Friday, November 30, 2007

media update: November

Asterisks denote something I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; your mileage may vary.


1. Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell: Dr. Kay Scarpetta tries to investigate the murder of a tennis prodigy, but her personal life keeps getting in the way. You know, it's a shame that Patricia Cornwell wound up sucking so bad. I'll still give anything she writes a try, though, because I keep hoping she'll write something good again.

2. The Snow Empress* by Laura Joh Rowland: In the latest installment of Rowland's historical mystery series, the son of samurai Sano Ichiro has been kidnapped. In search of their child, Sano and his wife Reiko travel to a remote part of Japan, where they discover that the lord of the province has gone mad with grief over the murder of his mistress, and he's not letting anyone leave the area until it's solved. A good read, filled with lots of intriguing period detail.

3. How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls by Zoey Dean: Is this book about a woman tutoring two spoiled heiresses predictable as hell? Why, yes, it is. But it was also amusing and fluffy, so it was perfect reading material for my Florida vacation.


1. In My Skin* by Kate Holden: A brutally honest memoir about the author's heroin addiction, which led to prostitution in order to support her habit. It's not an easy read, but it's compelling.

2. Switching Time by Richard Baer: Talk about rough reading; this makes the above look like a Dick and Jane book. It's a psychiatrist's account of treating "Karen", a patient who has blackouts and a disturbing tendency towards self-harm. Eventually, he receives a letter written in a childlike hand, and it turns out that Karen has multiple personality disorder, brought on (as it almost always is) by severe childhood abuse.

3. Leaving Dirty Jersey by James Salant: Another addiction memoir, this time about crystal meth. Some cheerful shit on my non-fiction list this month!

4. A Lifetime of Secrets compiled by Frank Warren: More submissions to the PostSecret project.

5. The Dead Travel Fast* by Eric Nuzum: What a fun book! The author decided to investigate the prevalence of vampires in our popular culture. Among other things, he drank his own blood (which made him puke), traveled to Transylvania, and watched the erotic vampire show at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas. I enjoyed this book immensely.

6. The Year of Living Biblically* by A.J. Jacobs: The author decided to obey the Bible as literally as possible for a full year, which included everything from stoning adulterers (or, in his case, throw pebbles at one) to playing the shofar. Funny and insightful, even for an agnostic like me.

7. Borat: Touristic Guidings to Minor Nation of U.S. and A. and Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan*: So sue me, I still think Borat is funny.


1. Shortcomings* by Adrian Tomine

2. Lost Girls* by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie: I'm going to save a detailed review of this for my "Best of 2007" list, because this is indisputably my favorite graphic novel of the year, but I had to comment on something first. In a recent episode of The Simpsons, there's a scene with Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman (Maus), and Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) signing autographs, and the cover of Lost Girls is prominently displayed behind Moore. Considering the subject matter of this book, that took some serious balls. (Then again, I doubt the people who would be most offended by Lost Girls watch The Simpsons in the first place!)


1. Knocked Up*: A pretty young woman, drunk off her ass, goes home with a stoner schlub...and winds up pregnant. I thought it was unrealistic how quickly she seemed to fall in love with him, but I still thought this was a hysterically funny movie, and Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd really stood out in a uniformly excellent cast.

2. Bug: Ashley Judd plays a lonely woman living in a shitty hotel room. She meets a man who's convinced that the government has implanted insects inside of him, and pretty soon, she starts to think she's infected too. Well made, but incredibly disturbing.

3. Spiderman 3: I had really low expectations for this movie, but it turned out to be rather enjoyable. The dialogue is pretty hokey at times, but the action was excellent.


Hey, I may not be able to cook in real life, but I'm Julia fuckin' Child on the DS!