Archive for August, 2011

23rd August
written by Tony

For some people it’s hard to imagine how something so ubiquitous and generally unnoticed as typefaces (or, more colloquially, fonts) could be interesting enough to write a book about. Of course, the design community spends a great deal of time and effort considering, analyzing, using, staring at and generally obsessing over typography and fonts, but it is rare that a book like this would be aimed at the non-design affiliated. This is a shame, because, as Garfield amply and ably demonstrates in his book, type is fascinating. Its origins and tradition closely associated with the people, and the era, that gave birth to it. Most people will open their font menu and choose a font without ever considering why that it exists, why it looks the way it does or even what its name means. Baskerville, Garamond, Goudy — fonts yes — but also people. People who invested significant time and fortune into crafting a something that was intensely personal, men who knew that, if successful, their lives and work would never be noticed by the very people they were invested in: readers. (more…)
11th August
written by Steph

I know that I am not the only one out there who has been blown away during a first encounter with an author, vowing to read everything he or she has written, only to then find that nothing else they have written measures up to that first book. And I'm not just saying that the other books that you've read have been good but just not quite up to par with that first dalliance, but rather books that are so not your speed that if they were your first impression of the author, you'd never read him again. For me, that’s been my experience with Douglas Coupland. He was an author I had written off without ever trying, only to finally read Generation A, which I then fell madly in love with. I followed that up with Microserfs last year, which I found really painful and did not really enjoy at all, and now we have Player One. Which I also did not enjoy, but this time it was to the extent that I actually could not even finish it. I frequently pick up books and read a bit of them only to put them down because I’m not in the mood and they’re not gelling at the moment. I don’t really consider these books to be abandoned because I don’t really consider myself to have started them, but I have to say that it’s exceedingly rare these days for me to pick up a book, read a good chunk of it and then set it aside because I just don’t want to finish reading it. But I found Player One so unengaging and lackluster that despite reading about 80 pages of it, when I threw it into my “purge pile” I heaved a huge sigh of relief. (more…)
8th August
written by Steph

Don’t you just hate it when you have this huge backlog of books to review for you blog (like, we’re talking months behind here…) and you’re starting to feel like you’re making forward progress and then wham! You find yourself having to write about a book that was so totally mediocre (if inoffensive) that you kind of no longer have anything to say about it anymore. Because let me tell you, it’s not that the intervening months between my having finished Matrimony and actually writing about it have been unkind to the book so much as they have been indifferent. As in, if it were not for the notes I hastily jotted down when I finished it, I might not be able to say anything about it at all, because it has not really endured in my memory. I am thinking that we may have to retitle the book “Mehtrimony”, because that’s pretty much how I’m feeling about this book. I kid, I kid. I just mean this book is kind of forgettable. [Also, please don’t comment and say that you never have a backlog of books to review for your blog because I will both: a) hate you, and b) not believe you.] (more…)
4th August
written by Steph
For those of you who have those new-fangled fancy devices known as ereaders, do I have some news for you: for the month of August, Harper Perennial is offering up 20 ebooks for the price of $20! And no, you don't have to buy all 20 in order to enjoy HP's generosity, individual titles can be purchased for just 99¢ apiece. What a steal! If this summer has seen you burning through your current home library, now just might be the time to stock up for the Fall and Winter like a good little ant. What got me particularly excited about this promotion is that most of the books on offer are ones that I've never even heard of before, but nothing grabs my attention like cheap books! Because as we all know, cheap does not necessarily mean crummy. Anyway, of the 20 books on offer, I've only heard of four of them, and not all that much about two of those options... more I just knew that they existed, since reading their titles wasn't a wholly novel experience (pun intended?). For those of you interested, the titles involved in this promotion are:
  • The Gospel of Anarchy by Justin Taylor
  • Celebrity Chekhov by Ben Greenman
  • Stretch by Neal Pollack
  • Everything is Going to be Great by Rachel Shukert
  • Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky
  • Diary of a Very Bad Year by Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager
  • Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne
  • It Could be Worse, You Could be Me by Ariel Leve
  • Who By Fire by Diana Spechler
  • Grab On To Me Tightly As If I Knew The Way by Bryan Charles
  • Down and Out on Murder Mile by Tony O'Neill
  • Everything is Wrong with Me by Jason Mulgrew
  • Postcards from a Dead Girl by Kirk Farber
  • A Common Pornography by Kevin Sampsell
  • 86'd by Dan Fante
  • Ugly Man by Dennis Cooper
  • I am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
  • Town House by Tish Cohen
  • The Average American Male by Chad Kultgen
  • The Summer of Naked Swim Parties by Jessica Anya Blau
Isn't that a glorious selection? And it can be yours for just $20!!! Purchasing is easy, as this promotion is available through all your usual ebook purveyors. BUT, best of all, if you check out IndieBound, you can potentially purchase some new reading material through a local bookseller who sells Google ebooks and send a little love their way. What could be better? Actually this: if you're on the fence about plonking down your hard-earned dinero for all of these titles, HP is hosting a giveaway for a $20 giftcard, which if I'm not mistaken, would cover the cost of all of these books! Funny how these things work, no? If you're located in the U.S. and have a Facebook account, you can enter the sweepstakes here. And for those of you wondering, I'm not getting anything for writing this post. I just thought this deal was too good to keep quiet about and wanted to live up to my self-dubbed nickname of The Book Temptress. Hat tip to GalleyCat, where I first read this happy news. Tell me, which of the books on this list are most tempting to you? Personally, I have my eye on Bad Marie, Everything is Going to be Great, Grab Onto Me Tightly As If I Knew the Way, Postcards from a Dead Girl, and Town House. Of course, if I were lucky enough to win that giftcard (which, for some reason I'm not eligible to enter for... durrrrr), I would be a fool to turn down any of these titles.
3rd August
written by Steph

In the 2+ years (we're swiftly approaching 3 years... where has the time flown?!?) that Tony and I have been running this website, I think we've covered about one short story collection per year, if that. Try as I might, I just don't really connect well with short stories. They so often leave me feeling bereft and unsatisfied, like there just isn't enough there for me to really sink my teeth into. I very much want to be the kind of reader who enjoys the art of the short story, since I feel like people who genuinely like short fiction are in a reading class well above mine. Me, I tend to stick with strict fiction, occasionally meandering into narrative non-fiction... but one day when I am a wise reader, I would like to dive voraciously into volumes of short stories and maybe even poetry. Alas, that day has not yet come, and so I still stick to pedestrian works of writing that hover somewhere around 350 pages. To me, that's the amount of time it takes to tell a story and good. Of course, judging by Van Booy's debut collection, The Secret Lives of People in Love, he'd strongly disagree with me. Some of the stories are only THREE pages long... approximately 1% of a regular length novel! If brevity is the soul of wit, then Van Booy must be a very witty man indeed. (more…)