6.30.2008

It can't rain all the time...

As a comics collector when storing books in my basement I did everything I could to make sure that boxes were not left on the floor as flooding is a book lovers’ worst enemy. I bought a plastic shelving system, made sure everything was up off the floor and in boxes, and I thought all was safe.


Then a pipe burst in the basement ceiling, and water dripped down onto my comics. Ugh.

Ok, in all honesty my boxes acted heroically, taking the brunt of the damage and saving most of my comics. I had many boxes downstairs from years of books accrued while working as a book club editor, visiting the weekly comic shop, and from random purchases. Compared to the amount of books in my collection the damage wasn’t that bad. I lost about 60 books, most of them manga samples given to me while researching that area of the comics world.

Well, aside from needing new storage boxes, containers, or maybe a carbon freezing chamber, it’ll be alright. Life goes on. Another crisis averted.


And this situation forced me to go through each box and check for water damage. I went book to book, comic to comic and set out all the books on a table. The next step was to see which comic book issues I deemed ‘sellable’ and finally have that sidewalk / garage sale I’ve been talking about since last year. Maybe I’ll actually get out and do it this 4th of July holiday weekend – and take advantage of the extra sidewalk traffic. I have plenty of extra books and I obviously need to scale down the obsessive collection.

As I look back on this near disaster, I realize one must be diligent with his or her book collection. Living in NYC, storage space is very tight and I will not have access to a basement always, so I must do what I can. Buying new books and getting rid of old ones…and most importantly keeping favorites. The struggle continues.

6.25.2008

Attended THE SPIES OF WARSAW reading

On Tuesday night, June the 24th, at the Barnes & Noble on 66th, I attended a reading by Alan Furst, the writer some of the best espionage novels of modern times. I recently had the opportunity to read his newest book, The Spies of Warsaw, as part of a freelance evaluation. I’d been aware of his novels as a former book club editor, but this newest one was actually the first that I read.

All of Alan Furst's novels take place on the eve of World War II, that dangerous time as plans were hatched and mistrust was everywhere, especially in Europe. The author spoke about being obsessed with that time period and mentioned how his fascination only grows with age. When asked if he'd consider writing about another moment in time he simply said he wasn't interested.

He read a few pages from the new novel, from the opening chapter, and they poetically rolled off his tongue. It had been a while since I've been to a reading, and I always like listening to authors read from their own work. They know how it should sound, and when I've read the work, I try to remember if that's how it sounded to me. Did I miss something? Was I on track?

I was enthralled with this novel from the onset. I never thought I’d care so much what happens to a French military attaché in Poland – but I was wrong. He makes you care. He paints such a vivid picture of the tension, the people, and the critical events on the eve of war. And not just any war, but the big one. My interest in WW II has only grown over the years, especially after my time running the Military Book Club, and this book brought me back, had me thinking about things like the Ardennes.

The book also contained romantic entanglements amid the pressures of the spy world. Dangerous games were played amid even more dangerous games. I found myself almost longing for that world. And not to mention I thought Colonel Jean- François Mercier was the man. He came from a line of men that served their country without a thought. Old school. Bad ass, but with style.

I’ve laid out your mission before you. You must choose. I know what I must do. I have to go back and pick up all of Furst’s backlist. One by one. Pick them off like a good sniper. Savoring each kill. It's the joy of discovering a new writer. Well, a writer who is new to me anyway.

He was a perfect gentleman by the way. He greeted me warmly although I was far back in line to get a signature when it was finally my turn. And as he signed my book we had a bit of conversation before I was off. Bravo. Next mission.

6.22.2008

Review of Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus


I just finished reading, LOBSTER JOHNSON: The Iron Prometheus , the trade paperback that I picked up last week at the comic shop. Ever since my best buddy Joe G. got me hooked on Hellboy many years ago, I've come back for more. In the last few years I've devowered every B.P.R.D. (that's the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense) story, which are all set in the samer errie world as Hellboy and I've waited patiently for the return of my favorite pulp character - Lobster Johnson. [Yes, that is my Lobster Johnson heroclix in the photo].



In Iron Prometheus, we follow Lobster on the trail of evildoers in 1937 New York and New Jersey. There are mad scientists, the beginnings of the Nazi regime, and a powerful metallic suit energized by a mysterious force. Only Lobster Johnson and his team can help an average Joe find the girl and evade the darkest evil.

I think that the Hellboy series spin-offs like B.P.R.D. and this book focusing on Lobster Johnson are some of the best kept secrets in comics. The stories are so good and include exciting bits of myth, folklore, gothic horror and everything else that makes for good scary reading. I can't get enough of them.

Now if I could only find the time to play heroclix. That's another post. Although it was fun sifting through them, as I tried to find Lobster to make a cameo in this post photo. I think I need to get out of this room. It's been a long day.

Currently reading...



This lazy Sunday afternoon, LOBSTER JOHNSON: The Iron Prometheus by Mike Mignola and Jason Armstrong (Dark Horse Comics). Should be finished shortly. Mini-review to follow.

6.20.2008

my favorite bar in NYC...Old Town


Without the sign, quite frankly, I was lost. [It was recently replaced after having been taken down for a while for repair].



There is nothing better on a summer Friday afternoon (in my mind anyway) than meeting a friend for a pint and some lunch at one of my favorite places in Manhattan - Old Town Bar. Now I know this place has been reviewed endlessly over the years and is a mainstay of various walkes of life, and that is what makes it such a great place. With a rich literary tradition and serving food and beverages for well over 100 years it continues to be a regular stop for me (thanks to Joe P. for introducing me to this joint!).

The location is perfect, just north of Union Square, and the staff is always friendly and polite. I've spent many hours enjoying a great lunch or laughing with friends over a few happy hour rounds. I also know it's a favorite locale for many publishing folk, like some of my good friends at St. Martin's in the nearby Flatiron building. It was also the place some of the good peeps at B&N took my friend Jeannine to wish her well as she left a while back for a new job in the UK.

The place simply has a wonderful sense of history and you feel it when seated in the worn wooden booths or at the ancient bar. So, as I waited for my friend Nancy today, seated at the end of the bar, scribbling notes on the printed page of a story I was working on...all felt right with the world.


Well, that sounds like a proper Friday blog post to me. Ok, I haven't been sticking to my self imposed schedule of updating every day. But that's alright, I'll get on when I can. And if it's to share a small piece of my little world with the three or four of your reading, well then mission accomplished.

Even though this has been a strange year for me, it's also been wonderful. I'm learning new things all the time professionally and at the same time getting the opportunity to spend lots of time with my lovely wife and good friends.

So, if you ever see this guy sitting at the bar, don't hesitate to come over and buy me a drink [lush]. Or as many of you know, if you want to meet up to talk shop, books or comics...I'm only a quick email away. Enjoy the weekend.



6.17.2008

One of these days, I need to get organizized.


As I look ahead at what to read next, and as I read various things for freelance; one of the things we like to do here at bookrastination (and by "we" I of course mean "me") is procrastinate. And my favorite way to do this, aside from activating my Xbox 360 is to organize my library online using librarything.com. See the sidebar for a random peek into my collection.

I fell in love with this site immediately, as it is so easy to enter, categorize,and 'tag' your books. The site is free to enter up to 200 books after creating a basisc sign-in ID, and either $10 a year or $25 lifetime membership for anything over that (which I happily sent right over).

Of course one of the things that came with being a book club editor for ten years as well as a lifetime pack rat is A LOT of books. Needless to say the organizing project continues...and will do so for some time. But check it out when you have a minute, you might get as hooked as I did.

6.15.2008

Just finished Fables, Vol. 10 [no spoilers]

Last night I finished volume 10 of FABLES. If you're not one of the lucky people already reading this amazing DC Comics / Vertigo title, you should find your closest book or comic store and pick up volumes one and two - at least - needless to say, you'll be hooked. How do I talk about this series without giving anything away? Let's see...I don't want to spoil it for anyone except to say that ten volumes in and I am still surprised at every turn. It is such an imaginative series filled with characters from all ends of folklore, fable and fairy tale..there is something in it for everyone.
It kills me that I was at San Diego Comic Con last year in a hotel room party hosted by none other than Bill Willingham himself and at that point I had just started reading the series. If I had only listened to my friend Cara (a former DC employee who first recommended the series to me) and started reading it earlier then maybe I could have picked Bill's brain or the brain of Mark Buckingham who was also in attendance...ah well. Maybe next time.
Last word - check this series out, it is really awesome.

6.13.2008

My review of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

While attending BEA (Book Expo America) in L.A. earlier this month, I picked up an ‘advance reader’s edition’ in the HarperCollins booth of Neil Gaiman's newest novel, The Graveyard Book, and I really enjoyed it. It was impossible not to care about the plight of little Nobody ‘Bod’ Owens. His story is filled with sadness, adventure, and a host of the most interesting ghostly caretakers - the inhabitants of the Graveyard who raise him. Learning the tricks of the Graveyard, Bod must survive caught between the worlds of the living and the dead.
Reminiscent of The Nightmare Before Christmas in its ghoulish charm, I think The Graveyard Book will delight readers of any age (and most-certainly fans of Coraline). The September release date makes this a perfect pre-Halloween reading gift for the Gaiman fan in your life. Or, consider it a wonderful little book as a gift to turn someone onto Gaiman.


The only thing missing from the advance reader’s edition were the planned illustrations done by long time Gaiman collaborator, Dave McKean – which I know will be terrific – and which gives me a reason to go buy a finished copy this Fall.

6.12.2008

My day in Sunnyside

I spent my day in Sunnyside, Queens today, freelancing for a literary agent that I've befriended recently. It was a beautiful day and an educational one spent on a couch reviewing manuscripts and not in front of a computer screen (which was a treat actually).
The battle continues.
Tomorrow: my review of Neil Gaiman's latest novel...

6.11.2008

Day One

And so it begins. It is a beautiful day and I was inspired to finally start blogging today. Maybe it was the film I saw last (Dreams with Sharp Teeth), maybe it is the fact that I'm a slacker and have been talking about getting down some thoughts online about my life in publishing. Maybe, just maybe, it's the dead poet in me reawakened and wanting to contribute a verse...
Let me just point out to any prospective reader, that I am not at all technical and this blog will not be perfect, in fact, it'll be far from it. But I learn as I go, and have many friends who will help, so I am optimistic.