Friday, July 29, 2011

Granta’s The Sisters Brothers Makes Booker Prize Longlist

Congratulations to Patrick deWitt and Granta! DeWitt’s second novel, The Sisters Brothers, is one of thirteen books on the longlist for the Man Booker Prize. Set during the California Gold Rush, The Sisters Brothers puts a new spin on traditional Westerns while paying tribute to the classics that came before. In this darkly humorous novel, Eli and Charlie Sisters are a pair of hit-men brothers tracking down a prospector they’ve been hired to kill, until Eli starts to have some serious doubts about his murderous lifestyle.

The shortlist for this prestigious British award will be announced on September 6, when the contenders will be narrowed down to six books.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Now in English from Soho Crime: The First in a Thrilling Danish Series

Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis’s crime fiction novels about Red Cross nurse Nina Borg are already quite popular in Denmark, but this November the first in the series, The Boy in the Suitcase, will finally be published in English by Soho Crime. Scandinavian Books included The Boy in the Suitcase in an article on some of the region’s best new crime fiction, calling it “outstanding” and “a great mystery by two interesting writers.”

The book deals with the repercussions of an alarming discovery. An old friend of Nina’s reenters her life with instructions on how to find a particular suitcase and a plea for her to protect its contents, but inside the suitcase is a nearly dead three-year-old boy. Nina’s attempts to unravel the mysteries surrounding the child lead her down a dangerous path. Cara Black, bestselling author of Murder in the Marais, says the novel is "…stunning. Hooked me from the beginning. Immigrants, the Danish bourgeoisie, and the criminal underworld collide in a moving, fast-paced thriller with psychological depth." Now that an English translation is being published, a whole new international audience can enjoy this exciting story.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

From Meme to Movie Theaters, Disinfo's Latest Documentary

Jimmy McMillan is best known for representing the Rent is Too Damn High party.  His outbursts (mainly bellowing reiterations of his party’s name) have featured in hundreds of videos online, reaching viral status on sites like Youtube and Funny or Die.  There remains more to Mr. McMillan’s story than a profane tagline, however, and two film makers have recently finished a documentary that peers into McMillian’s life, his history leading up to the net-famous 2010 gubernatorial debate, and how the overnight popularity has affected his life.

Director Aaron Fisher-Cohen, other film-makers on the project, and McMillan himself will be in attendance tomorrow night at the Rerun Theater in Brooklyn for the film’s sneak preview.  The movie, aptly titled Damn!, will be available August 16th as a DVD or download from The Disinformation Company.  Between McMillian’s current escapades and his eclectic history as a stripping, soul-singing black belt Vietnam veteran, Damn! promises not to disappoint.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Coming Up From Soho: The Funny Man

John Warner’s debut novel, The Funny Man (Soho Press), is a satire of modern celebrity culture. The titular “funny man” starts out as an ordinary comic, but when he comes up with a ridiculous gimmick—performing with his entire fist inside his mouth—he suddenly finds his life transformed by newfound popularity and the hazards of fame that ensue. His descent into the pitfalls of celebrity even goes as far as him shooting an unarmed man. As a Publisher's Weekly review puts it, "America's favorite comedian is on trial for manslaughter, and "the funny man" 's lawyer, Barry, has a unique defense: not guilty by way of celebrity.... [An] equally sickening and humorous portrait of the celebrity as a delusional man."

Warner’s book is getting praise from fellow writers as well: Jessica Francis Kane, author of The Report, says "I'm not at all surprised that John Warner would invent the perfect Everyman for our age: a comic whose meteoric rise to fame is based on a stupid gimmick. Half first-person tell-all, half third-person takedown -- a brilliant structure -- The Funny Man is a whip-smart satire of celebrity culture. It is hysterical, and sad, and ultimately indicts us all. An excellent novel." The Funny Man will be available this September.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Moby Dick With an Artful Twist

If you love books— or even if you don’t, you at least have one book that you love—a book that lodged itself in your heart or brain or some other part of your insides at some point in time and refused to get out. There is always one. For Matt Kish, that book is Moby Dick. Kish read the book for the first time at a young age and quickly it became his passion.  In a recent article in the Huffington Post about Kish’s new book, Kish says, "['Moby Dick'] has been such a companion for me my whole life… I've read it a bunch of times, I saw the TV movie, various comic book adaptations -- it's been such a part of me." There must be something so surreal about seeing and appreciating all those other interpretations of the American classic and then being inducted into that long legacy that Moby Dick has inspired.

 In August 2009 Kish, armed with a Signet classic copy of the book and various art supplies, set out to illustrate Moby Dick one page at a time—posting his artwork on his blog. Kish says he prefers to be referred to as an illustrator rather than an artist, but his illustrations really are works of art. The images he creates are multilayered—stacking images on top of one another. As the base for many of the pictures he uses pages gathered from a variety of discarded books. He uses various mediums, implementing everything from ballpoint pen to marker, paint, crayon, ink, and watercolor. His unique artwork got him noticed quickly, and it did not take long for Kish to make a deal with Tin House to turn his art into a book. Kish finished his project on June 29th, 2011. He reflects on the project on Tin House’s website, “I see now that the project was an attempt to fully understand this magnificent novel, to walk through every sun-drenched word, to lift up all the hatches and open all the barrels, to smell, taste, hear, and see every seabird, every shark, every sailor, every harpooner, and every whale,” he says. “It was a hard thing, a very painful thing, but the novel now lives inside me in a way it never could have before.”
Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page is due for release by Tin House in October 2011.

If you want to see some of Matt’s fabulous illustrations because you just can’t wait until October,  the Huffington Post has a slide show accompanying their article about Matt and his book. Tin House also has a few illustrations posted on their page. Matt also has his original blog that started all this in the first place:


Friday, July 15, 2011

New Essay and Novel from Soho Press Author Alex Shakar

In Alex Shakar’s essay for The Millions, “The Year of Wonders,” he talks about his experiences ten years ago surrounding his first novel, The Savage Girl, which got him a huge advance and respect from important figures in the publishing world. Then everything fell apart in a mess of spectacularly bad timing when the memorial service for his editor and friend Robert Jones fell on the day before September 11, 2001, a week before the long-anticipated release of Shakar’s book.  Suddenly his story’s once timely ideas on consumerism and a post-ironic society were deemed irrelevant. The essay has been garnering attention all over; so far, it’s been mentioned in The New York Observer, The Awl, The Rumpus, and the Bookforum “Daily Review.” 

Now Shakar’s back with a new novel entitled Luminarium, set to debut this August from Soho Press. Kirkus Reviews praised his latest work: “Virtual and “real” reality intertwine in unpredictable ways in this ingenious novel; to his credit, Shakar’s approach is more philosophical than sci-fi…Shakar succeeds in a delicate balancing act here, securing the novel simultaneously (and paradoxically) in real, virtual and supernatural worlds.” It sounds like this time Shakar might finally get the success and acclaim that his writing deserves. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Reviews for Wyatt from Soho Press

We’ve written about Garry Disher’s Wyatt here before, but as the novel gets closer to its release date from Soho Press this August, it’s getting more and more critical acclaim. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review, saying “A jewel heist that appears straightforward proves anything but in Australian author Disher's outstanding seventh thriller featuring Melbourne bank robber Wyatt Wareen, last seen in 1997's The Fallout… The spare, economical prose perfectly suits this tale of mad love and crimes gone wrong, which will remind many of Westlake's better Parker novels--and should boost the reputation of Disher, winner of Australia's Ned Kelly Award, in the U.S.”
Other reviews have been very positive as well:
“Wyatt Wareen has been away for a while, but he’s back in Melbourne and looking for a score… Disher also writes the excellent Inspector Hal Challis procedurals (Chain of Evidence, 2007), but a new Wyatt novel—we’ve described the series as “criminal procedurals” (Kick Back, 1993)—is cause for celebration. Though the ensemble cast is sharply drawn, the heart of the story is Wyatt, a cool-headed, taciturn, unsentimental thief with a code…Wyatt may be a man out of time, but crime fiction like this is timeless.” -Booklist
“Disher’s depiction of Melbourne’s underworld is a revelation—undeniably lurid and harsh yet humming with a vibrancy that lends a soulful note to the story. In his first Wyatt thriller in 13 years, Disher, author of the Hal Challis police procedurals (The Dragon Man; Blood Moon) excels at capturing the complexity and tension of life on the run, and his characters exude a visceral energy as they compete to survive. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy atmospheric, character-driven crime thrillers.” -Library Journal
“Garry Disher’s “Wyatt” is a tightly plotted, entertaining heist-gone-wrong. A nice mix of characters—smart, ruthless, not so smart, trying to get by, and just plain crazy—helps build tension throughout various double crosses…Right up to the final pages there’s a sense of surprise as events develop, and Disher resists tying too neat a bow on a zigzagging story. Wyatt may be distant, but his story is a satisfying, brisk read.” -Suspense Magazine

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fantastic Women: 18 Tales of the Surreal and the Sublime from Tin House

When your book is getting praise from the likes of Ursula K. Leguin and the writing within conjures up the ghost of Angela Carter’s writing, you know you have something really good on your hands.  Tin House is due to release Fantastic Women August 1st of this year, and I can say for certain that this blogger will be eagerly awaiting her copy. The book features 18 short stories that have an aura of the fantastic and surreal and an introduction by esteemed writer, Joy Williams.

Last week, Publisher’s Weekly wrote a mixed review of the book, but cited such highlights as:  “Karen Russell's "The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach," Julia Elliott's "The Wilds," Gina Ochsner's "Song of the Selkie," and Stacey Richter's "The Doll Awakens,” saying these stories “Create compellingly weird and weirdly compelling narratives by forcing believable, specific characters to grapple with the unexplainable.”

Tin House also put up an interview  in their blog with contributing writer, Lucy Corin, asking her about her writing style and her inspiration for her story, “The Entire Predicament.”  It looks like this is only the first interview of many with the contributors to Fantastic Women, so check back on their blog every now and then if you want to see these fantastic women writers get their brains picked.

If you aren’t familiar with the writings of these authors and want to get a feel for their writing, Tin House has also put up an excerpt from Aimee Bender’s story “Americca” on their site.