Malcolm Venville’s Lucha Libre Portraits

Lucha Loco collects Malcolm Venville‘s stunning portraits of luchadores, the masked fighters of the Lucha Libre wrestling circuit. Their elaborate outfits and masks range from the kind-of-intimidating to the simply mind-melting, with personas to match. Venville was the child of deaf parents, and became interested in the Luchador masks as a kind of unspoken language. The portraits were made with large-format film in a Mexico City studio and are reproduced in eye-popping color.

The book offers a bilingual and respectful take on the sport, with each portrait clearly identified and paired with a quotation from the wrestler. You can read longer interviews with the wrestlers on the Lucha Loco site, where the burly Dr. Death talks about making love with his mask on and gladiator Maxímo talks about the multi-generational wrestling feud that brought him to the sport. … Read More

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Literary Mash-Ups We'd Like to See

Now that book publishing is dying and all, struggling imprints are doing whatever they can to stay in business. Often, that can mean finding a successful formula and sticking to it. Cue literary mash-up mania! After the runaway success of Seth Grahame-Smith‘s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, publishers everywhere are looking for their very own smash-hit 19th-century novel remix. (This spring, look out for Jane Slayre and Little Women and Werewolves, among others.)

While we find these efforts amusing, we can’t help thinking the Victorian maiden + monster equation is already getting old. Instead, we’d like to see classic novels combined with current cultural obsessions and internet memes for maximum relevance. After the jump, check out our 10 best suggestions. Oh, and agents? If you’re game to shop some of these titles around, you know where to reach us. … Read More

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Q&A with “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” Author Seth Grahame-Smith

Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies proved that he could spice up a classic without completely changing the original story — an impressive and difficult task. In his newest novel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the mash-up author re-imagines American history by adding vampires (think True Blood meets a Ken Burns documentary), allowing him to create explanations for almost every unsolved American mystery while taking some rather hefty creative license. For example: A young Lincoln befriends a young Edgar Allan Poe. They run into a pre-Confederate Jefferson Davis.

It’s a clever idea and the finished product is a little bit campy, a little bit gory, and a lot of fun to delve into. After the jump, check out our interview with Seth Grahame-Smith, where we talk vampires, history, and golf swings. … Read More

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Mash-Up Manifesto: Reality Hunger by David Shields

Books spotlighted by publishers as their key titles come with balls of hype trailing behind them. But it seems like we’ve been hearing about David Shields’ barely-200-page treatise Reality Hunger for ages, and it was only released this past Tuesday.

Maybe it’s because Zadie Smith used the book as a crutch for insecure introspection about her own writing. Maybe it’s because it’s already become required reading in university spheres, galleys passed from one student to the next like an illicit hit of crack cocaine. I know I’ve already had spirited discussions about Reality Hunger with friends and critical colleagues. It’s hard to resist the urge to argue with the text, especially when Shields states his intention “to write the ars poetica for a burgeoning group of interrelated (but unconnected) artists in a multitude of forms and media…who are breaking larger and larger chunks of ‘reality’ into their work” right there on page one. … Read More

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Review: Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett

Like Chatroulette, Union Atlantic, Adam Haslett’s new novel, boasts the inevitability of a work mainlined to the zeitgeist. It seems to have been plucked fully formed from the ether; or if not from there, then at least from the airwaves of Fox News. Doug Fanning, the book’s whorl of selfishness, need, and greed, is today’s Gordon Gekko — a VP at Union Atlantic, a bank too big to fail that’s terrifyingly plausible. Haslett, whose first book of short stories, You Are Not a Stranger Here, was nominated for both the Pulitzer and the Man Booker Prize, isn’t so much interested in detailing the gold of this man’s crowns as he is in the crumbling of the soul behind his smile.

While in the Navy, Fanning read green blips on a radar screen in the Gulf War, clusters of pixels the coordinates of which, if properly interpreted, meant death for the ship, threat, plane, or people they represented. In civilian life, Fanning makes a killing reading similarly abstract numbers on a screen that mean, somewhere, dollars, yen, billions, profit, or loss. … Read More

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Graphic Content: 10 Literary Classics Made Better as Comic Books

Most of us are familiar with the inevitable anxiety that comes with seeing a beloved book turned into a movie, but some stories can actually benefit from a little cross-media reinterpretation. Amid the medium’s own rapid ascension toward highbrow acceptance, the graphic novel has proved a flexible format for literary adaptation, transforming texts into improved visual narratives without eliminating the reading process.

Now, with a spate of recently published and upcoming graphic adaptations making headlines — including Robert Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (which we previously reviewed here) and the sure-to-be-divisive Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel — we recommend ten classic works that have been effectively translated into comic books. … Read More

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Review: Don DeLillo’s Point Omega

We move too fast. It’s a common complaint among just about everyone these days, as they usually have their eyes glued to a high-speed computer or their ears anchored to a cell phone. And it’s the kind of common problem to which there seems to be no solution. Stopping to smell the roses isn’t even an issue; most of the time we don’t even know where the roses grow. Leave it to Don DeLillo to hush us up for a moment.

DeLillo, a man who doesn’t do email and once famously carried a business card that said “I don’t want to talk about it,” has never really been one for the fast track. And it makes perfect sense that he returns with a quiet and stirring rumination on time and death and the meaninglessness of words. The book is called Point Omega, and it just might remake your day. … Read More

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The Birds and the Bees: Our Favorite Animal Point-of-View Fiction

Last week’s New Yorker featured beloved biologist E.O. Wilson’s “Trailhead,” a short story about ants in flux in the aftermath of their queen’s death. The conceit provides Wilson ample opportunity for desert-dry ant humor — one ant’s entire existence is summed up thusly: “The only thing he had ever done was accept meals regurgitated to him by his sister” — but, for the most part, “Trailhead” walks a fine line between an over-literal take on dirty realism, and a not-quite literary take on a middle-school biology text. Wilson is certainly a genius, and an ant expert — his 1991 book The Antswon the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction — but maybe the switch to fiction isn’t the best idea. However, he’s by no means the first writer to tackle animal POV  in fiction. Here are some other examples, from 8 AD to the present day. … Read More

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What If: Celebrities Tweet Salinger’s Death

When J.D. Salinger died last week at the age of 91, the Twitter- and the literatti aligned to mourn the reclusive writer. Charles McGrath wrote a touching obit in the New York Times; Lillian Ross waxed poetic in The New Yorker and Bret Easton Ellis, tweeted, “Yeah!! Thank God he’s finally dead. I’ve been waiting for this day for-fucking-ever. Party tonight!!!” Ah, the Twitterverse, where Chilon of Sparta’s maxim “Don’t speak ill of the dead” doesn’t apply, as long as you can do it in under 140 characters. We turned to the Twitterverse to see how other luminaries, literary and decidedly unliterary, marked Salinger’s passing*. … Read More

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5 Ways the Apple iPad Could Change e-Books

Now that we’ve left the hall of mirrors that was the Apple-tablet rumor mill, we can finally take a deep breath and ask: What’s up with the iPad? (Seriously, we’re really all gonna call it that?) Seeing as we’re avid readers, let’s shake our magic eight ball and ask what it might mean for e-books. Our take after the jump. … Read More

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