Antoine Wilson’s Panorama City: Book Review

When one grows up insulated and with not much world experience, you would assume that the world will both be an oyster and possibly swallow that person whole at the same time.

I personally can’t say that is something I’ll ever get to experience. Seeing the world for the first time as an adult, since my parents starts making me my own man at a young age, I learned the appreciation at a young age as well. The not knowing what you have till it’s gone or once having it realizing it wasn’t what you wanted. That all came to me young, long before I ever had to consider it or worry about it. Not to say I faltered here or there, but luckily I’m also quite smart. Not to try and sound egotistical even, I have a good brain. I catch on quick, I know what’s happening, I’m aware of my surrounding.

Unlike some classic fictional characters who have been both locked in their own world and not very smart till the world hits them head on. The most notable of these of course would be Winston Groom’s Forrest Gump, but to completely use him as a reference to discuss Antoine Wilson‘s PANORAMA CITY would give its protagonist disservice.

Oppen Porter is definitely not the smartest guy in the world, he’s quite naive indeed and it takes him awhile to process things, but he’s not completely a lucky clueless fool. In a shirt time he experiences what to some would be years of experiences. Love, heartbreak, religious awakening, spirtual founding, job promotion, switching careers, oppression, new friends, old friends, losing friends, death. All in less than two months, two tumultuous exciting months that he relays to his unborn child through tapes.

This device of first person narrative through what could be conceived as transcripts is a clever way to get pulled into Oppen’s viewpoint while also feeling like a listener who knows that it is only one viewpoint. This is a theme of everything Oppen tells his future son though, varying viewpoints and how no one way is right or wrong, they just are.

Life in many ways always seems to work in circles, but not perfect circles. Circles with spikes and protraction. I was reminded of this throughout PANORAMA CITY and yet it also gave me a feeling of hope. Antoine Wilson’s wordplay and semblance of sentiment and wonderment through Oppen causes one to see the world with new, more open (slight pun intended) eyes and a desire to live life to its fullest whatever that means for ones self.

The book also really made me want a bicycle more than ever.

Here’s an original drawing of a bike by the author Antoine Wilson.

The preceding review was based off an advanced galley.
PANORAMA CITY by Antoine Wilson is scheduled to come out September 25, 2012 from Houghton Miflin Harcourt.

Book Expo America 2012 (The Swag/Haul) as images

 

This is all the non-fiction, memoir, autobio, biography & cookbooks.  Looking forward to America, You Sexy Bitch a ton, as well as Kevin Pollak’s memoir and Damien Echols.  Hoping to use Angelo Sosa’s cookbook a lot.

These are the Young Adult/Teen/Young Reader’s titles.  Not sure what I’ll jump into here first but very excited about Scott Nash’s Blue Jay and James Patterson’s first attempt at combining his adult contemporary with his teen work.

Comics & Graphic Novels.  Excited by everything here.  The “Bible” books were a nice discovery, the AMULET galley was an excellent surprise, the two books here I wanted specifically were DRAMA and THE HYPO.

An assortment of children’s books, graphic novels, cds, and assorted promotional pieces such as totes, stickers, etc.

Children’s Books and Graphic Novels.  Look forward to pouring through Captain McFinn, but everything here is the awesome.

The Adult Fiction.  Currently reading PANORAMA CITY by Antoine Wilson.  MEMOIRS OF IMAGINARY FRIEND might be next, but who can say.  We’ll see where the mood takes me.

So much to read and write about, never enough time, but I’ll make it work!

 

Book Expo America 2012 – Day 3

On my final day of Book Expo America I only had a few things on the official agenda. I truly planned to spend the rest of the day searching, exploring and just leaping into what sounded fascinating. Of the five things in the schedule I was able to accomplish two of them, but I still walked away with an amazing amount of books.

In terms of one of the signings/events, it had been changed to the day before and I never got the notice. In terms of the others the lines for things at the same time were just so long that I had to make personal choices and one thing lost to another.

As before all these ship dates and information is based on the print versions of U.S. Releases and what information could be procured from the galleys/arcs and the internet.

The first signing that I was able to get down was Chip Kidd for his first official graphic novel Batman: Death By Design illustrated by Dave Taylor. Talking to Chip was excellent and this line was way longer than expected. Lots of comic fans at the show I guess. The book is absolutely gorgeous and a must have in my opinion for any Batman or comic lover. It is available now.

The other signing I was able to make it to was for Kirstie Alley. Unfortunately she was only signing postcards and wasn’t doing photos with people, but I was able to get one not bad shot of her. Weight loss wise she looks great. Her book The Art of Men (I Prefer Mine Al Dente) comes out in November.

Now in now particular order are the rest of the books/galleys/arcs I procured on Thursday. In the past I use to wait around till 3PM and see what “garbage” was left behind but since I’d gotten so many books I want to read and review the last two days I decided to leave my luggage at home and procured one of those McGraw-Hill bags and it was full by 2 PM on Thursday that I ended up having to use my portable and my book bag.

The newest America’s Test Kitchen collection is Quick Family Cookbook with at least 500 recipes ranging from dips, to pressure cooker meals to desserts it is a vast volume with instructions and lessons. This is an amazing tome to have. It’ll be available in October.

Hocus Pocus Hotel by Michael Dahl with illustrations by Lisa K. Weber is an awesome children’s book about as the title suggests, a magical hotel. It comes out in August.

Neon Panic by Charles Phillip Martin is a gripping suspense mystery that takes place in 2003 Hong Kong. It is available now.

Amulet-Book Five: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi. I have loved Amulet since day one and this was an excellent thing to get to see long before it goes to final print. It is a truly amazing graphic novel serial which combines fantasy, sci-fi, friendship, conspiracy, steampunk, elves, time travel, anthromorphs and more. Kazu is a stellar artist and I so happy there will be two more volumes for this epic story. Book 5 arrives in September.

Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferell is scifi without being directly scifi, the way a Kurt Vonnegut book is never classified as scifi, despite it being so. It involves time travel and mystery and self-discovery and sounds fascinating. It comes out in February 2013! (That’s right 2013… only a book on time travel would have an ARC that far in advance).

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is the latest young adult novel from Susin Nielsen, former Canadian television writer/story editor/creator on shows such as Degrassi, Braceface and Robson Arms. Built around a teenager rebuilding his life after life happens (she did write for the show that “goes there” after all) the book arrives in September.

Becoming Holmes by Shane Peacock is the final installment in the young adult mystery series Boy Sherlock Holmes. After six books the sage comes to an end in October.

For The Sender by Alex Woodard is a very fascinating project, it is both a book & a cd inspired by four letters that created 12 songs and a very heartwarming book which I have skimmed enough to get the jist of this non-fiction adventure of creativity and faith. The ARC came with a sample of 5 of the 12 songs which were all amazing, but it was quite extra cool to hear Shawn Mullins singing on one. That Hay House edition comes out in September.

Telegraph Avenue is the newest from Michael Chabon, in what might be his most epic novel yet that starts from the simplest places. Scheduled for September 2012 it promises to explore running Vinyl records stores, big market America, the Black Panthers and even a Birthing Assistant company.

Keep Your Pantheon (and School)-Two Unrelated Plays by David Mamet is a collection of two plays that as it said are unrelated, yet were performed as a dual production for Atlantic Theater Company in 2009. I love Mamet and these two are actually some of Mamet’s most unusual. The publication is available now.

The Prophet by Michael Kortya is a thriller in which murder seperates and then brings back together two brothers. The marketing is very focused on how Kortya has become a favorite writer of King, Koontz, Child, Patterson and other masters of mystery and suspense. It arrives in September according to the ARC, but August according to Michael’s website.

Eating Aliens by Jackson Landers is a memoir adventure based on the hunters experience in taking down and eating invasive animal species such as various iguanas, Asian carp, Nutria and more. It comes in September.

The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets by Diana Wagman by is a nail-biting intense and suspenseful tale of kidnapping and mystery. It arrives in November.

The Absolutionist by John Boyce is a historical period piece taking place in the UK directly after The Great War (better known as World War One). It explores queer themes, but is a much larger canvas for the atrocities of war and the bonds of friendship. It is available now.

Professor Gargoyle by Charles Gilman is the first in a series called Tales From Lovecraft Middle School, a young reader’s horror which will feature super creepy lenticular covers.

Dark Lord by Jamie Thomson Dirk Lloyd is a dark humor for kids with illustrations by Freya Hartas that takes on the concept that the lead character has forced the writer to create the book. It comes out in October.

Meat Eater-Adventures from The Life of an American Hunter is a memoir from TV host ,food & nature expert, hunter, and chef Steven Rinella. It arrives in September.

Gold is the newest novel by Chris Cleave. It’s a tale of friendship and competitition as two women are headed to the Olympics for cycling. It arrives in July.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is a young adult/teen supernatural suspense thriller and possibly Disney/Hyperion’s next big franchise. It arrives in December.

BZRK by Michael Grant is a near future young adult novel about a technological war. It is a fully immersive project with a very dedicated website which expands the universe in amazing ways. It is available now.

Starry River of the Sky is a fantasy novel for young readers written and illustrated by Grace Lin and is a follow-up to her Newbery honored Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. It is based in Chinese folklore and releases in October.

The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets by Kathleen Alcott is a debut novel. It tells the tale of two brothers who suffer from sleep walking and the neighboor who helps them, falls in love, guides them and makes a family. It comes out in September.

SEED by Ania Ahlborn is a horror suspense thriller about a long hidden darkness reemerging for a man who thought he escaped his past. It has come out in ebook format, but officially comes out in print in July.

The First Rule of Ten – A Tenzing Norbu Mystery by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay is about a Tibetan Buddhist private eye. The first book came out in January and they are hard at work on the next.

Voyage to Kázohina by Sandor Szathmári is a Hungarian modern classic, never before published in English outside of Hungary. It’s a retaking of Gulliver’s Travels first appearing in 1941. This edition shall be available in July.

The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song by Frank M. Youngand David Lasky is only sampled in the galley offered by Abrams ComicArts, but you can tell that this story about the early recordings of folk/country music group and how they came to be in graphic novel format. The final edition will include a CD of rare radio recordings. It comes out in October.

Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught is a teen psychological mystery involving the search for a missing girl and the possible suspect, her best friend who is schizophrenic. It comes out in August.

A few more items were procured including books out since mid 2011, preview sheets, blads, etc. So much stuff I can’t even really understand it all.

I do understand that Book Expo America for all its inherent, natural faults from being what it is, is the most awesome thing going for book, book publishing and pushing and focusing the book market as an event and I love being a small part of it. Although one day I hope like many others to be a larger part of it, be it as an author, PR person or editor.

Book Expo America 2012 – Day 2 (Part 2)

In this post I’ll be listing an assortment of books I procured that weren’t on my schedule for Day 2. There’s a lot of great things here that all seem fun, fascinating, exciting or whatever. I should note that all these are of the American release versions and dates. Some may already be out internationally under different titles and from different publishers and marketing. I am providing websites that I can find on either the author or the book only as reference..

The 500 by Matthew Quirk is political suspense thriller from a debut writer who got his writing grit as a hard bent journalist at The Atlantic. It is available now.

Bootlicker by Steve Piacente is a tale based on guilt, race relations, politics and intrigue.   Available now.

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce is described as a dark and modern reimaging of “The Little Mermaid”, it is geared towards Teen Readers and will be out in September.

Patient One by Leonard Goldberg combines medical suspense with political thriller in what also sounds like an action packed book. It came out in May 2012.

Third Grade Angels is the long awaited prequel to Fourth Grade Rats by Jerry Spinelli with illustrations by Jennifer A. Bell. It will arrive in September.

The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda is an action-adventure based in monsters, myths and Indian (read Asia, not Native American) folklore.

The Diviners by Libba Bray is a supernatural mystery based in 1920’s New York filled magic & murder. It comes in September or November, it’s a bit unclear.

And Still They Bloom by Amy Rovere is a children’s book designed to help with the coping of grief and cancer. It has full paintings by Joel Spector and is published by the American Cancer Society. You can pre-order it here, it comes out at the end of June.

The Good Son: The Life of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini by Mark Kriegel tells the amazing rise and tragic emotional fall of the now legendary boxer (Warren Zevon even wrote a song about the guy). It arrives in September.

Goosebumps-Wanted: The Haunted Mask is just one of the new horror stories coming from R.L. Stine, this one hits in July.

Confessions of a Murder Suspect is James Patterson‘s first teen mystery series, written with his Women’s Murder Club collaberater Maxine Paetro. It’s scheduled for September.

ZOO is another major James Patterson release also scheduled for September, co-written with Michael Ledwige is a extremely intense thriller with heavier ramifications plot wise than any James Patterson work previous.

The Devil’s Causeway by Tim Westfall is a non-fiction military history book about POWs during the Spanish-American war. It comes out in September.

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger is a supernatural fantasy for young readers. I comes out in September.

 

Unsaid is a the debut novel of lawyer Neil Abramson, whose focus is on animal rights and protection, which his book also explores as well as the relationship between human and animal. It is available now.

Ghost Buddy: Mind If I Read Your Mind? is the second book in the new series by Henry Winkler and Lin Olver, in which a ghost and a psychic kid become best friends. The latest comes in July.

MP3-The Meaning of a Format by Jonathan Sterne is equally history on sound compression and philosophy on its ramifications on music as a whole. It is mostly academic work, but still fascinating. It will be available in August from Duke University Press.

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Well is a fantasy for young readers written by the popular actor and singer Chris Colfer with illustrations by Brandon Dorman. The book comes out in July.

How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? and Say Happy Chanukah? are the latest in the dinosaur picture books by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague. They both come out in September.

Bannon & Clare in The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lillith Saintcrow is marketed as a steampunk urban fantasy and the start of a new series. It will be available in August.

Albert of Adelaide by Howard Anderson is a debut novel about a platypus discovering himself in Australia. It isn’t a children’s novel, it’s an antromorphic adult book and sounds awesome. It’ll be available in July.

Traditionally you wouldn’t find me reading some based on the bible or faith-based, but the comics and graphic novels from Kingstone Comics have a special edge. They have many series, but I only opted to check out three which I’ll be exploring further.
The Christ features art by Sergio Cariello, who I loved on Lone Ranger and Crossgen books
The Book of God which takes a scholarly look at the bible was drawn by Javier Saltares, best known for his work on Ghost Rider
The Pilgrim’s Progress is a manga adaptation which is lavishly illustrated.

That brings us to the end of items I procured on Day two of Book Expo America. There’s a chance I missed something or possibly I wrote about in Day One or will hit on my Day Three. Still I hope this gives you suggestions, ideas, thoughts, recommendations and a feeling of the diversity of books one can discover and enjoy both at BEA and in general.

Book Expo America 2012 – Day 2 (Part 1)

As I did with Day One I am going to present things that I was able to “conquer” based upon the schedule I had created for myself and then list and discuss all the wonderful galleys, signings, meetings, etc. that happened outside of this prescribed schedule. My second day at Book Expo America 2012 was another exciting adventure full of celebrities, amazing authors, surprises, long lines, random goodies, and whatchamacallits. With this opening paragraph out of the way, away we go.

I didn’t arrive at the Javits Center at 6 AM like I had on Tuesday to make sure I had guaranteed tickets to Molly Ringwald. I did get there around 7 AM though and actually ended up with two tickets that I wasn’t able to use because the lines for them even with tickets only were beyond reasonable. The only one I am sad about is not meeting Joyce Carol Oates, as she’s long been one of my favorite writers (as surprising as they might seem to those who know me).

The first line I hit after rounding the floor for galley giveaways was for Ridley Pearson’s new adult suspense thriller series, The Risk Agent, out on June 19th. The first book introduces us to the series stars John Knox and Grace Chu and takes place in Shanghai, while it’s Ridley’s YA work that has garnered him the most attention I am really excited to read this more intense ride knowing he did his research.

After I went to get Because Amelia Smiled, the newest from David Ezra Stein. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that David is an old college mate, but I’ve also become a fan of his art very quickly. This new book is a change for him in style drawn in pencils, crayon and watercolor. Looking quite dreamy and yet compelling. While his stories are definitely geared towards younger readers, the art makes them very universal.

Next up was the infamous Damien Echols. The formerly incarcerated young man whose story was told in the documentaries Paradise Lost 1-3 and whose story caught the attention of such luminary figues as Henry Rollins, Eddie Vedder, Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson, as he was part of what became known as The West Memphis Three. Now free on an unfortunate Alford plea, which means possibly never seeing true justice or knowing the trutg, he has helped produce a new documentary that premiered at Sundance, West of Memphis, and Simon & Schuster has reprinted his 2005 self published journal with new material, now titled Life After Death which includes a cover by Shepard Fairey who has done WM3 art in the past. I have no personal opinion of his guilt, innocence or elsewise, I just know he has a good story to tell. The book ships in September.

Back to Autographing where I got the second comics biography written by Marc Tyler Nobleman, who previously wrote a children’s style book on the history of Joe Siegel & Joe Shuster, creators of Superman. The new one is about Bill Finger, the co-creator of Batman with Bob Kane and is titled BILL THE BOY WONDER-The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. The first book in what could be a series I feel if Marc follows with say Gardner Fox, who in an analogy that may or not make sense one could say that Bill created the automobile, Gardner made the car actually move. It’s illustrated by one of my personal faves Ty Templeton and is available now.

It was time to get my second Ridley Pearson book of the day in KINGDOM KEEPERS V. It amazes me that despite needing tickets these lines are obscenely long and take forever, but they do. Nonetheless I got my copy of the currently out book and look forward to it.

 

A pop over a couple tables down and I get to meet my second Top Chef of the Expo in the super sexy and handsome Angelo Sosa (alongside Curtis Stone and Jamie Oliver, there’s a small smattering of serious male hotness in chefs, oh and Ainsley Harriot… women there’s bucketloads, but men, a select few). He was signing his cookbook Flavor Exposed, already available, which I’m going to really do my damndest to use some of the recipes some, they’re scrumptious reading and looking, as William Brinson‘s photography in the book is superb.

I really wanted to get over to the Graphic Novels panel on the Uptown stage to hear Noah Van Sciver, Raina Telgemeier and Zack Giallongo, among others discuss their upcoming books. Time ran away from me though. Fortunately I’d been able to get a galley of Raina’s DRAMA eariler from Scholastic and catch up with her to sign it, not that I don’t see her randomly all the time. I also was able to catch Noah Van Sciver earlier in the day. I had stopped by Fantagraphics on Tuesday and had a nice talk with Eric Reynolds and then while walking to a signing, I noticed that someone who gave a Noah like vibe sitting with Eric long before his official signing, so I made my way over and got the galley for his The Hypo – A Graphic Portrait of the Melancholic Young Lincoln, whose final cover is awesome. DRAMA by Raina Telgemeier comes out in September and The Hypo is coming in October.

As my chances at Chris Colfer were null & void I opted to head over to Perseus and get a double signing. First up was the premier  musician Buddy Guy, who’s memoir When I Left Home is currently available, followed by Teresa Guidice of Housewives of New Jersey, Celebrity Apprentice and a few best selling cookbook fames. In terms of Teresa they gave out last year’s Fabulicious! Teresa’s Italian Family Cookbook instead of her recently released Fast & Fit, both are great things to own and learn from though culinary wise. If there’s one thing Guidice does other than be really pretty while making a fool of herself on TV, it’s cook. In terms of Buddy the line moved a little too fast for me to really talk with him about anything, but I admit I don’t really know as much about him as I should.

With some time to kill I decided to check out an education panel on the Hottest Graphic Novels of 2012, I stayed long enough to get some great suggestions and a preview of Chris Ware’s upcoming “Building Stories” from Pantheon in October which will come in a box that looks like a building with comics of varying designs and sizes. Much like some old McSweeney’s were done.

I left early to get back upstairs for the Kevin Pollak signing and got there just in time. Kevin has a memoir titled How I Slept My Way to the Middle, scheduled for November. I was actually a little intimidated (me intimidated?!?) and stammered my words, but was able to get myself together to request for him to do a Christopher Walken sell for the book which he not completely graciously, but in a very Kevin Pollak type way agreed to and you can see that here or hopefully in an embed below along with a photo of the two of us. Make sure to listen to/watch Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show and also Talkin Walkin, both worth it.

Right after Kevin Pollak it was a mad rush across the floor for a super long line to Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain for their roadtrip humor book America, You Sexy Bitch which comes out on June 12, 2012. Meeting both was a pleasure and this book is one of those on high priority for me. While I don’t really know Meghan, I LOVE Black. From The State, to Wet Hot American Summer to Stella and Reaper, he’s been a huge fave. His previous book written on his own was hilarious, but the American Road Trip with the super hot daughter of John McCain premise tops it I think. Can’t wait to read this.

 

 

 

A few choices were up after this signings, but none of them possible between lines or whatever, so instead I ended up hanging out with the person who was in line behind me for Black and McCain, who just so happened to be the husband of my next doable signing. That husband happens to be writer and columnist, Jim Colucci, who works mostly for CBS’ magazine The Watch (which was a wonderful discovery as I didn’t know the magazine and it is great, just signed up for my free subscription) and his significant other is former Daily Show movie reviewer and current Sirus Radio Host, Frank DeCaro. Frank was promoting his book, Dead Celebrity Cookbook, as well as the followup Christmas in Tinseltown, that arrives in October. He also gave out an apron, which was just totally awesome.

While in line for DeCaro I was able to swing to the table right next door for a book that was on my original schedule but somehow fell off when I rewrote it to be less cluttered, and I’m glad serendipity dropped it in my lap. It is the follow-up to a series I haven’t yet read, but it was written by Brandon Mull, famous for Fablehaven and it’s called The Candy Shop War: Arcade Catastrophe.
My final scheduled signing was Chef Carla Hall, making it the third and final Top Chef of the Expo. You might also know her from her daily weekday appearance on ABC’s The Chew. First off, seriously, the woman is gorgeous in person, Hootie Hoo indeed. Unfortunately she was only signing a recipe card with a singular recipe from his forthcoming in November, Cooking with Love, but what a recipe it is. It’s for her Chicken Pot Pie (with Crust on the Bottom!). It’s a lot of work for a recipe, but god damn does it read scrumptious. I was even able to discuss with Carla how to make it slightly more healthy, which was totally awesome.

The rest of this will be broken into a Part 2 in which I go into the galleys and giveaways, etc. garnered off the schedule, but before I close off I want to talk about the one party I ended up bothering to try out on Wednesday night. It was called Pub Date and it took place at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleeker. I only went to get a chance to meet one of my favorite comic artists of all time, Phil Jimenez, which I got to do! I haven’t stayed on top of DC Comics since deciding to trade wait the New 52 and all Vertigo past SCALPED and The Unwritten, so I really knew nothing of his monthly Fairest, so I spoke to him on that. The party itself was really way too loud for any proper networking though, but I did bump into two old friends. One being Guy Lecharles Gonzalez who I see it all the book and comic shows and the other was Chavisa Woods, who almost feels like it was a lifetime ago that I saw her last.

That interesting surprise and randomness which was just topping to a day full of randomness, surprises and excitement just made this year’s BEA feel totally amazing.

Book Expo America 2012 – Day 1

My first official day of Book Expo America was to keep it simply, monumental. I got to the Javits Center at 6 AM in preperation for insanity in procuring tickets for day one events, but it wasn’t as big a deal as I expected. I ended up getting tickets for Dennis Lehane, Molly Ringwald, Lee Woodruff and Natalie Merchant and circumstances had me only not using one ticket.

My happenings were very whirlwind, so I feel the best way to focus on things is to discuss the things I procured based upon my schedule and then highlight all the awesome things I found and procured out of schedule.

My first main thing was Batman & Robin Vol. 1 by Peter Tomasi, with art by Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray. This would be of the New 52 series. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the offereing was the retail hardcover edition. I had been planning to get two of the new Batman books once in trade paperback (I’ve already ordered Animal Man, Frankenstein and Swamp Thing), but to have this hardcover signed by Peter warning me to not go into Gotham City is an extra awesome.

From here I ended up in my longest line of the entire show. So long it cut into two planned book signings I wanted to go to, but the line was to get the super limited, absolutely awesome attache case promotion for Lemony Snicket’s All The Wrong Questions. The attache case has a bar of soap, a pen, a calendar, a business card, an info sheet and a sneak preview of two chapters. The official website mentioned is LSATWQ.com which will only allow you to get on a newsletter for now, but should offer much more soon. Not to make you jealous but just to whet your appetite, I’ve provided two quick images from the promotional giveaway. The book arrives in October.

Next on my agenda that I was able to hit up was music producer Jeffrey Weber, who has written a humor filled memoir titled You’ve Got A Deal! I actually brought him my copy of a David Benoit CD that he had produced which really pleased him. We discussed some of what he was working on now and he mentioned he was working with the former lead singer of Atlantic Starr, but I forget if he said if it was Bryant or Weathers.

Following was Natalie Merchant. There was no CD or galley, but the poster she signed is quite beautiful. I also brought an old Natalie CD of her performing in 1999 for her to sign. She wasn’t really keep on doing photos, but I was able to get a little something. I’m shocked to see how salt & pepper has gone, but she’s still lovely as ever. The forthcoming book is a special edition of LEAVE YOUER SLEEP, collecting the poems she performed on the same named album with art by Barbara McClintlock and includes the original 2010 album.

I had just enough time to grab a galley of The Highskies Adventures of Bluejay the Pirate, available September 2012 and talk to writer/artist Scott Nash, then leaping on to the fast line for TROLLHUNTERS by Michael Dahl, available August 2012 before heading halfway across the building for the William Joyce signing.

The line for Joyce wasn’t as long as Snicket but it was pretty long. Once I got to the front it was worth it though as I was able to get a little bit of info out of Joyce on future projects. A Numberlys short is forthcoming, another app for Morris Lessmore and within a year, Moonbot’s first feature length.

After Joyce I met some smooth sailing as I went and picked up Fooling Houdini by Alex Stone, a book that caught my attention from its youtube video. The book is available now

My memory is a little foggy but after that I think I went right over to a nearby table for The Little White Duck by Andres Vera Martinez. This book is absolutely stunning, Andres art is just so awesome and I could stare it forever.

Although I may have first headed over to get a tasty treat and meet Chef Mike Isabella. The treat was a rainbow cookie hand baked by Mike and they also served some Proseco. Mike has a cookbook called Crazy Good Italian, coming in October.

So foggy still in order, but let’s say from there I went over to a longer than expected line for Pat Oliffe who was signing Captain America Joins The Avengers. Oliffe used a new style or at least a style that I am not used to seeing from him for this book, but it looks great and then I was able to say hello to Walter Mosley and have him sign a copy of his new excellent sci-fiction flipbook GIFT OF FIRE / ON THE HEAD OF A PIN before rushing to use my Molly Ringwald ticket.

I wish I could get a better photo of Molly, but her publisher rushed the line. I at least got this shot here and I look forward to reading her novel, When It Happens To You, coming in September. I must say Molly looks gorgeous, the best she has in years. I’d kill for a kiss, or something, I don’t know what I’m saying. Childhood crushes die hard… they die hard.

 

I used my Lee Woodruff ticket after this as well to get her upcoming Those We Love Most, scheduled for September. The Dennis Lehane line was really long, so I’m glad I was able to grab the galley for his newest.

The final thing in my schedule was Tracy Hickman who was signing with his wife their new series EVENTTIDE. I had a very pleasant talk with Tracy about my longtime love of his work with Margaret Weiss and got this taken from super far away photo done by one their publisher Shadow Moon people.

In between all this schedule stuff I found many more galleys, got on lined for things I didn’t realize in planning and checked out the booths with self publishers/lesser known writers and I’ll be focusing on those in the next paragraphs. I procured the items throughout the show and trying to remember the order at this point would be pure insanity, so I’m just going to randomly pull from the pile of stuff I got that I didn’t know I wanted, but glad I got and talk about it.

One of the best random, unplanned books/meetings I had on Wednesday was with Kevin Powell. If you watched MTV back in the day and I mean BACK in the day or follow New York politics the name will seem familiar to you. He is a three time congresional candidate (unfortunatley unsuccessful) and was Kevin, the awesome music writer who was on season one of The Real World. Through Lulu Press he has published his newest collection of essays titled, Barak Obama, Ronald Reagan, and The Ghost of Dr.King, which is available now.

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro. There was poster with a letter to readers that really intrigued and the plot made me think of films like Incognito and this Matt Dillon film about an art forger and this other one with Meg Ryan, but I might’ve imagined both of those. Either way, it seems like a fascinating book. It’s scheduled to come out in October.

The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen. I absolutely loved his first book translated in America, The Keeper of Lost Causes, and I expect the same here. Available August.

As I was leaving the Javits, a booth of what would not be but appeared to East Asian food caught my eye. Instead they were distribituing The Festival of Earthly Delights by Matt Dojny and also handing out weird food bags like asian dried flowers and crickets, and other stuff, but I took crickets, they had candy too. You can get a free e-book of the novel at http://bit.ly/KxSSv5

From Papercutz entertainment comes a brand new Three Stooges graphic novel that coincided to come with the film. It isn’t attached to the movie though, it’s all an original stories featuring those lovable Stooge brothers written by Papercutz EIC, legendary comics writer/editor Jim Salicrup and longtime Archie Comics writer George Gladir, with art by truly legendary comics artist Stan Goldberg.

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub, scheduled for September is a 1920’s tale of Hollywood, telling the rise of a young film starlet, I can only hope that despite the kind of simple description of the book in the back, the prose is strong and there are twists along the way.

I mentioned I had to skip the Dennis Lehane signing, despite having a ticket because the line was just too long, but luckily I got the ARC of his upcoming Live By Night. Scheduled to come out October 2nd, it’s an epic rise of the gangster story during the roaring Prohibition twenties of the East Coast with what I expect the usual turns of surprises we’ve come to expect from the gritty storyteller. This is one of those reads I’m really looking forward to.

Vordak The Incomprehensible: Double Trouble is the third book in the hilarious series, in this one Vordak gets a clone and mayhem and hilarity ensues. It is scheduled for August.

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch, scheduled for October is very different than his first book Eleventh Plague in terms of the world, but continues to explore self discovery, friendship and genre settings that allow for an excellent balance.

The Ninth Captain Underpants Epic Novel by Dav Pilkey is titled And The Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers. I absolutely love everything Pilkey has done and I doubt this latest will be any different.

Tap Out by Eric Devine got my notice because its based in MMA and based on conversations with the publisher’s my interest gained to make it a definite read. It shall be available in September.

Try the Morgue by Eva Maria Stahl, scheduled for October is a fictional novel based on the real life of the author whose real name is not Eva Maria Stahl, because before writing she ran guns for dangerous war criminals. This book is already popular internationally and finally comes to America.

One of the things I love doing when not hitting schedules or hunting for galleys is exploring the lesser known, smaller independent booths be they Children’s or Adult. I am going to end this article discussing two finds there on Day one.

First up is the work of Cathy Carroll, who publishes her work through My Imagination Publishing. She writes and illustrates the titles and has a truly charming style that reminds me of Matt Feazel and Rich Burlew as she brings simple stick figures to amazing life, but her work is more charming. She has two books out now, LUKAS which came out in 2010 and MY ABC & SAY which just came out and I believed premiered at BEA and has more forthcoming.

Finally is Captain McFinn and Friends. This series is entire program on Anti-Bullying which features books, music, a ebook app, school visits, an after school program and just an amazing campaign. I plan to a fuller write-up, as I do with MANY of the books here and in the following BEA Day reports, but I must say go check out the website to this now. The characters are extremely well drawn, and the integration along the whole brand is fabulous.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey and appreciate that my recollections are far from over as there were two more days and I am still recovering from the intensity of it all.

Book Expo America 2012 Day 0

For the Zero Day of Book Expo America 2012 I got to see and enjoy a couple interesting things and following I shall share them with you. The only place on the Expo floor was the gifts and remainders, but there are definitely booths there that are worth seeing.

I discovered an AMAZING pop-up book that features original art pieces made specifically for this book by Alex Ross, Joe Jusko, Leinil Francis Yu and more. The most amazing piece actually has to be Amanda Conner’s Thor vs. Loki. INSANE! The book is published by Jumping Jack Press, a division of Up With Paper and will be in comic stores in July and everywhere else after Labor Day.

Being a gift section the main focus was products and I discovered an awesome optics/eye frame company. I always felt trying to get cool frames at a reasonable price was impossible, but with Scojo it wouldn’t be. Scojo Gels are designed to be reading glasses, but the way they’re made is not like regular reading glasses, so one can pop out the glass and put their prescription in. This isn’t what they recommend, but one can do it.

 

 

 

Next up the Parodies LLC booth caught my eye. Mostly it was for the art which happened to be by one of my favorite back in the day of independent comics rise, George Komninos who self-published the comics, Portrait of a Young Man as a Cartoonist & KIP. He’s focused more on single panel and pop art and working with the writer of Parodies to create funny images.

 

 

 

 

 

The final thing on the show floor to catch my eye was the Buddha Board. It’s a fun little art/play technology that I even made a little video of.

There was one panel in the Monday selection that I thought I’d find interesting, amongst mostly panels focused on booksellers, as I couldn’t afford to do BEA Bloggers and that was on Russian Children’s Literature. At the panel they mentioned and showed off one series/book that really caught my attention and that was MASHA AND THE BEAR. The book I saw was a puzzle book, but it totally sold me on wanting more of this, the cartoon, the book, whatever, translated or at least subbed. Here’s one episode to whet your appetite, which is all in Russian.

The final main event was the BEA Editor’s Buzz. I was only able to get three of the six books discussed as people are carnvourois at BEA, but I was happy to at least get PANORAMA CITY by Antoine Wilson, which I already started reading and am loving.

Super excited for the Expo to officially begin and really losing my mind.

On being too diverse and having not enough hours in a day for Expos

I feel like I am being torn this way and that in trying to schedule Book Expo America. There are some select events I’ve been invited to and they are complete competition time wise with other events of equal, lesser or greater interest. Mostly equal or greater, as if it was lesser there wouldn’t be an issue.

One would think that with the POWER READER Program, Thursday would be the most intense busiest day of the expo, but actually it’s day one for me. Day two isn’t any easier, but Day one is going to have me running around for autographs to booths to stages trying to keep up, get all the information or quality brain nuggets before going off to the next thing. Lots of things falling exactly at the same exact time, so it’ll be a game of “Guess where I need to go first so that I’m not waiting so long that I get to that first thing by the time the other things are done”.

I’ve had issues like this in the past at Book Expo and of course at New York Comic Con and even at smaller events like MoCCA-Fest or Art Festivals or Movie Festivals. The only place I don’t think this will ever become much of an issue for me is if I make it to PAX or E3 some day. In video games I only have three real joys, platforming, third person action/adventure-shooters and point & click adventure games. So unless Telltale, Doublefine, Halfbrick, and Naughty Dog had their panels/special exhibit giveaways at the same time, I’d be okay.

For specifics here, there’s a very cool demonstration of Disney Apps and it’s concurrent to four signings I really want to hit including a celebrity chef, two of my favorite comic artists, a super popular author and getting in line for the major best selling, line seems like it wraps around the entire Javits center each year, James Patterson.

Somehow I always make it work out for myself and have fun, but that doesn’t change the fact that I wish I could be more centered and choice selective so I wasn’t running ground, but I am who I am and the website wouldn’t be called Pop-Culture Spectrum if I was different.

Book Expo America 2012 Pre-Event Highlights & Tips

Book Expo America 2012 is right around the corner. Last year I wrote a focused pre-event article giving tips and advice on how to approach the show using my last two years prior of experience of tackling the Javits. That advice came in handy for myself as well, since my Book Expo America 2011 experience was absolutely amazing. I got so many awesome books, met awesome people, made connections, got amazing photos and plenty material for various articles.

This year I plan the same and I feel it might be good to reiterate some of my tips, rewrite them or maybe even give some new ones before delving into my very long list of highlights for the show.

One of the things people always focus on are sensible walking shoes, something with support, but I’m going to change my assessment on that fact after last year wearing obscenely sensible shoes. They were perfect when I was walking the floor. The minute I had to be standing on a line though, they became less sensible. They’re arched and designed to actually wobble with the groove of your foot, but once you’re just physically standing still with a bag or two of books waiting for the one author whose line is so long you’re not sure where the actual end of the line is you’re wishing you’re in sandals or barefooted or something like that. So what is my suggestion now? I have no idea. Take your feet into account, know what works for you in a situation like that. I’m thinking sandals, but you can’t get away with that easily and be professional. So just do what is going to be comfortable for you, whatever that is. Although barefooted is not a good idea.

The biggest tip I’ve going to do my best to implement is “running” back to bag check when things get too physically heavy and I end up being completely exhausted by shows end. I have events and signings and galley giveaways and just walking around aimlessly all over the show, not to mention Blog World and I might actually forget to get back to bag check, but even if I do, that rolling suitcase not allowed on the show floor will be there for when its time to go home.

So with some tips out of the way, the real fun can begin, my personal highlights and what I look forward to. I am not going to provide times, booth numbers or anything like that. That information is all on the internet, the mobile app and various blogs and news sites. This is just things that people going to Book Expo should be looking for or be excited to hear me talk about and for those not going to Book Expo a way to imagine it all before photos and proper reportage comes their way.

I’m going to start with regular authors instead of celebrities, etc.


Daniel Handler is at Book Expo again, but he’s there as Lemony Snicket this time around. It’s been some years since he’s entered the Unfortunate Universe. Along with the great comics artist SETH, the first in his new series, All The Wrong Questions, will be previewed.


Andrew Gross
who wrote the awesome EYES WIDE OPEN, will present his newest novel 15 SECONDS.R.L. Stine will be there for his newest adult focused novel, RED RAIN.

Children’s illustrator Scott Nash presents his first self penned book The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay The Pirate.

Michael Connelly who became even more popular than before after theMatthew McConaughey starring film The Lincoln Lawyer will be there for the latest Harry Bosch novel (for those only familiar with the movie, Bosch is Haller’s half brother and an LAPD homicide detective).

William Joyce, author/illustrator and academy award winner will be there promoting the book adaptation of the amazing The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Tracy Hickman, co-writer of the epic DragonSword, Deathgate and other fantastic series, will be there with publisher Shadow Mountain for his Tales of the Dragon’s Bard series.

Journalist Alex Stone will be signing his book, Fooling Houdini, one of the lesser known books at the show that really caught my attention.

Walter Mosley, the best selling crime novelist will be there in promotion of his sci-fi novel, a flip book of two novellas.

Ridley Pearson has a new adult suspense series that starts with The Risk Agent.

Children’s book writer/illustrator and coincidentally one of my former college fellow students, David Ezra Stein will be promoting his upcoming Because Amelia Smiled.

One of the greatest children’s writers ever, James Howe, will be there for his upcoming picture book, illustrated by Chris Raschka, Otter and Odder.

That doesn’t cover even remotely everything that I’ll even be into but it should focus you enough.

In terms of celebrities with autobiographies or novels, well it’s a choice list.

Molly Ringwald has written a novel.

Q104.3’s Carol Miller, has a memoir.

Kevin Pollak has also written a memoir. Oh and if you haven’t checked out his newer podcast Talkin’ Walkin, you’re missing out.

Michael Ian Black has new book to promote in America, You Sexy Bitch co-written with Meghan McCain, who I believe shall also be there.

Frank DeCaro, best known for his movie reviews on The Daily Show and Sirius radio program, is promoting a collected recipe collection.

On top of that,  these three chefs of TOP CHEF fame shall be at the event!

Season 6’s Mike Isabella, Season 7’s runner up Angelo Sosa (also of Top Chef All-Stars) and Season 5’s Carla Hall (now of The Chew).

In this listing I have left out a lot. My schedule is filled with galley times, panels, chefs, other major writers, comic artists, celebs and more. It is a full and crazy schedule which I doubt I’ll accomplish as there’s only 60 minutes in an hour and who knows who long some things can take between waiting, talking, getting a photo, a signature and getting to your next location which can be down the aisle or across the room, but it’s all worth it.

Hope you have as much fun as I plan to!

She Went to Hell and took us with her

Hello, Chuck Palahniuk, it’s me Reid Harris Cooper. I just wanted to let you know that your newest book is compelling and successfully fills many of the holes it creates along the way, creating interesting characters and a vivid image of a designed hell I can see well animated by John Kricfalusi. On the other hand it is at times quite pretentious, overly wordy and particularly annoying. While you can easily blame this on your protagonist and the first person speech, it did not have to be this way. Certain choices were made in terms of structure, repeated style use and pushed upon ideas that at times I almost tossed the book across the room in frustration. It is almost a sign that the book got accidentally water damaged making it look mangled, but not unreadable.


DAMNED is the newest upcoming book from the acclaimed writer of Fight Club, Survivor, Choke, Lullaby, Haunted, Rant and a few more. Many are thinking of it as possibly a return to form that he seems to have possibly lost, but I see it as more experimentation from a writer who refuses to be locked down into any type of style or particular voice other than that of unreliable narrators and reveals that flips he story late into the book, sometimes too late to make a dent, other times perfectly sculpting pure genius. In many ways, DAMNED does both.

Chuck seems to have definitely done his research here and while it is admirable and adds to the scenery, at times it almost feels like he is trying to boast more than even educate through his various characters that he can talk about Hell because he went and read all the various books, scriptures, theologian essays and more. I applaud his effort, while also rolling my eyes at it. I almost feel it’d been more interesting for him to create his entirely own vision of Hell than the cobbled together version in this book. There are some really hilarious, fantastically brilliant ideas here and some of them are fully formed, while others just get touched upon making you desire more. This could be to the possibility of an upcoming sequel. If said sequel doesn’t exist though they’re just nuggets that will lay there untouched; Very cute, interesting nuggets that will only percolate in the readers mind, but never to be fully fleshed out and formed.

As an entire package the book tells a full and complete tale that is both visually entertaining and mentally stimulating, yet falters from expansive sections which could’ve easily been in fast forward and at times The major plot “twist” can be easily telegraphed from an early sequence as well that is just really longer and weirder than it needed to be. I feel like I’m spitting more venom than sprinkles here for a book I actually cared enough to finish, especially since books that start to piss me off usually get tossed on the ground and given a beat down, but the fact is that I really saw a lot of potential in this story and I feel at least a sequel could save it, but as it stands I can only recommend it to the the most stalwart fan of Chuck’s or those who really love contemporary visions of Hell via the dialogue of a young girl who finds empowerment through Death and Dismemberment.

DAMNED currently has a release date of October 18, 2011 in America and is published by Doubleday. It will be a hardcover with a retail price of $24.95, but obviously cheaper through sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.