Thursday, March 29, 2007

Last Chance: Amityville House of Pancake Omnibus, Volume 1

Because it will be out of print in a couple of weeks. "But," the more publication-savvy among you might protest, "how can a POD book go out of print?"

Well, because one of its authors has sold her novella to another publisher, and the contract for AHOP was up, anyway.

Adrienne Jones (re-)sold Gypsies Stole My Tequila to Bedlam Press, where it will be released as a paperback and a limited edition hardcover. For more info, check Adrienne's LJ, where she spills the beans (and where you might congratulate her, if you, unlike me, have an LJ account. I already did so in other places).

And while I am, of course, a little bit jealous, I am very happy for Adrienne, as Gypsies Stole My Tequila is a heck of a novella. Well deserved.

Since I, together with Jack Mangan and JD Welles, have had the honour of sharing a ToC with her in AHOP 1, you could do worse than purchase a paper copy (or an electronic one) before it really is out of print. Together with the afore-mentioned, brilliant Gypsies Stole My Tequila (and yes, I've already begged her to send me a short story for Interzone, but apparantly she only likes them big) you get The Girl in B33, Dirk Moonfire and the Nefarious Space Women, and my own Cultural Clashes in Cádiz.

See it as an investment: it'll multiply in value the moment Adrienne Jones hits megastardom, replacing both J.K. Rowling and Stephen King. Oh well, maybe not quite, but she is very, very good (no guarantee for sales, alas), and you never know. Or Jack Mangan might hit the big time (his podcasts attract healthy numbers of downloads and comments). Maybe even I --

*pinches himself and wakes up to the cruel, cruel world*

-- where was I? In any case, you can check out reviews of AHOP 1 on Tangent Online, Barnes & Noble, or SFReader (and even customer reviews on Amazon).

Nefarious blurbage:

The story builds to a satisfying climax during Carnival, which in de Vries’s capable hands is perhaps as exciting and visually stimulating as the real thing.

(Douglas Hoffman on Tangent Online)

"Cultural Clashes in Cadiz" by de Vries is a time-travel adventure set in 13th-century Spain that pits a rogue time-traveler against the two trackers closing in on him. The story's conclusion -- where the traveler's reasons for illegally going back in time are finally revealed -- is as mind-blowing as it is brilliant.

(Paul Goat Allen on Barnes & Noble: how could they fire such an insightful reviewer?)

If you liked AHOP 1, there are also AHOP 2 (out of print already, although some dealers still have copies) and AHOP 3: check out the Creative Guy Publishing catalogue.

(And now I'm off to hypnotise some unwary editor into publishing Cultural Clashes in Cádiz...;-)

Shaun Tan's "The Arrival"

Sometimes, one of the most beautiful books you read doesn't have words. Like Shaun Tan's The Arrival. It's not a comic, as there is no accompanying text or speech balloons. The whole narrative is told through pictures, and as such is an absolute tour de force. Also, in terms of The Arrival's theme, it makes sense, very much so.

The graphic narrative (my best term: it's not a novel, nor a comic book, nor a picture book) tells the story of a migrant from the migrant's viewpoint (actually, I think it's meant to convey the migrant experience in general: so a migrant from any culture trying to resettle in any different culture about anytime in the last couple of centuries. Tan aims for the sky and -- for my money -- mostly succeeds), and therefore the language of the strange culture in which he arrives would initially be unintelligible anyway. So the lack of words substantially increases the migrant's sense of estrangement and bewilderment.

The technique works very well, as evidenced by this panel:
A native woman explains the migrant how to use the local transport system. It's depiction is crystal clear, while at the same time the exotic setting is highly evocative. A high wire balancing act, and Shaun Tan really pulls it off. Both the country from the migrant(s) -- later on he meets other immigrants -- and the country of arrival remain undeniably outlandish.

Still, there are strong indirect autobiographical hints (Shaun Tan's father came from Malaysia to Australia), such as the huge dragon tails in the picture below from the migrant's home country, to the strange animals in the country of arrival (see the two animals in the top right drawing of the above panel), reminiscent of Australia's marsupials, who are unique in the world.

The nameless -- but definitely not faceless! -- migrant meets other migrants who did not leave their country because of poverty (which supposedly was the migrant's motive), but because of repression, as depicted in the haunting drawing below:

Magnificent stuff, and this high level of accomplishment is maintained throughout. With reluctance, I'll refrain from posting much more gorgeous drawings from Shaun Tan's website, excepting this final panel that is one of the best renderings of the passing of the seasons that I have ever seen:

I can't recommend this wonderful book high enough. I bought it together with the spiffy Shaun Tan calendar, and I urge you to check out the vendors on the bottom of Shaun Tan's webpage, or you can order both from Amazon UK.