Some random good things from the literary world and beyond for a rainy, slow Wednesday afternoon:
- An Off Year by Claire Zulkey
Fresh, funny, and disarmingly honest study of an average girl's minor breakdown upon facing down the first year of college. Zulkey never gets melodramatic, which can often cause the emotional center of a book to go flat, but instead, the reader is treated to minor epiphanies as they occur, as small as our protagonist, Cecily, getting out of the house for once.
- The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
Just released in paperback, I tried all last fall to relate my feelings on Vowell's labor of love. While not as funny as her other books, its perhaps all the more affecting for how closely she relates to the subject material. For Vowell diehards and early American literature buffs, this is a must read. For anyone else, pick up Partly Cloudy Patriot and Take the Cannoli first.
- The Indie Rock Coloring Book by Yellow Bird Project, illus. by Andy. J. Miller
Because your kids aren't taking nearly enough psychedelics, nor are their coloring books groovy enough to serve as poster art. Lots of cool bands represented with zany, incredibly designed illustrations. And it benefits a good cause! What more could you ask for in your hipster kids coloring book? Here's a taste:
- The Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne
Admittedly, I haven't read it yet, but it's Byrne's writings and musings on cities, travel, urban societies, all from the point of view of his handy collapsible bicycle. Maureen wrote up a killer marketing plan to get Byrne in our store when he goes on his book tour - maybe this shout out will help things a bit. Hey, Mr. Byrne! Come to our store for a signing! We'll buy you delicious food from the OTB Bicycle Cafe and just generally do your bidding.
- Brief Interviews with Hideous Men - based on the book by David Foster Wallace
Just watched this last night. John Krasinski directed and adapted for the screen the book by David Foster Wallace. While a film adaptation of Wallace's short story collection is well-meant tribute to the late writer, and Krasinski really does all that he can on this first try at directing, this is a piece meant - I mean, really, just meant - for the stage, but not quite so suitable for 80 minutes of movie watching. Krasinski does a nice job of instilling a tension in scenes that could have felt long and aimless, and the performances mostly deliver - the touch of stunt casting fails, as Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie fame) mostly looks like he can't believe he's in a movie (and neither can we) - but it just falls short of something. Could imagine this being absolutely electrifying on stage - and it has been, back in 2000, as part of the New York International Fringe Festival.