Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Is the Role of the Librarian in the City?

     Urban Librarians Unite is holding an essay-writing contest open to all MLS and MLIS students enrolled in New York City.  They are looking for the best 1000-1200 word essay answering the question "what is the role of the librarian in the city?"  The prize is $200.00 for books and supplies.
     Full information can be found here.
     Good luck!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tease III

     Another tease from What We Become, this time a brief exchange between Laura and a new character.

     "The stronger ones have a responsibility, Aaron, to help the weaker ones."  She was certain this would appeal to his sense of superiority.
     "Not to help them," he said.  "To lead them."

Thursday, August 16, 2012


     Among other things, Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, said "whatever you are, be a good one."
     Maybe it's not what you do that makes you great so much as how you do it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Visiting Simmons's House

     Josh Simmons is an indie comics creator whose latest is called The Furry Trap.  It is a collection of short comic stories that experiment with the notion of horror.  Some of the tales are weird and skewed versions of familiar narrative ideas, others offer more subtle twists on horror standards.  They are not all dead-center horror, but they are, across the board, incredibly disturbing, thanks in great part to some truly hideous sexual violence (perpetrated against men, women, mutants and evil sorcerers).  While it is not done frivolously and has a very intentional narrative effect, it may still be more than most can comfortably take.  The best is the final story, Demonwood, which is the nost starkly terrifying of the bunch, but leaves the graphic depictions off-panel.
     Less extreme but weirder still is Jessica Farm, the story of a young woman waking up on Christmas morning, who must navigate the various semi-surreal joys and monstrosities that occupy her house.  Told in a very David Lynchian vein, this is merely the first volume of a grand decades-spanning experiment on Simmons' part.
     His masterpiece, however, is a work called House.  Accessible without sacrificing sublime strangeness or creepy uneasiness, it is a tale not so much of a haunted house but of an evil house.  Told silently and in black and white, Simmons' use of panel size, narrative build up and deployment of inky darkness is nothing less than masterful.  Even as the visuals make daring and unique use of the format, Simmons' grip on horror tropes and his ability to reforge them makes for a scary story both traditional and surprising.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The City Inside

     In Rome I have seen the Colosseum, the Forum, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, extraordinary fountains, high-end clothing stores, statues, churches, trattorias, osterias, gelaterias and pasticcerias . . . but not a single grocery store. There is no hint here of a Rome where people actually live and work, only of a city where tourists are catered to. It is as though I am experiencing a city inside a larger city, almost a set piece that has been constructed for the use of me and millions of others like me. Even our map (given to us at our hotel) appears to end at the borders of the city we are supposed to be a part of, trailing off at the edges into the real city which will forever remain invisible to us.
     The other great cities of the world -- New York, London, Paris and Hong Kong among them -- integrate their tourist industries with their "true" selves and allow you to form a connection with the urban culture and community. Rome seems to want to keep me at arm's length. I have a better sense of how Ancient Romans lived than how contemporary Romans do.
     But, my God, they make good gelato.