When's the last time you read a comic book? Oh, right, the term now is "graphic novel" — as if calling them "comics" was somehow undignified or not sufficiently intellectual. But the problem with "graphic novel" is that it's far too limiting — because, sure, while all comics are graphic, many of the smartest and most exciting examples don't even remotely resemble novels. In fact, I'm about to recommend five books that — each for its own reason — can only be called comics, representing a wide range of literature being produced in what is truly a golden age.
Mary Louise Kelly used to cover the national security beat for NPR, but lately she's turned her attention to teaching and writing fiction. Her new novel, Anonymous Sources, followsrookie journalist Alexandra James as she investigates a shady banana shipment and a clandestine nuclear plot. The tale is fiction, but it draws on Kelly's own experiences reporting on the spy beat, including things she couldn't say when she was a journalist.
Once upon a time, it was MySpace. (Huh. Turns out you can still link to it.) Then Facebook happened. And Twitter. And beyond those two dominant social-media platforms, there are a host of other, newer options for staying in touch and letting the digital universe get a look at your life. And for certain kinds of sharing, some of those other options make more sense to tech-savvy teens than the Big Two do.
Mitch Albom is famous for writing heartwarming best-sellers like Tuesdays With Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. As a member of The Rock Bottom Remainders, he plays keyboard and shows off his Elvis impression.
Credit Joseph Peduto / Courtesy of Coliloquy
Given the number of books sold by members of The Rock Bottom Remainders, it's not necessarily a slur to say that their writing gifts far outshine their musicality. Here, drummer Josh Kelly and guitarist Roger McGuinn (at center) join authors Amy Tan, Stephen King, Greg Iles and Dave Barry.
Credit Courtesy of Coliloquy
Hard Listening is divided into easily navigable chapter-like sections.
With The Ocean at the End of the Lane, best-selling fantasy author Neil Gaiman has written his first adult novel in almost a decade. It's a deceptively simple tale that feels like escapism — until you realize that it isn't.
Ocean is told from the point of view of a melancholy but successful artist returning to his childhood home in Sussex, England. On a lark, he visits an old farm where he played as a boy, and is suddenly overwhelmed by memories of being entangled in a magical conflict with roots stretching back before the Big Bang.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today not to mourn the nine-patty T-Rex Burger, but to celebrate its life. It was pulled this week, far too young, from the menu of a rogue Manitoba Wendy's that served it to two or three people a day. It is survived by the few people who ate it and survived.
Said a Wendy's spokesperson: "For obvious reasons, Wendy's ... neither condones nor promotes the idea of anyone consuming a nine-patty hamburger in one sitting."
Here we go into the wild blue yonder again with Colum McCann. In his 2009 novel, Let the Great World Spin, McCann swooped readers up into the air with the French aerialist Philippe Petit, who staged an illegal high-wire stunt walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. Strictly speaking, Let the Great World Spin was not a Sept. 11 novel, and yet almost everyone rightly read it as one, since McCann's tale commemorated the towers at the literal zenith of their history.
The Deserters is Charles Glass' second book relating to World War II. His last book, Americans in Paris, told the story of the U.S. citizens who remained in the French capital after the 1940 German invasion.
Credit Penguin Press
John Bain, shown above in 1940, is one of the men Glass profiles in The Deserters.
Credit Penguin Press
Bain, show above at 85 in 2007, deserted from the Gordon Highlanders.
Few citizens are more honored than military veterans, and there's particular reverence for those who defeated the Nazis in World War II. Like any war, however, World War II was complicated and traumatic for those on the ground, and not a few deserted from the front lines.
Does cast-iron skillet cornbread, hot and crispy from the oven, transport you back to your grandma's kitchen? Do you cook with certain ingredients as a link to your roots in the South? If so, "A Spoken Dish" wants to hear your story.
The Southern Foodways Alliance is teaming up with Whole Foods Market and Georgia Organics in this video storytelling project as a way to celebrate and document food memories and rituals of the American South.