Thursday, June 14, 2007

Kirkus Lives!

In happier news, Kirkus Reviews seems to have shaken off the technological blight on its website these recent months. You can now read several of the special issues to which I contributed. Note that the specials are in .PDF format so they might take a minute or two to load. You'll also need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to see them.

The 2007 Graphic Spotlight

The most recent special is the 2007 Graphic Spotlight. Inside, you'll find some finely honed little features on Jason Rodriguez' fascinating Postcards project, for which he tasked artists and writers both famous and novice to create new stories based on the slim contents of antique postcards from his private collection. I also interviewed Peter Kuper (Mad Magazine, Stripped) about his autobiographical fiction Stop Forgetting to Remember, delved into the mad mind of Nick Bertozzi and his artistic murder mystery The Salon, and went down the rabbit hole with Bryan Talbot (Sandman, The Tale of One Bad Rat) to uncover the secret history of Alice in Sunderland. Finally, there's a short visit with Larry Gonick, who has continued cartooning the history of life, the universe and everything in his latest volume in the Cartoon History series.

The Big Book Guide

Prior to digging into comic books, I worked on a number of spotlights for this issue highlighting some of the books most hotly anticipated at BookExpo America and the American Library Association's annual convention. My contributions include a conversation with poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman, who created a fascinating hybrid of journalism and literature with The Zookeeper's Wife, a chronicle of two Warsaw scientists during World War II who helped save their fellow human beings from the concentration camps. You can also read about Red Moon Rising, a gripping history of Sputnik's launch and its consequences by old-school journalist Matthew Brzezinski, and Land of Lincoln, a more lighthearted look at America's gauntest president by Andrew Ferguson. Also on the governmental side, thriller novelist William Martin crafts a smart thriller in the 'lost treasure' vein that sends his series hero Peter Fallon looking for The Lost Constitution. Lastly, retired four-star general and 2004 presidential candidate Wes Clark talks to me about leadership, politics and what it's like to get shot at. Often, no less.

First Fiction

I love debut novelists. They're smart, eager and never dodge a question or sigh miserably like you've just asked them where they get their ideas, as some of their older brethren do from time to time. In the Kirkus First Fiction Special, you can find Craig Davidson, a genuine glutton for punishment if I've ever met one, talking about the street-fighting men who populate The Fighter. Eugene Drucker, the founding violinist behind The Emerson String Quartet, weighs in on his elegiac Holocaust novel The Savior. Escaped screenwriter Lisa Lutz spills the beans on The Spellman Files, a hilarious look at a dysfunctional family of private eyes. Real-life Wall Street whiz Lee Vance seeks Restitution. Last but absolutely not least, Richard Lange does his best Raymond Carver in Dead Boys, an exquisitely crafted selection of a dozen stories that bring on the bad guys.

If you haven't already seen it, you might also peruse the Mystery Special, including new stuff from Elmore Leonard, Donald E. Westlake, Walter Mosley, and Ridley Pearson. Next month, we can look forward to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Special - now with more sandworms!

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