Staff Picks July 2012


An Arab Melancholia
 by Abdellah Taia

An Arab Melancholia is an autobiographical novel by Abdellah Taia, the first openly gay autobiographical writer published in Morocco. Intimate and honest, the book accounts for the difficulties a young filmmaker faces as a homosexual in the Arab world, but also as a person eager to fall in love.Over twenty years in Morocco, in Paris and in Egypt, the narrator gradually finds himself being shaped by his desire, by his lovers, but also by his own writing and by culture.

From the abuse he suffers in Morocco, to the dramatic epistolary ending of his relationship with a man who is "more arab than him," despair ends up always staying in the picture, but somehow hope remains. Last March, the New York Times published this excellent essay written by Taia, in which he writes about some of personal events he fictionalized in this book.


Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn

Is there anything more thrilling than marriage? A New York Times bestseller and a total page-turner, Flynn's Gone Girl details the lengths to which people in a bad relationship will go to in order one-up one another and come out on top. Half-truths and outright lies twist what could have been a standard potboiler into a Gordian Knot of domestic disenchantment. Worth your while.

Shadow Show
edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle

Twenty-six short stories in the key of B(radbury) by the likes of Dave Eggers, Harlan Ellison, Audrey Nieffenegger, Charles Yu, and Margaret Atwood...sign me up! Oh, and great cover by D&Q's Tom Gauld!


Rebel Youth and Jeans
by Karlheinz Weinberger

Let me just say it: Karlheinz Weinberger is the best Swiss photographer you've (probably) never heard of. (Who knows. Maybe you have. I needed to make a bold initial statement) Photographing hip and rebellious Zurich teens in the 50s and 60s, Weinbergers images have a strangely contemporary vibe to them. His subjects, a group of kids known as Verlaustan (Lice-Infected Ones) are so heart-breakingly cool, it hurts.
And, wonderfully enough, we have TWO of his books in the shop. Both are fantastic. And both are as rugged and tender as you could hope for.


by Joe Sacco

With a quick glance at the cover, you can tell that there is a whole lot of pain and suffering in Joe Sacco’s latest work Journalism. It might not be a fun read, but it is absolutely momentous in terms of war correspondence. Instead of shying away from violence and injustice, Sacco delves deep into the everyday effects of war on individuals in some of the most volatile areas around the globe (Hague, Palestine, Caucasus, Iraq, Malta, and India). Paired with Sacco’s impeccable line, the stories in Journalism are touching, often disturbing, and always thought-provoking. I actually had to put the bookdown a few times while reading it, but I’m glad I got through such an important collection of journalism from the great Joe Sacco.

Darth Vader and Son
by Jeffrey Brown
Now, for something completely different... Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vader and Son. Let me start with a shocker: I hate Star Wars. I think that a big part of this is due to the fact that until my teenage years, I thought that my favourite film as a kid, SPACEBALLS, was an original concept... oh the disenchantment upon finding out that it was a mere parody. Since then, I have tried several times to get into the real deal Star Wars franchise, but nothing will do, I just can’t stand it. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I actually enjoyed Jeffrey Brown’s latest book Darth Vader and Son. While it’s clear that some of the references and inside jokes are lost on me, I couldn’t resist Brown’s deadpan sense of humour and charming illustrations.


Anna & Froga
by Anouk Ricard

I don't know what to say that will make you understand, but listen to me. READ THIS BOOK. Of the approximately 12 graphic novels I've read in French, works by Anouk Ricard constitute a generous 20 - 30%. So read this! In English or French! And prepare to be delighted as Johnny the Tuna gives Ron and Anna and Froga their just desserts. Look at the crazy adorable pictures. Laugh at all the offbeat punchlines. Check out the spread of a worm dreaming about french fries (!). Do you get it yet? Yes? Then give a copy to the five-year-old in your life. But only if s/he's totallyradicalawesome. Otherwise give it to the totallyradicalawesome non-five-year-old you know, because darned if they aren't gonna love it too.


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll, artwork by Yayoi Kusama

This gorgeous book is every Alice lover's absolute dream come true. I kid you not. The moment I saw it, bedecked in Yayoi Kusama's characteristic polka dots, I realized that of course she and no other is the perfect artist to illustrate a contemporary edition of Lewis Carroll's nonsensical & beloved classic. I've been a total Alice nerd since I was a kid (I had memorized all the nonsense poems contained in it by the time I was ten, oh yes), and I've always been a staunch fan of John Tenniel's original woodcut illustrations but Kusama's artwork is brilliantly refreshing. Her bright colours and hallucinatory imagery actually better befit the narrative's surreal dreamworld in many ways.

Kusama, born in Japan in 1929, has had a long and eclectic art career. She uses a wide diversity of media and imagery, certainly not limited to the repeating polka dots that she is best known for, including painting, drawing, sculpture, film and performance. She is now "Japan's most prominent contemporary artist". In her own words, "I, Kusama, am the modern Alice in Wonderland".

Here's a preview (I had trouble not taking a picture of every single page, but -- I managed to control myself):

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