Before we gallivant into the fall releases, let's do one last run through the store and see if there is anything we missed.
Oh, look, a new graphic novel from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Brubaker and Phillips have been working together for a century or so now, and they've developed a visual style that is a treat to read. Brubaker's writing is a marvelously stripped down noir style, and Phillip's art swings between gritty pulp and a sunny haze of nostalgia and innocence.
Take Pulp, for instance. It's a time-honored story about a man with a secret, caught in a time that has forgotten him, and how he discovers that what he wants and what he gets are very different things. Pulp is a great introduction to this pair, and we suspect it'll merely whet an appetite you didn't know you had.
(Did we mention that we've got a bin of graphic novels that are 50% off right now? No? Then we probably forgot to mention the trades of Fatale that are in the bin too. Fatale is Brubaker and Phillips doing a classic noir femme fatale story, but with tentacled monsters. It's great.)
And speaking of monsters, Maria Dahvana Headley has completed a new translation of Beowulf. Now, you might be thinking: why do we need a new translation? Isn't that Seamus Heaney translation still great? Well, the Heaney is, but Headley's is . . . oh, dear readers, this version of Beowulf is a different beast entirely. In much the same way that Emily Wilson's translation of Homer's Odyssey brought a fresh (and much needed) perspective to the aged tale of the old man and the sea, Headley's Beowulf is . . . something. Look, when she sums up Beowulf's relationship with his father as "We all know a boy can't daddy until his daddy's dead," you know this isn't going to be your daddy's translation.
Headley, whose The Mere Wife, was an attempt to rescue Grendel's mother from the cliched villainess role she's been eternally cast, knows this poem is an anachronism in many ways, but that doesn't mean the story can't resonate with modern readers. We might not have burial rituals like the one afforded Scyld ("His shroud shone, ringed in runes, sun-stiched. I've never heard of any ship so heavy, so corpse so rich."), but we can probably think of folks who would aspire to this sort of send-off. And when his men "mourned the way men do," you certainly know the mood.
It's been awhile since we've had a book from which we want to take turns reading aloud. That's really all we're saying. So, come on down, and let's take turns.
And speaking of inspired art, we've been eying the Tarot of the Divine, which is Yoshi Yoshitani's take on the tarot. Yoshitani looks to a number of world myths and folktales for their cards, which means we get Maori legends rubbing elbows with Danish fables, along with Chinese, Japanese, and Persian stories finding their way into the Minor Arcana. It's a marvelous set, beautiful illustrated, and if you think you've got enough tarot decks, well, we think you might make room for one more.
We're also digging the Murder of Crows set (and not because it showed up right at that point in the serial where we started to worry about what the crows were up to). The Murder of Crows deck is illustrated by Corrado Roi, an Italian artist whose work has graced Dylan Dog, Martin Mystère, and Mister No.
And if you know which end of the colored pencil is the end that leaves a mark on the page, how about Alice Ekrek's Create Your Own Tarot Deck. We're sort of surprised no one has thought of this already, but props to Ekrek for making it happen. It's like an adult coloring book, but with tarot cards! Talk about divine inspiration. First you do a reading, and then you art up the cards. It's brilliant.
And speaking of evocative art, we're in love with The Barnabus Project, a picture book about an unusual elephant, er, mouse, er, phantouse. Illustrated by the Fan Brothers, The Barnabus Project is about science and friendship and the importance of finding yourself in this extremely large world which will just as easily squash you as ignore you. Barnabus is a feisty phantouse who has dreams, you see, and he's not about to let his strange origins keep him from achieving his dreams.
And speaking of adorable animal stories, Rosanne Parry is back this week with A Whale of the Wild. This is the story of Vega, who like salmon, and her brother Deneb, who also likes salmon. When Vega and Deneb are separated from their pod, they must find their family again, which means crossing a vast and deep ocean, facing everything from a tsunami to sharks to polluted waters on their journey. Parry, who melted our hearts with A Wolf Called Wander a few years ago, has another hit on her hands with A Whale of the Wild.
Here's an interesting book. Peter Snow and Ann MacMillan have put together a collection of fifty documents that they feel are key elements of the narrative of human civilization. Treasures of World History: The Story of Civilization in 50 Documents presents you with high quality images of these documents, and then Snow and MacMillan provide commentary on the impact these documents have had. It's sort of like the Show and Tell version of Will and Ariel Durant's eight thousand volume history of civilization, but, you know, not eighty thousand volumes. Plus color pictures!
And speaking of color pictures, Taro Gomi's classic Everyone Poops is back in print. Our long time of darkness is over!
The latest science series for kids is the Who Would Win? series. Featuring tickets like "Honey Badger vs Hyena," "Great Ants vs Army Ants," and "Rattlesnake vs Secretary Bird," this series attempts to answer some of those questions kids are still bugging you about.
Though, we'd be inclined to call it "Squawk Bird Takes on Super Fangster: Animal Kingdom Thunderdome Style," but that might be putting in more narrative than this series is prepared to address.
Anyway, how about some of those fall books? Here's Elena Ferrante's The Lying Life of Adults, which throws us into the confusing and tempestuous world of 12-year old Giovanna, who is struggling to figure out what is happening to her family. It's the late 1970s; we're in Naples, Italy; and, as we know from Ferrante's Neapolitan quartet, we know that growing up in the modern world can be emotionally complicated.
Less complicated, but equally in demand, is Dav Pilkey's Dog Man: Grime and Punishment. It's not as Dostoevsky-esque as that title might suggest, though we suspect that many kids feel that way with school starting any day now.
And finally, Louise Penny's latest Chief Inspector Gamache novel drops this week. In All the Devils Are Here, Gamache is in Paris with his wife, Reine-Marie. They're here for the birth of their second grandchild, but Gamache is quickly caught up in an investigation when a close relation is nearly killed by a runaway van. Gamache suspects foul play, and when he starts poking around, he finds all sorts of terrible secrets.
These books should get you started for fall. Read up, dear friends. Publishing appears to be finding its groove again. Now that we've had a few months to practice, we can get serious about reading through the nights as they start getting shorter.