Autumn/Flash Gordon approaching

And then, somehow, it was September, and Autumn was in the air.

I’ve been making an effort recently to slow my life down a bit, to make sure I take some time to stop and smell the roses—to be more thoughtful about what I’m doing each day and not just bulldoze my way through work and come home too tired to do anything other than watch MST3K and fall into bed. I’ve started doing yoga every day that I run, and some days that I don’t, and I’m trying to read more and watch less TV and cook more and just generally slow down and improve my life. We’ll see how long this lasts.

One of the things I’m reading right now is this:

photo 1
Flash Gordon: Spaceman with a Sword.

I found this at Boston Comic Con last month, buried in a 50% off box behind a bunch of $1 comics. I’d seen the Flash Gordon movie and some of the old serials, but never read any of the comics. I have to say, I’m sold. This book is amazing. Flash Gordon is going on a mission to find a missing spacecraft, and along the way there’s a jailbreak at a space prison, a sexy ice queen and crazy ice monster on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, and then they get transported to a far-off planet and it gets even MORE crazy. The stories are completely ridiculous and kitschy and oh-so-earnest and fabulous.

One of the things I love most, I think, is the juxtaposition of the serious, masculine, realistic art with the complete goofiness of the story elements. Before you ask, no, I’m not really sure what I mean by “masculine,” either—the art just seems rugged and manly, somehow, in a way that isn’t inherent to some more modern art. There’s something funny and intriguing to me about this serious masculine style being used to represent pretty butterfly men and Flash Gordon fighting an ice monster/space triceratops.

photo 2
Butterfly men and Flash Gordon’s chin.

The back of the book has an essay by Dave Schreiner and some old pencils and layouts by Frank Frazetta and Harvey Kurtzman, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

I also have a collection of the Flash (DC’s Flash) that I’m working on right now, and then I guess I should find a book without pictures to follow up with. Maybe it’s time for some Dickens.

I hope everyone out there in the internet-land is doing well! Anyone in the middle of any good Autumn reads right now?

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Boston Book Festival, 5 years later

I went to the first Boston Book Festival in 2009, near the end of my first year in Boston. I wrote two quick posts about it, one of which I can never delete because it’s cited on Wikipedia. It was a great experience. Boston was still a new home to me and I didn’t have tons of friends or feel particularly connected to the city. Sitting in the Trinity Church’s Old South Sanctuary with hundreds of other people, listening to John Hodgman, I thought, “I could actually like living in Boston. Look at all these other people like me.”

I’ve attended most years since then, I think only missing the one when I was out of town. I love going to the sessions because I always love listening to writers talk, and I love the energy of all the fantastic Bostonian book-lovers bustling around Copley Square. This year, though, there was too much. I couldn’t really handle it.

I wanted to attend the Heroes and Antiheroes session but due to my own inability to get my butt moving on a Saturday, I didn’t get there until exactly when it started. The Sanctuary was already packed, and after a few minutes I decided I was an old person who didn’t want to stand for an hour and I went to check out other things. I ended up going to the Imagining the Past session, which also ended up overflowing its room but I got there about ten minutes early and was able to claim a seat.

Because I really wanted to go to YA: Other Worlds, I left Imagining the Past during the Q&A (sorry presenters), which enabled me to get across Copley to the library around 20 minutes before the YA session started. The room was already at capacity and a line was forming out the door of the room. 20 minutes early! So I hung around (talked to the guys at Soho Books who told me Peter Lovesey might be coming to Boston next year!) and then went half an hour early to the final session of the day that I really wanted to see, Graphic (Non)Fiction. That one seemed to have exactly the right amount of room for the people who wanted to attend, so that was fine, and the session was great.

Heroes and Villains was my fault—the big keynote events are always packed and it was my own damn fault I didn’t get there in time to find a spot. But everything else was also at or over capacity, and it’s a problem if you can’t get into a session because the sessions are the core of the BBF. Yes there are the vendor booths as well, but if you are on a budget and don’t want to spend tons of money they aren’t super useful. The music is fine but it’s not why I’m there. I’m also a homebody who doesn’t really love being in large outdoor crowds.

Now don’t get me wrong, I adore the Boston Book Festival and I am so glad that it exists and is thriving and is free. Love it! But it’s bursting at the seams. If I can’t get into the sessions I want, even arriving early, there’s not much point in my attending. I don’t know what they could do, exactly, to fix this problem—when you’re putting on a free event you don’t know how many people are going to come, and you take whatever space you can get. The BBF can’t control attendance. They can’t really add Sunday sessions because half their space is in various churches. So I don’t know what the fix is. On my end, for next year I might make a more targeted plan and pick one or two sessions to attend (arriving really early), and then bail.

I do love what it says about this city that both Boston Comic Con and the Boston Book Festival are so popular. Go Boston!

OUT TUESDAY: Zombie Tag, by Hannah Moskowitz

Hannah is one of my biffers, and I’m thrilled to help spread the word about her newest book, Zombie Tag. It hits shelves tomorrow, Tuesday December 20, and it is a pretty awesome piece of MG fiction. (MG is just a label—you bet your boots I’m planning to read it.)

You may recall, last year, I presented the rules for the game of zombie tag (click to refresh your memory). That game plays a major role in the book, aside from just giving it a title, but the book is so much more. Here’s the blurb:

Wil is desperate for his older brother to come back from the dead. But the thing about zombies is . . they don’t exactly make the best siblings.

Thirteen-year-old Wil Lowenstein copes with his brother’s death by focusing on Zombie Tag, a mafia/capture the flag hybrid game where he and his friends fight off brain-eating zombies with their mothers’ spatulas. What Wil doesn’t tell anybody is that if he could bring his dead brother back as a zombie, he would in a heartbeat. But when Wil finds a way to summon all the dead within five miles, he’s surprised to discover that his back-from-the-dead brother is emotionless and distant.

In her first novel for younger readers, Moskowitz offers a funny and heartfelt look at how one boy deals with change, loss, and the complicated relationship between brothers.

Doesn’t that sound awesome? Yes, yes it does.

Check out Hannah’s blog here. This link goes to Zombie Tag on Amazon, but I obviously encourage you to buy it at your local bookstore.

what I’m reading this month: A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

My friends keep writing books that make me cry.

Bitches.

This month’s culprit is Suzanne Young, with her new novel A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL. Here’s the blurb:

We all want to be remembered. Charlotte’s destiny is to be Forgotten…

Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth, who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend’s arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become–her mark on this earth, her very existence–is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.

Charlotte will be forced to choose: Should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny–no matter how dark the consequences?

I can say without any spoilers that it is an extremely touching story that left me blubbery. Suzanne makes you truly feel and understand the characters, and Charlotte’s relationships with her BFF, her boyfriend, and her family are beautifully and believably portrayed. I felt like I was reading about real people.

So check it out! A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL is simply a wonderful, wonderful book, and I cannot wait for the sequel.

miles and miles and miles of heaaaart

Hi! I have a giant inflatable heart. Head included for scale. Yes, I need a haircut.

Courtesy of Chuck Palahniuk, who gives possibly the best author reading I’ve ever been to. Overly tired right now, but I’ll probably do a post proper on Chuck P tomorrow or sometime.