lots of them are about the publishing industry, and some are in-jokes between authors), or B) in a few cases, just plain phoned in.
That isn't to say that there aren't some gems—I especially liked the pieces by Mac Barnett, Gayle Forman, Adam Gidwitz, Adele Griffin & Lisa Brown, Lev Grossman, David Levithan, Sarah Mlynowski & Courtney Sheinmel, Lauren Myracle, Joy Preble, Margo Rabb, Jennifer E. Smith, and Adrienne Maria Vrettos—but as there are 70ish pieces, that's a lot to wade through for a few pages of fun.
Anyway, like I said, the proceeds go to a great cause. So I feel like kind of a jerk for not being more excited about the book. But... eh.
Book source: ILLed through my library.
This time, though, it's
not for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe:
The directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation announced Tuesday that author Benjamin Alire Saenz will receive $15,000 for "Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club." ''Everything Begins" was published by Cincos Puntos Press, based in El Paso, Texas, where some of Saenz's stories take place.
Here you go.
(It's a project though Blackberry, so really, it's an ad campaign. But it's a really inventive, creative ad campaign, so I felt that I should pass the link along to you.)
...up at Hunger Mountain.
And when it comes to Maine winters, she knows of what she speaks.
His short story, 'All of Nature Abhors a Vacuum', is available here.
The story behind it is here.
Tor has published Brother. Prince. Snake., an original short story based on the Prince Lindwurm fairy tale.
So, Happy Friday, and enjoy!
I can't imagine that this is particularly legal, but all three of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark audiobooks are currently streaming on YouTube:
Listen to the other two here.
As I'm never one to turn down anything Wodehouse—and that goes triple for anything FREE and Wodehouse—so I just 'bought' the hell out of Whimsy & Soda.
Full disclosure: Do you have to bother with full disclosure when recommending free stuff? I dunno. Anyway, I used to work with the author's wife. And I interact with said author on the FB on a pretty regular basis, though we've never met in person.
From Tobias Buckell's Preface:
I write adventures about the future and of future worlds, and they're populated by a diverse set of characters. Why? It's the future face of the world. It's us. All of us. And we all deserve to be seen in the future, having adventures, setting foot on those strange new worlds.
As much as I totally support the sentiment in that passage—as well as the idea behind Tu Books, which is to bring more diversity to speculative fiction—I found it pretty jarring to move from such an inspirational introduction to "The Last Day", which was brutally, devastatingly dark. And is set in a world that, honestly, I can't imagine anyone wanting to see themselves in.
It's set in war-torn Japan, either in a post-apocalyptic future or in an alternate version of the past. (Unless I missed an indicator somewhere—I rather hope not, though, as I liked the idea that it could have been set in either time frame.) After decades of fighting, there are only two governments left on Earth: the President of the West and the Emperor of the East. Children are being drafted into the Emperor's Army at younger and younger ages, the civilian populace is starving, and there are rumors of entire city populations just... disappearing.
On the fateful day—note the title!—that the story takes place, twelve-year-old Kenji goes out scavenging for food with his friend Akira... and it isn't long before they both know that their lives will never be the same again.
Good stuff. Dark, but good. It reminded me of the Hunger Games trilogy, not in plot or style or tone, but because it espouses the idea that no one really wins in war. Or, more specifically in this case, that "War was only good for governments and always bad for people". In addition to the up-in-the-air nature of the era, there are also hints about a possible paranormal ability, though that, too, is debatable.
While it totally works as a stand-alone story, there are so many unanswered questions by the end—the main one being, "OMG, WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT?—that I wondered if "The Last Day" was originally a prologue to another story, or some sort of writing exercise to create a backstory for one of the characters. (<--Not saying which one, as that would very definitely affect your reading experience.)
Looking forward to more from the author—she's new to me—and this collection!
Book source: Review copy from the publisher.
From Jonathan Strahan's Introduction:
Lovers of witches know, though, that Elphaba, as the Wicked Witch of the West was named by Gregory Maguire in his novel Wicked, is not the only option. Whether it be Hayao Miyazaki and Eiko Kadano's delightful Kiki or the studious but bungling Mildred Hubble, the industrious Hermione Granger or Diana Wynne Jones's rather wicked Gwendolyn Chant, the happily suburban Samantha from Bewitched or the darkly evil Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, a witch could be anyone.
The animal shelter that Malou works at is a no-kill shelter, but that doesn't necessarily make it any easier on an animal lover: there are plenty of animals who spend years there, constantly getting passed over for the younger, cuter, glossier-coated models. Her friend Jeremy, works at the county shelter—where animals are put down after a mere three days of residency—so he routes animals over to her whenever she's got room, especially the ones he thinks will need a few extra days to be adopted.
So, when he calls her to tell her that he's sending over an absolutely beautiful golden retriever, she's not surprised... until the dog arrives. Because this supposedly adorable dog is... not. Instead, she's "bedraggled, patchy-coated, [and] pathetic". Or, well, she looks like that most of the time... there are moments when she looks just as gorgeous as Jeremy claimed over the phone.
It doesn't take long for Malou to figure out that this dog isn't like any other dog she's met before.
In addition to the bizarre shifts in her appearance, she talks. No one but Malou seems to hear her, but talk she does. Turns out, she's looking for her master: and if she can't find him in three days, she'll die.
As you'd expect from something by Diana Peterfreund, "Stray Magic" is smart and funny:
Would you believe I'm thirty?
I press the mute button on my phone and look down at Goneril. "Really? That you're two hundred and ten in dog years—that's the part you think it's hard for me to believe?"
...while still bringing the emotional goods. (And yes, I got more-than-a-little choked up a few times.)
Most importantly (in my mind), Goneril isn't super anthropomorphized: rather than sounding like a person in a dog suit, she sounds like a dog. She has the personality of a dog, and says things I could imagine a dog saying.
Great start to the anthology! Looking forward to the next story, which is by Frances Hardinge. Oooooo.
Book source: Review copy from the publisher.
Here's some Die Hard fanfic:
Part One: Fly Hard.
Part Two: Why Guard?
Part Three: Die Hired.
...five lost short stories by Daphne du Maurier, and they will be published this November*.
The line starts behind me, kids.
*May in the UK.
The Big Read I: Rebecca
From Jessica Verday's blog:
I've received a lot of questions and comments about why I'm no longer a part of the WICKED PRETTY THINGS anthology (US: Running Press, UK: Constable & Robinson) and I've debated the best way to explain why I pulled out of this anthology. The simple reason? I was told that the story I'd wrote, which features Wesley (a boy) and Cameron (a boy), who were both in love with each other, would have to be published as a male/female story because a male/male story would not be acceptable to the publishers.
I'll try to keep the "not-so-simple" reason from becoming a rant and just sum it up by saying that that was SO Not Okay with me. I immediately withdrew my story and my support for the anthology.
It's a post that's worth reading, and at the end, Verday has re-posted the explanation that the anthology editor left in the comments section. The comment is... well, it's something. And by something, I mean WHOA NELLIE OFFENSIVE, as she thoughtlessly -- and I do think it was thoughtlessness -- equated profanity and explicit sex with homosexuality. And she used the phrase "alternative sexuality", which... yecch.
I'm not even a strict adherant to political correctness, and ALL of that rubs me the wrong way.
From Running Press:
Running Press's guidelines for YA anthologies do not exclude diverse lifestyles. C&R's freelance editor was incorrect in stating this to the author, and furthermore, she never informed C&R—which in turn did not inform Running Press of the editor's request.
[A bit later in the piece -- which you should definitely click through and read, as it's always good to get a reminder about how far and fast news (and misinformation) can travel -- Navratil mentions that Running Press has smoothed things out with Verday and invited her back to the anthology, but that she remains "unyielding". Which makes it sound as if at best, he's missed her point, and at worst, he's being disingenuous -- as it seems to me that she's made it quite clear that has no issue with the publisher, but that she (understandably) doesn't want to work with the editor.]
From Jessica Verday:
I've only had two books come out so far, with a third on the way. I don't have lists and lists of awards under my belt. I don't even have the experience to say "Yup. I know what I'm doing. I've been writing for thirty years." I am not an expert in this field and never claimed to be. And I certainly don't have the "clout" or connections to do this. I'm just one girl who was pretty damn terrified to stand up for something she thought was right. (Still am terrified) To say that I only have the balls or tenacity because of my standing as a bestselling author is just silly.
If you missed the whole story, and the posts at Verday's blog aren't enough, Lee Wind followed the storyas well. Cleolinda rounded it all up nicely in a few posts, but her blog isn't loading for me at the moment. (If you Google 'Cleolinda Verday', though, it'll be easy enough to find.)
Some of the stories have never been published, and some were only ever previously published under the pseudonym Nicholas Dee.
I am, like, DYING of excitement.
I might die.
From the awesome.
...over at Indexed.
Heh heh heh.
From the Atlantic:
What do "literary" fiction and "genre" fiction mean to you? Are these terms helpful to you as a writer, or are they just methods of bookstore organization?
They don't mean anything to me. They're useful for bookstores, obviously. They're useful for fans. You can figure out what's coming out in the same style of other books you like. But as a writer they have no use for me in my day-to-day work experience.
I was inspired to become a writer by horror movies and science fiction. The fantastic effects of magic realism, Garcia Marquez, the crazy, absurd landscapes of Beckett—to me, they're just variations on the fantasy books I grew up on. Waiting for Godot takes place on a weird asteroid heading towards the sun, that's how I see it. It's not a real place—it's a fantastic place. So what makes it different from a small planet in outer space? What makes it different from a post-apocalyptic landscape? Not much in my mind.
Haunted Love, a short story set in the same universe as Tantalize, Eternal and Blessed, is currently free at Amazon and many other online spots.
Based on short stories by Raymond Chandler!
Even the title—Trouble is My Business—is all hard-boiled.
Or, rather, do?
I'm not sure.
Either way, be sure to download the first issue of Sucker Literary Magazine, Voices from Emerging Writers of YA Fiction.
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Justine Larbalestier, you win at life.
Thank you very, very much for making me laugh so hard in a silent library that I snorted.
Like, eight separate times.