Archives: Literature

This is the archive page for the category [Literature]; below you should see headlines and summaries of all entries found here on the subject. Click the appropriate link at each to read the entire entry.

Chicagoans, hope to see you at tonight's Columbia College party! | October 17, 2014
Chicagoans, don't forget, the Columbia College contributor party for CCLaP's "Chicago After Dark" student anthology is tonight, at the school's Stage Two space in their 618 S. Michigan building, from 7 to 9 pm. Free food and drinks, plus a half-hour of performances from various contributors, so I hope you'll have a chance to stop by! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Predator: the Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution," by Richard Whittle | October 17, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Predator: the Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution," by Richard Whittle, that traces the history, ethics, and issues involving drone warfare. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Slaves of New York" by Tama Janowitz (1986), First Edition First Printing | October 16, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP features a first edition, first printing of Tama Janowitz's 1986 "Slaves of New York," a funny and hip look at the art scene of a pre-gentrified early-'80s lower Manhattan that eventually produced such stars as Keith Haring and Cindy Sherman, and a book that got Janowitz lumped in with the '80s "literary brat pack" that included Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney. Minimum bid only $20! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Push" by Sapphire (1996), SIGNED First Paperback Edition, First Printing | October 15, 2014
Today's rare book auction at CCLaP features a SIGNED first edition, first printing of Sapphire's astounding 1996 debut novel "Push," eventually adapted into the Oscar-winning film "Precious." Minimum bid only $40, which is literally a steal given how much higher in value this book is destined to become. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Martian," by Andy Weir | October 14, 2014
Today at CCLaP, Jason Pettus looks at the national phenomenon (and soon to be Ridley Scott film) "The Martian" by Andy Weir, which unfortunately is sunk by the very thing it's also known for, being an unusually technically accurate action thriller about a quick-thinking astronaut stranded on Mars. If you love four-thousand-word explanations of obscure math formulas, and no character development at all, this book's for you! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Ancillary Justice" by Ann Leckie | October 13, 2014
Today at CCLaP, Jason Pettus reviews Ann Leckie's 2013 artificial intelligence thriller "Ancillary Justice," one of the only books in history to simultaneously win the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke Award and BSFA Award. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Weekender for October 3rd is here! | October 3, 2014
The newest edition of the CCLaP Weekender features a new piece of original fiction by Daniel S. Libman; a photography feature highlighting the work of globetrotting artist Lukas Horch; and our usual look at the upcoming week of Chicago literary events. Click through to view it online or download the free PDF right this moment. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Nebula Awards Showcase 2014," edited by Kij Johnson | October 3, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Nebula Awards Showcase 2014," edited by Kij Johnson, an anthology of the best science fiction and fantasy stories. | Read entire entry

The "Chicago After Dark" release party has a date! | September 29, 2014
CCLaP's newest book, the "city all-star" student anthology "Chicago After Dark," has been selling like gangbusters since its release last week; and now we're happy to announce the official citywide release party for the book, being held on Tuesday, October 28th at City Lit Books in the Logan Square neighborhood. Click through for all the details, plus more on our Columbia College celebration as well, October 17th at the school's "Stage Two" theater. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 120: The CCLaP Showcase with Paulette Livers | September 29, 2014
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's a special one-hour live recording from the September edition of our new "CCLaP Showcase" reading series and open mic, held at City Lit Books, this month featuring local author Paulette Livers performing from her novel "Cementville." Click through to download or stream the podcast right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 119: Author Paulette Livers | September 22, 2014
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's a one-hour talk with local writer Paulette Livers, author of the haunting and darkly poetic Vietnam War novel "Cementville," also being featured at tomorrow's CCLaP Showcase at City Lit Books. Click through to download or stream the interview right this moment. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "'Zine," by Pagan Kennedy | September 19, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews 'Zine, by Pagan Kennedy, a reprint of her original 'zine about hipster life in Allston, Mass. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Weekender for September 19th is here! | September 19, 2014
The new edition of the CCLaP Weekender features a new piece of original fiction by Tim Fitts; a photography feature highlighting the work of French artist Claude Somot; and our usual look at the upcoming week of Chicago literary events. Click through to view or download it right this moment. | Read entire entry

Week of Updates: Our newest book is here! | September 15, 2014
It's been a busy month for us at CCLaP, and we have a major new announcement to make every day this week. Today -- our newest book is finally here, a "city all-star" student anthology called "Chicago After Dark," featuring work from 31 students at ten different universities, plus a brand-new introduction by Don De Grazia ("American Skin"). Click through for more, and to download a free ebook copy right this moment! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Weekender for September 12th is here! | September 12, 2014
The new edition of the CCLaP Weekender features a new piece of original fiction by Oliver Zarandi; a photography feature highlighting the work of German artist Wolfwendy; and our usual look at the upcoming week of Chicago literary events. Click through to view or download it right this moment. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "In the American Night," by Christopher Bernard | September 5, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "In the American Night," by Christopher Bernard, a short story collection filled with experimental form and scathing satire. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 118: The CCLaP Showcase with Amber Hargroder | September 2, 2014
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's a special one-hour live recording from the August edition of our new "CCLaP Showcase" reading series and open mic, held at the fantastic City Lit Books in the Logan Square neighborhood. This month's edition features a special performance from local playwright Amber Hargroder, reading from her new novel-in-progress. Click through to stream or download it right this moment. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Weekender for August 29th is here! | August 29, 2014
The new edition of the CCLaP Weekender features a new piece of original fiction by Mark Wagstaff; a photography feature highlighting the work of German artist Teimur Henrich; and our usual look at the upcoming week of Chicago literary events. Click through to view or download it right this moment. And don't forget about the September edition of the CCLaP Showcase, featuring Paulette Livers! | Read entire entry

Another packed house at the CCLaP Showcase! And look who's featuring next month! | August 29, 2014
It was another packed house at City Lit Books earlier this week, for the latest CCLaP Showcase featuring Amber Hargroder; click through for lots of photos, and our big announcement regarding our future at the store. Plus we're happy to announce that September's show will feature local writer Paulette Livers, author of the darkly poetic Vietnam War drama "Cementville." Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Fernando Flores wins Honorable Mention (and 10,000 bucks) in this year's Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation Award! | August 28, 2014
We received some exciting news here at CCLaP headquarters this week -- author Fernando Flores has just won Honorable Mention (and a $10,000 paycheck) in this year's Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation Award (started by award-winning author Sandra Cisneros), for his novella 'Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas, Vol. 1!' Click through for all the details, and our big congrats to Fernando for this major literary achievement! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Recommends: Victorian bad boys | August 25, 2014
Today in "CCLaP Recommends:" Five Victorian bad-boy artists, and recommendations of rare books by them on sale at eBay. Featuring Oscar Wilde, Dante Rossetti, Algernon Swinburne, Aubrey Beardsley, and Edward Bulwer-Lytton. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Dungeons & Drag Queens," by MP Johnson | August 22, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Dungeons & Drag Queens," by bizarro author MP Johnson, about Sleazella LaRuse, a fierce drag queen who must survive in a strange land full of odd creatures and characters. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Weekender for August 22nd is here! | August 22, 2014
The new edition of the CCLaP Weekender features a new piece of original fiction by Joseph G. Peterson; a photography feature highlighting the work of Italian artist Elena Pezzetta; and our usual look at the upcoming week of Chicago literary events. Click through to download or view it onscreen right this moment. And don't forget the CCLaP Showcase at City Lit Books, coming this Tuesday! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "The Woman of Andros" by Thornton Wilder (1930), First Edition First Printing | August 20, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP features a first edition, first printing of Thornton Wilder's 1930 "The Woman of Andros," a beautiful Early Modernist artifact and an updating of the ancient Roman comedy "Andria." Minimum bid only $20! Click through for more details or to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Passion Play" by Jerzy Kosinski (1979), First Edition First Printing | August 19, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP features a first edition, first printing of Jerzy Kosinski's 1979 "Passion Play," a Postmodernist cultural artifact about a polo expert undergoing a mid-life crisis, having casual sex in his RV while criss-crossing the country, and other wonderful '70s subjects. Click through for more details or to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Sophie's Choice" by William Styron (1979), First Edition First Printing | August 18, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP features a first edition, first printing of William Styron's controversial National Book Award winner "Sophie's Choice" from 1979, a Postmodernist classic that among other things compares the behavior of 1940s Nazis with 1960s Southern whites. Click through for more details or to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Weekender for August 15th is here! | August 15, 2014
Today's new issue of the CCLaP Weekender features a new piece of original fiction by Matt Rowan; a photography feature highlighting the work of Chicago artist Matthew Thornton; and our usual look at the upcoming week of Chicago literary events. Click through to download or view it online right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "The Chicago Speller," Grade Eight, July 1944 edition | August 15, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP features a July 1944 edition of the "Chicago Speller" (grade eight) mini-textbook, handed out in the millions by the Chicago Public School district in the early 20th century. Click through for more details or to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "The Stars" by Eugene Field (1901), First Edition First Printing | August 14, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP features a first edition, first printing of revered children's author Eugene Field's 1901 long-form poem "The Stars." Click through for more details, and to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

The NSFW Files: "Lost Girls" by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie | August 8, 2014
This week Karl Wolff wraps up his essay series "The NSFW Files" with the controversial comic "Lost Girls," by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Weekender for August 8th is here! | August 8, 2014
Today's new edition of the CCLaP Weekender features a new piece of original fiction by Bruce Douglas Reeves; a photography feature highlighting the work of Seattle artist Todd Schlemmer; and our usual look at the upcoming week of Chicago literary events. Click through to download or view it online right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Where Angels Fear to Tread" by E.M. Forster (1905), First American Edition [1920] First Printing | August 8, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP features a truly important title, the first American edition of E.M. Forster's first novel, 1905's "Where Angels Fear to Tread" (American edition from 1920), where one can see in its raw form all the issues about class, race, colonialism and Empire that the famed author would later express more powerfully in such masterpieces as "Howards End" and "A Passage to India." Click through for more, or to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

And this just in: Eleanor Stanford's "Historia, Historia" wins Peace Corps Experience Award! | August 7, 2014
Exciting news -- Eleanor Stanford's CCLaP essay collection "Historia, Historia" has won the 2014 Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award, given out by the group Peace Corps Worldwide! Click through for more details, and to download a copy of this poetic and haunting memoir yourself. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Human Sexual Inadequacy" by Masters and Johnson (1970), First Edition First Printing | August 7, 2014
Today's rare-book auction from CCLaP features a first edition, first printing of Masters and Johnson's influential 1970 "Human Sexual Inadequacy," which along with 1966's "Human Sexual Response" laid down the basics of nearly everything we now medically know about human sexuality, and was a massively bestselling cultural touchstone of the Countercultural Era. Minimum bid only $20! Click through for more or to purchase it this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Ragtime" by E.L. Doctorow (1975), First Edition First Printing | August 6, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP features a first edition, first printing of E.L. Doctorow's influential 1975 historical fiction piece "Ragtime," along with a step-by-step lesson on how to make educated guesses about which contemporary novels will likely be worth the most money in another 50 years from now. Click through for more or to purchase this book right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Recommends: Contemporary authors you should be collecting in their entirety | August 5, 2014
Today in the inaugural edition of "CCLaP Recommends," the center's new foray into eBay affiliate marketing, we recommend five contemporary authors who young book collectors should be gathering in their entirety right now, and highlight five current eBay book auctions concerning these authors. Click through for more! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Van Bibber and Others" by Richard Harding Davis (1892), illustrations by Charles Dana Gibson, First Edition First Printing | August 5, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP features a first edition, first printing of the delightfully dark story collection "Van Bibber and Others," by famed "yellow journalist" Richard Harding Davis, even more famous in this case by it containing illustrations by a young and uncredited Charles Dana Gibson. Minimum bid only $20! Click through for more and to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "How Book of Cubbing," 1943 (last-ever mention of "Cubbing" versus "Cub Scouts") | August 4, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP features the 1943 edition of the Boy Scouts of America's "How Book of Cubbing," the very last version of the book to feature the word "Cubbing" before its official change later in the year to the "Cub Scouts of America." Minimum bid only $20! Click through for more and to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Weekender for August 1st is here! | August 1, 2014
The new edition of the CCLaP Weekender is here, featuring a new piece of original fiction by Marian Hayes; a photography feature highlighting the work of Italian artist Francis Flower; and our usual look at the upcoming week of Chicago literary events. Click through to download or view it online right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 117: The CCLaP Showcase with Eric Charles May | July 29, 2014
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's a special one-hour live recording from the July edition of our new "CCLaP Showcase" reading series and open mic, held at the fantastic City Lit Books in the Logan Square neighborhood (2523 N. Kedzie). This month's edition features a special performance from popular local author and professor Eric Charles May, reading from his novel "Bedrock Faith." | Read entire entry

Photos from this week's CCLaP Showcase; plus look who's performing in August! | July 25, 2014
Thanks to everyone who made it out to this week's CCLaP Showcase, featuring the great Eric Charles May; this blog post shares some photos from the event. Plus, we're proud to announce today that the playwright Amber Hargroder will be the featured headliner of our August event on the 26th, performing from various works of hers (including her recen solo hit "Marilyn Monroe, Whoever You Are"). Click through for more! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Weekender for July 25th is here! | July 25, 2014
This week's edition of the CCLaP Weekender features a new piece of original fiction by Rachel Litchman; a photography feature highlighting the work of Bulgarian artists Panayot Savov and Sabina Yordanova, collectively known as "Robots on Film;" and our usual look at the upcoming week of local literary events happening all across the city. Click through to download or view it online right this second. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "King Shit," by Brian Alan Ellis | July 25, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "King Shit," by Brian Alan Ellis, a gobbet of sputum lobbed at middle class American propriety in the form of two men engaging in a bar crawl. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 116: The CCLaP Showcase featuring Bill Hillman | July 22, 2014
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's a special half-hour live recording from the first edition of our new "CCLaP Showcase" reading series and open mic, this time featuring a performance from author Bill Hillman, who has recently been making national headlines because of being gored by a bull at this year's festival in Pamplona (but listen to this episode for more of his thoughts on the subject). And don't forget tonight's Showcase, featuring Eric Charles May, at City Lit Books at 6:30! Don't let the coming rainstorm keep you at home! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Weekender for July 18th is here! | July 18, 2014
This week's edition of the CCLaP Weekender features a new piece of original fiction by Daniel Gonzalez; a photography feature highlighting the work of California artist Heather Killion; and our usual look at the upcoming week of local literary events happening all across the city. Click through to download it or read it online right this minute. Plus don't forget next week's CCLaP Showcase at City Lit featuring Eric Charles May! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: The "Beau Geste" trilogy (Beau Geste, Beau Sabreur, Beau Ideal, 1925-28), by P.C. Wren, First Editions First Printings | July 18, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP is a special edition -- first editions, first printings of all three volumes of the "Beau Geste" trilogy by P.C. Wren, the books that singlehandedly established every trope we now know about French Foreign Legion adventure stories. Being offered for half their insurance value just to inspire an actual sale, this is a can't-miss opportunity for fans of Early Modernist first editions. Click through for all the details and the eBay link! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 115: Randy Richardson | July 16, 2014
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's a one-hour talk with local writer Randy Richardson, a co-founder of the Chicago Writers Association whose older murder mystery Lost in the Ivy was just re-released this year in a new edition by Eckhartz Press. Also featuring the music of Earthen Sea and The Broadcast. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Rumble in Brooklyn: A Memoir," by Joseph Trigoboff | July 11, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews Joseph Trigoboff's memoir, "Rumble in Brooklyn," about growing up in East New York amidst Italian crime families and a changing society. | Read entire entry

METAPOST: We're hiring some book reviewers again | June 30, 2014
It's official -- for the first time in over a year, CCLaP is hiring book reviewers again! Click through for the surprisingly complex list of requirements needed for these volunteer positions, and how to express your interest. | Read entire entry

Hey, it's a bonus stop for Mason Johnson's "Sad Robot Stories" book tour! | June 30, 2014
I know I said on Friday that we had reached the end of the virtual book tour for Mason Johnson's CCLaP novella, "Sad Robot Stories;" but I'm excited to say that one more stop actually squeaked in online this weekend! It is in fact a stop by the Weeklings arts-and-culture magazine, where Mason has penned a guest essay about the '80s sci-fi thriller Cherry 2000 and what this may or may not have to do with his adolescent sexual yearnings for robots. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

It's the end of Mason Johnson's "Sad Robot Stories" book tour! | June 27, 2014
Mason Johnson finishes up his virtual book tour today for his CCLaP novella "Sad Robot Stories," by detailing the publishing process of the book over at the Banango Street lit journal. Click through for the link, as well as links to Wednesday's stop at Guiltless Reading and Thursday's visit to Books With Occasional Food. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "There Were These People," by Brian Leli | June 27, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews Brian Leli's miscellany, "There Were These People," a self-publsished collection with worldwide scope and far-ranging styles. | Read entire entry

Thanks for coming out to the CCLaP Showcase! And look who's featuring next month! | June 27, 2014
My many thanks to everyone who made it out to the inaugural CCLaP Showcase with Bill Hillman this week, despite the huge rainstorm happening at the same time. Today, a few photos from the reading, plus details on our just-announced July show, featuring popular local author and professor Eric Charles May. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Weekender for June 27th is here! | June 27, 2014
This week's edition of the CCLaP Weekender is now ready for your downloading pleasure. It features a typed version of our April podcast interview with author Justin Kramon; a photography feature highlighting the work of Italian artist Alessandro Passerini; and our usual look at the upcoming week of local literary events happening all across the city. Click through to download or view it online right now! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Showcase with Bill Hillman is tonight! | June 24, 2014
The inaugural edition of the CCLaP Showcase, this month featuring Bill Hillman, is taking place tonight at City Lit Books in the Logan Square neighborhood (2523 N. Kedzie), starting at 6:30. Free beer and wine! Open-mic slots still available! I hope to see all you Chicagoans there! | Read entire entry

It's week two of Mason Johnson's "Sad Robot Stories" book tour! | June 24, 2014
It's week two of the virtual book tour for Mason Johnson's CCLaP novella "Sad Robot Stories!" Click through for a recap of last week's stops, a look at what's coming up this week, and a link to today's stop over at CCLaP staffer Lori Hettler's "The Next Best Book Blog." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Everything Must Go," by La JohnJoseph | June 19, 2014
Today at CCLaP, Jason Pettus reviews playwright La JohnJoseph's nonsensical bizarro novel "Everything Must Go," a wonderful experience when it comes to style and language, but a frustrating one when it comes to narrative story. Click through for more! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Well Oiled," by Rubin Johnson | June 18, 2014
Today at CCLaP, Jason Pettus reviews the near-future family drama and techno-thriller "Well Oiled" by Rubin Johnson, a book which gets an A for ambition but sadly only a C on its overly expository, slightly clunky execution. | Read entire entry

It's day three of Mason Johnson's "Sad Robot Stories" book tour! | June 18, 2014
It's day three of the virtual book tour for Mason Johnson's CCLaP novella, "Sad Robot Stories!" And in fact I didn't have a chance to mention the tour yesterday, so I actually have two links to share with you today: yesterday Mason was hanging out with our friends at Hypertext Magazine, while today he's over at the Glorified Love Letters litblog. Click through for the links to both! | Read entire entry

It's the kickoff of Mason Johnson's virtual book tour! | June 16, 2014
It's the kickoff of Mason Johnson's new virtual book tour, in support of his CCLaP novella "Sad Robot Stories!" Mason will be visiting the blogs of ten of our lit-world buddies over the next two weeks, starting today over at the revamped "Chicago Literati" website, and including new exclusive illustrations from the book by their in-house artist Alex Nall. Click through for the links! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Wars of Heaven: Short Stories," by Richard Currey | June 13, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews Richard Currey's short story collection, "The Wars of Heaven," about the lives of West Virginians during the Great Depression. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Love Box," by John Oliver Hodges | June 13, 2014
Today at CCLaP, Jason Pettus looks at the sneakily brilliant and ultra-dark story collection "The Love Box" by John Oliver Hodges, perhaps best described as "Kathy Acker meets Social Realism." | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Weekender for June 13th is here! Plus, say hello to the CCLaP Showcase! | June 13, 2014
The new edition of the "CCLaP Weekender" is now online, featuring new fiction by Oliver Zarandi and a photo feature by local artist Lindsey Fast. Plus, we're happy to be announcing the formation of our first-ever open mic and reading series at a public venue, the "CCLaP Showcase" at City Lit Books in Logan Square, this month featuring Bill Hillman. Click through for it all! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes" by Albert Wendland | June 10, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Weekender for June 6th is here! | June 6, 2014
This week's edition of "The CCLaP Weekender" is now available, featuring a new piece of original fiction by author Faith Gardner; a photography feature highlighting the work of British artist Brendan Ó Sé; and our usual look at the upcoming week of local literary events happening all across the city. Click through to download or view it online right this second! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 114: The CCLaP Sessions with Mason Johnson | June 2, 2014
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's a special half-hour live recording from our first event of the year, the "CCLaP Sessions" series featuring author Mason Johnson, reading from his 2013 novella "Sad Robot Stories." Held at the center's underground literary theater, Studio 505 in the Uptown neighborhood. Click through to download or stream this moment! | Read entire entry

The "CCLaP Weekender" for May 30th is here! | May 30, 2014
This week's edition of CCLaP's new e-magazine, "The CCLaP Weekender," is now online for your free downloading pleasure. It features a new piece of original fiction by local author Matt Rowan; a photography feature highlighting the work of Scottish artist Bryan M. Ferguson; and our usual look at the upcoming week of local literary events happening all across the city. Click through to read or download it right now! | Read entire entry

The NSFW Files: "Matriarchy: Freedom in Bondage," by Malcolm McKesson | May 30, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews, "Matriarchy: Freedom in Bondage," by Malcolm McKesson, for his penultimate entry in The NSFW Files. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Aaron's Leap" by Magdaléna Platzová | May 27, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 113: Joseph G. Peterson | May 27, 2014
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, a one-hour talk with local writer Joseph G. Peterson, a former zinester and now novelist whose newest book is the social-realist hangout story "Gideon's Confession." Click through to download or stream the episode right now! | Read entire entry

The "CCLaP Weekender" for May 23rd is here! | May 23, 2014
This week's edition "The CCLaP Weekender" is now online for your free downloading pleasure. It features a long interview with local author Giano Cromley; a photography feature highlighting the work of Russian artist Masha Demianova; and our usual look at the upcoming week of local literary events happening all across the city. Click through to download or view it online right now! | Read entire entry

It's release day for "Love Songs of the Revolution!" | May 19, 2014
Exciting news around here today -- CCLaP's fourth original book of 2014 has just been released! It's called "Love Songs of the Revolution" by a Los Angeles writer named Bronwyn Mauldin, and is our first-ever spy thriller, although much more along the lines of John Le Carre than Tom Clancy. Click through to download a free ebook version right this moment! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Weekender for May 16th is here! | May 16, 2014
This week's edition of CCLaP's new e-magazine, the 'CCLaP Weekender' released every Friday morning, is now online for your free downloading pleasure. It features a new piece of fiction by local author Thomas Simmons; a photography feature highlighting the work of Italian artist Tiberio Frascari; and our usual look at the upcoming week of local literary events happening all across the city. Click through to view or download it right now! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Above All Men," by Eric Shonkwiler | May 16, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Above All Men," by Eric Shonkwiler, where a post-collapse America and a murder challenge the sanity and morality of a cattle farmer. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Portnoy's Complaint" by Philip Roth (1969), First Edition First Printing | May 14, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP: A first edition, first printing of Philip Roth's classic 1969 "Portnoy's Complaint," possibly one of the most influential Postmodernist novels of all time, a massive hit that directly led to "Seinfeld" (and didn't hurt Woody Allen's career either). Click through to make a bid at eBay right now! | Read entire entry

All Who Wander: "The Fall" by Albert Camus | May 13, 2014
(Throughout 2014, CCLaP cultural essayist Madeleine Maccar is looking at the classic definition of the "hero's journey," as seen through a series of international texts that she is reading in English translation. For all the essays in this series,... | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Scribner's Magazine" Collected Vol. 1 (1871), #1-6, First Edition | May 13, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP featured a hardbound collection of the first six issues of the legendary "Scribner's Monthly" magazine, from 1870 and '71. Click through to make a bid at eBay right now! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 112: Author Bill Hillman | May 13, 2014
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's a one-hour talk with local writer Bill Hillman: former gang member and drug dealer, past Golden Gloves boxing champion, a runner with the bulls in Spain every year, and now the author of the high-profile coming-of-age novel "The Old Neighborhood." Also featuring the music of The Soft and Cults. | Read entire entry

The "CCLaP Weekender" for May 9th is here! | May 9, 2014
This week's edition of our new e-magazine, The "CCLaP Weekender" released every Friday morning, is now online for your free downloading pleasure. It features a new piece of fiction by local author Richard Thomas; a photography feature highlighting the work of Italian artist Riccardo Bandiera; and our usual look at the upcoming week of local literary events happening all across the city. Click through to download or view it online right now! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Revolutionary Russia, 1891 - 1991: A History," by Anthony Figes | May 9, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews, "Revolutionary Russia, 1891 - 1991: A History," by Anthony Figes, a revisionist history that reassesses the waves of violence in Russian history over one hundred years. | Read entire entry

Say goodbye to the CCLaP Journal! Say hello to the CCLaP Weekender! | May 2, 2014
Some bad and good news at CCLaP today: We've been reluctantly forced to admit that we just don't have the time anymore to do our full 200-page monthly magazine, "The CCLaP Journal," but instead are starting up today a smaller, electronic-only publication every Friday called the "CCLaP Weekender," now featuring not just original fiction and photography features but a prettified calendar of all Chicago literary events happening in the next seven days. Click through to download the free 35-page PDF right now! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "A Taste for Intrigue: the Multiple Lives of Francois Mitterrand," by Philip Short | May 2, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews, "A Taste for Intrigue: the Multiple Lives of Francois Mitterrand," by Philip Short, a political biography of an enigmatic and ambitious political personality. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: Nine John Irving novels, eight 1st editions/1st printings | May 1, 2014
Today at CCLaP, a very special auction from our rare-book archives -- nine John Irving novels from 1981 to the present day, eight of which are first editions, first printings, being sold as a group for a ridiculously low price. Click through for the details, and to tender a bid right this moment! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 111: Author Megan Stielstra | April 28, 2014
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's a 45-minute talk with Chicago writer Megan Stielstra, author of the award-winning essay collection "Once I Was Cool." Also featuring the music of Banda Westfalica and Cub Sport. Click through to download or stream right this minute! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Swing," by Miasha | April 25, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews an erotic thriller about swingers called "Swing," by Miasha, the latest addition to Akashic's Infamous imprint. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Love-Songs of Childhood" (1894), by Eugene Field, First Edition First Printing | April 25, 2014
Today at CCLaP, a special auction from our rare-book collection: An ultra-scarce first-edition, first printing of Eugene Field's classic 1894 book of children's poems, "Love-Songs of Childhood," including the first book-appearance ever of his most famous piece, "The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat." Click through for more and to bid right now! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Wasteland Blues" by Scott Christian Carr and Andrew Conry-Murray | April 22, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Rare Book Roundup: 22 April 2014 | April 22, 2014
Today at CCLaP, a round-up of all our newest rare-book auctions at eBay, including first edition first printings of Erica Jong's "Fear of Flying," Norman Mailer's "The Prisoner of Sex," and T.C. Boyle's classic '90s comedy "The Road to Wellville." | Read entire entry

Rare Book Roundup: 21 April 2014 | April 21, 2014
Today's CCLaP rare-book auctions going live at eBay include John Updike's notoriously saucy 1968 novel "Couples," as well as John Cheever's 1969 classic "Bullet Park" and equally classic 1977 "Falconer." Click through for them all! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Singapore Noir," edited by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | April 18, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews, "Singapore Noir," edited by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, an anthology that explores the dreams, bad decisions, and desperation that go into making a crackerjack noir story, lah. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: All nine 'Nathan Zuckerman' novels by Philip Roth, First Editions First Printings | April 17, 2014
Today, a special rare-book eBay auction at CCLaP: All nine of the "Nathan Zuckerman" novels written over thirty years by revered author Philip Roth, autobiographically charting not just his own career but the entire history of America between Vietnam and the War On Terror. A crowning jewel in any book collector's library, and priced at a premium today to reflect that. | Read entire entry

Rare Book Roundup: 16 April 2014 | April 16, 2014
Today at CCLaP, a roundup of our latest rare books for auction at eBay, including first edition/first printing copies of Mike Royko's 1985 "Like I Was Sayin'...," Scott Turow's 1977 nonfiction book "One L," and a SIGNED edition of Bennett Cerf's 1944 humor collection "Try and Stop Me." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 110: Author Justin Kramon | April 15, 2014
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's a one-hour talk with New England author Justin Kramon, his second time on the podcast, talking this time about his new crime thriller, "The Preservationist." Also featuring the music of Moon Boots and Blondfire. Click through to download or listen this second! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Leningrad" by Igor Vishnevetsky | April 15, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Announcing the release of Scott Abraham's "Turtle and Dam!" | April 14, 2014
Hooray! Time for another official release of a CCLaP book to the general public, for your downloading and ordering pleasure! This time it's the really charming and insightful comedy about contemporary China, "Turtle and Dam" by Washington DC analyst Scott Abrahams. Click through to download or order a copy right this moment! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Sutro's Glass Palace," by John A. Martini | April 11, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Sutro's Glass Palace," by John A. Martini, a history of the Sutro Baths, a San Francisco landmark now just a set of ruins on the Pacific coastline. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Worst. Person. Ever." by Douglas Coupland | April 10, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Palmerino" by Melissa Pritchard | April 9, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

It's April, so it must be time for the March "CCLaP Journal!" | April 7, 2014
Missed deadlines? WHAT MISSED DEADLINES! As always, overwhelming demand here in 2014 for our original novels is unfortunately keeping our new monthly magazine, "The CCLaP Journal," significantly delayed; but I'm happy to say that the March issue is now finally out, 186 pages of ad-free goodness just waiting for your free downloading pleasure. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 109: Author Giano Cromley | April 4, 2014
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, we kick off our eighth year with a talk with local writer Giano Cromley, author of the darkly comic coming-of-age tale "The Last Good Halloween." Also featuring the music of Samo Sound Boy and The Honey Trees. Click through for the free download or streaming edition! | Read entire entry

Wowee! It's the big 'Bullshit Artists' update! | April 4, 2014
Wow, has there been a lot of developments recently with CCLaP's newest book, Austinite Fernando A. Flores' ode to failed punk bands and small-town music scenes, Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas, Vol. 1! A release party in Austin, and big appearances coming soon in San Antonio and Dallas; click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "ApartFrom," by Constance A. Dunn | April 4, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews Constance A. Dunn's dreamlike experimental novel, "ApartFrom," about the strange circumstances connecting three people across three nations. | Read entire entry

Announcing our May book, the spy thriller "Love Songs of the Revolution!" | April 3, 2014
Well, we have some exciting news to announce -- CCLaP is finally releasing its first-ever spy thriller! It's called "Love Songs of the Revolution" by a Los Angeles author named Bronwyn Mauldin, a downbeat LeCarre-type tale set during the Lithuanian independence movement in 1989, and it's officially online now for pre-release orders. Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Martian" by Andy Weir | April 3, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "And the Dark Sacred Night" by Julia Glass | April 1, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Cries of the Lost," by Chris Knopf | March 28, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Cries of the Lost," by Chris Knopf, a thriller that finds Arthur Cathcart discovering the truth about his murdered wife and reads like a madcap mashup of Elmore Leonard, Roberto Bolano, and the confidence schemes from Ocean's Eleven | Read entire entry

All Who Wander: "Love-Shaped Story" by Tommaso Pincio | March 25, 2014
(Throughout 2014, CCLaP cultural essayist Madeleine Maccar is looking at the classic definition of the "hero's journey," as seen through a series of international texts that she is reading in English translation. For all the essays in this series,... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Everyday Book Marketing," by Midge Raymond | March 21, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Everyday Book Marketing," by Midge Raymond, a practical guide for authors with busy lives and offers useful advice, supplemented with valuable interviews. | Read entire entry

"Humboldt: The Annotated Edition" is finally here! Free download for obsessive nerds! | March 20, 2014
It's a couple of weeks late, but I'm happy to say that the annotated version of Scott Navicky's February novel with CCLaP, the intellectual absurdist comedy "Humboldt: Or, The Power of Positive Thinking," is finally online for your free downloading pleasure. Click through for all the details and the link! | Read entire entry

The King in Yellow: CCLaP's new introduction | March 18, 2014
As part of the promotion for CCLaP's new gorgeous re-release of the 1895 horror collection "The King in Yellow" by Robert W. Chambers, we thought we'd post the new introduction by Jason Pettus to the blog. Click through to read it in its entirety. | Read entire entry

Surprise! Meet CCLaP's unannounced new book, a re-release of "The King in Yellow!" | March 18, 2014
Surprise! CCLaP released an unannounced new book this week! Click through for all the details on our new gorgeously designed re-release of Robert W. Chambers' 1895 horror collection "The King in Yellow," more plans for our new "CCLaP Victoriana" imprint, and what all this has to do with the hit HBO show "True Detective." Now taking orders! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Report from the Interior" by Paul Auster | March 18, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Women's Suffrage Memorabilia," by Kenneth Florey | March 14, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Women's Suffrage Memorabilia," by Kenneth Florey, a look into the material culture associated with the women's suffrage movement in the US and the UK, including their opposition. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Every Boy Should Have a Man" by Preston L. Allen | March 13, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "A Simplified Map of the Real World" by Stevan Allred | March 13, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Not for Everyday Use" by Elizabeth Nunez | March 11, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

The NSFW Files: "The Ages of Lulu," by Almudena Grandes | March 7, 2014
This week Karl Wolff continues his essay series, The NSFW Files, with "The Ages of Lulu," by Almudena Grandes, a Spanish novel from 1989 exploring one woman's erotic compulsions during the reign of dictator Francisco Franco. | Read entire entry

My Kind of Town: "The Autobiography of Joseph Jefferson" by Joseph Jefferson | March 6, 2014
Part of living in Chicago, or any major city, is escaping the hustle and bustle as often as you can. Which is the reason that CCLaP's founder Jason Pettus and I--as Jason has written about before--have made a hobby... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Basal Ganglia" by Matthew Revert | March 4, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

CCLaP's newest book is here! | March 3, 2014
Happy day! After half a year of dedicated work on this, I'm thrilled to announce that CCLaP's latest book is now ready for your downloading and/or purchasing pleasure, an incredibly charming story collection about failed punk rock bands called "Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas, Vol. 1," by Austinite Fernando A. Flores. Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

And say hello to CCLaP's April release, Scott Abraham's "Turtle and Dam!" | March 3, 2014
Today might be mostly dedicated to the release of CCLaP's newest book, the story collection "Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas, Vol. 1" by Fernando A. Flores; but we have another important announcement to make today too, which is that our next book after that, a really charming novel set in contemporary China called "Turtle and Dam" by Scott Abrahams, is now ready for pre-order too! Click through for the details! | Read entire entry

Guess what's coming Monday? | February 28, 2014
Shh...don't tell anyone, but CCLaP's new book comes out Monday! Actually, tell as many people as you want, because we're quite proud of it -- Austin Texas resident Fernando A. Flores' subversive and funny book of tales about failed punk bands, "Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas, Vol. 1." Click through for more, and to pre-order a copy now! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "There Is No End To This Slope," by Richard Fulco | February 28, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews, "There Is No End To This Slope," by Richard Fulco, a novel about John Lenza, a sad sack textbook salesman who has a life that goes from bad to worse. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Free" by Willy Vlautin | February 27, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Outside World," by Barry Dempster | February 27, 2014
Today at CCLaP, Jason Pettus reviews the genteel coming-of-age tale "The Outside World" by Barry Dempster, a too-slow snoozer and a rare misstep from the usually excellent Pedlar Press. | Read entire entry

All Who Wander: "House of Day, House of Night" by Olga Tokarczuk | February 25, 2014
(All throughout 2014, CCLaP cultural essayist Madeleine Maccar is looking at the classic definition of the "hero's journey," as seen through a series of international texts that she is reading in English translation. For all the essays in this... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Flautist," by Robert Riche | February 24, 2014
Today at CCLaP, Jason Pettus reviews "The Flautist" by Robert Riche, a genteel tale about a man only discovering his sexual orientation for the first time in his sixties, a slow but pleasurable tale in the vein of late-period Richard Russo. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Tenth Witness," by Leonard Rosen | February 21, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "The Tenth Witness," by Leonard Rosen, a mystery about an engineer digging deep into the mysterious wealth of a German family and his attempt to salvage a gold-laden ship that sank off the Dutch coast in 1799. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "A Ceremony," by Carol Smallwood | February 20, 2014
Today at CCLaP, Jason Pettus reviews the chapbook story "A Ceremony" by Carol Smallwood, fine for what it is but lacking the kind of substance that makes for a compelling narrative read. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Flash Fiction Funny" edited by Tom Hazuka | February 18, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

CCLaP's first-ever paperback novel is now here! | February 17, 2014
Wow, a big day in CCLaP's history -- our first-ever full-length paperback novel is now here! Click through to learn all about the absurdist intellectual comedy "Humboldt: Or, The Power of Positive Thinking," the debut novel of Ohioan Scott Navicky, and to download or purchase a copy right this moment. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Crystal Ships," by Richard Sharp | February 14, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Crystal Ships," by Richard Sharp, a novel following the lives of people in the Sixties and Seventies. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Inappropriate Behavior" by Murray Farish | February 12, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Scott Navicky reads "Humboldt" in New Orleans, part 6! | February 12, 2014
Just half a week until the release of CCLaP's first-ever full-length paperback novel, the absurdist comedy "Humboldt: Or, The Power of Positive Thinking" by Scott Navicky! Today, see part 6 of the recent video series Scott recorded while in New Orleans, reading from the NOLA sections of the book while in front of various famous landmarks. | Read entire entry

Hey, frustrated novelists! Enroll in CCLaP's new "Master Class!" | February 12, 2014
Are you an aspiring novelist who's been having trouble getting their book finished? Enroll in CCLaP's new "Master Class," a writing-intensive ten-week workshop designed specifically for authors trying to finish a novel. Just $10 apiece for ten weekly sessions, but act fast -- only ten spots are available! Click through for the details and to enroll right now! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial" by Darryl Cunningham | February 11, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

CCLaP Journal #4 is here! | February 10, 2014
Exciting news -- issue #4 of the CCLaP Journal is here! And it's especially exciting this time, because it's the first-ever issue of our new format, now being published every month as a 200-page full-color paperback book. Click through to download or purchase a copy right this moment! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "A Land Without Sin," by Paula Huston | February 7, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews Paula Huston's stunning adventure novel, "A Land Without Sin," about Eva, a photojournalist from a family of Chicago-area Croatian Catholics, who searches for her lost brother, last heard of working in Zapatista-occupied Mexico. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Bedrock Faith" by Eric Charles May | February 5, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "By Blood We Live" by Glen Duncan | February 4, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Limiters," by Christopher Stoddard | February 3, 2014
Today at CCLaP, Jason Pettus reviews "Limiters" by Christopher Stoddard, a social-realist tale in the Larry Clark mode that hits all the right notes, but is just a little too cartoonishly bleak to be called truly great. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Beatles Are Here!", edited by Penelope Rowlands | January 31, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews "The Beatles Are Here!" by Penelope Rowlands, a look back at the Fab Four's impact on the lives of musicians, writers, and longtime fans. | Read entire entry

Come join us at the Book Cellar tonight! | January 31, 2014
CCLaP authors Ben Tanzer and Mark R. Brand are performing tonight at the Book Cellar in the Lincoln Square neighborhood (near Lawrence and Lincoln), along with fellow local authors Giano Cromley and Joseph Peterson! Click through for all the details, and we hope to see you Chicagoans there tonight! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: Vol. 1 and 4 of the "Ralph of the Railroad" series, by Allen Chapman | January 31, 2014
Today's rare-book auction at CCLaP features volumes 1 (1906) and 4 (1910) of the old "Ralph of the Railroad" juvenilia series by the Stratemeyer Syndicate (inventors of the Hardy Boys as well), in which hard work and honesty always triumph through this fascinating overlook of how the railroad industry used to work. Minimum bid only $20 for the set, plus free shipping! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "What Color is Monday?," by Carrie Cariello | January 30, 2014
Today at CCLaP, Jason Pettus reviews "What Color is Monday?" by Carrie Cariello. Is he going to hell for giving a so-so score to an inspiring true story about a mother overcoming her child's diagnosis of autism? Yes. Yes he is. | Read entire entry

My Kind of Town: "The Man with the Golden Arm" by Nelson Algren | January 29, 2014
(Once a month throughout 2013 and '14, CCLaP critic Travis Fortney is reading a series of classic and contemporary books set in Chicago, not only to understand his new adopted hometown better, but to learn more about the origins... | Read entire entry

Scott Navicky reads "Humboldt" in New Orleans, part 1 of 11 | January 29, 2014
Author Scott Navicky recently shot some videos in New Orleans, reading from his coming CCLaP novel "Humboldt" in front of various local landmarks mentioned in the book. Here's part 1, with the other ten snippets coming every two or three days from now until the book's release on February 17th. | Read entire entry

It's the last day of Maureen Foley's book tour! | January 29, 2014
It's day twelve of Maureen Foley's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP female relationship dramedy "Women Float!" Today Mo is finishing up the tour over at Guiltless Reading, where she has penned a guest essay about food and writing. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Stay Close, Little Ghost" by Oliver Serang | January 28, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

It's day eleven of Maureen Foley's book tour! | January 27, 2014
It's day eleven of Maureen Foley's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP female relationship dramedy "Women Float!" Today Mo is hanging out with our friends at Chicago arts-and-entertainment guide Gapers Block, where she has penned a guest essay about gender, sexual orientation, and the role of a fiction author in addressing both these subjects. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Airport," by Arthur Hailey (SIGNED, First Edition, First Printing) | January 27, 2014
Today's auction from CCLaP rare-book collection is a SIGNED first edition, first printing of Arthur Hailey's 1968 "Airport," the explosive bestseller that spawned not only the "disaster movie" genre in Hollywood but tertially the Zucker-style "Hollywood parody" genre as well. Minimum bid only $30! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Source*Forged Armor," by Paul J. Bartusiak | January 27, 2014
Today at CCLaP, Jason Pettus reviews Paul J. Bartusiak's "Source*Forged Armor," with a better concept than the typical Tom-Clancy-ripoff technothriller but nonetheless a Tom-Clancy-ripoff technothriller, with all the implied warnings to readers that implies. | Read entire entry

It's day ten of Maureen Foley's book tour! | January 24, 2014
It's day ten of Maureen Foley's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP female relationship dramedy "Women Float!" Today Mo is hanging with our friends at WordPlaySound, where she has recorded a brand-new MP3 reading from the book. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Compostela Cube," by Paul Cavilla | January 24, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews, "The Compostela Cube," by Paul Cavilla, in which a relic hunter and an artifact historian team up to find a magical object that will save the world. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Morgan Kane: Without Mercy," by Louis Masterson | January 23, 2014
Behold the tale of Jason Pettus attempting to review "Morgan Kane: Without Mercy" for CCLaP today! The first-ever English edition of a 50-year popular Western series in Norway, and supposedly being turned into a new Hollywood franchise as we speak, the rabbithole of ethically dubious publicists and SEO companies attached to this only mediocre novel turned out to be a LOT more interesting. | Read entire entry

It's day nine of Maureen Foley's book tour! | January 23, 2014
It's day nine of Maureen Foley's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP female relationship dramedy "Women Float!" Today Mo is hanging out with our friend Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall, where she has put together a "playlist" for the book that Monika has combined with her flattering review. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

It's day eight of Maureen Foley's book tour! | January 22, 2014
It's day eight of Maureen Foley's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP female relationship dramedy "Women Float!" Today Mo is hanging out over at the litlog Lesbrary, where she has contributed a brand-new MP3 reading from the book, combined with a very flattering review from staffer Kit. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Announcing CCLaP's March book, "Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas, Vol. 1!" | January 21, 2014
Announcing CCLaP's March book! It's got a dirty word in the title! WE'RE FINALLY ALT-LIT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! Say hello to the funny, poignant, crowd-pleasing story collection about failed indie-rock bands, "Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas Vol. 1," by Austin artist Fernando A. Flores. Release party at this year's South By Southwest! Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

It's day seven of Maureen Foley's book tour! | January 21, 2014
It's day seven of Maureen Foley's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP female relationship dramedy "Women Float!" Today Mo is hanging out with our friends at fellow Chicago publisher Curbside Splendor, where she has penned a guest essay about the '90s artists and writers who helped inspire her to write this book's original first draft, oh so many years ago. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

All Who Wander: "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" by Haruki Murakami | January 21, 2014
(Throughout 2014, CCLaP cultural essayist Madeleine Maccar is looking at the classic definition of the "hero's journey," as seen through a series of international texts that she is reading in English translation. For all the essays in this series,... | Read entire entry

It's day six of Maureen Foley's book tour! | January 20, 2014
It's day six of Maureen Foley's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP female relationship dramedy "Women Float!" Today Mo is hanging out with our buddy Jennifer Hartling at the Relentless Reader, where she has played a round of "Would You Rather" specifically tailored to indie authors. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

It's day five of Maureen Foley's book tour! | January 17, 2014
It's day five of Maureen Foley's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP female relationship dramedy "Women Float!" Today Mo wraps up the first week of her tour over at Little Fiction, where she has shared an excerpt from the book that takes place near the end. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Mustache He's Always Wanted But Could Never Grow and Other Stories," by Brian Alan Ellis | January 17, 2014
This week Karl Wolff reviews Brian Alan Ellis's short story collection, "The Mustache He's Always Wanted but Could Never Grow," a lowbrow bizarro collection of sex crazed lunatics, professional wrestlers, and other of society's derelicts. | Read entire entry

It's day four of Maureen Foley's book tour! | January 16, 2014
It's day four of Maureen Foley's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP female relationship dramedy "Women Float!" Today Mo is hanging out at Chick Lit Central, where she has penned a guest essay on mermaids in honor of "Disney Month" over there. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

It's day three of Maureen Foley's book tour! | January 15, 2014
It's day three of Maureen Foley's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP female relationship dramedy "Women Float!" Today Mo is visiting with the "Words, Notes, Fiction" litblog, where in a ten-question interview she talks about the importance of mermaids to her book, why lonely characters are so interesting, and whether anyone in her story is based on people in real life. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

It's day two of Maureen Foley's book tour! | January 14, 2014
It's day two of Maureen Foley's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP female relationship dramedy "Women Float!" Today Mo is over at Love at First Book, where in a long and far-ranging interview she talks about the gestation period this book went through, why it's so focused on the subject of water, and the various interesting jobs she's had over the years. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Middle C" by William H. Gass | January 14, 2014
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

It's day one of Maureen Foley's book tour! | January 13, 2014
It's day one of CCLaP author Maureen Foley's virtual book tour for her female relationship dramedy "Women Float!" Today Mo is at "Booked in Chico," talking about why she set her book in her real hometown of Carpinteria, California. | Read entire entry

CCLaP is now accepting short-story submissions! | January 11, 2014
Big news -- CCLaP is now accepting submissions of individual short stories for our monthly magazine! Click through for all the details, and to learn more about the Journal's new submissions editor, Allegra Pusateri. | Read entire entry

The Year in Books: Karl Wolff's Picks | January 10, 2014
Gunmages, Nazi mind readers, sovereign debt, democracy versus authoritarianism ... all that in more in Karl Wolff's picks for the 2013 Year in Books. | Read entire entry

The Year in Books: Travis Fortney's "Next Nine" | January 9, 2014
Since we all already picked our top three books of the year for Monday's Best of the Best list, and since the three books I picked for that list (Jeff Jackson's Mira Corpora, Kevin Powers' Yellow Birds and Diana Wagman's... | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Myra Breckinridge" and "Myron," by Gore Vidal, First Editions/First Printings | January 8, 2014
Today's rare-book auction: Gore Vidal's infamously naughty ode to transsexualism and 1940s Hollywood camp, "Myra Breckinridge" from 1968, plus its 1974 sequel "Myron." Minimum bid for both of only $60! | Read entire entry

The Year in Books 2013: Madeleine Maccar's Picks | January 7, 2014
Having only been a contributing part of the CCLaP collective since October presents a rather unique challenge in assembling a year's-best sort of list. The upshot of focusing on only a quarter of what I've read this year is that... | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2013: Best of the Best | January 6, 2014
It's the start of CCLaP's seventh annual "Year In Books" special week-long report! Today, all four of the center's critics weigh in with their favorite reads of the year, giving us a list of twelve that could be considered the "best of the best" for 2013. Stay tuned all week for individual best-of lists! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt | December 24, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Check out this BIG news in CCLaP's BIG end-of-year update! | December 20, 2013
Big news: CCLaP has decided to start publishing full-length paperback books in 2014! Click through for all the details, including a list of all 16 books we'll be publishing next year, and to say hello to our new art director, Ryan Bradley. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Woman Upstairs" by Claire Messud | December 19, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Finally! CCLaP Journal #3 is here! | December 18, 2013
As always, it's ridiculously late, but issue #3 of our new monthly magazine, "The CCLaP Journal," is now online for your reading and downloading pleasure! Containing interviews with Ben Tanzer and Mark R. Brand among things, plus the usual content by staffers Travis Fortney, Madeleine Maccar, Karl Wolff and Rex Brink. Click through for the links! | Read entire entry

All Who Wander: "Heart of a Dog" by Mikhail Bulgakov | December 17, 2013
(In the final months of 2013 and throughout 2014, CCLaP cultural essayist Madeleine Maccar is looking at the classic definition of the "hero's journey," as seen through a series of international texts that she is reading in English translation.... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Papal Bull," by Joe Wenke | December 13, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Papal Bull," by Joe Wenke, a bitingly humorous critique about the Vatican's many flawed policies. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Nothing" by Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon | December 11, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Book of My Lives" by Aleksandar Hemon | December 10, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

The NSFW Files: "The Piano Teacher," by Elfriede Jelinek | December 6, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "The Piano Teacher," by Elfriede Jelinek, the 2004 Nobel Laureate, and controversial Austrian author. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Tragic Fate of Moritz Tot" by Dana Todorovic | December 6, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Circle" by Dave Eggers | December 4, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 108: Ken Kase, Words and Music | December 2, 2013
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, a special half-hour performance by St. Louis musician Ken Kase, featuring both his pop music and pieces from his first book of poetry. Recorded at CCLaP's "Studio 505" performance venue, also known as my new apartment in the Uptown neighborhood. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "A Giant Cow-tipping by Savages," by John Weir Close | November 29, 2013
Karl Wolff celebrates Black Friday by reviewing "A Giant Cow-tipping by Savages," by John Weir Close, a historical look at the mergers and acquisitions business, including hostile take-overs, coke-fueled parties, and the importance of Delaware in corporate law. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Out of Print" by George Brock | November 26, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Anything That Moves," by Dana Goodyear | November 22, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Anything That Moves," by Dana Goodyear, an investigation into the extremes of American food culture, from raw food extremists yearning for poop covered chicken eggs to insect eating professors to diners on the prowl for whale meat. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Following Tommy," by Bob Hartley | November 21, 2013
Today at CCLaP, Jason Pettus reviews the Chicago-set early-'60s coming-of-age novel "Following Tommy," a brisk but decidedly un-P.C. look at lower-class Irish-American teens on the west side, right at the very beginning of the countercultural era. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Mira Corpora" by Jeff Jackson | November 20, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the... | Read entire entry

All Who Wander: "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez | November 19, 2013
(In the final months of 2013 and throughout 2014, CCLaP cultural essayist Madeleine Maccar is looking at the classic definition of the "hero's journey," as seen through a series of international texts that she is reading in English translation.... | Read entire entry

Our last show of the year is tonight! Come see musician Ken Kase! | November 15, 2013
CCLaP's last live show of the year is tonight! And it features St. Louis musician and writer Ken Kase, who will be both performing pop songs and reading from his book of sonnets. Free admission! Free food! Free liquor! What a perfect thing to do at the last minute on the last mild Friday night of the year! Click through for more details, and RSVP for the street address to cclapcenter [at] gmail.com. | Read entire entry

The NSFW Files: "Ada, or Ardor: a Family Chronicle," by Vladimir Nabokov | November 15, 2013
This week Karl Wolff continues his essay series, The NSFW Files, with "Ada, or Ardor: a Family Chronicle," by Vladimir Nabokov, an erotic tale of incest set in an alternate historical timeline. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "This is Between Us" by Kevin Sampsell | November 13, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Our last show of the year is this Friday! Ken Kase sings and reads! | November 12, 2013
Only four days until CCLaP's last live show of the year! It's a special performance by St. Louis artist Ken Kase, who will be both performing his popular music and reading from his poetry book "Seven Sonnets," the whole thing being recorded for a live album at iTunes in 2014. Click through to download a free copy of the book right this second! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: SEXUAL REVOLUTION BUNDLE: First editions of four classic countercultural books | November 12, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from our rare-book collection: A special bundle of four classic countercultural books dealing with the sexual revolution, all of them first edition/first printings, including John Updike's 1968 "Couples," Philip Roth's 1969 "Portnoy's Complaint," Norman Mailer's 1971 "The Prisoner of Sex," and Erica Jong's 1973 "Fear of Flying." | Read entire entry

An introduction to "All Who Wander," an essay series by Madeleine Maccar | November 12, 2013
From the third-grade English teacher who told me that I read too much to the eye doctor who valiantly searched for subtle ways to tell me that blinking more often would help with my chronically dry eyes, there has... | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Native Son" (1940), by Richard Wright, First Edition First Printing | November 11, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from our rare-book collection -- a first edition, first printing of Richard Wright's 1940 "Native Son," considered the very first African-American academic novel ever written. In excellent condition and with the dust jacket fully intact! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Pervert," by Mr. If | November 8, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Pervert," by Mr. If, a confrontational erotic memoir of sorts that hocks a gobbet of spit at everything proper and polite in the United Kingdom. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 107: The CCLaP Sessions - Mark R. Brand | November 7, 2013
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's a special 30-minute live recording from last week's edition of the center's new monthly reading series, "The CCLaP Sessions," this time featuring local writer Mark R. Brand, author of the speculative story collection "Long Live Us." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Schroder" by Amity Gaige | November 6, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Jesus Was a Time Traveler" by D.J. Gelner | November 5, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Harper Lee and Peppermint Candy" by Paula Hennessy | November 4, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

CCLaP made Newcity's "Best of Chicago" 2013 list! SO WHY DON'T YOU COME OUT TO OUR SHOW TONIGHT?! | November 1, 2013
CCLaP made local arts-and-culture publication Newcity's "Best of Chicago" 2013 list! So why don't you come out to our newest live event, a long-form reading by Mark R. Brand, happening TONIGHT at our "Studio 505" space in the Uptown neighborhood? Free admission! Free liquor! Free food! Sexy nerds in funny glasses! Click through for the details! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin," by Catherine Merridale | November 1, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews, "Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin," by Catherine Merridale, an interdisciplinary exploration of Russia's icon and how history is both preserved and obscured by national mythology. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Mystic River" (2001), by Dennis Lehane, SIGNED, First Edition First Printing | November 1, 2013
Today, another eBay auction from our rare-book collection: A SIGNED first-edition first-printing of Dennis Lehane's haunting 2001 crime thriller "Mystic River," a perfect choice for long-term investors just making their first acquisitions now at a young age. Click through for photos and details! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Moo" (1995), by Jane Smiley, First Edition First Printing | November 1, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from the center's rare-book collection: A SIGNED first-edition, first-printing copy of Jane Smiley's 1995 "Moo" in immaculate shape, the perfect kind of investment for a long-term collector just getting started at a young age. Click through for photos and details! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "20,000 Leagues" by Jules Verne, 1925 Scribner's illustrated edition | October 31, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from the center's rare-book collection: A 1925 Scribner's illustrated "Series for Young People" edition of Jules Verne's Victorian sci-fi classic, "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea." Click through for photos and details! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Night Scenes of City Life" (1891), by T. DeWitt Talmage, First Edition, First Printing | October 30, 2013
Today, another eBay auction from the center's rare-book collection: The delightfully overwrought Victorian moral-panic tale "Night Scenes of City Life" by T. DeWitt Talmage, once the second most well-known religious figure in the entire United States. Beware the evil laudanum and women with loose morals! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Meaty" by Samantha Irby | October 30, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: Oscar Wilde's "Dorian Gray," the Very First Modern Library Book Ever Made (1917, ML001) | October 29, 2013
Today, another eBay auction from the center's rare-book collection: The very first Modern Library book ever printed in history, Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" from 1917, the first catalog number from the first year of the company's existence. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Reason I Jump" by Naoki Higashida | October 29, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Sheikhs, Lies and Real Estate," by J.R. Roth | October 28, 2013
Today's book review: J.R. Roth's mesmerizing tale of Dubai during it boom years, "Sheikhs, Lies and Real Estate," an impeccable combination of academic research and salacious anecdotes that will likely be making our best-of lists at the end of the year. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Native Son" (1940), by Richard Wright, First Edition First Printing | October 28, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from our rare-book collection: A first-edition, first-printing copy of Richard Wright's 1940 "Native Son," considered by many the very first book to singlehandedly kickstart the entire "African-American Literature" genre. | Read entire entry

It's the last day of Meera Lee Sethi's "Mountainfit" book tour! | October 25, 2013
It's the last day of Meera Lee Sethi's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP nature and science essay collection "Mountainfit!" Today Meera is hanging out at the Introverted Reader, where she shares a playlist of music related to the book; while yesterday she was at Glorified Love Letters, sharing a book-related recipe for Swedish cinnamon rolls. Click through for links to them both! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Bitter Orange," by Marshall Moore | October 25, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Bitter Orange," by Marshall Moore, about a gay man coming to terms with his superpower to turn invisible. Does that make him a hero or a villain? | Read entire entry

It's day eight of Meera Lee Sethi's "Mountainfit" book tour! | October 23, 2013
It's day eight of Meera Lee Sethi's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP nature and science essay collection "Mountainfit!" Today Meera is hanging out at Guiltless Readings, where she has shared a lot more of her fantastic field photos; while yesterday she was with Coyote Crossing, doing a video chat at Google Hangouts. Click through for links to them both! | Read entire entry

The "CCLaP Journal" #2 is finally here! | October 23, 2013
Issue #2 of the "CCLaP Journal," our new monthly magazine, is now out -- and only nine months late too! Click through for a lot more, including a run-down of contents, download links, and more on the special optimized version for Kindles we're now offering. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Saga: Volume One," by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples | October 23, 2013
This week Karl Wolff writes a mini-review about "Saga: Volume One," by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, and yes, it is every bit as awesome as people say, so you should totally read it right now! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made" by Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell | October 22, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Explanation for Everything" by Lauren Grodstein | October 21, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the... | Read entire entry

It's day six of Meera Lee Sethi's "Mountainfit" book tour! | October 21, 2013
It's day four of Meera Lee Sethi's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP nature and science essay collection "Mountainfit!" Today Meera is hanging out with our friends over at The Next Best Book Blog, where she's done a new audio recording, while on Friday she was over at River City Reading, talking about Kickstarter. Click through for them both! | Read entire entry

It's day four of Meera Lee Sethi's "Mountainfit" book tour! | October 18, 2013
It's day four of Meera Lee Sethi's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP nature and science essay collection "Mountainfit!" Today Meera is hanging out with our friends over at Superstition Review, where she has posted a guest essay on the subject of going from being a self-publisher to signing with a legitimate small press. | Read entire entry

Two weeks until Mark R. Brand performs at Studio 505! Just a month until Ken Kase! | October 18, 2013
Just two weeks until CCLaP's newest event at its new "Studio 505" performance venue (i.e. Jason Pettus' new apartment in Uptown), Mark R. Brand reading a full half-hour from his new book "Long Live Us." Then two weeks after that, a special one-time event featuring St. Louis musician and writer Ken Kase! Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

The NSFW Files: "The Image," by Jean de Berg | October 18, 2013
Karl Wolff continues his essay series "The NSFW Files" with Jean de Berg's minimalist classic, "The Image." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Osiris Curse: A Tweed & Nightingale Adventure" by Paul Crilley | October 18, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

It's day three of Meera Lee Sethi's "Mountainfit" book tour! | October 17, 2013
It's day three of Meera Lee Sethi's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP nature and science essay collection "Mountainfit!" Today Meera is hanging at the Best Damn Creative Writing blog, where she's turned in a guest essay on the subject of turning real-life friends into characters for your book. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

It's the start of Meera Lee Sethi's "Mountainfit" virtual book tour! | October 15, 2013
All right! Another one of our authors is on a virtual book tour! Click through to read all about Meera Lee Sethi, her book of nature and science essays with CCLaP, "Mountainfit," and at which blogs she'll be appearing over the next two weeks to talk more about it. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Bleeding Edge" by Thomas Pynchon | October 15, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

My Kind of Town: "Angels" by Denis Johnson | October 14, 2013
(Once a month throughout 2013 and '14, CCLaP critic Travis Fortney is reading a series of classic and contemporary books set in Chicago, not only to understand his new adopted hometown better, but to learn more about the origins... | Read entire entry

It's release day for T.A. Noonan's "four sparks fall!" | October 14, 2013
Hooray! CCLaP's newest original book, and our last original book of the year, is finally here! It's called "four sparks fall" by a Florida author named T.A. Noonan, and is our first experimental foray into so-called "young adult literature." Click through for all the details, and to download a free electronic copy right this second! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Sloughing Off the Rot," by Lance Carbuncle | October 11, 2013
Part psychogeography, part hallucination, part body horror, and part vision quest, Sloughing Off the Rot is not for the squeamish, easily disgusted, or overly serious. This is bizarro literature as fine art. | Read entire entry

Check out CCLaP's newest book, Karl Wolff's "On Being Human!" | October 8, 2013
Surprise! CCLaP is releasing a new book today! It's staff critic Karl Wolff's "On Being Human," reviews of classic books and movies all dealing with the subject of humanity, most of which ran at our blog in 2012 but with three exclusive new essays found just in this book version. Click through for all the details, and to download a free electronic copy right this moment! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Contributions to Punch" (1898 Biographical Edition), by William Makepeace Thackeray | October 8, 2013
Today's auction from CCLaP's rare-book collection: An 1898 edition of William Makepeace Thackeray's collected contributions to the Victorian humor magazine "Punch," originally part of a 13-volume collection but worth owning just on its own for its obscure, usually scattered content. Minimum bid, only $20! What a steal! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Cannonball" by Joseph McElroy | October 8, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "All That Is" by James Salter | October 7, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Fighting for an American Countryside," by Jennifer Vogel | October 4, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Fighting for an American Countryside" by Jennifer Vogel, an in-depth look at the economic, political, and cultural challenges facing rural Minnesota in a world ravaged by the Great Recession. | Read entire entry

Join us this Friday for "The CCLaP Sessions" with Mark R. Brand! | October 2, 2013
Just two more days until the next edition of "The CCLaP Sessions," the center's new monthly reading series! This month's Session features Chicago writer Mark R. Brand, reading from his new speculative story collection "Long Live Us." Free admission! Free food! Free liquor! Only 15 seats left! Click through for all the details on how to RSVP! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Son" by Philipp Meyer | October 1, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Say hello to CCLaP's newest staff members! | September 30, 2013
CCLaP is pleased to announce new new additions to our staff today: Book reviewer and cultural essayist Madeleine Maccar, joining us from New Jersey; and fellow Chicagoan Rex Brink, who is taking over our weekly PDF photographer features. Click through for more on them both, plus the latest info on Karl Wolff's new essay collection "On Being Human!" | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Sweet Thunder," by Ivan Doig | September 27, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Sweet Thunder," by Ivan Doig, about a newspaperman doing battle with a colossal mining company in Butte, Montana. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 106: Author Chris L. Terry | September 26, 2013
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's a half-hour talk with Chicago author Chris L. Terry, all about his new book with our friends at Curbside Splendor, the '90s coming-of-age tale "Zero Fade." | Read entire entry

My Kind of Town: "The Lazarus Project" by Aleksandar Hemon | September 24, 2013
(Once a month throughout 2013 and '14, CCLaP critic Travis Fortney is reading a series of classic and contemporary books set in Chicago, not only to understand his new adopted hometown better, but to learn more about the origins... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Early Parking Garages of San Francisco: An Architectural and Cultural Study, 1906 - 1929," by Mark D. Kessler | September 20, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews, "The Early Parking Garages of San Francisco," by Mark D. Kessler, an obscure topic that may reward a specialized type of reader. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 105: Author Mark R. Brand | September 17, 2013
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's a 45-minute talk with Chicago author Mark R. Brand, all about his new book with the center, the speculative story collection Long Live Us. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Canada" by Richard Ford | September 17, 2013
Today at the blog, CCLaP reviewer Travis Fortney reviews Richard Ford's latest, "Canada." "Ford's work acts as a powerful argument that there are more important things than being a 'good person' in the mold of this current generation of novelists who are inoffensive and blandly energetic, and at least as focused on propping each other up on social media as they are on sentence construction." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "In Thunder Forged: Iron Kingdom Chronicles (The Fall of Llael: Book One)," by Ari Marmell | September 13, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "In Thunder Forged: Iron Kingdom Chronicles (The Fall of Llael: Book One)," by Ari Marmell, an RPG tie-in novel that has a convoluted plot involving espionage, set-piece battle scenes, steam-powered mecha, and gunmages. | Read entire entry

We're hiring a new book reviewer! | September 12, 2013
CCLaP is saying a sad goodbye this week to book reviewer Yair Ben-Zvi; but that means we're hiring another new book reviewer again as well! Click through for all the details, and information on how to apply. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 104: The CCLaP Sessions: Maureen Foley | September 11, 2013
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's a special 20-minute live recording from last week's inaugural edition of the center's new monthly reading series, "The CCLaP Sessions." September's edition of the Sessions featured Maureen Foley from southern California, in this case completing the third night of her recent three-day Chicago mini-tour. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 103: Live from the "MMM!" Showcase at Quimby's | September 10, 2013
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's a special 40-minute live recording from last week's "MMM!" showcase at Quimby's Bookstore in Wicker Park, featuring three center authors whose names all begin with M -- Mark R. Brand, Mason Johnson, and headliner Maureen Foley from southern California. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Recalled to Life" by Dan Burns | September 9, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Say hello to CCLaP's newest book, Mark R. Brand's "Long Live Us!" | September 9, 2013
Another month, another new release from CCLaP! Today we're proud to announce the release of the speculative story collection "Long Live Us," by Chicago writer Mark R. Brand, author of the previous CCLaP hit "Life After Sleep" from 2011. Click through for lots more details, and to download a copy for free right this minute! | Read entire entry

Your last chance to RSVP for "The CCLaP Sessions" tonight! | September 6, 2013
Only ten seats left for tonight's inaugural edition of "The CCLaP Sessions" monthly reading series, this time featuring California author Maureen Foley! RSVP right away, or click through for more details and to see photos from the first two nights of Mo's recent Chicago mini-tour. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Trade: a Novelette," by Lochlan Bloom | September 6, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Trade: a Novelette," by Lochlan Bloom, about a depressed office worker who decides to start a social media platform based on sex. | Read entire entry

Maureen Foley's Chicago mini-tour starts today! | September 4, 2013
CCLaP author Maureen Foley's mini-tour of Chicago starts today! Join us tonight (Wednesday) at "Reading Under the Influence" at Sheffield's, tomorrow for a CCLaP showcase at Quimby's (along with Mason Johnson and Mark R. Brand), and Friday night for the inaugural edition of our new "CCLaP Sessions" monthly reading series. Click through for the details on all! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag," by Ivan G. Goldman | August 30, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews Ivan G. Goldman's scathing indictment of the US justice system, "Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 102: Live from the 'Sad Robot Stories' release party | August 26, 2013
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's a special 90-minute live recording from last weekend's release party for Mason Johnson's "Sad Robot Stories." Featuring performances from Johnson, Dan Shapiro, Chris Terry, Shanny Jean, Terd Macchio, Hillary Stone & Tom Simmons, Lindsay Hunter, and Don De Grazia. | Read entire entry

The NSFW Files: "The Story of O," by Pauline Reage | August 23, 2013
This week's installment of The NSFW Files has Karl Wolff exploring Pauline Reage's controversial novel, "The Story of O," about a woman's quest to become sexually dominated. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Tampa" by Alissa Nutting | August 19, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Island of the White Rose," by R. Ira Harris | August 16, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews R. Ira Harris's debut historical novel, "Island of the White Rose," about a priest losing his faith in the Catholic Church and dealing with the betrayals of the Batista and Castro regimes. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Onward Toward What We're Going Toward" by Ryan Bartelmay | August 12, 2013
Today's book review: The dysfunctional family dramedy "Onward Toward What We're Going Toward," by local author Ryan Bartelmay. Says reviewer Travis Fortney, "[It's] a novel with an identity crisis, one that can't quite decide what it is, and so doesn't quite succeed in making us feel anything." | Read entire entry

Rejoice, humans! "Sad Robot Stories" is here! | August 12, 2013
Rejoice, humans! It's release day for CCLaP Publishing's 20th official project, local author Mason Johnson's hilarious, heartbreaking full-length debut "Sad Robot Stories." Click through for many more details about it all, as well as a link to where you can download a free ebook copy right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 101: Author Mason Johnson | August 12, 2013
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's a half-hour talk with Chicago writer Mason Johnson, author of the center's newest book, the absurdist science-fiction tale "Sad Robot Stories." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "God and the Fascists," by Karlheinz Deschner | August 9, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews the controversial classic, "God and the Fascists" by Karlheinz Deschner, which asserts the Vatican partnered with fascist regimes in order to crush European Bolshevism. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Mini-review: "Pyramid of Skulls," by Martin Fruchtman | August 7, 2013
Karl Wolff reviews "Pyramid of Skulls," by Martin Fruchtman, a spellbinding historical novel about Timur the Lame, the 14th century Central Asian conqueror, that reads like an epic fantasy novel. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Beau Geste" (1924), by P.C. Wren (First American Edition [1925], First Printing) | August 7, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection -- in this case, an extremely rare TRUE first American edition of the French Foreign Legion book that started them all, P.C. Wren's eternally popular "Beau Geste." Not a single other copy of this 1925 pre-movie first edition is currently being sold at eBay, ABEbooks or Amazon! Don't let this legitimate piece of history pass you by! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh," by Thomas Glave | August 2, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh" by Thomas Glave, who confronts the bigotry of his Jamaican heritage with words political, erotic, and poetic. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 100: Author Ben Tanzer | August 1, 2013
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: To celebrate episode #100, it's our fifth talk with our old pal Ben Tanzer. In the year and a half since he was last on, he has published an amazing five new books, and today we talk about them all in detail. Plus at the end, a special exclusive deal for podcast listeners on Cobalt Press's "Four Fathers" Kickstarter campaign, ending this coming Monday! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Middlesteins" by Jami Attenberg | July 30, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): "Death Kit" (1967), by Susan Sontag, First Edition/First Printing | July 26, 2013
Today, another eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: A first-edition, first-printing of Susan Sontag's 1967 "Death Kit," a rare novel from this noted intellectual and "Dark Lady of American Letters," in the style of Kafka but mixed with a countercultural attitude. Just $15 minimum bid, or buy it this second for $30! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): "Pictures of Fedelman" (1969), by Bernard Malamud, First Edition/First Printing | July 26, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: A first-edition, first-printing copy of Bernard Malamud's playful, sexy countercultural romp "Pictures of Fidelman," a bawdy tale of a Jewish writer visiting Italy that came out at the same time as the rise of Malamud's fellow nebbish sex symbols Philip Roth and Woody Allen. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): "History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion" (1929 edition) | July 26, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: A 1929 edition of the 1919 World War One memoir "History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion," which started life as a tribute to a well-loved commander and eventually was reprinted in the millions by VFW chapters around the nation. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): "The Loser" (1960), by Peter Ustinov, First Edition/First Printing | July 24, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: A first-edition, first-printing of actor and renaissance man Peter Ustinov's 1960 novel "The Loser," a character study of the young angry Germans who lost World War One and ended up forming the Nazis and World War Two. A forgotten Mid-Century-Modernist classic, its minimum bid today is only $15, a steal in any situation. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): The Millennium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson, First Am. Ed./First Printing | July 24, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: The complete set of first American editions of Stieg Larsson's "Millennium" trilogy ("Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" et al), a perfect acquisition for the young serious collector who plans to be in it for the long haul. $50 minimum bid for all three! WOW, WHAT A STEAL! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): Newberry Library Sherwood Anderson Memorial (1948), LIKE NEW | July 23, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: A LIKE NEW copy of Chicago's Newberry Library Bulletin, special Sherwood Anderson memorial from December 1948, which had sat in an unopened box from its publication to when CCLaP acquired it in 2011. $30 minimum bid, or buy it this second for $60! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): "The Robots of Dawn" (1983), by Isaac Asimov, First Edition/First Printing | July 23, 2013
Today, another eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: A first-edition, first printing of Isaac Asimov's 1983 "The Robots of Dawn," the second of his '80s novels to address his three series of famous '50s novels (the "Robot" book, the "Empire" ones, and the "Foundation" ones). Just $15 minimum bid! Or buy it this second for $30! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Disorderly" by Jayme K. | July 23, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): Chicago Civic Opera Company libretto of "Der Rosenkavalier" (c.1922-31) | July 22, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: A souvenir lobby program from the Chicago Civic Opera Company's production of "Der Rosenkavalier," circa 1922 to '31. Minimum bid only $15! Buy it this second for $30! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): Whitney Biennial 1961 exhibition catalog | July 22, 2013
Today, another eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: a first edition copy of the Whitney Museum of American Art's 1961 Annual Exhibition catalog, during one of the short periods of its history when the "Whitney Biennial" was actually held every year instead of every other year. $15 minimum bid! Buy it now for $30! How can you beat a deal like that?! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): "The Anatomy Lesson" (1983), by Philip Roth, First Edition/First Printing | July 20, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: A first-edition, first-printing copy of Philip Roth's 1983 "The Anatomy Lesson," the third book in his remarkable nine-book "Nathan Zuckerman" series looking at the entirety of the Postmodernist Era. Only $15 minimum bid, or buy it this second for $30! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare (repost): "History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion" (1929 edition) | July 20, 2013
Today, a new eBay auction from CCLaP's rare book collection: A 1929 edition of the 1919 World War One memoir "History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion," which started life as a tribute to a well-loved commander and eventually was reprinted in the millions by VFW chapters around the nation. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Book of Times," by Lesley Alderman | July 19, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "The Book of Times," by Lesley Alderman, a fun and informative look at how we use time in everything from household chores to gadget longevity to digestion time. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "The Satanic Verses" (1988), by Salman Rushdie (First American Edition/First Printing) | July 16, 2013
Today at CCLaP, another eBay auction from our rare book collection: In this case, a first American edition, first-printing copy of Salman Rushdie's infamous 1988 "The Satanic Verses." Wow, only $25 minimum bid, WOW! Exactly the kind of title that young collectors should be acquiring right this minute! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Fainting Room" by Sarah Pemberton Strong | July 15, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Lady Chatterley's Lover" (First Grove Press Edition), by D.H. Lawrence | July 15, 2013
Today at CCLaP, a new eBay auction from our rare book collection: This time a first-edition, first-printing copy of the 1959 Grove Press version of D.H. Lawrence's banned 1928 smutty class-warfare romance novel "Lady Chatterley's Lover." Successfully defended in court, Grove used it as a template for later publishing "Tropic of Cancer" and "Naked Lunch," ushering in the countercultural era. Just $25 minimum bid, or buy it this second for $50! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Secret of Abdu el Yezdi," by Mark Hodder | July 12, 2013
Today at CCLaP: Mark Hodder, master of steampunk, uncorks a ripping yarn full of airships, occultism, murder, and abduction in his latest installment of the Burton and Swinburne Adventures series, "The Secret of Abdu el Yezdi." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "The Innocents Abroad" (1869), by Mark Twain, First Edition/1870 Printing | July 11, 2013
Today, a new CCLaP rare book auction at eBay, this time for a first-edition (1870 printing) copy of Mark Twain's 1869 "The Innocents Abroad." Bitter, funny, blog-style reports from an upper-class "Grand Tour" cruise of Europe and the Holy Land, they originally got syndicated in papers and gained him millions of fans, with the book version containing 234 illustrations as well. Minimum bid $200, or buy it this second for $400! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "The Bostonians" (1886 one-volume edition), by Henry James, First Edition/First Printing | July 10, 2013
Today, a new book for sale in CCLaP's rare-book collection: A first edition, first printing of the 1886 "one-volume" version of Henry James' Victorian classic "The Bostonians," which also happened to coin the once famous phrase "Boston Marriage" to refer to lesbian relationships. Minimum bid $175, or buy it this second for $300! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "First Aide Medicine" by Nicholaus Patnaude | July 8, 2013
"You could choose any paragraph of this book at random, read it three or four hundred times in a row, add a few maggots coming out of eyeballs (if you've miraculously chosen one of the paragraphs with no maggots coming out of eyeballs), add a few decapitated birds, and you'd have pretty good feel for what the book is without actually reading it." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis," Lectures by Ben S. Bernanke | July 5, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke's book, "The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis," a collection of lectures he had at George Washington University, where he talks about the history of the Fed and its missteps in dealing with the Great Recession. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "A Marker to Measure Drift" by Alexander Maksik | July 3, 2013
Today's book review at CCLaP: Alexander Maksik's graceful new novel about a cave-dwelling Liberian refugee living on a Grecian island, "A Marker to Measure Drift", to be released by Knopf on July 30th. Says reviewer Travis Fortney: "It all makes for uncomfortable and sometimes gruesome reading, but this is a very effective and contained book." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Bobcat" by Rebecca Lee | July 1, 2013
Today's book review at CCLaP: "Bobcat" by Rebecca Lee. Reviewer Travis Fortney hates books of short stories, but he loves this one. So much so that it's his second 10 star book of the year. | Read entire entry

The NSFW Files: "Naked Lunch," by William S. Burroughs | June 28, 2013
This week, Karl Wolff returns to the NSFW Files to investigate "Naked Lunch," by William S. Burroughs, the 1959 sensation that marked a watershed for free expression in literature and included Mugwumps, heroin, and lots and lots of sex. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Overthinking the Marathon" by Ray Charbonneau | June 27, 2013
Today's book review: The half-diary, half-guidebook "Overthinking the Marathon" by Ray Charbonneau, which reviewer Jason Pettus found interesting and entertaining despite not being a runner himself. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Little Known Facts" by Christine Sneed | June 26, 2013
Today's mini-review: The Hollywood novel "Little Known Facts" by Chicago area author Christine Sneed. Says reviewer Travis Fortney: "This is the rare book that manages to be both a breezy summer read and a probing literary novel." | Read entire entry

Announcing CCLaP's 2013 anthology: Design Us a Time Capsule | June 26, 2013
Every autumn CCLaP publishes an anthology of short work, and this year's theme is a doozy -- we want you to design us a time capsule, to help our books survive fire, floods and the coming robot apocalypse. Awards for best realistic entry and best fictional one! All submissions get published in a book coming this winter! Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Byzantium" by Ben Stroud | June 24, 2013
Today's book review is of the historical/contemporary story collection "Byzantium" by Ben Stroud, to be released by Graywolf Press on July 23, 2013. Says reviewer Travis Fortney, "These stories function as something like insightful expressions of life's strangeness. They also carry with them the unmistakeable flavor of the new." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Fight for Your Long Day" by Alex Kudera | June 24, 2013
Today's book review: Alex Kudera's absurdist comedy "Fight for Your Long Day," a contemporary story about adjunct professors that is clearly going for a "Confederacy of Dunces" vibe, but that reviewer Jason Pettus unfortunately thought mostly misses its mark. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Happy Talk," by Richard Melo | June 21, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Happy Talk," by Richard Melo, a Pynchonesque romp through 1950s Haiti with gun-toting student nurses, UNESCO filmmakers, and Baron Samedi. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Kiss Shot" by Collin Kelley | June 20, 2013
Today's book review: The story collection "Kiss Shot" by multiple Lambda and Pushcart nominee Collin Kelley, which reviewer Jason Pettus liked a lot more than most story collections precisely because of its prurient but well-done nature. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Dinner" by Herman Koch | June 19, 2013
Today's book review: The internationally popular psychological novel "The Dinner" by Herman Koch. Says reviewer Travis Fortney: "It's been a long time since I laughed so hard during the first hundred pages of a book, and it's been longer than I can remember that a book made me genuinely sick to my stomach by the end. Read at your own risk." | Read entire entry

Passing the Torch: Eleanor Stanford on Maureen Foley | June 19, 2013
Today, it's one of our regular "Passing the Torch" essays, in which our most previous author shares some thoughts on what they like most about our most current author. Here, "Historia, Historia"s Eleanor Stanford analyzes Maureen Foley's "Women Float." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "High and Inside" by Russell Rowland | June 18, 2013
Today's book review: The engaging human-interest drama "High and Inside" by Russell Rowland, in which an alcoholic baseball player who's been drummed out of the pros impulsively moves to Montana to build a house from scratch, despite not knowing the first thing about construction. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Lake People" by Abi Maxwell | June 17, 2013
Today's book review: The rural New Hampshire human-interest drama "Lake People" by Abi Maxwell. Says reviewer Travis Fortney, "Worth the read [if thought of] as a short story collection, but won't be rewarding for those who try to make sense of it as a novel." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Clock of Life" by Nancy Klann-Moren | June 17, 2013
Today's book review: The overly sentimental morality tale "The Clock of Life" by Nancy Klann-Moren, a book which is obviously connecting with some readers (based on its numerous award nominations and wins) but that reviewer Jason Pettus found a preachy disappointment. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Escape From Paris," by Carolyn Hart | June 14, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Escape From Paris," a romantic suspense novel about the early years of the Second World War and two sisters' battle to save downed British pilots from Nazi menace. | Read entire entry

My Kind of Town: "Memoirs of an American Citizen" by Robert Herrick | June 12, 2013
(Once a month throughout 2013 and '14, CCLaP critic Travis Fortney is reading a series of classic and contemporary books set in Chicago, not only to understand his new adopted hometown better, but to learn more about the origins... | Read entire entry

CCLaP Mini-review: "The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone," by MP Johnson | June 12, 2013
Karl Wolff reviews "The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone," by MP Johnson, a bizarro lit book that's like watching a Troma movie. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's newest book, Meera Lee Sethi's "Mountainfit," is now here! | June 11, 2013
Excelsior! CCLaP's third original book of the year is now available! It's a collection of John-Muir-style essays about nature and science called "Mountainfit" by Meera Lee Sethi, and I'm sure you're going to love it, whether as a free ebook or a special handmade hardback. Click through for more, including links for ordering and downloading! | Read entire entry

Announcing "My Kind of Town," a New Essay Series by Travis Fortney | June 10, 2013
Over the next year, here at the website, I'll be posting a series of reviews entitled "My Kind of Town", which takes its title from the popular Frank Sinatra song--Chi-CA-go, Chi-CA-go, my kind of a town.... I'll be exploring... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Dog Stars" by Peter Heller | June 8, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Wheatyard," by Peter Anderson | June 7, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews Wheatyard, a wonderful character study and a finely wrought coming-of-age novel, along with being a funny, touching piece of pop culture archeology. | Read entire entry

Hope to see you at the "Women Float" release party! | June 6, 2013
The release party for Maureen Foley's CCLaP book "Women Float," being held in the southern California town of Carpinteria, is happening tomorrow! Click through for all the details, if you live in the area and would like to attend, or to learn more about our Facebook and Twitter accounts where I'll be posting live updates over the next three days. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Fun Parts" by Sam Lipsyte | June 5, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Youth" by Jayme K. | June 5, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "A Nearly Perfect Copy" by Allison Amend | June 3, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

It's the last day of Kevin Haworth's virtual book tour! | May 31, 2013
It's the last day of Kevin Haworth's virtual book tour for "Famous Drownings in Literary History!" Here, a recap of everything you might've missed this week. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Nebula Awards Showcase 2013," edited by Catherine Asaro | May 31, 2013
Today at CCLaP, Karl Wolff reviews the "Nebula Awards Showcase 2013," edited by Catherine Asaro, a solid anthology of mainstream science fiction and fantasy writing from Nebula winners and nominees; also "Sauerkraut Station" totally rocks and there's some bathypunk. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Funny Man" by John Warner | May 30, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

CCLaP's newest book, Maureen Foley's 'Women Float,' is finally here! | May 28, 2013
Excelsior! CCLaP's second original book of the year, the female relationship dramedy "Women Float" by Maureen Foley, is now finally out and available to the general public! Click through for a lot more, including the book's synopsis and links for downloading/purchasing. | Read entire entry

It's week two of Kevin Haworth's virtual book tour! | May 28, 2013
Oh no! Frantic book work and a case of the flu prevented me from getting daily updates posted last week regarding Kevin Haworth's virtual author tour, in support of his CCLaP book "Famous Drownings in Literary History." Here, a recap post with links to all five tour stops last week, as well as yesterday's visit to the blog of our old friend Ben Tanzer. | Read entire entry

Barry Wightman: The CCLaP Interview | May 28, 2013
Today, an email interview with Wisconsin author Barry Wightman, whose counterculture novel "Pepperland" is in the midst right now of a virtual book tour. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia" by Mohsin Hamid | May 27, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

The NSFW Files: "Our Lady of the Flowers," by Jean Genet | May 24, 2013
This week Karl Wolff investigates "Our Lady of the Flowers" by Jean Genet, a classic, despite its sensational origins, befitting entry into the Western Canon. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Awakening" by Ray N. Kuili | May 23, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

CCLaP Mini-review: "The Creative Fire," by Brenda Cooper | May 22, 2013
Karl Wolff reviews Brenda Cooper's disappointing generation ship adventure, "The Creative Fire." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Update: 21 May 2013 | May 21, 2013
In today's CCLaP Update: Lauryn Allison wins an major new award; Mason Johnson and Meera Lee Sethi get official book covers; Maureen Foley announces a release party in southern California; and Judy Blume and gay prison sex, together at last! Click through for all this and more! | Read entire entry

It's day two of Kevin Haworth's virtual book tour! | May 21, 2013
It's day two of Kevin Haworth's virtual book tour, in support of "Famous Drownings in Literary History!" Today Kevin is over at the wonderful litblog Love At First Book, where he has penned a guest essay comparing the three different small presses that have put out his three books. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Flamethrowers" by Rachel Kushner | May 20, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the... | Read entire entry

It's day one of Kevin Haworth's virtual book tour! | May 20, 2013
It's day one of the new virtual book tour for Kevin Haworth's "Famous Drownings in Literary History!" Click through for a link to today's stop at Cobalt Review, plus more on Kevin's book and how it's been doing in the seven months it's now been out and for sale. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Hum and the Shiver," by Alex Bledsoe | May 20, 2013
Today's book review: The 'rural fantasy' novel "The Hum and the Shiver" by Alex Bledsoe, which asks the question, "What if some of the hillbilly small towns of the American Appalachians were in fact filled with magic-performing fairies?" Reviewer Jason Pettus loved the question, but strongly disliked Bledsoe's slowly moving answer. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Conduct of Saints," by Christopher Davis | May 17, 2013
Today's book review: The historical legal thriller "The Conduct of Saints" by Christopher Davis, set in Italy immediately after World War Two. Says reviewer Karl Wolff, "Even though the novel focuses on the inner turmoil of a Catholic priest, one doesn't have to be Catholic to appreciate the novel. Davis has created a morally tortured individual that reminds the reader of Graham Greene and Robert Littell." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Age of Miracles" by Karen Thompson Walker | May 16, 2013
Today's book review: Karen Thompson Walker's heavily hyped apocalyptic relationship drama, "The Age of Miracles." Says reviewer Yair Ben-Zvi, "Where the book really shines for me is in its description of childhood and its inherent tragedy, especially in modern times. Yes, in a book about the end of the world, it's the indictment of growing up in the modern world that deserves the most mention." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets" by Diana Wagman | May 13, 2013
Today's book review: Diana Wegman's delightfully dark bizarro novel "The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets." Says reviewer Travis Fortney, "A funny, surprising and disturbing novel, the kind of book that grips you by the throat and doesn't release you until the last page is turned." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Boston Noir 2: the Classics," edited by Dennis Lehane, Mary Cotton, and Jaime Clarke | May 10, 2013
Today's book review: Dennis Lehane and others edit "Boston Noir 2: the Classics," bringing together a collection of Boston's dark side, ranging from hard-boiled whodunits, out of print classics, and an excerpt from "Infinite Jest." Says reviewer Karl Wolff: "For those unfamiliar with Greater Boston and its literary heritage, [this book] is a great place to start." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Average American Marriage" by Chad Kultgen | May 9, 2013
Today's book review: The indie-hot sequel to its controversial original, "The Average American Marriage" by Chad Kultgen. Says reviewer Yair Ben-Zvi: "A good book, hilarious, and the humor goes hand in expert hand with the acidic critique of the modern American life." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Connecting Two Worlds" by Anthony T Simeone | May 8, 2013
(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last... | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Once Upon a Gypsy Moon" by Michael C. Hurley | May 8, 2013
Today's book review: The gentle memoir about sailing and romance in middle age, Michael C. Hurley's "Once Upon a Gypsy Moon." Says reviewer Travis Fortney, "An inspiring, heartfelt and honest read about accomplishing a long-held dream, which is especially recommended for readers who appreciate inspirational and confessional writing from a Christian viewpoint." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "My Only Wife" by Jac Jemc | May 6, 2013
Today's book review: Jac Jemc's relationship drama "My Only Wife." Says reviewer Travis Fortney, " | Read entire entry

The NSFW Files: "Story of the Eye," by Georges Bataille | May 3, 2013
In this week's installment of CCLaP's "The NSFW Files," Karl Wolff investigates the 1928 Georges Bataille shocker, "Story of the Eye," a very early precursor to bizarro fiction. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Beyond the North Wind" by Mark Carew | May 2, 2013
Today's book review: The self-published, alpine-set relationship actioner "Beyond the North Wind," by Mark Carew. Says reviewer yair Ben-Zvi, "All the depth and grace of a novel published by any of the major houses...it's very good, even great at times." | Read entire entry

Book review: "Rontel," by Sam Pink (Jason's take) | May 1, 2013
A special double-review today of Chicago indie-lit author Sam Pink's latest, "Rontel." Says Jason Pettus: "Only a limited recommendation today, from a writer who's talented enough to tackle deeper and more significant work and now needs to sit down and actually do so." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Rontel" by Sam Pink (Travis' take) | May 1, 2013
Today, a special double-review of Chicago indie-lit author Sam Pink's latest, "Rontel." Says Travis Fortney: "Pick this one up. It's worth it to see what the kids are reading these days, and the book is good, just not great." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "HHhH" by Laurent Binet | April 29, 2013
Today's book review: The experimental, metafictional Nazi tale "HHhH" by Lauent Binet. Says reviewer Travis Fortney: "Binet is trying to retell history [through fiction] without inventing anything himself. The problem is, I wasn't sure that I saw the inherent value of that idea, and I didn't think Binet necessarily accomplished what he set out to." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Heroin Chronicles," edited by Jerry Stahl | April 26, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "The Heroin Chronicles," edited by Jerry Stahl, a short story collection focusing on that most dangerous of controlled substances: heroin. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Retrospective" by A.B. Yehoshua | April 25, 2013
Today's book review: "The Retrospective," the latest by "bad-boy" Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua. Sums up reviewer Yair Ben-Zvi, "One part film study, one part My Dinner with Andre, another part concluding scene to the Grapes of Wrath coupled with Roman art, and a distinctly Israeli flavor to the proceedings that gives the text a soft and languid warmth that, unfortunately, also slows and at times suffocates the text to a maddening stall." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "This is How You Lose Her" by Junot Diaz | April 24, 2013
Book Review: After becoming an accidental Junot Diaz completist, reviewer Travis Fortney reports that "This is How You Lose Her" is the author's best work so far, and that he's also a nice guy and semi-willing hugger of strangers. "I have always found Diaz's slangy, fast, Spanglish-laden, street smart style to be electric, but this collection hit me in a way his writing hadn't before." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Lazarus Machine: a Tweed & Nightingale Adventure" by Paul Crilley | April 24, 2013
Today's book review: The steampunk actioner "The Lazarus Machine" by Paul Crilley, which reviewer Karl Wolff calls a fun read for those who like 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'Warehouse 13.' | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Regarding the realities of book collecting and the delicious sadness of 'Market Warriors.' | April 23, 2013
Why do I find the new PBS show "Market Warriors" deliciously sad? What secret truth about book collecting have I learned in recent years that a dealer will never tell you? And how are these connected? Check out this personal essay for the answers, in which I address echo chambers, post-Recession realities, and why baseball cards will always be better than rare books for flipping a fast profit. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Four New Messages" by Joshua Cohen | April 22, 2013
Today's book review: The indie-loved Joshua Cohen's latest, "Four New Messages," which every reviewer in America (including now us) has compared to David Foster Wallace. But it's "Girl with Curious Hair rather than Infinite Jest," says reviewer Travis Fortney. "I mean that as a compliment, but I will say that I found [it] to be an uneven book." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Blue Kind," by Kathryn Born | April 19, 2013
Today's book review: "The Blue Kind," a dystopian drug novel by Chicago-area author Kathryn Born, and put out by academic imprint Switchgrass. Says reviewer Karl Wolff, "More novelists writing in science fiction should take these kinds of chances." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Trickster", by Jeff Somers | April 18, 2013
Today's book review: "Trickster" by Jeff Somers, an urban fantasy story about people who cut themselves in order to perform magic, and the first volume in a coming trilogy. Says reviewer Yair Ben-Zvi, "Though [the book] doesn't deliver on most of its ideas and some of the descriptions and imagery are less than graceful, there's enough good here to warrant a read." | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Inexplicables," by Cherie Priest | April 17, 2013
Today's book review: "The Inexplicables," the fourth novel in Cherie Priest's remarkable "Clockwork Century" steampunk series, just as thrilling and well-done as all the others, and a particular treat for fans by being set again in the walled, zombie-filled Seattle where the series started. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Stupid Children" by Lenore Zion | April 17, 2013
Today's book review: Lenore Zion's "Stupid Children," which has been gaining buzz among the indie-lit world but that, whoo boy, reviewer Travis Fortney didn't like at ALL. "A book this short shouldn't feel so long and cumbersome....the writing really is the problem." | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Update: 16 April 2003 | April 16, 2013
Today, the start of a new general update about the center every Tuesday, which will soon be available as well as an email subscription. Today: Maureen Foley's cover art drops, Eleanor Stanford and David David Katzman's books continue to do well, and Lori Hettler starts building our first national network of bookstore retailers! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Woke Up Lonely" by Fiona Maazel | April 15, 2013
Today's book: Fiona Maazel's hot new novel "Woke Up Lonely," a metaphorical tale about cults, loneliness and 21st-century life. Says reviewer Travis Fortney, "This book reminded me of Ryan Boudinot's 'Blueprints of the Afterlife,' which was unique, funny and entertaining, and which I also had trouble connecting to on an emotional level." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Keeping Bedlam at Bay in the Prague Cafe," by M. Henderson Ellis | April 12, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "Keeping Bedlam at Bay in the Prague Cafe," by M. Henderson Ellis, a comedic ride through post-communist Prague with John Shirting in his quest to set up a coffee franchise. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Beautiful Ruins," by Jess Walter | April 11, 2013
Today's book review: "Beautiful Ruins," the newest by revered novelist Jess Walter, a sprawling relationship story that lasts for decades and spans the globe. Reviewer Yair Ben-Zvi sums up, "In case I've been too coy, I'll just say read this book. Do it now. It's worth that, and so much more." | Read entire entry

Book review: "Pacific Offering," by Tom Mahony | April 10, 2013
Today in CCLaP's mini-review roundup, Jason Pettus looks at the melancholy surfer coming-of-age tale "Pacific Offering," by Tom Mahony. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" by Ben Fountain | April 10, 2013
Today's book review: The Iraq War novel "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," which reviewer Travis Fortney found well-done but implausible in some of its details, patronizing in others. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 99: Author David David Katzman | April 9, 2013
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's a one-hour talk with Chicago author David David Katzman, whose CCLaP story collection "The Kickstarter Letters" just came out to the general public last week. | Read entire entry

Say hello to CCLaP's new book reviewers! | April 8, 2013
CCLaP is happy to announce two new book reviewers joining our blog staff starting today, Travis Fortney out of Chicago and Yair Ben-Zvi in California, combining with current staffers Karl Wolff and Jason Pettus so to start offering again thoughtful long-form critical essays every single day of the week. Click through for details, photos, a look at our new weekly posting schedule, and an update about our new monthly magazine that gathers up all these reviews! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Yellow Birds" by Kevin Powers | April 8, 2013
Today's book review: the Iraq war novel "The Yellow Birds" by Kevin Powers, which staff writer Travis Fortney gives his first perfect 10 of the year to. Says Travis, "Reading it felt like a seminal event, and I knew before I was halfway through that it would eventually find its way onto my life list of favorites." | Read entire entry

Book review: "Peer Gynt," by Henrik Ibsen | April 6, 2013
Today's book review: The 1876 classic "Peer Gynt" by Henrik Ibsen, often described as THE quintessential Norwegian drama. Says reviewer Yair Ben-Zvi, "It's brilliant, unwieldy, and something awesome, truly. Read it." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Nazi Seance," by Arthur J. Magida | April 5, 2013
This week Karl Wolff reviews "The Nazi Seance" by Arthur J. Magida, a fascinating history of a self-made and self-delusional mind reader who courted the Nazis while hiding his Jewish heritage. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Familiar," by J. Robert Lennon | April 4, 2013
Today's book review: The surreal existentialist novel "Familiar" by J. Robert Lennon. Says reviewer Travis Fortney: "I loved this short novel, which echoes both the Twilight Zone and authors like Kafka and Borges, with all the fun of the former and the intellectual seriousness of the latter." | Read entire entry

Say hello to CCLaP's newest book, David David Katzman's "The Kickstarter Letters!" | April 4, 2013
Surprise! After a four month delay because of unexpected complications, CCLaP holiday book "The Kickstarter Letters" by Chicago author David David Katzman is finally available to the general public, in both ebook form and the deluxe, oversized, illustrated paper edition that caused all the complications to begin with. Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

The NSFW Files: "Gynecocracy," by Viscount Ladywood | March 29, 2013
This week Karl Wolff has another installment of the NSFW Files, this time looking at "Gynecocracy" by Viscount Ladywood, where a disobedient aristocratic man is disciplined by being forced to wear a corset. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Gold Coast Madam," by Rose Laws with Dianna Harris | March 22, 2013
This week Karl Wolff look at the seamy side of Chicago history with "Gold Coast Madam" by Rose Laws with Dianna Harris, an autobiography of Rose Laws and the call girls that made her infamous. | Read entire entry

Why I Signed 'Historia, Historia' -- An Apologia. | March 21, 2013
Today at CCLaP, an "apologia" (that is, a deliberately all-positive critical essay) on all the reasons I decided to sign Eleanor Stanford's informative, poetic and haunting Peace Corps memoir "Historia, Historia." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 98: Author M. Henderson Ellis | March 18, 2013
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's a half-hour talk with Budapest author M. Henderson Ellis, currently on tour for his new expat novel, "Keeping Bedlam at Bay in the Prague Cafe." Also featuring the music of Clemens Neufeld and Ken Kase. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Secretary," by Kim Ghattas | March 15, 2013
This week, Karl Wolff reviews "The Secretary" by Kim Ghattas, a half-Dutch, half-Lebanese BBC journalist, as she traces the tenure of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, dispelling some popular myths about how this massive institution works. | Read entire entry

Passing the Torch: Kevin Haworth on Eleanor Stanford | March 13, 2013
It's Eleanor Stanford Week at CCLaP! And although we're thrilled that her new book "Historia, Historia" is now available to the public, it unfortunately means that our previous newest book, Kevin Haworth's "Famous Drownings in Literary History," is being relegated this week to the dreaded archives. Before that happens, I asked Kevin if he'd share a few thoughts about Eleanor's book; click through to see what he had to say. | Read entire entry

An Interview with Eleanor Stanford | March 12, 2013
It's Eleanor Stanford Week at CCLaP! And in honor of her new book with the center, the Peace Corps memoir "Historia, Historia," I recently had a chance to "sit down" with her over Google Talk, where we text-chatted for 45 minutes about the book, the Cape Verde Islands, personal versus academic essays and more. Click through for the entire transcript! | Read entire entry

CCLaP's first original book of the year is here! | March 11, 2013
Yippee! CCLaP's first original book of the year has finally gotten released today! It's called "Historia, Historia" by Philadelphia author Eleanor Stanford, and is an intriguing mix: partly a Peace Corps memoir, partly academic essays about the language and culture of the Cape Verde Islands, and partly Marya-Hornbacher-style gripping personal essays about an eating disorder she developed while there. Click through for all the details, and to download a free copy right now! | Read entire entry

Book Review: The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965, by William Manchester and Paul Reid | March 8, 2013
This week, Karl Wolff reviews "The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965" by William Manchester and Paul Reid, the much anticipated third volume to Manchester's epic biography of the controversial British statesman. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Book of Frog," by Jan Zwicky | March 7, 2013
Today's book review: Jan Zwicky's "The Book of Frog," the latest by our friends at Pedlar Press, a cute but slight fairytale about a rock shaped like a frog and the adventures it goes on, written as a series of emails back to the knick-knacks at a couple's house he is friends with. | Read entire entry

Book review: "I Am Ready to Die a Violent Death," by Heiko Julien | March 6, 2013
Today's book review: "I Am Ready to Die a Violent Death," by Chicagoan Heiko Julien, part of that super-duper-indie lit crowd that includes Tao Lin and Jordan Castro, a deeply experimental prose/poetry hybrid that often feels like drunken Twitter posts from a madman, and will certainly make anyone over the age of 35 feel like a sad old out-of-touch loser while they're reading it. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Confessions of an Eccentric Old Man," by Sholder Greye | March 5, 2013
Today's book review: Sholder Greye's "Confessions of an Eccentric Old Man," interesting as a steampunk-style retro thriller regarding an alchemist from the 1600s, but even more interesting as a cultural artifact from the first great days of free moddable e-texts on the web in the mid-1990s. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Seed," by Rob Ziegler | March 4, 2013
Today's book review: The superlative contemporary cyberpunk novel "Seed" by Rob Ziegler, which takes all the elements of the classic sci-fi genre (tech gone amok when finally filtered down to street level, etc), but transports it from pale computer hackers in London to Latino skaters in the American Southwest, as society fights over genetically engineered crops in an agriculturally desolate future. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Digging Deeper: A Memoir of the Seventies," by Peter Weissman | February 26, 2013
Today's book review: Peter Weissman's contemporary memoir about the 1970s, "Digging Deeper," which starts out clunky but quickly grows into a pleasantly slow-paced, anecdotal look at that decade and the former hippie burnouts who survived it. | Read entire entry

The NSFW Files: An Introduction | February 22, 2013
Today at CCLaP, Karl Wolff introduces his new essay series for 2013, "The NSFW Files," which over the rest of this year will investigate the historical and literary worth of erotica through the ages, from ancient Rome to modern times. | Read entire entry

The NSFW Files: The Satyricon, by Petronius | February 22, 2013
Today in CCLaP's essay series on subversive erotic classics, "The NSFW Files," Karl Wolff looks at Petronius's first-century AD ribald romp through the Roman Empire, "The Satyricon." | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Constantine Affliction," by T. Aaron Payton | February 21, 2013
Today's book review: The steampunk actioner "The Constantine Affliction," by T. Aaron Payton. Steampunk! Steampunk! Steampunk! Steampunk! Steampunk! Yep, and every good and bad thing that comes with that, so either get excited or buyer beware. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Jim Hawkins and the Curse of Treasure Island," by Frank Delaney | February 20, 2013
Today's book review: "Jim Hawkins and the Curse of Treasure Island," by revered British man of letters Frank Delaney, an unusually faithful sequel to the Robert Louis Stevenson original that tries extra-hard to exactly match his tone and voice. | Read entire entry

METAPOST: Just one month until CCLaP's first book of the year! Oh yeah, and WE NEED A LETTERPRESS ARTIST! | February 15, 2013
Just one month until the release of CCLaP's first original book of the year, a Peace Corps memoir and collection of essays about language and eating disorders, Eleanor Stanford's "Historia, Historia." Oh, and we still haven't found a letterpress artist who would like to do the covers of the paper version, so I'm making a public appeal for one here! Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Fight Song," by Joshua Mohr | February 14, 2013
Today's book review: The winning dysfunctional-family comedy "Fight Song" by Joshua Mohr, a Michael-Chabonesque blending of realism and wackiness that is sure to be a bit hit among fans of Tom Perrotta and Jane Smiley. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: The "Millennium" Trilogy (first edition, first printing), by Stieg Larsson | February 13, 2013
Today at CCLaP, a new listing in our rare-book service: First American editions, first printings of the three novels in Stieg Larsson's "Millennium" trilogy (you know, "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" et al), a worldwide phenomenon that kickstarted Scandinavia's current crime renaissance. Only $100 OR YOUR BEST OFFER! Click through for more! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Brenner and God," by Wolf Haas | February 12, 2013
Today's review: Wolf Haas' "Brenner and God," the English debut of what's apparently a hugely popular crime series in Europe, which unfortunately suffers from bizarre translation problems, combined with my natural disinterest for this genre in general. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Domers," by David Couzins | February 11, 2013
Today's book review: The would-be science-fiction saga "Domers" by David Couzins, which to be honest doesn't quite all come together when all is said and done, but that is getting a score boost today merely from the admirably high ambitions the author had for it. | Read entire entry

METAPOST: Meet Lori Hettler, CCLaP's new marketing director | February 5, 2013
I'm happy to announce that CCLaP finally has its first paid marketing director, Lori Hettler of the popular "Next Best Book Club." Click through to learn more about her and what she'll be doing for the center. Plus, screenshots and a status report from the first issue of our new monthly magazine, coming next week! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 97: 'Hair Lit's Nick Ostdick and Jason Behrends | January 28, 2013
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's a half-hour talk with RAGAD founder Nick Ostdick and Orange Alert head Jason Behrends, all about their new anthology of stories concerning '80s metal bands, "Hair Lit." | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The King of Pain," by Seth Kaufman | January 25, 2013
Karl Wolff begins 2013 reviewing Seth Kaufman's novel "The King of Pain," about a reality TV producer lodged beneath his giant home entertainment system, his predicament complicated by reading a short story collection about prisons written by someone named Seth Kaufman. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Shadow Show," edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle | January 24, 2013
Today's book review: The great "new" anthology (released last summer) in celebration of Ray Bradbury, the all-star "Shadow Show" edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Lucretia and the Kroons," by Victor LaValle | January 22, 2013
Today's book review: The mostly disappointing alt-horror tale "Lucretia and the Kroons" by Victor LaValle, full of great ideas but that are unfortunately handled rather poorly. | Read entire entry

Book review: "New 52 Batman: The City of Owls," by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo | January 21, 2013
Today's book review: "New 52 Batman: The City of Owls," by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, collecting the first twelve issues of the monthly series since DC's infamous reboot of their shared universe, which I'm happy to report is well-done but as thoroughly a YA product as the rebooted "Doctor Who" is. | Read entire entry

Book review: "We Only Know So Much," by Elizabeth Crane | January 17, 2013
Today's book review at CCLaP: The Franzen-like character-heavy dramedy and latest by personal friend Elizabeth Crane, the delightful and thought-provoking dysfunctional-family tale "We Only Know So Much." | Read entire entry

George Saunders: A Critical Overview | January 16, 2013
Because of getting to interview him last week, I ended up reading all seven books of George Saunders' career over a tiny space of time in January; so instead of an individual review of each, I thought I'd do one large essay about them all today, and examine the dark and bizarre shared universe where his famed bizarro stories take place. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 96: Author George Saunders | January 15, 2013
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: To kick off 2013 and the seventh year of the podcast, we're proud to present a half-hour talk with legendary author George Saunders, whose new book "Tenth of December" currently has him out on a national tour. | Read entire entry

Hey Chicagoans! Come to the 'Hair Lit' release party tomorrow night! | January 11, 2013
Hey, Chicagoans! What are you doing tomorrow night? It's nothing, right? DON'T LIE TO ME! Instead, come out to the release party for the new lit anthology based on '80s metal bands, "Hair Lit," at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

The Year in Books 2012: The CCLaP Guilty Pleasure Awards | January 11, 2013
It's the last day of CCLaP's "Year in Books 2012" report! Today, the sixth anniversary of a proud tradition - the handing out of the CCLaP Guilty Pleasure Awards, for books last year I loved way more than their circumstances deserve for them to be loved. | Read entire entry

The Year in Books: Highlights from Locals and Friends | January 10, 2013
It's day four of CCLaP's "Year in Books 2012" report! Today, a random selection of highlights from the amazing plethora of books put out by locals and our personal friends over the last year. | Read entire entry

The Year in Books 2012: Karl Wolff's Picks | January 9, 2013
It's day three of CCLaP's "Year in Books 2012" report! Today, staff writer Karl Wolff takes a look at his favorite reads in 2012, broken down by specific category. | Read entire entry

The Year in Books 2012: Worth a Second Look | January 8, 2013
It's day two of CCLaP's "Year in Books 2012" report! Today, a look at nine titles that may not have scored the absolute highest last year, but will hold an intense amount of appeal to the niche audiences they were designed for. | Read entire entry

The Year in Books 2012: Best of the Best | January 7, 2013
It's day one of CCLaP's "Year in Books 2012" report! Today, a look at the eleven books that received the highest scores last year, of the 150 books we ended up reviewing. | Read entire entry

The Year in Books, 2012 | January 7, 2013
It's the end of another year, which means it's time for CCLaP's annual "Year in Books" reports, a five-part essay series that breaks down our favorite reads of the year by a series of specific criteria. Here is the master list of links to all five parts. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "A Crash Course on the Anatomy of Robots," by Kent Evans | December 21, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The twee postmodernist rambler "A Crash Course on the Anatomy of Robots" by Kent Evans, not bad from an objective sense but the kind of hipster circle jerk that sets my nerves on edge, and with so much navel-gazing that even orange groves in Florida are getting nervous. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "Because You Have To: A Writer's Life," by Joan Frank | December 20, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The disappointing, mostly useless writing guide "Because You Have To" by Joan Frank, not an actual guide to the technicalities of writing but rather such froo-froo subjects as whether to tell your middle-class friends you're working on a book, or how to decorate your middle-class "artist studio" in the back of your house. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "The Soft Exile," by Eric Kiefer | December 19, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The disappointing Peace Corps memoir "The Soft Exile" by Eric Keifer, loaded with problems endemic to this genre: too many inconsequential details, too much "rah rah frat boy!" attitude, and too many shifts in tone between realism and absurdist comedy. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "A Short Stay in Hell," by Steven L. Peck | December 18, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The extremely disappointing "A Short Stay in Hell" by Steven L. Peck, which I thought was going to be a charming memoir about lapsed Mormonism but is instead the kind of silly fairytale you find in the back of church bulletins. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "The Never Fable" by Steven Brandsdorfer | December 17, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: Steven Brandsdorfer's disappointing alt-reality tale "The Never Fable," the start of an entire week of write-ups about so-so to terrible books recently read. | Read entire entry

On Being Human: "Nekropolis," by Maureen McHugh | December 14, 2012
In this week's edition of CCLaP's On Being Human, Karl Wolff discusses "Nekropolis" by Maureen McHugh, a novel about Hariba, who underwent a surgery to make her subservient, and Akhmim, a genetically engineered being designed from birth to be that way. | Read entire entry

Why I Signed 'Famous Drownings in Literary History' -- An Apologia. | December 13, 2012
Today at CCLaP, an "apologia" -- a "critical" essay deliberately kept all-positive -- on all the reasons I decided to sign and publish Kevin Haworth's beautiful, thought-provoking and poetic essay collection "Famous Drownings in Literary History," after receiving it last year as a cold submission. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "Hellblazer" vol. 1 and 2, by Jamie Delano et al | December 12, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The first two collected volumes of the groundbreaking Vertigo comic "John Constantine, Hellblazer" (these two from 1988-89 and written by Jamie Delano), the start of my plan to read all 300 issues now that DC has announced its imminent cancellation. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "Black Crow White Lie," by Candi Sary | December 11, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The wonderful coming-of-age story "Black Crow White Lie" by Candi Sary, generic in its subject matter but delightful and moving in its details, and yet another quiet winner from the unassumingly great Casperian Books. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "Miss Buncle's Book," by D.E. Stevenson | December 10, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The so-so "Miss Buncle's Book" by D.E. Stevenson, which I thought was going to be a contemporary novel about the foibles of British small-town life, but was actually a reprint of an inferior 1934 novel on the same subject. | Read entire entry

Come join us at the Pop-Up Book Fair this Sunday! | December 7, 2012
Hey Chicagoans! If you're not doing anything on Sunday, come join us at the Pop-Up Book Fair at the Empty Bottle! Featuring 25 local presses and a handful of indie-rock bands, this free-with-RSVP event will be a great place to pick up holiday gifts for all your hipster friends. Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "What Pooh Might Have Said to Dante," by Manny Rayner | December 7, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: "What Pooh Might Have Said to Dante" by Manny Rayner, a collection of book reviews by this popular Goodreads.com member and a great example of what everyone could be doing with their online criticism if they wanted. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "May We Shed These Human Bodies," by Amber Sparks | December 5, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The story collection "May We Shed These Human Bodies" by Amber Sparks, put out by our friends at Curbside Splendor, the rare story collection to capture my attention and imagination just as much as a full-length novel usually does. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm," edited by Philip Pullman | December 4, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: "Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version," edited by celebrated atheist children's author Philip Pullman. Yep, it's exactly what you're expecting! | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "This Bright River," by Patrick Somerville | December 3, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: "This Bright River," the newest by Chicago author Patrick Somerville, an action thriller disguised as a Jonathan Franzen novel and one of my favorite reads of the entire year. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Squinting Over Water: Stories," by Mary Kennedy Eastham | November 30, 2012
Today at CCLaP, Karl Wolff reviews Mary Kennedy Eastham's short story collection "Squinting Over Water," filled with characters coming to terms with loss. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "A Dance with Dragons," by George R.R. Martin | November 29, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: George R.R. Martin's "A Dance with Dragons," volume 5 of the "Game of Thrones" series, which after four thousand pages of surprise pleasure is finally and unfortunately starting to show its age and length. | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "The Barcelona Brothers," by Carlos Zanon | November 28, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The well-done character study "The Barcelona Brothers" by Carlos Zanon, a classic noir but set within the multicultural barrios of this European tourist city. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Kit Brandon" (SIGNED first edition), by Sherwood Anderson | November 27, 2012
Today at CCLaP, a new addition to our rare-book selling service: A SIGNED first-edition copy of Sherwood Anderson's 1936 look at Prohibition, bootlegging and tomboy antiheroes, "Kit Brandon." Bidding starts at $225, which is a steal for this title! | Read entire entry

30 Books in 30 Days: "Religion for Atheists," by Alain de Botton | November 26, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The thought-provoking practical self-help guide "Religion for Atheists" by contemporary philosopher Alain de Botton, founder of London's "School of Life" which actually puts these principles into action. | Read entire entry

Thanks for checking out "A Podcast Dreadful!" | November 19, 2012
After three months of weekly updates, CCLaP's special 12-part "Podcast Dreadful" serial-fiction audiobook anthology finally ends today, and I just wanted to take a chance to thank again the 15 people who made this project a reality. Click through for the details! | Read entire entry

CCLaP's Podcast Dreadful, 12 of 12 | November 19, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's the conclusion of our special 12-part "Podcast Dreadful" serial-fiction audiobook anthology. Today's episode features work by Davis Schneiderman, Jim Ruland, Keith McCleary and Sophia G. Starmack, Ben Tanzer and Karl Wolff, with music by Ken Kase and hosted by Christopher Sullivan. | Read entire entry

On Being Human: "The Killer Inside Me," by Jim Thompson | November 16, 2012
In this week's penultimate installment of CCLaP's "On Being Human," Karl Wolff reviews Jim Thompson's 1952 underground classic "The Killer Inside Me," a book told from the perspective of a small town deputy sheriff from Texas who also happens to be a serial killer. | Read entire entry

One week left! Just a little money to go! Help us finally have our first successful Kickstarter campaign! | November 15, 2012
Oh, we're so close I can freaking taste it! Just five days left for CCLaP's newest Kickstarter campaign, to raise the funds for our coming deluxe illustrated holiday book, "The Kickstarter Letters" by David David Katzman, and we're only a couple of hundred dollars left from reaching our $2,500 goal. If we miss our goal we don't get a penny, AND WE'VE DONE THAT BEFORE AND IT'S HEARTBREAKING, so click through right now and find out how you can help! | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Code for Failure," by Ryan W. Bradley | November 15, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The new slacker memoir "Code for Failure" by author and small-press publisher Ryan W. Bradley, ostensibly a series of funny mini-stories about his time as a gas-station attendent in his youth, but in reality a deeper, darker, and more heartbreaking overall look at small towns, bad sex, and hopelessness. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's Podcast Dreadful, 11 of 12 | November 13, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's part 11 of our special 12-part "Podcast Dreadful" serial-fiction audiobook anthology. Today's episode features work by Davis Schneiderman, Jim Ruland, Keith McCleary & Sophia G. Starmack, Ben Tanzer and Karl Wolff, with music by Ken Kase and hosted by Christopher Sullivan. | Read entire entry

Book vs. Film: "Bone" by Jeff Smith, "The Cartoonist" | November 7, 2012
Today at CCLaP, a dual review of both a book and a movie: The epic comic "Bone" by Jeff Smith, which believe it or not successfully combines "Pogo" and "Lord of the Rings;" and the 2009 documentary "The Cartoonist," not just about Smith but looking at the entire indie-comics explosion of the 1990s. Both are highly recommended! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Cage," by Gordon Weiss | November 2, 2012
This week Karl Wolff reviews "The Cage," by Gordon Weiss, a former UN worker who writes about the human rights disaster of Sri Lanka in its battle with the Tamil Tigers. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's Podcast Dreadful, 9 of 12 | October 29, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's part 9 of our special 12-part "Podcast Dreadful" serial-fiction audiobook anthology, taking place every Monday this fall. Today's episode features work by Davis Schneiderman, Jim Ruland, Keith McCleary and Sophia G. Starmack, Jason Fisk, Ben Tanzer and Karl Wolff, with music by Ken Kase and hosted by Christopher Sullivan. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "The Loser" (first edition), by Peter Ustinov | October 25, 2012
Today at CCLaP, a new listing in our rare-book selling service: A first edition, first printing of actor Peter Ustinov's surprisingly intense novel about the rise and fall of the Nazi Party, 1960's "The Loser." | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "There Are Reasons Noah Packed No Clothes," by Robert Jacoby | October 24, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The competently done but overly familiar '80s-mental-institution tale "There Are Reasons Noah Packed No Clothes," by Robert Jacoby. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's Podcast Dreadful, 8 of 12 | October 23, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's part 8 of our special 12-part "Podcast Dreadful" serial-fiction audiobook anthology, happening every Monday this fall. Today's episode features work by Davis Schneiderman, Jim Ruland, Keith McCleary and Sophia G. Starmack, Jason Fisk and Karl Wolff, with music by Ken Kase and hosted by Christopher Sullivan. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's newest Kickstarter campaign...has begun! | October 22, 2012
CCLaP's newest Kickstarter campaign begins today! It's for our coming deluxe holiday book, "The Kickstarter Letters" by David David Katzman (including 25 new illustrations by Mike Wilgus), and there's a WHOLE LOT to tell you about it. Click through to start your stream-of-consciousness adventure! | Read entire entry

On Being Human: "The Trilogy," by Samuel Beckett | October 19, 2012
This week in the CCLaP series "On Being Human," Karl Wolff analyses Samuel Beckett's groundbreaking "Trilogy," where the famed avant-garde writer sought the essence of what it is to be human by stripping away the setting, plot, and characters of three small novels in a row. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Backwards the Drowned Go Dreaming," by Carl Watson | October 17, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The well-written but still disappointing Beat-style ode to lumpen-proletarians, Carl Watson's "Backwards the Drowned Go Dreaming." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Dodsworth" (first edition), by Sinclair Lewis | October 16, 2012
Today at CCLaP, a new listing in our rare-book selling service: A first edition copy of Sinclair Lewis' 1929 "Dodsworth," the last of the big popular novels from this "Jonathan Franzen of the Roaring Twenties." Now on auction at eBay! Click through for more and to make a bid right now! | Read entire entry

CCLaP's Podcast Dreadful, 7 of 12 | October 15, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, part 7 of our "Podcast Dreadful" 12-part serial-fiction audiobook anthology, taking place every Monday this fall. This episode features work from Davis Schneiderman, Jim Ruland, Keith McCleary and Sophia G. Starmack, Jason Fisk and Karl Wolff, with music by Ken Kase and hosted by Christopher Sullivan. | Read entire entry

Hey, fellow Goodreaders! Win a copy of our new book! | October 15, 2012
Hey, fellow members of literary social network Goodreads.com! CCLaP's giving away five paper copies of our newest book, "Famous Drownings in Literary History" by Kevin Haworth! Click through for all the details, and to request a copy yourself right now! | Read entire entry

An interview with Kevin Haworth | October 12, 2012
Today at CCLaP, a text-chat interview with Ohio author Kevin Haworth, all about his new book with the center, the essay collection "Famous Drownings in Literary History." | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "How Proust Can Change Your Life," by Alain de Botton | October 10, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The delightful yet informative "How Proust Can Change Your Life," by philosopher and 'spiritual atheist' Alain de Botton. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's newest book is here! | October 8, 2012
Hooray! Today sees the release of CCLaP's newest original book, the essay collection "Famous Drownings in Literary History" by Ohio professor Kevin Haworth! Click through for a lot more, including links to the free ebook, special handmade paper edition, Kindle version, Goodreads page, retail merchandise and more! | Read entire entry

CCLaP's Podcast Dreadful, 6 of 12 | October 8, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, part 6 of our 12-part "Podcast Dreadful" serial-fiction audiobook anthology. Today's episode features work from Davis Schneiderman, Keith McCleary and Sophia G. Starmack, Jim Ruland, Jason Fisk and Karl Wolff, with music by Ken Kase and hosted by Christopher Sullivan. | Read entire entry

METAPOST: Video from our "Podcast Dreadful" Quimby's event is now online! | October 5, 2012
Sorry this took so long, but the video from CCLaP's recent "Podcast Dreadful" live recording at Quimby's Bookstore is now online, split into five parts over at YouTube. Click through for them all! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power," by Robert Caro | October 5, 2012
Today at CCLaP, Karl Wolff gives his first perfect 10 of the year, to the hotly anticipated "Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power" by Robert A. Caro. Says Karl, "Strange as it sounds, it is a hagiography of sorts, since saints have their flaws and weaknesses [and] Johnson had both." | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Thomas Hart Benton: A Life," by Justin Wolff | October 3, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The engaging, fascinating "Thomas Hart Benton: A Life" by journalist Justin Wolff, a look at the leftist Early Modernist painter who once was the most famous artist in America, but who had fallen into obscurity even by the end of his own life. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "The Forgiven," by Lawrence Osborne | October 2, 2012
Today's book review at CCLaP: The fascinating but also meandering "The Forgiven" by Lawrence Osborne, in which an accidental drunk-driving death among wealthy expats in north Africa is used to astutely examine 21st-century "soft imperialism." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion" (1929 edition), by L.C. McCollum | October 1, 2012
Today, a new listing in CCLaP's rare-book selling service: A 1929 edition of the World War One memoir "History and Rhymes of the Lost Battalion," by surviving member L.C. McCollum, a tribute to their steady-minded commander Charles Whittlesey who sadly committed Jazz Age suicide just two years after the war ended. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's Podcast Dreadful, 5 of 12 | October 1, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's part 5 of 12 of our "Podcast Dreadful" serial-fiction audiobook anthology. This week's episode features work by Davis Schneiderman, Jim Ruland, Keith McCleary and Sophia G. Starmack, Jason Fisk and Karl Wolff, music by Ken Kase and hosted by Christopher Sullivan. | Read entire entry

Ten days and counting for CCLaP's newest book! | September 28, 2012
Sorry as always for the lack of updates at the CCLaP blog this week; and that's because we're a mere ten days away from the release of our newest book, the essay collection "Famous Drownings in Literary History" by Kevin Haworth! Click through for more, and to see the just-completed paper cover for it, featuring a brand-new illustration by our pal Laura Szumowski. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: Newberry Library Bulletin, December 1948, Sherwood Anderson Memorial | September 24, 2012
CCLaP's newest rare-book auction is up at eBay! This time it's the special 1948 issue of Chicago's "Newberry Library Bulletin," marking the public opening of their famed Sherwood Anderson Papers, in LIKE NEW condition (literally in a sealed box from then until now). Bidding starts at only $20, and there's no reserve! Please help us spread the word about our new eBay store! | Read entire entry

CCLaP's Podcast Dreadful, 4 of 12 | September 24, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's part 4 of "A Podcast Dreadful," the center's 12-part serial-fiction audiobook anthology. This episode was taped in front of a live audience at Quimby's Bookstore, and includes work by Davis Schneiderman, Keith McCleary and Sophia G. Starmack, Jason Fisk, Karl Wolff and Jacob S. Knabb. | Read entire entry

On Being Human: Venus in Furs, by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch | September 21, 2012
Today in CCLaP's "On Being Human," Karl Wolff's look at humanity as explained through various famous pieces of pop culture: It's Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's infamous "Venus in Furs," the 1870 book that inspired the sexual term 'masochism.' | Read entire entry

Tonight! Tonight! CCLaP's 'Podcast Dreadful' live taping is tonight! | September 21, 2012
Many thanks to all of you who have been downloading and mentioning CCLaP's "Podcast Dreadful" audiobook anthology this month; and I'm happy to say that tonight finally is our live taping at Quimby's Bookstore! Click through for all the details, and I hope to see you all there! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 20 September 2012 | September 20, 2012
Today at CCLaP, short review of three recently read books: A new color edition of the great graphic novel "Scott Pilgrim" by Bryan Lee O'Malley; Jonathan Sturak's crime thriller "A Smudge of Gray," competently written but awfully generic; and the truly awful "Beautiful Disaster" by Jamie McGuire, which I was tricked into reading through an advertisement disguised as an objective recommendation. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's Podcast Dreadful, 3 of 12 | September 17, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's part 3 of our 12-part "Podcast Dreadful" serial-fiction audiobook anthology. This week's episode features work by Davis Schneiderman, Keith McCleary, Sophia G. Starmack, Jason R. Riley, Karl Wolff and Jacob S. Knabb, with music by Ken Kase and hosted by Christopher Sullivan. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 14 September 2012 | September 14, 2012
Today at CCLaP, short reviews of three recently read books: The brand-new "Return of the Thin Man," which for the first time publishes the "treatments" Dashiell Hammett wrote for the second and third movies in that series; Therese Doucet's "recovering Mormon" novel "A Lost Argument," with a great first half and not-so-great second; and Arielle Bier's hypnotic photography book "An Urban Myth." | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Thin Man," by Dashiell Hammett | September 11, 2012
Today on the CCLaP 100 essay series on literary classics: It's Dashiell Hammett's 1934 hardboiled detective story "The Thin Man." Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

CCLaP's Podcast Dreadful, 2 of 12 | September 10, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's episode 2 of our special "Podcast Dreadful" 12-part serial-fiction audiobook anthology. This week featuring stories from Davis Schneiderman, Keith McCleary and Sophia G. Starmack, Jason Riley, Karl Wolff and Jacob S. Knabb, with music by Ken Kase and hosted by Christopher Sullivan. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Arming the Luftwaffe," by Daniel Uziel | September 7, 2012
Today at CCLaP, Karl Wolff reviews "Arming the Luftwaffe" by Daniel Uziel, an account of the development of Nazi era technology and wartime logistics. Says Karl, "This book isn't for everybody, since it is written in dry academic prose; but for the specialist, it is a treasure trove of information and analysis." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 95: Author Charles Stross | September 6, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's my hour-long talk with science-fiction author Charles Stross, a prolific writer who works in many genres simultaneously, but is perhaps best known for coining the term "Accelerated Age" to refer to the spate of "Singularity" novels that became so popular in the early 2000s. Click through to listen right now. | Read entire entry

The day is here! CCLaP's Podcast Dreadful has begun! | September 3, 2012
Excelsior! CCLaP's new 12-part serial fiction audiobook anthology, "A Podcast Dreadful," begins today! Click through for a lot more about it, as well as info on the episode we'll be doing in front of a live audience, on September 21st at Quimby's Bookstore here in Chicago. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's Podcast Dreadful, 1 of 12 | September 3, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's part 1 of the center's "Podcast Dreadful," a 12-part serial fiction audiobook anthology taking place every Monday this fall. Today's episode features stories from Davis Schneiderman, Keith McCleary and Sophia G. Starmack, Jason Riley, Karl Wolff and Jacob S. Knabb, with music by Ken Kase and hosted by Christopher Sullivan. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Middlemarch," by George Eliot | August 30, 2012
Today in the CCLaP 100 essay series on literary classics: It's George Eliot's 1874 "Middlemarch," a complex and multifaceted human-interest story in the style of "Downton Abbey," applauded for bringing academic respect to the novel format for one of the first times in history. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 28 August 2012 | August 28, 2012
Today at CCLaP, short reviews of four recently read books: Richard Russo's hilarious 1997 comedy about academia, "Straight Man;" "At Random: The Reminiscences of Bennett Cerf," by the co-founder of Random House and one of the most surprisingly fascinating books I've read in years; and the brilliant soft-apocalypse thrillers "The Dewey Decimal System" and "The Nervous System" by Shudder To Think guitarist Nathan Larson, likely to make the center's best of the year list in December. | Read entire entry

On Being Human: Hellboy, by Mike Mignola | August 24, 2012
In this week's installment of Karl Wolff's essay series, "On Being Human," he explores the comic book series "Hellboy," and a how a cigar-chomping hell demon, who also happens to be a practicing Catholic, works to save the world for Rasputin, Nazis, and all manner of Lovecraftian nightmarish entities. | Read entire entry

Behold! CCLaP Factory 2.0! Plus our newest book cover is revealed! | August 17, 2012
Sorry for yet another week of no postings at the CCLaP website; but behold what's been keeping me busy, the center's brand-new bookbinding factory, i.e. the corner of my Chicago apartment. Plus: Our newest original book, Kevin Haworth's "Famous Drownings in Literary History" (coming in October), has a cover and is ready for pre-orders! Click through to see and buy! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Dire Salvation," by Charles B. Neff | August 10, 2012
This week, Karl Wolff reviews a mystery set in a small town in Washington state involving designer drugs, a Native American social worker, and a suspicious computer hacker. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 8 August 2012 | August 8, 2012
Today, small reviews of three recently read books: Lori R. Lopez's so-so horror tale "Dance of the Chupacabras;" L.H. Thomson's serviceable space opera "The Process Server;" and Ian Tregillis' magic-meets-WW2 thriller "Bitter Seeds," a bit disappointing merely from the amount of hype that has accompanied it. Click through for them all. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 93: Author Patrick Wensink | August 7, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's a talk with Louisville author Patrick Wensink, whose bizarro novel "Broken Piano for President" recently became a national viral sensation, because of receiving "The Most Polite Cease And Desist Letter In History" from Jack Daniels. Also featuring the music of The Monitors and Gotye. | Read entire entry

Let's Talk About Them Again: "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle," by Haruki Murakami | August 1, 2012
Today at CCLaP, a special second look at Haruki Murakami's 1990s cult classic "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle," after reading his newest book "1Q84" earlier this year and being profoundly disappointed by it. Were my memories faulty, or is this earlier novel really that much better than his newest work? Click through for the results! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 31 July 2012 | July 31, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The academic thesis-cum-manifesto "Paragogy" by Charles Jeffrey Danoff and Joe Arided, interesting but way over my head; the practical and fascinating "Understanding Arabs" by Margaret K. Nydell; and the disappointing glorified coffeetable book "City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age," by P.D. Smith. | Read entire entry

It's day ten of Mark R. Brand's virtual book tour! | July 31, 2012
It's day ten of Mark R. Brand's virtual tour for the science-fiction novella "Life After Sleep!" Today Mark finishes his busy tour with a visit to our old pal Ben Tanzer, featuring a rare video that you should really stop by and check out when you have a chance. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

It's day nine of Mark R. Brand's virtual book tour! | July 30, 2012
It's day nine of Mark R. Brand's virtual tour for the science-fiction novella "Life After Sleep!" Today Mark is hanging out with popular blogger Okla Elliott, where he has posted a special excerpt from the book at the website As It Ought To Be. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

On Being Human: Swastika Night by Katharine Burdekin | July 27, 2012
This week's installment of Karl Wolff's essay series, On Being Human, examines the feminist science fiction novel "Swastika Night", an alternate history predating Orwell's "1984" that explores the darker regions of human behavior in a far future Europe ruled by medieval Nazi knights. | Read entire entry

It's day seven of Mark R. Brand's virtual book tour! | July 26, 2012
It's day seven of Mark R. Brand's virtual tour for the science-fiction novella "Life After Sleep!" Today Mark is hanging out with fellow CCLaP author Lauryn Allison Lewis, where he types up some guest thoughts on how he came up with the dialogue and plot details. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Death Kit" (first edition), by Susan Sontag | July 25, 2012
Today at CCLaP, a new listing in our rare-book selling service: A first-edition copy of Postmodernist icon Susan Sontag's 1967 experimental novel "Death Kit," a sort of "Kafka for hippies" that was a big hit among countercultural intellectuals. Click through for details, lots of photos, and to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

It's day six (and five) of Mark R. Brand's virtual book tour! | July 25, 2012
It's day six of Mark R. Brand's virtual tour for the science-fiction novella "Life After Sleep!" And as usual, I actually have two links to share with you today, since I missed posting about this yesterday; on that day Mark was hanging out with fellow CCLaP artist Laura Szumowski, while today he has a new MP3 reading from the book posted at Curbside Splendor. Click through for them both! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 91: Live from the 'solo/down' release party | July 23, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's a live recording from the recent crowded, drunken release party for Lauryn Allison Lewis's novella "solo/down." Featuring performances from Robyn Pennacchia, James Tadd Adcox, Jac Jemc, Lindsay Hunter, Mason Johnson, Samantha Irby, Matt Rowan, Ben Tanzer and Lauryn herself, and hosted by Curbside Splendor's Victor David Giron. | Read entire entry

It's day four of Mark R. Brand's virtual book tour! | July 23, 2012
It's day four of Mark R. Brand's virtual tour for the science-fiction novella "Life After Sleep!" And I actually have two links to share with you today, since I missed posting about this on Friday; on that day Mark was hanging out with our friends at Another Chicago Magazine, while today he's at the great science-fiction blog Grasping for the Wind. Click through for the links! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 19 July 2011 | July 19, 2012
Today, small reviews of three recently read books: The highly engaging and incredibly smart human-interest story collection "Gay Dwarves of America" by Anne Fleming; the brilliantly bizarre new fairytale "The Sugar Frosted Nutsack" by Mark "King of the Bizarro Authors" Leyner; and Michael Panush's profoundly disappointing "The Stein & Candle Detective Agency," a juvenile actioner disturbingly promoted as an adult title and a bad sign of the arrested-development times we're living in. | Read entire entry

It's day two of Mark R. Brand's virtual author tour! | July 19, 2012
It's day two of Mark R. Brand's virtual tour for the science-fiction novella "Life After Sleep!" Today Mark is hanging out with fellow CCLaP author Jason Fisk, where the two gab about science-fiction versus speculative fiction, where the ideas for this book came from, and more. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Meditations," by Marcus Aurelius | July 18, 2012
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: It's "Meditations," the private journals of Roman emperor, working soldier and hardcore Stoic Marcus Aurelius, written from 160 to 180 AD and essentially like one of those punchy, bullet-point-riddled advice books from famous corporate executives. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 90: CCLaP in NYC - KGB Bar | July 17, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's the fourth of four recent shows we did in New York City, this time at famed lower Manhattan lit hangout KGB Bar. Featuring Kevin Haworth, David David Katzman, Traci Kim, Lauryn Allison Lewis, Sally Weigel, and an infamously riotous performance from Ben Tanzer. Many thanks to Lori Hettler for providing the missing audio you'll hear at the end! | Read entire entry

Welcome to the Mark R. Brand virtual author tour! | July 17, 2012
It's day one of CCLaP's newest "virtual book tour," this time for the day-after-tomorrow sci-fi tale "Life After Sleep" by local author Mark R. Brand. Click through for more about the book and the full schedule of performers, including a link to today's stop at the blog of noted New Weird writer Bella Street. | Read entire entry

It's day twenty-one (and the very last day) of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour! | July 13, 2012
It's the very last day of CCLaP's Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour for "The New York Stories!" Today the tour wraps up with a visit by Laura to our old friend and local bizarro author David David Katzman, where the two talk at length about Laura's work, career, and distinctive visual style. Thanks, everyone, for an extra-long and extra-great tour! And don't forget that Mark R. Brand hits the information superhighway starting Monday! | Read entire entry

Book Review: Werewolves of Wisconsin and other American myths, monsters, and ghosts, by Andy Fish | July 13, 2012
This week, Karl Wolff reviews "Werewolves of Wisconsin and other American myths, monsters, and ghosts," a graphic novel by Andy Fish. It explores the scary regions of these United States with gory visuals and local legends. | Read entire entry

Hey, Chicagoans! Come out to our show tonight at Women & Children First! | July 12, 2012
We haven't had a chance to promote this much, and we forgot to make a Facebook event page, but I wanted to let all you Chicagoans know that we're doing an all-CCLaP, all-female (or, er, all-non-penis-owning) reading tonight at the great Women & Children First Bookstore at 5233 N. Clark, starting at 7 pm, and featuring Lauryn Allison Lewis, Katherine Scott Nelson and Traci Kim. Hope to see you there! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 11 July 2012 | July 11, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: Lizzie Stark's insightful "NPR-worthy" look at live action role-playing games, "Leaving Mundania;" George R.R. Martin's "A Feast for Crows," volume five of the "Game of Thrones" novels; and Patrick Wensink's brilliantly silly bizarro novels about grizzled rock stars and world-dominating burger franchises, "Broken Piano for President." | Read entire entry

It's day nineteen of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour! | July 11, 2012
It's day nineteen of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour for "The New York Stories!" Today Laura is hanging out with our friend Davis Schneiderman at the blog Big Other, where she has turned in a guest essay (and lots and lots of illustrations) about what it was like as a visual artist to work on this book. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 89: CCLaP in NYC - Vaudeville Park | July 9, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's the third of four hour-long shows that CCLaP's authors recently attended in New York City, this time at the Brooklyn performance space Vaudeville Park, and in this particular case in conjunction with local band Battle Of The Camel. Featuring performances from David David Katzman, Oriana Leckert, Lauryn Allison Lewis, Katherine Scott Nelson, John Reed and Sally Weigel. | Read entire entry

Hey, Chicagoans! Drop us a note and get 25 percent off our coming summer writing camp! | July 9, 2012
Yippee! Only one month until the start of CCLaP's first-ever summer writing camp! And as a little incentive to get more locals to sign up, we're running a sale of sorts -- simply drop us a note and explain why you want to take a class, and get 25 percent off the tuition! Click through for the details! | Read entire entry

It's day seventeen (and sixteen) of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour! | July 9, 2012
It's day seventeen of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour for "The New York Stories!" And once again I actually have two links to share today -- both Laura's stop today at Untoward Magazine, and her talk last Friday with fellow CCLaP artist Mark R. Brand. Click through for them both! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "A Bell for Adano" (first edition), by John Hersey | July 5, 2012
Today, a new addition to CCLaP's rare-book selling service: a first-edition copy of war correspondent John Hersey's 1944 "A Bell for Adano," a charming Pulitzer winner from the man whose eventual hauntingly poetic coverage of Hiroshima for "The New Yorker" would single-handedly kick off the entire era of "New Journalism." Click through for details, photos, and to purchase it this moment. | Read entire entry

It's day fifteen of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour! | July 5, 2012
It's day fifteen of CCLaP's Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour for "The New York Stories!" Today both Ben and Laura are doing a group talk with our friends at Artifice magazine, where they go into all kinds of detail about the process of putting this special illustrated edition together (including lots and lots of image examples). Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 4 July 2012 | July 4, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The competently done but silly and forgettable bizarro novel "Year Zero" by Rob Reid; the disappointing day-after-tomorrow thriller "The Night Sessions" by Ken MacLeod; and Meg Howrey's professional-dancer coming-of-age tale "The Cranes Dance," good for what it is but tedious if you're not into the minutiae of a ballerina's day-to-day life. | Read entire entry

It's day fourteen (and thirteen) of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour! | July 4, 2012
It's day fourteen of CCLaP's Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour for "The New York Stories!" And like usual these days, home internet problems kept me from updating yesterday, so today I have four links to share with you - yesterday at Baby Got Books for Laura and Dead End Follies for Ben, and today at WordPlaySound for Ben and Caleb J. Ross for Laura. Click through for all four links! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 88: Author Joe Meno | July 2, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's my talk with contemporary Chicago lit-legend Joe Meno, where we speak for an hour all about his new book coming out this week, the bittersweet relationship tale "Office Girl" from Akashic Books. Click through to download or stream it right now. | Read entire entry

It's day twelve of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour! | July 2, 2012
It's day twelve of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour for "The New York Stories!" And just like on Friday, today Ben and Laura are both being featured at the same place -- Lori Hettler's "The Next Best Book Blog," where both turn in separate videos featuring the places where they work. Click through for them both! | Read entire entry

It's day eleven of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour! | June 29, 2012
It's day eleven of CCLaP's Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour for "The New York Stories!" And while we wait for today's link to Ben and Laura's recent podcast talk for Another Chicago Magazine, let me share yesterday's link as well, a guest essay by Ben at the blog of Curt Bledsoe; and for that matter, let me officially announce all the dates for Laura's leg of the tour, starting today and lasting the next two weeks! Click through for it all! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 27 June 2012 | June 27, 2012
Today, small reviews of three recently read books: The lovely new melancholy relationship story "Office Girl" by local lit legend Joe Meno; the serviceable but badly padded "Star Trek FAQ" by Mark Clark; and the great but not life-changing "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts" by Mark Dery, sorta Noam-Chomsky takes on the usual subject matters of anarcho-nerds like Warren Ellis and Boing Boing. | Read entire entry

It's day nine (and eight) of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour! | June 27, 2012
It's day nine of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour for "The New York Stories!" And in fact once again I didn't get to post a tour update yesterday, so not only am I telling you today about Ben's recent MP3 reading for Curbside Splendor, but also about his recent visit with litblogger Patricia Ann McNair yesterday. Click through for them both! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 87: CCLaP in NYC - Book Thug Nation | June 25, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's show two of our recent four-day tour of New York, this time at Brooklyn bookstore Book Thug Nation, and in this case in conjunction with local litmag Moonshot. | Read entire entry

It's day seven of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour! | June 25, 2012
It's day seven of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour for "The New York Stories!" Today Ben is hanging out with our old buddy Mel Bosworth, so I hope you'll have a chance to stop by later. | Read entire entry

It's day six (and five) of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour! | June 22, 2012
It's day six of CCLaP's Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour for 'The New York Stories!' And in fact I missed yesterday's update, so I actually have two links to share today - a video interview between Ben and his son for Baby Got Books, and a guest essay by Ben on 'meta-projects' at Burrow Press Review. Plus photos and a report from last night's insanely packed release party for Lauryn Allison Lewis's CCLaP novella 'solo/down!' | Read entire entry

It's day four of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour! | June 20, 2012
It's day four of CCLaP's Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour for "The New York Stories!" Today Ben is hanging out with our old friend Pete Anderson, a fellow Chicago author and the owner of the great blog PeteLit.com. | Read entire entry

It's day three of the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour! | June 19, 2012
It's day three of CCLaP's Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour for "The New York Stories!" Today Ben is hanging out with our pal Ryan Bradley; and instead of doing an interview, Ben asked Ryan (a full-time graphic designer and the owner of the great Artistically Declined Press) if he might do an alternative cover for the book, just as an interesting intellectual exercise. Click through to see the results! | Read entire entry

Welcome to the Ben Tanzer/Laura Szumowski virtual book tour! | June 18, 2012
Excelsior! Today kicks off CCLaP's latest virtual tour, this time a double one featuring both Ben Tanzer and Laura Szumowski, out promoting their illustrated story-collection collaboration from last Christmas, "The New York Stories." Plus, starting today, a big discount on the deluxe paper edition, and for the first time a free electronic version of the illustrated book! Click through for it all! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 86: CCLaP in NYC - Le Poisson Rouge | June 18, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's the first of four one-hour shows that CCLaP's authors recently attended in New York City, this time at the lower Manhattan rock club Le Poisson Rouge. Featuring performances from David David Katzman, Traci Kim, Lauryn Allison Lewis, Katherine Scott Nelson and John Reed. | Read entire entry

Hey, Chicagoans! Come out to the 'solo/down' release party this Thursday! | June 18, 2012
Hey, Chicagoans! I hope you'll have a chance to come out this Thursday for the official release party of Lauryn Allison Lewis's novella for CCLaP, "solo/down," at Cole's Bar in the Logan Square neighborhood (2338 N. Milwaukee) from 7 to 10 pm. Cupcakes! Music! Ten freaking readers! Plus every person who buys a book gets a free drink too! Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Venice Noir," edited by Maxim Jakubowski | June 15, 2012
Today's book review: The new Akashic anthology "Venice Noir," edited by Maxim Jakubowski. Says reviewer Karl Wolff, "There is something for everyone in this [book], a delicious sampling of tastes, styles, and stories." | Read entire entry

Photo essay: CCLaP New York City tour report | June 8, 2012
CCLaP's back from New York City, safe and sound! And now that I've gotten a little rest, I thought I would devote the entire afternoon to getting a report and over 50 photos from the tour posted to the blog. Click through for the entire extra-long thing! | Read entire entry

On Being Human: Wraeththu, by Storm Constantine | June 1, 2012
This week Karl Wolff explores Storm Constantine's trilogy "Wraeththu," about a hermaphroditic human species that overtakes humanity during a postapocalyptic catastrophe. | Read entire entry

It's day eight of Katherine Scott Nelson's virtual author tour! | May 30, 2012
It's day eight (and the final day) of Katherine Scott Nelson's virtual book tour for hir CCLaP novella "Have You Seen Me!" Today Katherine is over at our good friend Lori Hettler's The Next Best Book Blog, where ze is participating in a regular feature there called "Where Writers Write," essays about the locations where authors prefer doing their work. | Read entire entry

It's day seven of Katherine Scott Nelson's virtual author tour! | May 29, 2012
It's day seven of Katherine Scott Nelson's virtual book tour for hir CCLaP novella "Have You Seen Me!" Today Katherine is hanging out with our buddies at Curbside Splendor, another small press here in Chicago, for whom ze recently did a 15-minute MP3 reading of the first two scenes from the book. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 29 May 2012 | May 29, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The delightful character drama "Affection Aires" by Jeffra Hays; the so-so future-war thriller "Exogene" by T.C. McCarthy; and the really astounding "Gods of Gotham" by Lyndsay Faye, the first in a new series of detective stories all set during the 1840s beginnings of New York's first police department. | Read entire entry

Books! Parties! Struggling Kickstarter campaigns! Only four days until CCLaP's in New York City! | May 28, 2012
Holy crap! Only four days until CCLaP's big trip to New York City! Today, some photos of all the handmade books that have been made for the tour, shots from the bon voyage party we threw this weekend at Lauryn Allison Lewis's place in Evanston, and the latest from our sadly struggling Kickstarter campaign, and what you can do to help. Click through for it all! | Read entire entry

It's day five (and, uh, four) of Katherine Scott Nelson's virtual author tour! | May 25, 2012
It's day five of Katherine Scott Nelson's virtual book tour for hir CCLaP novella "Have You Seen Me!" Today Katherine is visiting our old pal Jason Behrends at the Orange Alert Podcast. And since we missed yesterday, you can visit today's post as well for day four's stop at the podcast of yet another good friend, Ben Tanzer, as well as photos from Katherine's physical tour stop last night at the Lambda Finalist reading at Chicago's Center On Halsted. Click through for all the images and links! | Read entire entry

It's day three of Katherine Scott Nelson's virtual author tour! | May 23, 2012
It's day three of Katherine Scott Nelson's virtual book tour for hir CCLaP novella "Have You Seen Me!" And today Katherine is at the blog of our old pal and fellow Chicago writer Jason Fisk, himself the author of last year's CCLaP book "Salt Creek Anthology." Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Holy interrobang! CCLaP's holding a summer writing camp! | May 22, 2012
Well, whaddya know? CCLaP is doing its very first summer writing camp! It's every Tuesday through Friday this August, consists of eight interrelated courses on the storytelling process, was developed and is being taught by local academes, can be taken individually by existing writers to brush up on specific skills, but was designed primarily as a full program for teens looking to add an impressive asset to college applications. Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

It's day two of Katherine Scott Nelson's virtual author tour! | May 22, 2012
It's day two of Katherine Scott Nelson's virtual book tour for hir CCLaP novella "Have You Seen Me!" And today Katherine is at the blog of LGBT performer Sassafras Lowrey, where the two talk in detail about Katherine's writing process, hir thoughts on both YA and "coming out" literature, and a lot more. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

It's day one of Katherine Scott Nelson's virtual book tour! | May 21, 2012
All right! It's day one of Katherine Scott Nelson's virtual author tour for hir CCLaP novella "Have You Seen Me," double-nominated for this year's Lambda Awards for LGBT literature (and with the awards ceremony just two weeks from today). Click through for the entire tour plans, and a link to today's stop, over at the blog of trans performer Rebecca Kling. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Duke Don't Dance," by Richard Sharp | May 18, 2012
This week, Karl Wolff reviews Richard Sharp's novel "The Duke Don't Dance," tracing several friends across decades and continents from the jungles of Southeast Asia to a DC lobbying firm and beyond. The novel combines nuanced literary observations with cutting satire. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 11 May 2012 | May 11, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The so-so experimental novella "Keyi its ?? ?? 4 Sucsexy" by Charles Jeffrey Danoff; Philip Roth's 1985 novella "The Prague Orgy," volume five of his nine-title "Nathan Zuckerman" series; and George R.R. Martin's "A Storm of Swords," a.k.a. volume three of the "Game of Thrones" novels, still continuing to be just as great as the original book in question. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's first-ever Kickstarter campaign is underway! | May 7, 2012
Have you heard? Six of CCLaP's authors are going on a four-day mini-tour of New York City at the end of this month! And that unfortunately meant that they were all forced to buy airplane tickets on their own dimes ahead of time; so in the hopes of subsidizing the money they've spent, we're running our first-ever Kickstarter campaign, specifically to pre-sell a new anthology featuring never-before-published work from all the authors in question. Click through for a lot more! | Read entire entry

Personal essay: "Why I Signed 'solo/down' -- an Apologia." | May 4, 2012
Today, a special "apologia" (or deliberately all-positive critical essay), all about why I commissioned Chicago author Lauryn Allison Lewis a year ago to write the apocalyptic fairytale that would eventually become the center's newest book, "solo/down," and by extension what it is about her dense, beautiful writing that I love so much. | Read entire entry

On Being Human: The Culture novels by Iain Banks | May 4, 2012
Today in Karl Wolff's CCLaP essay series "On Being Human," it's 'The Culture' novels by Iain Banks, in which humans, aliens, and machines all live in a post-scarcity utopia. Banks's novels follow eccentrics and troublemakers in a society where humans can switch gender, become aliens, and even become machines. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 3 May 2012 | May 3, 2012
Today, small reviews of three recently read books: the fascinating new anthology of obscure Victorian detective stories, "The Dead Witness;" the rollickingly good Michael-Crichton-like look at a person actually turned into a giant; and Sam Benjamin's "American Gangbang: A Love Story," a funny yet riveting look at a former alt-porn producer who slowly morphed into a mainstream pornographer, and by extension a sort of indictment of the entire alt-porn community of the early 2000s in general. | Read entire entry

Start spreading the news! CCLaP is going to New York City! | May 1, 2012
A group of us have been secretly working on this for six months, so I'm happy to finally announce publicly today that a half-dozen of CCLaP's authors and myself will be doing a four-day, four-show mini-tour of New York City at the end of this month, including Kevin Haworth, David David Katzman, Traci Kim, Oriana Leckert, Lauryn Allison Lewis, Katherine Scott Nelson, John Reed, Ben Tanzer and Sally Weigel. Click through for lots, lots, LOTS more! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 30 April 2012 | April 30, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The so-so quirky literary piece "The Last Hiccup" by Christopher Meades; the so-so story/photography collaboration about pre-gentrified lower Manhattan, "East of Bowery" by Drew Hubner and Ted Barron; and the clever but so-so human interest drama pulling details from both "The Raven" and "The Great Gatsby," "The Great Lenore" by J.M. Tohline. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "The Robots of Dawn" (first edition), by Isaac Asimov | April 27, 2012
Today at CCLaP, a new listing in our rare-book selling service: A first-edition copy of Isaac Asimov's 1983 "The Robots of Dawn," the second book of his new tear of novels in the '80s that aimed to narratively and conceptually unify the "Robots," "Empire" and "Foundation" series from way back in the '50s. Click through for more, lots of photos, and to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

It's Lauryn Allison Lewis day at CCLaP! | April 23, 2012
It's Lauryn Allison Lewis day at CCLaP! And that's because today we're celebrating her new novella with the center, a dark and unsettling post-apocalyptic fairytale called "solo/down." Click through for a lot more, and to start the downloading/ordering process. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 85: Author Lauryn Allison Lewis | April 23, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's my half-hour talk with Lauryn Allison Lewis, where we gab all about her new book with the center coming out today, the apocalyptic fairytale "solo/down." Also featuring the music of The Beloved and SPEAK. | Read entire entry

Passing the Torch: Sally Weigel on Lauryn Allison Lewis | April 23, 2012
It's Lauryn Allison Lewis day at CCLaP! And in celebration of her new novella with the center, 'solo/down,' here's a critical essay on the book by Sally Weigel, author of the last book the center put out, the story collection "Get Up Tim" from this January. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Make It Stay," by Joan Frank | April 20, 2012
Today's book: "Make It Stay" by Joan Frank, which reviewer Karl Wolff calls his favorite read so far of the year. The novel explores the lives of two couples in a small Northern California town as they encounter births, deaths, joys, and frustrations. Frank's highly polished literary prose is definitely worth your time. | Read entire entry

Stop! PROOFER TIME! | April 16, 2012
Don't hurt 'em, Hammer! We're one week away from the release of CCLaP's newest original book, the dark post-apocalyptic fairytale "solo/down" by local author Lauryn Allison Lewis, and as usual we're looking for volunteer proofreaders to help us get this into the best shape possible before publication. Click through for more and to submit your name, proud linguistic soldier! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Zone One," by Colson Whitehead | April 16, 2012
Today's book: The academically celebrated Colson Whitehead's latest, "Zone One," a vicious criticism of Obamian-Age optimism disguised as a post-apocalyptic zombie thriller, and the first book of 2012 to receive a perfect score. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 12 April 2012 | April 12, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: Mark Hodder's "Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon," the third volume in his increasingly difficult-to-follow "Burton & Swinburne" steampunk series; Jason Jordan's okay but so-so post-apocalyptic novella "The Dying Horse;" and Umberto Eco's fantastically amazing newest, "The Prague Cemetery," taking the impeccable research of "The Name of the Rose" but here applying it to the history of the writing of infamous anti-Semite tract "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "First Aid Textbook for Juniors" (first edition), by the American Red Cross (UPDATE: SOLD) | April 9, 2012
Today at CCLaP, a new listing in our rare-book selling service: A first-edition, second-printing copy of the 1949 American Red Cross's "First Aid Textbook for Juniors," their first attempt at offering such a guide to teens which would explode in popularity in the following decade, as the popularity of the Boy Scouts also exploded. Click through for details, lots of photos, and to purchase it right this moment. (UPDATE: Sold on April 9, 2012.) | Read entire entry

On Being Human: Warhammer 40,000 | April 6, 2012
Today in Karl Wolff's CCLaP essay series "On Being Human," it's the UK roleplaying game Warhammer 40,000, where the Space Marines battle daemons, heretics, dissidents, and aliens. But are these genetically modified superwarriors truly human, and what does that mean when they defend humanity? | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 5 April 2012 | April 5, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The delightfully dark McSweeney's-style human-foibles comedy "The Snow Whale" by John Minichillo; the surprisingly accessible yet still complex portrait of an artsy douchebag "Watch the Doors as They Close" by Karen Lillis; and Haruki Murakami's extremely disappointing latest, "1Q84," an overblown realization of an underwhelming subject that's badly written to boot. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Prairie Avenue" (first edition), by Arthur Meeker Jr. | April 4, 2012
Today at CCLaP, a new listing in our rare-book selling service: A first-edition copy of the fascinating 1949 historical melodrama "Prairie Avenue" by once famous Chicago author Arthur Meeker Jr., telling the long-term story of that formerly rich neighborhood as it slowly fell into ruin over the early 20th century. Extra-long description today, simply because this book and author are so interesting! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Stranger in a Strange Land," by Robert A. Heinlein | March 30, 2012
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: It's Robert A. Heinlein's 1961 "Stranger in a Strange Land," not just a groundbreaking landmark in science-fiction but an eerily prescient foreteller of the countercultural revolution just around the corner. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! CAN YOU GROK IT, MAAAAAAAN? | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: Whitney Museum 1961 Annual Exhibition catalog | March 27, 2012
Today at CCLaP, a new listing in the center's rare-book selling service: The official catalog from the 1961 Annual Exhibition of the Whitney Museum of American Art, featuring dozens of the leading lights of the Mid-Century Modernist scene. Click through for details, photos, and to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's first print-on-demand merchandise is now available! | March 26, 2012
It took a bit, but CCLaP's very first print-on-demand merchandise is now available - specifically, a poster version and a refrigerator magnet featuring the front cover of the paper edition of Sally Weigel's story collection "Get Up Tim," created and shipped by CafePress. Click through for more, and to order one for yourself right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 84: Author Bonnie Jo Campbell | March 26, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's a one-hour talk with Michigan author Bonnie Jo Campbell, a past National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist whose latest novel, "Once Upon a River," has a strong chance of being nominated for this year's Pulitzer. Click through to download or stream right this moment. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Isaac: a modern fable," by Ivan G. Goldman | March 23, 2012
Karl Wolff reviews "Isaac: a modern fable," by Ivan G. Goldman, in which Lenny, really the Isaac from the Bible, works security for a LA movie mogul and meets Ruth, a struggling academic with an equally troubled past. In this telling, the Biblical Isaac was granted eternal life and youth. He witnesses mankind's foibles across the centuries, so long as he doesn't fall in love or land in jail, because then they would discover he's not like other men. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 22 March 2012 | March 22, 2012
Today, short reviews of four recently read books: The older books "Q Road" and "American Salvage" by Bonnie Jo Campbell, in preparation for a podcast interview I recently did with her; the so-so horror collection "Eyeballs Growing All Over Me...Again," by Tony Rauch; and John H. Sibley's account of pursuing creative studies while homeless, "Being and Homelessness," intriguing but with an appeal limited to a select crowd. | Read entire entry

Holy crap! "Have You Seen Me" gets double Lambda Award nominations! | March 20, 2012
Holy crap! The nominations were just announced for the Lambda Awards, the most important LGBT literary award on the planet; and not only did the CCLaP novella "Have You Seen Me" by Katherine Scott Nelson get nominated, it's the only single book this year to get nods in two categories at once! Click through for the exciting details! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "In Someone's Shadow" (first edition), by Rod McKuen (UPDATE: SOLD) | March 20, 2012
Today at CCLaP, a new listing in the center's rare-book selling service: A first-edition, first-printing copy of the 1969 poetry collection "In Someone's Shadow" by writer and pop musician Rod McKuen, an artist much maligned in his time but also a Grammy winner, Pulitzer and Oscar nominee, and one of the biggest selling poets in all of human history. Click through for details, photos, and to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Pictures of Fidelman" (first edition), by Bernard Malamud | March 16, 2012
Today at CCLaP, a new listing in the center's rare-book selling service: a first-edition, first-printing copy of Bernard Malamud's 1969 "Pictures of Fidelman," his first book after winning both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award for "The Fixer" two years previous, controversial at the time for its playful, sexy, countercultural tone and subject. Click through for details, lots of photos, and to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

Good luck on your trip, Lauryn Allison Lewis! | March 15, 2012
Chicago author Lauryn Allison Lewis is leaving today to be a featured guest at Miami University of Ohio this week; and that meant that we worked hard and got a special little chapbook "sneak preview" edition of her coming dark surreal body-horror novella for CCLaP, "solo/down," finished and printed off for her to sell there this week. Click through for a lot more! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 16 March 2012 | March 15, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The decent but wispy horror sampler "Chocolate-Covered Eyes" by Lori R. Lopez; 2004's "Iron Sunrise," part of my plan to read this year every novel sci-fi author Charles Stross has ever written; and Mike Resnick's delightful "The Doctor and the Kid," book 2 of his "Weird West" series, which transports steampunk tropes to the cowboys and saloons of the American frontier. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 83: Author Jonathan Evison | March 12, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's my recent one-hour talk with Washington writer Jonathan Evison, author of the popular novels "All About Lulu" and "West of Here," as well as an editor at such litblogs as "The Nervous Breakdown" and "Three Guys One Book." Click through to download or stream right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "The Startling Exploits of Dr. J.B. Quies," by Paul Celiere | March 8, 2012
Today, a new listing in CCLaP's selling service of rare and unusual books: An 1887 edition of the fascinating and funny "anti-Jules Verne" tale from French author Paul Celiere, "The Startling Exploits of Dr. J.B. Quies," including 120 delightful illustrations and an interesting eight-page Victorian ad supplement in the back. Click through for details, photos, and to purchase it right this moment. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "The Anatomy Lesson" (first edition), by Philip Roth | March 7, 2012
Today, a new listing for CCLaP's selling service of rare and unusual books: A first-edition copy of Philip Roth's 1983 "The Anatomy Lesson," the third book in his remarkable autobiographical "Nathan Zuckerman" series, written from the '70s to the 2000s and looking at the entire Postmodernist Era in general. Click through for details, photos, and to purchase it right this minute. | Read entire entry

Announcing CCLaP's new rare-book selling service! | March 6, 2012
I'm excited to announce that starting today, CCLaP is adding a brand-new service for its visitors, the selling of rare and unique books! We're starting with a collection of around 50 titles, most of them first editions (sometimes signed) of Postmodernist novels from the 1960s through early 2000s, but with a growing collection of Modernist and even Victorian titles as well. Click through for a lot more! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Rare: "Der Rosenkavalier" libretto and program, Chicago Civic Opera Company | March 6, 2012
A new listing for CCLaP's selling service of rare and unique books: A libretto and souvenir program for a Chicago Civic Opera Company production of "Der Rosenkavalier," circa 1922-1931. Click through for details, photos, and to purchase it right now. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 6 March 2012 | March 6, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The so-so Young Adult debut of science-fiction veteran Ian McDonald, "Planesrunner;" the forgettable memoir of exposing corruption at Roche Pharmaceuticals, Doug Bremner's "The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg;" and alt-horror favorite Jeremy Shipp's delightfully disgusting new story collection, "Attic Clowns." Guess what THAT's about! | Read entire entry

It's the last day of Jason Fisk's virtual author tour! | March 5, 2012
Greetings from day ten of the Jason Fisk virtual author tour, in support of his "hyperfiction" story collection from last summer, "Salt Creek Anthology!" Today Jason finishes up a tiring but successful tour by stopping by the blog of our old pal Ben Tanzer. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

It's day nine of Jason Fisk's virtual author tour! | March 2, 2012
Greetings from day nine of the Jason Fisk virtual author tour, in support of his "hyperfiction" story collection from last summer, "Salt Creek Anthology!" Today Jason is over at the Lantern Projects blog, an offshoot of Caroline Picard's Green Lantern alternative arts space over in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Magnificent Ambersons," by Booth Tarkington | March 1, 2012
Today in the CCLaP 100 essay series on literary classics: It's 1918's "The Magnificent Ambersons" by Booth Tarkington, sort of the Jonathan Franzen of his time, winner of the Pulitzer and for about a decade one of the most popular books in American history, although now mostly forgotten by the public at large. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

It's day eight of Jason Fisk's virtual author tour! | February 29, 2012
Greetings from day eight of the Jason Fisk virtual author tour, in support of his "hyperfiction" story collection from last summer, "Salt Creek Anthology!" Today Jason is hanging out with our old pal Claire Stokes, editor of the marketing-for-creatives blog "Clarity Solutions." Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

It's day seven of Jason Fisk's virtual author tour! | February 28, 2012
Greetings from day seven of the Jason Fisk virtual author tour, in support of his "hyperfiction" story collection from last summer, "Salt Creek Anthology!" Today Jason is hanging out with CCLaP pal and fellow local author Pete Anderson, editor of the great PeteLit.com. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 28 February 2012 | February 28, 2012
Today, short reviews of four recently read books: The short absurdist comedies "Spurious" and "Dogma" by philosopher Lars Iyer, two-thirds of a coming trilogy that pays ode to Samuel Beckett; the extremely disappointing "Historian" meets "Da Vinci Code" set within the Weimar film industry, Juergen Fauth's "Kino;" and Chicagoan Patrick Somerville's dark story collection "The Universe in Miniature in Miniature," profoundly more satisfying than his lackluster last, "The Cradle." | Read entire entry

It's day six of Jason Fisk's virtual author tour! | February 27, 2012
Greetings from day six of the Jason Fisk virtual author tour, in support of his "hyperfiction" story collection from last summer, "Salt Creek Anthology!" Today we've got a very special treat to start week two of the tour; turns out that Jason recently did a reading from the book for Victor David Giron's Curbside Splendor, which got turned into a professional small film by Garett Holden for the Curbside website. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

It's day five of Jason Fisk's virtual author tour! | February 24, 2012
Greetings from day five of the Jason Fisk virtual author tour, in support of his "hyperfiction" story collection from last summer, "Salt Creek Anthology!" Today, a very special treat to wrap up week one of the tour -- an actual twenty-minute audio interview between Fisk and Jason Behrends over at his popular indie-rock/spoken-word "Orange Alert" podcast. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed," by Frederic Chaubin | February 24, 2012
Today at CCLaP, Karl Wolff reviews Taschen's acclaimed "Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed" by Frederic Chaubin. The book explores Soviet architecture from the late '60s to the early '90s, showing an uncharacteristic exuberance and ethnic individualism not usually associated with the stereotypical Soviet architecture. | Read entire entry

It's day four of Jason Fisk's virtual author tour! | February 23, 2012
Greetings from day four of the Jason Fisk virtual author tour, in support of his "hyperfiction" story collection from last summer, "Salt Creek Anthology!" Today Jason is hanging out with fellow local author and community maven Amy Guth -- she of the Chicago Tribune, WGN Radio, the Pilcrow Lit Fest, Reading Under the Influence...oh yeah, and who has a new novel coming out with CCLaP in July! Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Photo essay: The Making of "Get Up Tim." | February 23, 2012
Today, a special photo essay, detailing step by step all the work that goes into making the paper version of CCLaP's first 2012 "Hypermodern" handmade paper book, Sally Weigel's "Get Up Tim," as well as lots of digressive thoughts about bookmaking in general and why CCLaP sells these but never trade paperbacks. Click through for the extra-long report! | Read entire entry

It's day three of Jason Fisk's virtual author tour! | February 22, 2012
Greetings from day three of the Jason Fisk virtual author tour, in support of his "hyperfiction" story collection from last summer, "Salt Creek Anthology!" Today Jason is visiting with fellow Chicago writer Katherine Scott Nelson, author of the big CCLaP hit "Have You Seen Me" from last fall. Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 22 February 2012 | February 22, 2012
Today, short review of three recently read books: The surprisingly great "Midnight Cowboy meets Bizarro" anti-commune novel "War of the Crazies" by John Oliver Hodges; the even more surprisingly great "Oprah Presents meets Virginia Woolf" family and race erotic drama "Cocoa Almond Darling" by Jeffra Hays; the unfortunately just-as-expected so-so "steampunk meets superheroes" genre quickie "Hearts of Smoke and Steam" by Andrew P. Mayer. | Read entire entry

It's day two of Jason Fisk's virtual author tour! | February 21, 2012
Greetings from day two of the Jason Fisk virtual author tour, in support of his CCLaP hyperfiction story collection "Salt Creek Anthology!" Today Jason is hanging out with fellow Chicago author Delphine Pontvieux, who don't forget has short pieces of her own in both of CCLaP's anthologies from 2011, "American Wasteland" and "Amsterdamned If You Do." Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Announcing the Jason Fisk virtual author tour! | February 20, 2012
Yippee! After a long hiatus, CCLaP's "virtual author tours" are back this year with a vengeance; starting today, it's the tour for Jason Fisk and his experimental "Salt Creek Anthology" from last summer. Click through for more, including the complete list of stops over the next two weeks, and a link to today's kickoff stop at Lori Hettler's "The Next Best Book Blog." | Read entire entry

On Being Human: An Introduction | February 17, 2012
Today, the launching of a new essay series at CCLaP called "On Being Human," by new staff writer Karl Wolff, which over 2012 will examine a series of classic novels and movies to look at the question of what it really means to be human. Click through for a longer introduction by Karl on what he aims for the series to do. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Jungle," by Upton Sinclair | February 16, 2012
Today in the CCLaP 100 essay series about literary classics: It's Upton Sinclair's look at the inherent problems of a capitalist society, as seen through the horrors of an unregulated meatpacking industry, 1906's "The Jungle." Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 15 February 2012 | February 15, 2012
Today, small reviews of three recently read books: The so-so science-fiction thriller "Mad Skills" by Walter Greatshell; the deliberately silly and gross bizarro novel "Party Wolves in My Skull" by Michael Allen Rose; and "India Rising" by NYT columnist and brilliant intellectual Anand Giridharadas, perhaps the best English-language book yet about what it's like to live in a rapidly changing India in the 21st century. | Read entire entry

Meet Karl Wolff, CCLaP's newest staff writer! | February 10, 2012
Hooray! After two years of looking, CCLaP finally has its third staff writer! Meet Karl Wolff from Minnesota, head writer himself at "The Driftless Area Review" and "Coffee is for Closers," who will be adding both general book reviews here this year and a new themed essay series called "On Being Human." Click through for a lot more! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 6 February 2012 | February 6, 2012
Today, short reviews of four recently read books: The silly theological primer "A Higher Court" and the military technothriller "The Covert Element," both by John L. Betcher; the highly entertaining journalism book on middle-aged brain activity, "The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain;" and the clever memoir "Escaping From Reality Without Really Trying" by Robert Jacoby, thoughts on forty years of being a sailor but written as a direct-voice transcript, Studs-Turkel-style. | Read entire entry

Why I Signed 'Get Up Tim' -- An Apologia. | February 2, 2012
Today, a special 'apologia' (or deliberately all-positive critical essay) on all the reasons I signed CCLaP's newest original book, the story collection "Get Up Tim" by Sally Weigel, along with the reasons for why you should be an obsessive fan of this intense young writer yourself. | Read entire entry

"Get Up Tim" now live at Amazon! | February 2, 2012
Hooray! CCLaP's newest original book, the story collection "Get Up Tim" by Sally Weigel, is now available at the Amazon Kindle Store! Plus new 'amzn.to' URL shortcuts for each and every book that CCLaP sells! Click through for it all! | Read entire entry

It's Sally Weigel Day at CCLaP! | January 31, 2012
Yippie! It's release day for CCLaP's newest original book! In this case it's the story collection "Get Up Tim" by local author Sally Weigel, her second book for the center after 2009's youth/war/Radiohead novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep," available as always for free download if you want or as a special handmade paper edition. Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 82: Author Sally Weigel | January 31, 2012
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's my half-hour talk with Chicago author Sally Weigel, on the occasion of the release of her newest book with the center, the story collection "Get Up Tim." Also featuring the music of Coco Bryce and Earlimart. | Read entire entry

Passing the Torch: Katherine Scott Nelson on Sally Weigel | January 31, 2012
It's Sally Weigel Day at CCLaP! And in celebration of her new story collection, "Get Up Tim," I asked the author of the center's previous book, Katherine Scott Nelson of "Have You Seen Me," if ze might share some of hir own thoughts about the new book as well. Here's what ze had to say. | Read entire entry

Check out a comics version of Ben Tanzer's "The Gift!" | January 27, 2012
Just wanted to give CCLaP's readers a heads-up about this new comics adaptation of Ben Tanzer's "The Gift," which can be found in the center's 2008 story collection "Repetition Patterns." Click through for the link! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 24 January 2012 | January 24, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The filthy and funny Postmodernist classic "Portnoy's Complaint" by Philip Roth; the "Portlandia" style memoir about an indie rocker stuck in the eco-liberal world of north Seattle, Claire Dederer's "Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses;" and Paul West's sweeping Terence-Malick-style sci-fi epic "First Cause," not very good but with a score boost for sheer earnestness. | Read entire entry

Calling the CCLaP Army! Your proofreading help is once again needed! | January 23, 2012
It's time soon for another CCLaP original book -- in this case, the story collection "Get Up Tim" by local author Sally Weigel -- and you know what that means; that's right, I'm looking for blog readers who would be interested in doing some volunteer proofreading of the manuscript before it gets officially released next week, in that unlike a mainstream press, I can't afford to hire such people. Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

For your consideration: "Life After Sleep" for the 2012 Hugo | January 18, 2012
It's a long shot, but I wanted to remind everyone that the 2011 CCLaP science-fiction novel "Life After Sleep" by Mark R. Brand is eligible for this year's Hugo Award, the biggest award in the entire industry. They're being given out this year in Chicago, and CCLaP will be attending, so this would be a great feather in our cap if you can help out! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 18 January 2012 | January 18, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: Trippy sci-fi author Charles Stross's US literary debut, 2003's "Singularity Sky;" the hip, Graham-Greene-like day-after-tomorrow central-Asia fantastical tale "The Restoration Game" by Ken MacLeod; and the moving new literary anthology "Solace in So Many Words," edited by Ellen Wade Beals. | Read entire entry

SHOP Podcast 04: All The Writers I Know | January 17, 2012
Today on the SHOP Podcast, produced by the Southside Hub of Production and with files hosted here at CCLaP: It's the December edition of queer lit showcase "All The Writers I Know," hosted by Patrick Gill. Recorded in the library of the historic Walter William Fenn House in Chicago's Hyde Park. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Alice Through the Lookingglass," by Lewis Carroll | January 11, 2012
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: It's Lewis Carroll's 1871 "Alice Through the Lookingglass," a sequel to his "Alice in Wonderland" filled with the same kinds of nonsensical adventures. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Hey, Chicagoans! CCLaP's first major fundraiser is here! | January 9, 2012
Happy day! CCLaP is finally set to hold its first-ever major fundraiser on February 4th, in honor of the recent "New York Stories" deluxe illustrated book by Ben Tanzer with Laura Szumowski. $100 per couple gets you a copy of the book, free food and liquor, and a multimedia performance, all within the confines of a historic Victorian mansion in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. Click through for all the details, and to purchase tickets right this second! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 9 January 2012 | January 9, 2012
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The Dickensian post-apocalyptic thriller-comedy "Under the Harrow" by Mark Dunn; Josef Eisinger's interesting but dry "Einstein on the Road," based on the famed physicist's travel diaries; and Marion Stein's "Loisaida," a competent but cliched look at lower Manhattan in the "Rent" late-1980s. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2011: The CCLaP Guilty Pleasure Awards | January 6, 2012
Today at CCLaP, part 5 of our week-long look at our favorite reads of 2011. Today, the annual Guilty Pleasure Awards, for the genre books I loved much more than I probably should have. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2011: Best Experimental and Cutting-Edge | January 5, 2012
Today at CCLaP, it's part 4 of our week-long look at our favorite reads of 2011; today's list looks at my ten favorite experimental and cutting-edge titles from the last year. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2011: Also Worth a Second Look | January 4, 2012
Today at CCLaP, it's part 2 of our week-long look at our favorite reads of 2011. Today's list features ten titles that ranked near the top of the scores but didn't quite get there, although nonetheless are absolutely worth a second look. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2011: Best Of The Best | January 2, 2012
Today at CCLaP, part one of our annual best-of lists here at the end of every year; today's list covers the ten highest-scoring books at our blog in 2011. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2011 | January 2, 2012
It's finally here! CCLaP's look back at its favorite 40 reads in 2011, of the 120 books we ended up reviewing, starts today and lasts throughout the week, along with a special top-ten list from staff writer Oriana Leckert. Check this specific page throughout the week for all the latest! | Read entire entry

SHOP Podcast 03: Jumeck Raféal | January 2, 2012
Today on the SHOP Podcast, produced by the Southside Hub of Production but with files hosted here at CCLaP: It's a half-hour reading by local author Jumeck Rafeal from his novel "Calling Queens," in which a modern African-American high-school teacher is transported to the Middle Ages, and inhabits the bodies of the various wives of Henry VIII. Held at the historic William Wallace Fenn House in Chicago's Hyde Park. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 14 December 2011 | December 14, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: "The Rage of Achilles" by Terence Hawkins, which takes "The Iliad" then modernizes the dialogue to the graphicness of a typical HBO series; Pete Morin's "Diary of a Small Fish," a misguided experiment in making a "one percent" Tea Partier the unironic hero of a light political comedy; and Douglas Coupland's 2006 "jPod," which unfortunately sees him at the nadir of his transition between Postmodernism and what's come after. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's paying some artists on December 18th! Come join us! | December 8, 2011
Hooray! Time for CCLaP to pay some artists again! This time it'll be Jason Fisk of "Salt Creek Anthology" and Katherine Scott Nelson of "Have You Seen Me;" we'll be meeting up at the Swedish pub Simon's in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood on Sunday, December 18th. Click through for all the details, including the Facebook event page! | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Visible Man," by Chuck Klosterman | December 7, 2011
Today's book review: Chuck Klosterman's revelatory latest, the pitch-black psychological horror tale "The Visible Man," which not by coincidence also metaphorically calls for the violent death of Postmodernism in a post-irony age, and which viciously criticizes the pop-culture-spewing celebrity-interviewer cartoon-character persona Klosterman had become by the mid-2000s. | Read entire entry

Kirkus Reviews discovers CCLaP! AND THEY LIKE US! | December 7, 2011
Kirkus Reviews, the second most popular lit-review publication in America, recently did its first write-up of a CCLaP book, the coming-of-age novella "Have You Seen Me" by Katherine Scott Nelson -- and they liked it! A lot! Click through for more, including the full review itself. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's two newest books are now (finally) here! | December 6, 2011
DOUBLE RAINBOW EXCITEMENT! Today sees the release of not just one but two new books at CCLaP: the electronic story collection "So Different Now" and the deluxe paper edition, "The New York Stories," both by Chicago author Ben Tanzer. Click through for lots more details, lots more photos, and direct links to both books' order pages. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 81: Author Ben Tanzer | December 6, 2011
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's an hour-long talk with Chicago author Ben Tanzer, on the occasion of the release of his two newest books with the center, the electronic story collection "So Different Now" and the deluxe paper version, "The New York Stories." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 1 December 2011 | December 1, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The so-so bizarro novel "Thursday Thistle" by August V. Fahren; the beguiling, New Weird-esque 9/11 character study "Luminarium" by Chicagoan Alex Shakar; and Daniel Clowes' latest, "The Death-Ray," a reprint of a 2004 "Eightball" story that's one of the best of his career. | Read entire entry

SHOP Podcast 02: Robert Beshara | November 28, 2011
Today on the SHOP Podcast, produced by the Southside Hub of Production (southsidehub.org) and whose files are hosted at CCLaP: It's a half-hour reading by Rober Beshara of his "N.A.R.T.ist Manifesto," a new way of thinking about the relationship between artists, researchers and teachers. | Read entire entry

No new book until December 5th! But lookit how purty it is! | November 21, 2011
Yes, dear reader, it seems that CCLaP has officially bitten off just a little more than it can chew this fall, and that Ben Tanzer's new book "The New York Stories" will be out on December 5th instead of today like planned. But I do at least have one copy done, and it's looking pretty freaking gorgeous! Click through for nine new photos of it! | Read entire entry

The Chicago Book Expo is this weekend! | November 18, 2011
The Chicago Book Expo is this weekend! CCLaP will have a booth at it, co-manned by the always vivacious Lauryn Allison; plus we'll having signing hours on Saturday from Sally Weigel (12 to 1), Katherine Scott Nelson (2 to 3), and Ben Tanzer (4 to 5). Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 15 November 2011 | November 15, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The highly entertaining "NPR-worthy" look at bibliomania, "The Man Who Loved Books Too Much;" Craig Lancaster's nice new collection of character-based short stories, "Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure;" and inventive haunted-house story and Grand Future Of American Literature "There Is No Year" by HTMLGiant's Blake Butler, better than expected but still losing steam about halfway through. | Read entire entry

And don't forget the big Chicago party tonight! | November 10, 2011
And don't forget, Chicagoans, tonight's the big release party for Katherine Scott Nelson's book with CCLaP, the runaway coming-of-age novella "Have You Seen Me," at Women & Children First Bookstore in Andersonville, then moving to a nearby wine bar afterwards. Click through for the details! Hope to see you tonight! | Read entire entry

SHOP Podcast 01: All The Writers I Know | November 10, 2011
Today on the SHOP Podcast, produced by the Southside Hub of Production and whose files are hosted and distributed through CCLaP: It's the November edition of the queer literary showcase "All The Writers I Know," held in the library of the historic Fenn House in Chicago's Hyde Park where SHOP is headquartered. | Read entire entry

Jugs & Capes: "Bone," by Jeff Smith | November 9, 2011
Today in CCLaP's "Jugs & Capes," in which Oriana Leckert looks at classic comics from a female perspective: it's the revered indie hit "Bone," in which epic fantasy meets kids' silliness meets retro zany 1930s Sunday comix. Says Oriana: "OMG Jeff Smith is a genius!" | Read entire entry

Jugs & Capes: "Bone," by Jeff Smith | November 9, 2011
Today in CCLaP's "Jugs & Capes," in which Oriana Leckert looks at classic comics from a female perspective: it's the revered indie hit "Bone," in which epic fantasy meets kids' silliness meets retro zany 1930s Sunday comix. Says Oriana: "OMG Jeff Smith is a genius!" | Read entire entry

Just look at all the busy crap coming up with CCLaP soon! | November 4, 2011
Frustrated by the lack of CCLaP blog updates recently? That's because we have a book release party for Katherine Scott Nelson next week we're working on, then a new book by Ben Tanzer and Laura Szumowski the following week, then our first book fair the next week, then our big high-ticket Victorian-mansion Christmas fundraiser the week after that! Whew! Click through for it all! | Read entire entry

Announcing the SHoP Reading Series podcast! | November 3, 2011
Today at CCLaP, I'm happy to announce an official new addition to our podcast -- regular live literary readings from a new Hyde Park arts organization I've gotten involved with, called the Southside Hub of Production or SHoP for short. Click through for the details, and to see photos from last night's inaugural event, a regular queer-lit showcase called "All The Writers I Know." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 2 October 2011 | November 2, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The new surreal story cycle "The Five Lost Senses of Carl" by Mel Bosworth; the fantastic latest in Cherie Priest's "Clockwork Century" steampunk series, the submarine epic "Ganymede;" and "Two Times Intro," photographs by REM's Michael Stipe from Patti Smith's 1995 US tour with Bob Dylan. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "A Journal of the Plague Year," by Daniel Defoe | October 27, 2011
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: It's Daniel Defoe's "A Journal of the Plague Year," written in 1722 but set in 1665, considered by many to be the very first "historical novel" in human history. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Jason Jordan has a new book coming out! Go order a copy, won't you? | October 25, 2011
CCLaP friend and Ohio bizarro author Jason Jordan, editor of the great lit mag "decomP," has a new novella coming out with Main Street Rag! It's a bizarro black comedy about the apocalypse! HOW CAN YOU RESIST!? Click through for more details and to pre-order a copy right now! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 20 October 2011 | October 20, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The unfortunately almost unreadable political thriller "Discontents" by James Wallace Birch; the "Art Deco Steampunk" sequel "Ghosts of War" by George Mann; and "Memoir of a Milk Carton Kid" by Lawrence Fisher, the true story of one of those kidnapped girls locked up for years in a suburban dungeon, written by her former attorney. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Epic Win for Anonymous" by Cole Stryker | October 19, 2011
Stryker is an unabashed fan of 4chan, of /b/, of Anonymous, and of our crazy internet world, and it shows. He loves his subject in all its weird, frightening, and unexplainable glory. He wants to show us how amazing and filled with potential this all is. | Read entire entry

Why I Signed 'Have You Seen Me' - An Apologia. | October 18, 2011
It's Katherine Scott Nelson Day at CCLaP! And in celebration of her new book with the center, the runaway coming-of-age novella "Have You Seen Me," here is an 'apologia' from me (or that is, a deliberately all-positive critical essay), on why I liked this manuscript enough to sign it in the first place. | Read entire entry

It's Katherine Scott Nelson Day at CCLaP! | October 18, 2011
It's Katherine Scott Nelson Day at CCLaP! And that's in honor of her new book with the center coming out today, the runaway coming-of-age tale "Have You Seen Me." Click through for a wealth of links, including to the book itself, a recent interview, its Goodreads listing, critical essays, a spoken-word MP3, info about the release party, and more! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 79: Author Katherine Scott Nelson | October 18, 2011
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's my twenty-minute talk with local author Katherine Scott Nelson, in celebration of her new book with the center, the runaway coming-of-age tale "Have You Seen Me." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast Extra: Audio excerpt from 'Have You Seen Me' | October 18, 2011
Today, a special CCLaP Podcast extra: A twelve-minute spoken-word excerpt from the center's new book, Katherine Scott Nelson's runaway coming-of-age novella "Have You Seen Me," performed by professional voice artist Christopher Sullivan. | Read entire entry

Passing the Torch: Jason Fisk on Katherine Scott Nelson | October 18, 2011
It's Katherine Scott Nelson Day at CCLaP! And in celebration of her new book with the center, the runaway coming-of-age novella "Have You Seen Me," here's a "passing the torch" style essay from CCLaP's last published author, Jason Fisk of "Salt Creek Anthology," on what he likes about this newest book. | Read entire entry

We're having a party for "Have You Seen Me!" | October 18, 2011
It's Katherine Scott Nelson Day at CCLaP! And in celebration of her new novella with the center, the runaway coming-of-age tale "Have You Seen Me," we'll be throwing a release party on November 10th at Women & Children First Bookstore in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood. Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 7 October 2011 | October 7, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: Scott McCloud's so-so '80s comic run "Zot! The Complete Black and White Collection;" the surprisingly great crime thriller set within a post-apocalyptic America "Ashes of the Earth" by Eliot Pattison; and Collin Kelley's "Remain in Light," the second volume in his Paris expat trilogy and the rare sequel that's much better than the original. | Read entire entry

Jugs & Capes: "A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge," by Josh Neufeld | October 3, 2011
It feels wrong to criticize such a worthwhile project, and I'm sorry. But while it was a great attempt, and must have taken an insane amount of work to do, it fell far short of its potential. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "The Adventures of Augie March," by Saul Bellow | September 30, 2011
Today, a detailed look at Saul Bellow's 1953 rough-and-tumble masterpiece "The Adventures of Augie March," the tenth-anniversary pick this fall of the "One Book One Chicago" program, a groundbreaker in both Modernist and Jewish literature that also happens to be one of the best novels about Chicago ever written. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "A Confederacy of Dunces," by John Kennedy Toole | September 23, 2011
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: It's John Kennedy Toole's brilliantly dark "anti-villain" tale "A Confederacy of Dunces," written in the 1960s but not published until the '80s, known as much for its fascinating real-life history as the absurdly comic tale of self-satisfied intellectuals and New Orleans back alleys that it tells. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Calling the CCLaP Army! EMERGENCY IN EARTH-PRIME! | September 23, 2011
Well, okay, it's not exactly infinite crisis time, but CCLaP is now officially calling up again its volunteer army of proofreaders, to help us get the coming original book "Have You Seen Me" by Katherine Scott Nelson into tip-top shape before publication in a few weeks. Click through to volunteer, soldier! | Read entire entry

Download a sneak preview of CCLaP's next book! | September 20, 2011
CCLaP's next original book, the coming-of-age tale "Have You Seen Me" by Katherine Scott Nelson, gets released on October 17th; and lo and behold, we're running so ahead of schedule with its editing, I decided to put together a little sneak preview that you can download right now! Click through to do so! Now! Do it! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 19 September 2011 | September 19, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: Daniel Clowes' disappointing latest, the masturbatory "Mister Wonderful;" the fascinating "Tablet & Pen," an anthology of cutting-edge Middle Eastern stories from the early and middle 20th century; and T.C. McCarthy's unforgettable "Germline," the mass-market sci-fi military thriller that reads more like a Graham Greene novel mixed with Hunter S. Thompson. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Pumpkin Eater" by Penelope Mortimer | September 16, 2011
It's a book I couldn't help but hurtle myself through, with scenes that keep replaying in my head. In the end Mrs. Armitage does come into her own, though at a high cost. Watching her get there is riveting, seeing her grow teeth, as it were, and reclaim control of her life, is harrowing and hopeful both. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 78: Live from the 'American Wasteland' release party | September 16, 2011
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's a special half-hour live-audience edition, recorded at the center's recent book release party for "American Wasteland," last September 9th at Quimby's Bookstore in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood. Featuring performances from Delphine Pontvieux, Mark R. Brand and Lawrence Santoro. | Read entire entry

Kickstarter Alert: Eddie Wright | September 16, 2011
Today, the start of a new feature at the blog, pointing out Kickstarter campaigns from people who have been featured at the website before. Today features the latest project by Eddie Wright, whose surrealist drama "Broken Bulbs" I declared one of the best experimental books of the year in 2009. | Read entire entry

"American Wasteland" is finally here! | September 14, 2011
A home internet blackout has had this delayed, but I'm happy to announce that CCLaP's newest original book is finally out, the dark science-fiction 9/11 anthology "American Wasteland." Download the ebook! Order it in paper! Order all our paper books at once! Cringe at the pure darkness of these Tea Party cautionary tales! | Read entire entry

Hope to see you at the CCLaP Quimby's party tonight! | September 9, 2011
Just a short reminder about CCLaP's release party at Quimby's Bookstore tonight, for the dark sci-fi 9/11 anthology "American Wasteland." Free beer! Local performances! Sexy nerds! Hope to see you there! | Read entire entry

Don't forget the big CCLaP Quimby's party this Friday! | September 6, 2011
Only four days until CCLaP's big "American Wasteland" release party this coming Friday, at famed Wicker Park destination Quimby's Bookstore! Free beer! Readings from Mark R. Brand, Delphine Pontvieux and Lawrence Santoro! Many, many sexy nerds in funny glasses! Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Jugs & Capes: "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel | September 1, 2011
Fun Home is absolutely spectacular. It's dense, fraught with meaning, stuffed with beautiful prose and complimented by simple illustrations. And in addition to being incredibly smart, incredibly illuminating, and incredibly inventive, it's also incredibly sexy. | Read entire entry

CCLaP After Dark 08: The Printers Ball | August 30, 2011
Today in "CCLaP After Dark," the center's new video series on various live Chicago literary events: it's a report from this year's Printers Ball, a massive celebration of print media sponsored by Columbia College, the Poetry Foundation and more, one of the largest of its kind in the entire US. | Read entire entry

Help David David Katzman publish his new novel! | August 30, 2011
My friend David David Katzman, a surrealist author here in Chicago, has decided to go the Kickstarter route for his darkly bizarre new novel, "A Greater Monster." Click through for lots more details, as well as a highly entertaining video he put together about the subject. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 26 August 2011 | August 26, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: M. Henderson Ellis' so-so memoir of his '80s punk days, "Strange as Angels;" George R.R. Martin's "A Clash of Kings," volume two of his "Song of Fire & Ice" series; and Bart Plantenga's disappointing intellectual exercise "Beer Mystic." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 23 August 2011 | August 23, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: Austin Williams' "Crimson Orgy," his loving ode to Miami's 1960s exploitation film industry; Andrew P. Mayer's steampunk-meets-superheroes tale "The Falling Machine;" and Charles Thompsons' disappointing Peace Corps/U!S!A!er memoir "Aralen Dreams." | Read entire entry

Hey, Traci Kim, how was the internship? | August 22, 2011
As the summer closes out, we must say goodbye to CCLaP's hardworking 2011 intern, Traci Kim, editor of the new center anthology "Amsterdamned If You do." Here, a final report and thank-yous from Traci, now that she's back at school. | Read entire entry

You're invited to the "American Wasteland" Quimby's release party! | August 22, 2011
Hot damn! Fresh on the heels of its big quadruple book release party the other week, CCLaP is happy to announce its newest event, a release party at Quimby's in Wicker Park for the new anthology "American Wasteland: Bleak Tales of the Future on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11." Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

The paper version of "99 Problems" is now available! | August 19, 2011
Happy news -- today finally sees the release of the very last paper edition of an old CCLaP ebook, in this case Ben Tanzer's remarkable essay series on running and writing, "99 Problems" from 2010. Click through for a lot more, tons of photos, and direct links to the purchase buttons. | Read entire entry

Hey, Jason Fisk, how was Minnesota? | August 18, 2011
Writer Jason Fisk recently became CCLaP's first author to officially travel to another state to attend a bookclub discussion, in this case to Minnesota to discuss his story collection "Salt Creek Anthology." Click through for photos and a field report. | Read entire entry

Jugs & Capes: "Maggie the Mechanic" by Jaime Hernandez | August 17, 2011
These are early, early stories by a writer at the wide-eyed innocent beginning of his illustrious career. He's still finding his footing, he's flailing about a bit; many of the elements of these early stories fell by the wayside as he honed his talents and settled into his stride. Which is all a bit of a relief. I mean, I really enjoyed these stories, but they're for sure a little rough around the edges. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 76: Live from the CCLaP Book Party | August 17, 2011
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's a special one-hour, live-audience edition, recorded at the center's big book release party at Chicago's Beauty Bar on August 10th. Featuring performances from Jason Fisk, Sally Weigel, Ben Tanzer, Mark R. Brand, Delphine Pontvieux and Robert Duffer. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's new summer anthology is here! | August 16, 2011
Excelsior! CCLaP's newest original book is here! It's a new anthology, in fact, "Amsterdamned If You Do," a look at the subject of setting and how it affects modern literature, conceptualized and edited by the center's 2011 intern, Traci Kim. Click through for more, and to start the downloading/purchasing process. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's book release party was a big success! | August 12, 2011
CCLaP's big quadruple book release party this past Wednesday was a huge success, with 75 people in attendance altogether and a fun drunken (DRUNKEN) time had by all. Click through for a longer recap and lots of photos! | Read entire entry

CCLaP's big book release party is tomorrow! | August 9, 2011
Holy crap! CCLaP's giant quadruple book release party is tomorrow! Here, final details for those who need them, and links to a series of long interviews and profiles about the center that have recently been showing up around the blogosphere. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "When Skateboards Will Be Free" by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh | August 4, 2011
A lot of bad shit happened to Saïd, and I'm sure that he needs a certain amount of distance from the memories still. But he tells his whole story at such a remove that it almost feels like fiction, like a construct. For me, the book fell short. It was indeed an interesting look at a crazy childhood, but it was lacking in depth, and left me feeling a little hollow. | Read entire entry

Only one week until CCLaP's big book release party! | August 3, 2011
Hey hey! Just one week until CCLaP's big quadruple book release party and performance extravaganza, taking place August 10th at Beauty Bar over at 1444 W. Chicago Avenue. Click through for more details, and to see a new profile of CCLaP published today by Lori Hettler's "The Next Best Book Blog." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 3 August 2011 | August 3, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The "lost" Early Modernist surreal classic "The Book of Disquiet" by Fernando Pessoa; the so-so social-realist tale about the last days of South African apartheid, "Go Carefully, My Friend;" and the unfortunately dreadful Tom Clancy ripoff "The Paragon Connection" by Leonard Finz. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Once Upon a River," by Bonnie Jo Campbell | July 28, 2011
Today's book: Bonnie Jo Campbell's Pulitzer frontrunner and haunting look at the complexities of Medieval societies by way of 1970s hillbilly-trash Michigan, "Once Upon a River," the first book this year at the center to receive a perfect 10. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 22 July 2011 | July 22, 2011
Today, a special quick micro-review roundup, looking at two books I recently had a chance to read: Patrick Wensink's masterfully funny 'Raising Arizona Meets Quantum Physics' bizarro novel "Black Hole Blues;" and John H. Sibley's truly fascinating sci-fi-meets-blaxploitation urban thriller "Bodyslick," which I believe will be winning a coveted CCLaP Guilty Pleasure Award at the end of the year. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 20 July 2011 | July 20, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: William Trent Pancoast's fictionalized account of the troubled auto industry of the 1970s, "Wildcat;" the experimental prose/poetry project "Wore Down Trust" by Michael Blouin; and Kim Wright's utterly delightful "Love in Mid Air," a chick-lit novel which turned out to be one of my favorite reads of the year. No, seriously! | Read entire entry

The paper version of "Too Young to Fall Asleep" is here! | July 18, 2011
Happy day! The latest of CCLaP's special new "Hypermoden Editions," a series of high-quality, paper editions of all our electronic books, is now available; in this case it's Sally Weigel's youth/war novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep," originally published electronically in 2009. Click through for lots of photos and to order a copy right this moment! | Read entire entry

A chat with Sally Weigel | July 18, 2011
It's release day for CCLaP's latest "Hypermodern" paper book, in this case Sally Weigel's youth/war novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep," originally published electronically in 2009. Here I sit and talk with Sally via text chat about all the things that have been going on with her in the two years since the book first came out. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "A Game of Thrones," by George R.R. Martin | July 15, 2011
Today at CCLaP, it's my long-awaited look at George R.R. Martin's "A Game of Thrones," volume one of a massive and especially gritty Medieval saga called "A Song of Ice and Fire" that is rapidly becoming known as the most important fantasy epic since "Lord of the Rings." Click through now for my extra-long write-up, because winter is soon coming! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Embassytown," by China Mieville | July 12, 2011
Today's book: It's the latest by China Mieville, the deeply strange science-fiction tale and meditation on language "Embassytown," which sees the New Weird veteran and recent mainstream success returning to the "seriously, what the hell are you talking about" roots of his early career. | Read entire entry

Announcing the CCLaP Quadruple Book Release Party! | July 11, 2011
It's official -- CCLaP is throwing its next big live event on Wednesday, August 10th, a special group party celebrating all four paper books the center will have out by then, from local authors Ben Tanzer, Sally Weigel, Mark R. Brand and Jason Fisk. It's at Beauty Bar in the Noble Square neighborhood and will feature free food and performances; click through for all the details, including links to its Facebook page and iCal file. | Read entire entry

Jugs & Capes: "Collected Essex County" by Jeff Lemire | July 6, 2011
Today in CCLaP's "Jugs & Capes," Oriana Leckert's monthly series about classic comics from a female perspective: It's the collected "Essex County" stories of Jeff Lemire, hugely popular in Canada and that Oriana found well-written, but way, WAY too bleak for her particular tastes. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 74: Author Jason Fisk | July 5, 2011
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's my half-hour talk with Chicago author Jason Fisk, telling us everything we ever wanted to know about his new book with the center, the "micro-story" collection "Salt Creek Anthology" which came out right before the July 4th weekend. Click through to download or stream in real time. | Read entire entry

It's Jason Fisk Day at CCLaP! | June 30, 2011
Hooray! CCLaP's newest original book is finally here! It's the micro-story collection "Salt Creek Anthology" by local author Jason Fisk, and today the entire day has been given over to it here at the site, including a series of new essays, a "making of" photo essay regarding the paper book, a new interview with Fisk for the podcast, and more. Click through for links to them all. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: "Why I Signed 'Salt Creek Anthology' - An Apologia." | June 30, 2011
It's Jason Fisk Day at CCLaP! And in celebration of his new book with the center, the micro-story collection "Salt Creek Anthology," here is an "Apologia" from me (i.e. a critical essay with an obvious bias), on why I signed the book in the first place, and more on the "hyperfiction" style that it's been released under. | Read entire entry

Passing the Torch: Mark R. Brand on Jason Fisk | June 30, 2011
It's Jason Fisk Day at CCLaP! And in celebration of his new book with the center, the "micro-story" collection "Salt Creek Anthology," here's a critical essay by Mark R. Brand, the center's last published author, on what he thinks of the new book. | Read entire entry

The Making of 'Salt Creek Anthology' - a photo essay | June 30, 2011
It's Jason Fisk Day at CCLaP! And in celebration of his new book for the center, the "micro-story" collection "Salt Creek Anthology," here's a special photo essay showing step by step what goes into making the special paper edition of the book, including a handmade, fabric-lined box. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Summer Without Men" by Suri Hustvedt | June 24, 2011
Today's book review: "The Summer Without Men" by Siri Hustvedt (i.e. Paul Auster's wife), which staff reviewer Oriana Leckert had been expecting to be like the other self-absorbed work of "smart mom lit" but instead found subtle, engaging and charming. | Read entire entry

Metapost: Updates on CCLaP's coming anthologies | June 24, 2011
CCLaP's summer intern Traci Kim drops us another line to let us know how things are going, and also what the status is on the anthology she's putting together for the center this summer; and speaking of which, the deadline is fast approaching on CCLaP's other anthology as well, "American Wasteland." Click through for lots more on both! | Read entire entry

CCLaP After Dark 07: QUICKIES! | June 24, 2011
Today in "CCLaP After Dark," the center's new video podcast series on the various live literary events I'm attending around Chicago this summer: it's a recap from the latest edition of "QUICKIES!," a popular monthly reading held at Wicker Park's Innertown Pub, in which a large group of performers each get exactly four minutes on stage. Click through for the video! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Les Miserables," by Victor Hugo | June 17, 2011
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: It's Victor Hugo's massive, sprawling 1862 novel "Les Miserables," considered one of the biggest artistic touchstones in French history but infamously digressive in its subject matter. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: Hugo Award 2011 | June 16, 2011
Today, a special micro-review roundup, looking at all five nominees for this year's Hugo Award for best science-fiction novel, with unfortunately four of them being disappointments but last year's "The Dervish House" by Ian McDonald looking even more prescient and brilliant than ever. Click through for them all! | Read entire entry

Hey, CCLaP army! IT'S PROOFREADING TIME AGAIN! | June 14, 2011
We're two weeks away from the release of CCLaP's newest original book, Jason Fisk's "Salt Creek Anthology," and you know what that means -- that's right, we're looking for volunteer proofreaders again! Click through for all the details, and please consider helping us to get Jason's manuscript into as perfect a shape as possible before publication. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 14 June 2011 | June 14, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The disappointingly experimental "Intention Implication Wind" by Ken Sparling; the even more disappointing "chick-lit with a dark streak" tale "Our Tragic Universe" by Scarlett Thomas, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "City of Ruins," a.k.a. the sci-fi action thriller only a fanboy could love. | Read entire entry

CCLaP After Dark 06: Literary Death Match | June 13, 2011
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's episode 6 of the center's new video series, "CCLaP After Dark," short recaps of various live lit events across the city this summer. Today's episode features an all-comedy edition of "Literary Death Match," a truly global phenomenon started by Todd Zuniga which is now held in over thirty cities across the planet. | Read entire entry

How's the CCLaP book coming, Traci? | June 13, 2011
You remember CCLaP's summer intern, Traci Kim, right? She's in charge of a new anthology the center will be publishing in August on the subject of setting and place within contemporary fiction; and with the submission deadline of July 11th fast approaching, I thought I'd have her give us all a little update on how everything is going. Click through to read it! | Read entire entry

Jugs & Capes: "Watchmen" by Alan Moore et al. | June 9, 2011
Today in CCLaP's "Jugs & Capes," Oriana Leckert's essay series on classic comics from a female perspective: It's Alan Moore's pioneering "Watchmen," which Oriana has been wary of since her disappointing experience with fellow '80s groundbreaker "The Dark Knight Returns," but which turned out to be as brilliant as everyone says it is. | Read entire entry

The new Curbside book is here! The new Curbside book is here! | June 8, 2011
The newest book from our pals at Chicago small press Curbside Splendor just showed up in the mail, a poetry collection called "The Chapbook" by Charles Bane, Jr; and it turns out to be crammed with beautiful full-color illustrations, so I thought I'd post a few shots here before the book's been officially released. Thanks for the copy, Victor David Giron! | Read entire entry

Field report: 2011 Printers Row Book Fair and Lit Fest | June 6, 2011
As regular readers know, I had a chance this weekend to attend the annual Printers Row Book Fair and Lit Fest here in Chicago, so I thought I'd take a moment and post a few of the photos I took while I was there as well. Click through for them all. | Read entire entry

Going to Printers Row? Have a beer with us while you're there! | June 3, 2011
Chicagoans! Going to the big Printers Row Book Fair and Lit Fest this weekend? If so, make sure to join your fellow CCLaP readers at an ultra-casual pub meet-up, in the back of Kasey's Tavern at 701 S. Dearborn from 3:30 to 5:30 on late Saturday afternoon. Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Book reviews: "Suspended Heart" by Heather Fowler, and "The Girl with Brown Fur" by Stacey Levine | June 2, 2011
Today's books: "Suspended Heart" by Heather Fowler and "The Girl with Brown Fur" by Stacey Levine, two lackluster story collections from full-time academes which call into question a larger issue, of just what role the MFA short story even plays in our culture anymore. (Originally written for Daniel Casey's "Gently Read Literature.") | Read entire entry

Traci Kim's "Settings" anthology: Call For Submissions | June 1, 2011
Earlier today, I introduced you to CCLaP's new summer intern, Traci Kim, and mentioned how her main thing for the center this summer will be a brand-new anthology on the subject of setting and milieu within contemporary fiction; here then is the actual open call for submissions, including lots more details on the subject itself. Both she and I look forward to seeing what you put together. | Read 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New to the Reading List: 29 April 2011 | April 29, 2011
Today, short looks at the latest five additions to the center's unending to-read list, including nonfiction titles on the history of Britain and of Greek science being saved by Islamic scholars, two new intriguing novels, and an illustrated guide to throwing parties for five-year-old girls where they all get to dress up like fairy princesses. No, seriously. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Midnight's Children," by Salman Rushdie | April 28, 2011
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: It's Salman Rushdie's overview of modern Indian history via magical-realism fairytale, "Midnight's Children," a touchstone of Postmodernism that's been twice voted now the very best novel in the history of the Booker Prize. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Jugs & Capes: "Blankets" by Craig Thompson | April 27, 2011
Maybe writing a memoir at thirty-five, there really isn't much more that's happened than that one intense romance, the enduring heartache of not having been a good enough big brother, the struggle with one's faith. But much better books were built on much less than that, so I don't think I can let it off the hook that easily. It's not a bad book, certainly, and I'd definitely read more of Craig's stuff later, but this one just didn't dazzle me like I'd hoped it would. | Read entire entry

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a paper book. | April 22, 2011
They're not for sale yet, but I at least wanted to end the week with the fantastic news that CCLaP's first paper book (and I mean literally the first copy), of Mark R. Brand's "Life After Sleep," is finally finished and busy drying in my apartment. Click through for a ton of photos, and more on the center's coming "Hypermodern Editions" series of collector-worthy but affordably-priced paper titles. | Read entire entry

New to the Reading List: 22 April 2011 | April 22, 2011
Today, short looks at the newest five books to be added to the center's unending to-read list, including the latest by Myla Goldberg, the latest from Two Dollar Radio, a history of Mars-based literature, an anthology on time-traveling disasters, and a comedy about a dead slacker in a corporate-run Heaven. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 19 April 2011 | April 19, 2011
Today, a special micro-review roundup, looking at the seven guides I recently checked out of the Chicago Public Library on the subject of book collecting and bookmaking, ranging in publication date from the 1970s to just a few years ago. | Read entire entry

CCLaP After Dark 01: Orange Alert Reading Series | April 18, 2011
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, the debut of a new video series - "CCLaP After Dark," short recaps of various live literary events happening all around the Chicago area this summer and fall. Today's episode looks at the Orange Alert Reading Series at The Whistler in Logan Square, hosted by Jason Behrends of Orange Alert Press. | Read entire entry

Chicagoans, hope to see you this Sunday at Orange Alert! | April 15, 2011
CCLaP will be at the Orange Alert Reading Series this Sunday, supporting author Mark R. Brand and selling for the first time our special "BookCard" edition of his novella "Life After Sleep," and hope to see all you Chicagoans as well. Click through for details on both the reading and this special project, including lots of photos of it in action. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Swamplandia!," by Karen Russell | April 14, 2011
Today's book: The trendily hot "Swamplandia!" by Karen Russell, which reviewer Oriana Leckert found a huge disappointment over the author's previous short stories, a meandering and lazy mess that asks for too much forgiveness from the reader for its dozens of eye-rolling inconsistencies. Buyer beware! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 12 April 2011 | April 12, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The pretty good "NPR-worthy" look at the formation of Britain's Royal Society, Edward Dolnick's "The Clockwork Universe;" Elizabeth Strout's lackluster academic story collection "Olive Kitteridge," winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize; and Charles Elton's wonderfully dark character drama about children's literature, families and secrets, the exquisite "Mr. Toppit." | Read entire entry

Only three months until the "American Wasteland" deadline! | April 11, 2011
Only three months until the submission deadline for CCLaP's latest anthology, "American Wasteland: Bleak Tales About the Future on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11!" And this just in -- the release party is being held at revered local bookstore Quimby's! Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

New to the Reading List: 8 April 2011 | April 8, 2011
Today, short looks at the five latest titles to be added to the center's unending to-read list, including a couple of interesting character dramas, the supposed second coming of David Lynch, Star Jones' kiss-all trash novel about "The View," and New Weird veteran China Mieville's latest. (Surprise! It's about a hidden alternative city!) | Read entire entry

Personal essay: CCLaP's wikicloud guide, a mid-project report. | April 7, 2011
Last November I started a long-term research project through CCLaP, recording my causal, stream-of-consciousness readings at Wikipedia on the subject of the Victorian Age and then presenting that in a graphical map/cloud format, using special software that lets others easily click through and read the entries themselves. Today, a mid-project report on how it's going. | Read entire entry

Check out this super-cool video for Chris Taylor's "Harvest Season!" | April 5, 2011
Author Chris Taylor, whose debut novel "Harvest Season" I favorably reviewed a few months ago, has a new video reading of his work out as a sort of YouTube commercial; but it's unique and fascinating enough that I wanted to specially point it out today, especially for all of you fellow writers trying to think of something cool to do with your own book video. Click through to see it! | Read entire entry

New to the Reading List: 1 April 2011 | April 1, 2011
Today, quick looks at the latest five titles to be added to the center's unending to-read list, including the latest by Banana Yoshimoto, a book of short stories by actor James Franco (!), Booker and NBCC nominee "Skippy Dies," and my long-awaited tackling of John Crowley's classic "Little, Big." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 31 March 2011 | March 31, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: the so-so Irish schooling tale "The Brothers' Lot" by Kevin Holohan; the pretty silly bizarro novella "Felix and the Sacred Thor" by James Steele; and the creepy and great "The Incident Report" by Martha Baillie, the latest from our friends at Pedlar Press. | Read entire entry

Jugs & Capes: "Preacher," volumes 1 and 2, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon | March 30, 2011
Today's title in Oriana Leckert's CCLaP essay series "Jugs & Capes," her look at classic comics from a woman's perspective: Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's violent, racist "Preacher," which she did not find very good at all. Click through for a lot more. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer," by Wesley Stace | March 28, 2011
Today's book: The inventive and entertaining "Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer," simultaneously a genre thriller, meditation on truth and identity, and history of 20th-century British chamber music, the latest dense charmer from Wesley Stace, known in his day job as indie-rocker John Wesley Harding. | Read entire entry

New to the Reading List: 25 March 2011 | March 25, 2011
Today, a look at the latest four books to be added to CCLaP's never-ending to-read list, including a collection of images from Victorian illustrator John Everett Millais, a history of the modern museum concept, a comedic thriller about death-obsessed teens from MTV Books, and the latest steampunk actioner from our friends at Pyr. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Freedom," by Jonathan Franzen | March 22, 2011
Today's book: Jonathan Franzen's phenomenal dysfunctional-liberal saga "Freedom," the most hotly anticipated novel of the last year, and which today becomes the second book in just two weeks to receive a perfect score of 10. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 17 March 2011 | March 17, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The nicely maturing but still filthy "Drinking at the Movies," based on Julia Wertz's web comic "Fart Party;" the well-done but entirely trope-defined noir tale "Beautiful Piece" by Joseph G. Peterson; and the promising but also trope-filled New Weird bizarro crime tale "Bucket of Face," by Eric Hendrixson. | Read entire entry

Book review: "And the Heart Says Whatever" by Emily Gould | March 16, 2011
Today's book: The essay collection "And the Heart Says Whatever" by infamous Gawker writer Emily Gould; reviewer Oriana Leckert finds her to have 'a terrific voice,' and although 'arch and slightly cruel at times, but she is just as often honest and impressively raw.' | Read entire entry

Book review: "West of Here," by Jonathan Evison | March 11, 2011
Today's book: Jonathan Evison's epic new TC-Boylean saga about a century of sad, funny history among the slightly pathetic residents of a small Pacific Northwest community, which today becomes the first book so far of 2011 to receive a perfect score of ten. | Read entire entry

It's Mark Brand Day at CCLaP! | March 7, 2011
It's Mark Brand Day at CCLaP! We're celebrating the release of his newest book for the center, the day-after-tomorrow tale "Life After Sleep," with a whole plethora of supplemental material like interviews and essays; click here for a round-up of links to everything now available. The book is free, so I hope you'll have a chance to check it out! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 68: Author Mark R. Brand | March 7, 2011
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's my talk with Chicago sci-fi veteran Mark R. Brand, detailing everything you ever wanted to know about his new book with the center, the day-after-tomorrow tale "Life After Sleep" which not coincidentally is also being released today. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: "Why I Signed 'Life After Sleep:' An Apologia." | March 7, 2011
It's Mark Brand Day at CCLaP! And as part of the celebrations over Mark's new book with the center, the day-after-tomorrow tale "Life After Sleep," here is a biased, deliberately all-positive analytical essay I wrote about the book, known in literary circles as an "Apologia." | Read entire entry

Passing the Torch: Ben Tanzer on Mark Brand | March 7, 2011
It's Mark Brand Day at CCLaP! And as part of the celebrations over the release of his new book with the center, the day-after-tomorrow tale "Life After Sleep," here is his fellow author (and previous CCLaP writer) Ben Tanzer, on the things he himself likes about this new novella. | Read entire entry

Curbside Splendor will be at the Logan Square Farmers Market this weekend | March 4, 2011
I heard from Victor David Giron of small press Curbside Splendor recently, with some interesting news; they're setting up a booth this weekend at Chicago's Logan Square Farmers Market, and will be hawking their wares to the organic-food crowd. Smart! Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

New to the Reading List: 4 March 2011 | March 4, 2011
Today, the latest five books to be added to CCLaP's never-ending "to read" list, including a new glossy coffeetable book on the history of world's fairs, a new biography of GK Chesterton, and yes! Finally! Franzen! Here! Finally! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 3 March 2011 | March 3, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The immensely entertaining 'ultimate conspiracy' comedy known as China Mieville's "Kraken;" Paul McAuley's decent but slightly disappointing alternative-Earths thriller "Cowboy Angels;" and the sneakily brilliant latest by the Pulitzer-winning Michael Cunningham, the gay Freudian psychodrama "By Nightfall." | Read entire entry

Jugs & Capes: "A Contract with God," by Will Eisner | March 2, 2011
Today in "Jugs & Capes," Oriana's year-long look at classic graphic novels from a female perspective: It's Will Eisner's 1978 memoir of his Jewish Bronx upbringing, "A Contract with God," which Oriana calls upsetting yet riveting, and not even the least bit dated. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Floating Staircase," by Ronald Malfi | March 1, 2011
Today's book: The new genre novel "Floating Staircase" by alt-horror veteran Ronald Malfi, which this time skips the "alt" part to instead deliver a solid and atmospheric tale almost Victorian in its rural-New-England, creepy-house nature. | Read entire entry

CCLaP releases a teaser poster for its newest book! | February 25, 2011
CCLaP releases a "teaser" poster for its newest original book, Mark R. Brand's day-after-tomorrow tale "Life After Sleep," coming out March 7th! YEAH, JUST LIKE HOLLYWOOD! Click through to see it! | Read entire entry

New to the Reading List: 25 February 2011 | February 25, 2011
Today, a look at the six newest books to be added to the center's never-ending reading list, including the latest by Pulitzer-winning Michael Cunningham, comic artist Julia Wertz's much-anticipated "Drinking at the Movies," Amber Dawn's Kathy-Acker-meets-magical-realism tale "Sub Rosa," and a lot more. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Brothers Karamazov," by Fyodor Dostoyevsky | February 24, 2011
Today in the CCLaP 100 essay series on literary classics: It's Fyodor Dostoyevsky's 1880 "The Brothers Karamazov," a late-career experimental masterpiece that helped create the stereotype of the dreary thousand-page dysfunctional-family Russian epic tragedy. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Proofreaders needed for CCLaP's newest book! | February 22, 2011
We're two weeks away from the release of CCLaP's newest original book, the day-after-tomorrow tale "Life After Sleep" by Mark R. Brand! And you know what that means -- yes, CCLaP Army, we once again need our volunteer proofreaders, to help us catch the dozens of mistakes that history has taught us are still in the manuscript. Click through for all the details! Muchas gracias! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 22 February 2011 | February 22, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The amazingly well-done liberal satire "Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed" by Jacob Wren; the okay sports guide "Chasing the Runner's High" by Ray Charbonneau; and the engaging hybrid of historical melodrama and Victoriana thriller "The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno" by Ellen Bryson. | Read entire entry

My talk with Nathan Rabin will be on Chicago television tonight! | February 18, 2011
Just a reminder that my recent talk with "AV Club" head writer Nathan Rabin will be airing on Chicago cable's public access tonight, 11 p.m. on channel 19. Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

New to the Reading List: 18 February 2011 | February 18, 2011
Today, quick looks at the seven new novels I added this week to CCLaP's unending list of books to eventually read, including the latest by indie favorites Karen Russell, Jonathan Evison, Wesley Stace (aka musician John Wesley Harding), and a lot more. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "Revolution," by Deb Olin Unferth | February 16, 2011
Today's book: Deb Olin Unferth's South-American-radical memoir "Revolution." Says reviewer Oriana Leckert: "Though there are a few times when [her] façade is cracked, and she lets real emotions come through, the bulk of the book is extremely self-conscious." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 15 February 2011 | February 15, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The slightly disappointing "Sophomoric Philosophy," the literary debut of Chicagoan Victor David Giron; the badly disappointing "Wingshooters" by Nina Revoyr, the latest from Akashic Books; and Douglas Coupland's mindblowingly great "Player One: What Is to Become of Us," a dark experimental tale that could be his best book in a decade. | Read entire entry

New to the Reading List: 11 February 2011 | February 11, 2011
Today, a look at the three latest books to be added to CCLaP's unending "to-read" list, including a history of the Chicago Housing Authority's various debacles over the years, as well as the two latest novels by our friends at Akashic Books. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Le Morte d'Arthur," by Sir Thomas Malory | February 10, 2011
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: It's Sir Thomas Malory's 1485 "Le Morte d'Arthur," the first-ever modern compilation of old medieval King Arthur oral legends, and the main inspiration for the myth's explosive popularity in the Victorian Age 400 years later. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 8 February 2011 | February 8, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The funny and weird Mormon memoir "Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk" by Tony DuShane; the disappointing Pakistani political novel "No Space for Further Burials" by Feryal Ali Gauhar; and the surprisingly depressing middle-class British character dramedy "The News From Where You Are" by Catherine O'Flynn. | Read entire entry

An interview with Jordan Castro | February 7, 2011
Our buddies at pop-culture guide Deckfight have started a new small press, so I thought I'd sit down and chat with their first published author -- the remarkable Ohio teen Jordan Castro, whose Deckfight title "Supercomputer" is actually the fifth book he's now put out before even graduating from high school yet. Click through for the full transcript of our interview. | Read entire entry

New to the Reading List: 4 February 2011 | February 4, 2011
Today, a short look at the four latest titles to be added to CCLaP's unending "to-read" list, including a new history of the Bible's formation and three intriguing new character-based novels. | Read entire entry

Jugs & Capes: "Asterios Polyp" by David Mazzucchelli | February 2, 2011
Today in CCLaP's "Jugs & Capes," Oriana Leckert's new essay series on graphic novels from a female perspective: it's David Mazzucchelli's 2009 "Asterios Polyp," a weird and fascinating look at an architect whose life takes some strange turns, which Oriana found "brilliantly complex like 'The Metamorphosis.'" | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Babbitt," by Sinclair Lewis | January 28, 2011
Today in the CCLaP 100 essay series on literary classics: It's Sinclair Lewis' darkly funny indictment of bland Midwestern middle-classers in the Roaring Twenties, 1922's "Babbitt." Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 26 January 2011 | January 26, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The entertaining bizarro novella "Muscle Memory" by Steve Lowe; the underwhelming character dramedy "This Must Be the Place" by Kate Racculia; and "The Petting Zoo," the only so-so last novel by the late "punk poet" Jim Carroll. | Read entire entry

New to the Reading List: 21 January 2011 | January 21, 2011
Today, a brief look at the four new books added this week to the center's unending to-read list, including the first-ever bio of an obscure Victorian author, a famed futurist's guide to the coming Second Renaissance, and two science-fiction titles that both sound fascinating. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 20 January 2011 | January 20, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: Rebecca Janowitz's intolerably smug look at Chicago left-wing paradise Hyde Park, "Culture of Opportunity;" local author Kevin Guilfoile's new DaVinci-Codesque thriller "The Thousand;" and the delightfully dark and disgusting confessional novel "alt.punk" by Lavinia Ludlow. | Read entire entry

Book Review: "The Private Life of Trees," by Alejandro Zambra | January 19, 2011
Today's Review: "The Private Lives of Trees," a wonderfully short, slow, and soft book published by the innovative translation press, Open Letter. | Read entire entry

Meet Oriana Leckert, CCLaP's newest staff writer | January 19, 2011
I'm happy to announce that CCLaP's staff today has officially doubled, from one writer to two; meet Oriana Leckert, the center's latest book critic, who will be contributing both general reviews this year and a new special series on female-friendly graphic novels. Click through to learn more about her and what her new publishing schedule at CCLaP will be. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee | January 18, 2011
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series regarding literary classics: It's Harper Lee's 1960 "To Kill a Mockingbird," a powerful Southern Gothic anti-racism tale that helped usher in the civil-rights movement of the Kennedy/Johnson era. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 65: An Evening with Nathan Rabin | January 17, 2011
Today on the podcast, the long-awaited audio transcript of the center's most recent big live event, a long-form interview with AVClub.com head writer Nathan Rabin last month at Chicago's Stage 773 theater complex. The special 90-minute episode also features an opening story by local author Ben Tanzer. | Read entire entry

New to the Reading List: 14 January 2011 | January 14, 2011
Today, a look at the four newest books to be added to CCLaP's unending "to-read" list, including long-form journalism about post-Soviet Russia, a dark comedy about an off-the-rails pregnant suburban housewife, and the hot reverse-immigration memoir "India Calling." | Read entire entry

Book review: "Amazing Journeys: Five Visionary Classics by Jules Verne," translated by Frederick Paul Walter | January 13, 2011
Today's book: A brand-new compendium of five of Jules Verne's most famous Victorian speculative novels, featuring all-new translations by genre scholar Frederick Paul Walter, showing off a slyly funny and politically aware side of this Frenchman who we English speakers have never gotten to see before, thanks to a century of quick and crappy translations. | Read entire entry

CALL FOR ARTISTS: "American Wasteland: Bleak Tales of the Future on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11" | January 11, 2011
Announcing a call for artists for CCLaP's newest anthology, "American Wasteland: Bleak Tales of the Future on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11," in which a group of writers will create a shared dark future universe in which mismanagement has brought the US to the brink of collapse. Click through for all the details and submission rules; deadline is July 4th! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 10 January 2011 | January 10, 2011
Today, small reviews of three recently read books: The engaging Jamaican noir "John Crow's Devil" by Marlon James, the pleasingly challenging alt-horror tale "Shades of Green" by Ian Woodhead, and the not-so-pleasingly challenging prose-poem collection "The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse" by Lonely Christopher. | Read entire entry

The "Year In Books 2010" ebook is here! | January 10, 2011
Happy day! The electronic book version of CCLaP's "Year In Books 2010" four-part report is now online for your free downloading pleasure! Click through for all the details and links! | Read entire entry

New "99 Problems" ad! Look at all them nice quotes! | January 7, 2011
While preparing a new ad for Ben Tanzer's essay collection on running and writing, "99 Problems," put out by CCLaP about six months ago, I came to realize just how many nice things have now been said about it. Here, a reprint of the ad itself, as well as the text version of all those quotes. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 3 January 2010 | January 3, 2011
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The disappointing liberal morality tale "Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits and Sinners" by Ken Wohlrob; the fantastic "Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl" by Donald Sturrock; and the so-so urban fantasy tale and 2010 Hugo nominee "Palimpsest" by Catherynne M. Valente. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2010: The CCLaP Guilty Pleasure Awards | December 31, 2010
Today at CCLaP, it's part four of the four-part look back I've been doing this week at my favorite reads of 2010; in this case, the revered Guilty Pleasure Awards, denoting excellence in the fields of nerdy steampunk, trashy melodrama and more. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2010: Best of the Cutting-Edge | December 30, 2010
Today at CCLaP, it's part 3 of my four-part look this week at my favorite books of 2010, this time concentrating on my ten favorite experimental or otherwise cutting-edge novels of the year. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2010: Worth a Second Look | December 29, 2010
Today at CCLaP, part 2 of my look back at my favorite 40 books of 2010, this time looking specifically at ten titles that were excellent for what they were, but that will only appeal to a more select group of fans. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2010: Best of the Best | December 28, 2010
Today at CCLaP, it's part one of the center's four-part look back at the best books of 2010, of the 150 titles that were read and reviewed here. Today's list looks at the ten top-scoring books of the year, all of which rated 9.4 or higher on a scale from 1 to 10. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2010: An Introduction | December 27, 2010
It's the last week of the year, which means it's time for CCLaP's four-part "Year In Books" roundup, taking a look again at my favorite 40 titles from the 150 I reviewed in 2010. Today, an introduction to what will be coming this week, plus some CCLaP statistics for those who are curious. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Little Women," by Louisa May Alcott | December 21, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on so-called literary classics: It's Louisa May Alcott's 1868 "Little Women," a perennial favorite among preteen girls that incidentally is a great reflection as well of its Transcendentalist times. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Dreadnought," by Cherie Priest | December 17, 2010
Today's book: Cherie Priest's "Dreadnought," the steampunkirrific second volume of her "Clockwork Century" series, certainly a great genre tale but unfortunately not the mindblowing game-changer of the first novel, last year's Hugo-nominated "Boneshaker." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 13 December 2010 | December 13, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The fantastic "NPR-worthy" essay series on Russian Literature, Elif Batuman's "The Possessed;" the experimentally transgressive "Cows" by Matthew Stokoe, recently reissued by Akashic Books; and the sci-fi action thriller "7 Scorpions: Rebellion" by Mike Saxton, bound to be loved by the violent juggalo teenage boy in your own life. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Executioner's Song," by Norman Mailer | December 10, 2010
Today in the CCLaP 100 essay series on so-called literary classics: It's the 1980 "New Journalism" showpiece "The Executioner's Song," in which the notorious Norman Mailer details in a "true-life novel" the sad saga of Gary Gilmore, the first American to be executed after the Supreme Court's lifting of a longtime ban in the '70s. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 8 December 2010 | December 8, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: the fundraising story collection "Demons in the Spring" by Joe Meno; the quirky and charming but ultimately disappointing "Finny" by Justin Kramon; and the overhyped vampire thriller and profound letdown "The Passage," by Justin "I Love Every Cliche I've Ever Heard" Cronin. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Harvest Season," by Chris Taylor | December 6, 2010
Today's book: The flawed but still great "Harvest Season," the literary debut of former travel writer Chris Taylor, in which a little-known expat haven in rural southwest China faces ruin by an explosion in white backpacker Lonely Planet douchebags. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's event was a cold, rainy success! | November 30, 2010
We had eight hours of freezing rain in Chicago yesterday, which kept a lot of people home from CCLaP's "Evening with Nathan Rabin" event, but I and the intimate audience who made it out had a blast, and of course got a great recording to share with you via podcast next week. Click through for lots and lots of photos! | Read entire entry

CCLaP's big event is tonight! Broke artists...er, volunteers still needed! | November 29, 2010
Tonight finally sees CCLaP's newest live event, my live-audience talk with AV Club head writer Nathan Rabin, plus a special opening performance by Ben Tanzer! I'm still in need of a couple of broke artists who'd like to volunteer and earn free tickets and cocktails! Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 29 November 2010 | November 29, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: David Masciotra's academic essay series on the political vision of Bruce Springsteen, "Working on a Dream;" Josh Karlen's haunting memoir of an almost-big '80s punk band that never quite made it, "Lost Lustre;" and Tim Brown's Pratchettesque time-travel sociological comedy, "Second Acts." | Read entire entry

One week until my talk with Nathan Rabin! Volunteers needed! | November 23, 2010
Just one week to go until CCLaP's next live event, my talk with "AV Club" head writer Nathan Rabin! I'm still in need of a few more volunteers, so click through to learn how you too can earn yourself a free ticket and a cocktail after the show; plus, links and quotes from Rabin's latest book, the hilarious look at bad movies known as "My Year of Flops." | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Autobiography of Mark Twain," edited by Harriet Elinor Smith | November 23, 2010
Today's book: The unexpectedly hot "Autobiography of Mark Twain," which the famed Victorian humorist demanded not be published in full until a century after his death, less surprise-filled than the media would have you believe but still a fascinating, funny, illuminating read. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 19 November 2010 | November 19, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: Jeremy Shipp's excellent new alt-horror story collection "Fungus of the Heart," Richard Perez's gonzo erotica tale "Permanent Obscurity," and John Noel Hampton's "urban" Christmas story "The Wrong Bus," so stereotype-filled as to be borderline offensive. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 15 November 2010 | November 15, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The hyper-niche-audience golf-course character drama "Opur's Blade" by James Ross, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl cautionary tale "Below Sunlight" by Ryan Adam Smith, and the flash-fiction collection "Quite a Few Extremely Short Stories" by Mick MacO. | Read entire entry

Book reviews: "Less Than Zero" and "Imperial Bedrooms," by Bret Easton Ellis | November 10, 2010
Today, a special double-review: The 1985 late-Postmodernist anthem "Less Than Zero" by Bret Easton Ellis, and its brand-new creepy noir sequel, 2010's "Imperial Bedrooms." | Read entire entry

Announcing CCLaP's newest event: An Evening with Nathan Rabin | November 8, 2010
Happy day! It's time to announce CCLaP's newest live event -- a long "Charlie Rose" style interview I'll be doing on November 29th with Nathan Rabin, bestselling author and head writer of the cultishly popular AV Club, with an opening performance by local author Ben Tanzer. $6 tickets! At an actual theatre! Audience Q&A! Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Kim," by Rudyard Kipling | November 8, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on supposed literary classics: It's the British Empire apologist Rudyard Kipling's 1901 adventure tale "Kim," using the Indian subcontinent of the "Raj" years as a wide canvas to comment on class, race, religion, destiny and a lot more. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "The Anatomy Lesson," by Philip Roth | November 5, 2010
Today's book: Philip Roth's 1983 autobiographical "The Anatomy Lesson," a funny, sometimes tragic look at middle-age that also serves as volume three of the nine-book "Zuckerman" series, charting the history of Postmodernism from the 1960s to the 2000s. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 4 November 2010 | November 4, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The pedestrian right-wing political thriller "Rude Awakenings" by Keith Donaldson, the interesting but overlong bio "Henry Clay: The Essential American" by David and Jeanne Heidler, and the infuriatingly awful "The Four Fingers of Death," the latest by postmodernist poster-child Rick Moody. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 63b: Author Achy Obejas, part 2 | November 2, 2010
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's part 2 of my recent two-hour interview with Chicago author, Cuban-American activist, lesbian-fiction pioneer, Pulitzer-winning journalist and award-winning translator Achy Obejas. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 63a: Author Achy Obejas, part 1 | November 1, 2010
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, it's part 1 of my recent two-hour interview with Chicago author, Cuban-American activist, lesbian-fiction pioneer, Pulitzer-winning journalist, and award-winning translator Achy Obejas. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 29 October 2010 | October 29, 2010
Today at CCLaP, short reviews of three recently read books: The surprisingly good Irish character dramedy "Ghosts & Lightning" by Trevor Byrne; the disappointing New-Age-friendly parable "Hector and the Search for Happiness" by Francois Lelord; and the decent but dated 1996 novel "Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman. | Read entire entry

Book reviews: "The Stories of John Cheever" and "Cheever: A Life," by Blake Bailey | October 27, 2010
Today, a special double book review: "The Stories of John Cheever," the famed '70s collection of this Postmodernist pioneer's brilliant tales of '50s suburban ennui; and the brand-new biography "Cheever: A Life" by Blake Bailey, which reveals what a miserable life the closeted, alcoholic Cheever was living while writing these stories. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: A mid-project report | October 25, 2010
Today at CCLaP, a special extra-long essay, examining all the surprises and things I've learned so far after recently completing the first half of the center's "CCLaP 100" essay series on so-called literary classics. Plus best-of lists! Lots and lots of best-of lists! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Walden," by Henry David Thoreau | October 20, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" series on literary classics: It's the 1854 Transcendentalism primer "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau, in which the environmentalism pioneer lives in the woods for two years and tells us what he found, embraced by some and ridiculed by others for well over a century now. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 15 October 2010 | October 15, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The pretty okay rural noir "Empty Mile" by Matthew Stokoe; the so-so gonzo memoir "From Acid to the Body of Christ" by Adrian Dodson (writing under the pen-name "Daxx Danzig"); and the truly awful "Tell-All," the latest from Chuck Palahniuk. | Read entire entry

Ben Tanzer's "The Gift" now available in Polish! | October 14, 2010
Attention, Polish readers -- the CCLaP story "The Gift" by Ben Tanzer is now available in your native language, thanks to European literary journal "minimalbooks." Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Book review: "A Visit from the Goon Squad," by Jennifer Egan | October 13, 2010
Today's book: The hotly anticipated "A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan, aka "the female Jonathan Franzen," a decent-enough little charmer but a bad example of just how out of control the corporate-publisher hype machine has gotten here in the 2010s. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Women," by T.C. Boyle | October 12, 2010
Today's book: The 2009 seriocomic novel "The Women" by the always great T.C. Boyle, a semi-biographical look at the real life of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, as seen through the eyes of his four adult lovers, three of whom eventually became his wives. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Anna Karenina," by Leo Tolstoy | October 8, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: It's Leo Tolstoy's epic 1877 family drama "Anna Karenina," a sweeping look at upper-class intellectual liberals in 19th-century Russia and the sometimes smart, sometimes stupid life decisions they made. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Almaty-Transit," by Dana Mazur | October 5, 2010
Today's book: The astoundingly good self-published New Weird novel "Almaty-Transit," the genre-hopping literary debut of Khazkhstan theatre veteran and filmmaker Dana Mazur. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 28 September 2010 | September 28, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The slyly fascinating melodrama "A Friend of the Family" by Lauren Grodstein, the disappointing graphic novel "Area 10" by Christos Gage, and James Howard Kunstler's so-bad-it's-brilliant "The Witch of Hebron," the sex-heavy sequel to "World Made by Hand." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast Extra: Ben Tanzer reads "After Dark" | September 27, 2010
Today on the CCLaP Podcast, a special extra -- local author Ben Tanzer doing a ten-minute audiobook-style reading of his story "After Dark," from the center's essay collection "99 Problems." Recorded in Chicago's Millennium Park, September 2010. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Rabbit, Run," by John Updike | September 24, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: It's John Updike's 1960 "Rabbit, Run," hailed by many as the glorious start of Postmodernism and cursed by others for the exact same reason. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Story review: "Iceland Today," by Joe Meno | September 21, 2010
Today, a special review of an individual short story, Joe Meno's "Iceland Today," part of a promotional project from Akashic Books for their new paperback edition of his 2008 story collection "Demons in the Spring." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 21 September 2010 | September 21, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The disappointing Booker nominee "The Children's Book" by A.S. Byatt, the so-so "Art Deco steampunk" tale "Ghosts of Manhattan" by George Mann, and the fascinating "NPR-worthy" history/anthropology book "Life in Year One" by Scott Korb. | Read entire entry

How to know you've made it: Goofy parodies of your books | September 20, 2010
How do you know when you've really made it as a small publisher? Why, when others start doing goofy parodies of your latest book cover. Thanks, Caleb J. Ross! | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Windup Girl," by Paolo Bacigalupi | September 17, 2010
Today's book: The truly amazing "third-world cyberpunk" adventure "The Windup Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi, winner of this year's Hugo, Nebula and Campbell Awards, and whose mainstream embrace marks an important turning point in science-fiction history. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "Lives of the Monster Dogs," by Kirsten Bakis | September 15, 2010
Today, a look back at the astounding 1997 modern gothic proto-steampunk fever-dream "Lives of the Monster Dogs," by celebrated first-time author Kirsten Bakis. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: How do I create CCLaP's ebooks? | September 14, 2010
Today, a special personal essay, addressing a question I'm getting asked more and more often these days, of what exact software I use to create the center's electronic books, and how exactly I go about making them in the first place. | Read entire entry

And now, Ben Tanzer being interviewed by an eight-year-old | September 10, 2010
And now for your Friday afternoon pleasure: Chicago author Ben Tanzer being interviewed by his eight-year-old son regarding his latest original book for CCLaP, the running/writing essay collection "99 Problems." YOU'RE WELCOME. | Read entire entry

Book review: "36 Arguments for the Existence of God," by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein | September 8, 2010
Today's book: The lively relationship novel about academic intellectuals, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's surprise bestseller "36 Arguments for the Existence of God," much closer to Michael Chabon in tone than the usual ivory-tower dreck. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 3 September 2010 | September 3, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The lovely little novella "Walks With Men" by Ann Beattie, the silly but fun caper tale "Mesopotamia" by Arthur Nersesian, and the highly entertaining "NPR-worthy" look at the history of standard English, "Righting the Mother Tongue" by David Wolman. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 59: Author Ben Tanzer | August 30, 2010
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: It's a 45-minute talk with local author Ben Tanzer, his third appearance on the podcast over the years, here this time to tell us everything we ever wanted to know about his latest book for the center, the running/writing essay collection "99 Problems." | Read entire entry

"99 Problems:" Now surprisingly successful at Amazon | August 30, 2010
It's week three of CCLaP's newest original book, the running/writing essay collection "99 Problems" by Ben Tanzer, and we received some surprising news recently regarding it: The Kindle version cracked the top 20,000 bestsellers at Amazon this weekend, and unbelievably made the national top 10 of all sports collections being sold there. Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Urbis Morpheos," by Stephen Palmer | August 27, 2010
Today's book: The densely challenging far-future tale "Urbis Morpheos" by Stephen Palmer, the latest idiosyncratic "New Weird" title by the great PS Publishing. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "All Quiet on the Western Front," by Erich Maria Remarque | August 26, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: It's Erich Maria Remarque's 1929 World War One classic "All Quiet on the Western Front," which single-handedly established a dozen of the most well-known cliches now seen in almost every modern story about war. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Julian Comstock," by Robert Charles Wilson | August 19, 2010
Today's book review: Robert Charles Wilson's "Julian Comstock," the third of this year's Hugo nominees I've now gotten a chance to review, a nearly perfect combination of steampunk comedy and post-apocalyptic thriller that has plenty of metaphorical things to say about the Bush years. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's newest original book is finally here! | August 17, 2010
It's the release day of CCLaP's latest original book, the running/writing essay collection "99 Problems" by Ben Tanzer! Here, the official announcement, containing all kinds of information about the book itself, plus screenshots of it running on an iPhone and a Sony Reader. | Read entire entry

Check out the '99 Problems' story-map! | August 17, 2010
It's the release day of CCLaP's newest original book, the running/writing essay collection "99 Problems" by Ben Tanzer! Here, information on a cool promotional project we were able to put together for it -- namely, we plotted one of the essays on an actual customized Google map, complete with placemarkers and photos illustrating many of the specific locations Ben mentions in the story. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Why I Signed '99 Problems' -- An Apologia. | August 17, 2010
It's the release day of CCLaP's newest original book, the running/writing essay collection "99 Problems" by Ben Tanzer! Here, a critical essay on why I signed the book in the first place, written in the style of an "apologia" (or deliberately all-positive critical piece). | Read entire entry

And by the way, have you read CCLaP's other books yet? | August 17, 2010
It's the release day of CCLaP's newest original book, the running/writing essay collection "99 Problems" by Ben Tanzer! In this entry, a fond adieu to the center's last book, Sally Weigel's "Too Young to Fall Asleep," which today leaves the site's front page for CCLaP's dreaded dusty archives. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 13 August 2010 | August 13, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The awful "Horns" by Joe Hill; the awful "The Novel: An Alternative History" by Steven Moore; and the awful "Point Omega," by Don DeLillo. Ugh, these were all so...what's the word I'm looking for? | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 5 August 2010 | August 5, 2010
Today, short reviews of three books recently read: Xiaoda Xiao's excellent Chinese drama "The Cave Man;" Rachel Cusk's nice but slow-moving character study "The Bradshaw Variations;" and the disappointing Dan Simmons horror "classic," 1989's "Carrion Comfort" (recently re-issued for its 20th anniversary). | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Lord of the Flies," by William Golding | August 4, 2010
Today in the CCLaP 100 essay series on literary classics: It's William Golding's 1954 "Lord of the Flies," the story of British schoolboys going feral on a shipwrecked island, and by now a staple in high-school lit classes worldwide. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Cry of the Sloth," by Sam Savage | July 29, 2010
Today's book: Sam Savage's wickedly funny "anti-villain" look at a whiny lit-journal editor much better at self-promotion than at actually producing, the surprisingly dark "epistolary" (all letters) novel "The Cry of the Sloth." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 28 July 2010 | July 28, 2010
Today, short reviews of three books recently read: The silly but useful "lifestyle management" guide "The 4-Hour Workweek;" the profoundly disappointing "Roadside Bodhisattva" by Paul Di Filippo; and a collection of two screenplays by David Mamet, "The Spanish Prisoner" and "The Winslow Boy." | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Butt," by Will Self | July 27, 2010
Today's book: 2008's bizarro satire on the Bush misadventures in the Middle East, "The Butt" by Will Self (aka "The British Chuck Palahniuk"). | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Ivanhoe," by Sir Walter Scott | July 26, 2010
Today in the CCLaP 100 essay series on literary classics: Sir Walter Scott's 1820 "Ivanhoe," not just one of the first books of the Romantic Era to reignite public interest in the Middle Ages, but which also established many of the modern tropes of the Robin Hood legend. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

An interview with Ian McDonald | July 23, 2010
It's Ian McDonald Week here at CCLaP; and to cap things off here on Friday, I thought I would publish my recent text-based interview with him, done from his home in Northern Ireland via Google Chat, a wide-ranging discussion that touches on hard versus soft science-fiction, the developing world, Star Trek novels and more. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Dervish House," by Ian McDonald | July 22, 2010
It's "Ian McDonald Week" here at CCLaP; and in honor of that, today is my review of his brand-new "The Dervish House," the latest of his so-called "third-world day-after-tomorrow" tales and probably his most mainstream-friendly book yet, set just 17 years from now in a newly EU-ified Turkey. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Ares Express," by Ian McDonald | July 21, 2010
It's day three of "Ian McDonald Week" here at CCLaP; so in honor of this, today I'm publishing for the first time my review of his 2001 terraformed-Mars fever-dream "Ares Express," a "companion volume" of sorts to his 1988 "Desolation Road," also being reviewed here today. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Desolation Road," by Ian McDonald (reprint) | July 21, 2010
It's day three of "Ian McDonald Week" here at CCLaP; so in honor of that, today I'm reprinting my older review of his 1988 terraformed-Mars fever-dream "Desolation Road," now a companion volume of sorts to his 2001 "Ares Express" (also being reviewed today). | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Dead Advice | July 21, 2010
Today's obsession: The Chicago-based artistic experiment "Dead Advice," in which people pen letters on life lessons learned only after their theoretical death. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Brasyl," by Ian McDonald (reprint) | July 20, 2010
It's day two of "Ian McDonald Week" here at CCLaP; so in honor of that, today I'm reprinting my review of his 2008 day-after-tomorrow science-fiction tale "Brasyl," part of his "New World Order" series of speculative novels concerning developing nations. | Read entire entry

It's Ian McDonald Week at CCLaP! | July 19, 2010
One of my favorite living writers on the planet, British science-fiction author Ian McDonald, has not just one but two new books out here in the US this month; that's inspired me to dedicate the entire week here at CCLaP to him and his work, including not just reviews of his new books but reprinted reviews of four older titles, and a brand-new text-based interview with McDonald I recently conducted. Click through for more, and links to everything just mentioned. | Read entire entry

Book review: "River of Gods" and "Cyberabad Days," by Ian McDonald (reprint) | July 19, 2010
Today, as the kickoff to "Ian McDonald Week" here at CCLaP, I'm happy to reprint my old review of his monumental 2004 India-set day-after-tomorrow tale "River of Gods," along with its newer companion volume "Cyberabad Days." More McDonald reviews coming every day this week! | Read entire entry

Book review: "The City & The City," by China Miéville | July 15, 2010
Today's book: China Miéville's "New Weird" novel "The City & The City," a speculative metaphorical tale about post-9/11 global politics that is a favorite to win this year's prestigious Hugo Award in science-fiction, but that you certainly don't have to be a fanboy to passionately love. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 9 July 2010 | July 9, 2010
Today, short reviews of three books recently read: The disappointing "cyberpunk" novel "Brain Thief" by Alexander Jablokov; the equally disappointing nonfiction book "The Last Duel" by James Landale; and Susan Wise Bauer's "The History of the Ancient World," just as good as her history of the medieval world reviewed earlier in the year. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: The Canterbury Tales | July 6, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales," the surprisingly sophisticated and bawdy "Middle English" experiment that helped move Western society from the Late Medieval Age of the 1300s to the Early Renaissance of the 1400s. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

CCLaP's books are now available on the iPhone! | July 2, 2010
Just wanted to remind everyone that, now that Apple's iOS4 allows for iPhones and iPod Touches to run their new "iBooks" app, CCLaP's own electronic books can now run on those devices as well. Click through for plenty of photos of the books in action. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 30 June 2010 | June 30, 2010
Today, short reviews of three books recently read: The poetically delightful "Water Ghosts" by Shawna Yang Ryan, the unfortunately unreadable "Pen of Iniquity" by Deno Sandz, and the surprisingly good but still pretty silly "World Made by Hand" by "peak oil" doom-n-gloomer James Howard Kunstler. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The People Who Watched Her Pass By," by Scott Bradfield | June 23, 2010
Today's book: Lit veteran Scott Bradfield's remarkable new novel, "The People Who Watched Her Pass By," which takes a normally abhorrent subject (child kidnapping) to instead turn in a lyrical, surreal look at small-town America. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Vanity Fair," by William Makepeace Thackeray | June 18, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: William Makepeace Thackeray's darkly comic saga of human folly, 1848's "Vanity Fair," considered by many to be one of the best novels of the entire Victorian Age. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Tinkers," by Paul Harding | June 16, 2010
Today's book: Paul Harding's "Tinkers," the obscure character study from a tiny basement press which controversially won this year's Pulitzer Prize, and pretty much a textbook example of everything people complain about regarding so-called "academic fiction." | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Dream of Perpetual Motion," by Dexter Palmer | June 14, 2010
Today's book: Dexter Palmer's stunning New Weird literary debut, "The Dream of Perpetual Motion," a novel that combines steampunk, contemporary alt-history, Willy Wonka, Frankenstein, Shakespeare and Thomas Pynchon to deliver one hell of a speculative fever dream. | Read entire entry

Book review: "600 Hours of Edward," by Craig Lancaster | June 10, 2010
Today's book: Craig Lancaster's remarkable tragicomic look at Asperger's Syndrome, "600 Hours of Edward," its near-perfection even more astounding for it being a Nanowrimo experiment published by an obscure basement press. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 9 June 2010 | June 9, 2010
Today, short reviews of three recently-read books: The space opera "Gardens of the Sun" by Paul McAuley, the "sequel prequel" graphic novel "The Surrogate: Flesh and Bone" by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele, and the disappointing Modernist noir adaptation "Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter," by Darwyn Cooke. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Generation A," by Douglas Coupland | June 7, 2010
Today's book: Douglas Coupland's head-scratching latest, "Generation A," a metaphorical fairytale of sorts which I think is perhaps about the 9/11-caused death of Postmodernism and what comes after. Er, perhaps. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "It Can't Happen Here," by Sinclair Lewis | June 4, 2010
Today's book: Sinclair Lewis' now largely forgotten 1935 speculative novel "It Can't Happen Here," which takes a look at what a possible fascist takeover of the United States might look like, surprisingly enough almost identical in plot to the real events of the Bush administration 75 years later. | Read entire entry

John Reed's "TwitLit" story starts today! | June 1, 2010
All right! The latest story in CCLaP's Twitter-based serial publishing project "TwitLit" starts today, "A Cold Served Dish" by Californian John Reed, adapted from his forthcoming book "Tales of Woe." Click through for all the details, or simply visit twitter.com/cclapcenter for the actual story. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 56: Urban Decay/Urban Renewal | May 31, 2010
Today on the podcast: A recording of CCLaP's first-ever live literary event, held last weekend at the Hyde Park cultural center The Op Shop, featuring brand-new pieces by Sally Weigel, Ben Tanzer, Jason Fisk, Mark Brand and Katherine Hodges. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's first live literary event is tonight! | May 28, 2010
It's here! It's here! CCLaP's first-ever live literary event is finally taking place tonight, down in Hyde Park. Admission is free! Bring your own spirits! Kick off Memorial Day weekend right! Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 27 May 2010 | May 27, 2010
Today, short reviews of three books recently read, including Sally Sexton Kalmach's Chicago walking-tour guide "The Jewel of the Gold Coast," the speculative comics miniseries "The Surrogates" by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele, and the initially great but ultimately disappointing New Weird thriller "Castle," by J. Robert Lennon. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Jesus Boy," by Preston L. Allen | May 25, 2010
Today's book: Preston L. Allen's slyly funny but ultimately loving look at black evangelism in south Florida, "Jesus Boy," an almost textbook example of how to construct a character-heavy yet lively novel. | Read entire entry

Only five days until CCLaP's first live literary event! | May 24, 2010
Don't forget that we're less than a week away from CCLaP's first-ever live literary event, being held this Friday down in the Hyde Park neighborhood, and featuring brand-new pieces by Sally Weigel, Ben Tanzer, Mark Brand, Jason Fisk and Katherine Hodges. Click through for all the details, if you missed them the first time. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Plague," by Albert Camus | May 21, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: 1948's surprisingly mindblowing "The Plague" by Albert Camus, not just an ahead-of-its-time post-apocalyptic tale and a treatise on existentialism, but one of the most astute examinations of the Nazi years ever written. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The History of the Medieval World," by Susan Wise Bauer | May 20, 2010
Today's review: Susan Wise Bauer's informative and lively "The History of the Medieval World," presenting in a tight 650 pages a truly planet-wide look at the years 500 to 1000 AD, and which today becomes the first book at CCLaP this year to receive a perfect score of ten. | Read entire entry

Announcing CCLaP's first literary event! | May 13, 2010
Happy day! CCLaP's first-ever live literary event is finally upon us! Click through for all the details of the May 28th event, including links to iCal and Facebook, as well as an embeddable map of the venue. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," by Stieg Larsson | May 11, 2010
Today's review: Stieg Larsson's 2005 Swedish crime novel and international sensation "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (first published in the US in 2008), an unusually great genre exercise with a complexity and subtlety that belies the usual tawdry nature of serial-killer fiction. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 7 May 2010 | May 7, 2010
Today, short reviews of four recently read books: The disappointing Nazi novel "The Kindly Ones" by Jonathan Littell; the even more disappointing zombie story collection "What Will Come After" by Scott Edelman; the profoundly disappointing "At a Crossroads" by Kate Williamson; and the horribly disappointing "Antwerp" by Roberto Bolano. That's a lot of disappointment! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Zuleika Dobson," by Max Beerbohm | May 5, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: the 1911 Oxford magical-realism satire "Zuleika Dobson," by the once highly popular humorist and theatre critic Max Beerbohm. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 54: Author Delphine Pontvieux | May 4, 2010
Today on the podcast, it's my interview with local writer and French transplant Delphine Pontvieux, author of the Basque political thriller "ETA." Also featuring the music of Edu K and Most Valuable Players. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Geosynchron," by David Louis Edelman | April 29, 2010
Today's book: David Louis Edelman's "Geosynchron," the concluding volume in his expansive "Jump 225" science-fiction trilogy, an unusual book three in that it's easily the best of them all, which is not how things usually work with science-fiction trilogies. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Tamara Drewe," by Posy Simmonds | April 23, 2010
Today's book: "Tamara Drewe," graphic novelist Posy Simmonds' witty contemporary adaptation of Thomas Hardy's "Far From the Madding Crowd," first published serially in the UK's Guardian newspaper in 2005 and '06 and just now available in America. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "In The First Circle," by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn | April 22, 2010
Today, a look at the 2009 "uncensored" version of Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's classic 1968 "The First Circle" (now called "In The First Circle"), one of the first projects to show the West exactly what Stalin's labor camps of the 1940s were actually like. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 20 April 2010 | April 20, 2010
Today, short reviews of five recently read books, including Mark Frost's '90s steampunk novels "The List of 7" and "The 6 Messiahs," James Greer's inventive noir "The Failure," Peter Ackroyd's historical novel "The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein," and the disappointing biography of L. Frank Baum, "The Real Wizard of Oz." | Read entire entry

Ben Tanzer's TwitLit story is now available in poster form! | April 20, 2010
There's been some delays because of site upgrade issues, but I'm happy to announce that the poster version of CCLaP's latest TwitLit story, Ben Tanzer's "I Loved Gunther Gebel," is now available for your downloading pleasure. Click through for the direct links. | Read entire entry

Ben Tanzer's TwitLit story starts today! | April 14, 2010
Happy day! Today starts the latest in CCLaP's "TwitLit" story series, "I Loved Gunther Gebel" by Chicago author Ben Tanzer. Click through for more, as well as a direct link to the Twitter-fueled serial story itself. | Read entire entry

Sally Weigel's virtual book tour comes to an end! | April 12, 2010
This weekend finally saw the end of author Sally Weigel's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep." Click through for links to the last two stops of the tour, Jason Jordan's "dcomP" and Kevin Neilson's "Between The Lines." | Read entire entry

Sally Weigel virtual book tour: Day Eleven | April 8, 2010
It's day eleven of local author Sally Weigel's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep!" Today Sally stops by the blog of author Jason Riley, for a long talk about all kinds of issues; and don't forget that last night, she stopped by The Teenage Head as well, to offer up a playlist of music related in one way or another to the book. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "Zuckerman Unbound," by Philip Roth | April 7, 2010
Today, I continue my look at Postmodernism as filtered through the nine autobiographical "Zuckerman" novels by Philip Roth, this time examining in detail book two in the series, 1981's "Zuckerman Unbound." | Read entire entry

Sally Weigel virtual book tour: Week Two | April 7, 2010
It's week two of Sally Weigel's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep!" Yesterday Sally was at JA Tyler's Mud Luscious Press; click through for the link, and to see the revised schedule for the rest of the week. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Jude the Obscure," by Thomas Hardy | April 6, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" series of classics essays: Thomas Hardy's 1895 "Jude the Obscure," a surprisingly prescient look at Victorian morality that became the first widely banned book of the 20th century. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 5 April 2010 | April 5, 2010
Today, short reviews of four books recently read at CCLaP: Alan Moore's new comic "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century;" the genre compilations "Thank You, Death Robot" and "Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror;" and Sarah Pickering's photography book "Explosions, Fires, and Public Order." | Read entire entry

Sally Weigel virtual book tour: Day Five | April 2, 2010
It's day five of Sally Weigel's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep!" Today, Sally reads a bit from her book for the new podcast from pop-culture guide "What to Wear During an Orange Alert," produced by CCLaP friend Jason Behrends. | Read entire entry

Sally Weigel virtual book tour: Day Four | April 1, 2010
It's day four of Sally Weigel's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep!" Today Sally is at the blog of our old pal Ben Tanzer, who does a Mel-Bosworth-type two-minute video reading from her book. Click through to see it yourself. | Read entire entry

Sally Weigel virtual book tour: Day Three | March 31, 2010
It's day three of Sally Weigel's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep!" Today Sally is at Impose Magazine, talking with Josh Spilker about the five best books she's recently read. | Read entire entry

Book review: "ETA," by Delphine Pontvieux | March 30, 2010
Today's book: The surprisingly great political thriller "ETA" by Delphine Pontvieux, taking a complex Tom-Clancy-style look at the Basque separatist movement of southern France and northern Spain. | Read entire entry

Sally Weigel virtual book tour: Day Two | March 30, 2010
It's day two of Sally Weigel's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep!" Today, Sally joins Lori Hettler at the Next Best Book Blog, a side project from the single largest discussion club at Goodreads.com. Click through for the link. | Read entire entry

Sally Weigel's virtual book tour begins! | March 29, 2010
Excelsior! Sally Weigel's virtual book tour, in support of her CCLaP novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep," begins today! Click here for the full revised schedule (plus links to tour stops), as well as info on the book's new listing at the Amazon Kindle store. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 52: Author Sally Weigel | March 29, 2010
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: Chicago author Sally Weigel, whose debut novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep" was published by the center last fall, today kicking off a two-week virtual book tour that will take her all over the web. | Read entire entry

Paul Bens announces support drive for priest-abuse victims | March 29, 2010
Author Paul Bens, whose priest-abuse novel "Kelland" was reviewed here last fall, has made a remarkable announcement - he's donating all the book's profits for three months to a priest-molestation support group. Click through for more. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Uncle Tom's Cabin," by Harriet Beecher Stowe | March 26, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" classics essay series: Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 anti-slavery tale "Uncle Tom's Cabin," nearly single-handedly responsible for the Civil War but that also accidentally created a whole new class of post-war racial stereotypes. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 24 March 2010 | March 24, 2010
Today, short reviews of four books recently read: Pauline Kael's '80s film criticism book "Hooked;" Marc Nash's prose poem "A, B & E;" the obscure 1897 Victorian detective novel "The Dorrington Deed-Box;" and the profoundly disappointing "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman. | Read entire entry

Sally Weigel's virtual book tour starts next week! | March 23, 2010
Happy day! We're a week away from the start of author Sally Weigel's virtual book tour, being sponsored by CCLaP in support of her novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep." Click through for all the details, as well as a full list of tour stops. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Humboldt's Gift," by Saul Bellow | March 19, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" essay series on literary classics: 1975's Pulitzer-winning "Humboldt's Gift," by Nobel winner and postmodernist master Saul Bellow. A classic or not? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "Push," by Sapphire | March 17, 2010
Today, a look at the remarkable 1996 novel "Push" by Sapphire (recently adapted into the Oscar-nominated "Precious"), less the weepy tearjerker you're expecting and more like the ghetto version of the science-fiction story "Flowers For Algernon." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 16 March 2010 | March 16, 2010
Today, short reviews of three books recently read: the South Pacific speculative novel "Stan's Leap" by Tom Duerig; Jim Ruland's story collection "Big Lonesome;" and overwritten Southern Gothic tale "She-Rain" by Michael Cogdill. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Three Musketeers," by Alexandre Dumas | March 12, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" series of classics essays: Alexandre Dumas' 1844 "The Three Musketeers," the very definition of a swashbuckling adventure. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Gwendolyn Glover's "TwitLit" poster is now available | March 12, 2010
Thanks again to everyone at Twitter this week who got to follow along in real time with CCLaP's latest "TwitLit" story, "Cat" by Gwendolyn Glover; here as promised is the downloadable PDF poster version for those who didn't get to do so. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Big Rewind," by Nathan Rabin | March 11, 2010
Today's book: The personal memoir "The Big Rewind" by "AV Club" head writer Nathan Rabin, a book with all the dysfunction of an Augusten Burroughs story, but all the humor you'd expect from an employee of The Onion. | Read entire entry

Gwendolyn Glover's "TwitLit" story starts today! | March 10, 2010
All right! The latest project in CCLaP's experimental story series, "TwitLit," starts later this morning; it's the 20-part "Cat" by local author Gwendolyn Glover. Click through for the details and direct links. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Ayatollah Begs to Differ," by Hooman Majd | March 9, 2010
Today's book: Hooman Majd's "The Ayatollah Begs to Differ," not just a fantastic guide to the old Persian Empire and the modern Iran it became, but also a funny and insightful travelogue about a clueless Westerner getting convinced to do outrageous things. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Criminal Class Press | March 8, 2010
Today's obsession: The new Chicago dark-lit small publisher Criminal Class Press. Click through for more. | Read entire entry

Today at the kid-lit blog: Twilight! Twilight! Freakin' Twilight! | March 3, 2010
Today I posted another of my occasional kid-lit reviews that I thought CCLaP's adult audience might find interesting too; in this case, that freaking "Twilight" book by that Stephanie Freaking Meyer. Guess what? I didn't think it was that bad! | Read entire entry

Breaking news: Ben Tanzer's book no longer sucks! | March 1, 2010
Good news! The EPUB version of Ben Tanzer's story collection for CCLaP, "Repetition Patterns," has been enhanced for better reading on e-ink devices! And better news -- it's available for purchase at Amazon too! Click through for the details and links! | Read entire entry

Josh Spilker's TwitLit poster is now available | February 26, 2010
Thanks for following along this week with CCLaP's latest "TwitLit" story, "Angels" by Josh Spilker! For those who didn't get a chance to check it out through Twitter, here as promised is a free high-quality PDF poster version for your downloading pleasure. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 26 February 2010 | February 26, 2010
Today, small reviews of four recent books: Charles Schulz's "The Complete Peanuts: 1965-1966," Patrick Wensink's bizarro story collection "Sex Dungeon for Sale!," Nick Harkaway's disappointing "The Gone-Away World," and Philip Roth's latest, "The Humbling." | Read entire entry

Book review: "Under the Dome," by Stephen King | February 25, 2010
Today's book: Stephen King's 2009 psychological thriller and Bush critique "Under the Dome," being called by many the best novel of his entire 40-year career. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Some Things That Meant the World to Me," by Joshua Mohr | February 23, 2010
Today's book: Joshua Mohr's brilliantly dark literary debut "Some Things That Meant the World to Me," perhaps best described as "Charles Bukowski meets Haruki Murakami." | Read entire entry

The new TwitLit story starts today! | February 23, 2010
Happy day! The latest story in the new CCLaP series "TwitLit," Josh Spilker's "Angels," starts over at Twitter in just a few minutes. Click through for all the details, or simply visit twitter.com/cclapcenter to start reading it right now. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 50: Author Kyle Beachy | February 22, 2010
Today on the podcast: It's my recent 45-minute talk with local writer Kyle Beachy, author of the 2009 national sleeper hit "The Slide." | Read entire entry

Book review: "How I Became a Famous Novelist," by Steve Hely | February 16, 2010
Today's book: The truly brilliant metafictional comedy "How I Became a Famous Novelist," by former Letterman writer and Emmy nominee Steve Hely. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Frankenstein," by Mary Shelley | February 12, 2010
Today in the "CCLaP 100" series of classics essays: Mary Shelley's 1818 "Frankenstein," not only the first mad-scientist novel in history but a harbinger of the Romantic Age just around the corner. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Poster version of "Jack & Jill" now available | February 12, 2010
Thanks to everyone who followed along live this week with CCLaP's first serial publishing project, JA Tyler's "Jack & Jill;" and for those who didn't get a chance to do so, a downloadable poster version of the entire story is now available. Click through for more. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 11 February 2010 | February 11, 2010
Today, short reviews of three books recently read here: Jack Ortved's "The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History," Andrew Zornoza's fantastic little art book "Where I Stay," and Sandy Prindle's so-so legal thriller, "The Sins of Tarrant County." | Read entire entry

CCLaP's first TwitLit story starts today! | February 10, 2010
All right! CCLaP's new story series, the Twitter-based "TwitLit," starts later this morning with JA Tyler's "Jack & Jill." Click through for the details, as well as instructions on how you too can follow along in real time. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Quiet War," by Paul McAuley | February 8, 2010
Today's book: Paul McAuley's 2008 space opera "The Quiet War," a perfect example of how genre pastiches are simultaneously delightful to fans of that genre and infuriating to those who aren't. | Read entire entry

Today at the kid-lit blog: A little Judy Blume, anyone? | February 4, 2010
I now run another blog just for kid-lit reviews, which I mention only occasionally at CCLaP whenever there's a title that might be of interest to grown-ups; today, for example, it's a look at my adult re-reading of 1971's "Then Again, Maybe I Won't," by Gen-X hero Judy Blume. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 2 February 2010 | February 2, 2010
Today, small reviews of three recent nonfiction titles: Doug Taylor's "There Never Was a Better Time: Toronto's Yesterdays," Robert Ferguson's "The Vikings: A History," and the art book "Animals and Objects In and Out of Water: Posters by Jay Ryan." | Read entire entry

Announcing "TwitLit," CCLaP's new story series | February 1, 2010
Happy day! CCLaP has started a new project! It's the center's first-ever story series, in fact, originally published serially at Twitter and then as printable posters at the site. Click through for a lot more. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Cursed," by Jeremy Shipp | January 29, 2010
Today's book, the inventive and witty alt-horror tale "Cursed," by genre veteran and Stoker Award nominee Jeremy Shipp. | Read entire entry

And did I mention that I'm reviewing children's literature now too? | January 28, 2010
Yes, the wild rumors are true -- I have recently started up a new blog just for reviews of children's literature (anywhere from third-grade to high-school level), essentially my research into trying to become a kid-lit author myself. Click through for much more. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 25 January 2010 | January 25, 2010
Small reviews of four books recently received here at CCLaP, including Lance Carbuncle's gonzo actioner "Grundish & Askew," Kathleen Norris' "Acedia and Me," Len Belter's "Is Being Pro-Choice a Sin?," and crazy airport tract "The Christ is NOT a Person," by JC Tefft. | Read entire entry

Product review: BookSwim.com | January 22, 2010
Today, a critical review of the "Netflix for books" service BookSwim.com, of which I tried out a guest membership last autumn. Verdict: meh. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: The "Oz" books, by L. Frank Baum | January 20, 2010
Today, a special look at all 14 "Oz" books written by series creator L. Frank Baum (all published between 1900 and 1919), not just a critical look at the books' quality but also a Wikipedia-style guide to his life and how it influenced the titles. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Year of the Flood," by Margaret Atwood | January 18, 2010
Today's book: Margaret Atwood's "The Year of the Flood," a post-apocalyptic feminist thriller which doubles as a pointed criticism of the Bush years, and which also serves as a sequel of sorts to her 2003 "Oryx and Crake." | Read entire entry

Field report: Chicago Tribune's Algren cocktail party | January 18, 2010
Today, photos and a report from a recent cocktail party thrown by the Chicago Tribune, unofficially celebrating their annual Nelson Algren Award but not having anything officially to do with it. | Read entire entry

"The Year In Books 2009" eBook is now available! | January 8, 2010
Happy day! The free downloadable eBook version of CCLaP's "Year In Books 2009" report is here! Available for laserprinters, Kindles, Sony Readers, iPhones and more! Click through for the direct download links! | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2009: The CCLaP Guilty Pleasure Awards | January 7, 2010
It's the final part of CCLaP's week-long look back at the best books reviewed in 2009; today is the much anticipated CCLaP Guilty Pleasure Awards, or a look at my seven favorite genre novels and comic books of last year. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2009: Best Experimental Novels | January 6, 2010
Today, it's part 3 of CCLaP's week-long look at the best books of 2009, this time concentrating on my eight favorite experimental novels of last year. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2009: Worth a Second Look | January 5, 2010
Today, part 2 of CCLaP's week-long look back at the books of 2009, this time highlighting nine titles that may have not been the highest scorers of the year, but are well worth taking a look at again anyway. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2009: Best of the Best | January 4, 2010
Today, part 1 of CCLaP's look back at the 90 books reviewed here in 2009, this time concentrating on the nine titles with the highest scores out of them all. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2009: An introduction | January 1, 2010
It's time for CCLaP's annual best-of essay series, "The Year in Books 2009!" Today, an introduction and sneak preview to the four-part report. | Read entire entry

Product review: Sony Reader PRS-600 "Touch Edition" | January 1, 2010
Today, my review of the Sony PRS-600 eBook reader, which I recently received for Christmas, including lots and lots of photos of the device in action. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 31 December 2009 | December 31, 2009
CCLaP's last four book reviews of 2009, including Erik Larson's "The Devil in the White City," Chuck Palahniuk's "Pygmy," the general-interest nonfiction guide "The Joy of Chemistry," and Jon Clinch's brilliant Sam Shepardization of Mark Twain, "Finn." | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Democracy in America," by Alexis de Tocqueville | December 29, 2009
Today in the "CCLaP 100" classics essay series: Alexis de Tocqueville's 1831 "Democracy in America," the first modern sophisticated analysis of the US government's structure ever written. Is it a classic or not? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Field report: Chicago Public Library mini-branch at Water Tower | December 28, 2009
Today, a field report with photos from the Chicago Public Library's new "mini-branch," inside the Chicago Visitor Center at the tourist-friendly Water Tower, carrying around 300 bestsellers and designed to boost awareness of the entire CPL system. | Read entire entry

Book review: "A Naked Singularity," by Sergio De La Pava | December 8, 2009
Today's book: The self-published yet deceptively brilliant Pynchon-meets-Richard-Price crime noir "A Naked Singularity" by Sergio De La Pava, the very definition of an overlooked literary gem. | Read entire entry

Field report: CCLaP 2009 royalty payout party | December 7, 2009
The center's social gathering last weekend, to celebrate CCLaP's first two published authors receiving their first $100 in royalties, ended up going well. Click through for the details and lots of photos. | Read entire entry

New Chicago lit journal's first release party is tomorrow | December 7, 2009
The first release party of a new Chicago literary journal, "Two With Water," is tomorrow at indie-rock hangout the Empty Bottle. Click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

Don't forget tomorrow's party! | December 4, 2009
Don't forget, Chicagoans, CCLaP's latest social event is tomorrow night! Click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: "Genteel literature and the tricky nature of artistic movements." | December 4, 2009
A recent mention during some research to an entire artistic movement I had never heard of before -- the supposedly popular "Genteel" writers of the early 20th century -- has had me doing a lot of reading and serious thinking this week. Here, a write-up of those thoughts. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Winesburg, Ohio," by Sherwood Anderson | December 1, 2009
Today in the "CCLaP 100" series of classics essays: Sherwood Anderson's 1919 "Winesburg, Ohio," the first-ever modern "story cycle" which influenced everyone from Steinbeck to Sam Shepard. Classic or not? Click through for my conclusion. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's throwing a party, and you're invited! | November 30, 2009
CCLaP's throwing a party! It's this Saturday! In Chicago! Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Book review: "From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain," by Minister Faust | November 19, 2009
Today's book: The disappointing postmodernist superhero comedy "From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain," by Minister Faust. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Jane Eyre," by Charlotte Bronte | November 18, 2009
Today in the "CCLaP 100" series of classics essays: Charlotte Bronte's 1847 "Jane Eyre," considered by many to be not only the prototypical Victorian novel but also the greatest love story of all time. Is it a classic or not? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Boneshaker," by Cherie Priest | November 16, 2009
Today's book: Cherie Priest's glorious new "Boneshaker," the Victoriana-meets-zombie tale which might possibly be the best steampunk novel ever written. | Read entire entry

Book review: The "Forever Twilight" series, by Peter Crowther | November 12, 2009
Today's books: The first two volumes of the "Forever Twilight" series by Peter Crowther, owner of horror press PS Publishing, which unfortunately prove that the skills that make one a great book editor do not necessarily automatically make them a great author too. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Israel vs. Utopia," by Joel Schalit | November 9, 2009
Today's book: The brilliant essay collection "Israel vs. Utopia," in which Middle East journalist Joel Schalit attempts to explain the many complex political issues regarding Israel and Judaism to us clueless "Seinfeld" watching Americans. | Read entire entry

Sally Weigel interviewed at Orange Alert; and did I mention CCLaP's next party? | November 5, 2009
CCLaP author Sally Weigel was recently interviewed over at "What to Wear During an Orange Alert," which I wanted to mention; and while I was on the subject, I thought I'd mention as well CCLaP's next party, a "royalty payout" party doubling as my Chicago homecoming. Click through for more on both subjects. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 4 November 2009 | November 4, 2009
Today, short reviews of three recently read books: The fantastic "After the Prophet" by Lesley Hazleton, the so-so "The Black Heart" by Patrick O'Leary, and the unreadable trainwreck "The Fortress of Solitude" by Jonathan Lethem. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Guess what? I'm writing a new novel. | November 2, 2009
Guess what? I've decided to participate in Nanowrimo ("National Novel Writing Month") this year, not for commercial reasons but to keep myself humble as a book critic instead. Click through for a personal essay explaining much more on the subject. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's newest book is here! | November 2, 2009
Happy day! CCLaP's newest original book is available for download! It's none other, in fact, than the first bound volume of the popular "CCLaP 100" series of classics essays; click through for more details, and instructions on how to download this free book yourself. | Read entire entry

Tales From the Completist: "Desolation Road," by Ian McDonald | October 30, 2009
Today's book: The 1988 science-fiction classic "Desolation Road" by Ian McDonald, equally combining elements of "The Martian Chronicles" with "One Hundred Years of Solitude." | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Treasure Island," by Robert Louis Stevenson | October 29, 2009
Today in the "CCLaP 100" series of classics essays: Robert Louis Stevenson's 1883 ultimate pirate tale, "Treasure Island." Is it a timeless literary classic or not? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Conquering Venus," by Collin Kelley | October 28, 2009
Today's book: Celebrated gay poet Collin Kelley's debut novel "Conquering Venus," strong on plot (a magical realism tale about lost loves and new connections during a random trip to Paris), but unfortunately weak on characterization. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: David Eric Tomlinson | October 23, 2009
Today's obsession: Dallas author David Eric Tomlinson, whose clean yet text-heavy website is worth studying by all those other blogging, Twittering, self-publishing writers out there. | Read entire entry

Your microreview roundup: 22 October 2009 | October 22, 2009
Today, short reviews of two recent books: the nonfiction guide "Classics for Pleasure" by Pulitzer winner Michael Dirda, and ho-hum horror novella "R.I.P." by Terry Lamsley. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "The Yiddish Policemen's Union," by Michael Chabon | October 21, 2009
Today's book: The endlessly inventive 2006 alternate history tale "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon, imagining what the world would be like if the world's Jews ended up settling in Alaska after WW2 instead of Israel. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Sister Carrie," by Theodore Dreiser | October 19, 2009
Today in the "CCLaP 100" series of classics essays: the controversial 1900 Modernist harbinger "Sister Carrie," by Chicagoan Theodore Dreiser. Is it a timeless classic or not? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Alice Fantastic," by Maggie Estep | October 14, 2009
Today's review: "Alice Fantastic" by Maggie Estep, not her usual ironic tale of hipsters but rather a sincere look what happens to them when they become washed-up middle-agers. | Read entire entry

"Too Young to Fall Asleep" reaches 500 downloads | October 13, 2009
Huzzah! CCLaP's newest original book, Sally Weigel's "Too Young to Fall Asleep," had its 500th download yesterday! Click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Antikörper / Antibodies | October 12, 2009
One of my friends in Germany, experimental poet Dirk Huelstrunk, has a new book out, in preparation for his second US tour coming this fall. Click through for a lot more about both. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 9 October 2009 | October 9, 2009
Today, mini-reviews of three books recently sent to the center: The contemporary fiction collection "Bad Monkey" by Curtis Smith, the fantasy collection "Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight" by Cat Rambo, and funny/dark erotic memoir "Neurotica" by Elva Maxine Beach. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Prince of Storms" by Kay Kenyon and "Starship: Flagship" by Mike Resnick | October 7, 2009
Today, a special double review of two science-fiction novels -- Kay Kenyon's "Prince of Storms" and Mike Resnick's "Starship: Flagship" -- along with general thoughts about the challenges inherent in starting a genre series halfway through. | Read entire entry

Farewell, Uptown Writers Space | October 6, 2009
Sad news in the Chicago literary community this week: Uptown Writers Space, an experiment in providing a "home away from home" for local authors, has sadly closed its doors. Click through for more details. | Read entire entry

Guess who received a free copy of Bolano's "2666?" | October 6, 2009
That's right, it's me! Click through for why I'm so excited by this, who ended up giving it to me, and why it's going to take me two months to make it through this 900-page freaking saga. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Babylonian Trilogy," by Sebastien Doubinsky | September 29, 2009
Today's book: The European New Weird tale "The Babylonian Trilogy" by Sebastien Doubinsky, three connected noir novellas set in an alternate-Earth version of New York. | Read entire entry

Huzzah! "Asleep" now has a Facebook group! | September 28, 2009
Happy day: As of two weeks since its release, CCLaP's latest book, the youth/war novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep" by Sally Weigel, has been downloaded 300 times! To celebrate, Sally has started up an official Facebook group for the book; click through for all the details and to join the group yourself. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Blue," by JD Riso | September 25, 2009
Today's book: JD Riso's remarkably great dark-erotic tale "Blue," masterfully combining both the enticing and horrific aspects of the stripping industry into a complex and gripping whole. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Swimming Inside the Sun," by David Zweig | September 24, 2009
Today's book: Musician David Zweig's literary debut "Swimming Inside the Sun," a novel so ridiculously bad that it actually become offensive by the end. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Call of the Wild," by Jack London | September 22, 2009
Today in the CCLaP 100: The 1903 children's tale "The Call of the Wild," by Jack London. Is it a classic or not? Click through for my opinion and the reasons why. | Read entire entry

Yowza! 180 "Asleep" downloads in its first week! | September 21, 2009
It's been a week since the release of CCLaP's latest original book, Sally Weigel's "Too Young to Fall Asleep," and I have a surprise to report -- it's been downloaded over 180 times now, almost twice as much as the center's previous book has been downloaded in an entire year. Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 18 September 2009 | September 18, 2009
Today, three small reviews of recently read books I found only so-so: Ron Malfi's crime drama "Shamrock Alley," Paul Bens' magical-realist "Kelland," and Ben Bova's science-fiction story collection "The Sam Gunn Omnibus." | Read entire entry

Why I signed "Too Young to Fall Asleep:" An Apologia. | September 15, 2009
It's Sally Weigel Day at the CCLaP website! In this entry, I write an "Apologia" (a purposely all-positive critical essay) on the reasons I ended up signing Sally's novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep" in the first place, and why I'm positive that she is destined to become a major force in the American arts. | Read entire entry

It's Sally Weigel Day at the CCLaP website! | September 14, 2009
It's Sally Weigel Day at the CCLaP website! And that of course means only one thing -- that Sally's new novella, "Too Young to Fall Asleep," is finally available to the public. Click through for a lot more, including links to the book itself and all the supplemental information about it being published online today. | Read entire entry

Sally Weigel: The CCLaP Interview | September 14, 2009
It's Sally Weigel Day at the CCLaP website! And as part of promoting her new novella, "Too Young to Fall Asleep," I recently 'sat down' with Sally virtually over Google Chat, for a lengthy interview regarding writing, this book and more. Click through for the entire thing. | Read entire entry

Passing the torch: Ben Tanzer on Sally Weigel | September 14, 2009
It's Sally Weigel Day at the CCLaP website! In this entry, I asked Ben Tanzer (author of CCLaP's previous original book) to weigh in with a few words about Weigel and her new novella, "Too Young to Fall Asleep." Click through to see what he had to say. | Read entire entry

Too Young to Fall Asleep: Your comments wanted! | September 14, 2009
It's Sally Weigel Day at the CCLaP website! And as part of releasing her new novella, "Too Young to Fall Asleep," I'm of course interested in hearing your own opinion of the book. Click through to leave a comment, as well as for the link to the book's listing at popular social network Goodreads.com. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Ruins," by Achy Obejas | September 10, 2009
Today's book: Achy Obejas' fantastic but surprisingly dark "Ruins," which takes an unflinching look at the downfall of Cuba in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Where do litbloggers find their books? | September 9, 2009
A question recently left in a comment by a reader inspired me to write a whole essay today: Just how do litbloggers obtain the books they review, anyway? Click through for my own answer, as well as my advice to other aspiring bloggers. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Mind Gone Astray," by Wayne Kallio | September 7, 2009
Today's book: The only so-so schizophrenia memoir "Mind Gone Astray," by Wayne Kallio. | Read entire entry

Book review: "River of Gods" and "Cyberabad Days," by Ian McDonald | September 3, 2009
Today's review: The groundbreaking India-set 2004 science-fiction saga "River of Gods" by Ian McDonald, plus the 2009 companion volume "Cyberabad Days." | Read entire entry

CCLaP's new book has a release date! Proofers still needed! | August 31, 2009
CCLaP's newest original book, Sally Weigel's youth/war novella "Too Young to Fall Asleep," finally has an official release date! Oh, and we're still looking for proofreaders too! Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Orange Alert Press announces its newest book | August 24, 2009
My friend Jason Behrends at the Chicago-based Orange Alert Press has just announced their latest original book, an experimental project called "Prose. Poems. A Novel." by Atlanta author Jamie Iredell. Click through for the details, plus a reminder of CCLaP's own upcoming original book, finally coming out in just a few weeks from now. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Arcade of Cruelty," by Joseph Larkin | August 20, 2009
Today's book: "Arcade of Cruelty," a greatest-hits collection from long-suffering misanthrope and underground comics artist Joseph Larkin. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 28 July 2009 | July 28, 2009
Today, small reviews of four recent titles I've read, including Jill Jonnes' NPR-worthy history book "Eiffel's Tower," the love letter to literature "Ex Libris" by Anne Fadiman, the academic novella "Disquiet" by Julia Leigh, and Christian relationship guide "How to Keep the Woman You Have," by F.G. Walters. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Saturn's Children," by Charles Stross | July 24, 2009
Today's book: The fantastic Asimov "Robot" homage/unauthorized sequel and 2009 Hugo nominee "Saturn's Children," by hot-and-cold genre veteran Charles Stross. | Read entire entry

Eddie Wright helps start new co-op publishing venture | July 20, 2009
I heard recently from self-publisher Eddie Wright, whose "Broken Bulbs" was favorably reviewed here earlier this year, on a new "publishing confederation" he has helped found, started by Henry Baum of the Self-Publishing Review. Click through for the details. | Read entire entry

Project review: "Personal Effects: Dark Art," by J.C. Hutchins and Jordan Weisman | July 17, 2009
Today's book: The surprisingly disappointing "alternative reality" cross-media story "Personal Effects: Dark Art," by the usually reliable genre veteran JC Hutchins and ARG pioneer Jordan Weisman. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Painting and the City," by Robert Freeman Wexler | July 14, 2009
Today's book: The New-York-based 'thinking person's steampunk' tale "The Painting and the City," by the much respected but under-appreciated 'New Weird' veteran Robert Freeman Wexler. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 10 July 2009 | July 10, 2009
Today, small reviews of four recent books I read: The Iranian graphic-novel memoir "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi; the surprisingly powerful Alzheimer's memoir "Released to the Angels" by Marilynn Garzione; the so-so genre exercise "The Ringmaster," by M.A. William; and the surprisingly awful "Downtown Owl" by famed Generation X memoirist Chuck Klosterman. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Descartes' Bones," by Russell Shorto | July 9, 2009
Today's book: The fascinating new "narrative nonfiction" book "Descartes' Bones," looking at the history behind this Enlightenment philosopher's long-missing skull, and by extension humanity's relationship with science in the 400 years since the Renaissance. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Age of Innocence," by Edith Wharton | July 8, 2009
Today's book in the CCLaP 100: Edith Wharton's 1920 "The Age of Innocence," which ingeniously combines a nostalgic look at upper-class Victorian New York with the contemporary angst of early Modernism. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Dust and Shadow," by Lyndsay Faye | July 7, 2009
Today's book: The spectacular bringing-together of Sherlock Holmes and Jack The Ripper, Lyndsay Faye's steampunkish literary debut "Dust and Shadow." | Read entire entry

Algren at 100: Never Come Morning | July 6, 2009
Today, part 2 of the essay series I'm doing here at the site this year, examining in detail the ouevre of controversial Chicago author Nelson Algren on the occasion of his 100th birthday. Here, a look at his second novel, the cultishly popular 1942 down-and-out tale "Never Come Morning." | Read entire entry

Book review: "Moral Clarity," by Susan Neiman | June 29, 2009
Today's book: The smart and sober primer on Enlightenment philosophy and where it all went wrong with the Bush administration, Susan Neiman's "Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-Up Idealists." | Read entire entry

Personal essay: The CCLaP music library reaches 500 songs. | June 29, 2009
Today, a special essay on the occasion of my 500th free legal song download since opening CCLaP, looking in detail about what this says about the arts in the early 2000s and what it says about culture in general. A companion piece to episode 42 of the CCLaP Podcast, also being posted today. | Read entire entry

Algren at 100: Somebody in Boots | June 18, 2009
Today, part 1 of the special 14-part essay series I'm doing this summer, looking in detail at nearly the entire ouevre of controversial Chicago author Nelson Algren, on the occasion of his 100th birthday. Here, a look at his very first book, the 1935 communist apologia "Somebody in Boots." | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "The Ghost Writer," by Philip Roth | June 17, 2009
Today's book: 1979's "The Ghost Writer" by Philip Roth, part 1 of his remarkable 9-book autobiographical "Zuckerman" series over the decades, examining not just this Jewish-American's life but the history of postmodernism as well. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 15 June 2009 | June 15, 2009
Today, a roundup of four recent books I didn't have much to say about: Kelly Simmons' "Standing Still," Gilbert Hernandez's "Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories," Thomas Foster's "How to Read Novels Like a Professor," and Alvin Granowsky's "Teacher Accused." | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "The Man Who Melted," by Jack Dann | June 12, 2009
Today, a look back at Jack Dann's 1984 trippy sci-fi classic "The Man Who Melted," reissued recently by Pyr in honor of its 25th anniversary. | Read entire entry

Algren at 100: An introduction | June 10, 2009
Announcing CCLaP's summer reading project for 2009, "Algren at 100," whereby I read for the first time nearly the entire ouevre of this controversial 20th-century Chicago author, on the occasion of his 100th birthday. Today, an introduction to Algren and the series. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The President's Pianist," by George Manos | June 9, 2009
Today's book: The great little memoir "The President's Pianist" by George Manos, an overview of this Washington musician's entire career but with an emphasis on the years he played for President Harry Truman in the 1940s and '50s. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Perforated Heart," by Eric Bogosian | June 8, 2009
Today's book: Eric Bogosian's look at a bitter has-been fiftyish writer, and the crazy punk rocker he used to be in 1970s New York, the brilliant new novel "Perforated Heart." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 4 June 2009 | June 4, 2009
A roundup of my latest "micro-reviews," concerning books that I didn't have full-length essays for, including Eddie Campbell's "The Black Diamond Detective Agency," David Carr's "The Night of the Gun," Dr. Cornelia Franz's "Common Sense Pediatrics," and Ron Riales' "Red Moon: Looming of the New World Order." | Read entire entry

Book review (part 2): "Anathem," by Neal Stephenson | June 2, 2009
Today, it's the second half of my special two-part look at Neal Stephenson's massive, intellectually dense new novel, the science-meets-religion saga "Anathem." In this half, a look at the ultra-complex plotline that makes up the book's actual manuscript. | Read entire entry

Book review (part 1): "Anathem," by Neal Stephenson | June 1, 2009
Today, part 1 of my special two-part look at Neal Stephenson's massive and intellectually dense new "Anathem," which attempts no less than to completely redefine the very relationship between religion and science. Today, a detailed look at the thousand-page novel's ultra-complicated backstory and mythology. | Read entire entry

The Best of CCLaP: "Shining at the Bottom of the Sea," by Stephen Marche | May 29, 2009
This week I'm finally reading Neal Stephenson's massive new "Anathem," but that means no new book reviews for awhile; instead I'm reprinting older reviews this week of books I love, for those who may have originally missed them. Today: "Shining at the Bottom of the Sea," Stephen Marche's endlessly clever fake history of a former British island colony that never actually existed. | Read entire entry

The Best of CCLaP: "Jamestown," by Matthew Sharpe | May 28, 2009
I'm finally reading Neal Stephenson's massive new "Anathem" this week, but that means no new book reviews for awhile; instead, I'm reprinting a series of older reviews concerning books I love, for those who may have originally missed them. Today, Matthew Sharpe's endlessly witty postmodern take on the Jamestown legend from the early 1600s, simply entitled "Jamestown." | Read entire entry

The Best of CCLaP: "The Possibility of an Island," by Michel Houellebecq | May 27, 2009
I'm making my way this week through Neal Stephenson's massive new "Anathem," so won't have new book reviews ready for awhile; I'm instead spending the week reprinting the best of CCLaP's older reviews, for new readers who might have originally missed them. Today: The brilliant but highly offensive "The Possibility of an Island," by celebrated French humanity-hater Michel Houellebecq. | Read entire entry

The Best of CCLaP: "World War Z," by Max Brooks | May 26, 2009
I'm reading the thousand-page "Anathem" by Neal Stephenson this week, so won't have new book reviews ready until next week: instead I'm presenting a series of older reviews new readers may have missed. Today: The mind-bogglingly great attack on George Bush and Hurricane Katrina, Max Brooks' "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War." | Read entire entry

Jeremy Shipp is selling his new story collection as a subscription service | May 21, 2009
CCLaP friend and alt-horror veteran Jeremy Shipp wrote recently about his new story collection, "Bizarro Bytes," and its unique pricing scheme: It's sold as a subscription service instead of a bound book, where a dollar a month gets you an eBook story per month via email. Click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

Book(s) review: The "Quantum Gravity" series, by Justina Robson | May 19, 2009
Today's review: The three-book ribald "urban fantasy" series "Quantum Gravity," the latest titles by British New Wave pioneer Justina Robson. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Great Perhaps," by Joe Meno | May 15, 2009
Today's book: "The Great Perhaps," the highly anticipated major-press debut of Chicago literary wunderkind Joe Meno. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Elk's Run," by Joshua Hale Fialkov | May 12, 2009
Today's book: The violent speculative 2007 graphic novel "Elk's Run," by Joshua Hale Fialkov. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 39: Gapers Block's Andrew Huff | May 11, 2009
Today on the podcast: It's my talk with next-wave journalist and serial entrepreneur Andrew Huff, best known as the founder of popular local arts-and-entertainment website GapersBlock.com. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Nobody Move," by Denis Johnson | May 7, 2009
Today's book: The nearly perfect pulp-fiction exercise "Nobody Move," by 2007 National Book Award winner Denis Johnson ("Jesus' Son," "Tree of Smoke"). | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Heart of Darkness," by Joseph Conrad | May 5, 2009
Today's book: The 1902 novella "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad, known mostly these days as the source material for Francis Ford Coppola's modern remake "Apocalypse Now." Is it a classic? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Blankety Blank," by D. Harlan Wilson | May 1, 2009
Today's book: The 2008 dark suburban bizarro comedy "Blankety Blank," by D. Harlan Wilson. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "The Nulapeiron Sequence," by John Meaney | April 28, 2009
Today's review: The early-2000s science-fiction epic "The Nulapeiron Sequence" ("Paradox," "Context" and "Resolution"), by British New Wave author John Meaney. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Gypsy In My Soul," by Christine Harris | April 21, 2009
Today's book: The only so-so "fictionalized memoir" concerning the plight of the Romanies during the Holocaust, Christine Harris' "The Gypsy In My Soul." | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "Silver Screen," by Justina Robson | April 16, 2009
Today's review: The 1999 "Accelerated Age"-style science-fiction classic "Silver Screen," by Justina Robson. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 14 April 2009 | April 14, 2009
Today, quick reviews of four recent not-so-good self-published books: Dayton Alverson's "Race to the Sea;" James J. Collins' "Nuclear Nightmare;" William Bicket's "One Man in a Million;" and Bryan Roscoe's "Majestic Restoration." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 37: Author Charles Blackstone | April 13, 2009
Today on the podcast: An hour-long talk with local author, editor, and sometimes public-radio contributor Charles Blackstone. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Slide," by Kyle Beachy | April 8, 2009
Today's book: "The Slide," the major-press literary debut of Chicagoan Kyle Beachy, which today becomes only the fourth book in CCLaP's history to receive a perfect 10. Click through to find out why. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Art of War," by Sun Tzu | April 7, 2009
Today's book: The ancient Chinese military guide and surprisingly apt corporate business book "The Art of War," written by Taoist military commander Sun Tzu around 500 BC. Is it a classic? Click through for my thoughts on the matter. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Murderland: h8," by Garrett Cook | April 2, 2009
Today's book: The only so-so alt-horror novel "Murderland: h8," by Garrett Cook. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Madame Bovary," by Gustave Flaubert | March 31, 2009
Today's book under review: The 1857 dark suburban satire and deep character study "Madame Bovary" by Gustave Flaubert, considered by many to be one of the best novels ever written. Classic or not? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Metapost: {mud luscious} calls 'Repetition Patterns' a "graceful, subtle" delight | March 29, 2009
Great news: Author JA Taylor this weekend got a chance to review CCLaP's first original book, last fall's story collection "Repetition Patterns" by Ben Tanzer...and he liked it. A lot. Click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "Just A Geek," by Wil Wheaton | March 26, 2009
Today's book: The 2004 personal memoir "Just A Geek," by celebrated child-actor turned respected writer Wil Wheaton. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Sardinian Silver," by A. Colin Wright | March 25, 2009
Today's book: The fictionalized memoir "Sardinian Silver," by retired baby boomer A. Colin Wright, a Graham-Greenesque look at Wright's youth spent on the Mediterranean island. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Broken Bulbs," by Eddie Wright | March 24, 2009
Today's book: The experimental "body horror" novella "Broken Bulbs," the literary debut of American author Eddie Wright. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 35: Time Out's Jonathan Messinger | March 23, 2009
Today on the podcast: It's my long-awaited interview with "Time Out" Books editor Jonathan Messinger, who also happens to be the co-founder of Featherproof Press, the host of the Dollar Store reading series, and a published author himself. | Read entire entry

Book review: "End of the Century," by Chris Roberson | March 20, 2009
Today: The thoroughly genreriffic "tri-history tale" (part medieval, part steampunk, part contemporary) "End of the Century," by Texas science-fiction author Chris Roberson. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Himalayan Passage," by Jean Smith | March 17, 2009
Today's book: The delightful historical novel "Himalayan Passage" by American Buddhist Jean Smith, reimagining the actual Akbar reign of India's Mughal Empire as a rousing adventure tale and love story. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Katka," by Stephen Meier | March 10, 2009
Today's book: The Prague-set contemporary pulp-fiction novella "Katka," the literary debut of Las Vegas author Stephen Meier. | Read entire entry

Book review: "You: Or, The Invention of Memory," by Jonathan Baumbach | March 9, 2009
Today's book review: The semi-autobiographical "You: Or, The Invention of Memory," by celebrated academe Jonathan Baumbach, an artsy mess that some will love and some will despise. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "Revolutionary Road," by Richard Yates | March 2, 2009
Today, it's another in the occasional series of reviews I do for much older books, in an attempt to get "caught up" with an important writer. Here, Richard Yates' early-postmodernist classic "Revolutionary Road," recently made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. | Read entire entry

The Ben Tanzer virtual tour wrap-up; and have I mentioned CCLaP's next book yet? | March 2, 2009
Happy! Sad! The two-week "virtual book tour" by Chicago author Ben Tanzer, in support of his CCLaP book "Repetition Patterns," is finally over. Here, a wrap-up, including links again to all the guest entries, official numbers for the tour, and the first announcement of CCLaP's next original book, coming this summer. | Read entire entry

It's day thirteen of the Ben Tanzer virtual book tour | February 28, 2009
It's day thirteen of CCLaP's latest artistic experiment, a two-week "virtual book tour" being conducted by Chicago author Ben Tanzer. Here, Ben officially ends the tour at the blog of JA Tyler, author and founder of lit organization "mud luscious." | Read entire entry

It's day twelve of the Ben Tanzer virtual book tour | February 27, 2009
It's day twelve of CCLaP's latest artistic experiment, a two-week "virtual book tour" being conducted by Chicago author Ben Tanzer. Today, Ben stops by the blog of fellow author and CCLaP friend S. Craig Runfroe, for a guest essay regarding the topic of self-marketing. | Read entire entry

It's another internet postcard from the virtual-touring Ben Tanzer! | February 26, 2009
Hey hey, it's another internet postcard from the virtual book-touring Ben Tanzer! Seems that Ben had an electronic run-in with Perez Hilton lately, was given a personal assistant over at Orange Alert, and is still whining about a lack of per diem. Whine whine whine, you writers, that's all you ever do! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Taj Mahal," by Diana and Michael Preston | February 26, 2009
Today's book: The nicely done NPR-style general overview of India's late Moghul Empire and its greatest remnant, Diana and Michael Prestons' "Taj Mahal: Passion and Genius at the Heart of the Moghul Empire." | Read entire entry

It's day eleven of the Ben Tanzer virtual book tour | February 26, 2009
It's day eleven of CCLaP's newest artistic experiment, a two-week "virtual book tour" by Chicago author Ben Tanzer. Today, Ben stops by the blog of fellow Chicago author and former RAGAD runner Nick Ostdick. | Read entire entry

It's day ten of the Ben Tanzer virtual book tour | February 25, 2009
It's day ten of CCLaP's latest artistic experiment, a two-week "virtual book tour" being conducted by Chicago author Ben Tanzer. Today Ben sits down for a chat with California writer Jason Riley, author of "Until the Clouds Are Empty." | Read entire entry

"Repetition Patterns" now available for iPhones and Kindles | February 24, 2009
Great news to announce today: Ben Tanzer's "Repetition Patterns," the first original book by CCLaP Publishing, is now available not only for the Amazon Kindle 2 but in two different versions for Apple iPhones. Click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

It's day nine of the Ben Tanzer virtual book tour | February 24, 2009
It's day nine of CCLaP's newest experiment, a two-week "virtual book tour" being conducted by Chicago author Ben Tanzer. Today, Ben lands at the offices of one of the only legitimate journalism outlets of the tour, the Chicago Literary Examiner. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 33b: Author John Domini | February 24, 2009
Today on the podcast: It's part two of my recent talk with American author and Pulitzer nominee John Domini. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 33a: Author John Domini | February 23, 2009
Today on the podcast: It's part one of my recent talk with American author and Pulitzer nominee John Domini. | Read entire entry

It's day eight of the Ben Tanzer virtual book tour | February 23, 2009
It's day eight of CCLaP's latest artistic experiment, a two-week "virtual book tour" being conducted by Chicago author Ben Tanzer. Today, Ben stops by the blog of fellow Chicago author Amy Guth, where the two create the very first video interview of the entire tour. | Read entire entry

It's day six of the Ben Tanzer virtual book tour | February 21, 2009
Huzzah! It's day six of CCLaP's newest experiment, a two-week virtual book tour being conducted by Chicago author Ben Tanzer. Today Ben visits Montana author Michael FitzGerald (Radiant Days), where the two discuss marathons, kids, the difference between a 'writer' and an 'author,' and a lot more. | Read entire entry

Virtual postcard! Ben Tanzer visits the "Land of the LOLCats" | February 20, 2009
We're just wrapping up week one of Ben Tanzer's virtual book tour; and what do you know, we finally received his first virtual postcard from the road! Here, Ben tells us about his various travails across the information superhighway, and lets us know that the Land of LOLCats didn't have him laughing at all. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: First thoughts on CCLaP's coming "wikicloud" experiment | February 19, 2009
Today, I present my first thoughts on CCLaP's newest bizarre weekend creative project idea for smartypants middle-agers; I'm reading a thousand Wikipedia entries on the subject of the 19th Century, and tracking the results in a dynamic "mind-map" graphic format. Here, an essay on why that is, and what I've already learned just a few weeks into the process. | Read entire entry

It's day four of the Ben Tanzer virtual book tour | February 19, 2009
It's day four of CCLaP's latest experiment, a two-week virtual book tour by Chicago author Ben Tanzer. Today, Ben lands at the pop-culture journal "What To Wear During An Orange Alert," where he's interviewed by fellow author Pete Anderson (PeteLit.com). | Read entire entry

Book review: "A Tomb on the Periphery," by John Domini | February 18, 2009
Today's book: The dense and appealing crime thriller "A Tomb on the Periphery," book 2 of award-winning novelist John Domini's ideologically-linked "Naples Trilogy." | Read entire entry

It's day three of the Ben Tanzer virtual book tour | February 18, 2009
It's day three of CCLaP's latest artistic experiment, a two-week "virtual book tour" by Chicago author Ben Tanzer, in support of his CCLaP original book "Repetition Patterns." Today, Ben stops by the blog of author and "decomP" editor-in-chief Jason Jordan. | Read entire entry

It's day two of the Ben Tanzer virtual book tour | February 17, 2009
It's day two of CCLaP's newest experiment, a two-week "virtual book tour" by Chicago author Ben Tanzer. Today he's over at the blog of fellow Chicago author Elizabeth Crane, being interviewed on a variety of funny subjects; click through for the direct link to the finished entry. | Read entire entry

It's day one of the Ben Tanzer virtual book tour! | February 16, 2009
It's the official kickoff today of Ben Tanzer's virtual book tour, in support of the CCLaP original book "Repetition Patterns." Today, Ben finds himself at Chicago literary website PeteLit.com, where he turns in a guest essay that's "pure prose gold." | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Tarzan of the Apes," by Edgar Rice Burroughs | February 12, 2009
Today's book: The Edwardian-Age genre-actioner "Tarzan of the Apes," by laborer-turned-author Edgar Rice Burroughs. Is it still a literary classic? Click through for my opinion on the subject, and the reasons why I came to that decision. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: How Ready Is Ready? | February 11, 2009
Today, it's another in a series of regular guest essays I do for the HarperCollinsUK website Authonomy.com, on various aspects of the writing and selling process. Here -- just when do you know that a book is "finished" and ready to be shopped around to begin with? | Read entire entry

Book review: "Commonwealth," by Joey Goebel | February 10, 2009
Today's book: The surprisingly awful political satire "Commonwealth," by the otherwise highly regarded Joey Goebel. | Read entire entry

Announcing the CCLaP "Repetition Patterns" 2009 virtual book tour | February 9, 2009
Happy day! CCLaP announces its next weirdo fun project, a 12-day "virtual book tour" supporting the original book "Repetition Patterns," by local author Ben Tanzer. So what's a virtual book tour? And how can you become a virtual groupie? Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Contract: A Life for a Life," by Joseph Kutrzeba | February 9, 2009
Today's book: The surprisingly great Holocaust memoir "The Contract: A Life for a Life," by Jew-turned-Catholic Joseph Kutrzeba, setting itself off from so many other similar books by its willingness to embrace the now-forgotten moral ambiguity of those times. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Attachment," by m.e. Jabbour | January 30, 2009
Today's book: The "antivillain" dysfunctional character drama "Attachment" by m.e. Jabbour, above-average for what it is but a book that will still appeal to only a limited audience. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Africa: A Photographic Safari," by Carlyle Thompson | January 28, 2009
Today's book: The only so-so travel journal "Africa: A Photographic Safari," by Carlyle Thompson. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Muffy: or A Transmigration of Selves," by ST Gulik | January 27, 2009
Today's book: The radically erotic sex-and-gore comedy "Muffy: or A Transmigration of Selves," by ST Gulik. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Master of Ceremonies," by David Henry Sterry | January 26, 2009
Today's book: The only so-so memoir of notorious '70s male-stripclub Chippendales, David Henry Sterry's "Master of Ceremonies." | Read entire entry

Book review: "End Credits," by AF Rützy | January 23, 2009
Today's review: The only so-so absurdist comedy about corporate culture, "End Credits" by AF Rützy. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Reining It In -- Summaries and synopses | January 21, 2009
Today, it's yet another of the guest essays I've been writing this fall and winter for the HarperCollinsUK website, specifically for their ongoing literary experiment "authonomy:" here, advice on writing half-page summaries, full chapter outlines and more. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Voyeurs of Death," by Shaun Jeffrey | January 14, 2009
Today's review: The genreriffic horror-story collection "Voyeurs of Death," by British author Shaun Jeffrey. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Earthquake ID," by John Domini | January 9, 2009
Today's book: The fantastically written Italy-set dense character study "Earthquake ID," by multiple award-winning academic author John Domini. | Read entire entry

Announcing CCLaP's new microblog -- the "CCLAPocracy" | January 6, 2009
Announcing the latest online experiment from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography: The center's own Twitter-style microblog, in which readers debate recent reviews, announce local artistic events, post goofy personal updates and more. Today, all the details. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Monastery Ridge," by Henry West | January 5, 2009
Today's book: The surprisingly great fictionalized Korean War memoir "Monastery Ridge," by actual Korean vet and forty-year Silicon-Valley lawyer Henry West. | Read entire entry

CCLaP's newest eBook, "The Year In Books 2008," is here | January 2, 2009
CCLaP's third "white paper," minor publications that gather up longer material first published here at the site, is finally here; it's a collection of the four-part "Year In Books 2008" report that's been running here all week. Today, every bit of information you need about the book and how to download a free copy. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2008: The CCLaP Guilty Pleasure Awards | January 1, 2009
It's the fourth and final report from this 2008's Year In Books report, the awarding of the coveted CCLaP Guilty Pleasure Awards; these are titles I ended up slavishly loving like the fanboy I am, but for one rational reason or another I probably shouldn't have. Yay, my favorite books of all! | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2008: Best experimental | December 31, 2008
It's part three of the four-part CCLaP look at 2008's reviewed books, being posted here all week; today, eight of the best experimental or cutting-edge books to be originally reviewed here over the last twelve months. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2008: Worth a second look | December 30, 2008
It's part two of the four-part report I've been filing here this week, looking back at the forty most interesting books reviewed here at CCLaP in 2008. Today, ten books that are worth checking out again, sometimes phenomenal titles that nonetheless will only appeal to a limited audience. | Read entire entry

The Year In Books 2008: Best of the best | December 29, 2008
It's part one of CCLaP's four-part look at the year in books for 2008, being published throughout this week. Today, the ten highest-rated books of the year, of the 83 contemporary titles that were reviewed. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP Year In Books 2008 | December 28, 2008
It's here! It's here! It's CCLaP's look back at the 83 contemporary books reviewed here this year, highlighting slowly over the week almost 40 of them again, grouped into themes each day and with brand-new micro-reviews of them all. Here, the roundup and main index. | Read entire entry

Book review: "A Map of Home," by Randa Jarrar | December 22, 2008
Today's book: The sweet yet awfully stereotypical Middle East coming-of-age tale "A Map of Home," by Palestinian-American Randa Jarrar. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Northanger Abbey," by Jane Austen | December 19, 2008
Today's book under review: Jane Austen's chick-lit forerunner "Northanger Abbey," written in 1798 but not published until 1818. Is it a classic? Click through for my verdict and the reasons why. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Ibiza Virgin," by Jennifer Eric | December 18, 2008
Today's book: The oddly organized "Ibiza Virgin" by Jennifer Eric, partly a practical travel guide to this club-heavy Mediterranean tourist destination, partly a memoir of a disastrous summer internship she had there in the mid-2000s. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "Ghostwritten," by David Mitchell | December 17, 2008
Today's book: 1999's "Ghostwritten," the first novel by British expat David Mitchell, now considered by many a decade later to be one of the finest contemporary surrealist authors around. What did I think of this early book? Click through to find out. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Zerostrata," by Andersen Prunty | December 17, 2008
Today's book: The short and delightful absurdist tale "Zerostrata," by mid-career Ohio author Andersen Prunty. | Read entire entry

Announcing CCLaP's newest book: "The Great iPod Indie Rock Challenge of 2008." | December 16, 2008
Today, I'm happy to announce CCLaP's third book, the second in its "White Paper" series, minor reprints of longer material that original ran at the site; in this case, a new collection of the four essays that originally chronicled the "Great iPod Indie Rock Challenge of 2008," in which I dared my lazy middle-aged self to get all my sad old '80s and '90s rocks off my little 1-gig iPod Shuffle and replaced with brand-new music by brand-new bands as quickly as possible. | Read entire entry

The Great iPod Indie Rock Challenge of 2008: A wrap-up. | December 16, 2008
(UPDATE, DECEMBER 2008: All four essays in this series are now available as a free downloadable eBook, for those who are interested.) Well, so here we finally are, at the end of the Great iPod Indie-Rock Challenge of 2008;... | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Grinding the gears -- the mechanics of language. | December 12, 2008
Today, it's another reprint of a guest essay I recently wrote for "authonomy," the cutting-edge online literature experiment from HarperCollins UK; this time I write on the mechanics of language, things like grammar and paragraph structure, and various issues related to publishing that these subjects bring up. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Gargoyle," by Andrew Davidson | December 10, 2008
Today: The much-hyped, badly disappointing, centuries-spanning supernatural romantic thriller "The Gargoyle," by first-time novelist Andrew Davidson. Wow, what a stinker. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "The Canon," by Natalie Angier | December 9, 2008
Today's review: Natalie Angier's surprisingly disappointing "The Canon," in which she asks a series of scientists what the most important basic lessons about their profession are, hampered throughout by an overly cute, badly written style of "magazine journalism." | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Tearing Down the Wall of Sound," by Mick Brown | December 9, 2008
Today's review: The 2007 Phil Spector biography "Tearing Down the Wall of Sound" by journalist Mick Brown, surprisingly ho-hum for a tale of a gun-toting rock-icon recluse. | Read entire entry

Audrey Niffenegger will be chatting next week online with the Toronto Public Library | December 9, 2008
Cool news today from our friends at the Toronto Public Library; next week they'll be sponsoring a live online chat and interview with Chicago author Audrey Niffenegger ("The Time Traveler's Wife"), and the public is invited to follow along in real time. Click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Sunshine Estates: Rx for Rosedale," by Lynn Shirey | December 8, 2008
Today's book: The gentle yet smart retirement-community crime-thriller comedy "Sunshine Estates: Rx for Rosedale," by self-publishing author Lynn Shirey. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Psychological Methods To Sell Should Be Destroyed," by Robert Freeman Wexler | December 4, 2008
Today's book: The mostly fantastic absurdist/surrealist story collection "Psychological Methods To Sell Should Be Destroyed," from veteran "New Weird" author Robert Freeman Wexler. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," by Danny Gillan | December 3, 2008
Today's book: The unfortunately behemoth indie-rock saga "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," by British author Danny Gillan. | Read entire entry

People have been saying some nice things about "Repetition Patterns" | November 28, 2008
Now that it's Thanksgiving week here in the US and I'm taking a break from major site updates, I thought it'd be a good time to mention some of the nice things people have recently started saying about CCLaP's first original book, Ben Tanzer's "Repetition Patterns." Click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: How to critique -- a not-at-all definitive guide | November 25, 2008
Today, it's a reprint of my latest guest essay for the experimental literature site Authonomy.com, run by the mainstream publishing company HarperCollins. This essay: some common-sense advice on writing better book reviews and critiques. | Read entire entry

Announcing CCLaP's newest book: "Yet More Interestingness: The 2008 Election." | November 24, 2008
Happy day: Today marks the beginning of CCLaP's new "white paper" series, minor publications that simply collect and reprint material originally published at the website. Here, the first in the series, collecting nearly 400 bookmarks to "interesting things" concerning the 2008 US Presidential election. | Read entire entry

Book review: "All About Lulu," by Jonathan Evison | November 20, 2008
Today's book: The plaintive quirky '90s-set coming-of-age tale "All About Lulu," by first-time novelist Jonathan Evison. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Still Life with Psychotic Squirrel," by CB Smith | November 19, 2008
Today's book: The blog-like collection of personal essays "Still Life with Psychotic Squirrel," by CB Smith. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 12 November 2008 | November 12, 2008
Today, more small reviews of books I've recently read in my life, including Jeremy Shipp's "Sheep and Wolves," Kathryn Harrison's "Envy," Beth Fehlbaum's "Courage in Patience," and Gilbert Hernandez's "Chance in Hell." | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 10 November 2008 | November 10, 2008
Today, a round-up of small reviews from books I've recently read, including Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America," Hideo Okuda's "Lala Pipo," Lawrence Bush's "Waiting for God," Nick Tosches' "In the Hand of Dante," and Stephen Prothero's "Religious Literacy." | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Show Not Tell -- a horror story. | November 3, 2008
Today, my second writing-based guest contribution to the "authonomy" blog, sponsored by the publishing company HarperCollins UK, which they've graciously allowed me to reprint at CCLaP. Here: How much exposition is too much exposition? And how do you best get rid of it? | Read entire entry

"Repetition Patterns" is throwing a release party! Er, kinda! | October 31, 2008
Great news -- looks like CCLaP will be throwing an official release party next week for it's first-ever original book, Ben Tanzer's "Repetition Patterns." Even better, we're saving money by "piggybacking" to the existing event "Reading Under the Influence," which was already planning on featuring Ben at their next show. Click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

It's Ben Tanzer Day at CCLaP! | October 27, 2008
Happy day! It's the official release day of CCLaP's first-ever original book, the story cycle "Repetition Patterns" by local author Ben Tanzer. Here, a little reminder of the fact, and an explanation for all the supplemental "Patterns" entries you're seeing at the blog today too. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast Extra: Ben Tanzer's "Life As He Had Known It" | October 27, 2008
Today on the podcast: A special edition! Please enjoy this spoken-word version of the Ben Tanzer story "Life As He Had Known It," from CCLaP's new book "Repetition Patterns." Performed by Jason Pettus, CCLaP's executive director. | Read entire entry

Oh, and could any Sony Reader downloaders please send some photos? | October 27, 2008
Oh, and yet another note about CCLaP's new book, "Repetition Patterns" by Ben Tanzer: that if any of you end up downloading and installing the Sony Reader version, I'm hoping you'll take some photos of the experience and share them with us. Here, the reasons why, and also the reasons why this book is not available for the Amazon Kindle. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 28: Author Ben Tanzer | October 27, 2008
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: A new interview with local author Ben Tanzer, chatting exclusively about his new book "Repetition Patterns," which happens to be CCLaP's first-ever original publication as well. | Read entire entry

"Repetition Patterns:" Official critique/opinion page | October 27, 2008
The official blog entry tracking all things said (both good and bad) about the book "Repetition Patterns," by Ben Tanzer. Have you own opinions to share? By all means, leave them as a comment at this entry! | Read entire entry

All about "Repetition Patterns'" Creative Commons license | October 27, 2008
Today, as part of Ben Tanzer Day here at CCLaP, in celebration of the organization's very first original book, a detailed look at the Creative Commons license under which "Repetition Patterns" has been released, and what that exactly gives you as a reader permission to do and not do. | Read entire entry

Curious about what's coming next from CCLaP Publishing? | October 27, 2008
With all this talk today about CCLaP's first original book, Ben Tanzer's "Repetition Patterns," are you curious about what the organization's next book is going to be? Here, the official announcement, with a release date of Christmas 2008. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Regarding the iPod as personal mainstream adult-contemp radio station. | October 24, 2008
Today: We've officially reached the three-quarters mark of the Great iPod Indie-Rock Challenge of 2008 (in which I as a middle-ager am trying to replace all my sad old '80s college-rock with brand-new contemporary music). Here, a tenth-month report. | Read entire entry

One week until "Repetition Patterns!" Er, wanna be a proofreader? | October 20, 2008
It's official -- exactly one week to go before the release of CCLaP's first-ever original book, the "story cycle" "Repetition Patterns" by local author Ben Tanzer. Here, details, a plea for volunteer proofreaders, and a look at the brand new Chuck Klosterman ripoff...er, front cover. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: The fine art of the book pitch. | October 16, 2008
Today, the first in a new series of guest articles I've started writing for publishing company HarperCollins; in this case, how to best write one of those maddening 25-word "elevator pitches" for your unsigned novel. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Passenger," by Ronald Malfi | October 3, 2008
Today's book: The moody, minimalist, "New Weird" horror tale "Passenger," by Ronald Malfi. | Read entire entry

Obesssion of the moment: Douglas Rushkoff at Boing Boing | October 2, 2008
Today's obsession: The deliriously great guest-entries this week at pop-culture journal Boing Boing, from futurist and professor and author and philosopher Douglas Rushkoff. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet," by Joanne Proulx | September 29, 2008
Today's book: The midwestern heavy-metal magical-realism coming-of-age tale "Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet," by hipster short-story writer and first-time novelist Joanne Proulx. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Newsless.org | September 29, 2008
Today's obsession: The new "future of journalism" blog Newsless.org, started and run by a fascinating academic fellow at the Unviersity of Missouri "J School" named Matt Thompson. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Heart of a Cult," by Lena Phoenix | September 15, 2008
Today's book: "The Heart of a Cult," Lena Phoenix's fascinating fictional look at the radical edges of the New Age community, and how it is that so many otherwise rational and intelligent people can fall prey to cultlike behavior and brainwashing. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Beloved," by Toni Morrison | September 12, 2008
Today's book: 1987's "Beloved" by Toni Morrison, a powerful tale of the post-Civil-War black female experience, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the catalyst for a new golden age of "minority fiction." Is it a classic? Click through for my thoughts on the matter. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Authonomy | September 11, 2008
Remember HBO's "Project Greenlight?" Where a bunch of unpublished screenwriters all uploaded their scripts to a website, then argued and argued until one finally won and was produced? Ever wonder why a publishing company has never tried that for unpublished novels? Wonder no more. | Read entire entry

Field report: Ben Tanzer book release party | September 10, 2008
Chicago author Ben Tanzer has a new novel out; and last weekend was the official release party for it, held at the DvA Gallery in Lincoln Park. Here, a small report from the party, as well as some photos. | Read entire entry

Book review: "MultiReal," by David Louis Edelman | September 5, 2008
Today's book: David Louis Edelman's "MultiReal," part 2 of the massive science-fiction epic trilogy "Jump 225," part 1 of which I reviewed here at CCLaP last year. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 2 September 2008 | September 2, 2008
Today, four very short review of some recent books I've read, including Linda Medley's "Castle Waiting," Daniel Grandbois' "Unlucky Lucky Days," Chip Kidd's "The Learners" and Roger Rosenblatt's "Beet." | Read entire entry

Book review: "Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster," by Dana Thomas | August 25, 2008
Today's book: "Deluxe," by veteran fashion journalist Dana Thomas, showing exactly how the so-called "luxury industry" changed from a handcrafted, elitist service into a mass-produced, overmarketed commodity during the '80s, '90s and '00s. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Sound and the Fury," by William Faulkner | August 22, 2008
Today's book: The 1929 Modernist classic "The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner, also one of the first novels to establish the subgenre "Southern Gothic." is it a classic? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Let's Talk About Them Again: "Radiant Days," by Michael FitzGerald | August 20, 2008
Today, the start of a new essay series here at CCLaP, where I occasionally look back at great books already reviewed here that still deserve your attention. Today's pick, the phenomenal 2007 Graham-Greene-like expat novel "Radiant Days," by Michael FitzGerald. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Lost Episodes of Beatie Scareli," by Ginnetta Correli | August 19, 2008
Today's book: The darkly comic, slightly surrealist coming-of-age tale "The Lost Episodes of Beatie Scareli," by self-published first-time novelist Ginnetta Correli. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Gulliver's Travels," by Jonathan Swift | August 18, 2008
Today's book: The 1726 English political satire "Gulliver's Travels," by part-time politician and smartypants author Jonathan Swift. Is it a classic? Click through for my opinion on the matter. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Pisstown Chaos," by David Ohle | August 14, 2008
Today's book: The wry, post-apocalyptic black comedy (what, ANOTHER one?) "The Pisstown Chaos," by post-apocalyptic black-comedy veteran David Ohle. It's...eh, it's okay; click through for more. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Running with Scissors" and "A Wolf at the Table," by Augusten Burroughs | August 12, 2008
Today's book(s): Both the oldest and newest "nonfiction memoirs" by gay Generation X new-wave journalist Augusten Burroughs, 2002's "Running with Scissors" and 2008's "A Wolf at the Table." Click through for my extended thoughts. | Read entire entry

Thanks for the free book, LibraryThing! | August 12, 2008
Cool news in the mail today: After months and months of applying, I finally hit the jackpot over in the "Early Reviewers" (i.e. free books) section of literary social network LibraryThing.com. Click through for the details, as well as to see which book I got. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Faith Between Us," by Peter Bebergal and Scott Korb | August 11, 2008
Today's book: The 2007 nonfictional "The Faith Between Us" by Peter Bebergal and Scott Korb, in which a pair of hipster doofuses and already-published authors with hidden traditional religious beliefs (one Catholic, one Jewish) discuss the daily struggles of such a life. | Read entire entry

In which I respond to the reader question, "What do you think of 9/11 Fiction?" | August 10, 2008
I've been adding a lot of simple scores to books over at Goodreads.com recently; and that inspired someone to ask me what I think of Don DeLillo's September-11th novel "Underworld." Today, my surprisingly complicated answer. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Gadzooks! I added 600 new book ratings at Goodreads this weekend! | August 10, 2008
Some interesting news for my fellow book nerds: I've decided to start profoundly expanding my personal library listed at social network Goodreads, and started by rating 600 old books this weekend while watching the Olympics. Click through for the reasons why. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Nazi Literature in the Americas," by Roberto Bolaño | August 8, 2008
Today's book: "Nazi Literature in the Americans," by late Chilean author and smartypants Roberto Bolaño, originally published in Spanish in 1996 but in English just this year (2008). | Read entire entry

Ben Tanzer's new book is out! All right! | August 8, 2008
Good news from the Chicago arts: CCLaP friend Ben Tanzer's new novel is out, and another friend of CCLaP published it! Click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Snuff," by Chuck Palahniuk | August 6, 2008
Today's book: The filthy, filthy, filthy, filthy, filthy, filthy, filthy, filthy 2008 novel "Snuff," by Chuck Palahniuk. Don't say I didn't warn you! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Tropic of Cancer," by Henry Miller | August 4, 2008
Today's book: Henry Miller's drunken, filthy examination of Paris' post-WWI bohemian community, 1934's "Tropic of Cancer." Is it a classic? Click through for my thoughts on the matter. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "The Execution of Sherlock Holmes," by Donald Thomas | August 1, 2008
Today's review: The 2007 "comfort-food" project "The Execution of Sherlock Holmes," a brand-new collection of five stories that are specifically meant to read exactly like Arthur Conan Doyle's original ones from a century ago. | Read entire entry

Oh Lord, it's time again for the Booker Prize | July 30, 2008
That's right; it's time yet again for the Man Booker Prize, celebrating the best literature from the British Commonwealth and Ireland in the last year. The 2008 longlist was just announced -- click through to see it, as well as to read about CCLaP's plans for reviewing these books. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Gradisil," by Adam Roberts | July 29, 2008
Today's book: Adam Roberts' astounding fake history of the coming private settlement of space, "Gradisil," the last of the eight award-nominated science-fiction novels I am taking a look at this month at CCLaP. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 28 July 2008 | July 28, 2008
Small little micro-reviews of some recent projects, including the books "1421" and "1434" by Gavin Menzies, "The Great Neighborhood Book" by Jay Walljasper, "Liverpool 800" edited by John Belchem, and the 1954 movie "The Caine Mutiny." | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Resurrectionist," by Jack O'Connell | July 25, 2008
Today's book: The 2008 cult hit and "Hollywood Surrealist" tale "The Resurrectionist," by Jack O'Connell...and I don't mean anything good by that term, either. Click through for more. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Rollback," by Robert J Sawyer | July 21, 2008
Today's book: The Hugo-nominated 2007 near-future tale "Rollback," by industry veteran Robert J Sawyer. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Born Standing Up," by Steve Martin | July 18, 2008
Today's book: "Born Standing Up," Steve Martin's memoirs of his old '70s stand-up comedian years, a time in his life he barely ever discusses in public anymore. It's FASCINATING. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Candida," by George Bernard Shaw | July 17, 2008
Today's book: the 1898 stage-play and comedy of manners "Candida," by astute social observer George Bernard Shaw. Is it a classic? Click through for my thoughts and opinion on the matter. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Last Colony," by John Scalzi | July 15, 2008
Today's book: The latest 2008 Hugo nominee to be reviewed here, the old-skool grand space opera "The Last Colony" by John Scalzi. How does it compare to the other nominees? Click through for my thoughts. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Hats & Eyeglasses," by Martha Frankel | July 14, 2008
Today: The so-so personal memoir "Hats & Eyeglasses," by former "Details" columnist and entertainment journalist Martha Frankel, which is supposedly about gambling addiction but isn't really about gambling addiction. Click through for more on what I mean. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Left Hand of Darkness," by Ursula K Le Guin | July 13, 2008
Today's book: Ursula K Le Guin's 1969 "The Left Hand of Darkness," as important to the history of science-fiction as it is to feminist literature, coming in the middle of the youthful countercultural movement. Is it a classic? Click through for my thoughts and opinions. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 12 July 2008 | July 12, 2008
Tiny little reviews of four books and movies, being posted on a weekend, including Patricia Wood's "Lottery," Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman's "Shooting War," Marvel Comics' "The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born," and the truly awful 1997 TV-movie version of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "New Monasticism," by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove | July 3, 2008
Today's review: The misleadingly-titled "New Monasticism" by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, a guide not really to modern monk-like behavior but rather traditional liberal activism. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Nova Swing," by M John Harrison | July 2, 2008
Today's book: "Nova Swing" by M John Harrison, the trippy and cutting-edge science-fiction novel that won the 2008 Philip K Dick Award, precisely honoring trippy and cutting-edge science-fiction. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "RenGen," by Patricia Martin | June 30, 2008
Today's review: The 2007 business book "RenGen" by Patricia Martin, arguing that the US is on the brink of a major new cultural renaissance, and that business owners could do themselves some good by anticipating and planning for it. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Ten-Cent Plague," by David Hajdu | June 26, 2008
Today's book: David Hajdu's "The Ten-Cent Plague," a detailed and fascinating look at the 1950s comic-book scare in the United States, featuring a ton of new interviews with the people originally involved. | Read entire entry

Dueling Chicago lit events tonight! Choking...from all the...hyperlinks... | June 26, 2008
Two major literary events are happening tonight in Chicago -- the Fixx reading series and the newest release party for THE2NDHAND. Here, details on both, with enough hyperlinks to choke a horse. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Brasyl," by Ian McDonald | June 25, 2008
Today: The 2007 Hugo-nominated "Brasyl" by Ian McDonald, a thrilling science-fiction adventure set within the steamy third-world milieu of Rio de Janeiro. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Here's why I'm dropping the "Too Awful To Finish" series. | June 24, 2008
A recent accusation of bad criticism here, along with an interesting reaction by CCLaP's readers, has had me thinking a lot this week about fairness, critical responsibility, and the hipster douchebags I hate so much. Today, the conclusions I came to. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 23 June 2008 | June 23, 2008
Today, little tiny reviews of three recent movies and books, none of which I liked enough to bother writing a full review. Includes Lettie Teague's "Educating Peter," as well as the movies "Spun," "Notes on a Scandal," and "Diary of the Dead." | Read entire entry

Wanna see CCLaP review a specific book? Check out our new wish list! | June 20, 2008
Yes, it's true; due to popular demand, I am now listing online the various books that CCLaP will be reading and reviewing soon; and it's over at Amazon too, in the form of a wish list, so that you can help get me review copies if you feel like assisting a broke critic. | Read entire entry

Book review: "American Transcendentalism: A History," by Philip Gura | June 17, 2008
Today's book: 2007's astoundingly great "American Transcendentalism: A History," a tight and finally clear look at this bizarre early-1800s burp in American history, by culture and lit professor Philip Gura. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 16 June 2008 | June 16, 2008
Tiny little reviews of four books I recently didn't have the chance to finish, including Kate Christensen's "Great Man," Benjamin Wiker's "Ten Books That Screwed Up the World," Sean Williams' "Saturn Returns," and Jon Armstrong's "Grey." | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Words of Every Song," by Liz Moore | June 12, 2008
Today's book: The surprisingly great and emotional look at the music industry, 2007's fictional "The Words of Every Song" by real-life indie-rocker Liz Moore. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Three Novellas for a Novel," by Carl Shuker | June 10, 2008
Today's book: The dense, trippy, experimental "Three Novellas for a Novel," a Radiohead-style "pay what you want" eBook by award-winning New Zealander Carl Shuker. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Prisoners in Paradise," by Akmal Shebl | June 6, 2008
Today's book: The self-published 2008 supernatural thriller "Prisoners in Paradise," by Akmal Shebl, a book which brings up all kinds of issues about self-publishing that I've been meaning to talk about. Today, I talk about them. | Read entire entry

Book Versus Movie: The 39 Steps | June 4, 2008
Today's review: the proto-spy thriller "The 39 Steps," both the original 1915 novella by John Buchan and the 1935 movie adaptation by the young Alfred Hitchcock. How do they compare? Click through for my thoughts! | Read entire entry

Book review: "All Shall Be Well...," by Tod Wodicka | June 3, 2008
Today's book: The masterfully funny and sad satire of cranky academic eggheads, Tod Wodicka's debut novel "All Shall Be Well; and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well." | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "The Historian," by Elizabeth Kostova | May 28, 2008
Today's book: The 2005 modern vampire tale and runaway bestseller "The Historian," by Elizabeth Kostova. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 24: Author Cory Doctorow | May 27, 2008
Today on the podcast: A one-hour talk with a personal hero of mine, Cory Doctorow, a popular and award-winning novelist as well as one of the four editors of Boing Boing, currently acknowledged by most as the most popular blog on the planet. | Read entire entry

Field report: Pilcrow Literary Festival | May 26, 2008
Today, a field report from the highly entertaining Pilcrow Literary Festival, which just pulled off its first successful year here in Chicago last weekend. Click through for photos and an analysis of what went right. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "A Farewell to Arms," by Ernest Hemingway | May 23, 2008
Today's book: The 1929 Modernist look at World War One, Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms." Is it a classic? Click through for my opinion, and the reasons why I argue it. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 23: Author Amy Güth | May 19, 2008
Today on the podcast: A one-hour talk with Chicago author Amy Güth, founder of the new Pilcrow Literary Festival. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Middlesex," by Jeffrey Eugenides | May 17, 2008
Today's book: The 2002 Greek-American quirky family saga (and trippy hermaphrodite tale) "Middlesex," by Jeffrey Eugenides. Is it a classic? Click through for my thoughts on the matter. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "The Gravedigger's Daughter," by Joyce Carol Oates | May 12, 2008
Today's review: The supremely disappointing 2007 novel "The Gravedigger's Daughter," by revered academic author Joyce Carol Oates. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Heart-Shaped Box," by Joe Hill | May 8, 2008
Today's review: The surprise 2007 bestseller "Heart-Shaped Box," the debut novel of horror writer Joe Hill, not nearly as good a book as I thought it was going to be. Click through for the details. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Day of Empire," by Amy Chua | May 7, 2008
Today's book: The historical and political "Day of Empire" by futurist and law professor Amy Chua, which argues that all world-dominant societies throughout history share a freakishly small amount of traits, both during their ascendancies and their falls. Click through for more. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Somnambulist," by Jonathan Barnes | May 6, 2008
Today: The pretty good new steampunk novel "The Somnambulist," by British book critic Jonathan Barnes, along with some extended thoughts on what exactly steampunk is, and what the difference is between so-called genre fiction and mainstream. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Bringing Home the Birkin," by Michael Tonello | May 5, 2008
Today's book: The dazzling 2008 memoir "Bringing Home the Birkin," detailing one witty young man's globetrotting adventures buying up the notoriously scarce handbags and then reselling them on eBay for an insane markup. What a great book; click through for the reasons why. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 3 May 2008 | May 3, 2008
A round-up of little tiny reviews for the last week or two, including four books and four movies. Click through for a lot more. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Island of Dr Moreau," by HG Wells | May 2, 2008
Today's book: The surprisingly exciting and disgusting 1896 medical thriller "The Island of Dr Moreau," by science-fiction godfather HG Wells. Is it a classic? Click through for my thoughts on the subject. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Gathering," by Anne Enright | April 29, 2008
Today's book: Anne Enright's "The Gathering," winner of the 2007 Booker Prize. Did it deserve it? As the reader of six of last year's nominees, I definitely have some thoughts on the matter; click through for the details. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Mrs Dalloway," by Virginia Woolf | April 28, 2008
Today's book: The 1925 Modernist experimental masterpiece "Mrs Dalloway," by feminist icon Virginia Woolf. Is it a classic? Click through for my opinion and reasons. | Read entire entry

Literago and I both declare: "You will never see 'Chicago Lit 100' lists at our sites" | April 24, 2008
So have you heard about this "Brooklyn Lit 100" list that has everyone so up in arms? It inspired Eugenia Williamson of Literago to declare that they will never do a similar Chicago list; I thought this was a good idea, so have decided to declare it too. Click through for more! | Read entire entry

Book Versus Movie: "From Hell" | April 22, 2008
Today, the first in an irregular series of essays here at CCLaP -- a review of both the book and movie versions of the "Jack The Ripper" conspiracy tale "From Hell," the 1999 book by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, the 2001 movie by The Hughes Brothers. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 22: Author Nick Ostdick | April 21, 2008
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: A 45-minute talk with Chicago author, small publisher and event organizer Nick Ostdick (RAGAD, "Sunbeams and Cigarettes"). | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Dracula," by Bram Stoker | April 19, 2008
Today's book: The 1897 Victorian horror novel "Dracula" by Bram Stoker, which single-handedly established the now overwhelmingly known vampire genre. Is it a classic? Click through for my thoughts and opinion. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 13 April 2008 | April 13, 2008
One-paragraph reviews of five movies and two novels, none of them interesting enough to warrant full critical reviews of their own. Includes "The Name of the Rose," "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," "Closer," "Zeroville," "Beautiful Children," "The Illusionist" and "Funny Games." | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Gods Themselves," by Isaac Asimov | April 11, 2008
Today's book: the 1972 Hugo and Nebula winner "The Gods Themselves," by Golden-Age science-fiction author Isaac Asimov. Is it a classic? Click through for my thoughts. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Black Hole," by Charles Burns | April 9, 2008
Today's review: The 2005 epic graphic-novel "Black Hole," by comics veteran and "Believer" cover artist Charles Burns. | Read entire entry

Tales From the Completist: "The Long Goodbye," by Raymond Chandler | April 8, 2008
Today's book: the brilliant 1953 detective novel "The Long Goodbye" by Raymond Chandler, which happens to be this spring's choice for the "One Book One Chicago" program. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Republic," by Plato | April 4, 2008
Today's book: Plato's "The Republic" from approximately 360 BC, the book that single-handedly defined the way most of our modern Western governments currently work. Is it a classic still worth reading today? Click through for my thoughts. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Trip," by Mick MacO | April 3, 2008
Today's review: The self-published 2008 European confessional travelogue "Trip," by Irish graphic designer living in Germany "Mick MacO." | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Now And Forever," by Ray Bradbury | April 2, 2008
Today's review: "Now And Forever," a collection of two brand-new (2007) novellas by genre legend Ray Bradbury. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Gum Thief," by Douglas Coupland | March 31, 2008
Today's book: 2007's dark and sad "The Gum Thief," the latest by legendary hipster novelist Douglas Coupland ("Generation X," "Microserfs"). | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Washington Square," by Henry James | March 28, 2008
Today's book: The slim 1880 "slice of life" story "Washington Square," by realist-fiction master Henry James. Is it a classic? Click through for my thoughts on the subject. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Boy Detective Fails," by Joe Meno | March 27, 2008
Today's book: The brilliantly unique 2006 modern fairytale "The Boy Detective Fails," by Chicago cult favorite Joe Meno. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: "The Reprover/Le Réprobateur" | March 27, 2008
Today's obsession: The witty, experimental hyperfiction project "The Reprover/Le Réprobateur," by French artist and CCLaP reader François Coulon. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Via Dolorosa," by Ronald Malfi | March 26, 2008
Today's book: The minimalist, atmospheric horror story "Via Dolorosa," by experimental writer Ronald Malfi. | Read entire entry

Scott Sigler's first traditional book comes out in a few days | March 26, 2008
Today, some news from an acquaintance of mine, author and "podbook" wunderkind Scott Sigler; that his very first traditional paper novel, a technothriller called "Infected," is finally being released in a few days. Click through for a lot more. | Read entire entry

Book review: "World War Z," by Max Brooks | March 25, 2008
Today's book: The surprisingly brilliant fake oral history of a zombie apocalyptic war, "World War Z," by the surprisingly intelligent and serious Max Brooks (son of comedy veteran Mel Brooks). | Read entire entry

If CCLaP laid out a new classic book, which would you rather see? | March 23, 2008
I'm thinking of doing a new layout of an obscure "classic" book, one of the titles I'll be reviewing later this year as part of the CCLaP 100 essays, in a variety of formats for free download and hopefully a little publicity for the center. But which book should I do? Click through for the choices and to vote in CCLaP's online poll. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Catcher in the Rye," by JD Salinger | March 21, 2008
Today's book: 1951's "The Catcher in the Rye" by JD Salinger, which fans claim single-handedly kicked off the entire genre now known as "Confessional Young Adult." Is it a classic, though? Click through for my thoughts. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Google Docs as mobile eText reader | March 17, 2008
Today, a simple "lifehack" to share -- how I use the free online webapp "Google Docs" as a surprisingly good eBook reader for my mobile device. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," by Jules Verne | March 14, 2008
Today's book: 1870's prototypical science-fiction tale "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" by Jules Verne, inspiration behind a million young boys' adventuring fantasies for a century and a half. Classic? No? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Shakespeare: The World as Stage," by Bill Bryson | March 13, 2008
Today's review: The delightful 2007 slim and accessible guide to William Shakespeare, travel writer Bill Bryson's "Shakespeare: The World as Stage." | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Name of the Rose," by Umberto Eco | March 11, 2008
Today's book: The brilliant 1980 Medieval murder mystery / deceptively complex meditation on semiotics "The Name of the Rose," by Italian history professor and postmodernist Umberto Eco. Is it a classic? Click through for my opinion, and the reasons why. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Regarding the "magic middle" of the independent arts. | March 5, 2008
For those who don't know, creative guru Kevin Kelly published a fascinating article this week, positing that it's easier than ever for independent artists to make a working living. Today, my thoughts on the essay, and what it has to do with Dave Sifry's theory of the blogosphere's "magic middle." | Read entire entry

Holy crap, the new Chicago Public Library website looks great! | March 5, 2008
Wow, the Chicago Public Library system overhauled its website this week -- and it's freaking great! Click through for all the details, as well as copious links. | Read entire entry

Too awful to finish: "Engleby," by Sebastian Faulks | March 3, 2008
Today's book under trial: The virtually plotless 2007 novel "Engleby," by Sebastian Faulks. Ugh, this book drove me crazy; click through for the reasons why. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," by Mark Twain | February 29, 2008
Today's book: the 1876 "American Pastoral" novel "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," a fictionalized small-town childhood memoir by political satirist Mark Twain. Is it a classic? Click through for my opinion and comments. | Read entire entry

Surprise bestseller "Beautiful Children" is free online for next two days | February 28, 2008
Interesting news from Random House today: that for a very short period of time, they will be giving away completely free PDF copies of surprise bestseller "Beautiful Children" by Charles Bock, no strings attached. Click through for the details and links. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Matala," by Craig Holden | February 26, 2008
Today's review: The slim and problem-filled 2007 noir thriller "Matala," by genre serf Craig Holden, picked up completely randomly at my neighborhood library a few weeks ago. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: The Ripley Trilogy, by Patricia Highsmith | February 25, 2008
Today's review: The crime-fiction trilogy revolving around Tom Ripley (1955-1972), by Patricia Highsmith. Smartly-done genre pieces that helped defined the industry, or true classics that you should read before you die? Click through for my opinion. | Read entire entry

New basement distro is looking for your used classics | February 25, 2008
Today, news of a new used-book distribution company in the St. Louis area called "sticks and stones," started up by my friend Michael Franklin, and how they are in need of your used classics. Click through for a lot more. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 20: 37signals' Jason Fried | February 19, 2008
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: An interview with tech guru and gentleman philosopher Jason Fried, one of the founders of highly popular Chicago software company 37signals. | Read entire entry

Another "Literary Death Match" coming to San Francisco soon | February 18, 2008
A little news today from CCLaP friend Todd Zuniga; that his magazine "Opium" is holding their sixth "Literary Death Match" soon in San Francisco. Click through for all the details! | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Clown Girl," by Monica Drake | February 15, 2008
Today's review: The cultishly popular 2006 novel "Clown Girl," an inventive metaphor about corporate life and the debut novel of Monica Drake, which sadly enough I just didn't care for. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "The Solitudes," by John Crowley | February 13, 2008
Today's book: The cultishly loved trippy academic 1987 fantasy novel "The Solitudes" by John Crowley, part 1 of the massively complicated saga "AEgypt." | Read entire entry

Toronto Public Library hosting "Michael Redhill month" online | February 12, 2008
Today, some interesting news to share from the Toronto Public Library; their online discussion club, Book Buzz, is this month featuring Michael Redhill of "Consolation" (a well-regarded Booker nominee), including lots of supplemental information. Click through for more! | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Man Who Was Thursday," by GK Chesterton | February 8, 2008
Today's book: The 1908 detective tale/absurdist comedy "The Man Who Was Thursday," by quirky ahead-of-his-time genre master and Modernism precursor GK Chesterton. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Abstinence Teacher," by Tom Perrotta | February 7, 2008
Today's book: The surprisingly disappointing 2007 novel "The Abstinence Teacher" by Tom Perrotta, a fuzzy and unfocused copy of his much better "Little Children." | Read entire entry

And speaking of classics... | February 5, 2008
Hey, thanks for all the nice emails and comments so far regarding the CCLaP 100 list! In fact, so many readers have been sending their own recommendations for online guides to the classics, I thought I'd finally collect them into a public entry for all of you as well. Click through as always for the details. | Read entire entry

Chicago Women In Publishing is having an interesting panel soon | February 5, 2008
A little news today from CCLaP friend Chris Benevich of MediaBistro; that the group Chicago Women In Publishing will be holding an interesting panel discussion soon, regarding how to best negotiate contracts when you're a freelancer. Click through for the details! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Bridge of Sighs," by Richard Russo | February 4, 2008
Today's book: The slow-moving 2007 small-town epic "Bridge of Sighs," by former Pulitzer winner Richard Russo ("Empire Falls"). | Read entire entry

Field report: The Fixx reading series | February 1, 2008
Today, photos and a write-up from my recent attendance of The Fixx reading series, a monthly event here in Chicago hosted by author and raconteur Amy Güth. This particular month featured Scott Korb and Peter Bebergal, co-authors of the book of essays "The Faith Between Us." | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Almost Moon," by Alice Sebold | January 24, 2008
Today's book: The delightfully twisted thriller about senile monsters and insane daughters, Alice Sebold's "The Almost Moon." | Read entire entry

Jeremy Shipp's "Vacation" snags a surprise Stoker nomination | January 23, 2008
Just a little news about a book that was recently featured here; that the trippy alt-horror novel "Vacation" by Jeremy Shipp has picked up a surprise "First Novel" nomination for the Stoker Awards, which usually honors traditional horror. | Read entire entry

Book review: "by George," by Wesley Stace | January 21, 2008
Today's book: The surprisingly epic tale of a British family of stage performers, the brilliant "by George" by Wesley Stace (aka musician John Wesley Harding). | Read entire entry

Field report: RAGAD #5 release party | January 21, 2008
Today, a report and photographs from the release party for issue 5 of Chicago literary magazine RAGAD, run by CCLaP friend and reader Nick Ostdick. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "The Great Gatsby," by F Scott Fitzgerald | January 18, 2008
Today's book: The 1925 stunning look at the Jazz Age, "The Great Gatsby" by F Scott Fitzgerald, the book that inspired the term "Great American Novel" in the first place. Is it a classic? Click through for my own opinion, now that I've finally read it myself. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Night Climbers," by Ivo Stourton | January 17, 2008
Today's book: The surprisingly smart intellectual/airport thriller "The Night Climbers," by first-time British novelist Ivo Stourton. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Halting State," by Charles Stross | January 15, 2008
Today's book: The unexpectedly disappointing MMO thriller "Halting State," by the usually-great science-fiction author Charles Stross. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "House of the Seven Gables," by Nathaniel Hawthorne | January 14, 2008
Today's book: The 1851 horror-story prototype "House of the Seven Gables," by American Romantic master Nathaniel Hawthorne ("The Scarlet Letter"). Does it deserve the "classic" label? Click through for my opinion, now that I've finally read it myself. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Protagonize.com | January 10, 2008
Today's obsession: The collaborative "Choose Your Own Adventure" style literary website, Protagonize.com. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Petropolis," by Anya Ulinich | January 8, 2008
Today's book: The delightfully black, blackly delightful Russian immigrant tale Petropolis, by Russian-American snarky intellectual Anya Ulinich. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Vacation," by Jeremy Shipp | January 4, 2008
Today's book: The delightfully strange "Vacation" by Jeremy Shipp, about as great as "weird literature" gets. | Read entire entry

The CCLaP 100: "Great Expectations," by Charles Dickens | January 4, 2008
Today's book: The 1861 Victorian social drama "Great Expectations," by Charles Dickens. Is it truly a classic? Click through for my opinion, now that I've read it myself. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Crooked Little Vein," by Warren Ellis | January 2, 2008
Today's book: The darkly hilarious look at America's very real fringe underbelly, "Crooked Little Vein," the first novel by transgressive comics veteran Warren Ellis. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "The Bird is a Raven," by Benjamin Lebert | January 2, 2008
Today's review: The mostly disappointing 2005 "The Bird is a Raven," the latest "novel" (read: barely a novella) from German literary wunderkind Benjamin Lebert ("Crazy"). | Read entire entry

Personal essay: The Year in Books, 2007 | December 31, 2007
Today, CCLaP's look at the year in books for 2007; not a look at the entire industry, of course, but rather the 50 or so books I personally got to read and review this year, including new synopses of the ones I found the best. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Three Fallen Women," by Amy Güth | December 27, 2007
Today's book: The black-as-coal look at three middle-agers recovering from breakdowns, Chicago author Amy Güth's frustrating but rewarding "Three Fallen Women." | Read entire entry

Congratulations to Nathan Rabin and his "Year of Flops" | December 27, 2007
Today, a small fan entry about a group that usually gets nothing but criticism, the 800-pound indie gorilla The Onion; specifically, an entry about how much I loved Nathan Rabin's essay series "My Year of Flops," which is just about to end its remarkable run. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Afterworld | December 21, 2007
Today's obsession: The new online "vertical science-fiction project" Afterworld, which not only uses multiple media to tell its story but also to distribute its content. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen," by Lesley Hazleton | December 20, 2007
Today's book: The fascinating but instantly controversial "Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen," by Hebrew scholar and Middle East journalist Lesley Hazleton. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 19: Author Ben Tanzer | December 18, 2007
Today's episode: An interview with Chicago writer Ben Tanzer, author of the coming-of-age novel "Lucky Man," specifically on the trials and tribulations of being a working day-to-day artist in a large Midwestern city. | Read entire entry

The Ridiculously Long Guide to CCLaP's 10-Point Scoring System | December 17, 2007
I'm putting together CCLaP first-ever top-ten list of the year right now, and realized something important recently -- that I've never really explained how the 10-point scoring system here works. Today, the ridiculously long and overwritten guide. | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "Hairstyles of the Damned," by Joe Meno | December 17, 2007
Today's book: "Hairstyles of the Damned," the 2004 fictionalized memoir of growing up punk on Chicago's southwest side in the 1980s and '90s, by Columbia College professor Joe Meno. | Read entire entry

Book review: "A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers," by Xiaolu Guo | December 11, 2007
Today's book: The delightfully romantic "A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers," a look at an Asian immigrant's first year in the West, by Orange Prize nominee Xiaolu Guo. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Whole," by John Reed | December 7, 2007
Today's book: The trippy, experimental, definitely-not-for-everyone "The Whole," by John Reed. | Read entire entry

Book review: "No one belongs here more than you.," by Miranda July | December 6, 2007
Today's book: The story collection "No one belongs here more than you.," by multi-faceted independent artist Miranda July. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Monitor Mix | December 5, 2007
Today's obsession: The new National Public Radio blog "Monitor Mix," written by former Sleater-Kinney guitarist and current "ThunderAnt" comedian Carrie Brownstein. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Tree of Smoke," by Denis Johnson | December 5, 2007
Today's book: The Vietnam saga "Tree of Smoke" by Denis Johnson, winner of this year's National Book Award. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Announcing the CCLaP 100 | December 3, 2007
Announcing a new project: A list of 100 so-called "classic" books, all of which I'll be hopefully reading and writing essays about over the next two years. Here today, the master list, as well as the reasons why I decided to put it together. | Read entire entry

So did I not mention CCLaP's upcoming publishing program? | December 1, 2007
An offhanded remark at the website last Friday, followed by two dozen emails from frazzled writers and editors in 48 hours, makes me realize: I never really have explained CCLaP's upcoming publishing plans. Today, all the details. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Lucky Man," by Ben Tanzer | November 30, 2007
Today's book: The great although relentlessly dark coming-of-age tale "Lucky Man," the debut novel of Chicago writer Ben Tanzer. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Road," by Cormac McCarthy | November 16, 2007
Today's book: The Pulitzer-winning "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy, only the second book of 2007 to receive a perfect score here at CCLaP. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: LostAtEMinor.com | November 16, 2007
Today's obsession: The highly addictive pop-culture journal LostAtEMinor.com. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Shining at the Bottom of the Sea," by Stephen Marche | November 15, 2007
Today's review: The brilliant "Shining at the Bottom of the Sea" by Stephen Marche, a comprehensive literary history of a country in the British Commonwealth that doesn't actually exist. | Read entire entry

Too awful to finish: "New Bedlam," by Bill Flanagan | November 14, 2007
Today, the borderline-offensive novel about annoying television executives, "New Bedlam," by real-life MTV executive Bill Flanagan. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "The Black Sun," by James Twining | November 14, 2007
Today, the 2007 hidden secret Nazi gold action adventure potboiler "Black Sun," by James Twining. | Read entire entry

Book review: "After Dark," by Haruki Murakami | November 5, 2007
Today's book: The surprisingly accessible "After Dark," the latest novel by the amazing Haruki Murakami. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Grand Avenues," by Scott Berg | November 2, 2007
Today's book: The excellent and intelligent look at the founding of Washington DC, historian Scott Berg's "Grand Avenues." | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 14: Author Elizabeth Crane | October 22, 2007
Today's episode: A half-hour conversation with Chicago writer Elizabeth Crane, author of the story collections "When the Messenger is Hot" and "All This Heavenly Glory." | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "The Eyre Affair," by Jasper Fforde | October 19, 2007
Today's book: The delightful and outlandishly inventive speculative novel "The Eyre Affair," by witty British author Jasper Fforde. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Nathaniel Hawthorne, DailyLit, and the Penny Dreadful 2.0. | October 15, 2007
I started reading the classic Hawthorne proto-horror novel "House of the Seven Gables" today, in my case through a cool free online service called DailyLit. Today, some thoughts inspired by the process, as well as the possible future of online serial publishing. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Chess Machine," by Robert Lohr | October 12, 2007
Today's book: The delightful steampunk/historial-fiction action-adventure hybrid "The Chess Machine," by German author Robert Lohr, unbelievably enough based on a true story on top of everything else. | Read entire entry

National Book Award nominees are announced | October 10, 2007
They're here -- the nominees for the 2007 National Book Award have just been announced. Click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Growing Up Moffett," by Sarah Moffett | October 9, 2007
Today's book: The Christian-heavy cancer-coping personal memoir "Growing Up Moffett," by Washington DC attorney Sarah Moffett. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 13: Reading Under the Influence | October 8, 2007
Today's episode: An eight-minute video report from the fun monthly drunken Chicago literary event "Reading Under the Influence." | Read entire entry

Tales from the Completist: "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom," by Cory Doctorow | October 5, 2007
Today's book: The brilliant first novel by science-fiction author and political activist Cory Doctorow, 2003's gonzo sci-fi tale "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom." | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! | October 4, 2007
Today's obsession: The National Public Radio humorous game show "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!," which I'm probably the last intellectual in America to actually learn about. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Kitchen," by Banana Yoshimoto | October 1, 2007
Today's review: The delightful contemporary Japanese tale "Kitchen," by postmodernist author Banana Yoshimoto. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Interview with the Vampire," by Anne Rice | October 1, 2007
Today's review: The Southern Gothic dark erotic vampire tale that started them all, 1976's "Interview with the Vampire" by Anne Rice. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Lolita," by Vladimir Nabokov | October 1, 2007
Today's review: The classic 1955 tale of forbidden lust and American strip malls, "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," by Arthur Conan Doyle | October 1, 2007
Today's review: The classic beginning example of detective fiction, "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" by Arthur Conan Doyle, first published in book form in 1892. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand | October 1, 2007
Today's review: The 1957 Objectivist classic "Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Something Wicked This Way Comes," by Ray Bradbury | October 1, 2007
Today's review: The creepy 1962 dark fantasy tale "Something Wicked This Way Comes," by Ray Bradbury, which in our modern times doubles as a great story about a lost bucolic rural time in American history as well. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Foundation," by Isaac Asimov | October 1, 2007
Today's review: The 1951 science-fiction novel "Foundation" by Isaac Asimov, the start of what many consider the greatest SF series in the history of the genre. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Dune," by Frank Herbert | October 1, 2007
Today's review: The groundbreaking 1965 science-fiction classic "Dune," by Frank Herbert. | Read entire entry

Book review: "On Chesil Beach," by Ian McEwan | September 26, 2007
Today's book: The delicate "On Chesil Beach" by Ian McEwan, considered by many to be the favorite among this year's Booker Prize nominees. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Consolation," by Michael Redhill | September 25, 2007
Today's book: The Toronto-based family drama / historical tale "Consolation," by Michael Redhill, also a nominee for the 2007 Booker Prize. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Welsh Girl," by Peter Ho Davies | September 24, 2007
Today's book: The World War II British love story (and 2007 Booker nominee) "The Welsh Girl," by Peter Ho Davies. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Where to start when you know no one and nothing. | September 17, 2007
A reader email this weekend gets me thinking on my past; specifically, what advice I have to artists just starting out, and who have just moved to big cities where they know no one and nothing about how that "scene" works. Today, I share that advice. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," by Mohsin Hamid | September 12, 2007
Today's book: The terrorist black comedy and 2007 Booker Prize nominee "The Reluctant Fundamantalist," by Mohsin Hamid. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Mister Pip," by Lloyd Jones | September 11, 2007
Today's book: The 2007 Booker Prize nominee "Mister Pip," by New Zealander Lloyd Jones. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 11: Uptown Writers Space | September 10, 2007
Today on the CCLaP Podcast: An interview with Julie Saltzman and Susan Karp, co-founders of the Uptown Writers Space in my Chicago neighborhood, along with an "audio tour" of the facilities supplemented with still photos. Click through to listen and see for yourself. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 10: PursueThePassion.com's Brett Farmiloe | September 4, 2007
Today's episode: A talk with Brett Farmiloe, founder of the intriguing creativity/business website PursueThePassion.com. | Read entire entry

The latest "One Book, One Chicago" pick is announced | August 31, 2007
And it's none other than Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," the 1953 scathing indictment of the McCarthy communist witch-hunt going on at the time. Click through for more on the book, on this interesting Chicago arts program, and what exactly will be going on in the city this fall because of it. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Exception," by Christian Jungersen | August 30, 2007
Today: The controversial look at fascist behavior within a Danish ultra-liberal office, Christian Jungersen's "The Exception." | Read entire entry

GoodReads database hits 5 million books | August 30, 2007
Good news for literary social network GoodReads.com; they recently had their five millionth book added by a user to their central database. More in today's entry, plus some thoughts on the elusive nature of literary-social-network competition. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: BookSwim.com | August 27, 2007
Today's obsession: New "Netflix for books" service BookSwim.com. Pay a flat fee per month, check out a certain amount of books, which are shipped for free and which you can ship back for free. Good service? Bad? Check this entry's comments for more! | Read entire entry

Book review: "Right Livelihoods," by Rick Moody | August 17, 2007
Today's book: The novella collection "Right Livelihoods," by indie-press sex symbol Rick Moody. | Read entire entry

Book review: "dermaphoria," by Craig Clevenger | August 16, 2007
Today's book: The trippy, cutting-edge experiment in fantastical literature, Craig Clevenger's "dermaphoria." | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Uses of Enchantment," by Heidi Julavits | August 9, 2007
Today: The delightfully twisted and surprisingly complex tale of a repressed New England teenage girl in the 1980s, Heidi Julavits' "The Uses of Enchantment." | Read entire entry

Too awful to finish: "The Traveler," by John Twelve Hawks | August 7, 2007
Today's book: The truly excruciating science-fiction thriller and "Matrix" ripoff "The Traveler," by the anonymous author who goes by the moniker "John Twelve Hawks" in public. Yeah, I'd hide my name too, if I were the one to write this stinker. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Dissident," by Nell Freudenberger | August 2, 2007
Today's book: The unfortunately awful cross-cultural comedy of manners "The Dissident," the first novel by award-winning short-story writer Nell Freudenberger. | Read entire entry

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new Poet Laureate | August 2, 2007
And it's Charles Simic, as a matter of fact, a Surrealist poet originally from the former Yugoslavia, currently the co-Poetry Editor of the Paris Review. Click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "The Giant's House," by Elizabeth McCracken | August 1, 2007
Today's review: The 1996 novel "The Giant's House," by Elizabeth McCracken. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Me and Kev," by Simon Black | August 1, 2007
Today's review: The 1993 novel "Me and Kev," by Simon Black. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Independence Day," by Richard Ford | August 1, 2007
Today's review: The 1996 Pulitzer-winning novel "Independence Day," by Richard Ford. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "The Redneck Manifesto," by Jim Goad | August 1, 2007
Today's review: The 1997 book of controversial race and class essays, "The Redneck Manifesto" by Jim Goad. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature," by Neal Pollack | August 1, 2007
Today's review: The 2002 humor book "The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature," by Neal Pollack. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Shock Treatment," by Karen Finley | August 1, 2007
Today's review: The 1990 book of essays and poetry "Shock Treatment," by Karen Finley. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Layover," by Lisa Zeidner | August 1, 2007
Today's review: The 2000 erotic thriller "Layover," by Lisa Zeidner. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Exquisite Corpse," by Poppy Z Brite | August 1, 2007
Today's review: The 1997 darkly erotic novel "Exquisite Corpse," by Poppy Z Brite. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Lords of Chaos," by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind | August 1, 2007
Today's review: The 1998 nonfiction look at the Scandinavian death-metal scene, "Lords of Chaos." | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Lucky Wander Boy," by DB Weiss | August 1, 2007
Today's review: The 2003 novel "Lucky Wander Boy" by DB Weiss. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Barrel Fever," by David Sedaris | August 1, 2007
Today's review: The 1995 humorous story collection "Barrel Fever," by David Sedaris. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Vox," by Nicholson Baker | August 1, 2007
Today's review: The 1993 novel "Vox" by Nicholson Baker. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "The Fermata," by Nicholson Baker | August 1, 2007
Today's review: The 1995 novel "The Fermata," by Nicholson Baker. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Exposure," by Kathryn Harrison | August 1, 2007
Today's review: The 1994 novel "Exposure" by Kathryn Harrison. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "The Loving Dominant," by John Warren | August 1, 2007
Today's review: the 2000 nonfiction guide to the BDSM community, "The Loving Dominant" by John Warren. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Blue Highways," by William Least Heat-Moon | August 1, 2007
Today's review: the 1980 nonfiction book "Blue Highways," by William Least Heat-Moon. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America," by Michelle Tea | August 1, 2007
Today's review: the 1998 novel "The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America," by Michelle Tea. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Valencia," by Michelle Tea | August 1, 2007
Today's review: the 2000 novel "Valencia" by Michelle Tea. | Read entire entry

Robert Olen Butler: "The Squid and the Whale" comes to life | August 1, 2007
Today, some wonderfully crazy gossip -- that not only are pretentious academic novelists Robert Olen Butler and Elizabeth Dewberry getting a divorce, but that Butler wrote an insane email to his grad students explaining the reasons, something worthy of the fictional movie "The Squid and the Whale" which I reviewed here last week. Click through for the details! | Read entire entry

Why yes, I DID illegally download the new Harry Potter book this morning. | July 31, 2007
Did you hear? There's already an illegal electronic copy of the final Harry Potter book out there...and it's ridiculously easy to find and download, too. Today, lots more details concerning the subject. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Radiant Days," by Michael FitzGerald | July 30, 2007
Today's book: The terrific "Radiant Days" by Michael FitzGerald, an unflinching look at the last days of the American Empire, told through the tale of a San Francisco Dot Commer stuck in the Balkans during its 1990s civil war. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Infoquake," by David Louis Edelman | July 26, 2007
Today's book: The trippy science-fiction novel "Infoquake," the first novel and surprise sleeper hit by Washington-DC web developer David Louis Edelman. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Rant," by Chuck Palahniuk | July 24, 2007
Today's book: The trippy rabies authoritarianism science-fiction cautionary tale "Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey," by "Fight Club" author Chuck Palahniuk. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Vermin on the Mount | July 24, 2007
Today's obsession: The Los Angeles literary showcase "Vermin on the Mount," organized by award-winning writer Jim Ruland in the heart of LA's Chinatown. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 05: Greater Wealth Productions | July 23, 2007
Today: A five and a half minute interview with GW Welsh of the multimedia production company Greater Wealth, shot at a recent fundraiser at Lakeview's Spot6 nightclub. Also includes footage of Chicago writer Kate Cullen, Indiana cartoonist Andrew Dimitt, and Georgia band The North And South, plus the visual artwork of "Corey." | Read entire entry

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Amazon's #1 reviewer | July 20, 2007
Simon Owens of Bloggasm has a great entry up right now, on the number-one most prolific book reviewer at Amazon; a woman named Harriet Klauser, who has published a whopping 12,000 book reviews in the last seven years. Click through for the details. | Read entire entry

Tales From the Completist: "Drop City," by TC Boyle | July 18, 2007
Today's book: The 2003 hippie commune parody "Drop City," by popular and award-winning novelist TC Boyle. | Read entire entry

Too awful to finish: "You Don't Love Me Yet," by Jonathan Lethem | July 18, 2007
Today's guilty party: The snotty indie-rock nightmare "You Don't Love Me Yet," by the normally much-better Jonathan Lethem. Ooh, what a stinker this was! | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 04: The Harold Washington Library Center | July 16, 2007
Today's episode: A four-minute video tour of the Harold Washington Library Center -- not only the central branch of the entire Chicago Public Library system, but also the largest public library on the planet according to the Guinness Book of World Records. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Ken Levine | July 16, 2007
Today's obsession: Veteran television screenwriter Ken Levine (M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frasier), who maintains a great daily blog about the "Hollywood machine." | Read entire entry

Book review: "Jamestown," by Matthew Sharpe | July 12, 2007
Today: The insanely great post-apocalyptic black comedy "Jamestown," by Matthew Sharpe, which by the way is the best novel I've read yet this year. | Read entire entry

CCLaP files its 50th book review | July 10, 2007
Interesting news to report today: that I recently filed my 50th book review online, in my newish role as executive director of CCLaP. Click through for more, and to learn where the majority of these reviews can be found; it's not actually this website, believe it or not. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 03: The Dollar Store Show's Jonathan Messinger | July 9, 2007
Today's episode: A four-minute video interview with Jonathan Messinger -- host of the monthly literary event "The Dollar Store Show," co-founder of small press Featherproof, and Books Editor of "Time Out: Chicago." | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: The Elm Creek Quilts saga | July 9, 2007
Today's obsession: The author-led media empire "Elm Creek Quilts," by Madison-based Jennifer Chiaverini. Click through to see all the ways this quilting lover has turned an accidental success into a full-time living. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Small Dogs Press | July 6, 2007
Today's obsession: Self-publisher Susan Sabo of Small Dogs Press, who has sadly decided to pack things in; but not before offering to send off the remainder of her inventory for free to anyone who wants a copy. Click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

Book review: "God is a Woman," by Ian Coburn | July 5, 2007
Today's book: The tragically comic faux dating guide "God is a Woman," by Chicago stand-up comedian Ian Coburn. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Tim Goodman | July 5, 2007
Today's obsession: Tim Goodman, television critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. | Read entire entry

Litblogger? Penguin would like to send you a free book, please. | July 5, 2007
Today, some very exciting news from British imprint Penguin Classics: that they're not only starting a new website featuring reviews of all 1,200 titles in their catalog, but that they're sending out free books to any litblogger who'd like to participate. Click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The End As I Know It," by Kevin Shay | July 3, 2007
Today's book: The hilarious Y2K nostalgia novel "The End As I Know It," by former McSweeney's editor Kevin Shay. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: The Chicago Library adult summer reading program | July 3, 2007
Today's obsession: the Chicago Public Library system's new summer reading program for adults, the first year in the library's history it's tried such a thing. | Read entire entry

Too awful to finish: "The Pesthouse," by Jim Crace | June 29, 2007
Today's book to be too awful to finish: the grandly pretentious and overwritten post-apocalyptic dystopian novel "The Pesthouse," by award-winning author Jim Crace. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: QuickMuse | June 28, 2007
Today's obsession: The cutting-edge website QuickMuse, which literally records poets composing new poems in real time, so that you can watch the creative process yourself later. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Special Topics in Calamity Physics," by Marisha Pessl | June 27, 2007
Today's book: the gifted-child murder-mystery "Special Topics in Calamity Physics," by Marisha Pessl. | Read entire entry

CCLaP Podcast 01: Literago launch party | June 25, 2007
Welcome to the new CCLaP Podcast! Today, episode 1: a two-minute video report from the recent launch party for Chicago literary website Literago.org. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Jessica Smith | June 25, 2007
Today's obsession: East-coast conceptual poet and self-publisher Jessica Smith. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: YesButNoButYes | June 22, 2007
Today's obsession: The smartly-written pop-culture blog "YesButNoButYes." | Read entire entry

Book review: "Soon I Will Be Invincible," by Austin Grossman | June 21, 2007
Today's book: The witty postmodern superhero comedy "Soon I Will Be Invincible," by Bay-area debut author Austin Grossman. Or, hmm, is that gritty postmodern superhero drama? | Read entire entry

Chicago litblogger? The Sun-Times would like to hear from you, please. | June 21, 2007
I caught an interview with Chicago Sun-Times Books editor Cheryl Reed today, where she makes an interesting confesson: that she wants to hire more Chicago reviewers, but can't find any Chicago reviewers. Litbloggers, click through for all the details. | Read entire entry

Lifehacker has a bunch of computer hacks for book lovers | June 20, 2007
Productivity website Lifehacker has a great entry up today, featuring a dozen pieces of software, browser extensions and more that all have something to do with books. Click through for the link. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: The Millions | June 19, 2007
Today's obsession: The already well-known (in certain circles) literary-criticism blog "The Millions." | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Slynx," by Tatyana Tolstaya | June 18, 2007
Today's book: The darkly funny Russian science-fiction fairy tale "The Slynx," by Tatyana Tolstaya. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: Cross-Media Entertainment | June 18, 2007
Today's obsession: Christy Dena's "Cross-Media Entertainment" blog, which takes an intellectual look each day at the various ways entertainment projects are hopping across different mediums and formats. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Possibility of an Island," by Michel Houellebecq | June 14, 2007
Today's book: The ultra-dark dystopian science-fiction tale/snarky autobiography "The Possibility of an Island," by controversial French author Michel Houellebecq. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City," by Carl Smith | June 13, 2007
Today's book: Historian Carl Smith's "The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City," a detailed look at the architect and city planner's original 1909 post-fire plan for the city, as well as the current conditions that went into its making. | Read entire entry

Don't forget, the new Bookforum is online and free | June 12, 2007
Just a reminder, that the venerable paper publication "Bookforum" is now making the entirety of their content available for free online. Click through for more, and a link to the latest issue. | Read entire entry

Book review: "HP Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life," by Michel Houellebecq | June 11, 2007
Today's book: The extended literary essay/love letter "HP Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life," by controversial French author Michel Houellebecq. | Read entire entry

Obsession of the moment: David Louis Edelman revisits "Lord of the Rings" | June 11, 2007
Today's obsession: Science-fiction author and Campbell Award nominee David Louis Edelman, who at his blog this week revisits the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy in book form for the first time since seeing the Peter Jackson film versions. | Read entire entry

Book review: "Little Children," by Tom Perrotta | June 9, 2007
Today's book review: The scathing suburban indictment "Little Children" by Tom Perrotta, made into an Oscar-nominated movie starring Kate Winslet. | Read entire entry

More about the Printers Row Book Fair, and CCLaP's first social event! | June 8, 2007
It's official -- CCLaP is throwing its first social event at tomorrow's Printer Row Book Fair! Read this entry for all the details. | Read entire entry

"Out of the Book:" Is this the future of book promotion? | June 8, 2007
Portland's "The Phoenix" let me know today about an ambitious new plan by Powell's Books to promote various titles at their stores. Called Out of the Book, it's an attempt to supplement or sometimes completely replace the traditional author... | Read entire entry

Book review: "Virtual Worlds: Rewiring Your Emotional Future," by Jack Myers with Jerry Weinstein | June 6, 2007
Today, a review of the non-fiction book "Virtual Worlds: Rewiring Your Emotional Future," by noted media columnists Jack Myers and Jerry Weinstein. | Read entire entry

Book review: "The Raw Shark Texts," by Steven Hall | June 4, 2007
Today, a review of the genre-crossing fantastical novel "The Raw Shark Texts," by Steven Hall. | Read entire entry

Book reviews: Master list | April 15, 2007
The master list of all books reviewed through the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. | Read entire entry

Mini-reviews: Master list | April 15, 2007
The master list of all mini-reviews (books and movies) found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. | Read entire entry