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Arts & Culture

School's out: fill your head with candy, Pac-Man, and Crumb

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Sweet Tooth: The Bittersweet History of Candy

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Drawn Together


For the already over-hot citizens of San Antonio, the summer months should be a time to seek out necessary shade and cool off with a hot new book title. From a graphic novel take on King Lear to a contrite study of the confectionery arts, this summer there are more than a few reasons to read while you relax.

So, forget about any sidewalk strutting this summer, and flip through some of these books before the cement melts your flip-flops.

Sweet Tooth: The Bittersweet History of Candy
by Kate Hopkins, St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 304 pages

Most men, if I am to believe Hollywood and those dudes at a medical supply store I worked with for five years, meet their midlife crisis with a set of expectations: fast cars, faster women, maybe some rub-in-temples hair dye. Kate Hopkins (author of 99 Drams of Whiskey: The Accidental Hedonist's Quest for the Perfect Shot and the History of the Drink) met her impending half-point with candy, and along this sweet route learned some bitter information about the class-conscious history of cane sugar as well as the slave setup that accommodated its indulgence.

Drawn Together
by Aline Kominsky-Crumb & R. Crumb, Liveright, $29.95, 264 pages

If you're familiar with Robert Crumb through that bad Fritz the Cat cartoon or even that good Terry Zwigoff documentary, then you still don't know the real dirt on this guy, or you don't know the dirty laundry. Since 1972 Crumb, a womanizing misanthrope with a priceless blues record collection and a heart of horny gold, has collaborated on a series of domestic-themed comics with his lovely and much-put-upon underground artist wife Aline. These panels, several of which appeared first in The New Yorker, commence in trailer-park hippie culture and amble into a post-9/ll Cannes film festival.

Dublinesque
by Enrique Vila-Matas, translated from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey & Anne McLean, New Directions, $16.95, 256 pages

In Dublinesque, out this June, a financially flagging and newly sober publisher has a hard time keeping up with the exaggerations of self-aggrandizement he unloads upon his aging parents and so goes on a pilgrimage to Dublin. Seduced by the land of Joyce and Beckett, as well as the company of some writers he has published, he connives literary theories that undo their own critique yet somehow manage to assuage a mind resigned to the end of the printing age. The always invigorating Spanish stylist has, with his latest translated work, offered up not only a template for the future of travel writing, but a prime example of how meta-fiction might, once no longer recognized as such, gracefully collapse into the no longer new form of the novel.

The Hello Delay
by Julie Choffel, Fordham University Press,$18.00, 80 pages

Depending on how well versed you are, a lot of contemporary poetry either makes you want to cry right away or bores you to death. Like a terrifying lozenge, Julie Choffel's work frightens as it soothes. The winner of the 2010-2011 Poets Out Loud prize employs an utterly alien voice that gives unguarded attention to the categories of broken plant stems in a retinal dance that recalls dreams of gossamer over lampshades. With lines evocative of Brain Eno's Oblique Strategies, this is metaphysical poetry for the dead mall crowd.

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