Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Wild Audacity of a Perfect Triumph

The Edgar Allan Poe Audiobook Collection 11-13: The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories, by Edgar Allan Poe, Read by Christopher Aruffo, Acoustic Learning Inc., 2010.

To listen to Christopher Aruffo's latest collection of stories by Edgar Allan Poe is to hear a voice rich with purring menace. If a great jungle cat could slowly monologue how you are going to be killed, how the flesh is going to be stripped from your bones, how those bones will then be chewed to bits, shortly before her pounce, that feline voice would be steeped in a similar coiled violence.

It is the voice of every campfire storyteller who asks, "Do you want to hear something really scary?" but it's devoid of the campy wink that says, This is just a story. There's a smile, all right, a smile that says things are about to get quite quite bloody and I wouldn't have it any other way. That makes for a real treat when you're listening to Poe's stories. You need someone with a voice full of dread and suppressed thunder, and on that score Mr. Aruffo delivers and then some. There's a thick as molasses timbre going on here, a gentleness that belies the voice's strengths.

And then there are the stories.

To start with, this is hardly the first of Aruffo's collections I've reviewed. Long ago, he made it quite clear that his intention was to tackle the complete works of Poe and with an output that has put other narrators to shame, I'd be quite surprised if he doesn't pull it off. With thirteen volumes, including many of Poe's most famous stories as well as obscurities that most audiobook companies skip, Aruffo has done a great service if you love the work of Poe. There are, at this point at least twenty nine separate recordings of "The Fall of the House of Usher" on Amazon, but there is only one recording of Poe's "Eureka."

So, I repeat, Aruffo does a great service in seriously digging in to the Poe canon to give us more than just the highlight reel. But he also manages that. At least three big name stories turn up in this collection that have been anthologized elsewhere nearly to death. "Hop-Frog," a bitter tale of revenge, "Berenice," one of Poe's premature burial stories with a couple depraved wrinkles all his own, and one of his greatest stories, "The Tell-Tale Heart." But then there are rare gems like "Man of the Crowd," almost more character study than fiction and "The Assignation," a story of romantic love and sacrifice which almost doesn't feel like a typical Poe, and "Metzengerstein," an unusual piece about family curses and damned horses. One of these rarities, the pseudo-comic "The Sphinx" even allows Aruffo to bring out that most dangerous of guns, the accented narrator.

There are three total discs in this set, much like in many of Aruffo's other collected packages. Typically there are three single disc releases, followed up by one of these package deals that scoop up the three in one decidedly horrifically enjoyable package. Previously we'd seen "Message Found in a Bottle," "Eleonora," "The Premature Burial," and "The Cask of Amontillado" all in one package, as well as "The Black Cat," "The Pit and the Pendulum," and "The Masque of the Red Death" all in one collection. There is almost always a tasteful blend of the obscure and the famous.

The above-mentioned "The Sphinx" is one of the total joys of the collection. Here much like in a previous recording, "Cabs," Aruffo gets to dally in comic accents and his palpable enjoyment rubs off on the listener. In this instance, a visitor from New York, retiring with his country-mouse friend as they hide and take stock of the cholera deaths raging in the city, has an encounter with a monster. Poe is slow in the reveal of this story, but there's something about Aruffo's joyful New Yawk inflections that partly gives the game away early. Oh, that's no spoiler, either. When Poe goes in for his kill, he does it clean and entertainingly, and nothing about Aruffo's crisply satisfying portrayal of a Brooklynite needing a better perspective hands you any answers early.

Another sick treat given to the listener comes with "Berenice," a story any reader of Poe can predict the shapes of long before they're relevant. Here, Poe returns to his familiar stomping grounds of a monomaniacal narrator engaged in a doom-crossed marriage to his cousin and a premature burial, but it is just so the quality of his idee fixe that tosses this story up a bit higher than the usual Gothic fare of the day. Aruffo is in his element here, his narrator erudite, trembling, and unprepared for his own monstrousness. There is a lingering here on the dentrifical concerns, but Aruffo doesn't overplay the hand that Poe clearly does, and the reveal still courses through with dramatic fervor.

The real revelation here is in Aruffo's rendition of "The Tell-Tale Heart." Sure, "Hop-Frog" is a black little bit of pleasure with its many voices and its incredibly ghastly ending, but Aruffo does something so unexpected, so original in his culmination of (arguably) Poe's most famous short story that it goes beyond previous readings. I've had the great pleasure of listening to two preceding versions of the recording as Aruffo sought to get it just right, and with each new recording it closer approached success. This last version, the one available to purchase, finally captures a revelatory element to the structure of Poe's story in a way that to speak more of would be to give away a quickening and exciting conclusion. Something old made new again, and you will find yourself wanting to go back and listen again with a copy of the story in front of you to fully enjoy it the second time around. Poe was a master at thinking about language, its rhythms and its uses, as demonstrated in the essay he wrote about the composition of "The Raven," and here Aruffo has stumbled on to something overlooked by generations of readers. It's quite a treat to get something new, something hidden and unexpected like this.

While the trio pack tends to be your best bet, the individuals are offered for those of you seeking specific stories and not wanting to pay for the other material. Part of me understands that, but for the most part, I see the fantastic bounty of riches in Aruffo's work that there seems little value in letting any of it get away from you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Is This Jar Half-Full or Half-Empty?

Mr. Peanut, by Adam Ross, Knopf, 2010

This book started off for me scorching hot:

When David Pepin first dreamed of killing his wife, he didn't kill her himself. He dreamed convenient acts of God. At a picnic on the beach, a storm front moved in. David and Alice collected their chairs, blankets, and booze, and when the lightning flashed, David imagined his wife lit up, skeleton distinctly visible as in a children's cartoon, Alice the collapsing into a smoking pile of ash...Anything could happen between here and there. On the edge of the platform, two boys were roughhousing. The train came barreling into the station. An accidental push. Alice, spun round, did a crazy backstroke before she fell. And it was over.... The things that went through his mind! From their window, he watched Alice walk up the street. A helicopter passed overhead. On Lexington, at the building under construction, a single girder was winched into the sky. And David imagined this was the last time he would ever see his wife -- that this was the last image he'd have of her -- and he felt the sadness well up and had the smallest taste of his loss, like the wish when you're young that your parents would die.

Now, if you tell me that you've been married and you haven't, in times of great frustration thought of your spouse's brakes going out while s/he's on the way to the store or falling down a flight of stairs while you're not home, then I'm going to say, You're a goddamned saint or liar.

And it was that blistering honest fantasizing that was coursing through the book's opening that riveted me to the page. Could he really be writing this? I thought. It felt almost chillingly like a hushed confession.

And then somewhere throughout the course of the book, it lost me. I don't mean to say that I failed to follow the plot or that the book becomes incomprehensible gibberish. I mean that where it felt like the book was going in the beginning was somewhere else from where the book ended up going, and not necessarily in that excitement of discovery way, but rather in a meandering sort of lost-the-thread way. Oh for an editorial Ariadne to give Mr. Ross's Mr. Peanut the key to the labyrinth.

And it's not as if the book didn't have big big ambitions. It couldn't have gotten so spectacularly off-track if it didn't have big ambitions. The plot in a, ahem, nutshell:

We learn that David Pepin, who dreams so vividly of killing his wife, is a vastly successful video game designer who has had great success with worlds crafted after M.C. Escher paintings, worlds that fold back within and out of themselves, and that he is writing a novel. What is his novel about? It is about a man named David Pepin who dreams of killing his wife. After Alice Pepin dies for real, choked to death on a peanut that set off her allergies, detectives arrive to begin the investigation asking, "Did he try to get the peanuts out of her seizing throat or did he force them down her himself?"

There the book sets off into discovering who and what to make of the Pepin marriage. We see their meeting, their courtship, their attempts and failures at having children, and this stuff is utterly fantastic. It is moving, it is vivid and yet still hallucinatory at times. It has the frustrations and the closed offedness of a real relationship, that space that is unknowable to anyone not in the relationship, yet Ross peels it back skillfully for us and shows us how universal it is, if singularly alien.

But then we get on to the detectives and the book veers into something not quite so compelling. We learn of one detective, whose wife goes to bed one day, refusing to get out for months, and this is interesting by itself, a decent short story, though clearly related thematically to the rest of the novel. And the other detective, the partner, is Dr. Sam Sheppard, who has, after being released from prison, moved far away from Ohio to become a police detective. And, yes, that is ambitious, to take a real life historical figure and to run with it, to put that person in some new situations that never happened. And along the way we get the story of the Sheppard marriage, its dissolution, and the eventual murder of Marilyn Reese Sheppard. And the stuff with Sheppard is itself interesting and well written, and I can see what Ross is trying to accomplish here, but these threads don't ever seem to bundle themselves together in any purposeful way. They are there, they want to be related, and despite characters and themes that should make this all sing, it just doesn't quite get there.

It isn't as if I can't draw the lines that Ross wants the readers to draw here, the parallels, the fascination with a case that remains somewhat "unsolved" in the public mind, the curious behaviors of everyone involved in the Sheppard case, and how it in many ways parallels the Pepin story. It's just that it feels like Ross had a short story and two novels that he wanted to mush together into something larger than itself, and for me that gelling just never happens.

When we return to Pepin's story -- the book tends to hop around considerably in time, in focus, and in between fiction and reality -- the detectives have captured a man they believe to be the assassin hired by Pepin to actually murder his wife, a man with the unfortunate character name of Mobius. This is the point where in reading the book I groaned. Mobius? Seriously? Such overt winking at the reader is the province of too-clever by half sophomore creative writing workshop pieces. And it was so jarring that it was hard to get back into the book with the same level of enthusiasm or interest. Whatever are we to do as readers in such a moment? How can we regain our footing in this fictional world and how can we trust the author to guide us?

I'm not saying such reaching out through the page to nudge a reader can't be pulled off successfully, but it works best in the hands of a skilled ironist, and Ross is no ironist. In fact, at the moment of making that observation in my reading, the seriousness of Ross's prose and story-telling began to weigh heavily on me. The prose that had danced in the book's opening pages, now felt like a chore to read. Sure, some of the Sheppard stuff is interesting, but get back to Pepin's case, get back to your novel's heart.

As I see it, the author wants a book that is a puzzle, he wants it to be flexible and friable, mix and matchable. He wants to chop up his narrative and serve us first this piece then that, the entire meal a welter of tastes, one after the other, confounding our expectations. Yet the book marches directly toward its conclusion and the infinite loop that should appear to us as readers is instead merely a moment where we read Pepin's novel then we read Pepin's reality, then we read Pepin's novel again. It isn't confusing or bewildering or unsettling the way it should be, it merely comes off as authorial exhaustion and trickery in place of magic.

Which is, frankly, a damn shame as this book had magic in its opening that I certainly wanted to believe in.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Christmas/Winter Beverages, Part 1

Hark the herald brewery angels sing, and the message they are blaring from their trumpets is that the crop of festive holiday themed brews is hitting the market. Some of these are delicious, some of these are disappointments, and some of these are frankly legendary from the first sip. Let's not waste any more time on this intro-folderol, let's get to the beer.

Harpoon Winter Warmer, 5.9% ABV, 22 IBUs

Massachusetts seems like a beer lover's paradise. There are so many high-quality micro and quasi-micro (Sam Adams) breweries there, that I quiver at the idea of ever moving there. It excites me from its selection of good beer, and it terrifies me in how much larger pants I'd have to buy after just one year there. Harpoon is just another one of the wonderful smaller breweries that make the kinds of beers you'd love if you actually drank for flavor rather than to get hammered.

Regarding the Winter Warmer, I wanted to like this beer more than I did. If there's one thing I look forward to at the end of the year, it's the flowering of spiced ales. This beer, billed as the brewery's very first seasonal, delivers a nicely dark coppery colored ale that hits your tastebuds with cinammon, nutmeg, and a hint of caramel. It's a wonderful flavor combination that quickly washes away as you swallow. That's a shame in one regard, but if you wish to truly enjoy this beer, you must slow down.

Were you to slow down your usual quaffing and let this beer rest on your palate, the various spices will occur to you one by one, warming and satisfying your tongue.
There's a minimal amount of fuss made with cabonation or lace to interfere with your enjoyment of the drink, but it feels like it's lacking just a tiny touch of something. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but there was a thinness to the flavor that seemed to disappate rapidly. You drank, you smacked your lips, and that was all. There was no linger, no aftertaste, no residual warmth in the mouth. All it took for Harpoon to disappear from your consciousness, it seemed, was to swallow.

But while you had it in your mouth, the beer was just a shy glimpse of heaven.

Colorado is another state that shines in the microbrewery market with New Belgium being on my all-time long-standing wish lists of out-of-state beers I wish we could get in Ohio. (The moment seems right to pimp for my brother-in-law's city of Chicago, where one can get New Belgium and Great Lakes in one lucky go.) How I have ached for their Fat Tire to make its appearance in the more easterly parts of the midwest.

Nevertheless, a rather less charming entry into the Christmas/Holiday Ale market is Breckenridge's American Style Strong Ale which they dub as their Christmas. Don't mistake me, though. A far-better than average beer, this just doesn't cut it in the holiday category. There's an obvious lack in the joie de vivre range from this beer's first sip that doesn't mark it out as something to be branded as part of what's only the biggest holiday in the Western World.

A rather spiceless affair, Breckenridge's entry is a decent enough brew in its own right and would be fine any other time of the year. There is little about the beer, strong as it is, as winter seasonals should and tend to be, that gives it away as a Christmas Ale, lacking as it does sweetness or warmth. An initally dry taste on the tongue with a laciness that lingeres only around the rim, Breckenridge resolves itself into a faintly (nearly imaginary) raisinish aftertaste, that feels more like an after effect than after taste. The feel in your mouth (I'm going to resist the charmless portmanteau term, mouthfeel) is a bit oily, though not in a bad way. You want that vague cling of ingredients to stick with you. But only if the're lovely and memorable.

Again, don't think from my critiques that this is an unsatisfying beer. With its fantastic ABV and nicely done caramels and hint of chocolate in the aftertaste, Breckenridge has a charming beer for the year's end. I just wouldn't go about calling it a Christmas Ale as its warming qualities are a bit spartan. Rebrand this as a Winter Warmer, the way Harpoon has, and you have no complaints. In fact, between Colorado's offering here and Massachusetts there, they should swap names, and with it, expectations. A tough beer to get you through a hard winter? Yes. A joyful beer to celebrate Christmas? Not quite.

Note that second number. Take a good hard look at it. It is three times the rest of our beers' bitterness units, but that's typical actually. At the first drink, I thought I'd been slugged in the mouth. The bitterness hits you hard, fast, right out of the gate, -- and then sadly crushed any reaction to this beer outside of obvious ones.

With such an aggressive approach as the brewery has taken, Sierra Nevada is uninterested in subtle flavors or interesting ways to use hops as a point or a counterpoint. This, as said above, is unsurprising. Like modern GOP legislators who see tax cuts as the solution to every single problem, even if originating from tax cuts, Sierra Nevada's brew wizards seem only capable of envisioning hops or a slightly different breed or mix of hops to bring new flavors to their beer. Search the term on their beer page alone. There's not a brew where they don't accentuate hops, it seems.

And quite frankly, this beer only counts as a celebration if you've shown up a couple hours after the bar opened and then were promptly treated to a brisk black jack to the face. If there is one tiresome trick they know in Chico, California, it is how to make a punchy, hop-laden beer. Frankly, this bottle has killed the brewery for me, and I'd always sort of regarded their product as in the category of acceptably craft. Now, I'd cross the street to a different bar to avoid contact with any Sierra Nevada product after this one.

A reddish amber, an obscenely high level of bitterness, and misplaced priorities turn a professional brewery product into an object lesson on obsession and hackery, especially the kind where everything looks, smells, and tastes the same.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dead Stuff, Dying Things

And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie, Collins Crime Club, 1939

Confession (I may have said this before): When I was younger, I labored under the delusion that Agatha Christie was some boring shit old people read. I pictured this gray haired ancient lady, like a wispy version of Jessica Fletcher, sitting with multiple cats on her lap as she picked away at her typewriter writing foolish little mysteries.

Then on a whim, back when I worked my night shift job and listened to far more audiobooks, had far more time to "read," and was far more willing to take chances on picking up titles at random (freedom can make you brave), I picked up a Christie novel. Murder on the Orient Express. Not a bad choice.

The plotting was tight, the narration was excellent, and I was hooked. I have since listened to scads more Agatha Christie books, but the funny thing is, I never really sat down with one in my hand and read the thing. My wife and I may go extra rounds after the bell over whether or not listening to an audiobook can be considered reading, and I may swear up and down that it is, but my actions have spoken pretty loudly in the past. Things I'd idly put on while painting a fence, cleaning the house, processing criminal background checks, these are, a lot of them, not things I would sit for hours uninterrupted doing. They were diversions, not the great literature that demanded my attention

So, to be quite honest, I haven't read or listened to an Agatha Christie novel in quite some time. With her earlier work moving slowly into the public domain and my shiny new iPad gizmo at hand, I decided I'd begin hunting down various Christie novels. I tend to find some lighter reading to fill the latter two months of the year, a sort of collapse of my habits of typically reading dense Germanic philologists, Olde English texts in the original, and runes, and so comic books and the kinds of things still published in pocket paperbacks fill the wintery time of the year.

Luckily, this novel fell to hand. The provenance of the epub version is of little interest save that in the beginning, I wasn't sure it was legit. The paragraphs seemed so short, the use of exclamation marks seemed a bit promiscuous, the sudden introduction of ten characters in one go confused and alarmed me. Was this the careful and well-plotted novelist I'd come to love

I settled down to reading, though, and eventually made sense of things, going back and forth to reassure myself who all these people were. Oh, for the buttery tenor of David Suchet with his gift for accent and characterization! He'd have sorted out these island vacationers and given me something to grasp. What we have are eight guests, very quickly sketched as they arrive for a vacation on an island purchased by their host, a mysterious Mr. Owen -- eight guests and husband and wife staff for a total of ten.

And through the course of the novel, Ms. Christie will bump off every last one of these blighters through various means, roughly following the course laid out in the classic (and hideously racist) nursery rhyme. Rather quickly on arriving, after their first meal, the ten hear a phonograph played which accuses each of the island visitors of being a participant in more or less murder. I say more or less because in each case the circumstances would have proved difficult to prosecute: a weak child heir is encouraged to swim out too far, medicine isn't retrieved in time, scornful righteousness leads to suicide, and so on

It seems our guests have been invited to the isolated island under false pretenses, their host having justice in mind, not law but justice. Almost immediately after the record, the first victim falls. We progress from there. What becomes the challenge in such a novel is how to keep the murderer off screen, how to misdirect the reader. As a reader you can choose one of two tacks, it seems.

You can puzzle your puzzler until it grows sore trying to match wits with Dame Christie, and most certainly lose (the tack I take despite my awareness of how I fail as a detective). Or you can simply relax and let the ingenious plot unwind (the tack of a friend of mine). The trick of the first tack to take in this case is that suspects are rather decisively eliminated as the book progresses and you are forced to re-evaluate what you've read previously. At first all the islanders believe that they are hunted by someone external to their party; in time, they come to see the murderer is one of them.

No one seems likely to be the murderer, all of the guests seem likely to be the murderer, and by the book's end I still found myself certain that there had to be a hidden hidey hole for the murderer who would turn up in the book as our fifth-act malefactor. Christie makes good use of her motley characters to keep the plot lively and moving briskly along. Power blocs form and collapse, partnerships are riddled with suspicion, and no one can be relied on, either through confronting their own demons or their sudden death.

It seems when you read a mystery that you do not look to see the author tackle character development, great themes touching on the difficulty of human existence, or social injustices to be addressed. You seek a book that is as distracting an entertainment as any action thriller, but you also seek a puzzle constructed in such a fashion as to tax your mental capabilities.

In this way, it turns out, that mysteries are exactly the kind of escapist fiction I should have been reading all along during my youth when vampires, accursed houses, and other things that go bump in the night claimed my attention. While a ripping good werewolf story might have kept me up all night, first reading, then listening to every creak of an old house settling, a murdered banker with nine decent suspects in his killing would have itched a very specific part of my brain long earlier.

Turns out Agatha Christie isn't for the old fogeys after all. If only I hadn't waited until I was almost an old fogey to find out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Old Scary, Humanized

Dracula HD Original Papers, by Bram Stoker, Created by Intelligenti Publishing, 2009-2010

With the advent of e-books now really and truly upon us, it would be helpful to make some categorical distinctions. There are e-books which merely ape print books, but in electronic formats (PDF or EPUB or Amazon's less well-known but market dominating proprietary AZW). These titles may allow you to magnify the page or alter the font or make a few other minor formatting tweaks, but they are, for all the excitement, words on a page, rendered digitally.

Then there are enhanced books which bring a level of interactivity to the experience. A good example that made quite a bit of headlines after Apple's iPad was released is Alice for the iPad. Here, by changing the way you held your iPad, you could make things happen within the book -- make Alice grow or shrink. This is a new kind of book and one I suspect we'll see more of in the future especially in the children's market especially in the children's market, but for now many enhanced books tend to be failures of the imagination, texts that include sound effects or music or an audio version of the tittle read along. These are great for children, but offer little to adults who are lingually proficient and not blind.

Intelligenti Ltd's Dracula HD - Original Papers Edition is neither fish nor fowl as per the above two categories, though it does have elements of both. (It's also, of course, one heck of a title.) Taking the original Bram Stoker classic, they've gone and done something rather interesting, something a printer could have done long ago if he'd thought of it (and maybe someone did).

For those who are unfamiliar with the novel save as an adaptation to film or by name alone, Stoker's novel is written in a style greatly popular in his day, that is, epistolary. While typical novels of this style tend to be between two people with one or two additional minor voices chiming in, Stoker's novel boasts four major voices. We begin with young solicitor Jonathan Harker's account of meeting the infamous Count in Transylvania where our English hero has come to assist the vampire in emigrating to England. He leaves behind his fiancée, Wilhelmina "Mina" Murray, who writes frequently to her dear friend Lucy Westrena, who regales her with tales of her suitors. Jonathan escapes from Count Dracula's clutches, but does not beat the vampire to England's shores.

After Lucy is taken ill, one of her former suitors, the sanitarium owner Doctor John Seward, calls in his old mentor, Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Despite Van Helsing's work, they are too late, and Lucy dies from Count Dracula's nocturnal attentions. Seward, Van Helsing, and two other of Lucy's suitors, are joined by Harker as they band together to hunt down the Count and rid the world of the fiend.

With a clever layout conceit that offers up two pages in landscape mode and one large page in profile, Dracula HD presents the story as though we had found a collection of original documents (hence the long name). Jonathan Harker's diary is then handwritten appearing with blotches on the page and stains and marks where a wet cup of tea or coffee has perhaps sat.

Lucy and Mina Loy's letters alternate on their respective stationary and handwritings. Newspaper clippings in the story are presented in typeset style, and so on.

It's a simple idea, but immensely effective. Stoker's sometimes lurid sometimes prim Victorian style can often read flatly on the page when neatly printed, but here it seems to come alive with personality. Let us be quite clear, Stoker isn't really a masterful writer in any sense of the word, though he did manage to tap into something very nearly universal with this novel. The fake handwriting font humanizes the text's characters, gives them a kind of real world analogue that adds a layer of interest to them beyond the novel. That it is a font is clear the moment you spend any great time staring at the individual letters, but you can easily forget that despite a lack of any irregularity that handwriting might present. Never does Harker's penmanship betray his fear or terror at his fate, nor does Seward's typewritten transcription ever show signs of a faded typewriter ribbon. Instead, we are given stains, foldings, and ink drips. What I wouldn't give for a very small erasure still visible behind the text.

To be sure, these are very small nits to pick, the kind most readers might not even consider. Overall, the developers did a lovely job transferring the material to its present incarnation and the novel moves briskly along. Too much fiddling with the font to suggest a nervous condition and perhaps it'd not be legible.

If there were improvements or enhancements to be made I could only think of two. First, let readers turn off the sound effects of the page turning. That technological little tweak to the work is cute at first, but rapidly becomes annoying over the course of 400 pages. Certainly we can mute our iPads if we wish, but this seems like something we should have as an option.

Shhh, I don't need to hear this part.

The second feature takes Dracula HD out of the realm of the first category and brings it closer to the second. In the novel, Dr. Seward records his diary then has it transcribed to paper. Obviously this is not something that could be presented in a printed book, but here's an ample opportunity to embed small recordings that the reader could choose to employ if they so wished. A scratchy sounding recording of the doctor relating the horrors of their encounter with the vampire could be a lovely addition to the terror of the story.

Even without my suggestions, Dracula HD etc. is a lively experience and well worth the $1.99 price tag. It's a Halloween treat you shouldn't pass up.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I know I've said it before, that I will post more content some day, but with library science as a full-time pursuit coming to an end, I can confidently say that book reviewing will recommence at some point, and I will be trying to keep the mix of audio, print, and comics at about the same level.

That said, the move to digital comics lately by Marvel (and soon DC) means that that's going to be totally fascinating me more than you can imagine. Plus, I've got this backlog of really great Fantagraphics titles to get to soon as well. Does that company ever publish a dud?

So, look for something coming to this space sooner or later, and I'll announce it with fanfare and alarums, as always.

(And let's hope after one review comes out, I don't lapse again...)