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Admiral Ackbar's blog: "book stuff"

created on 10/29/2008  |  http://fubar.com/book-stuff/b255532


So I read this over the past few days, and genuinely one of the most astonishing genre novels I've ever read.  As the cover states, "an oral history of the zombie war", it's basically the story of Earth facing a global crisis consisting of the dead rising to eat brains and stuff, but instead of a straight novel, it's instead presented as a factual collection of interviews with survivors that piece together to form a history of the crisis.  While this approach does sacrifice a certain amount of tension, dispensing with the usual tricks of horror writing and coming over very disapssionately, what it gains in return is an absolutely convincing sense of how our world would respond to such a crisis.  The detail, and moreover the choice of how and when to reveal the detail, and when to let you fill in the gaps yourself, make not only for an air of authenticity that defies belief when considering the subject matter, but makes for as finely crafted a work of fiction as I've ever read.  It is, quiet simply, in my opinion, genius.

It was recommended to me by our good friend ZombieMonkey, who in fact chose this as the first text in her newly-instigated Fubar book club.  So if you've read it, head on over to her blog to chat on it and stuff.  And if you haven't, please consider picking it up, it's genuinely astonishing.

ZombieMonkey vs. MechaZombieMonkey

@ fubar

The blog in question is here : http://www.fubar.com/blog/328468/1099104

My mate Dave got me this for Christmas.  It kinda covers a lot of the same territory as 'Walk The Line', childhood, start in music, up to Fulsom, and then jumps to the American Recordings sessions with Rick Rubin.  It cuts between Cash's life, and Glen Sherley, an inmate of Fulsom who's desperate to meet Cash, and who sends him one of his songs, 'Greystone Chapel', which Cash performed at Fulsome and later recorded.  It also incorporates some great wordless sequences depicting some of Cash's key tracks.

Very well-written, and the artwork is evocative, altogether making for a delightful and moving piece of work, and a splendid example of what the comic book medium is capable of.

Dear Mr. Keillor,

As longtime fan of A Prairie Home Companion and a daily listener to The Writer's Almanac, I find both comfort and encouragement in your fatherly sign-off for the latter program: Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

But I've often wondered what you mean when you say, "Be well." How do you define well-being? What do you do to achieve it?

Steve C.

Wabash College


You're a college guy and I'm an old writer, Steve, so we're looking at this from different angles. I'm more aware of decline and decrepitude than you possibly could be. I'm at the age when people tell me, "You're looking good" in that tone of voice that says "for a guy your age." For me, well-being has a lot to do with forward motion. I need to have deadlines, a list of projects, people who rely on me, some ambition on my back like an outboard motor. Good health is good, of course, and you don't want big black splotches showing up on the CAT scan, but my sense of well-being comes from waking up each day with work to do. It was different when I was in college: the work was imposed by teachers and so much of it seemed irrelevant, make-work, a lot of pointless exercises. What you hope for in life is a sense of a calling, a vocation, which simply means that one goes to one's work gratefully, not out of fear or habit but with a whole heart. It's the whole-heartedness that makes for well-being. Everyone has to live with a degree of doubt and restlessness, but there's nothing like enthusiasm, especially when you're 67. I have a plumber in my house right now, working to repair a pipe that broke when it froze and rebuild part of a jerry-rigged heating system, and it is so clear to me that this man loves his work. So does my internist. So do the women who care for my ancient mother. So do the musicians on the radio show and the writers of the Almanac. Thanks for your note.


- from the Prairie Home Companion Weekly Email

Even though I don't get the radio show over here, I do get the e-newsletter, as it's a good way of keeping up with what Keillor's doing at the moment.  Enjoyed his response to this week's Post to the Host



To the Host:

What is your reaction to the ELCA's recent decision to allow congregations to bless same-gender unions and/or call openly gay pastors? How are the decisions playing at Lake Wobegon Lutheran?

Jeffrey S.

Winlock, WA


My reaction, Jeffrey, is that I wouldn't want to be the historic First Gay Lutheran Pastor and walk around with a plaque on my back. People would expect you to be a saint and to give off radiant beams of light. They would await miracles. Pastors are servants and in the Lutheran church, congregations call their own pastors, so this decision is simply a matter of honest labeling. If a congregation wants a hetero pastor, they should have one and if they want the other brand, they can have that, too, but let the clergy be honest about who they are. You shouldn't order a Ford and get a Chevy. In Lake Wobegon, the Lutherans are all in turmoil about it and I don't know if they'll stay in the ELCA or not, or whether some of them might pull out and form their own un-gay church they're all busy shovelling snow now. But the urge to separate from others is strong and there will always be restless people. In every marriage there is a strong case for divorce. One thing that keeps Lutherans together is the love of singing. There is nothing like a Lutheran congregation for singing acapella the old hymns and when they are riven by divisive talk, the antidote is to sit them down in a room and have them sing "Beautiful Savior". You'd hate to have the tenors and half the sopranos walk away over some doctrinal difference.

Also enjoyed this week's Pretty Good Joke -


Hey, did ya hear about the two cement mixers that fell in love. They did, they got married, and now they've got a lil' sidewalk running all around the house.

Seems like I don't do that many book blogs, cos I read so many comics and magazines and internets these days that my previous devotion to actual books has kinda gotten lost.  But I do always have one on the go, and last night I finished this one that my homeboy ZombieMonkey turned me onto.

And yeah, the woman's a formidable writer (Amy Hempel, I can't speak for Zombie Monkey).  I struggle with the short story form - I ain't the brightest guy, and where a novel has the luxury of space and time to get its ideas across, a good short story is a well-crafted concentrated hit (much like a smaller painting isn't less work than a big one, and often the detail is that much finer), and as such, usually way over my head.  But I can still enjoy the craft, and this is as well-crafted a collection of writing as you'll find anywhere.  Moving, funny, thought-provoking, and exquisite in its composition.

When I was a kid, I used to want to be a writer, but it's work like this that makes remember not to keep banging my head against a brick wall, and leave it to the gifted.

More comic goodness from Dark Horse's Autumn One Shot programme.  Joss Whedon's younger brother has put together a fine tie-in for Whedon's online blog thing that he did.  Comedy goodness.

So Michael Chabon wrote an exceptional novel called 'The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay', which traced the history of two Jewish immigrants in the US who acheived fame and fortune when the create a popular superhero, The Escapist (no points for spotting the real life influence).  Riffing on this, and in turn writing his own loveletter to the medium, Brian K Vaughan, working with artist Steve Rolston, took that character and spun it out into a brilliant six part mini-series about the creative team that years after Kavalier and Clay come into posession of the rights to The Escapist and fight to bring the book back to the stands.

The soft-cover collection has just hit the shops.  If you love comics, treat yourself.

... On The Campaign Trail

Due back at the library TOMORROW and I've read one chapter.  And the computer says 'NO RENEWALS'.  Shit.

I'm not a die-hard Whedon fan - I love 'Firefly' and enjoyed 'Serenity' but I was never a Buffy or Angel fan, and have yet to see any 'Dollhouse' - but there's no denying the man can put a memorable concept together, and has a real sense of fun.  Both these characteristics come across strongly in this one-shot from Dark Horse, collecting the web-based strips for the MySpace Dark Horse Presents series.  Three girls and a robot in a band shot from Earth to take part in an interstellar battle of the bands, with Whedon's trademark snappy dialogue and a large dollop of humour? Great stuff.

Dark Horse page here

(sorry, blogging up a storm today, think I'm done)

  • Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture (1991)
  • Shampoo Planet (1992)
  • Life After God (1994)
  • Microserfs (1995)
  • Girlfriend in a Coma (1998)
  • Miss Wyoming (2000)
  • All Families Are Psychotic (2001)
  • God Hates Japan (2001) 
  • Hey Nostradamus! (2003)
  • Eleanor Rigby (2004)
  • jPod (2006)
  • The Gum Thief (2007)
  • Generation A (2009)
  • Just trying to work out how much Coupland I have left to read.  I think that's a : Yes, No, No, Yes, No, Yes, Reading, No, Yes, I think I did?, Yes, No, Yes

    Man, I have more left to read than I thought.

    Carry on.

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