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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Staff Picks 2012: Jason



 Leaving the Atocha Station
by Ben Lerner

Eminently readable and damn funny, Lerner's first novel is about Adam Gordon,  a frustrated and self-doubting young poet in Madrid on a scholarship. Confused on the regular by the language and the intentions of the company he keeps, Adam's struggle to both fit in and distinguish himself is like the literary version of a youtube fail video compilation (of course, he's almost constantly stoned and paranoid, which may or may not be helping). If I'm the only person in Montreal who doesn't know somebody like this, then I have to meet some new people.
 Pippi Moves In!: Pippi Longstocking Comics
by Astrid Lindgren & Ingrid Vang Nyman

Obvious bias aside, I think D&Q's Enfant imprint really hit it out of the park this year. Those two colour Moomin books, the English-translated version of Anouk Ricard's Anna & Froga and now this: the first in a projected three volume series of  the previously unknown (in North America, anyway) Pippi comics! My 8 year-old daughter - a devoted Pippi-head - told me that these is the best she's seen the little red-headed tornado drawn and is one of the few comics that has made us both laugh out loud ("Dad! Come here you gotta see this! Can you believe her?")

This is How You Lose Her
by Junot Díaz
Short of reminding you that this is the newest collection from one of the masters of the contemporary short story, I don't really know what else to say. A collection, sure, but it's the story of (Diaz alter-ego?) Yunior as told in through a series of his relationships.  More wonderful than anticipated.

House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films
by Kier-La Janisse
The first half  is auto-biography, albeit an auto-biography that  juxtaposes the struggles of female protagonists and/or antagonists from a number notable horror and exploitation films with the author's own troubled past. The last half is straight-up capsule reviews and short essays of both the films referenced and dissected in the first half as well as a bunch of other notable celluloid mind-benders and blood-letters. An incredible work and  must-read for anyone with an interest in the roles of females in exploitation film by an authority on both the genre and the gender.

 Hilda and the Midnight Giant
by Luke Pearson
Pearson's first book in the Hilda (Hildafolk) was sweet 'n fun 'n all, but this, this was a bigger better book, that presented a new and wholly original story and fleshed-out the character of Hilda even more. By deciding to question the unknown forces that want her family (her mother and their pet blue-furred and antlered fox) out of their house, she faces her fears by playing detective and it leads her to discoveries of both tiny and gigantic natures. Pearson's next entry in the series is due in 2013 and I can't wait.

 The Fun Stuff and other Essays
by James Wood
Famed literary critic James (How Fiction Works)Wood's newest collects  essays that originally appeared in the New Republic, the London Review of Books and the New Yorker on Orwell, Lydia Davis (an examination of her Collected Stories, a Librairie D&Q best-seller and favorite), Cormac McCarthy and Keith Moon (!). The final essay in the book, about the acquisition and unloading of his late father-in-law's library, would appeal to any thoughtful and discerning collector of books.

 There is a Light that Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths
by Tony Fletcher
A brand-new 400+ page book on my second-favorite band, ever? Yes, please! Information overload? Maybe. But what difference does it make? In my opinion there are only a handful of rock 'n roll combos  who deserve such a thing and the legendary Smiths definitely are one of them. Along with recounting the union and resulting triumphs of misters Morrissey and Marr, Fletcher's book also interweaves the stories of  the labels Factory and Rough Trade, as well as the city of  Manchester (so much to answer for!) during this amazing time in pop music history.

 Anna and Froga: Want a Gumball? 
by Anouk Ricard
If you've had the good fortune to read the French editions of the Anna & Froga series, you know the deal but if you haven't, mark my words you're in for a treat. Unless a worm dreaming of french fries, a couple of jerks taking advantage of a fish's good-nature, and a frog who tries to pass off his a paint-by-numbers kit painting of a horse as his original creation isn't funny to you. In that case, we also carry Barthes.

 Rookie Yearbook 1 
Ed. by Tavi Gevinson

What more can be said about Tavi that hasn't been said? Exquisite taste , thoughtful writing, amazing interviews. Love Dan Clowes? John Waters? Joni Mitchell? You'll find lots to love here and Tavi's essay on the male gaze is an absolute must-read. Recommended!

Building Stories 
by Chris Ware

Not only one of the best graphic novels of the year, one of the best graphic novels, ever. Brilliant, sad, and amazing. Chris Ware's genius should elude you no longer. Read/see more here.

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