Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Book Bought September

That's me, in the bookstore, stimulating the economy. Lots of books in September, many of them on-the-cheap. It's quite a list, so let's get started, shall we?

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall (2009) - Kazuo Ishiguro

I really enjoyed reading Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go a few years ago and thought I’d enjoy some of his short fiction. What better way than to pick up a brand new signed copy from Daedalus Books?

Signed Hardcover; Price = $15.95

Nightmare Town: Stories (1999) Dashiell Hammett

The hardboiled detective/mystery bug has really sunk its teeth in lately, so I couldn’t pass up this collection of Hammett stories, most of the written in the 1920s and 30s. Even if only a few of them are anywhere near as good as Hammett’s masterpiece The Maltese Falcon, this will be money well spent.

Trade Paperback; Price = $4.98

Dr. Haggard’s Disease (1993) Patrick McGrath

I can’t be sure where I first heard about this one, but it seems like an interesting take on psychological gothic tale.

Trade Paperback; Price = $3.98

Ratking (1989) Michael Dibdin

I’m always looking for something new and even though Ratking was first published 20 years ago, Dibdin’s Italian Police Commissioner Aurelio Zen is new to me. Ruth Rendell praises this one to the skies. That’s enough for me.

Trade Paperback; Price = $4.50

A Judgement in Stone (1977) Ruth Rendell

And speaking of Rendell.... I haven’t read one of her books since I thoroughly enjoyed A Sight for Sore Eyes a couple of years ago. Looking forward to this one.

Trade Paperback; Price = $4.00

The Film Club: A Memoir (NF 2008) David Gilmour

Cindy actually recommended this one to me, the story of father who allows his 15-year-old son to quit school provided he agrees to watch three films a week with Dad. I’m all over this.

Hardcover; Price = $1.50

Wuthering Heights (1847) Emily Bronte

A classic. A pristine Everyman’s Library edition. There we have it.

Hardcover; Price = $1.50

Hannah Coulter (2004) Wendell Berry

People have been telling me about Berry for years. My good friend L. recently recommended this novel. When it came up on the library discard list, I decided to shell out a buck fifty and give it a try.

Hardcover (ex-library); Price = $1.50

Falling Angel (1979) William Hjortsberg

Angel Heart, the film adaptation of this novel, scared the you-know-what out of me in 1987. The novel has been on many Best Horror Novels of All Time lists for years. Hmmm.... maybe this should be my Halloween read for this year?

Mass Market Paperback; Price = $0.50

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) - Junot Diaz

I read this terrific novel two years ago and finally found a pristine copy at a good price.

Trade Paperback; Price = $0.50

Collected Stories: 1939-1976 - Paul Bowles

I’ve never read anything by Bowles, but for fifty cents, why not?

Trade Paperback; Price = $0.50

Viriconium (2005) - M. John Harrison

This one’s been on my radar for a few years, although I started Harrison’s The Centauri Device several years ago and couldn’t finish it. This one’s highly recommended by lots of folks, so we’ll see.

Trade Paperback; Price = $5.00

Thumbprint (2004) Friedrich Glauser

Detective fiction from Germany. Looks interesting.

Trade Paperback; Price = $4.00

Fiction Catalog (NF 2001 Ref) Juliette Yaakov and John Greenfieldt

A reference book for work; totally optional, but something I thought would be good to have.

Hardcover (ex-library); Price = $0.01

The Oresteia: Agamemnon; The Libation Bearers; The Eumenides - Aeschylus

From the product description: “The only trilogy in Greek drama which survives from antiquity - Aeschylus took as his subject the bloody chain of murder and revenge within the royal family of Argos. Moving from darkness to light, from rage to self-governance, from primitive ritual to civilized institution, its spirit of struggle and regeneration is eternal.”

Trade Paperback; Price = $1.00

The Sacredness of Questioning Everything (NF 2009) - David Dark

Dark is one of my favorite writers on Christianity and culture. A new release is always cause for celebration.

Trade Paperback; Price = $10.87

Total Book Expenditures for September = $60.29

Next time, the stuff I read in September. Now go read and something.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More Halloween Reads

Okay, so maybe you don't have time to read an entire novel to get you in the Halloween spirit. So how about a short story? Here's a list from one of my favorite writers, Jeffrey Ford. (Thanks, Kelly, for letting me know about the list.) There's bound to be something in here for everyone, tales from the old masters like Poe, Bierce, Henry James, M.R. James to the newer masters (Stephen King, Lucius Shepard, Steven Millhauser, Kelly Link and more). Enjoy!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Halloween Reads

Once again, it's very close to that time of year. I'm referring, of course, to the annual event of picking this year's Halloween read. It doesn't have to be a book that takes place on Halloween, necessarily, but a good, creepy, scary, late-into-the-night read. Last year I read Glen Hirshberg's superb novel The Snowman's Children. The year before, Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge.

My good friend Kelly is already making his own Halloween preparations and has some great ideas. So here are some of my candidates for this year's Halloween Read:

The granddaddy for this year is the new Library of America 2-volume set American Fantastic Tales, edited by Peter Straub. Although Amazon's price of $44.10 sure beats the $70 list price, I probably won't be buying/reading this one this year.

October Dark by David Herter certainly sounds great, but at $50, I'll probably wait until it comes out in a cheaper edition.

Much cheaper would be Sarah Langan's new novel Audrey's Door, or maybe even another Langan title from 2007, The Missing.

Cheaper still, two books that have been sitting on my shelf unread for a couple of years, Peter Straub's Ghost Story and Ray Bradbury's The October Country.

So what about you? What are you going to read this Halloween?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Unwind (YA 2007) - Neal Shusterman

The premise of the near-future YA novel Unwind:

Pro-Life and Pro-Choice groups battled it out and decided on a compromise in the form of The Bill of Life, which states that life is sacred and not to be tampered with until a person reaches the age of thirteen. At that time, parents may "retroactively abort" or "unwind" their children, sending them to "harvest camps" where body parts and organs can be removed and given to those who need them. So who gets unwound? Bad kids? Juvenile criminals? Orphans? Wards of the state? The answer is anyone. Until a person reaches the age of eighteen, when life once again becomes sacred, it's a fight for survival.

Shusterman tracks the intertwining lives of three kids: Connor, a troublemaker whose parents have had enough of him; Risa, a ward of the state being unwound to free up space at the orphanage; and Lev, the tenth child of strict religious parents who have offered him up as a "tithe."

So many important moral, philosophical and cultural issues are raised in Unwind, I'm going to let you discover them for yourself. Shusterman has succeed not only in producing a first rate thriller, but also a look into our social conscience. Highly recommended.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wise Blood (1979)

As far as I know (and I make no claims to know very much at all), John Huston's Wise Blood is the only existing feature film adaptation of a Flannery O'Connor work. If you've read any O'Connor at all, you can understand why. Her darkly comic, grotesque Southern tales of a fallen world and the promise (or hint of promise?) of redemption in Christ could easily misfire in a visual medium. But I believe Huston comes as close as anyone could.

As the film opens in an unnamed Southern town (which turns out to be Macon, Georgia), Hazel Motes (Brad Dourif) is coming home from military service. He's been in a war, but we don't know which one. Vietnam would be the obvious choice, but it doesn't take long before you realize your bearings are out of whack. The film was released in 1979, but the cars and the clothes appear older, as if Motes were parading through a cultural museum. Of course, that could all be explained by what many visitors to the South report after returning home: "It's the land that time forgot," or something to that effect.

Yet I digress. Motes returns to his childhood home, now long abandoned. He decides to head to "the city," takes a cab and is mistaken for a preacher. "I ain't a preacher," Motes says. "You look like one," the cab driver says and thus begins a mission for Motes, the founding of a Church of Christ without Christ where "the lame don't walk, the blind don't see and the dead stays that way."

What follows is a bizarre trip through a menagerie of misfits and oddities that would make David Lynch proud: Harry Dean Stanton as a blind preacher/beggar/con artist, Amy Wright as his daughter, a young, precocious Sabbath Lily Hawks and Ned Beatty in a brilliant but brief performance as Hazel's competition. Lest I forget, John Huston (billed in the credits as Jhon Huston) slips in and out of the picture as Hazel's fire-and-brimstone preacher grandfather.

As a narrative, many of the scenes just don't work, seeming to fall through the cracks. In one such scene, the slightly off-balance country boy Enoch Emery (Daniel Shor) becomes obsessed with a movie theater's promotional stunt in the form of a man wearing a gorilla costume. We know this is significant since Enoch works in a zoo, but it's a loose connection that's better developed in the novel. The same thing happens early in the film in a scene with a street peddler selling potato peelers. Dourif touches on these disconnects somewhat in one of the Criterion Collection disc's bonus features, stating that a film just can't capture everything O'Connor put on the page, which is true of just about every adaptation. (I point it out only in the hopes that you'll read the book!)

Yet Dourif's performance is a wonder to behold. Dourif's Motes has plenty of urgency but no joy. He (like the Misfit in O'Connor's most famous story "A Good Man Is Hard to Find") wants a world without Christ because he can't believe in Him. He can't believe in anything, yet makes statements that seem to be almost creed-like. In talking to mechanics about his junker of a car, Motes claims "This is a good car" and "A man with a good car don't need to be justified." This is an amazing performance. If you thought Dourif was good as Billy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (and he was), you'll be stunned at his portrayal of Hazel Motes.

So what is O'Connor (via Huston) trying to say? That there's nothing to believe in? Or is this a religious parable? A picture of Postmodern man? Again, if you've read much from O'Connor or know much about her life (She was a devout Roman Catholic.), the picture becomes clearer. Or does it?

Wise Blood is a fascinating, off-beat film that won't work for everyone, but could definitely generate some good discussion. (Huston filmed it just after the outstanding The Man Who Would be King and the forgettable Phobia.) Wise Blood may not be a film you'd want to own, but then again, it includes as a bonus feature an audio recording of Flannery O'Connor reading "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," the only known recording of O'Connor reading her work. That bonus feature alone is worth the price of the disc.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Inside Moves (1980)

It’s happened to me more times than I’d like to count: I remember with fondness some movie I saw in high school or college, then revisit it years later only to cringe with embarrassment at how bad it is. Such movies were probably just as bad when I initially saw them; I just didn’t have enough life experience at the time to know it.

Inside Moves was released in 1980, my senior year in high school. I probably saw it on HBO a year or two later, finding nothing else on TV on some cold, rainy afternoon. I do remember being sucked in by the film’s opening: a man walks into a building with a confident swagger, checking out a few attractive women on the way to an elevator which takes him to the building’s 10th floor. He enters an empty room, opens a window, perches himself on the ledge and jumps to the street below.

That scene is still effective nearly 30 years later, but I feared the remainder of the film would descend the slippery slope of sentimentality. The man who jumped, Roary (John Savage), survives the fall, but is left with a sideways crab-like walk. We still don’t know at this point why he jumped when he walks into Max’s Bar, a place where other disabled people seem to converge on a daily basis. Roary becomes slowly immersed into this world of crippled characters and the guy who runs the bar, Jerry (David Morse), a good basketball player who could be great, if only he could get his leg operated on.

Sounds like a cliche-ridden beginning, doesn’t it? But director Richard Donner (Superman, the Lethal Weapon series) handles the story with remarkable restraint. A couple of scenes feel forced and a bit heavy-handed, but the overall tenor of the film is quiet and reserved. This is a film full of broken people and how brokenness can be a conduit for grace, mercy and friendship.

Part of the film's restraint comes from strong performances from Savage and Diana Scarwid, a barmaid at Max’s. Scarwid (who earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for this film) sort of faded into obscurity after the disastrous Mommie Dearest (1981) and has since worked mostly in TV roles. Savage, who appeared in several big pictures early in his career (The Deer Hunter, The Onion Field, Hair), has gravitated to mostly lower-profile movies, yet he works like a demon. (He’s working in 16 movies in 2009 alone!)

Inside Moves is not a great film, but it’s a very good one, one that did not disappoint me nearly 30 years after my initial viewing. And anytime a 30-year-old memory gets validated, that's something to celebrate. Inside Moves is also worthy of celebration.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Future of Book Buying

Take a few minutes and check out this interview with Jeremy Lassen of Night Shade Books on the future of book buying. (Credit John Joseph Adams for steering folks to the interview.)

It's a very interesting article. You may agree or disagree, but if you have any interest whatsoever in the future of books, read it.

One quote: "Bookstores are confusing to people – they don't get the idea of authors, because movies are filed by title. Bookstores are intimidating. Amazon is great because they can buy books they know they want."

Libraries are confusing to people as well. Even when patrons know the author, they often don't know how to go about looking for the book they want. They get particularly frustrated with authors who write in multiple genres and can't understand why some writers like James Patterson and Robert B. Parker are in both the Mystery and general Fiction sections. I can't tell you how many times patrons come up to the desk frustrated because they're searching for a book's title as if it were in the DVD section.

More on this later. Time for work, which includes helping people find books.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Storytime for Grown-Ups?

*Disclaimer: I spent most of my early adult life teaching middle and high school kids, sixth grade and up. I don't have kids or younger siblings. I've got nieces and nephews and I encounter children on a daily basis at the library, but all in all, my young kid experience is quite limited.

My knowledge of children's books is also limited, but growing. After leading just a few library Storytimes, you learn really fast which books kids love and which ones bore them into a glazed-over stupor. Sometimes what might work with a large group might not work for one or two kids at home and vice versa. But I have learned that the stories have to resonate with the kids. A book's content has to interest the child. Stories can be about dinosaurs, trucks, dogs, cats, monsters or a hundred other things - as long as the subject interests the kid. The artwork has to be appealing and presented in a way that kids can understand the combination of both words and pictures.

In short, it's all about the kid.

Forever Young by Bob Dylan and illustrated by Paul Rogers and Uncle Andy's Cats by James Warhola (Warhol's nephew) certainly don't seem to be all about the kid, but rather the adult.

Uncle Andy's Cats, a story about the iconic artist Andy Warhol and a houseful of cats actually has something going for it. For kids who like cats, it's probably a good read. Maybe the book would actually interest kids who show even an early interest in art, which would be great. Maybe they'll want to know more about Warhol. But I wonder if kids will just scratch their heads over all the Campbell's Soup cans. I can't help wondering if parents will pick up the book to revisit some nostalgic moment from their past.

If you know me at all, you know I'm a huge Dylan fan, but I can't see anything in Forever Young that would engage young children in the least, except maybe the guitars. The book features a multitude of references to Dylan songs, lyrics and Dylanology that many adults won't even recognize. Kids aren't interested in any of this. Just tell them a good story.

Both Rogers and Warhola are well-respected names in the children's book industry. I am in no way disputing their talents. I suppose what I am questioning is the logic of the publishers. Are they trying to market these books to adults trying to relive the 60s and 70s? After all, children don't normally buy children's books. Adults do and when they do, they look for (or should look for) books that are going to engage the kids, books they'll want to read (or have read to them) over and over. I don't think these two fit that description. But again, see the disclaimer.*

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beatles for Sale...Again

Today, just one day after the release of the remastered Beatles catalog, 16 Beatle products are in Amazon's Top 25 Bestsellers in Music. The discs also include mini-documentaries on each disc. (I'm assuming the music is on one side and a DVD on the other.) Most fans seem to be delighted with the results, but not everyone.

The stereo box set sells on Amazon for $179.99. The mono set goes for $229.99. Well, you're going to want the stereo set, right? Maybe not. A lot of the Beatles' early albums were recorded in mono, so if you want to get the original flavor, you're going to want the mono set. Yet some of the later stuff was in stereo. Hmmmmm....

I don't know. I'm no audiophile, so I probably won't be able to tell much difference between the CDs I have and these new ones. But I know I'm not going to run out and spend this much money on a complete set. I'll probably do what I did when the Bob Dylan SACD Hybrid discs came out: Buy one and see how I like it. I bought the hybrid of Highway 61 Revisited and was blown away. But that was in 2003 and I still don't feel the need to buy the Dylan boxed set of SACD hybrids (which is only 15 of Dylan's albums) at $250.

So I'll probably spend $12.99 for Revolver or Sgt. Pepper and be content with that.

Plus the Beatles Rock Band also came out yesterday. It's a good thing I don't own a game system...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Score Takes Care of Itself (NF 2009) - Bill Walsh

When I was a band director I read lots of books on leadership. I can’t tell you how much I learned from those books, most of them biographies of successful coaches, athletes or military leaders. In many ways they shaped the way I taught and thought about leading young people. I still have many of those books, works by or about Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, Lou Holtz, Jack Welch and many others.

You should also know that I am not, never have been and never plan to be a fan of the San Francisco 49ers, mainly because I have been a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan. (Nausea ensues each time I see any portion of “The Catch.”) So it took a lot of self discipline to read the late Bill Walsh’s The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership. But I’m glad I did.

To be honest, most leadership books are basically the same. The coach/CEO/manager takes over a poorly performing, disorganized, disgruntled, dejected organization and slowly builds a philosophy of winning, hits highs and lows along the way to becoming a recognized dynasty. All of this comes about due to the leader being demanding but fair, working insane hours, neglecting friends and family, etc. There’s some of that in The Score Takes Care of Itself, but there’s also an atypical, candid look at the leadership hero and his weaknesses.

Walsh was an incredible coach. His legacy is undeniable. Just take a look at the coaching tree and see how many coaches can trace their lineage back to Walsh. But his drive and determination almost destroyed him.

I’m not sure when most of this book was written. According to co-author Steve Jamison, interviews with Walsh took place many years before Walsh’s death in 2007. Yet many times you sense Walsh is looking at large parts of his life with regret, wishing he had done things a little differently. The book is also “balanced” with comments from some of Walsh’s players and assistant coaches, whose recollections shed some interesting light on Walsh’s own recollections.

You don’t have to be a leader or a teacher to enjoy The Score Takes Care of Itself. You certainly don’t have to be a 49er fan. You may, however, have to block out that image of Dwight Clark reaching up, extending his fingertips to completely shatter my world in 1981.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Making My List Early

As soon as Locus Magazine's "Forthcoming Books" feature comes out every Fall, it's time to start making your holiday wish lists. Okay, so some of these books won't come out until well into 2010, but I'm listing them anyway. So here's a partial list of the books I'm looking forward to in the coming months:

The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi (Aug 2009; Night Shade Books)

The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard (Sept 2009; Norton)

Mirrored Kingdoms: The Best of Peter S. Beagle (Feb. 2010; Subterranean Press) [I've already pre-ordered this one!]

Best American Fantasy 3 - Kevin Brockmeier, ed. (Jan 2010; Underland Press)

Catching Fire (YA) - Suzanne Collins (Sept 2009; Scholastic Press)

Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror - Ellen Datlow, ed. (Feb 2010; Tachyon Publications)

Odd and the Frost Giants (YA) - Neil Gaiman (Sept 2009; HarperCollins)

Wonderwall (YA) - Elizabeth Hand (Oct 2009; Penguin/Viking)

Under Heaven - Guy Gavriel Kay (May 2010; Penguin/Roc)

Scenting the Dark and Other Stories - Mary Robinette Kowal (Nov 2009; Subterranean Press) [I've pre-ordered this one, too.]

The Best of Fritz Leiber (Apr 2010; Night Shade Books

Who Fears Death - Nnedi Okorafor (May 2010; DAW)

World of Fantasy: The Best of Fantasy Magazine - Cat Rambo, ed. (Dec 2009; Prime Books)

The Taborin Scale - Lucius Shepard (Feb 2010; Subterranean Press)

A Dark Matter - Peter Straub (Feb 2010; Doubleday)

American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to the Pulps - Peter Straub, ed. (Oct 2009; Library of America)

The Radio Magician & Other Stories - James Van Pelt (Sept 2009; Fairwood Press)

Booklife: How to Finish a Novel in Two Months: A Survival Kit for Twenty-First Century Writers - Jeff VanderMeer (Oct 2009; Tachyon Publications)

Finch - Jeff VanderMeer (Nov 2009; Underland Press)

Leviathan (YA) - Scott Westerfeld (Oct 2009; Simon Pulse)

Blackout - Connie Willis (Feb 2010; Ballantine Spectra)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Great Deal! Almost...

I was so excited to find The Definitive Gold Box Edition of Twin Peaks at a yard sale for $8 that I didn't look at it closely enough. Sadly, it's missing Disc 8, which covers episodes 23-26. Still, for eight bucks I got all of the first season and most of the second, which isn't bad.

Does anyone know how (or if) you can buy just one disc of a set?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Books Read August

After a very thin reading month in July, August proved much more fruitful, at least in quantity. (Just the list and covers today - comments to follow.)


The Scarecrow (2009) - Michael Connelly

Connelly is one of the few popular writers whose books I will read sight unseen. This is not a Harry Bosch tale, but a Jack McEvoy (The Poet) novel. Connelly never fails to satisfy and The Scarecrow is one of his recent best, definitely worth your time.

Strange Telescopes: Following the Apocalypse from Moscow to Siberia (NF 2009) - Daniel Kalder

Discussed here.

Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple) (NF 2008) - Jeffrey Kluger

Sort of a Malcolm Gladwell knockoff. A good read, some very interesting stuff, but I felt that the premise wasn’t always driving the book.

The Girl Who Played with Fire (2006/2009) - Stieg Larsson

Even better than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The Thin Book of Naming Elephants: How to surface Undiscussables for Greater Organizational Success (NF 2004) - Sue Annis Hammond and Andrea B. Mayfield

A very short book, but packed with useful information and ideas on how to deal with the things in a company/organization that everyone is aware of, but no one wants to talk about. (The section on NASA shows you the devastating consequences of such "elephant in the room" practices.)

Same Kind of Different As Me (NF 2006) - Ron Hall & Denver Moore w/Lynn Vincent

This book was recommended to me by several people in my church. I was initially put off by the chapters narrated by high-end art dealer Hall, but fascinated by the ones written by the homeless Moore. Some very powerful scenes showing how God works in what seem like highly unlikely situations.

Illyria (2007) - Elizabeth Hand

Elizabeth Hand is simply a wonderful writer. Everything I've read by her is an opportunity for readers to get lost in her world, which is a good thing. Illyria is no exception. This work is actually a novella which will be expanded into an upcoming novel.

White Sands, Red Menace (J-Fic 2008) - Ellen Klages

It's a shame that more people don't know how wonderful Ellen Klages is. At the library I often place The Green Glass Sea in the hands of kids looking for a great read. White Sands, Red Menace is a sequel of sorts, a somewhat quieter (although I hate to use that term) book, but with great emotional depth. Klages's characters are so real and believable she makes other J-Fiction/YA writers look amateurish in comparison. This is good stuff.

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations...One School at a Time (NF 2006) - Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin

Don't get me wrong: I greatly admire what Greg Mortenson has done (and is continuing to do) in building schools for children in Pakistan and other war-torn sections of the Middle East. What I do not admire is all the self-glorification of Mortenson on almost every page and not allowing the reader to figure out things for him/herself.

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

(Audiobook of the debates in their entirety featuring outstanding performances by Richard Dreyfuss as Douglas and David Strathairn as Lincoln.) Fascinating look at how debates once worked. (These debates were actually senatorial debates, not presidential ones.) In some ways things were very different in 1858, in others, not much has changed. A few dull, repetitive sections, but some real fireworks here. You'll cringe at some of Douglas's racist remarks, but this is an interesting look at the political landscape of 150 years ago.

GRAPHIC NOVELS (Which I don't count in the monthly total, but include anyway.)

The Avengers: Kree/Skrull War (1971, 1972) - Roy Thomas, Sal Buscema, John Buscema, Neal Adams

Not as great as I remembered, but still fun and nostalgic.

Essex County, Vol. I: Tales from the Farm (2007) - Jeff Lemire

Interesting tale of a boy on a Canadian farm living with his uncle. The boy's dreams of being a superhero and an unusual friendship with a former pro hockey player make this worth a look.

Now get out there and read something.