Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sick of Vampires? Try SHINIGAMI!!!

No it's not a new paper folding technique.

Literally translated the term means "death god".
Basically these guys are Reapers, but with personal issues and sometimes cool Samurai swords.

'Tis the season to read macabre things so here's a sampling of fiction, novels, manga and graphic novels featuring Shinigami and Reapers, From Japan and from U.S. and U.K.

My first encounter with Shinigami was through watching the anime series

Descendants of Darkness by Yoko Matsushita (Manga)

I promptly picked up the Manga series. It details the travails of two humans conscripted into the post of Shinigami after their troubling deaths. They work for a vast and dysfunctional afterlife beaurocracy. Apparently there are things you can't escape even after death, government being one of them. They spend their time leading lost souls to their just reward. As with a lot of Manga it features a high level character angst and "bromance". Google the term and you'll find the wiki and "urban dictionary" definitions.

The trends of manga popularity move fast so the currently hot titles are:

Bleach by Tite Kubo (Manga)
This is the one with the samurai swords, and basically has the same set up as the Descendant's story line; a group of once human protagonists who deal with the problems that arise when the dead hang around too long postponing their final trip out.

We also have an art book from the series, All Color But The Black.

Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba is a darker take on the Shinigami trope.

High school student Light Yagami finds a mysterious notebook. It turns out that it belongs to the Shinigami Ryuk, a very creepy character, sort of a clown with spikes (doubling up on the primal phobias). Ryuk lets Light discover the notebook's special qualities; anyone who's name is written in it dies immediately. Light thinks he can use this power to rid the world of evil men. He doesn't do so well against it's other
temptations. The series eventually becomes a contest between Light and
brilliant detective L who is determined to find the source of the mysterious deaths.

Now on to Euro-American Shinigami/Reaper fiction:

Death and the High Cost of Living by Nail Gaiman. (Graphic Novel)
The Sandman's wicked cool sister Death goes about her daily routine. With some nice character notes and philosophy about life.

The Crow by James O'Barr (Graphic Novel)
James O'barr wrote and drew this stunning piece after a devastating incident occurred in his own life. He has never specifically stated what happened but rumor has it that events that serve as the catalyst to the Crow's creation in the story are somewhat autobiographical. The rest is a surreal exorcism of intense emotions that comes through violence and loss to a sort of trancendance and acceptance. A very dark take on the death giver that isn't for everyone but
certainly should never have gone out of print. It's finally being published again.

For those who like their fiction in a more "realistic" vein:

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay (Mystery Series).

Tells the story of everyone's favorite serial killer/blood spatter analyst. Self appointed reaper of the Miami/Dade district. The story is a great twisty examination of character and the boundaries of being human. I loved the TV series so I sampled the book, the writing is very nice, so I might be taking this trip again in reading the novels.

For more deadly, but oddly charming anti-heroes, I also recommend the Ripley novels by Patricia Highsmith and the Hannibal series by Thomas Harris. (Both in mystery.)

If all of this is just too dang angsty and emo for you, lighten things up with Mort and Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett. (Sci-fi.) A writer who is always good for a laugh and a bit of a think.

I also see that we have a book in the Science Fiction section titled Shinigami, by Django Wexler. It seems to be the beginning of a fantasy epic that deals guessed it...death and the afterlife.

Cheers and happy Hallows to you all,


A Bookseller Remembers Tony Hillerman

Author Tony Hillerman died earlier this week, and Bookseller Cathy G. had this to say:

What a great guy he was! Love his books, love that deep connection with the Southwest and Native American culture & traditions--and how they exist in our ever-changing world.
He came to our store many times for signings. I remember one years ago when I was assisting with events and had the privilege of hanging out with him a bit while we waited for show time. He told a story of a co-signing at another book store with another author where few--if any--people turned out. He and the other author laughed about it (what else could they do? cry?), signed each other's books, and went about their lives. A simple story that illustrated for me his warmth, humor, and unassuming manner.
I'll miss him!

To check out his books, click here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Julia Glass coming to the TC Colfax Avenue!

Julia Glass, winner of the National Book Award for her debut, Three Junes, is coming to the Tattered Cover Colfax Avenue on Monday, October 20, 7:30 p.m., in support of her latest novel, I See You Everywhere.

I have read all three of Glass' novels, including her second one, The Whole World Over, and think she is getting better with each successive novel. Her latest is just sublime. Once again, Julia Glass has taken me into the world she has created. A world at once familiar and at the same time, somehow more focused, sharper emotionally. This novel, the intertwining stories of two sisters, Clem and Louisa, whose lives are spent mostly apart, is written in each of their voices as they tell their stories. Julia Glass has a way of laying out the plot naturally, in heartbreaking vistas and subtle nearly-missed revelations. This is a must-read from a powerful writer.

This is a fantastic chance to come and meet a powerful American author! For more information on the event, click here.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Follow our blog!

Hi. So Blogspot has added a new gadget called Followers, and it's pretty nifty. It's just here on the right of this blog, and if you click it and become a follower of Between The Covers, it would be great! It'll let us know that folks are reading it. You can join either with your google account or anonymously, so there are options. And you'll know when we update the blog! So please, become our follower! Thanks!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Trade Shows Update!

Recently the Independent Booksellers Association held their regional trade shows--a place to learn to be better booksellers and bookstores, find out what all is new in the industry and the season, and get a chance to talk to oodles of authors and publishers. Think of them as a sort of bookseller candy store! Each region's schedule was packed full of book signings and author appearances and other cool events, but we thought we'd pick a few out to give you an idea of just how diverse and interesting they all were.

Starting the Mountains and Plains (Tattered Cover's region), the biggest sensation was a screening of Paperback Dreams, a documentary about independent bookstores that will be airing on PBS this fall. It really jazzed a lot of folks up, so don't be surprised to see a lot of indy bookstores making displays and events to go along with it. Another huge hit was a new messenger bag put out by MPIBA that has "Reading is Sexy" emblazoned on it.

The MPIBA keynote speaker was Frank Wilczek, Nobel prize winning physicist and author of Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether and the Unification of Forces which is getting a lot of buzz for finally being able to clearly explain to the general public revolutionary ideas about space and matter you used to need a lab coat and large chunks of the alphabet after your name to understand. A children's author breakfast featured J. Otto Seibold, (Vunce Upon a Time) and Rick Riordan, (39 Clues: The Maze of Bones). Another popular event featured authors Chuck Klosterman (Downtown Owl), John Hodgman (More Information Than You Require) and Laura Pederson (Buffalo Gal).

The New Atlantic region's Children's Breakfast featured authors T.A. Barron, Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why), Loren Long (Drummer Boy) and Cameron Tuttle (Paisley Hanover Acts Out). Other authors involved in show events included this month'The s IndyBest headlinerJoyce Hinnefeld (In Hovering Flight), Louis Bayard (The Black Tower), Michael Wexler (The Seems), Alafair Burke (Angel's Tip), and Cecelia Galante (The Patron Saint of Butterflies) among many, many others.

The Pacific Northwest show had Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain) as a keynote speaker (lucky dogs). The show also featured David Wolman (Righting the Mother Tongue), Susan Jane Gilman (Undress Me In The Temple of Heaven), Juan Eslava Galan (The Mule), Stephanie Kallos (Sing Them Home), Benjamin Mee (We Bought a Zoo), Bob Staake (The Donut Chef) Kim Barnes (A Country Called Home), Chelsea Cain (Sweetheart), and John Bemelmans Marciano (Madeline And The Cats of Rome) among many others.

Last but not least, the New England show had a workshop near and dear to our heart: Do I Really Need a Blog? Social Media 101 for the Independent Bookseller put on by Random House sales reps and Uberbloggers (check out their BooksOnTheNightstand blog, it's actually in multimedia!) Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman. Children's authors Laurie Halse Anderson (Chains), Jeanne Birdsall (The Penderwicks of Gardam Street) and Norton Juster (Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie) were featured at a breakfast. Other authors involved in the events were Wally Lamb (The Hour I First Believed), Dennis Lehane (The Given Day), Kathleen Norris (Acedia and Me), Elise Broach (Masterpiece), Julia Glass (I See You Everywhere) and Stewart O'Nan (Songs for the Missing) among many others.