Posts Tagged ‘serious’

Stuck Rubber Baby

August 8, 2012

Author:  Howard Cruse

Title: Stuck Rubber Baby

Genre: Historical Fiction. Gay Fiction. Graphic Novel

Publisher/Publication Date:  DC Comics, 2010

Number of Pages:  210  (Black & White)

Geographical Setting: The fictional city of Clayfield, in the American South

Time Period:  Late 1950s, early 1960s

Plot Summary:  This is the story of Toland, a homosexual man coming to terms with his sexuality in a time when even greater tensions were being explored in the American deep south, that is, African-American civil rights.  Toland is a complex, apathetic man who is desperately trying to be “normal” by saying that his gay thoughts are “just a phase” and by dating a political activist woman named Ginger.  Toland’s world explores the horrifying issues of the time through intense dialogue, disturbing images, and hateful language expressed by the KKK and the more subtle racism of his family members.  Drawn in a realistic, riveting style, Howard Cruse does a fantastic job of creating a city that the reader can instantly recognize as being in the south, yet is entirely fictional.  Indeed, the entire graphic novel reads as if it were an autobiography of sorts.  Still, despite the complex issues being discussed, the novel finds time to enlighten the reader with jazz and blues facts of the time, contains humor, and is very candid and not didactic when discussing sexual issues.

Subject Headings:  Civil Rights–American South–Inter-racial Relationships–Homosexual Issues–Jim Crow Laws–KKK–Politics–Adoption–Abortion–Lynchings–Jazz–Blues–Gay Bars–Drag Queens–Hammond Organs–Religion–Atheism–Alcoholism

Appeal: Striking, Realistic, Brutal, Warm, Angry, Sympathetic, Complex, Political, Violent, Insightful, Serious, Sad, Soulful, Grim, Candid, Blunt, Intense, Dramatic

3 Appeal terms that best describe this book:  Serious, Candid, Realistic

3 Similar Non-Fiction works and authors:

Fun Home.  Alison Bechdel

This graphic novel is the memoir of Alison Bechdel, popular GLBT author of the comic Dykes to Watch out For.  One can tell Bechdel is a fan of Cruse’s work (she admits so in the introduction to Stuck Rubber Baby), and her style is similar in that her story is reflective, redemptive, and very moving.  Fun Home is the story of Alison coming to terms with her father admitting he is homosexual as well late in his life.  The story is complex, but it is also humorous at times, and very compelling in tone.  A must in GLBT graphic novels, and literature in general.

Heroes of Blues, Jazz, and Country.  Robert Crumb

Those who have read Stuck Rubber Baby will inevitably notice Cruse’s devotion to two things: drawing everything in pain-staking detail, and his obsession with the history of Jazz and Rhythm and Blues music.  Robert Crumb’s drawings have always been drawn in a realistic style as well, and this graphic novel is a fun history of said musicians that many people may not be aware of.  Bios of the musicians are provided as well, along with full color photographs.

Juicy Mother: Celebration.  Jennifer Camper

This collection of  GLBT stories describes itself as “an alternative-to-alternative comics.”  What is most intriguing about this graphic novel is that every contributor is either GLBT, or a person of color.  The stories range for the serious to the silly, including such stories as an Arab Muslim lesbian searching for her identity to a Latina teen’s goofy encounter with aliens.  Both touching and bizarre, comical and insightful, there is a story in this collection that will appeal to all readers!

3 Similar Fiction works and authors:

Strangers in Paradise Pocket Book, Vol. 1.  Terry Moore

Katchoo is a beautiful young woman who is in love with her best friend, Francine.  Then along comes David, who Katchoo falls in love with as well.  What results in a complicated love triangle this is both complex and amusing.  Though not as serious as Cruse’s work, readers will love getting to know these sympathetic characters as the develop and change over time.  And, just when everything seems to be going well, the mob decides to but in!  Truly interesting and leisurely paced like Cruse’s work.

A Single Man.  Christopher Isherwood

Stuck Rubber Baby is told in a flashback format from Toland’s point of view, reminiscing about growing up gay in the American South.  Though this fictional work takes place is a different part of the country, Isherwood’s protagonist George is sympathetic, nice, gay, and leads a surprisingly poignant, yet sad life.  After the death of his partner, George must learn to survive in a world where he a complete outsider, both internally and externally.  Comical and very wry, this examination of what it means to be homosexual in the modern world is incredibly moving.

Tales of the City (#1)  Armistead Maupin

These are the tales of the many denizens of 28 Barbary Lane, some straight, some not, but always hilarious, intricate, and fun.  This is the latest incarnation of the popular serial that later became a popular television event.  The tone is indeed a lot different from Cruse’s work, but the humor and attention to realistic details and colorful characters is there.  Striking and bold, witty and quite entertaining.

 

Feed

July 30, 2012

 Author: M.T. Anderson

Title: Feed

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 237

Geographical Setting: Earth

Time Period: Future

Plot Summary: In a futuristic society where information is fed directly into the brain, a group of teenagers are enjoying themselves until one of their brain feeds malfunctions. The “feed” is an internet connection tied directly to the brain that gives immediate access to information, communication, and advertisements. Deeper meanings of existence are explored with overarching themes of over abundance of technology, consumerism, instant gratification, corporate empowerment, and disregard of environment. This compelling novel is a thought-provoking tale set in a dark and futuristic society. Although it starts out in a more measured pace as you get to know the characters, it builds in intensity towards the ending.

Subject Headings: Computers and civilization, Consumerism, Environmental degradation, Consumers, Teenagers

Appeal: compelling, builds in intensity, bleak, dark, chilling, contemplative, humorous, character-centered, issue-oriented, thought –provoking, disturbing, serious, high drama, tragic, engaging plot

3 terms that best describe this book: thought-provoking, compelling, chilling

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      Future Tech: From Personal Robots to Motorized Monocycles by Charles Piddock – If you liked reading about the futuristic technology in the book Feed, you might enjoy this book that explores the future of technology.

2.    America in the Twenty-First Century by Opposing Viewpoints Series- If you enjoy reading books that provoke thought and contemplation, you may like this book of essays told through various viewpoints.

3.    Endangered Earth by Scientific American Cutting-Edge Science – If reading Feed made you wonder about how people are affecting our environment and possible ways they can lessen their effects, then you may enjoy this book.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      The Diary of Pelly D by L.J. Adlington – If you like reading compelling and thought provoking books that are set in the future, you may enjoy this story about a boy who starts to question his own beliefs.

2.      Rash by Pete Hautman – You may like this book if you enjoy reading dark, futuristic novels with a humorous edge set in the United Safer States of America.

3.      The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – If you liked the compelling world-building nature of Feed, you may also enjoy this bleak and suspenseful story.

Name: Patty Prodanich

The Mediterranean Caper

July 23, 2012

Author:  Clive Cussler

Title: The Mediterranean Caper: A Dirk Pitt Novel

Genre: Adventure, Thriller, Suspense

Publisher/Publication Date:  Berkley Books, New York.  1973

Number of Pages:  372

Geographical Setting:  The Island of Thasos, Greece.

Time Period:  Modern Day

Series:  Dirk Pitt series

Plot Summary:  One of the first novels of Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series, this is a tale of intrigue, sabotage, and scientific exploration.  Dirk Pitt  is a rough-and-tumble, modern-day adventure-man with a troubled past, charming wit, and the occasional mean streak about him.  A member of the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), Dirk and his brainy colleagues embark on a mission to discover a missing creature in the evolutionary chain, only to be thwarted by a WWI bi-plane.  Pitt’s revenge on the nefarious plane leads to a tale laced with suspense, intrigue, picturesque Roman vistas, tricky villains, snarky quips, beautiful babes, and explosions galore.   This action-infused thriller is a page-turner and never lets up till the exciting conclusion.  As far as thrillers go, Cussler certainly knows what he’s doing.

Subject Headings:  Dirk Pitt (character)–Thosos (Greek Islands)–Military Bases–Submarines–Sabotage–Navy–WW I Planes– Bi-Planes–Classic Cars–Boats– Military History–Roman History–Greek Vistas–Aegean Sea–Labyrinths–Mediterranean–Troubled Pasts–NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency)–Adventure–War Criminals–Nazis.

Appeal:  Edgy, Informative, Shocking, Smarmy, Un-pretentious, Action-packed, Witty, Fast-paced, Richly detailed, Violent, Smart, Gut-wrenching, Spry, Loud, Serious.

3 Appeal terms that best describe this book:  Smart, Fast-paced, Loud.

3 Similar Fiction works and authors:

Blood of the Reich.  William Dietrich.

Those who enjoyed the German threads (and machines) in Cussler’s The Mediterranean Caper may enjoy this similar tale about a modern-day publicist who must find the truth about a story on the history of Nazi SS officers and an American Zoologist looking for a legendary energy source in Tibet.  Fast-paced and suspenseful, this story provides a female protagonist akin to Dirk Pitt who is thoughtful, playful, witty, and smart.  Told in alternating chapters (both the past and the present), this tale should please anyone looking for an engaging, page-turning thriller.

State of Fear.  Michael Crichton.

This thought-provoking suspense novel by Crichton is an eco-thriller taking place in various exotic locales such as Paris, Iceland, and the Solomon Islands.  Those who find Cussler’s technologically  intense scientific and militaristic facts intriguing will enjoy this tale about a millionaire dealing with a present-day concern: global warming.  This compelling, richly told tale is both intellectually stimulating with the action-packed, fast-paced pace readers love.

Thunderball.  Ian Fleming.

Those who love Dirk Pitt’s brash, some-what dark, womanizing ways will most likely enjoy this James Bond tale by Ian Fleming.  In this tale Bond deals once again with the evil criminal organization SPECTRE, which has just hijacked an NATO airplane containing two atomic bombs , and is demanding ransom.  Will Bond succeed?  And, will there be beautiful women to cavort with whilst examining cool gadgets and sketchy situations.  Most certainly so!

3 Similar Non-Fiction works and authors:

Castles of Steel.  Robert K. Massie.

This historical, non-fiction novel tells the tale of early, 20th-century naval history between the British and Germans during WWI.  The writing style of this work is filled with intriguing details, is thoughtfully described and is very scholarly, but not boring.  It is a military narrative of the finest proportions, and a good place to start for Cussler fan’s who enjoy his intricately described boats and machines of olden times.

Ancient Greece: A history in eleven cities.  Paul Cartledge.

Those who enjoyed the lushly detailed, mysterious vistas of The Mediterranean Caper might enjoy this historical novel about the development of eleven Greek city states and the politics thereof.  The book contains many significant details and contains a time-line, glossary, and list of important figureheads of the time.  Engaging and well-researched, fast-paced and highly accessible reading.

Horrible shipwreck!a full, true and particular account of the melancholy loss of the British convict ship Amphitrite, the 31st August 1833, off Boulogne, when 108 female convicts, 12 children, and 13 seamen met with a watery grave, in sight of thousands, none being saved out of 136 souls but three!   Andrew C.A. Jampoler.

This amusing, startling story tells the tale of the convict transport ship Amphitrite, and how it came to its ultimate demise off the shores of France in 1833, carrying over 100 women prisoners and their children.  Though non-fiction, this book is action-packed, written in the thriller/adventure style, and is full of intrigue and historical comedy and intrigue.  It contains bibliographical details and an index as well.

The House on Mango Street

November 18, 2009

Author: Cisneros, Sandra

Title: The House on Mango Street

Genre: multicultural fiction

Publication Date: 1984

Geographical Setting: Chicago

Time Period: 1980s

Series: no

Plot Summary: Esperanza Cordero is an 11-year-old Mexican American girl growing up in a shabby apartment in the barrio of Chicago. She dreams of someday moving to an actual house with a yard – her version of the American dream. But first she must escape the oppressive environment around her, full of poverty, violence, fear, and disregard for women. She watches as a beloved aunt dies from illness, friends are married off before they reach eighth grade, and others stay trapped in their homes because they cannot speak English or they cannot go outside without their husband’s permission. Her only hope is to work hard in school and stay out of trouble. As a friend’s aunt reminds her, however, “When you leave, you must remember to come back for the others… you can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.”

The book is made up of short stories and lyrical prose that tell an overall story. Written in first person, the narration is childlike, telling the stories of Esperanza’s friends, family, and neighbors through her 11-year-old eyes. Cisneros writes thoughtful descriptions of Esperanza’s colorful neighborhood and the people who live in it. The stories are told like memories—not following a linear plot. Instead, readers get an inside look at what it is like to grow up poor and Hispanic in a big city. The mood is earnest, sad, yet hopeful, with an unresolved ending that you hope turns out well.

Appeal Terms: personal, nuanced, spare, simple, nonlinear, first person narration, moving, poetic, lyrical, vivid, innocent, coming of age story, character centered, intergenerational, descriptive, urban, unpretentious, colorful, serious, thoughtful, female empowerment in a male dominated culture, inspiring, Mexican American immigrant experience, violent, set in Chicago, unresolved ending

Subject Headings: Mexican American fiction – immigrant experiencehome – memories – family and relationships – poverty – physical abuse – rape – short stories – adolescence – Latino neighborhoods of Chicago – female empowerment

Three Terms that Best Describe the Book: vivid imagery, coming-of-age story, immigrant experience

Three Nonfiction Titles:

Barrio: Photographs from Chicago’s Pilsen and Little Village by Paul D’Amato
– A collection of 90 images taken of life on the streets and in the homes of the Mexican American communities of Pilsen and Little Village.

Home: The Blueprint of Our Lives edited by John Edwards
– A collection of brief, evocative personal essays and photographs from 60 contributors—some famous, some not—about the houses they remember and family relationships.

The Latin Deli: Telling the Lives of Barrio Women by Judith Ortiz Cofer
– An autobiographical assortment of essays and poems

Three Fiction Titles:

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
– The story of four sisters who must adjust to life in America after having to flee from the Dominican Republic

Flight and Other Stories by Jose Skinner
– Realistic stories about Latinos living in the American Southwest

Migrations and Other Stories by Lisa Hernandez
– Short stories present the life, loves, and predicaments of very different Chicana women in America.

The Gilda Stories: A Novel

June 21, 2009

Author: Jewelle Gomez

Title: The Gilda Stories: a Novel

Genre: Lesbian

Publication Date: 1991

Number of Pages: 252

Geographical Setting: Louisiana, California, Missouri, Massachusetts, New York, and New Hampshire

Time Period: 1850, 1890, 1921, 1955, 1981, 2020, and 2050.

Series: n/a

Plot Summary:
This is the story of a single woman, leading multiple lives… The story begins like an historical novel, recreating the antebellum South, 1850 Louisiana, with the central character’s first life. She is a runaway slave, not yet a vampire, not even named. She stabs her would be would-be rapist (and likely murderer) in self-defense. Huddled in the basement, alone with the body and covered in blood, the girl is rescued and finds sanctuary in a brothel run by Gilda, a 300-year-old vampire who yearns for “true death”–and her Lakota Sioux companion, Bird. The pair “convert” the girl, who takes her benefactor’s name… Gilda.

The rest of Gilda’s lives are spent searching for a place to call home, for love, and for greater meaning in the world. The 1980s finds her in San Francisco, where she meets others like her and learns the subtleties of what it is to be a vampire. In Boston in the 1950s she is forced into confronting a cruel vampire pimp. Toward the end Gilda takes her readers to the future, an America of polluted, dying cities. People scramble to get of of the planet and, vampires are hunted by the rich and greedy to extend their own lives.

Though it really deals with vampires, this doesn’t feel like the usual horror story. It’s a story of character. These are vampires without the need to kill. When they take the blood of others, they leave behind “what’s needed–energy, dreams, ideas.” Bringing an unusual twist to the subject matter, The Gilda Stories may have a draw to readers’ interests in feminist stories, African American women and lesbian stories and struggles, social issues, history, vampires, and romance.

Subject Headings:
Lesbian vampires — Fiction.
African Americans — Fiction.

Appeal: multiple time lines, multiple locations, strongly developed secondary characters, philosophical, slowly revealed, African-American, lesbian, bi-sexual, dense, serious, historical settings, vampires, social critique, corruption of power, sexuality, conflicted character

terms that best describe this book: philosophical, character over time, social culture

Similar Authors or works (fiction):
The Dear One by Jacqueline Woodson: African American girls, development, and growth.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: A classic story of an African American woman’s life.

The Street: a Novel by Ann Petry: Social criticism, study of African American life in the 1940’s.

Similar Authors or works (non-Fiction):
Does Your Mama Know? edited by Lisa Moore: An anthology of black lesbian coming out stories.

Black Queer Studies: a Critical Anthology by various: Essays considering the ways that gender and sexuality have been glossed over in black studies and race and class marginalized in queer studies.

Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism by Patrica Hill Collins: explores the social and personal implications of historical images and more current concerns about the influence of prison culture on urban youth culture that glorifies connections between sex and violence.

Name: Chris

Wicked, The Life and Times of The Wicked Witch of the West

May 27, 2009

Author:Gregory Maguire

Title: Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date:1995

Number of Pages:408

Geographical Setting:Oz

Time Period: n/a

Series: Wicked Years

Plot Summary: How well did we know the Wicked Witch of the West from Frank L. Baum’s Wizard of Oz? Our Wicked Witch is the protagonist is a tragic figure. We follow her through her life from her birth to her inevitable end, learning all the details behind the scenes as Maguire twists and turns never shown by Baum. Elphaba is a strange child. By her mother, heir to the highest throne in Munchinkland, and to her belief the daughter of a minister. She goes to Shiz University where she mets and becomes close friends with Galinda, Bok (a Muchkinlander), and Fiyero, a Vinkus prince. She is joined by her sister Nessarose, a girl born without arms who requires a pair of enchanted jeweled shoes given to her by their father that allows her to walk. At Shiz learns terrible truth of the Wizard’s tyrannical, anti-Animal (with a capital A) rule and drops out to join the resistance in the Emerald city. From there things only get worse for her… Especially after a young girl lands in Oz… On her sister…

Subject Headings: Oz (imaginary place) – Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Good and evil – Fiction, Witches – Fiction

Appeal: steady, deliberate, familiar characters with a mature turn, complicated backdrop, rich setting, tragic, linear and building plot, political undertones, dark, serious, imaginative, nostalgic

terms that best describe this book: familiar, dark, tragic

Similar Works and Authors (Fiction):
Jasper Fforde: Thursday Next series: Delves into other existing works of fiction, nostalgia factor.
Marion Zimmer Bradley, Mists of Avalon: Tackles the King Arthur story from the prospective of its traditional villain as the protagonist.
Robert Coover, Briar Rose: A re-telling of the Snow White tale, tackling similar issues of identity, character, and destiny.

Similar Works and Authors (Non-Fiction): Evan Schwartz, Finding Oz: How Frank L. Baum Discovered the Great American Story: Explores the origin’s behind the original tale of Oz.
Zipes, Zack, When Dreams Come True: Classical Fairytales and their Tradition: Discusses the social history of literary fairy tales through eras and cultures.
Gita Morena, The Wisdom of Oz: an examination of the psychology of the Oz books.

Name: Chris