Archive for the 'Adult Fiction' Category

A Good Time to Be a Quentin Blake Fan

h1 Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Here’s a quick post, given that work is giving me the skunk eye, and it’s filled with art from Quentin Blake. (This post, that is. Not my work, unfortunately.)

If you’re a fan of Blake’s work, there were at least (heaven knows there may be more I’ve missed this year) three book releases in 2012 that will make you happy, and I’m here today to share art from them.

Pictured above is Blake’s Ebenezer Scrooge, post-epiphany and just before telling Bob Cratchit that he’s going to raise his salary. More on that below.

First up: In August, Candlewick released Michael Rosen’s Bananas in My Ears: A Collection of Nonsense Stories, Poems, Riddles & Rhymes. These poems were first published in the U.K. in different years under different titles—Smelly Jelly Fish and Under the Bed in 1986 and Hard-boiled Legs and Spollyollydiddlytiddlyitis in ’87—but are now compiled here for this U.S. release. These are poems divided into four categories, the names following the original book titles, with the exception of the section called “Smelly Jelly Smelly Fish.” The first section is sub-titled “The Breakfast Book,” and it’s followed by “The Seaside Book,” “The Doctor Book,” and “The Bedtime Book.” Read the rest of this entry �

One Impossible (Or Maybe Not-So) Treasure
Hunt Before Breakfast with Artist Scott Teplin

h1 Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

This is artist Scott Teplin. Or his alter ego. “From when I was sixteen until Sept. 11, 2001,” he told me, “I used to wear insane disguises (wigs, black-eye makeup, prosthetic pimples, bandaids, cotton stuffed in cheeks, weird eye twitches, etc…) for driver’s license photos. Wisconsin, Washington, and NY. After 9/11, it pretty much had to stop, unfortunately.” This picture makes me laugh so hard that it’s making up for the fact that I haven’t had my coffee-with-Bailey’s yet. But I will soon, as Scott’s here to have some with me. And chat. More on that in a second.

If you saw Betsy Bird’s March review of The Clock Without a Face, to be released in early May from McSweeney’s, you know that she called this “the world’s weirdest book.” To this I say: Word. Word up. Coming from her (and from me, too), this is a compliment.

As Betsy further explained, this is a treasure-hunt book, à la Kit Williams’s Masquerade, which was published in 1979 and which ended in scandal. No scandal here, though: Children’s book author Mac Barnett; long-time editor of the wonderful McSweeney’s, Eli Horowitz; children’s book author and illustrator Adam Rex; high-fashion jewelry designer Anna Sheffield; and visual artist Scott Teplin, who—as mentioned—is visiting 7-Imp this morning, all collaborated on this title, which tells the story of the mysterious Ternky Tower. (The two hairy-knuckled, fat-sneakered doormen of Ternky Towers, brought to us all by Adam Rex, are pictured here.) There has been a robbery on each floor, thirteen total, of the penthouse. Gus Twintig is still in his PJs when he gets the call from the great detective Roy Dodge: They now have thirteen cases to solve. “A crime spree,” Gus murmurs as he stares up at the tower. Gus is Roy’s assistant: “As anyone with a knowledge of detection knows, confidential assistants are essential to the crime-solving process. It’s simple, really: I have an eye for detail, and Dodge has a genius for figuring out what the details mean… {I}t is a detective’s job to help others, and a confidential assistant’s job to help with the helping.” Read the rest of this entry �

We Might Just Start a Jon McGregor Fan Club…

h1 Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

…Eisha can be President. I’ll be Secretary. (Hey, she can be in charge, as I’m a really good note-taker.) We’ll meet in the 7-Imp Treehouse. Snacks WILL be served.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done this, as I’ve been focusing so heavily on illustration at 7-Imp (picture books and illustrated novels), but I’m going to mention an adult fiction title today. And with the help of Eisha. You remember her, right? Oh you know you miss her. And it hasn’t been that long since she said goodbye.

There are reasons I stopped blogging about novels: Primarily, I burnt myself out on reading a novel and then turning right around to report on it. I still read ‘em, but I’m keeping them to myself. But Eisha and I decided to make an exception today. Rather, we decided back before Christmas to make an exception and accept an early copy of British author Jon McGregor’s newest novel, Even the Dogs. And that’s because we’re big ‘ol ginormous nerdy fans of his novels, and when he contacted us out of the blue to say he’d written a new one and would we be interested in reading it, why, we were most certainly intrigued. Eisha blogged here about his first book (2003), which she convinced me to read Way Back When (long before that blog post, which is itself rather dated anymore), and I fell in love with it just about as hard as she did. And then there was his exquisite, luminous second novel, So Many Ways to Begin (Bloomsbury 2007), which we…uh….tried to post about here. But Yours Truly screwed it all up. I’m a winner like that sometimes.

Bottom line: Jon McGregor, whom The Guardian has called “a hoarder, an omnivorous collector of perception and experience,” has become one of our favorite contemporary authors. So, hell to the YES we wanted to read his new book. And, as it turns out, the novel didn’t let us down. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Impossible Interviews
Before Breakfast #81: Dave McKean

h1 Monday, March 9th, 2009

Jules: Artist Dave McKean, whom 7-Imp welcomes this morning with a big, strong cup of coffee and all kinds of adoration and severely geeky fan-dom, is capable of way more than seven impossible things before breakfast, it’s safe to say. He’s an award-winning graphic novelist; author; photographer; designer; illustrator of hundreds of comic-book and book covers, as well as CDs; editorial illustrator; film designer; director; and jazz pianist, even co-founding the record label Feral Records with saxophonist and composer Iain Ballamy. I’m probably missing a whole slew of other things. Dave McKean is unceasingly inventive.

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Things That Make Me Go Hmmm…

h1 Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

I finally just finished my library copy of Sonya Hartnett’s The Ghost’s Child, originally published in Australia in 2007, I believe, and published last year in the U.S. by Candlewick. Remember when Sonya stopped by in ’07 and said quite determinedly that she doesn’t like her books to be pinned down when it comes to labels (such as “YA”)? Well, she’s done it again (I see here in The Guardian that Linda Newbery wrote last year in her review, “{e}mphatically, The Ghost’s Child has the quirkiness and the sense of being true to itself that often marks out fiction not written with any particular readership in mind”). This time she’s crafted a contemporary fable of sorts—an ethereal, lilting, poetic one at that—about the very nature (and very complicated nature) of human love. Or it could be a modern-day fairy tale? I dunno; I’m still thinking about it. And there I go, trying to categorize, too. Anyway, I wasn’t so sure about this book at first, though I’m a huge Hartnett fan, but I have to say it suddenly endeared itself to me, invited itself right in and took a seat in my mind, refusing to catch a cab and head home. It made itself some coffee and settled in to stay.

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Dear Chuck Palahniuk,

h1 Saturday, July 19th, 2008

Snuff. *sigh*Hey, baby. We need to talk. I just finished your new book, Snuff, and there’s some things I need to say to you. It’s not going to be easy, so, just… *sniff*… just listen, okay?

I’m sorry, Chuck. You know I’ve loved you for a long time – hell, I feel like I’ve been with you forever – but I think, honestly, maybe we’ve grown apart. I’ve suspected it for a while now, but after this last book… I’m sorry. I just can’t do this anymore.

The thing is, I wouldn’t have read this book at all if I hadn’t already been in love with you. Remember the first time? Fight Club? God, that was amazing. Back then, that whole repetitive, minimalist thing you do seemed so bold, so dangerous. So hot. And I seriously, no kidding, learned so much about men from that book.

Fight Club. Read it.Survivor. Read it too.And then Survivor – whoa. Maybe even better. I loved everything you had to say about the commodification of religion. And Fertility is a great heroine. The way Tender kept listing all those horrific cleaning tips didn’t feel like a gimmick; it actually made sense for a character who’d been raised to be a wage-slave for his religious cult, cut off from any sense of his own humanity. Being raised a Jehovah’s Witness, myself, I totally related.

Invisible Monsters was pretty good. I didn’t full-on LOVE it like I did the first two, but it was still pretty amazing, and so different. A supermodel with half her face shotgunned off, on the lam with her tranny brother and her ex-cop maybe-gay ex-boyfriend… I do remember thinking it was a weird book for a straight man to write. Ha.

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Three Short (For Us) Co-Reviews:
Tales of Mibs, Matisse, and Keeper

h1 Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Good morning, all. Here’s what 7-Imp has to offer today: Three short (for us) co-reviews of some new titles. One is for middle-grade readers; the second for YA readers; and the last one is an actual adult fiction title, making our count for adult fiction reviews a whoppin’ 24 now! Yes, we initially set out to talk about books for all ages at 7-Imp, but we’ve been slacking on our adult titles. Edward Hardy’s Keeper and Kid, our last review here, is one attempt to remedy that.

Savvy
by Ingrid Law
Dial Books for Young Readers
May 2008

This wonderful book was released in May, and Eisha and I have been sitting on ARCs for a while. Before we got to our review, it up and won a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor in the category of Fiction and Poetry. Savvy, unlike any other book you’ll read this year, tells the story of Mississippi, or “Mibs,” Beaumont. She’s about to turn thirteen, and in her family that’s when the savvy strikes. A savvy, in their world, is “just a know-how of a different sort.” Not knowing what her savvy powers will be—but knowing full well she’s likely in for a huge surprise, since her brother can cause hurricanes, her other brother creates electricity, and her mother is truly perfect—Mibs is just a tad bit anxious about the birthday event. It’s even difficult for her to make friends: “It wasn’t safe to invite anyone over with Fish and Rocket still learning to scumble their savvies; we couldn’t risk someone finding out, or getting hurt by sparks or storms if my brothers lost control.” Yes, that said scumble, which means to learn to use your savvy or work around it; with words like that, you can see that this one’s definitely a read-aloud CHAMP.

To make matters worse, Mibs’s father is in a terrible accident the day before her party, and she now longs to discover she possesses a savvy which will save her father’s life. When she finds out it’s an entirely different and unexpected one, she has to adjust, though in the process she comes to understand a bit about hearing one strong voice in her head—her own—and tuning out others’. And when she stows away on a delivery bus which carries pink Bibles, only to eventually be joined by the preacher’s son and his sister with Quite The Attitude—a bus that heads in the altogether wrong direction—she’s gotta find a way to get to her Poppa.

eisha: This was a fun read. It has that kind of folksy tall-tale language we both dig, with fabulously far-fetched metaphors like… oh, I’ll just open to a page at random… like this: “Momma exhaled a long, slow breath, like she was singing the last note of a lullaby, and my heart almost broke with the total sadness of it.” There’s also frequent use of delicious-on-the-tongue words like “persnickety” and “frou-frou frippery.” Awesome.

I also liked the concept. I love a story that can introduce a bit of the fantastical into an everyday setting, and this one pulls it off nicely. The idea of a family of extra-specially-abled people is irresistibly cool, but the author does a good job of painting a realistic picture of what that would really mean: balancing out the benefits of, say, being able to generate electricity or control the weather with the sort of drawbacks that any kid can relate too: being different from other kids, having to hide who you are to fit in, and having family members who can embarrass the heck out of you in public.

What did you think? Read the rest of this entry �

Happy Vampire Month!

h1 Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Slurp!What, no one told you? You left your glow-in-the-dark fangs at home? Not to worry, you’ve got the whole rest of the month of May to catch up. At least, according to First Second Books, who has declared this event in the interests of promoting Vampire Awareness and Understanding, so we can work towards a future when Humans and Vampires can coexist in Harmony and Happiness. Or maybe they just want to promote some books. Whatever, vampires are fun.

If you’d like to celebrate with a book, particularly a graphic novel, might I suggest:

Life SucksLife Sucks, a graphic novel by Jessica Abel (of La Perdida fame), Gabe Soria, and Warren Pleece (Can that really be his name? Really?). It just officially debuted from First Second, and I really enjoyed it.

Meet Dave. He’s a vampire, but he’s not happy about it. His boss Radu at the Last Stop convenience store forcibly “converted” him to create the ultimate employee: loyal to his master, and willing to work nights. But Dave used to be a vegetarian, and his heart really isn’t in this new un-life. It gets weird when he starts crushing on Rosa, a goth girl who thinks vampires are sexy and glamorous – the exact opposite of his reality. But should he tell her? Or should he just give in and make his first kill? And how can he keep his rival Wes – an asshole-surfer vampire – from taking her just to piss Dave off?

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Getting Caught Up on Reviews

h1 Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Happy Saturday, dear readers. I’m going to get right to it today: Here is my attempt to catch up on some book reviews, both titles from last year. I’m, uh, really slooooooooow sometimes, but better late than never.

If dark humor is your thing — and I mean moments of incredible pathos that rattle your heart in your chest a bit while, somehow, also make you laugh simultaneously — here’s a new title for you, Gone and Back Again (Soft Skull Press, 2007) by Jonathon Scott Fuqua (based loosely on “the author’s own strange childhood,” according to his site). Fuqua is the award-winning author of four YA novels, a graphic novel (also geared at adults), and one book for young children. This is his first novel for adults, though I say it has tremendous cross-over appeal to teens.

Middle-schooler Caley; his brother, Fulton; and his sister, Louise, are being dragged from town to town by his mother, who has “changed after the divorce. It was like her goodness and affectionateness seemed to be hibernating or were gone.” Caley, whose father is capable of moments of undeniable cruelty and a master of the fine art of guilt-tripping, must acclimate himself to life with his mother’s new boyfriend, Henrico, “who was a total jerk to us kids.” His mother occasionally attempts to convey affection but mostly fails (“I wanted my mom to be like a mom instad of just a woman we sometimes saw”). “For me,” Caley tells the reader, “life was like a train passing into a tunnel just before an avalanche falls and blocks the way out.” Thus, Caley starts his “days of badness,” drinking and stealing: “I was the kind of kid who, even if you wanted to, you didn’t care about.”

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Co-Review: Haven Kimmel’s The Used World

h1 Thursday, November 1st, 2007

{Note: Please see the post below this one for today’s Robert’s Snow schedule}

For our final post over at ForeWord Magazine (we’ve been guest-blogging all month and have enjoyed it), we offer a co-review of Haven Kimmel’s latest novel, The Used World (Free Press; September 2007; review copies), which is made of awesome-ness (that’s not a very eloquent way to describe an eloquent book, but it’ll have to do for now). Eisha and I adore Haven’s books, and if you do, too, head on over to this week’s “Shelf Space” column to read our co-review, if you’re so inclined. We may — at a later date — post the co-review itself here at 7-Imp, but for now if you want to read it, you’ll have to click once. That’s not too much effort, no? Enjoy.