Book review: Love and Rockets: New Stories #1

Posted in Blog by - Oct 25, 2015

Love and Rockets: New Stories #1 by Gilbert Hernández
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love and Rockets, the black-and-white comic magazine written and drawn by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (plus, occasionally, their brother Mario) was one of the best things about the 1980s for me. When it ended and the brothers went on to other worthy projects, I didn’t pay as much attention to what they were up to. So it’s delightful to rediscover them in collections from the Love and Rockets revival that began around 2008 and find their powers undiminished.

Highlights of Vol. 1 include a complex punk superheroine-team epic …

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Re-reading ‘All the King’s Men’ after the Summer of Trump

Posted in Blog by - Oct 04, 2015

The first time I read All the King’s Men I was in my mid teens. It was the phenomenon of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy that prompted me to pick it up again all these years later, even though Willie Stark, the Southern governor whose rise to power in the 1930s the book chronicles, is the opposite of Trump in many ways. For one thing, Trump inherited wealth while Stark was born poor.

Maybe Willie is closer to Bill Clinton, another Southern governor who pulled himself up from poverty and dallied with women (and they do have the same first name). You …

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Fandemonium Blog Tour Interview #3: Shady characters

Posted in Blog by - Sep 13, 2015

Last of three interviews with the author on the deluxe Fandemonium Blog Tour, Sept. 7-14, 2015.

What makes Fandemonium a unique novel?

It’s unique because I was so clueless and naïve about publishing when I wrote it that it never even occurred to me to try and write in a commercial genre or imitate a best-seller. I just tried to write something good.

Why did you choose the colorful world of comics to feature in Fandemonium?

I was a comics fan and collector for many years, and they say to write what you know. But I sincerely think the book could have been about any business; it didn’t …

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Fandemonium Blog Tour Interview #2: What’s in a name

Posted in Blog by - Sep 13, 2015

Second of three interviews with the author on the deluxe Fandemonium Blog Tour, Sept. 7-14, 2015.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?

Topless Hotties is the title of a piece of fiction I’ve been working on that is either a long short story or a novella. I hope it’s not a novella. It’s about a veteran journalist who has a knack for writing headlines. Full disclosure: I happen to have won some awards for writing headlines.

How long …

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Fandemonium Blog Tour Interview #1: How it all began

Posted in Blog by - Sep 13, 2015

First of three interviews with the author on the deluxe Fandemonium Blog Tour, Sept. 7-14, 2015.

When did you begin writing? Why?

I might have been 9 or 10 when I started writing my first novel. It was going to about the kidnapping of Walt Disney, because that would give me an excuse to set it in Disneyland, which was the most wonderful place imaginable to me and millions of other American baby boomers, better even than Oz or Wonderland because it was real. We knew it was real because we saw it on TV every week, even if we couldn’t get …

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Rate Your Lodging: Olympia Tower Hotel and Convention Center

Posted in Blog by - Sep 13, 2015

This review of the Olympia Tower Hotel, setting of Fandemonium, appeared on rateyourlodging.com, the website for Rick Moody’s novel Hotels of North America, on Aug. 1, 2015. Hotels of North America is available Nov. 10, 2015.

OLYMPIA TOWER HOTEL & CONVENTION CENTER, 302 PARK AVENUE, NEW YORK, NY, JUNE 8-10, 2012

Anyone my age who grew up watching New York TV knows the phrase “the peak of elegance in the heart of Manhattan” like they remember the name of their first pet. You couldn’t get away from the commercials. The thing is, at one time it was probably true. Movie idols, presidents, …

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Book review: “Notes on a Scandal”

Posted in Blog by - Apr 30, 2015

“When women stop reading, the novel will be dead,” Ian McEwen once wrote. Since women buy an estimated 80 percent of all novels, it’s peculiar how few female protagonists these days are occupied with anything besides overthrowing dystopian dictatorships or pursuing passion with handsome, sexually dominant (but intrinsically nice) billionaires and other similarly mythological beings.

 

Zoe Heller’s second novel, “What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal” (2004), a probing portrait of the toxic bond between two female teachers at an English high school, is a refreshing exception. Ostensibly the book’s topic is as titillating as “50 Shades of Grey”: an …

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Womansplaining ‘Mad Men’

Posted in Blog by - Apr 13, 2015

 

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) in “Severance,” first of the final seven episodes of “Mad Men.”

Helen A. S. Popkin writes about technology, pop culture, gender politics and social media. Recently we talked about “Mad Men” and in particular “Severance,” first of the show’s final seven episodes.
 
RS: You called “Mad Men” a “great big Dick Whitman pity party on account of life in the ’60s being so difficult for tall handsome rich white men.” Yet you called the scene in “Severance” where Joan and Peggy are treated like crap by sexist men at a presentation “excellent” …

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Book review: ‘Everything You Know’ by Zoe Heller

Posted in Blog by - Apr 04, 2015

Everything You Know by Zoë Heller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Zoe Heller made an auspicious debut with the bleakly comic tale of a self-hating English writer whose greatest success is a memoir about the scandalous death of his wife, of whose murder he is widely suspected. Parallel to the chronicle of his unraveling career and life is the sad saga of his younger daughter, revealed in journals she left behind when she committed suicide.

Heller is unstinting at depicting pathos and squalor; she balances her two narratives adroitly and succeeds at the delicate art of making her antihero sympathetic without ever …

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Comic books and culture, warts and all

Posted in Blog by - Mar 27, 2015

Michael Uslan, comics educator and founder of the modern Batman film franchise.

Since he created the first college-accredited course on comic books back in the early 1970s, Michael Uslan he has devoted much of his life to bringing recognition and respectability to the medium. And now that he and legendary Marvel Comics mastermind Stan Lee are leading a free online course about comics, he thinks his life’s goal may finally be within his grasp.

“I think with this we’re there,” Uslan told me during a recent phone interview for TODAY.com, referring to The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on American Pop Culture, a massive …

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