“The Ingenious Mr. Pyke” is a biography of the brilliant and eccentric Englishman Geoffrey Pyke. He applied his intellect to the problems of the first half of the 20th century, especially the conflicts that erupted across Europe and the world over and over again during those years. The author organizes the material so that readers understand how Pyke framed questions and searched for answers. This is the story of a hero, in keeping with the theme of this summer’s reading program, and the book even includes a few “Superman” panels, yet Geoffrey Pyke was not a superhero but a complicated man living in difficult times. Continue reading “Reader Review: The Ingenious Mr. Pyke”
Superheroes have leapt out of the comic book pages and into our lives in recent years through movies, TV shows and merchandising. Check out these docs that give a glimpse into the past and present of the superhero phenomenon.
“Comic-Con: Episode IV, A Fan’s Hope” (2012)
This film by Morgan Spurlock explores the cultural phenomenon that is Comic-Con by following the lives of five attendees (one of which is Columbia, Misssouri artist Skip Harvey) as they descend upon the ultimate geek mecca at San Diego Comic-Con 2010.
This film is a compelling look at the company that created the modern superhero, produced with unprecedented access to the archives of Warner Bros. and DC Comics. It explores 75 years of DC Comics, the characters of its universe and the artists and writers who brought them to life. Continue reading “Capes in Motion: Docs with Superheroes”
Do you like to read weird things? I suspect anyone who has read more than one of this gentleman’s posts probably does. Granted, I write in the conventional, easily parsed and comforting voice of a modern nobleman, but I often recommend novels wherein there is at least a modicum of the weird: perhaps there is a murderous tortilla chip or a ghost delivering a message to the wrong twin or a carnival full of haphazardly genetically modified human attractions. But this time I’m going to get real weird with it: I hereby recommend Southern Reach, the gripping trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Jeff VanderMeer”
“It’s raining cats and dogs,” my husband said.
“It sure is,” I said, still – after all my 25 years in America – trying to envision what raining animals would look like.
Pouring rain is common in Missouri, and some years, mowing a lawn once a week no longer cuts it (excuse my pun). Yet this summer the grass hasn’t seemed to grow like crazy, while the rest of our plants have.
One day, after work, I walked around the house and realized that our property has turned into a jungle: the trees have spread their branches as if trying to swallow our house, the plants beside our walk have oozed onto it for about a foot, and our deck appears much shadier than I ever remembered it.
The result looks spooky, reminding me of a book I read some time ago – “The World Without Us” – which postulates that plants could cover all traces of human existence within about a hundred years or so. Continue reading “"Nature Red in Tooth and Claw" ~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson”
“The Girl With All the Gifts” was written with by a screenwriter, and it shows. The action unfolds like a movie in the best dystopian sci-fi tradition, beginning with the very limited worldview of Melanie, a genius-level 10-year-old who knows only her classroom and her cell. As Melanie’s understanding of her world grows, so does the reader’s, assisted by short chapters that bring in other characters’ points of view. By the end, the whole horrifying picture is clear, yet unlike so much of the literature in this genre it manages to not be completely depressing. After the first 25 pages or so I was completely hooked and basically just had to put the rest of my life on hold and finish it. Continue reading “Reader Review: The Girl With All the Gifts”
Usually, when people throw around the term fanfiction (fanfic for short), they mean the stories you find on websites such as fanfiction.net or quotev, pieces written by fans of an original comic/novel/movie/TV show, using characters from that universe, and shared with other fans. The quality of the writing can vary wildly, but the level of enthusiasm remains consistently high. In the past couple of years Kindle Worlds has allowed fanfic authors to garner pay for their work through a licensing structure that keeps everyone on the legal side of the copyright line, something that can be a nebulous issue. Legalminimum supplies some good guidelines for using established fictional characters. Since most fanfic is created out of a desire to celebrate and promote the original, rather than to make money or compete with it, many writers are happy to allow their characters to lead alternate lives. Continue reading “Mark Twain Wrote Fanfiction”
Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is the amazing story of a nameless man who returns to his childhood home to remember. His childhood, no matter how his adult mind skews it, was a magical adventure that he shared with his childhood friend Lettie Hempstock. This story is filled with darkness, intrigue and relatability. Though you may have not had the fanciful upbringing the young boy from the book had, you will find things that make you really stop, close the book and realize what a tremendous piece of work you are reading. I loved this book and was able to finish it in a day. Definitely give yourself time to truly delve into yet another one of Neil Gaiman’s amazing worlds. Continue reading “Reader Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane”
When you hear Judy Blume’s name you probably think of children’s novels.
One of the first Judy Blume books I read to my kids was “Freckle Juice.” From there we progressed to “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” and others. My kids loved the silliness of theses stories, which most always give way to what can be considered a learning moment of the character as well as the reader!
Blume’s newest novel, “In the Unlikely Event,” is her first novel for adults in 16 years. The story is set in Elizabeth, New Jersey during the winter between 1951 and 1952 when three planes crash within 58 days of each other. The story deals with how her 15-year-old protagonist Miri, her family, friends and the community deal with technology failure, tragedy, social change and fear and learn to find the good in all that has gone wrong. If you find yourself looking for something else to read while you wait for your hold, try one of these titles that are also family sagas set during the 1950s. Continue reading “What to Read While You Wait for Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event”
Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles in fiction and nonfiction recently added to the library collection.
Trailer / Website
Playing in 2012 at Ragtag and on the MU campus, this film is a documentary that focuses on firsthand accounts of the tornado that devastated Joplin, Missouri May 22nd, 2011. Columbia, Missouri filmmaker Chip Gubera takes a first person personal journey into how the tornado has affected the town.
“Sweet Tooth” is a fun, light graphic novel series from Vertigo Comics. A virus has swept across the world, wiping out almost all of humanity. Only a few human survivors remain, but it is only a matter of time until they also catch the virus and pass. The real survivors are a new race of half human/half animal beings. Gus, the main protagonist of the story, is a boy with antlers who finds out that he might be the key to finding out the cause of the virus. The premise may sound similar to “Station Eleven” but it plays out quite differently. There are far more elements of sci-fi and fantasy, and a large amount of heart, for how desolate the setting is. A good introduction to a non-super hero comic series. Continue reading “Reader Review: Sweet Tooth”