Book Review: X vs. Y

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X vs. Y: A Culture War, a Love Story by Eve Epstein and Leonora Epstein. Reviewed by Louise Hilton. 

X vs. Y is a cultural study written by two sisters, Eve from Generation X, and Leonora from Generation Y. They use Generation X to describe people born in the mid-sixties to late-seventies while Generation Y or millennials refers to people born around the early 1980s to late-1990s. The Epstein sisters discuss the differences (and overlaps) of their respective generations when it comes to such topics as pop culture (with chapters devoted to Books, Music, and Movies), dating, and technology. With lots of Venn diagrams and other fun graphics showing the major pop culture references of each of these categories, X vs. Y is a quick and entertaining read.

As a Gen Y-er, I had to laugh reading Leonora’s essay “How Cher Horowitz Became Gen Y’s BFF” extolling the virtues of the movie Clueless: “1997 was a big year for me. I learned leg hair was a scourge to be eradicated at all costs, Jockey training bras were the bomb, and Clueless was the greatest movie ever.”

The authors conclude with an interesting point about the newest generation: “Because Gen Zers have unprecedented access to information and media from both the past and present, they’ll face a different sort of challenge: figuring out how to locate value in the sea of media and entertainments they’ve grown up in. Eve has nostalgia for Sesame Street because it was one of three TV shows she ever watched as a child; would she have felt the same way if her options had been effectively limitless?” (My guess is yes, she would have because – let’s face it – Sesame Street is one of the best things ever.)

Comics Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

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X-Men: Days of Future Past by Chris Claremont and John Byrne.

Days_of_Future_pastReviewed by Adam St.Pierre

Disclaimer: This review is written by someone who hasn’t read every single X-Men story arc, but has read quite a bit and loved every bit of the X-Men television show from the 1990s.

If you haven’t seen the newest installation of the X-Men movie franchise, Days of Future Past, you need to. Pretty much immediately. The film is a true comic book movie and does a phenomenal job of highlighting all of the characters from the highly lauded story line from Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t nitpick certain elements from the movie and compare it to the original story or talk about how certain characters were not written like that because you most definitely can do that and that kind of critique can be fun … but, ladies and gents, comics and by proxy comic book movies are supposed to be fun. 

Luckily, your library has two different collected editions of the Days of Future Past story line to help you get reacquainted with or introduced to that classic tale. Why do we have two different editions you ask? Well: The first collected edition brings together X-Men #138-141Uncanny X-Men #142-143, and X-Men Annual #4. This one is a good primer for folks that:

1.) Have not seen X-men First Class or cannot remember much about First Class

2.) Just want a short overview on X-men comics during the 1960s when it was mainly monster of the week

3.) Have not seen X-men Days of Future Past yet

4.) Don’t care about the minutiae and want the book quicker (the waitlist is currently shorter)

The only disappointing thing that I came away with this particular collected edition was that it only contains one issue that is relevant to the Days of Future Past story line.

The second collected edition is a Marvel reprint that came out earlier this year. It collects X-Men #141, Uncanny X-Men #142, New Mutants Annual #6, X-Factor #5, X-Men Annual 14, Excalibur #52, Wolverine: Days of Future Past #1-3, and Hulk: Broken Worlds 2. Which is basically every single possible issue that could deal with the Days of Future Past story arc. This is a great complete edition for folks that:

1.) Want to analyze every part of the movie and compare it to the source material

2.) Need to go back after the movie is over and fact check

3.) Want to have a protracted debate and compare it to the 1990s television show

Either collected edition is a fantastic read and honestly you could read one or both of them to get the full effect. Regardless, the T.V. show’s theme song is totally stuck in my head.

Book Review – One More Thing

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One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B. J. Novak

Reviewed by Theresa Wagner One-More-Thing-Cover1_custom-4f2bf1af5182e2e7894d244687389362907a7e69-s6-c30

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to listen B. J. Novak tell funny stories at a party? His first collection of short fictional stories is the next best thing. Novak compiles some of the most witty and amusing stories in his first foray into fiction writing. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is short fiction for the distracted reader. It’s a series of quick anecdotes and self-contained plots that don’t really have anything to do with each other.

Many who enjoyed B. J. Novak’s writing on The Office will love laughing out loud at the jokes in this book, especially if you choose to listen to the audio version. The audiobook is read by Novak with special guests including Mindy Kaling, Rainn Wilson, and Lena Dunham. It is amusing to hear these stories delivered by such a great cast of actors. One of my personal favorites is a story about the prolific author John Grisham. In it, Grisham accidentally discovers that his publisher has released his latest book under the title The Something. He calls his publisher to protest this oversight, claiming that he clearly meant to add a title but forgot and sent in the manuscript. The people at the publisher claim they didn’t want to bother him with this little detail.

Many of the stories are quick quips and others are longer tales. Those who enjoy funny writing and maybe have a short attention span will definitely want to check this book out. It’s available at your library or for download from OverDrive.

Book Review: Good Prose

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Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder & Richard Todd. Reviewed by Louise Hilton. 

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder and his longtime editor and friend Richard Todd offer advice on writing nonfiction in this elegant little book. Letting us know right from the start how fervently they believe in the “power of story and character,” the authors affirm that “the techniques of fiction never belonged exclusively to fiction,” indeed, “no techniques of storytelling are prohibited to the nonfiction writer, only the attempt to pass off inventions as facts.”

Kidder and Todd are formidable talents but present their advice in an accessible and encouraging way. Drawing on their long careers in the field, they urge aspiring writers to believe in the intelligence of the reader and to focus, above all, on the human side of the story: “We think that every piece of writing – whether story or argument or rumination, book or essay or letter home – requires the freshness and precision that convey a distinct human presence.”

Good Prose is the culmination of Kidder and Todd’s decades-long friendship and experience in publishing. The result? Excellent prose. It belongs on every writer’s shelf alongside Strunk & White’s Elements of Style and Stephen King’s On Writing.

*An edited version of this review appeared in The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.).

Comics Review: East of West The Promise

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East of West Volume 1  by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta. Reviewed by Adam St.Pierre.East_Of_West_Vol1

So after two consecutive reads, I think I’m ready to give reviewing this thing a shot. Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta have done something wonderful here mixing serious science fiction, alternate history, and western elements to build a story that could easily garner as much attention as Saga has over the past year or so. The story begins by showing three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, being reborn/reincarnated as children without Death. Once War, Famine, and Conquest realize that Death is not with them they decide they must find and kill him, immediately setting up the conflict that carries throughout the rest of the story arc.

After the reincarnation scene, Hickman and Dragotta piece together what happened from the Civil War to 2066, and how we form the Seven Nations of America. Our protagonist, a Clint Eastwood-like Death dressed entirely in white, is finally shown exacting his brand of bloody vengeance upon all who have wronged him.

What exactly occurred between the Horsemen and a myriad of other questions are introduced very quickly to the reader which can make the story a bit difficult to keep up with at first. The payoff is definitely worth it and the end of the trade seriously leaves you wanting for more. Check out Volume 2 soon!