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Book News: J. Wood Returns, Bill Watterson Speaks, and More

  • Found: Lost fans, didja see? J. Wood is back! And just in time for tonight's premiere of the final season.

    If that doesn't sate your hunger, check out the ten most shocking Lost deaths. I admit, I was pretty surprised when Michael gunned down Ana Lucia and Libby.

  • Cartoonist of Destiny: Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson gave his first interview in 20 years (!!), to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

    Readers became friends with your characters, so understandably, they grieved — and are still grieving — when the strip ended. What would you like to tell them?

    This isn't as hard to understand as people try to make it. By the end of 10 years, I'd said pretty much everything I had come there to say.

    It's always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip's popularity and repeated myself for another five, 10 or 20 years, the people now "grieving" for "Calvin and Hobbes" would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I'd be agreeing with them.

    I think some of the reason "Calvin and Hobbes" still finds an audience today is because I chose not to run the wheels off it.

    I've never regretted stopping when I did.

    He makes an excellent point (we can all name comic strips that have lingered far too long past their expiration dates), but I can't help missing Calvin & Hobbes every time I open the comic page. Still, better to miss it than wish it had retired with dignity.

    And we still have the books to remember them by. Boy, do we ever.

  • Beastly Behavior: Daily Beast editor-in-chief Tina Brown weighs in on Andrew Young's The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down, suggesting that Young and Edwards "deserved each other."

    Andrew Young's account of his decade as John Edwards's body man, beard, and shit-eating courtier is a mesmerizing insight not only into the rotten nature of his hero but the corruption of the culture that allowed a man as devoid of authenticity as John Edwards to flourish for so long, even to the point of getting a decent shot at the White House.

    Janet Maslin of the New York Times has some positive words for the book:

    The factoids in "The Politician" are apt to be widely disseminated. But this, like "Game Change," is a book worth reading for its larger drama. With a title that ultimately works like a shiv in the ribs, Mr. Young's book examines what a politician really is...

    You just know that can't be pretty. Political junkies, get your fix!

  • Better Late than Never: The Lost Man Booker Prize has nothing to do with the survivors of Oceanic flight 815. Instead, the prize is going back in time (somewhat Lost-like) to 1970 to remedy an oversight:

    The Booker was originally awarded for any book published in the previous year. But in 1971, it became a prize for the best novel published that year.

    That meant that a raft of books published in 1970 were left out in the cold, and the Lost Man Booker Prize is an attempt to remedy the oversight.

    "Our longlist demonstrates that 1970 was a remarkable year for fiction written in English," Ion Trewin, the prizes' literary director, said Monday. "Recognition for these novels and the eventual winner is long overdue."

    The nominees include Iris Murdoch's A Fairly Honourable Defeat, Len Deighton's Bomber, A Guilty Thing Surprised by Ruth Rendell, and 18 other noteworthy books.

Book News Round-up:

  • Michiko Kakutani has nothing nice to say about Don DeLillo's new novel Point Omega, but she says it anyway in her New York Times review ("there is something suffocating and airless about this entire production").

    On the other hand, the Los Angeles Times calls it "a splendid, fierce novel by a deep practitioner of the form." The Boston Globe is somewhere in the middle, leaning toward the positive: "DeLillo's leaps and elisions have the suggestive force of poetry."

  • If someone in a raincoat and dark glasses calls to you from an alley and offers a copy of Ricky Gervais's new book Flanimals Pop-Up — don't buy it! It's a hot book, and by that we don't mean "much in demand" (although it soon might be).

    Seems a shipment of more than 12,000 copies of the book (valued at over $240,000) went missing en route to an Indiana warehouse. According to Publishers Weekly, "Police are investigating the incident as grand theft..."

  • More sad news about writers: SF author Kage Baker passed away on Sunday, January 31st, from cancer. Visit a tribute here.
  • This year's Sundance Film Festival ended on a high note for book lovers, as the top prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition went to Debra Granik's adaptation of Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell.

    In addition, the grand jury prize-winning documentary was Restrepo by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, whom you may recall as the writer of The Perfect Storm, A Death in Belmont, and others.

    (Click here to read the Powells.com interview with Junger.)

  • Big thanks to the Nervous Marigold blog for all the love, but especially for our Staff Top Fives of 2009 page: "I love book lists and lists of book lists and I think this is the best of the best." You make us blush.

÷ ÷ ÷

Chris Bolton co-created the all-ages webcomic Smash, which will soon be published by Candlewick Press, and created the comedy series Wage Slaves. His short story "The Red Room" was published in Portland Noir from Akashic Books.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Portland Noir (Akashic Noir)
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  2. The Politician: An Insider's Account...
    Used Hardcover $3.50
  3. Game Change: Obama and the Clintons,...
    Used Hardcover $9.95
  4. A Fairly Honourable Defeat (Penguin... Used Trade Paper $6.95

  5. A Guilty Thing Surprised (Chief... New Mass Market $7.99
  6. Point Omega
    Used Hardcover $2.50
  7. Flanimals Pop-Up Used Hardcover $8.95
  8. Calvin and Hobbes Used Trade Paper $5.95
  9. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
    New Hardcover $175.00
  10. Winter's Bone
    Used Trade Paper $7.50
  11. The Perfect Storm: A True Story of...
    Sale Trade Paper $7.98
  12. A Death in Belmont (P.S.) Used Trade Paper $3.50

5 Responses to "Book News: J. Wood Returns, Bill Watterson Speaks, and More"

    manwith7talents February 2nd, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    At least we'll always have the bumper stickers of Calvin urinating on Chevy and Ford logos.

    alexis February 2nd, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Doesn't it seem a little disingenuous to award a book 40 years after the fact? Isn't the interesting thing about the yearly awards the way in which they reflect the sensibilities of the time in which they were published? How could they possibly judge the books of then with all that they know NOW? For example in 1937 Gone with the Wind won the Pulitzer. If we were to go back to rejudge the 1937 Pulitzer, how many of us would vote for Gone With the Wind?

    jonathan February 8th, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Calvin & Hobbes was great, and I can understand being nostalgic and missing it, but I think the comic strip Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson fills the void pretty well. And although it might seem blasphemous, I think it's actually better than Calvin & Hobbes. It's been praised and acclaimed by many contemporary cartoonists & illustrators from Art Speigelman to Bill Watterson himself. There are two collections available now, as well as an omnibus on it's way sometime next year. Check it out and you'll see why everyone in the industry is in love.

    Chris Bolton February 9th, 2010 at 9:58 am

    You know, I've checked out "Cul de Sac," mainly because I'd heard such good things about it from Watterson and others, but I don't seem to get it. It's never struck me as funny and the art can't hold a candle to "Calvin & Hobbes" — or even "Pearls before Swine" or "Get Fuzzy." Maybe I need to read it from the beginning.

    jonathan February 11th, 2010 at 11:02 am

    i don't think 'pearls before swine' or 'get fuzzy' are remotely interesting, so i guess we're even. we could argue this all day. to each his own, i guess.

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