Arts & Culture
School's out: fill your head with candy, Pac-Man, and Crumb
Published: May 16, 2012
Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline, Crown Publishing, $14.00, 384 pages
If you found yourself feeling inexplicably drawn to that Tron: Legacy movie, and know too much about that bathroom scene in Weird Science, then you really need to get Ready Player One. Set in an economically devastated time shortly after a Steve Jobs-like genius has died (wait, I thought this was science fiction!) Ernest Cline's first novel takes its geeky hero on a virtual reality Willy Wonka ride that puts his actual — as well as avatar — life in peril. There's love, there's action, and there's a good deal of Pac-Man trivia as well.
The Graphic Canon, Volume 1
Edited by Russ Kick, Seven Stories Press, $34.95, 448 pages
Russ Kick, a kind of Julian Assange of the small press scene, has for years now been scaring skepticism into his readers by bringing to light all kinds of information the CIA has tried to keep private. With The Graphic Canon, Vol. 1 (the second volume will be out in July and the third is set to follow in the fall) Kick has turned his editorial attention to illuminating literature in the public domain, from the Book of Daniel to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, with some Shakespeare and Sappho thrown in for good measure. Aficionados of graphic arts will get to see examples of their genre, rendered by key graphic innovators such Seymour Chwast and Robert Crumb, elevated to epic levels.
by Alix Kates Shulman, The Other Press, $14.95, 288 pages
Now in her eighth decade, the author of the classic Memoirs of an Ex Prom Queen, whose much reprinted essays on splitting up household chores led to a popular magazine wave of what was then called "radical feminism," has come back to fiction with a powerful satire in which an artistically unfulfilled married couple invites an exiled author into their lives for inspiration. The results end up looking like a Todd Haynes take on the John Irving's The 158-Pound Marriage.
The Enchantress: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
by Michael Scott, Delacorte Press, $18.99, 528 pages
So Harry Potter is dead, and that sparkly Twilight hunk who hasn't even been alive since Grandma Moses started painting is spoken for, that doesn't mean that the desire for meaty mystic fantasy that plays off King Arthur myths and the legends of Atlantis aren't still desirous to the eight- to eighteen-year-old crowd, and, of course, to their parents who, through the conscientious guise of multitasking, get to read along with their kids. •
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