Jun 272013

I’ve enjoyed Stephen King’s books since I was a kid, but I’m the first to recognize his penchant for overwriting. He sometimes delves into a character’s head for several pages when a few paragraphs would do. That’s why Joyland is such a pleasant surprise. It’s an economical thriller that is thoroughly engaging but doesn’t overstay its welcome. It tells the story of Devon Jones, a lovelorn college student coming of age in the early 1970s who takes a summer job at Joyland, a struggling amusement park in North Carolina. This being a King novel, there are plenty of eccentric characters, a restless ghost, and a romance, all of it infused with a bittersweet nostalgia.

Joyland doesn’t break any new narrative ground. It’s marketed as a pulpy murder mystery, but King’s prose is graceful and understated. For a beach read (it’s not available as an e-book), it’s surprisingly thoughtful. I read it in just a few hours, but the story still lingers in my thoughts.

May 102013

Your reading recommendation for the weekend is the first volume of Locke and Key, the brilliant comic scripted by Joe Hill. The story introduces us to the Locke children, who suffer a horrific family tragedy in the first few pages and find themselves moving across country to start a new life in their father’s New England hometown of Lovecraft. The Lockes are the heirs to the Keyhouse estate, a Gothic mansion that looks like something out of a, well, Lovecraft novel. The children soon discover why their new home is called Keyhouse as the supernatural begins to make its presence known.

I recently read the first volume again and enjoyed it as much as I did the first time. Hill’s tight plotting doesn’t skimp on character development; all three Locke kids have distinct personalities that come into full view as they struggle to understand the strangeness creeping into their lives. Subsequent volumes delve into Keyhouse’s history, but Welcome to Lovecraft begins the bizarre tale on a deeply human note.

Apr 232013

I’m in a desperate race to finish my book club selection before Thursday, so you’ll have to excuse the abbreviated post. If you’re looking for something to read, you could do much worse than Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. I’ll give a brief review in a few days. But first, the text awaits.

Jan 172013

If you’re a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy, you owe it to yourself to check out the first issue of Brian Wood’s ongoing Star Wars comic. It picks up the story in the aftermath of the first Death Star’s destruction, with the Rebel Alliance trying to figure how to capitalize on its first significant victory and Darth Vader enduring the wrath of the Emperor. Wood gives us a bit of insight into how Luke, Leia, and Han cope with the toll of war while telling a brisk story of intrigue that will keep me buying future issues. And the book’s artwork nicely captures the visual sweep of the movies. Until Episode VII hits theaters, this should be enough to scratch your Force itch.

Jan 152013

My good friend (and publisher) Adam Wahlberg has unveiled the website for Think Piece Publishing, his one-man imprint. I remember when Adam first shared, over my beers in my living room, his plans to start a publishing business and I’m thrilled to see his dream take shape. Take a moment to check out the eclectic lineup of authors Adam has assembled and the titles he has lined up for the coming year. You’ll even find a photo that makes me look better than I reasonably should.

Jan 072013

This charming illustrated interpretation of a Fresh Air interview between Terry Gross and author Maurice Sendak is worth your time:

Sendak makes some clear-eyed yet deeply humane observations about growing old, losing the people he loves, and his atheism. He also manages to leave Terry Gross momentarily speechless with a comment so generous that it made me cry a little bit as I sat at my desk. If only we all had the words and presence of mind to tell the people we love how much they mean to us.

Dec 252012

My dad was very puzzled by the copy of Building Stories that I received as a gift from my sister and her husband. “What do you do with it?” he asked.

“You read it, Dad,” I said.

His brow furrowed in consternation. “And what happens when you’re done with it?”

“I don’t know, Dad. It’s a book. You put it on a shelf and maybe read it again someday.”

“It’s a book?”

“Basically, yes.”


But I think he remains unconvinced.

Dec 202012

I’m on vacation for the next ten days, which should allow me to catch up on my comics reading. I’ve been sampling some of the Marvel Now! reboots and the new Thor and All-New X-Men series are compelling enough to keep me purchasing subsequent issues. I’ve largely avoided X-Men titles because they require a map, compass, and slide rule to understand the continuity. But Marvel may have found the recipe to attract new readers like me who might have been previously intimidated by the decades of backstory. Of course, they did something similar with the Ultimate line a few years back and that universe is still going strong. So I might need that map after all.

I want to say more about other comics like Saga and The Massive, but I’ll save that for my year-end round-up.

Oct 262012

The Verge comments on the typos found in ebooks with increasing frequency. I’ve noticed that typos seem more common in older books that have been scanned to create digital versions. The Kindle edition of Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale is so rife with typos that I couldn’t be bothered to finish the book. These are still the early days of ebooks and I expect publishers will eventually fix these problems. But now that I read ebooks almost exclusively, it troubles me that I may be purchasing a shoddier product in comparison to the printed edition.

Oct 172012

If you’ve ever thought  to yourself “I really like The 19th Floor, but I wish there was a more book-ish version,” you’re in luck. Written in Slow Motion: Thoughts on Disability and Other Random Topics will be released in Spring 2013 by Think Piece Publishing, a new imprint founded by my good friend Adam Wahlberg. The book is a series of essays inspired by, and sometimes borrowing from, the posts on this blog. It focuses on my experiences as a person with a disability, but will touch on many of the topics familiar to my blog readers: technology, pop culture, geekery, and politics. I may even mention fishnets once or twice.

I have no idea if a market exists for this book. After all, I’m no Justin Bieber’s mom. But I’m really curious to see how this project turns out. I’ll blog in the coming months about the process of getting a book to market and the challenges encountered along the way. I don’t anticipate any changes to my regular blogging schedule, but I apologize in advance for posting the occasional YouTube video because I’m struggling to meet a deadline.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the release party next spring!