Posts Tagged ‘enigmatic’


April 18, 2012

Author: Various (22 authors and illustrators collaborate for 9 vignettes)


Genre: Graphic novel

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 112p

Geographical Setting: New York City (the Bowery)

Time Period: 1970’s, present day, the future

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary:  Through nine separate vignettes, the history and lore of the legendary, mythical, pivotal, incredibly dirty, and defunct Lower East Side punk rock club is examined and explained.  CBGB’s was ground zero for the mid-70’s NYC punk rock scene.  Artists that would emerge from CBGB’s include Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, and Talking Heads, as well as lesser-known, yet highly influential acts, such as Television, the Heartbreakers, the Dead Boys, and the Dictators. Varying in time period, some of the stories use the club as a main character, while others use it merely as a backdrop or meeting place.  The common theme running throughout the book is that of CBGB’s as a fertile haven for inspiration, community, discovery, expression, freedom, individuality, and lots of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Subject Headings: Punk rock music, New York City—nightclubs, 1970’s, Artists, Drugs and alcohol, Rebellion, Nostalgia, Nonconformity, Antisocial behavior, Self discovery, Youth, Fandom.

Appeal:  Breakneck, fast-paced, relentless, atmospheric, edgy, flamboyant, gritty, hard-edged, humorous, impassioned, magical, idealized, romanticized, nostalgic, sarcastic, sensual, artsy, bohemian, punk, vivid, inspirational, mythic, sexually explicit, strong language, urban, colorful, informal, passionate, witty, hedonistic, rebellious, reflective, street-smart, rowdy, energetic, fun, aggressive, joyous, enigmatic, self-aggrandizing, loud.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Energetic, passionate, enigmatic

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Please Kill Me: the Uncensored History of Punk edited by Legs McNeill and Gillian McCain

This is an oral history of the New York punk scene from its infancy in the early 1970’s to its slow death in the early 1980’s strung together by interviews with the people who were there and making things happen.  The people who are still alive, anyway.  Interviewees (many of whom are portrayed in CBGB) include Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, and members of the Ramones, the Stooges, New York Dolls, Television, Blondie and many more artists and other scenesters.  This is a great read for fans of ribald accounts of debauchery and degeneracy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle For the Soul of a City by Jonathan Mahler

In the 1970’s, large Northern cities found themselves broke, decaying, crime-ridden, and desperate.  None had it worse than New York.  The tumultuous year of 1977 is examined here; a year that included Son of Sam, the Blackout, punk rock, Studio 54 and disco, and ruthless political battles.  What is the conduit Mahler uses to examine and piece these events together?  — the World Series winning Yankees, of course.

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever by Will Hermes

Sure, New York had the punk thing happening in the mid-1970’s, but during those years the city also witnessed the birth of hip-hop, disco, and salsa as well as playing host to fertile jazz and avant-garde/minimalist music scenes.  Here is an examination of those years, where the music seemed to get better as the urban blight grew worse.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

My Brain Hurts: Vol. One by Liz Baille

This graphic novel series chronicles a group of gay,teenage New York punks making out, drinking beer, getting arrested, and flexing their gay activism muscles.  I include this as there was no mention in CBGB as to how entangled the NYC punk scene was with the seedier side of gay culture on Manhattan at the time (many a near destitute musician made rent by moonlighting as “chickens”, as in a homosexual prostitute who may not necessarily be gay but will do x for money.  Dee Dee Ramone has talked extensively about this topic [see: ‘53rd and 3rd by the Ramones], as well as others).

What We Do Is Secret by Kief Hillbery

Hollywood 13-year-old punk and gay hustler Rockets Redglare must come to terms with the suicide of his idol/guru Darby Crash, lead singer of the Germs (circa 1980).  This book is the closest equivalent to the seediness and nihilism that personified the L.A. punk scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s (as far as fiction goes.)

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

While this book is the farthest thing from the seediness that CBGB and the Lower Eastside personified, it is an excellent portrait of the feeling of freedom, possibility, and wonder that a night out in the big city can give a person as they find themselves on the cusp of adulthood and independence.  Even for rich kids from New Jersey.

Name: Bill

Dance Hall of the Dead

June 7, 2010

Author: Tony Hillerman

Title: Dance Hall of the Dead

Genre: Mystery fiction

Publication Date: 1973

Number of Pages: 166

Geographical Setting: Navajo and Zuni Indian reservations in New Mexico

Time Period: present day (1973)

Series (If applicable): second book in the Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee mysteries

Plot Summary:

Navajo Tribal policeman Lt. Joe Leaphorn finds himself trying to solve a case involving two missing boys, one a Zuni Indian and one a Navajo.  The Zuni boy may be dead and the Navajo boy may be the murderer.  But  Leaphorn thinks there is more to it than that simple conclusion and he must investigate all the avenues of this puzzling case; avenues that lead to an archeological dig as well as the strange customs of the Zuni.

Native American cultures and myths add another layer of intrigue to this atmospheric mystery set on the reservations in New Mexico.  Lt. Leaphorn must also deal with the politics and conflicts between the various areas of law enforcement involved (Navajo police, Zuni police, FBI), all while trying to track down the whereabouts of the missing Navajo boy, who just may be the key that unlocks the entire case.

Subject Headings:

Navajo Tribal Police;  Navajo detectives;  Murder investigation;  Murder suspects;  Navajo Indians;  Criminal investigation;  Leaphorn, Joe;  Zuni Indians;  New Mexico;  Police — Southwestern States;  Indian reservation police;  Mystery stories


spiritual, secretive, religious, enigmatic, perplexing, compelling, thoughtful, contemplative, reasoning, mannered, willful, rational, detailed, shrewd

3 terms that best describe this book:

Mystical; Deliberate; Rich with detail and description

Similar Authors and Works:


1)      Death Walker (Ella Clah mysteries series, volume 2) by Aimee & David Thurlo

Ella Clah, a Special Investigator with the Navajo Tribal Police, must track down the killer of the Navajo tribe’s cultural and spiritual teachers.

Similarities:  Navajo Tribal Police, murder investigation, spiritual and cultural emphasis.

2)      Shadow Pl[a]y (Laura Winslow mysteries series, volume 6) by  David Cole

Private detective Laura Winslow investigates a possible murder-suicide of a Navajo.  The mystery also draws in her lover, a police officer, and secrets are exposed as they further delve into the case.

Similarities:  Navajo characters, murder investigation, tribal customs and myths.

3)      Spirit Sickness (Emmett Quanah Parker mysteries series, volume 2) by Kirk Mitchell

Supernatural beings are tied to the killing of a Navajo cop and his wife as the murder is investigated by Bureau of Indian Affairs officer Emmet Parker and an FBI agent.

Similarities:  Navajo police, murder investigation, supernatural and spiritual angle.


Diné: A History of the Navajos by  Peter Iverson; featuring photographs by Monty Roessel

A general narrative history of the Navajos from their origins to the present.

Similarities:  Navajo culture and history

The Unquiet Grave: the FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country by Steve Hendricks

Details the conflict between the FBI and Native Americans concerning a murder of a Native American activist in 1976.

Similarities:  Native Americans, law enforcement, conflict of cultures

The Zuni Enigma by Nancy Yaw Davis

Examines the culture of the Zuni Indians of New Mexico

Similarities:  Zuni culture and history

Name: Valerie Kyriakopoulos

A Grave Talent

October 28, 2009

Title: A Grave Talent

Author: Laurie R. King

Publication Date: 1993

Number of Pages: 342

Genre: Mystery

Geographical Setting: San Francisco, CA and Northern California

Time Period: Present Day

Series: Kate Martinelli mysteries, 1

Plot Summary: Two weeks before Christmas, the naked body of a young girl is discovered on the grounds of a small, reclusive community located outside of San Francisco. Over the next eight weeks, two more bodies are discovered. All three victims share similar traits. They are kindergarten-aged white girls with brown hair from upper-middle-class families who disappeared from their neighborhoods in the middle of the day. Veteran police inspector Alonzo Hawkins and newly promoted Detective Kate Martinelli of the San Francisco police department are assigned to investigate the case. Because the victims’ bodies were found on the property of a community that lacks electricity, telephones and also restricts vehicular access, Hawkins and Martinelli focus their search for the killer among the community’s unusual and eccentric residents, especially the haunted and enigmatic artist Vaun Adams who spent nine years in prison seventeen years ago for the murder of a six-year-old girl. Hawkins, known for being gruff and intimidating, and Martinelli, desperately trying to keep both her personal life and her lifestyle choices private from those she works with, forge a productive working relationship as they struggle to decipher the multitude of clues that will lead them to the killer’s identity in this complex and exciting mystery.

Subject Headings: Child murders – Northern California; Women painters – Northern California; Women detectives – Northern California; Lesbian detectives; Child murder investigation – Northern California; Serial Murders – Northern California; Police; Strangling; Murder suspects; Crimes against children; Northern California; Mystery stories, American.

Appeal: engrossing, urgent, fast-paced, compelling, detailed, eccentric secondary characters, intriguing, police detectives, series characters, lesbian relationships, feminism, strong, action-oriented, character-centered, intelligent, complex, investigative, resolved ending, detailed setting of San Francisco, detailed setting of a rural primitive community, dramatic, enigmatic, psychological, emotionally-charged, suspenseful, candid.

Three terms that best describe this book: Dramatic, Investigative, Enigmatic

Red Flags: violence against children, murder of children

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Sacrifice by Clyde Phillips –Newly promoted Lieutenant Jane Candiotti of the San Francisco police department attempts to balance her private life and her professional life while investigating two separate but possibly related murder cases in San Francisco. (Mystery, character-centered, strong intelligent female protagonist juggling personal and professional life, San Francisco setting, series, police detectives, women detectives).

No Defense by Kate Wilhelm – Defense attorney Barbara Holloway agrees to defend a young widow who claims she is being framed for the murder of her husband in this legal thriller. (Mystery, fast-paced, detailed, complex, psychological, strong intelligent female protagonist, rural community setting).

Cop Out by Claire McNab – Australian Detective Inspector Carol Ashton investigates a possible case of fratricide while trying to keep her sexuality secret from her coworkers in the male-dominated Sydney police force. (Mystery, strong intelligent female protagonist, feminism, lesbianism, police detectives).

Relevant Non-fiction Works and Authors:

Lesbian Detective Fiction: Woman as Authors, Subjects, and Reader by Phyllis Betz – Examines lesbian detective and mystery fiction to see how lesbian characters are represented and how their public and private lives intersect in the stories.

Free Land: Free Love: Tales of a Wilderness Commune by Malcolm Terence – Anthology of stories from residents of the Black Bear Ranch, a community created for individuals who wanted to create a counter-cultural society.

Northern California: An Explorer’s Guide by Michele Bigley – Detailed description of Northern California including cultural attractions, natural wonders, and history.

Name: Maggie