Saturday, April 28, 2007

Persepolis and City of Bones

Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

I've been meaning to read this for a while, and it is really lovely. An autobiographical graphic novel about being a little girl (and then a young woman) in a progressive Iranian family during the Islamic Revolution.

I learned a lot about the history of Iran and about the Islamic Revolution reading this, but the author never skimps on the personal story, which is equally fascinating and funny and terrifying. What a thing to live through. The story itself doesn't really hang together until about halfway through, when it suddenly picks up steam and grabs you hard and doesn't let you go until you reach the final, heartbreaking page. The art is wonderful, too: simple and expressive, in stark black and white. I highly recommend it.

Has anyone read the sequel? I've heard it's disappointing.

City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare

Don't get me wrong -- the book has its entertaining elements, even a couple of arguably original moments. And, AND: (this is important) it is not worse than A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY or TWILIGHT. There's a lot of mediocre YA fiction out there that does very very well in the marketplace for one reason or another, and CITY OF BONES is squarely and justly in company with a whole slew of clumsy, shamelessly derivative, inconsistent, shallow YA fantasy novels of the last few years.

But I still feel crankier about Clare than I did about Bray or Meyer, and that's because I've read a little about her history. It does make a person feel a little sour about the publishing business to see poor behavior rewarded with a book deal, even if the two arguably have nothing to do with each other.

And indeed, I don't believe she got the book deal on the strength of her internet notoriety. Clare has advantages other than her fannish infamy. She has a solid and attentive agent. In addition, the last few years have generally been very good for writers of YA fantasy trilogies (everyone's buying them) and Clare's brand of overwrought, over-plotted, morally and emotionally simplistic, paint-by-numbers, highly derivative urban fantasy is a comfortable genre for unadventurous publishers.

I will admit, I secretly hoped CITY OF BONES would be excellent. It would have been nice to see Clare redeem herself by getting something terrific published. As it is, the fact that the series is so solidly mediocre just makes me feel vaguely embarrassed for everyone involved -- including me, the reader.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


CONtent; conTENT. I like it that they're spelled the same. I meant CONtent up there in the subject, FYI.

I don't have anything in particular to say -- but I wanted to write something down. The weather has been positively spring-like and is making me feel dreamy and nostalgic for springtimes past: the backyard garden in Boulder, CO, where I lived until I was nine years old; early summer at Turkeyhurst; singing Easter services at Christ Church; spring flowers busting out all over the Barnard campus while Columbia remained so plain and conservative in comparison (as always); etc, etc.

I got a sunburn last weekend, tromping around Fort Tryon park with my friend Amy. We walked up into Inwood, too, and looked at the neighborhood Amy wants to move into. She lives in upper Washington Heights right now but is under salsa-music seige from all sides in her current apartment. Compared to that, Inwood looks awfully quiet, it is true. I'm spoiled, though, living on what I am convinced is the quietest block in Manhattan.

...Except from 4:45am to about 6am, when our resident Mockingbird starts singing. When you're half-asleep and stumbling over to slam the window shut you might think it's a whole chorus of birds, singing alternating parts. But no, it's just our little friend, who comes back every year at about the same time to stake out his territory. Or maybe we're witnessing successive generations? the Wikipedia article doesn't say how long they live, but it does have this nugget to share:

Mockingbirds' willingness to nest near houses, loud and frequent songs, and territorial defense often annoy people. John van der Linden, the author of the Eastern Birding Central FAQ, says that 25 to 50 percent of the e-mail questions he receives are about how to deal with annoying mockingbirds.

Well, lunch hour is over, kids. I'll catch y'all soon.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tiny House Porn

Check out the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Next time I find myself with $40K to spare, I know what I'm treating myself to...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Is nice.

Borat is a pretty funny movie. One thing I like about Sacha Baron Cohen's approach is he sort of puts himself out there and then lets people make of him what they will. There are a few exceptions to this rule -- sequences where he clearly sets out to provoke people into outrageous behavior -- but for the most part he happily stands back and lets his victims dig their own graves. And the good news is that not everyone embarrasses themselves.

Notable examples include the guy who teaches Borat to drive ("yes, OK, I'm your boyfriend"); the woman at the humane society ("no, Jews are Jesus's children too"); and the weather man who just giggles helplessly as he tries to get back to his report. It's actually kind of amazing how many people react to Borat with patience and good humor.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pictures of me at work

Sometimes I fire up the camera on my computer so I can see what expression my face has settled into as I sit and work.

It usually isn't pretty.

A couple typical examples from recent days:

You'd think my job was, like, kicking puppies and writing cover sheets for TPS Reports. You'd think, at the very least, that I didn't enjoy my work.

I love my work. And my work is, like, the opposite of kicking puppies. I make kids books for a living. I spend my days thinking about Snow White and Mr. Potato Head.

But clearly my default "hard at work" face is pretty much exactly the same as my default "pissed as hell" and "freaked the fuck out" faces.

Go figure.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Books what I've read

I've been meaning to do this.

So, to the best of my recollection, here is where I stand for books since roughly January 1, 2007:

The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum. (Don't recommend AT ALL. Movies much, much better.)

Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami. (Pretty great.)

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer. (Oh, EDWARD.)

Magic for Beginners, by Kelly Link (I'm on the fence about this one.)

American Born Chinese, by Gene Yang (MADE OF AWESOME)

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party, by MT Anderson (Great.)

Sandman, Vol. 1, by Neil Gaiman. (Hmm... better than it had any right to be, says I.)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Dumbo makes the baby Jesus (and me) cry

I don't know what's stranger... that someone made a music video with DUMBO for "Seasons of Love" from RENT, or that it made me CRY A LITTLE GIRL.

Watch it here

Seriously. Tears are leaking down my face RIGHT NOW.

...of course, DUMBO just does that to me, anyway. God, that poor little elephant. What a movie.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Raina Telgemeier, the adapter and illustrator of the Graphix line of Babysitters Club graphic novels, mentioned me on her LJ, in her entry about NY Comic Con 07.

Check it out -- my friend Diana and I are both in a video and a bunch of photographs of the signing at the Scholastic booth... that's Ann M Martin in the foreground, btw. And if you turn the volume up you can hear me making inane small-talk while my heart tries to leap out of my chest and pledge its undying devotion to the creator of the Babysitters Club.


I got promoted! I am now an Associate Editor.

...Funny, I don't *feel* any different.