Saturday, June 1, 2013

A little something tasty to chew on

Chew, Vol. 1: Taster's Choice
John Layman

Rated 4 out of 5 delicious stars
Reviewer: Trudi

It's celebrate comics day here at Shelf Inflicted and the two Canadians have cherry picked two very different -- yet equally awesome -- graphic novel series to prove to you that the storytelling format is about a lot more than muscled men in tights and capes wielding superpowers. Brandon is singing the praises of Joe Hill's innovative and highly addictive Locke & Key series, and it's my job to turn you on to John Layman's Chew.

Oh yeah, baby! Should I have taken this much pleasure from a cannibalizing FDA special agent who gnaws on dead things to solve crimes? Probably not, but nothing can stem the tide of my glowing praise for such an original story concept delivered with this much dynamic flair, humorous overtones and an underbelly of noir nastiness. Can you spell epic win? The action is punctuated by ripping dialogue and graphic art that puts you into the scene, no muss no fuss.

No disrespect meant to all you vegetarians out there, but I love me some chicken, okay? I love it roasted, fried, cold in a salad or on a sandwich. I love it dark and white, leg and breast, bone in and boneless. Don't even get me started on chicken wings.

MMMmmmm ...chicken

That's why just the idea of a future without poultry -- where it's been outlawed like booze during Prohibition -- sends me into a feathery panic. In Tony Chu's world, an avian flu has killed millions of people across the globe. In response to the pandemic, the processing, distribution, sale and consumption of chicken has been criminalized and a thriving black market of chicken bootleggers has risen up. This may sound stupid, but it's actually quite smart and nasty in all of its implications.

Cibopath Tony Chu on the hunt for illegal chicken
As you read on in the story you realize there is more than meets the eye. Was there ever really an avian flu pandemic? Is the government trying to cover up something much more sinister? Cibopath Tony Chu is on the case with his unique talent. Whatever he puts into his mouth gives him pictures, clues, a story, from the innocuous details of how an apple got from the tree to his hand, to the bloody details surrounding a victim's torture and mutilation.

It isn't something he can turn off, and his only reprieve are beets, the one food that Tony can eat without being bombarded by a wave of other sensory input. Go figure. Works for me. But if I had to give up chicken and eat beets all the day long? That isn't a life worth living my friend.

Tony has a MASSIVE GOON of a partner at the FDA named Savoy, who also shares Tony's cibopathic talents. Chu also meets food critic Amelia, who is able to harness her powers of food description to the point where she can make you taste anything, really taste it, just by describing it. Don't piss this gal off or she'll have you puking your guts out from the vilest tastes a human can think up. Does this turn Chu off? Hell no. He has the biggest crush ever and only wants to get closer to her.

I love that I have no idea where this story is heading next. But I am hooked and hungry for more, despite several gross out moments of Chu's gnawing on the dead (including a putrid, decayed dog) for information.

Pretty sure it's gonna be chicken for supper tonight.

Unlocking Locke & Key

When you mention comic books to the average person, the first thing that will most likely come to mind are “superheroes”. And honestly, would you expect anything else? In the last ten to twelve years, superhero movies have flat out dominated the box office setting and subsequently broken record after record. In fact, Iron Man 3, just recently surpassed $1.1 BILLION in ticket sales worldwide. That’s billion with a b - just to clarify any suspicion of typos. The other four films taking the spots above Iron Man 3 are Avatar, Titanic, The Avengers and Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Not bad that two of the top five grossing films of all time can find their roots within comics.

The Forbes 25 Reviewers - #25 MJ Nicholls

Today's guest is MJ Nicholls.  He also posts at Quiddity of Delusion.

How did you discover Goodreads?
Through a laser reflected off Bruce Willis’s head and spotlighted in the sky, linking me to a website for cheap Viagra. When my tablets arrived Thurston Moore was inside the container complaining about having been shrunk by a mad bass player. Later as I was making love to the mad bass player, he yelled out “Goodreads!” at the point of climax, and I googled the website on my iPenis. Turns out he actually shouted “Lou Reed!” But I had already signed up for an account and read up to ninety books.

What have been your most memorable Goodreads experiences?
I once met Manny Rayner in a prominent Oxford gay bar. I asked him if he had ever read Proust in the original Spanish and he said “Never mind that, honey, let me see you shake that asp!” That may not qualify as a “Goodreads” moment but it certainly lingers in the memory. The whole community of ambitious readers and writers is a daily source of pleasure for me, I have found a pine-scented foster family there.

Name one reviewer not in the Forbes 25 that people should be aware of.
Unfair to prioritise one over another. All the people in my friends list are superb readers and reviewers.

What was your initial reaction to Amazon buying Goodreads?
“They’ll turn Goodreads into a corporate dunghole and censor us to buggery!” No evidence of that as yet.

How many books do you own?
My personal library is highly selective: usually I only keep books I have rated five stars, or four star books that are close to my heart in some way. Since I live in a relatively small flat (with high ceilings but no shelf space), I only have one central bookcase and mantelpiece at my disposal. Somewhere between 150-200.

Who is your favorite author?
I’m going to attach a plural to that noun. Among them: Gilbert Adair, Martin Amis, Nicola Barker, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, William H. Gass, Alasdair Gray, B.S. Johnson, James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, Flann O’Brien, Raymond Queneau, Hubert Selby Jnr, Will Self, Ali Smith, Gilbert Sorrentino, Alexander Theroux, Kurt Vonnegut, and David Foster Wallace. Almost everything from Dalkey Archive Press.

What is your favorite book of all time?
Another plural required. Among them (by aforementioned authors): The Information, Wide Open, If on a winter’s night a traveller, Little Dorritt, Crime & Punishment, The Tunnel, Poor Things, Ulysses, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Cock & Bull, Hotel World, Mulligan Stew, Tristram Shandy, Darconville’s Cat, Mother Night, The Pale King.

What are your thoughts on ebooks?
A book is either a book-in-itself, or is separate from the world-of-books and its paratexts. I prefer books-in-themselves, but by no means do I baulk at the usefulness of e-readers and e-books. In five years’ time, I will probably be reading books on e-readers.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing?
I self-published a novel of my own last year and it was widely reviewed by my GR friends. If my novel had been published by a small independent press, it may have received more critical reviews, but far less readers and reader reviews. My GR friends seemed to be the perfect audience for that book. In terms of future books, I would rather be published by houses and earn an old-fashioned reputation. The DIY revolution will simply make it impossible for any writer to get paid for their work, unless they write boring literary or genre fiction.

Any literary aspirations? 
See above. My novel Arlene’s Atoms, about a hairdresser who falls pregnant with a universe, is sitting with some publishers awaiting the rejection pile. I have three “experimental” novellas completed, each sitting queasily with cashless independents. I am currently taking a hiatus from writing due to exhaustion and real-world pressures, and may have given up entirely by the time you read this.