Monday, June 2, 2008

Postcards From The End of the World

Okay, after an all-too-short break at the other end of America, I think I've got my head screwed back on straight enough to catch up a little.

First of all, there's a new column at Bookslut, where you can find my addle-minded ramblings on beach books and gets some suggestions for some decent, if eclectic, summer choices. The list includes hot comic book writer of the moment Duane-how-the-hell-do-you-say-Swierczynski-anyway, who gives us a whole new take on office politics in Severance Package; the vastly underrated Don Winslow, who contributes the bitterly cool surf noir The Dawn Patrol; the return of Elvis Cole in Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais; and the upcoming comedy by Adam Davies, Mine All Mine, which gives emotional security a whole new interpretation.

Elsewhere in the issue, Mark Doten talks to the lovely and talented Rivka Galchen about her rabbit hole of a debut novel, Atmospheric Disturbances while Collen Mondor goes down a more historical road in her YA column. In reviews, you can sample a hit of ecstasy, get graphic with Freddie Mercury, or sample this year's O. Henry Prize-winning stories.

Over at Kirkus Reviews, the annual Graphic Literature Special has some very cool selections this year and was a hell of a lot of fun to write, but it isn't quite ready for its debut yet this month. In the meantime, you can browse the new guide to the big books being showcased as we speak at Book Expo America and the American Library Association, including my own interviews with novelist David Guterson (The Other) and war historian Alex Kershaw (Escape From The Deep) as well as spotlights on new titles by Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Lewis Black and America's last combat reporter, Richard Engel. I was lucky enough to lay mitts on the new Lehane myself and will report back from the battle lines when the time is right.

I've been mostly in absentia where books and other mediums are concerned but here's a few items from the culture trenches to pass the time.

First, congratulations go out to two of my favorite addictions, Sarah Weinman and The Rap Sheet for their Anthony Award nominations for best web site and in Sarah's case, another nod for Special Services. Right on.

At the Los Angeles Times, John Cusack holds forth on War, Inc., a satire of combat and corporate America that seems like it should be great but isn't holding much critical ground. I still think the world would have been better served by a Martin Blank sequel, and God knows Cusack looks the part to this day, but what the hell do I know?

In other film news, I think I'm the last one to realize that Lawrence Block scripted the Wong Kar Wai's film Blueberry Nights. In a nice bit of alchemy, Buffalo's ArtVoice takes a taciturn interview and turns it into a thing of substance.

There's obviously something bent about the cinematic adapation of Greg Rucka's Whiteout but whatever it is hasn't made itself apparent yet. But the film does, finally, have a release date.

The Guardian digested read does not bode well for the new James Bond book, Devil May Care: "James Bland trudged round St Peter's Square in Rome."

And finally, you can find all the BEA news from Los Angeles (where all the publicists of the writers I'm currently chasing are hiding from my phone calls) over at GalleyCat, but I think I prefer the authors' perspective best, where you can find Neil Gaiman getting cozy with Judy Blume and Christopher Moore tilting his head at nervous-looking thrillerists and convincing famous guitarists to sign strange things.

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