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Overdue October Update

Time for another patented (not really) catch-up post...

OLD FAVORITES

While I'm always excited when one of my favorite creators puts out something new, I do admit to an undercurrent of trepidation. Why? I wonder what I will think of them if the new isn't as good as the old that I love. Like I said, it's only an undercurrent and I mostly can't wait to digest the new. Here are some recent examples...

Crackpot Palace by Jeffrey Ford - This is Ford's fourth story collection and I had only read three of the stories prior to its release (all from anthologies; no stories here were published in F&SF, which is where I first discovered his work), so I was ready to dive in. I was not disappointed. There's love and optimism in the face of a repetitive day in "Polka Dots and Moobeams"; the knotty issue of faith in "Relic"; the classic fantasy gone awry of "The Coral Heart"; the brilliant strangeness of "The Double of My Double Is Not My Double"; the utter creepiness of "Daddy Longlegs of the Evening"; and so much more. If you've never read him, this is as good a place as any to start.

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon - I've stated on numerous occasions that The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is my favorite novel and that The Yiddish Policeman's Union is not far behind. His new novel is the first one to not have any genre affiliations in quite a few years, though it is partially set in a record store (I know music isn't a genre but it is something I love). There were some mixed reviews when it came out but I had no problems with it. I love the way Chabon puts sentences together (one section is a 15 page sentence!) and his character work is strong. Put simply, this is a joy to read.

Aimee Mann/Charmer - I've been in love with Mann's songs since Whatever, her solo debut in 1993 (though I did like Til Tuesday's "Voices Carry" back in 1985 when it was all over the radio). Her new album is her best in a decade and I say that having liked her work since Lost In Space. This is a fantastic set of songs, from the synth grooves of the title track to the great guitar work on "Soon Enough" to the harmonies she creates with James Mercer on their duet "Living A Lie." The lyrics are outstanding as well, full of great lines and keen observation. It will definitely be in my year-end top ten, probably in the top half.

 FURTHER READING

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz - I really liked Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao when it came out 5 years ago and so did a lot of others - it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This is a story collection, mostly focusing on Yunior, who played a role in the novel. The stories delve into Yunior's relationships with women, the affairs and the breakups, though some stories deal with his relationships with his family. Yunior is a unique character and these are very strong stories.

Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher - This is a novel about super-heroes, the second such I've read this year (I talked about Prepare To Die! here). As I was reading it, I felt like it was a multi-issue storyline of a comic and I was okay with that. It starts with Tony Prosdocimi gaining super-powers and goes on to encompass shifting allegiances, an alien invasion, romance, death, and redemption. It's set in California but Christopher's Britishisms remained in the text (such as CCTV, baking foil, and no period after Mr.), which threw me out of the story from time to time. Its otherwise a solid story and I will definitely go back and pick up his first novel.

Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja - The third issue of this series came out a couple weeks ago and I thought it was fantastic. It melds Hank going through his trick arrows with Kate Bishop with a meet-cute with an as-yet unnamed redhead that turns into a car chase while the narration runs through the nine worst decision he makes that day. It is funny and sexy and full of cool action, all expertly rendered by Aja (who might be my favorite artist of the moment). If you haven't read this comic yet, you need to. Now.

FURTHER LISTENING

Bob Mould/Silver Age - I mentioned Mould in my last roundup post and have since grabbed this album for my very own. I've also listened to it a bunch and recently discovered that it makes a great soundtrack for a run. Why? It's mostly up-tempo driving hard rock/power pop that you want to listen to at a loud volume. My current favorite track is "Keep Believing" and before that it was "The Descent." It reminds me of Superchunk's Majesty Shredding a couple years back - a welcome return that exceeds expectations.

Podcasts - About a week ago I purged a bunch of podcasts I hadn't listened to. I hated having to do it but I was over 8 days worth of unheard episodes and there was no way I would ever catch up. I still have over 5 days worth left, which is still unrealistic but slightly less so, I guess. I do have a new comics podcast that I like - The Comixologist, which is the podcast arm to Comixology. They post two short episodes each week, one a creator interview and the other a review show where they also talk about older comics and get some Twitter input. Jake and Slim make me laugh and the interviews are pretty solid.

QUICK HITS

Looper - I liked this movie. A lot. I will own it on Blu-Ray and watch it many times.

Argo - Ben Affleck did a create job creating tension in a movie where you knew what the outcome would be. Plus, John Goodman rocks.

The Walking Dead - I thought the first episode of the new season was great with an incredible effective silent opening. Haven't seen any more as of yet, though.

Venture Bros. - The Halloween episode last Sunday was great.

Fringe - The last two episodes have been great and emotionally draining.

Children's Hospital - This show always makes me laugh and plays with genre and structure in such interesting ways.

Batman: L'il Gotham #1 - This Dustin Nguyen-drawn digital comic is utterly charming and well worth your 99 cents!

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