I’m going out in about an hour to see the newest Harry Potter movie, the 5th one I believe. It doesn’t look too bad, I’ll let you know when I get back from it though. I joined a book exchange site today, it’s called BookMooch. You sign up and make a list of the books you are willing to give away. Then you look for books you might want. People ask for books on your list and you mail them to them. They do the same for you. It’s based around a point system, so the only money involved is what you pay to ship (parcel post). I signed up a couple hours ago and I already have requests for several of my books. As I use it more I’ll tell you how it goes.
That’s it really, but you know keep your eye here for cool stuff. Later. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
There is a depressing article over at the Washington Post. Before you read anymore of this I think it best that you click over there and read it. I’ll wait, semi-patiently, if you are lucky by the time you get back, I won’t have have become bored and wandered off to play video games… …. …. *bleeping and blooping noises can be heard in the background*. I’m back hopefully you are as well. So where do you stand on the whole Harry Potter thing? Do you agree with Mr. Charles? If you disagree can you say why? Can you point out the thriving reading culture in the United States that he happens to be missing (I’m missing it to). That might be to hard of a question, so here is any easy one for you: point out where in the Harry Potter books there is an instance of greatness, great writing, great characters, great plot line, great anything? What, that might be the harder question. I’m grateful I won’t be working this Friday when all the over boils all over my store. Regardless of whether the book deserves such attention and praise, it will receive it, people don’t invest that type of energy into something without it delivering, even if the delivery is largely delusional. I do hope that Mr. Charles is wrong though and that some of the people when they are done with Harry Potter will stand up, look around, and walk out of the cave into the light.
Austin Grossman’s debut novel is as spectacular as it’s subject and characters. Tackling the much maligned genre of comic super heroes, Grossman eschews the over the top action, thin to non existent story lines, and bad dialog that seem to hamper the genre. He has approached his subject seriously, putting the focus on the people rather than their powers. Assuming all the assorted tropes that every long running comic uses (other dimensions, time travel, magic, etc., etc., etc. ) to extend its life and make some small sense of their convoluted, contradictory stories, he creates a believable world. The book is populated by even more believable characters, characters with body image, self-esteem and assorted other issues. No “whams”, “biffs”, or “kapows” can be found in the pages of the book. Instead he emphasizes the very real problems of alienation, solitude, and being an outsider. Taking a look at the psychology of his characters as opposed to their super physiology. A look that I found both fascinating and compelling.
The story centers on two characters: long time super villain, Dr. Impossible and a brand new super hero, Fatale. Impossible has broken out of super prison again and immediately puts into action his latest plan for world domination. Fatale, a cyborg and former NSA assassin, has recently joined the world’s premiere super hero team. Her new team was that put Impossible into prison. The story revolves around these two characters and builds to the conclusion one imagines when thinking of comic books. A secluded island fortress bristling with the latest and deadliest technology,and a team of super heroes assaulting it. A violent conflict ensues with Impossible facing down the super team. This, though is not the point. Grossman uses the settings and super hero trappings merely as dressing. Dressing for a much richer and meatier exploration of what it means to be alienated. Remember back to your middle school or high school years, were you part of the in crowd? Were you one of those people who everyone was vying to sit with at lunch, hang out with after school, or even just be somewhat associated with in any way? It is likely you were not, even if you were I know you were troubled about just where you fit into things and how. This is the bulk of Grossman’s book. Exploring the emotions and feelings of alienation and being an outsider. What strange alchemical reaction turns some kids into ‘winners’ and others into ‘losers’? What damage does this do to their psyches? How long can it last? Most of us outgrow the sense of alienation or rejection we sensed in high school and earlier and at times the characters can appear juvenile for their continued existence in a world that largely ends once the growth spurts stop. But, perhaps this is more subtle commentary by Grossman, comics it seems have never grown up, nor have the characters that populate their pages. Perhaps those of us who reading them have yet to as well…
If you’re interested in checking it go to your local library, bookstore or check it out here at amazon. Mr. Grossman’s website can be found here.