Staying up late with A.L. Kennedy

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I’ve mentioned before how much I adore A.L. Kennedy’s columns on writing in the Guardian. There are many people who post items on this topic, and not very many are successful at it. Either they sound too academic or preachy or remote from anything that we care about.

But not Kennedy — her pieces have always managed to blend the personal and the practical in a way that leaves you feeling inspired, and realistic, about the tasks ahead of you.

And I’ve been dealing with withdrawal symptoms ever since they stopped appearing last year.

What did I really expect? That she would want — or need — to keep dissecting aspects of her experience as a writer for my benefit forever? Did I think she’d forsake her fiction just for that (her new book, by the way, is the story collection “All The Rage.“)

Oh, c’mon now.

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Wondercon and my 401(k)

While the literary world is mourning the passing of one superhero right now (rest in peace,Gabriel Garcia Marquez!) and Christians everywhere are celebrating another this weekend, I’ve been thinking about comic book heroes after taking my boys to Wondercon in Anaheim, Calif.

It was the perfect opportunity to make some acquisitions like these

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and also to conduct a little research on what’s-selling-for-what in the superhero market these days. I still have a bunch of old comics from my younger days, and they should be worth something, right? I just didn’t realize how much.

x-men 30Among the new acquisitions, I absolutely had to have a copy of “The Wedding of Scott Summers and Jean Grey” from X-Men, even though it’s disappointing. Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, and John Byrne ripped little kids’ hearts apart with “The Dark Phoenix Saga” back in the 1980s, and this issue is an attempt to heal up what’s unhealable. I’m glad to have it, but the entire thing is far too sentimental to measure up to what Claremont & Company created. They chose the best, and only way to conclude that story. Nuff said.

 

kirby-the-demonOn the other hand, nothing that the immortal Jack Kirby ever created can disappoint. While the price tag on his “New Gods” series scared me off (for the time being, at least), I picked up this nifty issue of “The Demon” instead. Switching companies, from Marvel to DC, did nothing to dilute or change his signature style and voice.  Open these pages and you instantly know where you are and whose world you’ve entered. Kirby was a true comics mythologist, and in this issue he gives us another terrific origins story for the aptly-named demonologist Jason Blood. Beware, faint-hearted readers!

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P.S. Dante’s salty bread

Credit: Fastily

Credit: Fastily

While a Kirkus Review item on Prue Shaw’s Dante book praises Shaw for showing us the genius of Dante’s work, there’s something else I’d like to mention — more of an aside than anything else — that is just as worthy as her assessment of that mighty poem.

The poet’s biography, embedded in the lines.

Not the major elements of his biography — not his encounters with actual friends and family members, enough’s said about that — I’m thinking more of stray, little bits that dramatically illustrate his own circumstances.

One is especially moving to me, my friends. Maybe it will be to you, too.

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