Archive for July, 2010

July 31, 2010

Papa Can You Hear Me?

by thiszine

Whatever you think of Ernest Hemingway, the idea of a Hemingway Look-Alike Society is still pretty damn funny.

July 29, 2010

Book Review: Zomblog by T.W. Brown

by thiszine

by T.W. Brown

(January 2010, $15.95, 262 pages)

While some have compared Zomblog to Day by Day Armageddon because of its journal format, author T.W. Brown has presented a zombie story that’s more like a memoir of survivor Samuel Todd, as he reflects on his efforts to stay alive during the first ten months of a global outbreak.

Samuel is a divorced father of one who plays in a rock band and supplements his meager income with a newspaper route. He decides to start an internet blog to describe the strange events he witnesses during his late night/ early morning deliveries. As the emergence of the Z-plague unfolds, Samuel realizes the importance of his daily accounts.

During the first week, he wonders if the new disease has anything to do with an ancient discovery made in an Indonesian jungle, which was barely mentioned in the news. Samuel attempts to maintain his normal routine, while those around him succumb to the mysterious affliction. As communication breaks down worldwide and violence escalates, city-wide quarantines and martial law become prevalent.

Eventually, Samuel makes the decision to flee to a more secure area, where he finds others struggling to survive. Every day brings them new obstacles and nightmares; the group soon realizes that zombies are not the only threat to their existence. The safety of the compound begins to feel like a cage to Samuel, and so begins his journey from the west coast to the Midwest, meeting various groups along the way, and escaping one horror only to be met with another onslaught of terrifying events.

Zomblog is T.W. Brown’s first zombie novel, but he is currently writing a sequel. In addition to Samuel Todd’s survival journal, Brown has begun a new zombie series with Dead: The Ugly Beginning (Volume 1), which follows the POV of multiple survivors spread across the United States. Brown has done a great job of expanding the social commentary within the zombie genre.

~Ursula K. Raphael

July 28, 2010

Badass Jane Austen

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We always knew there was more to Lady Jane than corsets and manners.

July 27, 2010

Man Booker Longlist Announced

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The “Man Booker Dozen,” 13 books longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, were announced today. The longlist includes:

–Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America

–Emma Donoghue, Room

–Helen Dunmore, The Betrayal

–Damon Galgut, In a Strange Room

–Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question

–Andrea Levy, The Long Song

–Tom McCarthy, C

–David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

–Lisa Moore, February

–Paul Murray, Skippy Dies

–Rose Tremain, Trespass

–Christos Tsiolkas, The Slap

–Alan Warner, The Stars in the Bright Sky

The 2010 shortlist will be announced Tuesday, September 7, so read these books while they’re hot!

July 27, 2010

CanLit: Trillium Book Award

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Ian Brown

The 2010 Trillium Book Award winners are Ian Brown’s The Boy In The Moon for best English language book, Ryad Assani-Razaki’s Deux Cercles for best French language book, Karen Solie’s Pigeon for best English language book of poetry, and Michèle Matteau’s Paraselles for best French language book of poetry.

CanLit heavyweights Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro were beat out by Brown in the most anticipated Trillium category, best English language book. Perhaps not to much surprise, The Boy In The Moon: A Father’s Search For His Disabled Son (Random House) already won the B.C. National Award, Canada’s highest paying non-fiction prize at $40,000, in January and the 2010 Charles Taylor Prize. The Boy In The Moon is a compilation of articles Brown wrote for the Globe and Mail on living with his eleven year old son Walker, who has Cardiofaciocutaneous Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.

Ryad Assani-Razaki

Karen Solie

The French language prize for best book was also in hot contention with writers like Nicole Champeau and Daniel Soha in the running. Ultimately, the judges fancied Ryad Assani-Razaki’s debut work, Deux Cercles (VLB Éditeur), published in April 2009. The book is a compilation of short stories about dealing with the difficulties of immigration in everyday life.

Karen Solie’s English language poetry winner Pigeon (Anansi) is becoming her catalyst for success in 2010. Pigeon is Solie’s third poetry compilation and, among the Trillium, has also won the Griffin Poetry Prize and Pat Lowther Award this year. Her two earlier works, Short Haul Engine (2001) and Modern and Normal (2005) earned many award nominations (Engine won the 2002 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize). But this year, Pigeon is topping best-seller lists while rooting Solie in the CanLit scene.

French language poetry winner, Passerelles (Les Éditions L’Interligne), just means more success for acclaimed Francophone writer Michèle Matteau. Poet, playwright, novelist, Matteau has published nine French language books. She won the 2001 Trillium Award for her novel Cognac et Porto, and the 2005 Prix Christine Dimitriu-Van-Saanen Award for her novel Un Doigt de Brandy dans un Verre de Lait Chaud (A Finger of Brandy in a Glass of Warm Milk).

Michele Matteau

The Trillium Literary Award is the highest award for authors in Ontario. Funded by the Ontario Media Development Corporation, the Trillium Award for best English and French language book was established in 1987. Categories for best English and French language books of poetry were added in 2003. Popular previous winning authors include Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Thomas King, and Alistair MacLeod. Best book winners receive $20,000, best book of poetry winners receive $10,000.

July 26, 2010

Review: The Official Zombie Survival Handbook by Sean Page

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by Sean Page

Severed Press
(July 2010, $12.95, 202 pages)

The ever-growing zombie genre has given birth to a sub-culture known as zombie survivalists. These are people who seriously discuss and debate the possibility of an undead outbreak, and the various outcomes of such an event. As a result of this movement, several zombie guides have been produced, in an effort to make the general public aware of the danger zombies may pose. Unfortunately, depending on the personal background of the authors, most of the books do not contain practical guidelines that can be applied internationally. Consequently, new guides are being published, tailored to individual countries and their laws.

Sean Page, the author of The Official Zombie Handbook (UK), has taken it upon himself to write such a manual for his fellow Britons, as well as foreigners who may be able to adapt some of the concepts for use in their own countries. In the manual’s introduction, Page explains why other books like Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide are difficult to apply where it is nearly impossible to get your hands on a firearm for self-defense. He also points out that preparing for a zombie outbreak with his 90-day survival plan would appeal to the environmentally-conscientious with a “green” agenda (for example, self-sufficiency); as most zombiephiles know, if you’re prepared for an apocalypse, you’ll be prepared for any emergency.

Addressing the controversy over the various types zombies within the horror genre, Page defines a zombie as “a dead body that has been brought back to life by an as yet unidentified virus which leads to the body to behave in a low intelligent and cannibalistic way.” He emphasizes that the cause of an outbreak is not as important as keeping yourself alive. Beginning with the history of zombies and corresponding research, Page provides basic background information for those not already familiar with the field of “zombiology,” and walks readers through the science of zombie infection and transformation.

The UK guide quickly moves onto defense and disposal issues for varying levels of outbreaks, going so far as to address the concern that a zombie virus could spread from humans to animals. Readers are made aware of the tactical differences between land and water locations, while Page lays out the blueprint for his country’s national defense. He describes the complications that could arise if the UK government attempted a cover-up, illustrating this with a case study of one such incidence.

The most crucial section of this manual is Complete Zombie Defence [sic], which examines the barricades, provisions and skills required for a group’s survival. It tackles the who, what, why and how of the three main phases of the 90-day plan, taking lessons from past historical disasters, both man-made and natural, and including survivors with disabilities. There are a few diagrams, as well as a map of the UK, and critical details of every possible scenario are provided.

Even if readers have never been to the UK, or don’t intend on traveling abroad, there is still plenty of useful ideas to be gleaned from The Official Zombie Handbook for those who wish to prepare themselves for a zombie apocalypse.

~Ursula K. Raphael

July 25, 2010

July/August issue Is Here!

by thiszine

It finally happened! The July/August issue (#4) of this is waiting for you on our website with fiction by James Thibeault and Scott Deckman; poetry by Geer Austin, Micah Muldowney, Birch Taylor, Mariele Ventrice, Ami Xherro, and Lorenzo Buford; essays by Peter Gajdics and Cailin Barrett-Bressack; art by Maddie Scott; photography by John Densky; and reviews by our contributing writers Ursula K. Raphael, Jordon Chiarelli, and John Coleman.

In this issue, we also announce our poet spotlight initiative.

Comments? Questions? Feedback? Let us know!

July 22, 2010

Music Review: Microphonies “Time Kills”

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Microphonies is the brainchild of Sam Farfsing, an LA/NYC based artist concerned with more than just the audio aspects to his music but also the visual. Sam has taken part in numerous bands, including the noise-pop Unk-Cegi, the indie-folk project Bananacorn and his post-punk band Hello Fever, which released two records on Sound Virus in 2005 and makes Sam a busy musician and artist, which translates into his newest effort, Microphonies.

Microphonies recently released the LP Time Kills on LA label Track Number Records, which is, according to Terrorbird Media, “a much needed slice of snarky, spazzy 8-bit synth/noise punk,” to say the least. For close followers of the California electronica sound, the album is a unique piece of artwork, but for listeners interested in something a little more palatable, don’t expect it. The road of musical crystalizing is a long progression if you are to to find yourself on Farfsing’s doorstep.

Farfsing’s creation is genre splitting nonetheless, fusing many drum and bass sounds similar to Aphex Twin (“Mr. And Mrs. Blank”), while remaining raw in the same vain as the glory days of Universal Indicator and their brand of acid techno (“In 3’s”).

Microphonies are easy to get behind because the sampling is obscure and the sound is fresh and in your face. Top tracks include “Vexxed” and “Vatican City Pretties.”

July 19, 2010

CanLit: Joey Comeau’s Supernatural Serial

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The National Post’s literary arts section, The Afterword, is featuring daily excerpts from Joey Comeau’s new novel, One Bloody Thing After Another, until July 23. The novel was released in May on ECW Press. The serial began Tuesday, July 12, with the horror novel’s prologue, continuing with another two chapters each day. Check out a running compilation of all chapters posted to date here.

One Bloody Thing After Another blends aspects of horror and the supernatural with a storyline following several young people met with troubling life encounters. Jackie, a vandal with a heartfelt cause, is met with legal obstacles; sisters Ann and Margaret are busy dealing with their mother, who spends her days chained up in the basement; ghosts, violence, and lesbianic lust fill in the rest of the horror novel. One Bloody Thing stays along the same lines as previous Comeau work. The comedic and sensational grapple with the abysmal for a blunt, empathetic depiction of human experience. For an in depth look at the novel, read this formidable review at Fangoria.

Comeau, aged 29, is one of Canada’s leading transgressive fiction authors. He is best known for his collaboration with visual artist Emily Horne on the superlatively acclaimed webcomic A Softer World. He has published four novels, including Lockpick Pornography, a self-attributed “genderqueer adventure story”, and the experimental Overqualified which is told through a series of darkly worded job application letters. Comeau is an openly queer author, often satirically and absurdly picking apart societal sexual constructs in his fiction.

July 19, 2010

Head’s Up: Internship Opportunity with Bitch Magazine

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Bitch Magazine has two internship openings in their Portland, Oregon office for the Fall 2010, one in publishing and the second in new media. Information about the internships is available here.

July 18, 2010

From our ‘zine: Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch

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Read Thomas Burchfield’s essay on director Sam Peckinpah‘s movie The Wild Bunch, published in the May 2010 issue of this.

Thomas’s forthcoming supernatural novel, Dragon’s Ark, is due Fall 2010 from Ambler House and his eleven mini-articles were published in the East Bay Express Best of the East Bay for 2010.

July 14, 2010

Awards: Neil Gaiman and Olufemi Terry

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Neil Gaiman won the Carnegie medal for The Graveyard Book, about a boy named Nobody Owens who is raised by ghosts in a graveyard, an idea that initially came to him 25 years ago. Gaiman says, “It’s particularly fantastic for me because it was the first literary prize I was ever aware of as a kid…it’s like writing a letter to yourself aged seven.”

The Carnegie medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children.

Olufemi Terry won the 2010 Caine Prize for African Writing, Africa’s leading literary award, for the short story “Stickfighting Days,” published in Chimurenga, volume 12/13.

Terry was born in Sierra Leone of African and Antillean parentage. He grew up in Nigeria, the U.K, and Cote d’Ivoire and pursued a university in New York. Since then Terry has lived in Kenya and worked as a journalist and analyst in Somalia and Uganda. He currently lives in Cape Town where he is writing his first novel.

The Economist’s literary editor, Fiammetta Rocco, called the story “ambitious, brave and hugely imaginative… The execution of this story is so tight and the presentation so cinematic, it confirms Olufemi Terry as a talent with an enormous future.”

July 13, 2010

“Vampires are bloody annoying”

by thiszine

Robyn Riley at Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper declares “vampires are bloody annoying” (pun intended?) in a rant against Stephanie Meyer, specifically, and all things vampiric in general. Robyn, we hope you keep one eye open at night!

July 12, 2010

Bye-bye Book Reviewers!

by thiszine

Last week, the Toronto Star eliminated the only remaining position of a full-time, salaried book reviewer writing for a Canadian newspaper, Quill & Quire reported. Geoff Pevere, who served as the Star’s book reviewer for two and half years and as the film critic prior to that, will now pen a general entertainment column.

Does Pevere’s reassignment signal further shifts within the newspaper industry? The Washington Post eliminated its separate book review section last year in favor of shifting the reviews to the Outlook and Style & Arts sections. Book reviews also appear on the Post’s website.

With a multitude of online freelance or volunteer reviewers (including our own) the loss of a full-time reviewer doesn’t necessary indicate a lack of book lovers. Online reviews can be accessed globally and, with the growing popularity of e-readers and electronic mobile devices, are available instantaneously. Serious readers often seek a variety of opinions on recently published books and the Internet offers a range of reviews from a variety of sources. Pevere’s move from book reviewer to entertainment columnist is likely a stronger indication of the continued trend of newspaper readers electing to read news online instead of in print.

July 9, 2010

Book Review: Here There Be Monsters

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by HP Newquist

Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
(August 2010, $18, 80 pages)

If you were entertained by the kraken in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and engaged by the huge find in Discovery Channel’s Colossal Squid special, you are sure to be interested in Here There Be Monsters: The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid. Author HP Newquist takes the reader on a journey from the legendary monster that preys on unsuspecting sea vessels to the discoveries of the giant squid and, most recently, the colossal squid.

In the prologue, Newquist depicts a personal encounter with the mythological beast and continues on to describe the various tales of sea serpents from around the world. Newquist explains why cartographers marked the unexplored regions of their maps with the ominous warning, “Here Be Dragons,” or similar phrases. The author also describes the reasons most stories about the strange beasts were dismissed as the ramblings of men too long at sea.

As Newquist guides the reader through the history of these myths, he progresses from sailors’ accounts of demonic creatures attacking ships to the first attempts by scientists to officially name and classify the enormous organisms. Many naturalists believed that the source of the legend was based on oversized specimens found washed up on beaches. Scientists were determined to find evidence that there was such a thing as the giant squid. Eventually, researchers came to suspect that there was another, larger species of squid – deadlier than the giant squid.

In addition to the stories and scientific research, Newquist includes illustrations and photographs of everything that is discussed in the book, including still pictures of live giant squid, and the recovered body of a colossal squid featured on the Discovery Channel. There is also a bibliography and links listed for further information at the end of the book. Lastly, the author poses the question, “Could there be bigger ones that we have yet to discover?”

~Ursula K. Raphael

July 8, 2010

Poetry on the Go

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Have you heard about The Itinerant Poetry Library? A free, traveling library that has operated continuously since May 2006, The Itinerant Poetry Library is both a library of “lost and forgotten” poetry as well as a project to collect the sounds, poems, and poetry of the places and people visited on each stop. So far, the library has visited 12 countries, 29 cities, and more than 150 different locations. Best of all, there’s no late fees! Not in a location where The Itinerant Poetry Library is passing through? Then visit the library on twitter, which is almost like reading poetry.

July 7, 2010

Review: Scott Leftwich and the Atarians

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Recently ranked as the 22nd top act to ever hail from their home-state of North Carolina (yes, there is such a rank), Scott Leftwich and the Atarians are an ode to the ‘good ‘ol days’ of American hard-rock. Fusing many 70’s and 80’s influential sounds, Leftwich and crew pay homage to the greats – Foghat, Sabbath, Kiss and embrace the unique sound of the south; the song, “Let Me Throw it to You,” is extremely Skynard-esque.

The band has the ability to take on blues chord progressions with ease yet know when to kick it up a notch i.e. “Desperate Measures.” This is why they’ve opened for such acts as Journey, Ace Frehley, and Def Leppard and even played venues like the Whiskey a Go Go in Hollywood.

You can check them out on Reverb Nation, Facebook, or MySpace.

If you’re a fan of classic rock, open up and allow some youth into the mix – Scott Leftwich and the Atarians are a new twist to a classic sound.

July 4, 2010

Do you like us?

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Do you like us enough to “like” us on Facebook? Updates, news, surprises! What reason do you have for not joining us on Facebook, unless you’re a Luddite? (And don’t worry, we know who you are!)

July 3, 2010

Poem: Leaf by Adin Vaewsorn

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Read the poem “Leaf” by Adin Vaewsorn and published in the May 2010 issue of this.

July 3, 2010

Women, Writing, and She Writes

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Kamy Wicoff, co-founder of the blog and social media space for women writers, She Writes, (Deborah Siegel is the other co-founder) answers five questions about her work, the blog, and learning to love your job.

July 2, 2010

Somewhere a dog barked….

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In a post on Slate, Rosecrans Baldwin muses on the surprising (over)usage of the barking dog in writing, from Charlene Harris and Henning Mankell to Harper Lee, James Joyce, and Colum McCann.

Baldwin says: “Most authors… employ the trope as a narrative rest stop, an innocuous way to fill space and time; since the bark is hollow, a reader can read anything into it, or nothing at all… For all we know, these dogs are off-camera sound machines set to woof.”

What about the mewling cats? Or the bellowing cows? If a dog barks in a novel and no one is there to read, does the dog still bark?

July 1, 2010

Poem: Bad Boy by Ivan Jenson

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Read Ivan Jenson’s playful poem Bad Boy from the May 2010 issue of this.