The Vampire List, Part 2: Urban vamps

If you’re looking for vampires, the best place to find them is in the library. I’m serious. Even the undead lThe Turning by Jennifer Armintroutike to read. You can also check the bank, the grocery store, the gas station, and, considering current gas prices, probably even catching a ride on a Metro bus. The point is, in the parallel worlds of urban fantasy, our fanged neighbors are not monsters, but normal, everyday people — they put their black capes on one shoulder at a time, just like anyone.

Below you’ll find a list of titles by authors who put vampires in everyday, often mundane, circumstances. Watch vampires deal with your problems Continue reading “The Vampire List, Part 2: Urban vamps”

Destination Venice

If your interest is piqued by ancient cities with mazes of streets and canals, of hidden plots and secrets, then you must like reading about Venice.

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt begins on January 29. 1996 the day the Fenice Opera is destroyed by fire. Berendt’s citizen interviews reveal the intricacies of customs, society, politics, the city’s decades of decay and preservation. Among them are Archimede Seguro, an aging glassblower who makes 100 vases depicting the fire as viewed from his window only feet away. Berendt learns much about Ezra Pound and Olga Rudge, his paramour, whose art collection disappeared in mystery from the home she still inhabited. The inside story of the Palazzo Barbaro (where scenes from Brideshead Revisited were filmed) and so much more brings Venice off the page in a chatty and informative way.

Travel back to the time following the 1527 sacking of Rome, as the wealthy courtesan Fiametta Continue reading “Destination Venice”

The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares

invention of morelThis haunting novella – sort of an ethereal counterpart to Wells’ Island of Doctor Moreau, inspired in part by the author’s fascination with Louise Brooks, The Invention of Morel is the curious fable of a man lost on an island where he falls in love with the beautiful Faustine, who seems not to know he exists. It is small comfort that nobody else on the island seems to know he exists either. Is he a ghost? Are they? The answer to this riddle is gradually revealed to be something that resonates mightily with life as we know it, which is to say often not at all. How many of the people who matter most to you actually exist? I don’t have a whole lot of patience for metafictions that lend themselves to some handy symbolic reading about life, but they rarely seem as elegant and inviting as this. A good titles for Borges fans – he writes the prologue in the handsome nyrb classics edition that I read) – and for fans of folks like Paul Auster, Steven Millhauser, Haruki Murakami, and other dreamscapers.

Shelf Talk(s) with Cory Doctorow, pt. 2

image of cory doctorow courtesy of joiLibrarians like Cory Doctorow a lot, not least of all because we both tend to think that information wants to be free, and we both get a kick out of giving books away. However, if you want his actual analog pen-and-ink signature on his latest book – Little Brother – Cory will be appearing at the library’s Ballard Branch on Sunday, March 18 at 2 p.m, where he can oblige you. Generous guy that he is, he recently obliged us with a mind-expanding phone call, and here’s some more of that conversation (here’s part one):

Q: Congratulations on your latest project, your new daughter.

Oh yeah – my wife just sent me the world’s most awesomely cute one minute video clip of getting ready for bath time and I swear to god its just hypnotic, I’ve watched it a hundred and fifty times.

Q: (In addition to the effect this experience will have on your writing), how do you think having a child will effect your views on your creative children, and giving them away on the Internet?

…you know, it did get me thinking. I wrote a column for Locus magazine that just came out called Think Like a Dandelion – actually the title’s an homage to a James Patrick Kelly book called Think Like a Dinosaur – and its about the different reproduction strategies of plants and mammals. And I understand why as a mammal my intuition is that I need to be really closely attuned to the disposition of my reproductions, of my offspring. That is our reproductive strategy. But it’s not the reproductive strategy of a dandelion. The reproductive strategy of a dandelion is to be just utterly profligate to just blow your seeds Continue reading “Shelf Talk(s) with Cory Doctorow, pt. 2”

Shelf Talk(s) with Cory Doctorow, pt. 1

Cory Doctorow is coming to Seattle this weekend, on tour to promote his latest book – Little Brother – a smart dystopic thriller aimed at young adults, but with something to say to everyone. (Comparisons are odious, but if Gene Shalit were here he might say 1984 meets Catcher in the Rye. I’d add in Eric Frank Russell’s Wasp.) He’ll be appearing at the library’s Ballard Branch this Sunday at 2 p.m (in collaboration with our good friends at the Secret Garden Bookshop). Of all the great things that have been said about Little Brother, here’s a bit from Neil Gaiman: “I’d recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I’ve read this year, and I’d want to get it into the hands of as many smart 13 year olds, male and female, as I can. Because I think it’ll change lives…”

If you’re unfamiliar with Doctorow, popular editor and blogger at BoingBoing.net, author and outspoken advocate for intellectual freedom and the creative commons movement, a few hours spent surfing through his prolific work and thought may change your life too, or at least the way you view your rights to information, to privacy, and to making a contribution to this world. It is also a bracing tonic for the mind: Doctorow’s range of interests – from hacks to cool gadgets to public policy – are head-spinning.  I had a chance to talk with Cory the other day, and wanted to share some of what he said.

Q: Little Brother seems to bring together a lot of your diverse interests in one place. When did you know this was going to be a book for younger readers?

It was absolutely conceived of as a young adult book… I had friends who went and done successful – artistically, commercially – young adult books… and they really sold me on the idea that it was just a lot of fun, and that particularly that Continue reading “Shelf Talk(s) with Cory Doctorow, pt. 1”