An addict-turned-dealer of classic paperbacks, when Cordelia's not spending her days combing the charity shops and jumble sales of suburban London for valuable collector's items, she's pining for the woman of her dreams and nimbly avoiding her landlord's demands for rent. The most elusive prize of all, her white whale, has surfaced — a set of magnificent, vintage, rare Sleuth Hound crime novels. Just one problem: they're not for sale. Still, that won't stop a resourceful woman like Cordelia… One burglary later, the books are hers. Unfortunately, the man she's just robbed turns out to be one of London's most dangerous gangsters, and now he's on her trail and out for blood. Cordelia's best laid plans to pay the rent and woo the object of her affections start to fall apart, and she realizes she may have placed herself in the crosshairs of a villain torn straight from the pages of her treasured novels.
Friday, July 28, 2023
Tuesday, July 25, 2023
The girl group sound, made famous and unforgettable by acts like The Ronettes, The Shirelles, The Supremes, and The Vandellas, took over the airwaves by capturing the mixture of innocence and rebellion emblematic of America in the 1960s. As songs like "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "Then He Kissed Me," and "Be My Baby" rose to the top of the charts, girl groups cornered the burgeoning post-war market of teenage rock and roll fans, indelibly shaping the trajectory of pop music in the process. While the songs are essential to the American canon, many of the artists remain all but anonymous to most listeners.
With more than 100 subjects that made the music, from the singers to the songwriters, to their agents, managers, and sound engineers—and even to the present-day celebrities inspired by their lasting influence– But Will You Love Me Tomorrow: An Oral History of 60s Girl Groups tells a national coming-of-age story that gives particular insight into the experiences of the female singers and songwriters who created the movement.
Friday, July 21, 2023
On a cold Saturday afternoon in 1975, two men met for lunch in a Chicago pub. Gene Siskel was the film critic for the Chicago Tribune. Roger Ebert had recently won the Pulitzer Prize—the first ever awarded to a film critic—for his work at the Chicago Sun-Times. To say they despised each other was an understatement. When they reluctantly agreed to collaborate on a new movie review show with PBS, there was at least as much sparring off-camera as on. No decision—from which films to cover to who would read the lead review to how to pronounce foreign titles—was made without conflict, but their often-antagonistic partnership made for great television. In the years that followed, their signature “Two thumbs up!” would become the most trusted critical brand in Hollywood.
Wednesday, July 19, 2023
We recognize Rod Serling as our sharply dressed, cigarette-smoking tour guide of The Twilight Zone, but the entertainment business once regarded him as the "Angry Young Man" of Television. Before he became the revered master of science fiction, Rod Serling was a just a writer who had to fight to make his voice heard. He vehemently challenged the networks and viewership alike to expand their minds and standards—rejecting notions of censorship, racism and war. But it wasn’t until he began to write about real world enemies in the guise of aliens and monsters that people lent their ears. In doing so, he pushed the television industry to the edge of glory, and himself to the edge of sanity. Rod operated in a dimension beyond that of contemporary society, making him both a revolutionary and an outsider.
Monday, July 17, 2023
Maria Bamford is a comedian’s comedian (an outsider among outsiders) and has forever fought to find a place to belong. From struggling with an eating disorder as a child of the 1980s, to navigating a career in the arts (and medical debt and psychiatric institutionalization), she has tried just about every method possible to not only be a part of the world, but to want to be a part of it.
In Bamford’s signature voice, Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult brings us on a quest to participate in something. With sincerity and transparency, she recounts every anonymous fellowship she has joined (including but not limited to: Debtors Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous), every hypomanic episode (from worrying about selling out under capitalism to enforcing union rules on her Netflix TV show set to protect her health), and every easy 1-to-3-step recipe for fudge in between.
Saturday, July 15, 2023
Aaron Neville’s first #1 hit, “Tell It Like it Is,” was released in 1966. In the mid-70s he formed the Neville Brothers with Art, Charles, and Cyril—now known as the “First Family of New Orleans”—and they released more than a dozen influential albums. Given his one-of-a-kind, soaring falsetto, Aaron was the breakout star, and over the next six decades, he had four platinum albums, three #1 songs, numerous film and television appearances, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014. His triple-platinum duets with Linda Ronstadt (including the Grammy-Award-winning hit “I Don’t Know Much”) showcased the softer side of his voice, and the smoking hot funky soul of the Neville Brothers cemented his legacy as an R&B legend.
Thursday, July 13, 2023
Comics have conquered America. From our multiplexes, where Marvel and DC movies reign supreme, to our television screens, where comics-based shows like The Walking Dead have become among the most popular in cable history, to convention halls, best-seller lists, Pulitzer Prize–winning titles, and MacArthur Fellowship recipients, comics shape American culture, in ways high and low, superficial, and deeply profound.
In American Comics , Columbia professor Jeremy Dauber takes readers through their incredible but little-known history, starting with the Civil War all the way into the twenty-first century, taking in the grim and gritty Dark Knights and Watchmen alongside the brilliant rise of the graphic novel.
Dauber’s story shows not only how comics have changed over the decades but how American politics and culture have changed them. Throughout, he describes the origins of beloved comics, champions neglected masterpieces, and argues that we can understand how America sees itself through whose stories comics tell. Striking and revelatory, American Comics is a rich chronicle of the last 150 years of American history through the lens of its comic strips, political cartoons, superheroes, graphic novels, and more.
Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Archie Mint has a secret. He’s led a charmed life—he’s got a beautiful wife, two impressive kids, and a successful military career. But when he’s killed while trying to stop a robbery in his own home, his family is shattered—and then shocked when the other shoe drops. Mint’s been hiding criminal secrets none of them could have imagined.
While working on Mint’s body before his funeral, mortician “Zig” Zigarowski discovers something he was never meant to see. That telling detail leads him to Mint’s former top secret military unit and his connection to artist Nola Brown. Two years ago, Nola saved Zig’s life—so he knows better than most that she’s as volatile and dangerous as a bolt of lightning.
Following Nola’s trail, he uncovers one of the U.S. government’s most intensely guarded secrets—an undisclosed military facility that dates back to the Cold War and holds the key to something far more sinister: a hidden group willing to compromise the very safety and security of America itself. Trouble always finds her… She’s the lightning rod.
Friday, July 7, 2023
In 1970s Baltimore, fourteen-year-old Mary Jane (shy, quiet, bookish) is glad when she lands a summer job as a nanny for the daughter of a local doctor. A respectable job, Mary Jane’s mother says. In a respectable house.
The doctor is a psychiatrist who has cleared his summer for one important job—helping a famous rock star dry out. A week after Mary Jane starts, the rock star and his movie star wife move in. Over the course of the summer, Mary Jane has a front-row seat to a liberal world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (not to mention group therapy). Caught between the lifestyle she’s always known and the future she’s only just realized is possible, Mary Jane will arrive at September with a new idea about what she wants out of life, and what kind of person she’s going to be.
Wednesday, July 5, 2023
Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.
Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.
The Final Revival of Opal and Nev is the debut novel from Dawnie Walton. 37 Ink, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster Canada released it on March 30, 2021.
Regulars here know I'm all in on music and books (fiction and nonfiction) that revolve around it. This one was added to my want-to-read list earlier this year, and I'm now getting around to it. The description indicated it would have a lot going for it.
Most of the narrative is written in a documentary transcript style. Daisy Jones and the Six from a few years back was one of the first I encountered in this same style. For books that focus on entertainment media, I find that it can work well. It does force the author to really lock in on the "voices"of the characters as their words and speaking rhythms are key to selling it. Walton does a wonderful job at this; many of the secondary characters are very memorable here.
I can tell when an author has done the work to include authentic pop-culture and historical references into their work. The mentions of several classic soap operas as well as various British music programs made me smile. I also like the fictional soundbites from real celebrities as well; they really fit in with the story nicely.
Overall, a moving narrative with a lot of thematic meat to leave the reader thinking.
Monday, July 3, 2023
Experience a fresh take on the Marvel Universe with this collection of stunning illustrations from thirty five exceptional Japanese artists, including Yasuhiro Nightow, Akira Himekawa, Peach Momoko, Yusuke Murata, and Yoshitaka Amano.
Marvel Comics: A Manga Tribute explores Marvel’s rich and enduring legacy as a pop-culture phenomenon by paying homage to its most iconic characters and beloved stories. The book features a range of unique artwork, collected for the first time, celebrating characters from across the multiverse. A must-have for fans of Marvel Comics and Japanese art alike!
Sunday, July 2, 2023
Supergenius and quasi-villain Rex normally can’t go a week without accidentally endangering Decimen City with her science shenanigans. It’s been two weeks since her genetically engineered dinosaurs rampaged through town—a good streak for her—but the peace is broken when actual villain Last Dance sets his sights on Decimen. And he wants Rex’s help. Before Rex can say “I didn’t do it,” superheroes who’ve dragged her to jail on her worst days are crowding her lab to conscript her into quasi-herodom.
Rex would rather stay out of it and deal with the dinosaurs that keep calling her Mom, but she can’t ignore that she was somewhat responsible for Last Dance’s villainy. She’d kept a very disorganized lab. And he was such a nosy brother. She failed to help him back then, but maybe if she stops him now—and keeps the heroes fooled—she can finally set things right.