Archives: May 2011

This is the archive page for [May 2011]; below you should see headlines and summaries of all entries posted here that month. Click the appropriate link at each to read the entire entry.

The CCLaP 100: "The Grapes of Wrath," by John Steinbeck | May 31, 2011
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: It's John Steinbeck's 1939 ode to blue-collar nobility and human dignity (called by others communist propaganda), Great Depression cautionary tale "The Grapes of Wrath." Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "DISTANT VIEW," by Keith Kamicar | May 31, 2011
Today's photo: "DISTANT VIEW," by Colorado photographer Keith Kamicar. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 73: Author Justin Kramon | May 30, 2011
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's my talk with New England author Justin Kramon, a graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop whose first novel "Finny" was put out to critical acclaim last year by Random House. Click through to download, listen to a streaming version, or subscribe to our iTunes channel. | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "Double shadow at Iolani Palace," by Bill Sodeman | May 30, 2011
Today's photo: "Double shadow at Iolani Palace," by Hawaiian photographer Bill Sodeman. | Read entire entry

And did I mention the "Time Out" article? | May 27, 2011
And I can't send everyone off to their long Memorial Day weekends without first thanking Jonathan Messinger for so prominently featuring both CCLaP and the center's newest book, Mark R. Brand's "Life After Sleep," in a full-page cover story in the Books section of this week's "Time Out: Chicago." Click through for more! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 27 May 2011 | May 27, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The delightful steampunk adventure "The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man" by Mark Hodder; performance artist Paul McComas's massive career overview of short genre work, "Unforgettable;" and Carrie Vaughn's profoundly disappointing "superheroes with psychological problems" tale "After the Golden Age," such a letdown as to make me actively angry. | Read entire entry

New to the Reading List: 27 May 2011 | May 27, 2011
Today, short looks at the latest eight titles to be added to the center's unending to-read list, including more of this year's Hugo nominees for Best Novel, a new history of the Transcontinental Railroad, the newest books from Charles Stross and Jasper Fforde (yes, people, the new Thursday Next novel is here), and more. | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "It rained and flooded somewhat," by Steven Vance | May 27, 2011
Today's photo: "It rained and flooded somewhat," by Chicago photographer Steven Vance. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's Etsy store is now open! | May 26, 2011
Double Rainbow Hooray! (What does it mean!?) CCLaP's Etsy store, selling the center's first two whimsically decorated, hand-made blank journals, is now open! Cotton sheets! Coptic stitching! 160 pages! Only twenty bucks! Buy! Buy! Buy! Click through for more, including lots of photographs! | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "telepolaroidtation," by Pete Digital | May 26, 2011
Today's photo: "telepolaroidtation," by Irish Flickr member Pete Digital. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Tea of Ulaanbaatar" by Christopher R. Howard | May 26, 2011
Today's book review: The sex- and drug-soaked look at clueless Peace Corps volunteers in modern Mongolia, Christopher R. Howard's "Tea of Ulaanbaatar," which reviewer Oriana Leckert found "spectacular" and "drenched in another world." | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Tron: Legacy | May 25, 2011
Today's movie: Disney's "Tron: Legacy," which absolutely features one of the most cartoonishly bad scripts in the history of big-budget genre flicks, but SERIOUSLY OH MY FREAKING GOD DID YOU SEE THAT THING WITH THE LIGHT CYCLES AND THE ZOOOOM YAAAHHH! THAT WAS THE FREAKING BEST MAN | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "wee!," by Sasha Willins | May 25, 2011
Today's photo: "wee!," by Flickr member Sasha Willins. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Taqwacores | May 24, 2011
Today's movie: The clever, emotionally moving "Muslim punk-rock" film "The Taqwacores," based on the indie cult-hit novel of the same name, not just a funny and true-feeling coming-of-age tale but a sneakily metaphorical look at the varied global community of Islam, from pot-smoking hippie Indonesians to angry straightedge Persians and more. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "Untitled," by PJ | May 24, 2011
Today's photo: "Untitled," by Flickr member PJ. | Read entire entry

CCLaP After Dark 04: Essay Fiesta | May 23, 2011
Today in "CCLaP After Dark," the center's new video recap series highlighting all the different Chicago literary events taking place around the city these days: it's "Essay Fiesta," a monthly showcase of entertaining true stories with strong ties to the local theater community, hosted by Alyson Lyon and Keith Ecker at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "Red Army," by duncluk | May 23, 2011
Today's photo: "Red Army," by Hong Kong Flickr member duncluk. | Read entire entry

New to the Reading List: 20 May 2011 | May 20, 2011
Today, a look at the latest seven titles to be added to the center's unending "to-read" list, including the two latest releases from Pedlar Press, two academic story collections sent by Daniel Casey of "Gently Read Literature," two of this year's Hugo nominees for Best Novel, and David Mitchell's latest, the Booker-nominated "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet." | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "part-time cat," by Ronald Sarayudej | May 20, 2011
Today's photo: "part-time cat," by Flickr member Ronald Sarayudej. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Black Swan | May 19, 2011
Today's movie: Last year's Oscar-winning psychological thriller "Black Swan," which finally sees the always fascinating Darren Aronofsky pull all his obsessions together into a tight, mesmerizing mesh, delivering a film with shades of "Pi," "Requiem," "The Fountain" and "The Wrestler" but better than any of them. | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "White House," by Shawn Bouckaert | May 19, 2011
Today's photo: "White House," by Seattle photographer Shawn Bouckaert. | Read entire entry

The future is here: 'Life After Sleep' BookCard added to school library | May 18, 2011
How cool is this? A high-school library in upstate New York has added the experimental USB 'BookCard' version of Mark R. Brand's "Life After Sleep" to their permanent collection! Click through for a lot more, including photos of the BookCard actually at their library, as well as more about the surprising success of this little experiment in bringing ebooks out into the physical world. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Lake," by Banana Yoshimoto | May 18, 2011
Today's book: It's Jason's take on Banana Yoshimoto's newest tight, spooky character drama, "The Lake," which like Oriana last week he found good but not as great as Banana at her very best, and with a bad spoiler right on the back cover from the publisher itself. Click through for more, and for a link to Oriana's review as well. | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "Rooftop to Rooftop," by Edward Smith | May 18, 2011
Today's photo: "Rooftop to Rooftop," by Seattle photographer Edward Smith. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 17 May 2011 | May 17, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The engaging but niche-audience story collection "Walkups" by Lance Blomgren; the wonderful Harlem Renaissance Chandler pastiche "Black Orchid Blues" by Persia Walker; and Danielle Ganek's disappointing "The Summer We Read Gatsby," which can't decide whether it's a chick-lit novel or a cynical rebellion against the form. | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "?????????????????," by Sand Kao | May 17, 2011
Today's photo: "?????????????????," by Taiwanese photographer Sand Kao. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 72: May Music Special | May 16, 2011
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's the May edition of the center's monthly music special, in which I look back at all the free legal music I myself have been finding online in the last month, then present the best back to you college-radio-style. Today's episode features 14 songs and lasts right around 45 minutes. | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "PRINT van dyke 004," by Charles Guerin | May 16, 2011
Today's photo: "PRINT van dyke 004," by French photographer Charles Guerin. | Read entire entry

CCLaP After Dark 03: Reading Under the Influence | May 13, 2011
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's episode 3 of the center's new "After Dark" video series, short recaps of various literary events going on around Chicago this summer and fall. Today's episode covers the sixth anniversary show of the popular "Reading Under the Influence," held at Sheffield's in the Lakeview neighborhood. | Read entire entry

The Making of a CCLaP Book: Part 4 | May 12, 2011
Klasse! CCLaP's first paper book, for Mark R. Brand's "Life After Sleep," is now available! To mark the occasion, I'm doing a four-part photo essay here at the site this week, obsessively detailing each and every step involved with actually making one of these special handmade editions. Today we're wrapping things up, figuratively and literally, with not just the last few assembly steps but all the work involved with packing and shipping one. | Read entire entry

The Making of a CCLaP Book: Part 3 | May 11, 2011
Cheers! CCLaP's first paper book, of Mark R. Brand's day-after-tomorrow novella "Life After Sleep," is finally available for purchase! I'm marking the occasion with a four-part photo essay this week, showing off in obsessive detail each and every step that goes into making these special handmade editions. Today, the longest part of the entire process, the stitching together of that exposed Coptic spine that makes these so distinctive. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Lake" by Banana Yoshimoto | May 11, 2011
It's a quiet book that hazes into somewhat chilling territory eventually. It's intensely sorrowful sometimes, and light and sweet at others. It's short, and even if it weren't, Banana's terse, mostly unfrilled style would fly you through it. There are some missteps, some inconsistencies, some lurchings, some awkwardness, but it's definitely worth reading, especially if you're already a Banana devotee. | Read entire entry

The Making of a CCLaP Book: Part 2 | May 10, 2011
CCLaP's first paper book, of Mark R. Brand's "Life After Sleep," is finally available for purchase! And to mark the occasion, I'm doing a special four-party photo essay here, showing in obsessive detail every step involved with making and shipping one. Here in day 2, I look at the surprisingly complex process of gluing the book's covers together. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 10 May 2011 | May 10, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The disappointing psychological thriller "The False Friend" from Myla "The Bee Season" Goldberg; the equally disappointing transgressive feminist fairytale "Sub Rosa" by Amber Dawn; and the surprisingly okay but still only so-so story collection "Palo Alto," by dreamy actor and Renaissance man James Franco. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's first paper book is finally ready for purchase! | May 9, 2011
Excelsior! CCLaP's first paper book, for Mark R. Brand's day-after-tomorrow novella "Life After Sleep," is finally available for purchase! Click through for a whole lot more, including a chance to order it right this second. | Read entire entry

The Making of a CCLaP Book: Part 1 | May 9, 2011
CCLaP's first paper book is finally available for purchase! And to mark the occasion, I'm running a special four-part photo essay at the site this week, showing in obsessive detail every single step that goes into making one of these handmade, special-edition titles. Today, printing and folding the manuscript, and cutting the materials needed for the covers. | Read entire entry

New to the Reading List: 6 May 2011 | May 6, 2011
Today, short looks at the latest two books to be added to the center's unending to-read list, including a history of the ancient Roman book "Germania" by Tacitus in 98 A.D., and the darkly humorous genre story collection "Unforgettable," picked up directly from author Paul McComas during a recent Chicago appearance. | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "Cross," by Eben Ostby | May 6, 2011
Today's photo: "Cross," by San Francisco photographer Eben Ostby. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast Extra: "Life After Sleep" commercial | May 5, 2011
Surprise -- I made a creepy-feeling sci-fi online video commercial for CCLaP's newest book, the day-after-tomorrow tale "Life After Sleep" by Mark R. Brand. Click through to watch it right this second, then please spread the word if you can and help make this a viral hit! | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "backyard," by Nadine Targiel | May 5, 2011
Today's photo: "backyard," by Australian in Germany Nadine Targiel. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 4 May 2011 | May 4, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read titles, including the latest by MTV Books, the latest from our pals at Pedlar Press, and a fantastic new history book from former Pulitzer winner Gordon Wood concerning the 25 years following the American Revolution. | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "boston waterfront powerplant towers," by Natalia | May 4, 2011
Today's photo: "boston waterfront powerplant towers," by Boston Flickr member Natalia. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Genova | May 3, 2011
Today's movie: Michael Winterbottom's 2008 character drama "Genova," which takes all his usual tricks (exotic locations, improvised dialogue, intimate cinematography) and applies it to a family-friendly yet still edgy story about a middle-aged man and his two tween/teen daughters coping with the unexpected death of their mother and wife. | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "metal flower," by Shizuka Na Ame | May 3, 2011
Today's photo: "metal flower," by Canadian photographer Shizuka Na Ame. | Read entire entry

Only one week until CCLaP's first paper book is available! | May 2, 2011
Only one week now until CCLaP's first paper book, for Mark R. Brand's day-after-tomorrow novella "Life After Sleep," will be available for purchase! Click through for more on how the assembly process is going; and don't forget that an electronic version is available as well, completely for free if you so choose. | Read entire entry

CCLaP After Dark 02: Ben Tanzer book release party | May 2, 2011
Today in episode 2 of CCLaP's new video series, "CCLaP After Dark," it's a recap of the recent release party for Ben Tanzer's new novel, "You Can Make Him Like You," hosted by Victor David Giron and Curbside Splendor at Beauty Bar in Bucktown. Also featuring Jason Fisk, Gina Frangello, Tim Jones-Yelvington and Lindsay Hunter. | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "Senza titolo-10," by Andrea Buzzichelli | May 2, 2011
Today's photo: "Senza titolo-10," by Italian photographer Andrea Buzzichelli. | Read entire entry