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Book News for Wednesday, September 2, 2009

  • When You Wish Upon a Radioactive Spider: On Monday, the Walt Disney Company announced that it was buying Marvel Entertainment for about $4 billion — making the team-up of Spider-Man and Mickey Mouse one of the most expensive in history.

    Publishers Weekly breaks down the details of the acquisition:

    The greatest skepticism over the new Marvel deal was expressed by fans worried that Disney might meddle with Marvel characters — after all, one of Marvel's most popular characters is a tough guy who slices people up with razor sharp claws. [Disney president and CEO Bob] Iger pointed to the Pixar deal as the model here, stressing that Marvel knows what it is doing and will receive minimal intrusion. "The goal here is not to rebrand Marvel/Disney, in fact, the opposite, to put an even brighter spotlight on Marvel as a brand and to really work with the Marvel team to help grow it more," he told stockholders.

    The website Comic Book Resources has a round-up of reactions from comic industry insiders.

    If you're already conjuring mash-ups — Donald Duck with Wolverine's claws is a favorite of mine — check out the dozens of suggestions on this Twitter thread. (And see some visual representations here.)

  • Back In Black: Joyce Carol Oates — whose acclaimed novel Black Water is a not-so-thinly-veiled account of Ted Kennedy's infamous Chappaquiddick scandal — pens an appreciation of the late senator:

    [I]t might be argued that Senator Kennedy's career as one of the most influential of 20th-century Democratic politicians, an iconic figure as powerful, and as morally enigmatic, as President Bill Clinton, whom in many ways Kennedy resembled, was a consequence of his notorious behaviour at Chappaquiddick bridge in July 1969.

    Yet, ironically, following this nadir in his life/ career, Ted Kennedy seemed to have genuinely refashioned himself as a serious, idealistic, tirelessly energetic liberal Democrat in the mold of 1960s/1970s American liberalism, arguably the greatest Democratic senator of the 20th century.

    Kennedy's own memoir, True Compass, hits stores on September 14th. (Preorder your copy now!)

  • Hungry Fire: NPR's All Things Considered looks at the "edgy, violent" novels of YA author Suzanne Collins — namely, The Hunger Games and its just-published sequel, Catching Fire.

    As a child, Collins remembers being obsessed with Greek mythology, particularly the story of Theseus, in which the Cretans forced the Athenians to send seven young men and seven maidens to be thrown into the labyrinth and devoured by the Minotaur each year.

    "Even when I was a child I was blown away by how evil that was. Crete was sending a very clear message: If you mess with us we will do something worse than kill you; we will kill your children," says Collins.

    Who says kids never learn anything useful in school?

Book News Round-up:

  • Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago has announced he's given up the blog he started a year ago to concentrate on writing his next novel.

    "I have started another book and want to dedicate all my time to it," he wrote in his final blog entry.

    Hmm, he may be onto something there...

  • Germany doesn't like Google's whole books thingee any more than the rest of the world.
  • You read it here first: "The future of digital reading...is the cellphone, not dedicated reading devices like the Kindle and the Sony Reader."
  • The PBS children's show Reading Rainbow ended its 26-year run last Friday.

    It's just tragic to think that future generations will know LeVar Burton only by Star Trek: The Next Generation.

  • Perhaps the only part of the Bush administration that hasn't yet been purged from our collective memories.

÷ ÷ ÷

Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.

The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.

Books mentioned in this post

4 Responses to "Book News for Wednesday, September 2, 2009"

    thedotdotdot September 2nd, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    A pox on everyone who tries to make the popularity of the Hunger Games somehow dependant on a wave of newly violent children. I think the whole point of the NPR article is to remind us that mythology has been just as bloody as these modern stories, but the commenters are either hyperfocusing on the fact that no one mentioned Battle Royale, or they're still fixated on these kids today and their "Coursening of American culture". ARRRG!

    Yes, there have been stories with people fighting to the death before. Young soldiers and their stories pepper the Newbery winners, and yes, Lord of the Flies and Battle Royale and the Running Man all had vaguely similar concepts. What separates them is how they deal with the subject matter and what constitutes their story, and, of course, the characters.

    Having just finished Catching Fire, reading comments like that make me want to pull out a wee bit of violence myself. Whoever mentioned Social Science is right on the money. It's not a gratuitously violent book, it's a book where real people are plunged into extreme circumstances, just like every other "thriller", except there is a very real societal message involved about terrible dystopian government and the forced complacency of the tyrannized.

    If we were going to throw stones at any of the violent YA books out there (and that stone throwing is a whole 'nother conversation), there's so many other titles that I've read that keep the killing but lack the amazing heart that the Hunger Games has. Michael Grant's Gone, Ness' The Knife of Never Letting Go spring to mind immediately. Their books were well written and interesting enough, but can't come close to the Hunger Games in terms of moral spirit.

    Kelly September 3rd, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Umm . . . I caught that little threat. LOL You're not allowed to leave the
    blog. No matter how sensational your fictional memoir turns out to be.

    Brockman (Post Author) September 3rd, 2009 at 9:46 am

    I jest, Kelly, only jest!

    Bolton September 3rd, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Right on, Dot! I love the way the violence works in Hunger Games, where Collins implicates the reader for being equally as voyeuristic as the spectators in the book... because, after all, aren't we also excited for the main event to begin?

    Leading up to the start of the Games, I wondered if Collins was going to get squeamish (like in the '80s G.I. Joe cartoons, where somehow no character ever got killed despite the volleys of laser blasts hurtled back and forth). She lets you know right away that the kid gloves (so to speak) are off.

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