Books Received–Margo Lanagan, Bob Dylan, Prince, Dandy Warhols, and More

Jeff VanderMeer • September 27th, 2008 @ 3:03 pm • Book Reviews, Culture

So, it’s about time to jump down the rabbit hole again, but I needed a day or two of not working on the novel to get some needed perspective on what I’ve written thus far.

Look in the coming weeks for book reviews and features I’ve done for the Washington Post Book World, the Huffington Post, and the Barnes & Noble Review. As well as continuing pieces on Amazon’s book blog and io9.com. I will also start doing a pop culture column for Realms of Fantasy (Matt Staggs is now RoF’s second reviewer, behind Paul Witcover.) People ask me, “Jeff, how come you’ve still got stuff appearing on the intertubes when you’re hunkered down working on the novel.” Well, part of the answer is I take a break on weekends to work on nonfiction. The other part of the answer is that I did a ton of stuff before I dove in to work on the novel in earnest, and some of it is just appearing now.

Anyhow, here are a select few of the books received over the last two or three weeks. (And some music.)

Jeff

The first two titles from Underland Press: Evenson’s Last Days and The Pilo Family Circus. Along with the highly anticipated Tremblay, among others. I’ve read the Evenson and loved the first half. I liked the second half too, but am still mulling Evenson’s handling of law enforcement and grand guignol flourishes.

A great trio of graphic novel stuff. Alex Irvine’s excellent Vertigo encyclopedia is a highlight, but so too are the Barry and the Talbot.

I’ve really heard good things about White Tiger, so very happy to see that one in particular.

First Klosterman I’ve seen. Looking forward to it.

All three of these look great.

Fun-looking children’s books.

Bob Dylan song lyrics now a children’s book…

Two comfortably creepy kids’ books

Hmmmm.

Deluxe packaging for a Prince book, including CD and fashion shoot.

More detail from the Prince book…

That ain’t my hand…

Yeah, this is a heck of a book.

One book the world probably doesn’t really need (all apologies, but…) and another we do.

I have to admit–the Wolfe looks really, really bad.

A third of the way through Tender Morsels and…it’s brilliant. Also looking forward to Gilman’s second. I want to read the Carroll, but I think he’s been on autopilot the last few novels.

I think that cover for the werewolf book is awful. Another great-looking Tin House, and an interesting political absurdism.

Some music I’ve bought recently. I really really love the Calexico, the Darker My Love, the Dandy Warhols, the Munly, the Muse, and the Shearwater.

23 Responses to “Books Received–Margo Lanagan, Bob Dylan, Prince, Dandy Warhols, and More”

  1. Brian Lindenmuth says:

    Gene Wolfe – Is it the cover or the story/synopsis that you don’t like?

    God’s Middle Finger – Read it. It’s a little problematic in places but I really enjoyed it.

    Carroll – I know what you mean about the coasting, he’s really at a place where he is reusing some of his ideas and imagery. I expect to like Ghost but not love it. But I do have to say that I really love White Apples though.

    Last Days – I’m still pondering this one. Great in some places, odd in others. I did enjoyment it though.

  2. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    I think, for me, this book is trying to combine too many disparate elements. It strikes me, from what I’ve read, as thin and in places just plain ridiculous. And I like Wolfe’s work.

    Jeff

  3. JesseFord says:

    Holly poop! Is that a new Calexico? The art looks pre- Garden Ruin, so I’m not sure? I’ll have to search that out, regardless. And I like the cover to that werewolf book, but I have a thing for silhouettes and pasties. Granted I’m seeing a small version of it at an angle…

  4. James says:

    Does this mean the Bryan Talbot Arkwright stuff is finally available again? Dark Horse claimed to be re-releasing it ages ago and I tried for months to figure out if it was really happening. I even called the publisher and couldn’t get a straight answer.

  5. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Jesse–that is a new Calexico!

    Yes, it is available, James!

    Jeff

  6. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Jesse–I think given the fact the protagonist is a 15-year-old Russian werefox prostitute, I found it both appropriate and kind of distasteful.

    Jeff

  7. Larry says:

    I want that Dylan book! OK, so I’m a major-league fanboy (for once), but still!

    As for the Carroll book, I just finished reading it this afternoon. It read just like any of the other recent Carroll books, to be honest. I liked it, but I was far from being wowed by it. Akin to listening to any “new” Rolling Stones or AC/DC tracks in the deja vu feel. Totally agree about the Lanagan, as that was one creepy (in the good sense), well-executed, moving book to read.

  8. Jill says:

    Really looking 4ward 2 the “21 Nights” book from Prince…thanks 4 the preview, Jeff!!!

  9. Timblynod says:

    What? Carroll’s recent stuff isn’t so great? I just finished ‘Bones of the Moon,’ my first delve into Carroll, and was looking forward to snatching up more of his books. ‘Bones of the Moon’ actually reminded me of ‘The Resurrectionist,’ and to a lesser extent ‘Zod Wallop,’ by Monsieur Spencer.

  10. Larry says:

    Timblynod, Carroll has a “sameness” to a great many of his novels in regards to structure and even some of the character types/plot developments. Take whatever some have said about Gaiman’s prose and multiply it by at least a factor of 10. It’s too uniform, if that makes any sense. Good, but after a while, one can get numbed by the sense of sameness.

  11. Bill Ectric says:

    I think my two books would look more impressive if they were combined into one book.

  12. Timblynod says:

    Larry, what have some said about Gaiman’s prose? I found each book unique and, well, awesome, particularly in terms of prose. Even his children’s pieces, like ‘Coraline.’

    What other Carroll novel would you recommend?

  13. Larry says:

    I meant in the sense that Gaiman has a certain “tone” to a great many of his prose pieces; I like them, but am only recounting what others have said elsewhere (not necessarily agreeing with those comments, I ought to add). Carroll, however, just seems to regurgitate certain elements a bit too much – dogs, some of of the plot twists, the issue of “fate,” etc. The best book of his to start with would be his first, The Land of Laughs. I’ve read that, The Wooden Sea, White Apples and The Ghost in Love and each has a very similar tone and feel to me.

  14. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Gaiman is a lovely person who has always been very kind, and I like some of his short fiction quite a bit, and love his collabs with McKean, but I have to admit I find most of the novels fall into the category of too commercial for my tastes. It’s funny you say, Timblynod, that you admire the prose, because that’s exactly what is not working for me in the novels. But to each his own. The man’s still clearly a creative powerhouse.

    Jeff

  15. Timblynod says:

    Jeff, maybe it’s just some weird part of me that exults in his particular style. Although more likely I’m just dazzled by all the creativity. A few years ago I came across a drabble Gaiman had written about Santa. It resounded so forcefully in my mind that I immediately scratched down my very first drabble. It was a pastiche, of course, and I tried to preserve the same sardonic morbidity in Gaiman’s drabble:

    The Fairy

    ‘Tee hee hee!’ said the fairy. Then, ‘Mwa haa haaa!’ For it was a malicious fairy, and often disguised itself as the Tooth Fairy. House to house it flitted, in the black of night, stealing memories and feeding on nightmares. It always left the gold teeth–they were useless–but took the silver ones, and from them the fairy fashioned little silvery minions that spoke in little silvery susurrations. The fairy had many whims, so its minions were always away doing its bidding, and when a spider moved into its home, the fairy’s cackle became a shriek: ‘Aaa aaa aaaaa!!’

  16. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    *Please make the bleeding from my eyes stop.*

  17. Tim Pratt says:

    I read the new Carroll, and enjoyed it, but in a month I won’t be able to remember whether the characters and situations I just read about appeared in this novel or in one of the previous three; there is definitely a sameness of tone and approach and theme lately, which is too bad. He also seems to have lost his willingness to be brutal with characters and let their actions have truly tragic consequences — everyone gets off too easily. That said, I do like his themes and approach, and was happy to have a new one to read.

  18. GabrielM says:

    I found the Wolfe novel a very odd book. It reminded me more than a little of Michael Arlen’s HELL! SAID THE DUCHESS and was similarly unsatisfying. Curiously affected dialogue and a dark ending at odds with the light tone of the rest of the book. It’s a quick and easy read, which Wolfe’s novels rarely are, but does feel insubstantial. I suspect fans will either love it or hate it, while I was just puzzled. Part of the problem is my suspicion that there may be more there than meets the eye (common with Wolfe) and that it went over my head (common with me). Still, I suspect its future place in Wolfe’s oeuvre will be as a pleasant curiosity.

    Although I quite enjoyed THE WOODEN SEA (it’s my favorite Carroll novel after LAND OF LAUGHS) Carroll’s last two books have been affirmatively bad.

    Gaiman’s style leaves me cold, particularly in his novels, which then tend to drag. But occasionally he’ll come out with an excellent short story, witness “A Study in Emerald”.

  19. Timblynod says:

    lol The Saints also bled from the eyes upon beholding the Ineffable Wonders. They also were overwhelmed with awe. ;)

  20. jeff vandermeer says:

    heh. mission wind u up so u say something insane accomplished.

    g–same reaction re the wolfe. it is just a bad book from a good writer. he is allowed. he also seems to have been writing awfully fast of late.

  21. Katherine says:

    These all look amazing. And I agree, the new Calexico is fantastic.

    Will you be having a vandermeer sale soon? =)

  22. Timblynod says:

    doh!

  23. Peggy Quebedeaux says:

    Why is it that some blogs just seem to obtain it correct, many thanks for becoming so informative.

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