Comics! Wolverine and JLA!

Comics! Wolverine and JLA!

Only two comics this week, although my nemesis Pepito just recently returned from an exclusive tour of Europe and the subcontinent, so I’ll doubtless be rooting through a pile of poop sometime soon.

In the meantime, I bought Justice League of America #1 and the latest issue of Wolverine. Both were meticulously well-done (fantastic artwork in both cases), and both irritated the piss out of me.

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One Wild Bird at a Time!

One Wild Bird at a Time!

Our book today is the latest from a long-time favorite here on Stevereads: it’s One Wild Bird at a Time by the great bird specialist and nature-writer Bernd Heinrich, a slim volume (filled, as always, with the author’s own illustrations) in which he meditates on one kind of bird per chapter in a warm and fast-paced mixture of observational writing and personal recollections. He writes about starlings, chickadees, blue jays, hawks, and grouse, he ruminates on crows and ravens (as befits the author of such great books as Ravens in Winter and The Mind of the Raven), and he entwines his love of owls with his love of both investigating animal behavior and writing about it:

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The Father!

The Father!

The authors work a kind of magic in the book that’s evident even in translation; the combination of reporting and novel-writing going on here shouldn’t work as well as it does. The Father (the book is Part 1 – Quercus will bring out The Sons next year) is incredibly gripping reading, every bit as good – in fact, often quite a bit better – than the faddish Swedish crime fiction that’s been dominating the fiction bestseller lists for over a decade. We get prickly insights into Ivan, the violent paterfamilias of this crime family, into his sons Leo, Vincent, and Felix, and, intriguingly, into the mind frame of the mother, Britt-Marie. And the tension hardly ever lets up – the writing team does a very effective job of constantly working the narrative’s tempo:

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Penguins on Parade: The Shahnameh!

Penguins on Parade: The Shahnameh!

Some Penguin Classics, as I’ve noted before here at Stevereads, feel like they’re a long time in the making, and the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi more than most and in two different ways. Not only has this sprawling tenth century Persian epic waited a long time for an attractive, affordable paperback edition in English, but this particular text, a prose translation by Dick Davis that Viking brought out ten years ago, has waited a long time to become a Penguin Classic.

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Author & Book Essays: The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat

Author & Book Essays: The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat

A debatably wise man once said that the best-seller was a gilded tomb for a mediocre talent. As with all easy aphorisms, it’s only 90 percent true. 
 
The riddle is solved one of two ways: either the writer of the best-seller stumbled blindly upon a winning formula that one time only, or the writer always knew what they were doing and some combination of chance and synergy caused that one book to take flight.  

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In the Penny Press! The TLS!

In the Penny Press! The TLS!

The TLS’ house line regarding books about what could sloppily be termed ‘animal rights’ can be summed up as bemusedly Tory: the people who write such books are obviously a little dotty, but they aren’t doing anybody any harm, so we might as well pat them on the head from time to time with a review or two.

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SFF: Star Trek - Crucible: McCoy! Hunters of Dune!

SFF: Star Trek - Crucible: McCoy! Hunters of Dune!

You know, the main enemies of science fiction aren’t the genre-snobs who think it starts and stops with Philip K. Dick (or that Margaret Atwood has ever written a word of it).

The real enemies of science fiction are the writers of it who’ve bought into the mainstream idea that genre readers are a little dim.

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