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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Thor: god of thunder review

Thor: God of Thunder /
The god butcher
Collects issues #1-5
Jason Aaron & Esad Ribic
$24.99 (Hardback)
124 pages


With the popularity of Marvel Comic's movie machine, Thor is certainly gaining some readers. For those interested in what propels this character, Jason Aaron's run of Thor: God of Thunder is a great place to start. The narrative twines three versions of Thor from different times in his life. We get to know the young Thor who cannot yet lift Mjolnir, the Avenger's Thor, and finally a older almost broken Thor (now one-eyed and ruling what's left of Asgard).

These stories are held together with a villain named, rather bluntly, Gorr, but who nonetheless is an intriguing character: during one scene in which he's bound our young Asgardian hero and is busy inflicting pain, Gorr is interrupted by Thor's followers and pleads with the berserkers to not fight as he is trying to free them, insisting, "Do not throw your lives away on something as useless as a god! He isn't worth your devotion!" Gorr thinks mortals' lives would be better without any gods and all and is busy ridding the universe of what he considers a dangerous pest. As the story progresses, Aaron deftly builds our sympathy while balancing the actual atrocity of this character's actions--intent and impact on a cosmic scale.

Supporting Aaron's writing is Esad Ribic's art (who some may recognize from Wolverine, Loki, and Uncanny X-Force). His work here is impressive--adeptly shifting perspectives and including enough detail to encourage looking again without drowning the composition. Colorists Dean White and Ive Svorcina need a shout here as well as coloring is gorgeous.

While the first trade-paperback is a pretty fast read, the series is in-depth and worth checking-out, and is a good addition to your library's (or your own) collection.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review of Yolotl

Jenny Drai over at Stiched, Stapled, Bound has written a terrific review of Yolotl by Lourdes Figueroa that y'all should definitely check out! http://stitchedstapledbound.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review of Battling Boy by Paul Pope

image from battling boy

Battling Boy 
By Paul Pope
202 pages
First Second 2013
$24.99
Ages: 12 - 112   

Paul Pope is one of the rawk stars of the comic book world. One of his first works, THB, blended a manga pace with a continental flair, and since then he's definitely honed this aesthetic and narrative style. What really excites me about Battling Boy, besides being a complete Paul Pope vehicle published in quite a while, is the unabashed youthful quality of the book. While many of Pope's other titles deal with sometimes pretty adult themes (I'm thinking of you 100% and Heavy Liquid), Battling Boy immediately announces itself as a story for kids, but still enjoyable for readers who enjoy a loose expressive and fast-paced style twined with an adventure / coming -of-age narrative.  And for those of us a little older it's also a lot of fun to just look through the book and be reminded of all those awesome 70s record album-covers! 

Battling Boy is actually a young god, or perhaps a demigod, who on his thirteenth birthday is dropped off on an earth that is similar to ours yet beset by monsters. As Battling Boy's dad puts it, "...grim for now a plague of monstrosities pours down upon her [Arcopolis], battering her buttresses under abusive burden." (A lot of alliteration there, and perhaps a little over-wrought but I keenly recall noticing the differences in vernacular between adults in my life and myself. Plus his dad looks even more heavy-metal than Thor.) Like many current YA dystopian narratives,Battling Boy begins with the death of a hero, and while this early tragedy is perhaps a little easy, it does set the tone so that we understand that at least some of the monsters, despite looking a little silly, mean business. As well, it provides a plausible narrative for the next hero, Aurora Haggard. Anyway, our young hero is given several t-shirts each with a different beast upon it (an orangutan, t-rex, fox, etc.) which imparts a particular strength; yet when BB first encounters a large car-devouring monster he is tossed around like a doll and must surreptitiously call upon his father for help. From here, the narrative takes off and nicely sets up future volumes. There's a lot to discover in Battling Boy and it bears multiple reading.  It's a great book, and I highly recommend giving it a read or adding it to your collection.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Banned Books Week 2013

September 22 began Banned Books Week--seven days when libraries and educators encourage everyone to consider the history and effects of censorship. Librarians are a varied group of people--they have different belief systems and different politics; yet, did you know that American librarians subscribe to an ethical code? Right?! Number two on that list reads, "We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources."  Yet the question still remains, "Why?" I mean shouldn't some materials be censored? Aren't some books* dangerous?

Well, yes; ideas are dangerous, just as they are vital, challenging, and absolutely necessary. Censorship is so offensive because at it's center it is dehumanizing. It makes that assumption that the reader does not have the intellectual capacity to disagree with an opinion, or to recognize the difference between written narratives and the realities of his or her life. Censorship is also dehumanizing to the censor as it limits one of humans' greatest strengths: communication. No longer can the censor have a conversation with another as that information has been removed from the dialogue entirely. Being human is to swim in a world of ideas and communicate those in order to learn more about the world.

twitter banned books
Banned Books Week on Twitter

We must accept the responsibilities posed by education, by knowledge, and by wisdom. If we are lucky enough to have free access to information, then I think we must also take responsibility for our communities, and for making sure that freedom of information is played forward to others. Kurt Vonnegut once stated that, "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Wisdom is gained through experience and dialogue and sometimes, if we are lucky, through observation (either of real people and situations or those found in books and movies). (To take a look at some other literary greats' thoughts on censorship, take a look here.) So this is a good week to go visit your local library! Check out a banned book!


*And let's not get started about comics! The Comic Code Authority came about mostly thanks to this guy, and we've felt the impact ever since. Comics are some of the least recognized, but most often challenged and banned books. Luckily we have the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today and they are totally worth checking out.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Throats and ears

Last night's reading at Small Press Traffic was great! Lourdes read from Yolotl and it was the first time I had heard her read a good portion of the text aloud. I have read Yolotl several times now (full disclosure: I, along with my wife and co-editor Ammie, published Lourdes in our Spooky Actions Books chapbook series) but hearing the poems arc and dive through the air to my ear reminded me how much poetry is an experience of the body. Lourdes includes throats in many of her poems, insisting on the body, so that I began paying more attention to both the sounds emitting from her throat and the way that these waves of sounds are actually things themselves too.

A beautiful poem can be read horribly, but when a gorgeous poem is read by someone so that the poem comes to life with the reader's voice, wow--there is definitely some magic there. If you live in the Bay Area definitely keep an eye out here and here for other readings!

Lourdes with her book Yolotl

Monday, September 09, 2013

Small Press Traffic reading in S.F. on 9/15!

I am really happy to announce that Spooky Actions Books (which I co-edit) will be releasing yolotl by Lourdes Figueroa on September 13th! To see the beautiful original cover by the fantastic Hanae Rivera, click here. And if you like what you read there, please come by Small Press Traffic's reading on September 15th at:

Artists' Television Access
992 Valencia Street, SF
5pm, reading starts at 5:30pm
$6-10

Here are the readers! 

WENDY TREVINO

Wendy Trevino lives in Oakland and works in San Francisco. Her first chapbook 128-131 was released by Perfect Lovers Press in June 2013. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Abraham Lincoln, the American Reader, Armed Cell, The Capilano Review, Hi Zero, LIES and Mrs. Maybe.

NICOLE TRIGG

Nicole Trigg lives in Oakland, works at Small Press Distribution, and is the author of a chapbook, Double Cup. She recently collaborated with strangers to make the literary magazine Birkensnake 6, and critical writing is forthcoming in Jacket2.

LOURDES FIGUEROA

Lourdes Figueroa was born in Yuba City, California during one of the trips her parents made from Mexico to the USA when they worked in the campo tilling the soil for tomatoes. She grew up in the betweens of everything not from here and not from over there. She is a native of limbo nation. Lourdes is a proud 2009 and 2011 VONA alum. Some of her work has been published in the SF Poet’s 11 2008 & 2010, an Anthology of poems selected by Jack Hirschman, and also in Generations: a journal of ideas and images. She recently received her MFA in Creative Writing focusing in poetry at the University of San Francisco. She currently works as an interpreter, translator, and advocate. Lourdes believes in your lung, your throat, your tongue. She has a new chapbook, yolotl, coming out through Spooky Action Books. She will be reading poems from this.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Song for my home


Bees, a pickup, cold bottles of beer, pocket knives, all to appease those in a system which is essentially a song, a coveted cauldron, a bit of old-story-fluff skidding through the days and nights, always involving whoever it can. People most of all, and almost all of the time. Plural of which is generation, insisting as it were, on the very altar itself, for some control to balance the unending progression of this, this, this, over and over until an altar may as well be the front sofa. Grass is a little taller here, a little golden, and the light strikes upon your eyes just right to blind about 30% of the populace. 5% of the populace are writers (of which a small percentage is also blind) and are happy to describe events to those who have long ceased caring. So next time you’re there, maybe for that weekend-rated vacation, maybe to look at old-timey shit, and a woman cocks her head, points it your direction, just walk away and stop breathing; grab a coffee with the non-dairy creamer at the R&L minimarket, and walk the fuck out. You may not hear it, but parts of your ears do, and it is nothing that can be resisted long—it is a dirge thrummmming, demanding, just a piece, just you, just your hands and knees.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

a long day of pillaging...


Remnant

Longboats are crashing into the shore, spilling raiders, who are interested in careers in finance, in social reform, in proliferating methods to raise test scores all the while searching for footholds in the steep pages of the New York Times. Even as we, looking back, want to find our ghosts, the revenants who will condemn us and thus allow us a place in the stupid story—and yet what we find is again only the bright purple flowers that only bloom for two weeks in our back yard, our spouse’s bare feet which tap as she speaks, a dead bee, and all these pieces exploding out booming, shifting between meaning something and not. What I want is probably not even worth it if I can imagine it; it’s just another trap. So if you imagine a time, say “now” or “25,000 years ago” an eight-hour span dissipates into itself, into you, into the idea of Vikings returning to camp after a long day of pillaging. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

a quick rough poem...

Distant solutions

Summon this sun to math, to a small speck
open to fault; a hero can’t travel
this relative distance. Queens, embedded
with boys cheat the North of its wanton joys,
open their mouths wide for geese to escape.
This is the here-ness that is everywhere—
caesura infinitely flat, only
known as summed breath hurtling into glacial
teeth, into a cloud, into the throats who
ring the North, never offering warning.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Next Big Thing


Questions:

What is the working title of the book?


So far it’s In the heart is a forest. There have been much shorter versions (Forest everywhere) and a longer inverted version (In the center of the forest is a heart), but the current title has stuck around the longest.

Where did the idea come from for the book?


It started with a book called Grimoire by Own Davies which is an academic history of spell-books. Around the same time, I had gone on a hike with this ecology-minded long-distance runner, who made the point that in some sense there is no more “natural” landscape as airborne manufactured-particles have touched everything. So that got me thinking about cities. Not in the sense of cities bad, forest good, which I think is kind of a played-out binary and anyway not very accurate, but rather as grown systems with underlying, sometimes hidden, patterns—which is kind of how a lot of magical systems theoretically work. There’s a structure there, but at the same time, these structures have grown organically from specific cultures. Egyptian magic looks a lot different than Hoodoo from the American South even though everybody at the time was borrowing from Egyptian iconography to lend authenticity. Anyhow, I live in Oakland, so in a way every city is Oakland to me. So I started thinking about Oakland, and cities in general, as mythological landscapes, and went from there.



looking at Lake Merritt


What genre does your book fall under?

Lyric pastoral maybe? Slipstream poetry is what came to mind, but then I began to suspect that all poetry is really slipstream, and that that label only works for fiction where borders are perhaps a little more stable.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?


Well, there’s a lot of animals in the poems (foxes and wolves recur) and there’s sort of an us, so maybe it could be filmed sort of shaky cam first person-plural, and there could be some talking animals (but it would be really brief, and they wouldn’t say much). There’s also a series in the book called The North gives flesh to wind which is about power structures, insistence, and mythologies surrounding the North wind where there’s a cast of characters including the North wind (kind of an abstract sovereign), a boy, geese, fur, secret agents, whistling, girls, a Queen with a math-skirt, wolves again. So I think that James Coburn could voice the North wind. He was great in Affliction. That also took place in sort of a mythological cold north.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?


"It’s in the trees, it’s coming."

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The first draft took about two years—I write slowly and non-methodically, which is, like, a one-two punch if your goal is to not put out coherent book-length manuscripts. Which, sadly, is not my goal, but maybe rather a gaol. Actually, that’s too strong a word, it’s just how I write (a lot of unconnected stuff between pieces that work together). Which is okay as a lot of that writing never meets anyone but me, but sort of acts as the dream-life for the poems that I actually send out.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?


Well the book starts with two epigraphs—one from Kate Bush and one from Wallace Stevens. I don’t think those two would get along, but there it is. Some other poets that have a lot of influence are: Jack Spicer, Elizabeth Willis (one of my teachers at Mills), and Lisa Jarnot (whose Night Scenes is one of my favorite books of all time).

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?


Well, you know, some of the poems have been picked up by magazines but I haven’t really started sending it around as a book. I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Thanks to Eric Baus for tagging me for this.

I tag: Sara Mumolo, Nik De Dominic, David Harrison Horton, Reb Livingston


Monday, February 04, 2013


All streets end there
 
end in a place, that is
once I met you there
or rather right here.
Here, where we first
met forever smells
like cedar-smoke,
every street ends
in smoke so when
I kissed you, our
lungs collapsed
into gravity and
escape velocity
to other streets
which take longer
to end here, there
I mean, that place
where we met
and had to leave.

for Ammie