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Book Reviews
'The Committee'
By: Sterling Watson - Akashic Books, $16.95)

Description: In the late 1950s, Gainesville, Florida, seems to be a sleepy university town. Its residents live, by outward appearances, ordinary lives.

And yet the town is far from ordinary.

The most private acts of professors, students, townspeople rich and poor, and politicians are under the close scrutiny of a shadowy group of men — the Committee — who use the powers of government and the police to investigate, threaten, and control this increasingly fearful community.

Verdict: In truth, books like 'The Committee' are my go-to for a Sunday, rain falling afternoon in. At around 350 pages, and with mid-sized print, I sat down to read the book at 1pm this past Sunday and come 6pm had finished it!

The reason is simple: It's just such an engrossing, if not at times dark tale in which at the end of each chapter you simply cannot afford to put it down long enough to let your mind run riot on what you believe to be happening!

Set in 1950s Florida, 'The Committee' pits friends against friends and threatens careers and lives in a struggle for the soul of a town, a university, and an ideal.

Based on actual historical events and set against the backdrop of political, cultural, and class turmoil, this is a story of love — both licit and hidden — war, friendship, betrayal, compromise, and finally the necessity to stand firm against the encroachments upon freedom by men who believe they are doing God’s and the government’s righteous work.

Sure, that sounds heavy, I'll grant you that, but the way Watson writes, composing his sentences and their inclusion within the sanctity of some enthralling paragraphs means the reading is never labored.

Furthermore, 'The Committee' will teach you things along the way, will definitely open your eyes to multilayered "facts" - both old and new - that you may or may not have known, and will always enlighten, enrapture and provoke your little grey cells - to the point, much like me, that you simply cannot put the book down until the full picture has been revealed.

About The Author: Sterling Watson is The Peter Meinke Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Eckerd College. He and Dennis Lehane are Co-directors of the Eckerd College Writers' Conference: Writers in Paradise.

Watson is the author of six novels: Weep No More My Brother, The Calling, Blind Tongues, Deadly Sweet, Sweet Dream Baby and Fighting in the Shade.

Watson is the recipient of three Florida Fine Arts Council Awards for fiction writing. His short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and The Southern Review.

His main professional interests are fiction, play and screenwriting, American and British and European short and long fiction, and the theatre. He served for five years as the fiction editor of The Florida Quarterly, and taught secondary English and later fiction writing at Raiford Prison.

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'The Schrödinger Girl'
By: Laurel Brett - Kaylie Jones Books, $16.95)

Description: Garrett Adams, an uptight behavioral psychology professor who refuses to embrace the 1960s, is in a slump.

The dispirited rats in his latest experiment aren’t yielding results, and his beloved Yankees are losing.

As he sits at a New York City bar watching the Yanks strike out, he knows he needs a change.

Verdict: Not my usual go-to for an afternoon's read, I sat down with Laurel Brett's new book 'The Schrödinger Girl' and page by page let it work its typeset magic on me.

Running at 330 pages, it's not a short read, nor an overly long one, so for those akin to the writing of Brett I'm sure you will find it very nourishing.

Set in the '60s, where our central character, Garrett Adams is seated at a bar, staring up at a picture behind it of Miss Rheingold, a Hitchcock blonde elected by twenty-three million votes in 1964 (just before the contest ended), Garrett is already tired of the decade; let alone still hearing about the one before it.

However, at a Columbus Circle bookstore he meets a mysterious young woman, Daphne, who is in the children's aisle reading softly aloud to two enthralled young girls.

Soon Daphne has drawn Garrett into the turbulent and exciting world of Vietnam War protest politics and the music of Bob Dylan and the Beatles. Amongst other things, Garrett then begins to emerge from his self-induced numbness and grief over his father’s death in World War II.

When Daphne evolves into four separate versions of herself, Garrett’s life becomes complicated as he devotes himself to answering questions about character and destiny raised by her iterations.

His obsession threatens to upend his relationship with Caroline, a beautiful art historian, destroy his teaching job, and dissolve his friendship with his old pal Jerry.

The Daphne's seem to exist in separate realities that challenge the laws of physics and call into question everything Garrett thought he knew.

Ergo, and as the book lovingly mirrors from the very same story that the original Daphne was reading upon their meeting, he must decide what is vision, what is science, and what is delusion before he himself falls down the Rabbit-Hole.

About The Author: Laurel Brett, a refugee from the 1960s, was born in Manhattan in the middle of the last century. Her passionate interest in the arts and social justice led her to a PhD and a long career as a community college professor.

She expanded her award-winning dissertation on Thomas Pynchon's work into a groundbreaking analysis, Disquiet on the Western Front: World War II and Postmodern Fiction, which was published by Cambridge Scholars.

She lives in Port Jefferson, New York.

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'I Am a Promise'
By: Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce - Black Sheep/Akashic Books, $15.95

Description: 'I Am a Promise' takes readers on Shelly Ann’s journey from her childhood in the tough inner-city community of Waterhouse in Kingston, Jamaica, through her development as a young athlete, to her first Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter sprint in 2008.

Verdict: In this short (24-page), yet agreeably enthralling new book, the story charts how Shelly Ann’s commitment to hard work as well as the encouragement of loved ones helped her achieve her dreams against great odds and challenging life experiences.

Most importantly, 'I Am a Promise' encourages young readers to believe in themselves and to maximize their own promise to the world.

First and foremost a colorful children's book, chock full of vividly wonderful, bright and brilliant illustrations from by Rachel Moss, we discover early on that Shelly loved to run as a little girl.

Then, as her love of running grew as much as she herself did, so too did her desire to not simply run, but run FAST!

She ran to school, to the shop, to the park. She ran like a rocket, ran to be free, because, well, that was who she knew she was born to be.

One day her grandmother saw her running and was the very first person to inform her that she was "... a promise." Confused by these words, her grandmother simply smiled and added, "Don't worry, child, one day you will see."

Even through he big school days she ran, harder and faster, still like a rocket, this time on fire and ready to soar. But times were hard for Shelly at home and sometimes there simply wasn't even enough money to pay bills or put food on the table.

But she never let her dream, her "promise" escape her and soon she was chosen to run in the Olympics for her country. Nervous before the race, her coach told her, "You represent the promise of our country. Go show the world what this promise is.

The race began. Shelly ran for her country. For her friends and family. Like that rocket she always knew was there inside her. The rest, as they say, is now history.

Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce is a six-time Olympic medal winner and holds several prestigious national and world athletic titles including the 2013 IAAF World Female Athlete of the Year.

In recognizing her contribution to sport and the country as a whole, the government of Jamaica awarded Fraser Pryce the Order of Distinction, and, in 2018, unveiled a statue of her at the National Stadium.

A UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Fraser Pryce is also the founder of the Pocket Rocket Foundation which assists promising high school athletes, the owner of a café, Shelly's Café, and a hair salon named Lady Shelly Beauty. Ashley Rousseau studied creative writing at Lesley University's MFA program. Her short stories have been published in Calabash: A Journal of Caribbean Arts and Letters and Small Axe.

She was born in Jamaica, where she continues to live with her family and work as a designer with local artisans.

Rachel Moss is an illustrator in love with the bright colors and vibrant energy of the Caribbean. She was born in Jamaica and studied animation in England at UCA.

Moss now lives in Jamaica where she spends her days illustrating children's books such as Abigail's Glorious Hair, Milo & Myra Learn Manners with Mr. Mongoose, and The Happiness Dress.

Visit for more information.

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'Nairobi Noir'
By: Peter Kimani - Akashic Books, $15.95

Description: Nairobi is a city of 3 million souls, so it makes sense as a setting Akashic Books' famed noir series.

14 new stories fill a collection with Nairobi old and new; authors range in age from 24 to 81, and many layers of the city and its complex subcultures will be revealed as the reader makes their way through.

Verdict: The quietly compelling short story collection 'Nairobi Noir' features brand new stories by: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Stanley Gazemba, Ngumi Kibera, Peter Kimani, Winfred Kiunga, Kinyanjui Kombani, Caroline Mose, Kevin Mwachiro, Wanjikũ wa Ngũgĩ, Faith Oneya, Makena Onjerika, Troy Onyango, J.E. Sibi-Okumu, and Rasna Warah.

'Nairobi Noir' - a book that leaves an indelible impression on you from just the opening sentences of the very first story - has three parts: The Hunters, The Hunted, the Herders.

Each story within each section takes place in a unique area of the city and not only shines a light into the darkness of Kenya’s capital city, but closely examines those living and working there; no matter which side of the law, which side of the darkness they find themselves.

Thus, 'Nairobi Noir' is an act of excavation, rediscovering the city’s ossified past and infusing life to preserve it for future generations.

That all said, sure it has a mighty impressive light shone on areas, and tales of Nairobi that one might never have heard before, but woven within the stories are acts of celebration.

They help remind readers of the brilliance of the best-known writers to emerge from this part of the world, and herald the birth of new writers whose gifts, we can safely predict, will shine brightly in the years ahead.

Edited by Peter Kimani, a rather well-known African author, who obviously knows Nairobi rather intimately, his own piece "Blood Sister” is also one of the stand out literary moments here.

Given that Kimani himself refers to Nairobi as a “concrete jungle” where "traffic jams are so bad, even lions come out of the wild to marvel at the snarl-ups," you kind of know going in what to expect from this vastly overheated jumping-off point for safari trips elsewhere in Kenya.

The oldest writer in this anthology is eighty-one, the youngest is only twenty-four; if there is any inference one can draw from this demographic it is that this anthology offers an entire spectrum of Kenyan writing: the past, present, and future.

If we can allow one extravagant claim, a collection of this nature is unprecedented in Kenya’s literary history.

In conclusion, although the range of issues explored in 'Nairobi Noir' is as diverse as its contributors, it all gestures toward a common theme. In this concrete jungle, the hunters and herders live on. As do the hunted!

If you read this and love it as much as I think you will, please check out other Akashic Noir books, including 'Montana Noir,' 'Vancouver Noir,' 'Lagos Noir,' and 'Milwaukee Noir.'

Peter Kimani is a leading Kenyan journalist and the author of, most recently, Dance of the Jakaranda, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

The novel was nominated for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in the US and long-listed for the inaugural Big Book Awards in the UK.

He has taught at Amherst College and the University of Houston and is presently based at Aga Khan University's Graduate School of Media and Communications in Nairobi.

Official Book Purchase Link

'The Freedom Artist'
By: Ben Okri - Akashic Books, $16.95

Description: In a world uncomfortably like our own, a young woman called Amalantis is arrested for asking a question. Her question is this: Who is the Prisoner?

When Amalantis disappears, her lover Karnak goes looking for her. He searches desperately at first, then with a growing realization that to find Amalantis, he must first understand the meaning of her question.

Karnak’s search leads him into a terrifying world of deception, oppression, and fear at the heart of which lies the prison. Then Karnak discovers that he is not the only one looking for the truth.

Verdict: From the off, the book - which is written in a postmodern style - posits the theory that we are all in an inescapable prison, adding in garishly chilling prose that the rhythmic "folk tale" that is 'The Freedom Artist' is a vision of the world as one infinite possibility.

On a lead in page all of its own, situation quietly at its base, Okri begs of us to "read slowly," but given that the book is broken down into six sections, each one containing bite size chapters, well, that's easier said than done, trust me!

That said, and as much as the book truly free flows with unflinching beauty and profound wisdom nd grace, you might find yourself a little lost at times come its midsection.

For it's around there that prose and collected thoughts and imagines from Okri can, to some, start to unhinge the reader from the authors raison-d'être. But luckily I would advise you to continue onward, perhaps even re-read that middle ground, for come the end the messages are not only subtle and thought-provoking, but loud and clear.

Simply put, 'The Freedom Artist' is an impassioned plea for justice and a penetrating examination of how freedom is threatened in a post-truth society.

In Ben Okri’s most significant novel since the Booker Prize–winning The Famished Road, he delivers a powerful and haunting call to arms that everyone should take notice of.

Ben Okri was born in Minna, Nigeria. His childhood was divided between Nigeria, where he saw firsthand the consequences of war, and London. He won the Booker Prize in 1991 for The Famished Road.

He has published eleven novels, four volumes of short stories, four books of essays, and four collections of poems. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. He also writes plays and screenplays.

He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a vice president of English PEN, and has been awarded the OBE as well as numerous international prizes and honorary doctorates.

Official Book Purchase Link

'Be The Artist: The Interactive Guide to ...'
By: Thomas "Detour" Evans - Fulcrum Publishing, $21.95

Description: This go-to guide can be your handbook as you enter the art world and navigate the nuances of becoming self-sufficient.

Instead of feeding you new techniques, it will provide you with insights to help you make decisions based on your specific situation and goals.

By the end of this book, you will have a set of guidelines for scenarios that range from taking on commission work and conducting negotiations to dealing with rejection and improving your organization.

Verdict: Simply put, 'Be the Artist' is designed to help up-and-coming creatives educate themselves on essential yet seldom-discussed strategies, learn about new and relevant artists, and gather the resources they need to build their business.

As an active artist navigating the world of social media, "Detour" is often asked for advice and so after four years of posting weekly career tips every Tuesday on his Instagram page, he decided to expand his outreach and put all his good thoughts into this expansive, and rather fulfilling new book.

'Be the Artist: The Interactive Guide to a Lasting Art Career' is that book and was released on February 11th, 2020 via Fulcrum Publishing. The book, which I have now personally read twice, and two others in the office once each, is an amalgamation of personal anecdotes, interviews, answers to frequently asked questions, and resources for further education.

Opening with a quote from Pablo Picasso, and next inspiring you to follow your passion, blocks of sample laddering interview snippets, homework (that's right, readers, you will have homework to do here as you progress), questions to ask yourself, the benefits of having mentors, and more are brought forth for you to ask the most important question of yourself: Who do you want to be?

As is now known, it took a year for "Detour" to pull everything together for this brilliant new book and thus you shouldn't feel obliged to rush your way, or even skip your way through it, trust me.

Detailing some of the most impactful tips he has been giving artists and the students that come through his studio since day one, a lot of the advice that he gives can actually be translated into other areas of life.

So having those broader tips enables "Detour" to venture into different directions within the book without breaking stride, discussing not only a lot of the nuances of being an artist, but things that you can learn throughout your journey also.

Such as the fact that you don’t have to be a creative, or an artist to really get something from this book. There are tips here that not only are offered up to us to adhere to, but that he himself leans on day to day also.

The way the book is laid out is simplistic for the eye also: The left side is more the text, and the right side is more the space where people can doodle and take notes.

There's also a section called Your Googles, where some of the different sections have search terms that are relevant to that topic. Simply put, if "Detour" is referencing something specific he then would like you to include it in your search terms once you begin to, well, Google for yourself thereafter.

Oh, and his advice, as a whole? Start as soon as possible in terms of what you want to do, and find exactly how to do that.

For, as he stresses, it’s going to be different in every creative practice, everything from being a musician or being a full-time sculptor or whatever your career path might provide, but find a way to start it as soon as possible; and you’ll know when you can transition to full-time thereafter.

With so much more to be discovered about this book, "Detour" has even added reading and resources in the back pages of it. Indeed come those last few pages you will discover a slew of resources that are available in terms of podcasts, documentaries, books, blog postings and other websites and organizations that artists can go to; to help add value to their practice or find residencies, studios, grants, podcasts that a lot of other artists listen to.

Oh, and just because it comes complete in bite-size, easily digestible pieces (oh, and that homework too, of course), the fact that you now have such a workbook to guide you is, well, just perfect.

It's not a large, heavyweight book, but it's not small, lightweight one either. So, we'll call it a quite wondrous, medium-weighted and sized resource guide for those that wish to start and then have a long lasting career in the Arts.

About the Author:
Thomas “Detour” Evans is a professional American artist. Born into a military family, Detour spent his youth traveling the world, eventually settling in Colorado, where he attended the University of Colorado.

While he initially studied business, his passion was art. Initially working out of his kitchen, creating art for himself, Detour has transitioned to full-time visual arts, creating artwork for major brands and large corporations.

He now spends his days carving out new and alternative paths in the art world and sharing his discoveries and insights on his popular Instagram account, @detour303.

'The Ballad of Tommy LiPuma'
By: Ben Sidran - Nardis Books, $24.95

Description: For those not in the know, Tommy LiPuma was one of America's most successful record producers whose work with seminal artists like Miles Davis, Diana Krall, Barbra Streisand, Rickie Lee Jones, George Benson, and Willie Nelson went on to sell over seventy-five million records. 'The Ballad of Tommy LiPuma' captures seven hit-making decades during the American record industry’s glittering, freewheeling years.

Verdict: After a Prelude (where DiPuma is described as a self-invented polymath straight from the streets), and then the Intro (where the moment in time captured was in 1977 when George Benson's smooth jazz guitar album Breezin' had been nominated for four Grammy Awards), Track One opens on a small Sicilian village on a windswept mountainside, and the murder of a man on a dirt path.

Agreed, it's not exactly what I expected to feel my way into this book through having first read, but it most certainly sets a scene for what's to come; and how a close knit immigrant family would bond together to finally bring LiPuma's tale to an end with five trips up the Grammy red carpet.

Ergo, the versatile, hit-making career of one of the American recording industry’s legendary producers and executives is lovingly told here in award-winning musician, writer and broadcaster Ben Sidran’s engrossing 'The Ballad of Tommy LiPuma.'

It's been said that this magnificent volume was drawn from more than 80 hours of interviews with LiPuma by Sidran, who recorded three albums for LiPuma’s Blue Thumb Records in the early ’70s, and having now finished it, I have to say I wish I had been there alongside Sidran to also bask in LiPuma's first hand memories.

Reading it, page turning every few minutes, first learning more about LiPuma's humble upbringing, then about his ascent within the music business, it is most definitely an inspired account of how music saved one man’s life, and how he went on to affect the lives of millions of others.

'The Ballad of Tommy LiPuma' is not only a enthralling thirteen track/chapter dossier on the man, but reveals more behind the scenes workings on how decisions were made, and how even when come the end of the twentieth century, and the record industry having taken a nasty turn, he still managed to stand tall, head held high, making the right choices for both him and those around him.

Explaining that due to the development of video games come the late '80s, gangsta rap's appearance on the music scene and then things getting worse for them in the early '90s with Napster, it was when the big corporate fish were finally swallowing up all the smaller corporate fishes that LiPuma knew it was time for a change.

That meant eventually leaving Elektra and accepting a job at GRP Records, a smooth jazz label that LiPuma wasn't overly happy with sliding into, he reveals.

It was at that time of change, early on in his tenure at GRP that he was played a tape of a new young talent. One that, at first blush, LiPuma didn't have any time for, stating that she sounded like she played "cocktail music from a hotel lounge."

He was then played a video of the singer taken from BET, just her singing 'Body and Soul' at the piano, and suddenly LiPuma took notice and agreed she was something special.

And yes, as I'm sure you have all guessed by now, that lone piano songstress was indeed Diana Krall.

So from his origins as a jazz-obsessed tenor saxophonist in Midwestern territory bands, to fame and fortune as the Grammy-winning producer of such multi-platinum albums as guitarist-singer George Benson’s Breezin’ (1976) and Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable … With Love (1991), author Sidran opens our eyes to one of the most incredible men to have ever held the music industry aloft.

The book also delves deeply into LiPuma’s deft work as a jazz producer, ranging from work on hit albums by talents like David Sanborn and Bob James to memorable sessions with Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Horace Silver, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Jimmy Scott.

It concludes with a comprehensive look at the bestselling, career-making series of albums LiPuma produced for singer-pianist Diana Krall before his death at the age of 80 in 2017.

Sidran notes, “He was opening boxes of records in the basement at MS Distributing — talk about ground-level experience! And then he was involved in all the stages of promotion and music publishing."

"It’s just remarkable. The most successful producers today probably never opened a box or packed a box of anything.”

“Tommy really loved being with the artists,” Sidran says. “He wouldn’t sit in the control room — he was out on the floor with earphones. Through his whole life, he loved being with creative people, hip people.”

About the Author: Ben Sidran was a major force in the contemporary history of jazz and rock & roll, having played keyboards with or produced such artists as Steve Miller, Mose Allison, Diana Ross, Boz Scaggs, Phil Upchurch, Tony Williams, Jon Hendricks, Richie Cole and Van Morrison.

Though primarily renowned as a gifted pianist, composer, producer, among other music-related roles, Ben Sidran has also made a name for himself as a writer.

Sidran's first book, Black Talk: How the Music of Black America Created a Radical Alternative to Western Literary Tradition (Da Capo Press), is based on his doctoral dissertation.

Talking Jazz: An Oral History (Da Capo Press), published twenty-four years later, collects personal interviews with jazz greats such as Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins.

His third literary endeavor, Ben Sidran: A Life in the Music (Unlimited Media), expresses his life-long affair with music and all its functions: as prayer, as community, as legacy, and as nothing but a party.

He delves into the complex relationships between African-Americans and Jews, fathers and sons, history and hope, money and technology, ecstasy and transformation.

His penultimate book, There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream, was a 2011 finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and remains a teaching text in Jewish Studies programs everywhere.

Amazon Book Purchase Link

'Berkley Noir'
By: Edited by Jerry Thompson and Owen Hill - Akashic Books, $15.95

Description: Berkeley brings its own unique blend of Bay Area noir, complementing the grit and grime that preceded it in San Francisco Noir and Oakland Noir.

Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city.

Verdict: This quietly compelling short story collection 'Berkley Noir' features brand new stories by: Barry Gifford, Jim Nisbet, Lexi Pandell, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Mara Faye Lethem, Thomas Burchfield, Shanthi Sekaran, Nick Mamatas, Kimn Neilson, Jason S. Ridler, Susan Dunlap, J.M. Curet, Summer Brenner, Michael David Lukas, Aya de León, and Owen Hill.

A town named after a British philosopher doesn’t exactly evoke visions of Goodis or Highsmith. Grifters? Dames? Cops? In Berkeley? On the surface the alleys don’t seem that dark, until we look a little closer.

Possibly the most iconic visual image of Berkeley does involve cops. It’s the film with Mario Savio, atop a police car, declaring, “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part!”

Now there’s a statement that sums up the spirit of noir!

Much like the others from the series, 'Berkley Noir' is broken up into three parts: Part One - From the People’s Republic; Part Two - Directly Across from the Golden Gate; and Part Three - Company Town, and they come complete with sixteen (16) original stories by the aforementioned authors.

Opening with a brief Introduction (The Other Side of Piedmont), we're then thrown knee deep into the first story, 'Hill House' by Lexi Pandell and, trust me, it alone is an engrossing, page-turning read that then funnels you seamlessly into Lucy Jane Bledsoe's own 'The Tangy Brine of Dark Night' before rounding out with the short, but sweet 'Barroom Butterfly' by Barry Gifford.

The second chapter opens with the subversive 'Eat Your Pheasant, Drink You Wine' by Shanthi Sekaran, with one of my own personal favorites, the off the grid musings of Nick Mamatas' 'Every Man and Every Woman is a Star' further on, culminating with the lengthy 'Boy Toy' from Jim Nisbet.

The final chapter opens with a resilient 'The Law of Local Karma' by Susan Dunlap, which then rolls neatly into the tale of the survivor of a decade long San Quentin stint, J.M. Curet's breathtaking 'Wifebeater Tank Top.'

The third chapter comes to a close on another of my own personal favorites, a tale set in the Gilman District, 'Righteous Kill' by Owen Hill. Also one of the editors for the book, his own installment is as justified to be amongst these tales as any of them.

Now, please be aware that 'Berkley Nori' is not as gritty, as bloodied as some of the former titles already released in the series, but nonetheless, but without a shadow of a doubt, "noir" permeates each and every story.

If you read this and love it as much as I think you will, please check out other Akashic Noir books, including 'Montana Noir,' 'Vancouver Noir,' 'Lagos Noir,' and 'Milwaukee Noir.'

Jerry Thompson is a bookseller, poet, playwright, and musician. His work has appeared in ZYZZYVA and the James White Review. He is the coauthor of Images of America: Black Artists in Oakland.

His fiction and prose have appeared in various anthologies including Voices Rising, edited by G. Winston James, and Freedom in this Village: Twenty-Five Years of Black Gay Men's Writing, edited by E. Lynn Harris. He is the coeditor of Oakland Noir.

Owen Hill is the author of two crime novels, The Chandler Apartments and The Incredible Double, and he coedited The Annotated Big Sleep with Pamela Jackson and Anthony Dean Rizzuto.

Until recently he lived in the Chandler Building on the corner of Telegraph and Dwight in Berkeley.

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'The Narcissism of Small Differences'
By: Michael Zadorrian - Akashic Books, $16.95

Description: Joe Keen and Ana Urbanek have been a couple for a long time, with all the requisite lulls and temptations, yet they remain unmarried and without children, contrary to their Midwestern values (and parents’ wishes).

Now on the cusp of forty, they are both working at jobs that they’re not even sure they believe in anymore, but with significantly varying returns.

Ana is successful, Joe is floundering—both in limbo, caught somewhere between mainstream and alternative culture, sincerity and irony, achievement and arrested development.

Set against the backdrop of bottomed-out 2009 Detroit, a once-great American city now in transition, part decaying and part striving to be reborn, 'The Narcissism of Small Differences' is the story of an aging creative class, doomed to ask the questions: Is it possible to outgrow irony?

Does not having children make you one? Is there even such a thing as selling out anymore?

Verdict: For my money, and simply said, 'The Narcissism of Small Differences' is a quite wondrous, thoroughly entertaining and delightfully enthralling journey through a Detroit of 11 years ago that is, without a shadow of a doubt, a must read for any Detroit natives.

Asking big questions and delivering big answers, all laced with a sheer, bedazzling beholden amount of wit and sarcasm, the book opens with the uttering of the very first sentence: "Are we weird?".

A question posed by Ana to Joe, both seated on the floor of their 850-square foot home, himself just flicking through the pages of the Detroit Independent, the local alternative newspaper for which he wrote.

From there on in unfolds an unearthing of relationships, how they are perceived within and outside of our own lives, and threaded through a quite expansive, and colorful literary landscape, how an aging hipster and his partner in crime struggle to keep their own relationship from taking the same path as their city in current economic ruin.

Zadoorian himself writes through a set of highly intuitive, if not at times comedically skewered lenses, his poignant observations on relationships, mid-life crisis and changes that effect us all on a daily basis, come softening cloaked in his uber insightful one-two observational punches.

Indeed, and even just a quarter of the way in, the actual truth behind the title of 'The Narcissism of Small Differences' is building to a gentle nod of understanding and appreciation for the reader.

And so, as Zadoorian creates city landmarks and bountiful scenic expositions via his prose, his always-there backdrop of a crumblin' Detroit sparks good, even warm flashback memories galore for this Detroit-native; and I'm sure will for ya'll too.

In closing, more than a comedy of manners, 'The Narcissism of Small Differences' is a comedy of compromise: the financial compromises we make to feed ourselves; the moral compromises that justify our questionable actions; the everyday compromises we all make just to survive in the world.

Yet it’s also about the consequences of those compromises — and the people we become because of them — in our quest for a life that is our own and no one else’s.

About The Author
Michael Zadoorian is the author of five works of fiction, including THE LEISURE SEEKER was recently made into a Sony Pictures Classics film starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland.

His new novel is 'The Narcissism of Small Differences'. Set in bottomed-out 2009 Detroit, it’s the story of Joe Keen and Ana Urbanek, an unmarried Gen X couple with no kids or mortgage, as Midwestern parents seem to require.

Now on the cusp of forty, both work at jobs that they’re not sure they believe in anymore, yet with varying returns. Ana is successful, Joe is floundering—both caught somewhere between mainstream and alternative culture, sincerity and irony, achievement and arrested development.

'The Narcissism of Small Differences' tells of an aging creative class, doomed to ask the questions: Is it possible to outgrow irony? Does not having children make you one? Is there even such a thing as selling out anymore?

By turns wry and ribald, kitschy and gritty, poignant and thoughtful, 'The Narcissism of Small Differences' is the story of Joe and Ana’s life together, their relationship, their tribes, their work and passions, and their comic quest for a life that is their own and no one else’s.

His third novel BEAUTIFUL MUSIC is about one young man’s transformation through music. Set in 1970’s era Detroit, Danny Yzemski is a husky, pop radio–loving loner balancing a dysfunctional home life with the sudden harsh realities of freshman year at a high school marked by racial turbulence.

When tragedy strikes the family, Danny’s mother becomes increasingly erratic and angry about the seismic cultural shifts unfolding in her city and the world.

As she tries to keep it together with the help of Librium, highballs, and breakfast cereal, Danny finds his own reason to carry on: rock ‘n’ roll. BEAUTIFUL MUSIC is a funny and poignant story about the power of music and its ability to save one’s soul.

Zadoorian’s second novel THE LEISURE SEEKER was an international bestseller and translated into over 20 languages worldwide. John and Ella, two eighty-somethings decide to kidnap themselves from the doctors and grown children who run their lives for a final adventure in their ancient Winnebago.

The book garnered rave reviews from all over the world. In a starred review, Booklist wrote "THE LEISURE SEEKER is pretty much like life itself: joyous, painful, moving, tragic, mysterious, and not to be missed." The L.A. Times said: Zadoorian is true to these geezers.

He draws them in their most honest light. I hoped for a book that would make me laugh during these tight times, and I was rewarded." And the Sydney Morning Herald stated: "This is a sad, sweet love letter to a fading America… sharp humour about aging and a quietly shocking ending.”

Michael Zadoorian's first novel SECOND HAND is about love and loss for a Detroit-area junk store owner. The New York Times Book Review said “SECOND HAND may be a gift from the (Tiki) gods” ..."a romantic adventure that explores what Yeats called 'the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.'"

Selected for Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers Program and the American Booksellers Association Book Sense program, Second Hand also received the Great Lakes Colleges Association prestigious New Writers Award.

Translated into Italian, French and Portuguese, it continues to be a cult favorite, still popping up on blogs and "favorite book" lists.

His short story collection THE LOST TIKI PALACES OF DETROIT follows characters coming to terms with the past and the present in a broken city. Lansing State Journal said: "…stories that grab you, shake you and slap you upside the head."

The Ann Arbor Observer called the stories “sometimes wildly funny and more than a little crazy, yet they have a heart-breaking affection for the battered lives they portray.”

Zadoorian has worked as a copywriter, journalist, voice over talent, shipping room clerk, and a plant guard for Chrysler. He is the recipient of a Kresge Artist Fellowship in the Literary Arts, the Columbia University Anahid Literary Award, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, the GLIBA Great Lakes Great Reads award, and two Michigan Notable Book Awards.

His writing has appeared in the The Literary Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, American Short Fiction, Witness, Great Lakes Review, The North American Review and the Huffington Post.

A lifetime resident of the Detroit area, he lives with his wife in a 1937 bungalow filled with cats and objects that used to be in the houses of other people.

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'Inconvenient Daughter'
By: Lauren J. Sharkey - Akashic Books, $15.95

Description: Rowan Kelly knows she’s lucky. After all, if she hadn’t been adopted, she could have spent her days in a rice paddy, or a windowless warehouse assembling iPhones—they make iPhones in Korea, right?

Either way, slowly dying of boredom on Long Island is surely better than the alternative

But as she matures, she realizes that she’ll never know if she has her mother’s eyes, or if she’d be in America at all had her adoptive parents been able to conceive.

Verdict: With all of that running through her head, each and every day, Rowan sets out to prove that she can be someone’s first choice.

After running away from home — and her parents’ rules — and ending up beaten, barefoot, and topless on a Pennsylvania street courtesy of Bad Boy Number One, Rowan attaches herself to Never-Going-to-Commit.

When that doesn’t work out, she fully abandons self-respect and begins browsing Craigslist personals. But as Rowan dives deeper into the world of casual encounters with strangers, she discovers what she’s really looking for.

With every page's heartbeat, 'Inconvenient Daughter' is a book that brings forth the story of a transracially adopted girl in such a way that brings you into her world; and never lets you out until the very, abrupt end.

Rowan is coming to terms with a sense of belonging, which in these "new normal" times we are all experiencing in our own ways, but what Sharkey manages to smoothly showcase is how her very own experiences parlay into those of Rowan; and her relationship with, amongst others, her adoptive mother.

Told in a first person stream of consciousness style, Sharkey's storytelling begins with her being in a hospital following a traumatic incident and never lets up thereafter.

I have to say that during this revealing, intriguing book we not only learn that Rowan was adopted from Korea as a baby by white parents in Long Island, New York - with the story following onward unveiling her emotional struggles thereafter - but Sharkey dispels some myths surrounding transracial adoption, the ties that bind, and what it means to belong.

Man, I was crying long before a third of the way through the book and that's a rare experience for me, trust me!

Some of these encounters that Rowan goes through make you just want to reach out and grab Rowan, pull her in for a massive hug and a warm, comforting word in her ear.

Flashing back and forward in various plot points, showing us how certain things Rowan is going through today, how they were once planted within her psyche as acorns back in her youth. I usually don't like such things, especially in films, but it actually works here.

In closing, if you are looking for an A-Z form of cliff note here, well, and without giving away any spoilers, Rowan's journey to healing, and a form of redemption too, is a five year quest - and one that leaves you begging for a sequel.

LAUREN J. SHARKEY is a writer, teacher, and transracial adoptee. After her birth in South Korea, she was adopted by Irish Catholic parents and raised on Long Island.

Sharkey’s creative nonfiction has appeared in the Asian American Feminist Collective’s digital storytelling project, First Times, as well as several anthologies including I Am Strength! and Women under Scrutiny.

'Inconvenient Daughter' is her debut novel, and loosely based on her experience as a Korean adoptee.

You can follow her at, and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @theljsharks.

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'African: A Children's Picture Book'
By: Peter Tosh & Rachel Moss - Lyric Pop/Akashic Books, $15.29

Description: 'African: A Children's Picture Book' is a beautiful children's picture book featuring the lyrics of Peter Tosh's global classic celebrating children of African descent.

Verdict: Targeted at an age range of 5-7 year-old's and running at a lush 32 pages, these magnificent, colorful, vibrantly illustrated and harmoniously told (through Pete Tosh lyrics) stories are presented in 8.5"x8.5" glossy hardback books.

Featuring lyrics from songs that you would normally only ever hear on the radio, or coming out of the speakers of a record player (or, these days, computer, iPhone, etc.), each song (within the series) is a pocket of storytelling that spring forth to enlighten the mind or embrace the heart.

Here within 'African: A Children's Picture Book,' which the 'African' lyrics were originally released in 1977 on Tosh's second solo record, Equal Rights, and which was written during a time of civil unrest in Jamaica as a reminder to all black people that they were part of the same community, we not only get abundant views on cultural heritage, but welcome into our minds, hearts and souls new ideas and thoughts about the world and the people who live within it - no matter what your age.

No matter the color of your skin, Moss has explained that if you have the black man’s DNA running through your blood, you are an African.

Indeed, she grew up with this reality in Jamaica, a country mixed with so many different cultures and races that their national motto became, “Out of Many One People.”

Using the lyrics of the man, Peter Tosh (one of the founding members of the iconic reggae group the Wailers), who called for change during his lifetime, embodied within these pertinent lyrics is a voice of uprising and awareness; one that, especially today, still shouts loud and proud to be heard.

Furthermore, Tosh's lyrics and perhaps now more than ever, have such a powerful message for not only Black kids, but children from all races.

Ergo, Moss hopes that if parents read 'African' to their young children, the song lyrics spark conversation about not fearing difference.

For difference is what makes the human race beautiful.

About the Author - Peter Tosh was one of the founding members of the iconic reggae group the Wailers.

'African' is a key song from the classic 1970s era of reggae.

Rachel Moss (illustrator) is a graphic designer in love with the bright colors and vibrant energy of the Caribbean.

She was born in Jamaica and studied animation in England at the University for the Creative Arts.

Moss now lives in Jamaica where she spends her days illustrating children’s books such as I Am a Promise by Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce, Abigail’s Glorious Hair, and Milo & Myra Learn Manners with Mr. Mongoose.

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'Don't Stop: A Children's Picture Book'
By: Christine McVie & Nusha Ashjaee - Lyric Pop/Akashic Books, $15.29

Description: 'Don't Stop: A Children's Picture Book' is a beautifully illustrated picture book based on Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac's enduring anthem to optimism and patience.

Verdict: Targeted at an age range of 5-7 year-old's and running at a lush 24 pages, these magnificent, colorful, vibrantly illustrated and harmoniously told (through Fleetwood Mac's lyrics) stories are presented in 8.5"x8.5" glossy hardback books.

Featuring lyrics from songs that you would normally only ever hear on the radio, or coming out of the speakers of a record player (or, these days, computer, iPhone, etc.), each song (within the series) is a pocket of storytelling that spring forth to enlighten the mind or embrace the heart.

From the off, the song was one of the singles on Fleetwood Mac's megahit album Rumours, which spent thirty-one weeks at number one on the Billboard charts and went on to sell over forty million copies worldwide.

Here, and with the gorgeous, yet subtle illustrations from Nusha Ashjaee with every turn of the page, and using a its theme song as the very same one that was used for Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, Christine McVie's lyrics paired with woodland creatures in 'Don't Stop: A Children's Picture Book' is truly as wondrous as it sounds.

The story is one that imagines a rabbit willing her hibernating friends out of a long and dark winter and into a joyous spring.

The story about the welcoming a new day, a bigger, brighter day with new possibilities is obviously one we can all relate to these days, and funnily enough, it can actually be read or even sang to your children (and what a great way to introduce them to some of the most classic of classic rock music at the very same time!

About the Author - Christine McVie is a singer/songwriter best known for her tenure as one of the lead vocalists and songwriters for the legendary rock-and-roll band Fleetwood Mac. Christine joined the band in 1970.

Fleetwood Mac became one of the key musical narrators since the 1970s and have sold over 100 million albums worldwide. In 1998, she was inducted, as a member of Fleetwood Mac, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Nusha Ashjaee is an illustrator originally from the Bay Area, now based out of Brooklyn. She received her BA from California College of the Arts in writing and literature. This is her first picture book.

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'Good Vibrations: A Children's Picture Book'
By: Mike Love and Brian Wilson & Paul Hoppe - Lyric Pop/Akashic Books, $16.95

Description: 'Good Vibrations: A Children's Picture Book' uses Mike Love and Brian Wilson’s world-famous song, here gloriously illustrated by Paul Hoppe, with the hope that it will bring smiles to the faces of children and parents alike.

Verdict: Targeted at an age range of 5-7 year-old's and running at a lush 32 pages, these magnificent, colorful, vibrantly illustrated and harmoniously told (through Beach Boy lyrics) stories are presented in 8.5"x8.5" glossy hardback books.

Featuring lyrics from songs that you would normally only ever hear on the radio, or coming out of the speakers of a record player (or, these days, computer, iPhone, etc.), each song (within the series) is a pocket of storytelling that spring forth to enlighten the mind or embrace the heart.

Here within 'Good Vibrations: A Children's Picture Book,' this lively, oh-so colorful and vibrant book based on Mike Love and Brian Wilson’s number one hit (about absorbing positive energy from the people around them) is, quite easily, one of the most welcoming and joyous kids story books that I've come across in a long time.

Often praised as one of the most important compositions in rock, the Beach Boys’ original version of this song was their third number one Billboard hit.

With lyrics by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, and illustrations by Paul Hoppe, this picture book follows a girl and her dog as they make their way down to the beach, sharing good vibrations all along the way!

Parents and children alike can share and enjoy one of rock’s greatest hits through the colorful pages of Good Vibrations, of that you can take my word, but that said, when the lyrics are such as "I love the colorful clothes she wears / And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair,” well, you know you're in for a spectacular visual showcase.

About the Author - 'Good Vibrations' is a lively picture book based on Mike Love and Brian Wilson’s number one hit about absorbing positive energy from the people around them.

Often praised as one of the most important compositions in rock, the Beach Boys’ original version of this song was their third number one Billboard hit.

Paul Hoppe (illustrator) has illustrated various children’s books, including, Neymar: A Soccer Dream Come True and The Woods, which he also wrote.

His work has appeared in publications such as the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. During the summer, Hoppe teaches sequential art at the School of Visual Arts.

His work has been honored by the Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, and American Illustration, among others.

Originally from Poland and raised in Germany, Hoppe works from a shared studio in the Pencil Factory in Brooklyn, and lives in Queens. Good Vibrations is his latest book.

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We’re Not Gonna Take It: A Children's Picture Book
By: Dee Snider & Margaret McCartney - Lyric Pop/Akashic Books, $16.95

Description: 'We’re Not Gonna Take It: A Children's Picture Book' is a playful picture book echoing 1980s hair band Twisted Sister's most popular antiestablishment anthem.

As part of their triple-platinum album Stay Hungry, 'We're Not Gonna Take It' spent fifteen weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, reaching number twenty-one.

Verdict: Targeted at an age range of 5-7 year-old's and running at a lush 32 pages, these magnificent, colorful, vibrantly illustrated and harmoniously told (through Dee Snider lyrics) stories are presented in 8.5"x8.5" glossy hardback books.

Featuring lyrics from songs that you would normally only ever hear on the radio, or coming out of the speakers of a record player (or, these days, computer, iPhone, etc.), each song (within the series) is a pocket of storytelling that spring forth to enlighten the mind or embrace the heart.

Here within 'We’re Not Gonna Take It: A Children's Picture Book,' we find the story that both parents and children can easily relate to, as we three toddlers are on a mission to defy their parents; whether it be lunchtime, bath time, or bedtime!

Indeed, Snider himself has admitted that he never imagined the song being relative to toddlers and infants and small children, but the realization was that rebellion is one of our first instincts!

"We have many first instincts of course — love, and hunger, things like that — but we also very quickly establish what we want and what we don’t want, and what we like and what we don’t like," Snider further explains.

"Being rebellious is something born in us and bred in us, and it is at our very core, so seeing those pictures was actually an education for me.”

Overall, the story is rather fun and can be spoken or even "gently" sung to your little ones, is my personal thought! Made with lines of humor throughout, it also offers some opportunities for the reader to mull over ideas with their children, and explain just why there are rules in existence: and, perhaps even, why rules should sometimes be questioned!

About the Author - While he is perhaps best known as the lead singer and songwriter of the '80s sensation Twisted Sister, there is so much more to Dee Snider.

He has starred in several reality TV shows and has been a frequent host on MTV. His own nationally syndicated radio show House of Hair will soon celebrate twenty-five years on over 200 stations in North America.

As a voiceover artist, he can be heard in many radio and TV commercials, animated shows, and documentaries. He also served a yearlong stint as the voice of MSNBC.

Margaret McCartney (illustrator) grew up in Washington, DC, where she played flute in the Police Boys & Girls Club Band and guitar in a band called Tuscadero.

She has met both Bill Clinton and Jimmy Walker. She studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Her work has appeared on everything from garden gloves to comics to her own line of children's wear, Winter Water Factory. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

She enjoys fiction and dumplings and her "crimes" include wrecking a moped in Thailand and opening for Cheap Trick!

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'The Psychic Soviet: Expanded Edition'
By: Ian F. Svenonius - Akashic Books, $18.95

Description: A new, expanded collection of essays and articles from one of the mainstays of the Washington, DC, underground rock and roll scene, 'The Psychic Soviet' is Ian F. Svenonius’s groundbreaking first book of writings.

Verdict: Simply put, Ian F. Svenonius has a unique, post-modern style that transcends, even today, quite a considerable amount of idealisms and so-called contemporary indie-chic hipster views - and all contained within a formidable little pink, removeable plastic-covered book that you can carry around in your pocket!

Containing a selection (now expanded) of essays, music and "faction," The Psychic Soviet is as entertaining as books come, meticulously layered with, at times, skewered observations that are both ironic and paranoid in equal measure.

The selections are written in a lettered yet engaging style, filled with parody and biting humor that subvert capitalist culture, and cover such topics as the ascent of the DJ as a star, the “cosmic depression” that followed the defeat of the USSR, how Seinfeld caused the bankruptcy of modern pop culture, and the status of rock and roll as a religion.

As aforementioned, the pocket-sized book is bound with a durable bright-pink (albeit in some light, red-tinged) plastic cover, recalling the aesthetics of Mao’s Little Red Book, and perfect for carrying into the fray of street battle, classroom, or lunch-counter argument.

So what we get here is a book much in the tradition of politically inspired trickster/poet types, such as Bob Dylan, where Svenonius can be obscure, self contradicting, non-committal and at times ridiculous, all within the same sentence structure!

In truth, Svenonius' political approach is more that of a poet rather than that of a true ideologue. In other words he plays at political ranting to paint a picture which isn't really propaganda, although it uses Marxist/ proto-Marxist language and analysis at times.

Furthermore, at times, his writing is more like a wild abstract painting of 20th century pop culture than a functional call to action.

In closing, I would implore people to read 'The Psychic Soviet' like an obsessed teenager consumes rock & roll, not like a political adherent consumes rhetoric. For this is pure madness imbued with total genius from start to finish!

Table of Contents:
Instructions - The Psychic Soviet - Vampirism & Vampirology - The Bloody Latte - Beatles vs. Stones - Rock ’N’ Rolligion - The Responsible Use of Rock ’N’ Roll - Eat the Rocument - Time As Money - Seinfeld Syndrome - Rock ’N’ Roll As Real Estate - Warning to Swedish Girls - Scion-tology - Mordor Dearest - Camp Exploitation - The Stilyagi - The Seduction of Paolo Hewitt - The Mix Master Race - You Can’t Always Get No Satisfaction - Personal Inscription - Afterword (to the second edition) - Epilogue: The Psychick Psketchbook.

About the Author - Ian F. Svenonius is the author of the underground best sellers Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock 'n' Roll Group and Censorship Now!!

He was also the host of's Soft Focus, where he interviewed Mark E. Smith, Genesis P. Orridge, Chan Marshall, Ian MacKaye, and others.

Living in Washington, DC, as a musician he has created more than twenty albums and countless singles in various rock and roll combos (Chain & the Gang, Weird War, The Make-Up, The Nation of Ulysses, etc.).

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'Long Story Short'
By: Mr. Fish and Friends - Akashic Books, $15.95

Description: The Catcher in the Rye. Lolita. Moby-Dick. Infinite Jest. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. A Room of One’s Own. Native Son.

These are but a handful of classic works spectacularly distilled by Mr. Fish and a very talented group of painters, illustrators, graphic designers, and political cartoonists into succinct snapshots that are at times funny, sad, inspiring, rude, crude, beautiful, profound, stomach-turning, and mind-blowing.

Verdict: Inclusive of original artwork from: Mr. Fish, Ted Rall, Stephanie McMillan, Sarah Awad, Eli Valley, Wes Tyrell, Tamara Knoss, Keith Henry Brown, Sam Henderson, Lodi Marasescu, Surag Ramachandran, Tami Knight, Eric J. Garcia, Marissa Dougherty, Siri Dokken, John G., Andy Singer, Tara Seibel, Gary Dumm, Clare Kolat, Nate Ulsh, Benjamin Slyngstad, Ron Hill, JP Trostle, John Kovaleski, and Beth McCaskey, 'Long Story Short: Turning Famous Books into Cartoons' is, quite easily, one of the most fascinating books I have had the pleasure to "flip through" in the past decade or more!

For those not in the know, and so taking it from the top, Dwayne Booth (Mr. Fish) is a cartoonist and freelance writer whose work can most regularly be seen on and

Indeed, he has been a cartoonist and freelance writer for twenty years, publishing under both his own name and the penname of Mr. Fish with many of the nation’s most reputable and prestigious magazines, journals and newspapers. He has also published with Information for Social Change (British journal), Internazionale (Italian magazine) and Umanita Nova (Italian newspaper).

He was recently the subject of a two-page spread in the Sunday edition of the leading daily independent Croatian newspaper, Novi list, where he was described as Croatia’s favorite American cartoonist.

For those of you expecting a quaint, un-feather ruffling picture book of politically incorrect satirical cartoons to review, trust me when I say that instead what you will be presented with is an over spilling amount of pure, unadulterated, thought-provoking, confusion-abounding, deeply disturbing at times, and yet magnificently unearthed artistic decadence from one very talented journalist, cartoonist, and satirist.

Others have said that "Mr. Fish’s ingenious collection of cartoon distillations of famous books shows why print editors so fear the art form," and you really cannot argue with that at all.

Furthermore, these crisply sardonic drawings by Mr. Fish and his artist collaborators really are worth the time invested in them - not only the price of the book, but your own time spent reading them (over and over and over again!).

About the Author: MR. FISH lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Occasionally, he laughs his head off. His mother has no idea what he's up to. She cries easily. For more information, date him!

Table of Contents:
Introduction - The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, illustrated by Tamara Knoss; Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov; Native Son, by Richard Wright, illustrated by Keith Henry Brown; Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, illustrated by Eli Valley; The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe, illustrated by Wes Tyrell; The New Testament, by Paul the Apostle; Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut; Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville; The Rings of Saturn, by W. G. Sebald, illustrated by Sarah Awad; Hamlet, by William Shakespeare; The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, illustrated by Sam Henderson; The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka; The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, illustrated by Ted Rall; Roget’s Thesaurus, by Peter Mark Roget, illustrated by Lodi Marasescu; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Surag Ramachandran; Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, illustrated by Stephanie McMillan; “Ozymandias,” by Percy Bysshe Shelley and Horace Smith, illustrated by Tami Knight; How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie; I am JoaquÍn / Yo soy Joaquín, by Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, illustrated by Eric J. Garcia; The Anarchist Cookbook, by William Powell, illustrated by Marissa Dougherty; A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking; Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley; Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain; One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez, illustrated by Siri Dokken; Understanding Media, by Marshall McLuhan; Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, illustrated by John G.; The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami, illustrated by Andy Singer; Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare; Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes; Harry Potter, by J. K. Rowling; Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy, illustrated by Tara Seibel; Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, illustrated by Gary Dumm; A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn; The Stranger, by Albert Camus; A Boy’s Own Story, by Edmund White; A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole; Animal Farm, by George Orwell, illustrated by Clare Kolat; Paradise Lost, by John Milton; Howl, by Allen Ginsberg Metamorphoses (Pygmalion), by Ovid; The Man Who Died, by D. H. Lawrence; Tales of Ordinary Madness, by Charles Bukowski, illustrated by Nate Ulsh; Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles; Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, illustrated by Benjamin Slyngstad; Catch-22, by Joseph Heller Civilization and its Discontents, by Sigmund Freud; 1984, by George Orwell; Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace; The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway, illustrated by Ron Hill; The Armies of the Night, by Norman Mailer; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou; Notes from Underground, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky; The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank; The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien, illustrated by J. P. Trostle; On Narcissism, by Sigmund Freud; A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf; The War Prayer, by Mark Twain; On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin; The Invisible Man, by H. G. Wells, illustrated by John Kovaleski; American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis; Why I am Not A Christian, by Bertrand Russell; On the Road, by Jack Kerouac; Fear of Flying, by Erica Jong, illustrated by Beth McCaskey; Wikipedia, by Everybody; and, finally, War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy.

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