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Likes bubbles, robots, and surrealism.
Would someday like to be a literary rock star, but will settle for time being as a literary busker.
Welcome to this week’s Free Book Friday, wherein we give you the best titles in indie publishing for the low low price of nothing. Congrats to last week’s winner Hansenl1 for getting a free copy of Prayer and Parable: Stories by Paul Maliszewski.
This week, we are giving away Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Enter the Scintillating Clockpunk Gear-o-Torium: Herein dwell the breathless adventures that you secretly seek. Gaze upon the rebellious Mecha-Ostrich, the seductive Steam Dancer, the intrepid Mssrs. Balfour & Meriwether, and the hithertofore undefeated Cast-Iron Kid. Experience the Delights of the Chrononaut Odditorium: An esteemed panel of self-appointed experts, under pain of ridicule, will reveal Top Secret Historical Enticements. Be dazzled by the first English translation of the quintessential Steampunk story: “Flying Fish Prometheus” by Vilhelm Bergsoe. It’s Steampunk – and it’s Reloaded.
Welcome to this week’s Free Book Friday, wherein we give you the best titles in indie publishing for the low low price of nothing. Congrats to last week’s winner Andy Harrod for getting a free copy of When Fenelon Falls by Dorothy Ellen Palmer.
This week, we are giving away a copy of Prayer and Parable: Stories by Paul Maliszewski. At a campground, a divorced father confronts a man he believes hurt his daughter. A devoted student traces a winding path through the snow, searching for the next most beautiful thing. Two brothers watch their father tinker lovingly with his homemade robots. In Paul Maliszewski’s debut story collection, men and women struggle to do right. They argue. They think. They think again. They have odd dreams. Often they fail at being good, and yet, on occasion, they realize moments of true kindness. In language that is at once simple and supple, plain-spoken and arresting, these twenty-eight stories describe complete lives in sharp detail, lives we may recognize as not unlike our own.
This week’s Free Book Friday is sponsored by Fence Books.
A not-so-recent episode of South Park contained a reference to Shirley Jackson’s amazing short story “The Lottery.” I spent the rest of that night scouring for other references; some new to me and some rekindled childhood memories. That initial discovery ultimately led me to create a category at my blog which would focus on literary references in cartoons. Why is this blog-worthy? I generally waste my internet hours refreshing my perpetually empty email inbox and crafting Facebook statuses to appear off-the-cuff and witty. I was suddenly struck by the inherent, and intended, contradiction: the idea of books—the icon of intelligence—existing within cartoons—the long-accepted symbol of stupidity—appealed to my sense of irony. Even more, if these mediums are so far removed, what gives cartoon makers the balls to assume an overlap in audience enough to appreciate the references? Something special had been happening in cartoons, and I was too busy laughing at the fart jokes to see it.
The Simpsons has a long history of literary allusions, and to a lesser degree, Family Guy and the aforementioned South Park. Why? Surely this meshing of worlds serves more than to tickle the cartoon creators’ personal farty bones (ha, fart joke). Do cartoons feel the need to legitimize themselves for a public that has for so long, and continues to, hold books to such high esteem?
Perhaps the book-nods reveal the cartoon creators’ own narrative acumen. Novels represent pure narrative, in that they are not supported in any way by outside effects, i.e, CGI, audio, and actor baggage (though it would be hard to argue that James Frey’s fame didn’t help the sales of his post-Oprah novel, Bright Shiny Morning). Interest in novels, enough to incorporate allusions into a cartoon, implies a lot about a creator’s passion for story. “Yes, that’s a fart joke,” might say a Matt Groening or a Seth McFarlane, “but it’s a fart joke with sophistication.” There’s a reason the aforementioned big three cartoons have lasted so long: intelligent humor. A viewer can only be impressed with bright colors and funny voices for so long before he needs substance. Books are the signposts, marking such substance.
What is even more interesting than the simple presence of these allusions is their often modesty and brevity. Rarely is the audience confronted directly with a source and rarely is the reference extended beyond a few frames for a sight gag (the exceptions to both rules would include The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror episodes and South Park’s Charles Dickens retelling. The cartoons aren’t trying to convert anyone. They are tapping into an audience that I think most people don’t realize exists: the literate cartoon viewer.
But to be truly legitimized, allusions need to go both ways. Are there examples of novels or short stories that contain cartoon references? Tell us in the comments.
This is a gust post by Caleb J. Ross as part of his Stranger Will Tour for Strange blog tour. His goal is to post at a different blog every few days beginning with the release of his novel Stranger Will in March 2011 to the release of his second novel, I Didn’t Mean to Be Kevin in November 2011. If you have connections to a lit blog of any type, professional journal or personal site, please contact him. He would love to compromise your integrity for a day. To be a groupie and follow this tour, subscribe to the Caleb J. Ross blog RSS feed. Follow him on Twitter: @calebjross.com. Friend him on Facebook: Facebook.com/rosscaleb
Welcome to this week’s Free Book Friday, wherein we give you the best titles in indie publishing for the low low price of nothing. Congrats to last week’s winner Rubydog for getting a free copy of Monocerous by Suzette Mayr.
This week, we are giving away a copy of When Fenelon Falls by Dorothy Ellen Palmer. A spaceship hurtles towards the moon, hippies gather at Woodstock, Charles Manson leads a cult into murder and a Kennedy drives off a Chappaquiddick dock: it’s the summer of 1969. And as mankind takes its giant leap, Jordan May March, disabled bastard and genius, age fourteen, limps and schemes her way towards adulthood. Trapped at the March family’s cottage, she spends her days memorizing Top 40 lists, avoiding her adoptive cousins, catching frogs and plotting to save Yogi, the bullied, butter tart-eating bear caged at the top of March Road. In her diary, reworking the scant facts of her adoption, Jordan visions and revisions a hundred different scenarios for her conception on that night in 1954 when Hurricane Hazel tore Toronto to shreds, imagining her conception at the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital or the CNE horse palace, and such parents as JFK, Louisa May Alcott, Perry Mason and the Queen of England. But when bear-baiting cousin Derwood finds the diary and learns everything that the family will not face, the target of his torture shifts from Yogi the Bear to his disabled and haunted adopted cousin. As caged as Yogi, Jordan is drawn to desperate measures. With its soundtrack of sixties pop songs, swamp creatures, motor boats and the rapid-fire punning of the family’s Marchspeak, When Fenelon Falls will take you to a time and place that was never as idyllic as it seemed, where not belonging turns the Summer of Love into a summer of loss.
Deckfight Press is at it again. Out now: Everything That Dunks Must Converge by Bryan Harvey, a (free!) literary e-chapbook of complex NBA fan fiction. Stories about Blake Griffin as Houdini, Rajon Rondo as an astronaut, Hakeem as a butcher and more features on Isiah Thomas, Amare Stoudemire, Dwight Howard, Danny Granger, Bill Walton & Kareem.
Welcome to this week’s Free Book Friday, wherein we give you the best titles in indie publishing for the low low price of nothing. Congrats to last week’s winner Jessica M. for getting a free copy of The Many Revenges of Kip Flynn by Sean Dixon.
This week, we are giving away a copy of Monocerous by Suzette Mayr. A seventeen-year-old boy, bullied and heartbroken, hangs himself. And although he felt terribly alone, his suicide changes everyone around him. His parents are devastated. His secret boyfriend’s girlfriend is relieved. His unicorn- and virginity-obsessed classmate, Faraday, is shattered; she wishes she had made friends with him that time she sold him an Iced Cappuccino at Tim Hortons. His English teacher, mid-divorce and mid-menopause, wishes she could remember the dead student’s name, that she could care more about her students than her ex’s new girlfriend. Who happens to be her cousin. The school guidance counsellor, Walter, feels guilty – maybe he should have made an effort when the kid asked for help. Max, the principal, is worried about how it will reflect on the very Catholic school. And Walter, who’s been secretly in a relationship with Max for years, thinks that’s a little callous. He’s also tired of Max’s obsession with some sci-fi show on tv. And Max wishes Walter would lose some weight and remember to use a coaster. And then Max meets a drag queen named Crêpe Suzette. And everything changes. Monoceros is a masterpiece of the tragicomic; by exploring the effects of a suicide on characters outside the immediate circle, Mayr offers a dazzlingly original look at the ripple effects – both poignant and funny – of a tragedy. A tender, bold work.
Welcome to this week’s Free Book Friday, wherein we give you the best titles in indie publishing for the low low price of nothing. Congrats to last week’s winner TNBBC for getting a free copy of All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman.
This week, we are giving away a copy of The Many Revenges of Kip Flynn by Sean Dixon. It all started with a black rose and a rich young man. And a house with a creek running through it. And then there she was, Kip Flynn, standing beside her dead boyfriend and agreeing to take a large sum of money from the young man’s father to keep quiet. As if she could have done anything else, being so scared and grief-stricken and maybe pregnant. But that’s not the end of it. You see, there’s some kind of connection between Kip and this rich developer’s son that keeps them tight in one another’s orbit. So, when Kip awakens from her grief, intent on revenge, they find themselves pursuing one another with a ferocity they can barely understand, one that spirals outward, with subway accidents and arson and drainpipes and backhoe wars, to envelop roommates, two guilty fathers, a window-cleaner or two, landlords, family secrets, Vietnamese gangsters, a standup-bass player and an activist tour guide. And concluding in the subterranean heart of Toronto itself, which, like Kip, is torn between vengefulness and growth.
I first met Dean not long after Tryscha and I hooked up. I had just gotten over a wicked fucking hangover that I won’t bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with a six-foot-five douchebag and a beer bong. With the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the bro’d. Before that I’d often dreamed of going West to see hot LA actress chicks and try In N’ Out burgers, always vaguely planning and never taking off. Dean is the perfect bro for the road because he knows how to fucking party. First reports of him came to me through Chad King, who’d shown me a few Facebook status updates written by Dean from the Arizona State Beta Phi Omega house. I was totally stoked about Dean’s status updates because they were funny as shit, asking Chad to rate some pictures of girls he hooked up with the night before. At one point, Carlo Marx and I texted about the status updates and wondered if we would ever meet the epic Dean Moriarty. This is all far back, when Dean was not the crazy fucking jagoff he is today, when he was a young Communications major shrouded in Axe Body Spray. Then news came that Dean was out of ASU and was transferring to OSU; also there was talk that he was bringing some slam piece named Marylou.
2 – Flipcup and Phoenix
One night I was playing flipcup at the Delta house and Chad and Tim Gray told me Dean just got in and was staying at the Holiday Inn Express near East Campus. Dean had arrived the night before, the first time in Columbus, with his hotass stacked trixie Marylou; they got out of his Land Rover and cut around the corner looking for some grub and went right into Buffalo Wild Wings, and since then B-Dubs has always been a bitchin symbol of Columbus for Dean. They threw down cash on fucking tasty wings and brew-dogs.
All this time Dean was telling Marylou shit like this: “Now, babe, we’re at OSU, and even though I haven’t laid down the plan for you, we gotta forget about whatever stupid shit happened between us in Phoenix and fuckin’ cowboy up and start thinking about how we’re gonna pregame tonight…” and so on in the way that he had in those early days.
3 – A Natty Light-Slugging Hero of the Southwest
I went to the Holiday Inn Express with my buddies, and Dean came to the door in his lacrosse shorts. Marylou was jumping off the couch; Dean was totally getting his bone on, for to him sex was the one and only clutch thing in life, although he had to work part time at Foot Locker to cover tuition and so on. You saw that in the way he stood bobbing his head, always looking at his Samsung Galaxy, nodding like a young boxer to instructions, to make you think he was listening to every work, throwing in a thousand “Hell yeas” and “right ons.” I went to the Holiday Inn Express with my buddies, and Dean came to the door in his lacrosse shorts. Marylou was jumping off the couch; Dean was totally getting his bone on, for to him sex was the one and only clutch thing in life, although he had to go to the gym and do laundry and so on. My first impression of Dean was of a young The Situation—ripped, funny as shit, with spiked hair—a Natty Light-slugging hero of the Southwest. In fact he’d just been in the hospital for alcohol poisoning before hooking up with Marylou and coming to OSU. Marylou was a nine-out-of-ten with a Mystic Tan and a crazy rack; she sat there on the edge of the couch with her iPhone in her hands and her oversized Dolce and Gabana sunglasses on, waiting like a less-hot Megan Fox in that first Transformers movie. But, outside of being pretty hot, she was a total bitch and capable of being a defcon-one psycho hose-beast. That night we all slammed Bud Light Limes and pulled stop signs out of the curb till dawn, and in the morning, while we sat around hung over as shit and watching Sportscenter, Dean got up like a total pimp, paced around, and decided the thing to do was have Marylou get some grub. “In other words we need some breakfast burritos, babe.” She had some kind of bitch-out about it and I peaced out.
Welcome to this week’s Free Book Friday, wherein we give you the best titles in indie publishing for the low low price of nothing. Congrats to last week’s winner Timothy Gager for getting a free copy of alt.punk by Lavinia Ludlow.
This week, we are giving away a copy of All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman. All Tom’s friends really are superheroes. There’s the Ear, the Spooner, the Impossible Man. Tom even married a superhero, the Perfectionist. But at their wedding, the Perfectionist was hypnotized (by ex-boyfriend Hypno, of course) to believe that Tom is invisible. Nothing he does can make her see him. Six months later, she’s sure that Tom has abandoned her. So she’s moving to Vancouver. She’ll use her superpower to make Vancouver perfect and leave all the heartbreak in Toronto. With no idea Tom’s beside her, she boards an airplane in Toronto. Tom has until the wheels touch the ground in Vancouver to convince her he’s visible, or he loses her forever. Read an interview with the author about the book here.