Bats Of the Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson – A Book Review

I should say from the outset that this book warrants a second read.  I’ll explain why in a bit.

If you’re a book lover like me, you need to own this work.  Not because it’s a terrific story, but rather because it is so original in format.  I often discuss with my friends the next steps that book publishing should take, and productions like this may be the answer.

Bats Of the Republic takes place both in the future and in the past.  It is comprised of old letters, field journal drawings, handwritten notes accompanied by sketches, chapters from a fictional book written to exist within this book, technical schematics, as well as electronic messages.  It boasts photographs, a fold-out map, beautiful illustrations, and a very (literally) long letter you can take out of an actual envelope.

Its overall design is exquisite and it is, undoubtedly, a multifaceted work of art.

So, even with all that being said, the story itself did not satisfy.  It’s an interesting read, of that there is no doubt.  But it is somewhat repetitive, the plot seems to serve the design, the characters struck me as inexplicably motivated at times, and, frankly, there were moments when I didn’t quite follow why anything happening proved important to the overall story.

However, because there is so much to digest, because it is so visually interesting and spans so many different eras and formats, it is entirely possible that I missed an important aspect of the plot.  I plan to reread the book this summer with fresh eyes and see if I pick up on things previously missed.

Even so, if the story proves to disappoint on a second reading, I will still unabashedly recommend this work to friends on the strength of its design alone.  This is a step forward in publishing, and it’s one that needs to be experienced.

Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself Illustrated by Allen Crawford – A Book Review

I firmly believe the publishing world must always adapt, evolve, and break new ground.  This book does just that.  Yes, it is Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, unaltered and unabridged.  However, Allen Crawford blended art and text to create something entirely new, all while still honoring the original poem.  Each page progresses the poem and integrates it with art.  At times, the text is virtually unreadable because it twists and turns, but it always serves a purpose, it always works in tandem with the illustration.

This book is like a riddle in that you must reposition it in order to read every page, you must study the illustration on each page to decipher its relevance to the text; in short, you must pause and ponder.  That’s not a bad thing.

If you only want a copy of Song of Myself, this book probably isn’t for you.  Like I said, it is at times virtually unreadable.  Rest assured you can find thousands of versions of the original poem in bookstores, online, or in any English textbook beginning at the seventh grade level.

But, if you appreciate Song of Myself and want to see it in a new light, this book will delight.  If you desire to see something a little different from the publishing industry, this is a superb example.  If you love art, text, and any combination of the two, this book is for you.

Or maybe you just want to see an item that exemplifies blood, sweat, and tears, and you want to reward the creator’s hard work by saying, “You did something unique, honorable, and interesting.  I want to support your efforts by purchasing the book.”

Whatever the case may be, if you fall into any of the previous categories, I truly think you’ll enjoy this book.

Super Graphic by Tim Leong – A Book Review

When I learned of this book, I knew I had to have it.

Super Graphic is a series of graphs—an entire books’ worth, in fact—that deal only with comic books.  Each graph is typically quite clever in depicting an image along with information.  Of course, this is a poplar medium at the moment called “infographics.”

Some of the graphs include the evolution of the Superman logo over the last seventy-six years.  Another includes the affiliations of over fifty Marvel characters such as Wolverine, Captain America, Spider-Man, and Luke Cage.  Yet another breaks down the pizzas that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have enjoyed since their inception.

By and large, the graphs are incredibly complex and fascinating to study. I cannot imagine the time, effort, and sheer amount of research required by Tim Leong to produce it.  However, this book absolutely does not take itself too seriously.  Some of the charts mean to make you laugh, and some are downright ludicrous.

As a comic book lover, I can pick this book up anytime and find something new to appreciate.  However, I think anyone interested in infographics or art will adore it as well. Furthermore, I value books that push traditional publishing standards, and this one does just that.

So I Published This Book … In 2010

2010 proved a busy year for me.  I returned to teaching after staying home with our first child for two years.  I started my Master’s in Reading degree.  We also built a house.

Oh, and I published a book.

Unfortunately, amidst all of those other things, I didn’t give the book’s release the attention it deserved.

Now, here we are, a blink of an eye and four years later.  I’m finishing my Master’s degree.  We’ve had a second child.  We are still settling into our house.

Oh, and I’m sort of promoting that book from 2010.

It’s about Andropia, the world’s last city, a utopia for its citizens known as Andropians. They exist to please the Maker, he who created them in his floating Citadel. Andropians cheerfully question nothing as they go about unnecessarily purifying air, cleaning water, and raising livestock. When Isaac arrives from the Citadel, his many questions lead other Andropians to compare him to the deviant Amelia. Soon Amelia and Isaac’s paths cross, and she persuades him to help rescue their people. For she long ago discovered a suspected harbinger of destruction, an object that could mean the end of life as they know it. Isaac and Amelia invade the Citadel and confront the Maker, but nothing could have prepared them for what they learn and their final fates.

Does Andropia sound good to you?  I have copies available for $9.99.  I’d love for you to read it so much, I’ll even handle the shipping costs (as long as you’re in the continental US).

One Amazon reviewer described Andropia as “… in some ways subversive, in many ways disturbing, and in all ways a thoroughly good read! ”

Thanks for clicking HERE to get your copy through PayPal!

 

S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst – A Book Review

This is a book unlike anything else I have ever read.

There are two stories within this work.

One is surrealistic and focuses upon a freedom fighter known only as “S.”  He has amnesia, travels upon a mysterious ship full of anomalous sailors, and, through a series of events, battles an evil capitalist while yearning for a woman he does not know, but loves nonetheless.

The other story takes place within the margins of the first, and it is the written exchange in the form of annotations between a university student and an exiled graduate student.  The core of their dialogue occurs through written notes and centers upon the author of the above story, but, as fate would have it, their own lives seem in danger as a result of their investigation and this brings them together.  In order to understand their story, you must realize that they have different handwriting, identify their particular style, and comprehend that different colors of ink represent different time periods in their lives.  Because they apparently read and reread the book several times, you may see a note from them that was actually written near the end of their story.  Yes, it takes some getting used to.

The beautiful thing about this book, besides the notes in the margins, is that there are several artifacts within that correlate to the researchers’ conversations and research.  My favorite, for examples, is a map one of them drew upon a napkin.  There are also postcards, photographs, handwritten notes, even copies of newspaper articles.  In fact, the book itself is made to look like an old library book, complete with water stains and a checkout history.

The only negative thing I have to say is that I didn’t completely understand the stories of the book, which seems to necessitate another read on my part.  I chose to read each page and the margin notes all at once, and perhaps this was a misstep.  My reread will actually result in a third read, because I plan to read the story all the way through, and then go back and read the notes in the margins separately.  This should help distinguish the two tales from each other.  I jumped from one to the other on a page-by-page basis, and I believe this may have weakened my understanding of both.

That being said, S. is an important book because it challenges our notion of what constitutes a book.  In this digital age, print books must do more than they ever have before, and S. certainly seems to utilize a winning strategy.  By including multimedia artifacts that pertain to the book, the story becomes extremely interactive for the reader, making it all the more real.  Of course, the artifacts must seem genuine, which S. accomplishes, but I have to wonder if the average publisher could take on such an expensive venture.

In the end, I greatly enjoyed S., but I think I’ll enjoy it even more upon subsequent rereads.  There’s nothing wrong with revisiting a book, there’s no shame in needing to get closer to a book in order to fully understand it. There’s certainly nothing adverse about art demanding a little more, especially when it gives a little more.

 

Article In The Daily Vidette About My Appearance At Milner Library

Joanna Pelletier, staff writer for Illinois State University’s The Daily Vidette, wrote an article about my appearance yesterday at Milner Library’s panel discussion on publishing.  Authors Adam Decker and Patti Lacey also took part in the event organized by Toni Tucker and her staff at Milner Library.

To read the article, click HERE.

Thanks To Toni Tucker And Milner Library

Yesterday I took part in a panel discussion on publishing at Milner Library.  The other authors were Patti Lacy and Adam Decker, and, judging from all the notes I saw the audience taking, the three of us offered some diverse and informative ideas and experiences about the world of print.  I know I learned a few new things from my fellow authors as well!

I wanted to specifically thank Toni Tucker and her staff at Milner Library for inviting me to take part in such a fun discussion and for working so hard to promote a very well-organized event.

Here are some links to get to know Milner, Patti, and Adam:

Milner Library

Patti Lacy

Adam Decker