Archives: Reviews

This is the archive page for the category [Reviews]; 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: "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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: "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

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: "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

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: "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

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

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 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 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: "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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal essay: Why 'Harmontown' is the Best Podcast in the US You're Not Listening To. | January 23, 2013
Today at CCLaP, a few thoughts on the recent Chicago stop of Dan Harmon's confessional, hilarious "Harmontown" podcast tour, and what makes this both a technically and conceptually groundbreaking show that is writing some of the rules that future podcasts will forever follow. | 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

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

On Being Human: The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976, Nicholas Roeg) | January 11, 2013
Today at CCLaP: In his last essay for On Being Human, Karl Wolff looks at 'The Man Who Fell to Earth,' Nicholas Roeg's 1976 sci-fi art-house masterpiece. | 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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

Justify My Netflix: Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! | September 18, 2012
Today's DVD review at CCLaP: Adult Swim's "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!," possibly the most bizarre television show in the entire history of the medium. Plus creepy. Did I mention how intensely creepy this supposed sketch-comedy show is? | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Thin Man | September 13, 2012
Today's movie review at CCLaP: The 1934 crime classic "The Thin Man," based closely on the 1934 classic novel of the same name which was also reviewed here just the other day. | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Cannery Row | September 5, 2012
Today's movie review: 1982's "Cannery Row," based on the John Steinbeck novel of the same name, a holdover from the beautifully theatrical artificiality of '70s cinema and featuring Nick Nolte and Debra Winger in their sexy primes. | 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

Justify My Netflix: King of New York | August 29, 2012
Today's movie review at CCLaP: 1990's gritty yet over-the-top "King of New York," by notorious nutjob filmmaker Abel Ferrara, just as crazy as his other movies and featuring a revelatory performance by Christopher Walken. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Touch of Evil | August 27, 2012
Today's movie review: Orson Welles' 1958 "Touch of Evil," considered the last good movie of Welles' career and the last true film noir of the "classic" period, infamously mis-edited for decades until a 1998 restoration using the filmmaker's private notes. Plus Charlton Heston as a Mexican! | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: God Bless America | August 22, 2012
Today's movie review at CCLaP: Bobcat Goldthwait's latest ultra-black subversive comedy, "God Bless America," about a terminal cancer patient who decides to take out as many empty reality TV stars as he can before he dies, and the sociopathic teenage girl who becomes his partner in crime. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Blank City | August 20, 2012
Today's movie review at CCLaP: 2010's hugely entertaining and profoundly informative documentary "Blank City," all about the ultra-underground film movement of late-'70s and early-'80s lower Manhattan, which went hand-in-hand with the punk music and performance art going on in the same neighborhoods in the same years. My favorite documentary of the last year! | 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

Justify My Netflix: John Carter | August 9, 2012
Today's movie review at CCLaP: The fabled $250 million disaster "John Carter," which turns out to not be so terrible and not even quite the financial disaster you've heard, although still troubling that someone managed to spend a quarter of a billion dollars on a cartoon. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Wet Hot American Summer | August 2, 2012
Today's movie review at CCLaP: The '70s summer-camp-movie homage "Wet Hot American Summer," written and directed and starring several members of the old MTV show "The State," controversial among comedy fans for being kind of brilliant and kind of idiotic. Plus Amy Poehler as a slutty cheerleader! | 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

Justify My Netflix: Chronicle | July 30, 2012
Today's movie review at CCLaP: The incredible, nearly perfect low-budget sci-fi thriller "Chronicle," a deconstructionist take on superhero origin stories which combines an almost flawless script with ultra-clever digital effects. What an age we live in, when smart twentysomething artists with a little bit of money can churn out slick stunners like these! | 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

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

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

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

Justify My Netflix: Shame | July 10, 2012
Today's movie: 2011's award-winning "Shame," supposedly a gritty and realistic look at sexual addiction but in reality just another silly Hollywood excuse to film supermodels having spirited intercourse in front of the glass walls of a million-dollar skyscraper condo. "Free coke, danceclub blowjobs from good-looking strangers, and no repercussions -- oh, how terrible it is to be a sexual addict!" | 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

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

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

Justify My Netflix: Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Legend | June 19, 2012
Today's movie: The excellent if not overly lionizing indie documentary "Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Legend," in which a bevy of current Hollywood stars give tribute to this notorious countercultural-era schlockmeister producer, who almost accidentally started the careers of a huge swath of '70s and '80s maverick auteurs. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Martha Marcy May Marlene | June 13, 2012
Today's movie: The pitch-black psychological thriller and no-budget indie jewel "Martha Marcy May Marlene," about a young headstrong survivor of a Manson-Family-type cult and the PTSD after-effects she suffers while recuperating at her estranged sister's upper-class lakeside home in upstate New York. One of the best films I've seen in the last year! | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Breaking Bad, Season 1 | May 15, 2012
Today's DVD: Season 1 of the fascinating-like-a-trainwreck "Breaking Bad," commonly thought of as a blackly comic thriller but in actuality one of the most complex and brilliant neo-noirs ever made. Believe the hype! | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) | May 2, 2012
Today's movie: The 2011 Oscarbait adaptation of the spy thriller "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," my very first introduction to the work of John le Carre in any form. Spoiler -- it's pretty great! | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: A Dangerous Method | April 19, 2012
Today's movie: David Cronenberg's latest, "A Dangerous Method," in which like other recent work this inventor of "body-horror" both expands and refines his overall artistic vision, this time by examining the early history of psychiatry through the tumultuous relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Young Adult | April 17, 2012
Today's movie: Diablo Cody's brilliant look at a semi-failed artist having a very public mental breakdown as she approaches middle-age, the unexpectedly powerful and emotionally moving "Young Adult." | 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

Justify My Netflix: Trailer Park Boys | April 13, 2012
Today's DVD: The filthy, subversive, and utterly hilarious Canadian television show "Trailer Park Boys," which for seven seasons offered up an unending series of lovable losers and wacky criminal adventures, becoming a massive international hit along the way which unfortunately most Americans aren't even aware of. Fans of Adult Swim, pick this up as soon as you possibly can! | 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

Justify My Netflix: Real Steel | April 10, 2012
Today's movie: 2011's "Real Steel," a surprisingly good teen-boy action film using leftover "Transformers" CGI, sneakily subversive in the way it quietly shows a day-after-tomorrow America that is well on its way to total collapse, staving off the inevitable by a media-driven national obsession with boxing robots. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Knuckle | April 3, 2012
Today's movie: The 2011 documentary "Knuckle," ostensibly about the illegal bare-knuckle "clan honor" fistfights that happen among the "traveller" families of rural Ireland, but in reality a probing look at the dark side of the human condition, the combination of ignorance and blind ideology that fuels everything from Islamic terrorists to abortion-clinic-bombing Tea Partiers. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Today's Special | March 29, 2012
Today's movie: The surprisingly mainstream-friendly "Today's Special," a food-oriented immigrant family comedy from the usually subversive "Daily Show" writer Aasif Mandvi (based on his Obie-winning play from a few years ago), funny and touching but absolutely the kind of movie your suburban parents will enjoy, just to give you fair warning. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Hugo | March 19, 2012
Today's movie: "Hugo," Martin Scorsese's cloyingly treacly, nearly unwatchable ode to Joy and Whimsy and Ridiculously Over The Top Acting and did I mention Joy and Whimsy? Now bask in the wonderfully magic magical wonder of it all! BASK IN IT, MOUTHBREATHER! | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: You and I | March 5, 2012
Today's movie: 2008's "You and I" (being released in America just this month), promoted as a Russian version of an Olson Twins tween adventure and featuring bubblegum pop group t.A.T.u., but in reality a surprisingly dark and sophisticated look at the dysfunctional relationship post-Soviet youth have with disposable American trash culture. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Anonymous | February 29, 2012
Today's movie: The surprisingly great "Shakespeare was a fraud!" genre thriller "Anonymous," deliberately silly and over the top at every single moment it can get away with it, which bombed not because of its quality but because of an inept marketing campaign that tried to present the film and its conspiracy theories as serious. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Drive | February 27, 2012
Today's movie: "Drive," which at first seems like just another cheesy retro-'80s genre flick by obscure Danish indie darling Nicolas Winding Refn, but which like the best of Michael Mann gets under your skin with its moody stylistic touches and inspired casting choices. For maximum enjoyment, keep your expectations low! | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Bombay Beach | February 21, 2012
Today's movie: The affecting, surreal indie documentary "Bombay Beach," a stylish "Diane Arbus meets mumblecore" look at an abandoned seaside resort town in the middle of nowhere in far southern California, and the several hundred very scary Juggalo-loving trash who still live in this largely lawless, literally apocalyptic community. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Tree of Life | February 14, 2012
Today's movie: Terrence Malick's challenging yet mesmerizing latest, Oscar frontrunner "The Tree of Life," telling no less than the story of the interconnectedness of the entire universe, from the Big Bang to the Earth's destruction hundreds of millions of years from now, as told through the causally connected reminiscences of an aging 2000s architect about his troubled childhood in 1950s Texas. Highly recommended! | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Win Win | February 7, 2012
Today's movie: Last year's sleeper indie hit "Win Win," from Thomas McCarthy of the revered "The Station Agent," essentially a 21st-century "Say Anything" in which a cast of surprisingly likable characters all become better humans merely by being around each other, and external forces threaten to disrupt this happiness. Warning: a three-hanky tearjerker! | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: 25th Hour | January 27, 2012
Today's movie: Spike Lee's supposed post-9/11 comeback movie which turned out to be a flop, 2002's philosophical drama masquerading as a crime tale "25th Hour," starring such stalwarts as Edward Norton and Philip Seymour Hoffman in a script that is unfortunately schizophrenic in its pacing and effects. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Whitechapel, Season 1 | January 25, 2012
Today's DVD: Season 1 of the quickie British crime drama "Whitechapel," which in this season uses a modern Jack The Ripper copycat killer to examine through extensive location shooting this once notorious Victorian slum area of London, now the city's latest trendy creative-class neighborhood. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Warrior (2011) | January 23, 2012
Today's movie: The Oscar-bait "ultimate fighting" family drama "Warrior," almost identical in tone and style to the Oscar winners "The Fighter" and "The Wrestler," but that unfortunately shows its emotional manipulation MUCH more plainly. Plus featuring the most shameless two-hour ad for a corporate sponsor since Fred Savage's "The Wizard!" | 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

Personal essay: Here's what no one seems to get about 'Fringe.' | January 13, 2012
Over the last four months, I have quickly gone through the entire first four seasons of the post-'Lost' genre show 'Fringe' on DVD, where I've discovered that despite its horrible first year, it has quickly expanded to become one of the most fascinating and satisfying sci-fi projects in TV history. Today, an extra-long essay on why this is, in expectation of new episodes starting tonight. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Fright Night (2011) | January 12, 2012
Today's movie: The 2011 remake of the '80s horror comedy "Fright Night," which under the direction of indie darling Craig Gillespie ("Lars and the Real Girl") becomes not just another quickie Hollywood remake but an inventive, smartly done unique project on its own, featuring such inspired casting as Colin Farrell, David Tennant and Toni Collette. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Bellflower | January 10, 2012
Today's movie: The unforgettable "mumblecore meets Mad Max" 2011 indie "Bellflower," a much more complex and moving film than any simple recap of its plot can convey. | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Batman: Year One | December 9, 2011
Today's movie: The ultra-faithful new adaptation of "Batman: Year One," the 1987 Frank Miller graphic novel that helped kickstart the entire "Dark Age" of comics history, in this case brought to you by the same team who does the highly stylized contemporary television series. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Super 8 | December 8, 2011
Today's movie: JJ Abrams' disappointing latest, "Super 8," meant as an homage to early-'80s Spielberg films but more like an overly sentimental shot-for-shot ripoff, and feeling less like a polished film and more like something that Abrams has been waiting thirty years to get off his chest. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Robot Chicken, Season 5 | December 2, 2011
Today's DVD: Season five of the brilliant "micro-sketch" comedy show "Robot Chicken," which by this point might very well be starting to take its place alongside Monty Python and others as one of the great cultural landmarks of televised comedy history. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Stunt Man | November 29, 2011
Today's movie: The brilliant meta-meta commentary on the filmmaking process and out-of-control '70s auteurs, the 1980 Peter O'Toole vehicle "The Stunt Man," finally out in an enhanced DVD edition just this year. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Winnie the Pooh (2011) | November 16, 2011
Today's movie: The insanely charming new-but-retro adaptation of "Winnie the Pooh," the first fully realized project of the newly re-artsyfied, Jon-Lasseter-led Walt Disney Animation Studios. | 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

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

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

Personal essay: Is Hipstamatic changing the very way we think about the arts? | October 31, 2011
Today, a personal essay which posits an intriguing question: Is the one-dollar retro-camera iPhone app "Hipstamatic" the most significant thing to happen to society's relationship to the arts since literally the Industrial Revolution of the early 1800s? Click through for a compelling argument on why this may indeed be so. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Red State | October 28, 2011
Today's movie: Kevin Smith's latest, the conservative-church-meets-horror flick "Red State." What, a Kevin Smith film that's commendable and often fascinating, but ultimately is frustratingly talky and disappointing? THAT CAN'T BE! | 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

Justify My Netflix: Submarine | October 24, 2011
Today's movie: The disappointingly by-the-numbers "Submarine," from the usually brilliantly surreal Richard Ayoade ("The IT Crowd"). To paraphrase The Simpsons: "Who knew that an indie British coming-of-age comedy would be so treacly quirky?" | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Thor | October 12, 2011
Today's movie: Kenneth Branagh's superhero actioner "Thor," not merely awful but literally a hope-raping manifestation of America's entire downfall in the 21st century. OCCUPY HOLLYWOOD! | 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

Justify My Netflix: Kaboom | October 5, 2011
Today's movie: Gregg Araki's utterly mesmerizing, utterly unclassifiable latest, "Kaboom," a fascinating cross-genre experiment -- part '80s teen comedy, part "Shortbus" ode to pansexuality, part Bret Easton Ellis tale about jaded undergraduates, part "Donnie Darko" genre flick about the end of the world. One of my favorite movies of the year! | 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

Justify My Netflix: Cell 211 | September 29, 2011
Today's movie: The multiple Goya-winning gritty Spanish prison drama "Cell 211," which despite devolving into sappy sentimentality by the end is mostly a gripping, fascinating thriller. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Perfect Host | September 27, 2011
Today's movie: The darkly comic "The Perfect Host," sporting a great premise (bank robber on the lam accidentally hides out in the home of a serial killer) but that fails in many of its details, including a muddled ending and an overly hammy performance from David Hyde Pierce. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Party Monster | September 21, 2011
Today's movie: The mesmerizing 2003 "Party Monster," now finally out again on DVD, in which Macaulay Culkin plays the real-life '90s club promoter turned murderer Michael Alig, and Seth Green his former best friend James St. James, a surreal fairytale that I loved but that is bound to rub a lot of people the wrong way. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Drive Angry | September 9, 2011
Today's movie: The gloriously absurd Nicolas Cage B-flick "Drive Angry," a deliberate midnight movie that blessedly can be enjoyed non-ironically, in which Cage literally breaks out of Hell using a late-'60s muscle car and a bevy of rockabilly demons are sent out to bring him back. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Stake Land | September 6, 2011
Today's movie: 2010's "Stake Land," one of those no-budget little genre flicks (zombie apocalypse in this case) that benefits greatly in this age of cheap but high-quality digital equipment, essentially made by a bunch of buddies but that can hold its own against much more expensive Hollywood B-pics. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Green Hornet | August 31, 2011
Today's movie: Michel Gondry's disastrous "art-school superhero flick" adaptation of "The Green Hornet," a pretentious trainwreck which clashes badly with the junior-high-level script by full-time man-child Seth Rogen (who is also the film's star and executive producer). | 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

Justify My Netflix: Source Code | August 24, 2011
Today's movie: "Source Code," the latest by Duncan Jones of sci-fi cult hit "Moon" fame, a what-if crowdpleaser that plays like "'Inception' Lite," and with all the pluses and minuses that term implies. | 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

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

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

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

Justify My Netflix: Season of the Witch | August 1, 2011
Today's movie: "Season of the Witch," one of a whole string of wonderfully bizarre quickie B-flicks that Nicolas Cage has been doing since declaring bankruptcy a few years ago, so gloriously bad that it's bound to eventually become a midnight-movie staple. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Adjustment Bureau | July 29, 2011
Today's movie: The sorta silly Matt Damon sci-fi thriller "The Adjustment Bureau," about the most pure example you can get of a classic problem-filled but fanboy-loved quickie genre B-flick, and all the good and bad things that implies. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Barney's Version | July 26, 2011
Today's movie: The surprisingly dark "Barney's Version," a sleeper favorite in last year's awards season based on the well-loved 1997 novel by Mordecai Richler, which can essentially be described as "Forrest Gump" but with a slovenly Canadian Jewish unprincipled television producer in the lead. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Somewhere | July 21, 2011
Today's movie: Sofia Coppola's quietly brilliant and emotionally moving latest, "Somewhere," which is really about middle-aged divorced dads and what it means to have preteen children in their lives, even though this one in particular is a famous but aimless Hollywood star living at the Chateau Marmont while between homes. Highly recommended! | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: 13 Assassins | July 13, 2011
Today's movie: "13 Assassins," the visually interesting but intellectually empty latest by gonzo horror pioneer Takashi Miike, which takes the usual tropes of torture porn and wraps them in the expensive respectability of Oscar-friendly historical costume drama. WHAT HATH QUENTIN TARANTINO WROUGHT ON OUR WORLD?! | 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justify My Netflix: Childrens Hospital | June 8, 2011
Today's DVD: "Childrens Hospital," the naughty and hilarious send-up of medical dramas that airs in ten-minute segments on Adult Swim, which is like television on crack when you watch them all in a row on DVD like I did. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Miller's Crossing | June 3, 2011
Today's movie: The 1990 gangster noir "Miller's Crossing," one of the few early Coen Brothers movies I missed when they were originally in the theaters, which is why I recently decided to finally rent it. Yep, good as always! | 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justify My Netflix: Code 46 | April 26, 2011
Today's movie: Michael Winterbottom's social-realist movie disguised as a science-fiction thriller, 2003's "Code 46," just as excellent as everything else this inventive British director has done. Thanks to author Mark R. Brand for convincing me to move this to the top of my queue at Netflix! | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: In Bruges | April 21, 2011
Today's movie: The Tarantinoesque gangster caper "In Bruges," the talky film debut of Irish playwright Martin McDonagh that picked up a BAFTA and Golden Globe the year it came out, plus got nominated for an Oscar, despite being a goofy and violent genre pic. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Fighter | April 20, 2011
Today's movie: "The Fighter," the gritty 2010 sports-bio mashup of edgy intense creatives David O. Russell (director), Darren Aronofsky (producer) and Christian Bale (moody star). Highly recommended even if, like me, you usually detest sports films. | 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

Naughty Netflix: Macumba Sexual | April 15, 2011
Today in CCLaP's "Naughty Netflix" essay series on sexually explicit mainstream movies: It's 1981's bizarre "Macumba Sexual," just one of the hundreds of forgettable exploitation films from the career of grindhouse master Jesus Franco. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The State | April 13, 2011
Today's DVD: "The State," MTV's hugely influential Gen-X sketch-comedy show from the early 1990s, whose dozen members have gone on to such projects as "Reno 911!," "Childrens Hospital," "Stella" and "Wet Hot American Summer." I WANNA DIP MY BALLS IN IT!!! | 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

Justify My Netflix: Talhotblond | April 6, 2011
Today's movie: The online-trainwreck documentary "Talhotblond," which is being promoted as a quirky little indie-doc ala "Catfish," but is instead the cinematic equivalent of one of those cheesy, exploitative network-television "To Catch A Predator" faux-journalism reports. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Pineapple Express | April 5, 2011
Today's movie: David Gordon Green's "Pineapple Express," a goofy stoner comedy from a guy who before then had been known exclusively for gritty social-realist dramas that no one saw. Warning: Silliness ahoy! | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Warriors | March 29, 2011
Today's movie: Walter Hill's 1979 "The Warriors," a comic-book-style adaptation of an ancient Greek myth told through cartoonish street gangs amid crumbling '70s New York, a premise that sounds ridiculous but that still holds up surprisingly well as a mature, smart film even thirty years later. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Social Network | March 24, 2011
Today's movie: 2010's Facebook biopic and Oscar darling "The Social Network" by the usually excellent David Fincher, but this time with a script by the ever-more-tiresome Aaron Sorkin so laughably bad, I ended up turning off the DVD after just twenty minutes. Ugh! | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Wire, Season 1 | March 23, 2011
Today's DVD: Season 1 of HBO's gritty 2000s crime drama "The Wire," a 'novel for television' as grand, sweeping and complicated as anything Tolstoy ever wrote, and that many have proclaimed as literally the greatest TV show in the medium's history. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Spaced | March 21, 2011
Today's DVD: The long-awaited American release of the classic '90s British television series and slacker comedy "Spaced," whose creative team (including Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright) would go on to helm such film hits as "Shaun of the Dead" and "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World." | 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

Naughty Netflix: The Wayward Cloud | March 15, 2011
Today in CCLaP's "Naughty Netflix" essay series on sexually explicit mainstream movies: It's 2005's dirty and surrealistic "The Wayward Cloud," one of the biggest hits in the history of the Taiwan film industry and that country's entry that year into the international Oscars. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Belle de Jour | March 14, 2011
Today's movie: The 1967 French New Wave classic "Belle de Jour," the film that first established Catherine Deneuve's longstanding reputation as a sexy European ingenue, all the more interesting when you realize it comes from '20s Spanish Surrealism master Luis Brunel. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Guild | March 10, 2011
Today's DVD: "The Guild," nerd queen Felicia Day's hilariously exact web series about the kinds of lovable losers who haunt the edges of massive online games like "World of Warcraft," running for four years now and seen by over 45 million people, and which was the inspiration for Joss Whedon's "Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog." | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: The African Queen | February 28, 2011
Today's movie: The classic 1951 Bogart/Hepburn actioner "The African Queen," newly restored and digitally released just last year, which unfortunately didn't turn out to be nearly as good as I thought it was going to be. Seriously, Bogart, no more hippo impersonations! | 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

Justify My Netflix: Tamara Drewe | February 23, 2011
Today's movie: "Tamara Drewe," the wonderful Stephen Frears adaptation of the Posy Simmonds graphic novel I've also reviewed and loved in the past, itself a modern adaptation of Thomas Hardy's "Far From the Madding Crowd," a ribald dramedy about the infighting amongst a group of London bohemian bourgeoise now all living in converted sheep farms in the rural suburbs. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Summer Wars | February 21, 2011
Today's movie: "Summer Wars," the latest by anime wunderkind Mamoru Hosoda, a huge hit of the film-festival circuit in the last year because of its inventive hybrid nature, which engagingly mixes together manga tropes, a family dramedy, Second Life, and the cutting-edge visuals of hipster fine-artists like Banksy and Takashi Murakami. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Catfish | February 17, 2011
Today's movie: The truly remarkable 2010 documentary "Catfish," about a young photographer in New York who becomes online friends with a child prodigy in Michigan, just to eventually discover that he's the victim of a ridiculously elaborate "JT Leroy" style scam; but it's when he and his filmmaking brother decide to surprise the culprit at her home that things get truly fascinating and heartbreaking. Highly recommended! | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Treasure Island (1950) | February 9, 2011
Today's movie: The 1950 Disney version of the classic "Treasure Island," the studio's first-ever live-action film which kicked off an entire decade of highly popular historical thrillers, part of my plan to watch every major adaptation of the story ever made. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Twelve | February 3, 2011
Today's movie: Joel Schumacher's latest, "Twelve," which like always with him is actually pretty great, as long as you're willing to acknowledge it as the deliberately over-the-top, Grand-Guignol-style morality play it is, in this case an Altmanesque look at a group of spoiled, rich, Manhattan teenage drug addicts, based on a notorious novel written by a real-life teenager actually in that community. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Town | February 1, 2011
Today's movie: Ben Affleck's second stint as a director, the 2010 Boston crime drama "The Town," which elevates itself above its usual B-flick genre tropes through a multilayered script, impeccable acting, and surprisingly great action scenes. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Cyrus | January 27, 2011
Today's movie: The Duplass Brothers' big-budget mumblecore film "Cyrus," billed as a black comedy but in actuality an emotionally violent, Michael-Haneke-style psychological torture drama, in which for two hours we watch already deeply disturbed people treat each other as horribly as they possibly can. Eeewww. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Howl | January 25, 2011
Today's movie: The inventive 2010 experimental documentary "Howl," which uses Hollywood actors spouting all real dialogue to tell the story of Allen Ginsberg's infamous 1955 Beat poetry classic, and the subsequent obscenity trial it inspired. | 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

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

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

Justify My Netflix: Repo Men | January 12, 2011
Today's movie: The unremarkable B-grade sci-fi thriller "Repo Men," with a premise literally ripped off from a Monty Python sketch, that transplant recipients in the future can have their organs repossessed by bloody killers if missing a surgery mortgage payment. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Anvil! The Story of Anvil | January 6, 2011
Today's movie: 2008's "Anvil! The Story of Anvil," billed as a "true-life 'Spinal Tap'" but not nearly as mean-spirited as that, ultimately a loving ode to a group of earnest but kind of dim-witted '80s metal rockers, as they attempt an ill-fated comeback in the '00s that includes lots of embarrassing low points but is ultimately a triumph. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World | January 5, 2011
Today's movie: Edgar Wright's latest, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," an endlessly inventive slacker-relationship comedy based on an "Western anime" style comic book with a fiercely passionate audience, and which would instantly become my favorite film of all time if I were eighteen again while watching it. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Mystery Team | January 4, 2011
Today's movie: The disappointing "Mystery Team," the feature-film debut of comedy group Derrick Comedy, which wants to be a raunchy grown-up comedy about former boy detectives who are now squeaky-clean adults, but which unfortunately follows the formula of the "crappy kids' movie" so faithfully that it ultimately becomes one itself. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Metalocalypse, Season 3 | December 22, 2010
Today's DVD: Season 3 of Adult Swim's sneakily brilliant "Metalocalypse," a death-metal parody and tribute rolled up into a laugh-out-loud hybrid, a true guilty pleasure that I literally feel bad about loving so much. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) | December 20, 2010
Today's movie: The surprisingly sumptuous 2002 adaptation of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," which actually films some of the play's notorious subtext in a delightfully naughty, visually arresting way. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Metropia | December 16, 2010
Today's movie: The pan-European cutting-edge animated feature "Metropia," using Photoshopped images of real people to create a bizarrely nightmarish look and feel, to tell the story of a post-oil EU and the massive transit company that may or may not be conducting mind-control experiments on its riders. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: I'm Still Here | December 14, 2010
Today's movie: "I'm Still Here," the supposed documentary of Joaquin Phoenix's infamous media hoax last year, but which instead is a surprisingly powerful indictment of the entire "entertainment industry" and its sociopathic attitude towards self-destructing celebrities, officially now my favorite film so far of 2010. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Raajneeti | December 7, 2010
Today's movie: The popular southeast Asian political thriller "Raajneeti," which is either a fascinating slice-of-life look at daily Indian culture or a badly melodramatic mix of "The Godfather" and a Victorian potboiler, depending on how much you know about India before watching it. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Splice | December 2, 2010
Today's movie: The surprisingly intelligent 2009 creature feature "Splice," produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by the creator of '90s cult classic "Cube," mostly the same kind of blood-and-boobs fest you see at the mall any Friday night, but here with always smart dialogue, humor, Freudian references and more. | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009) | November 18, 2010
Today's movie: The 2009 Swedish version of "The Girl Who Played with Fire," the disappointing sequel to Stieg Larsson's huge hit "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," still as visually gorgeous as the first film but this time with a much stupider story. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Persepolis | November 17, 2010
Today's movie: The Oscar-nominated coming-of-age tale of a feisty feminist punk-rocker during the Iranian Islamic Revolution, "Persepolis," revelatory if you're not familiar with the story already, but bound to be a little disappointing to existing fans of the more expansive graphic novel. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Moon | November 12, 2010
Today's movie: The fantastically smart homage to '70s sci-fi films, Duncan Jones' 2009 "Moon," whose complete rejection by Hollywood even as a low-risk B-pic marks a profound sign of just how out of touch film executives are anymore with the concept of realistically moderate hits. | Read entire entry

Naughty Netflix: The Brown Bunny | November 11, 2010
Today in CCLaP's "Naughty Netflix" essay series on mainstream movies featuring unsimulated sex: It's the flawed but also misunderstood 2003 "The Brown Bunny," Vincent Gallo's homage to the slow-paced character dramas of the '70s, otherwise known as "that film where Chloe Sevigny gives an on-screen blowj_b." | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Until the Light Takes Us | November 3, 2010
Today's movie: The excellent 2009 documentary "Until the Light Takes Us," charting the ins and outs of the 1980s Norwegian "black metal" music scene, which eventually caused the infamous burning of hundreds of historic wooden churches and even half a dozen murders. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Night Listener | October 28, 2010
Today's movie: The surprisingly great "The Night Listener," which when I caught on television didn't realize was an adaptation of a brilliantly creepy novel by the revered Amistead Maupin, about a "JT LeRoy"-style literary hoax that he fell for in real life in the early 1990s. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Dog Eat Dog (2008) | October 26, 2010
Today's movie: The fairly simplistic but stylistically shot Latino noir "Dog Eat Dog," one of the biggest successes in the history of the Colombia film industry despite it being not much more than a typical Hollywood B-flick. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Knightriders | October 22, 2010
Today's movie: The surprisingly fantastic 1981 George Romero film "Knightriders," in which a bunch of good-ol'-boy Vietnam vets become motorcycle-riding "knights" in a touring Renaissance fair, adopting a conservative code of moral absolutes that foretells the Reagan years just around the corner. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Killer Inside Me (2010) | October 19, 2010
Today's movie: Michael Winterbottom's brilliant latest, the remorselessly violent noir and Oscar-buzzy "The Killer Inside Me," based on the 1952 novel by Jim Thompson and featuring a career-defining performance from Casey Affleck. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Leaves of Grass | October 18, 2010
Today's movie: The phenomenally good "Leaves of Grass," inventively being released this month simultaneously in theatres and on DVD, a comedy and deep character study in which Edward Norton plays prodigiously intelligent twin brothers from rural Oklahoma, one of whom becomes an Ivy League philosophy professor and the other a pot kingpin. One of my favorite films of the year! | 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

Justify My Netflix: My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done | October 14, 2010
Today's movie: The latest by German New Wave pioneer Werner Herzog, the deeply weird and dark "My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done" (produced by the even weirder David Lynch), a look at the psychotic breakdown of a schizophrenic which completely makes up for last year's ridiculously silly "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans." | 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

Naughty Netflix: Quiet Days in Clichy | October 7, 2010
Today in CCLaP's "Naughty Netflix" essay series concerning sexually explicit mainstream movies: It's 1970's obscenity-law-challenging "Quiet Days in Clichy," less a faithful adaptation of the minor Henry Miller novel and more an excuse to film two hours of prancing naked French hippie girls. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Greenberg | October 6, 2010
Today's movie: Noah Baumbach's latest uncomfortable dramedy about insufferable hipster Gen-X douchebags confronting their weaknesses, the Ben Stiller showcase "Greenberg," which I personally loved but others might hate for the exact same reasons. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Hulk (2003) | October 4, 2010
Today's movie: The justifiably hated Ang Lee 2003 indie-art-house adaptation of the comic-book character the Hulk, a laughably bad film that Marvel completely remade just five years later. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: A Boy and His Dog | October 1, 2010
Today's movie: The supposed lost 1974 countercultural sci-fi cult classic "A Boy and His Dog" (written by Harlan Ellison from his own story), which instead turns out to be so badly underground as to be virtually unwatchable. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Let the Right One In | September 30, 2010
Today's movie: The crowd-pleasing but disappointingly simplistic 2008 Swedish little-girl-vampire movie "Let the Right One In," just about to be released in the US as a high-budget Hollywood remake. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) | September 29, 2010
Today's movie: The 2009 Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," which if you can stand subtitles is a nearly perfect adaptation of the insanely popular moody crime thriller. | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Marie Antoinette (2006) | September 23, 2010
Today's movie: Sofia Coppola's fascinating yet ultimately failed 2006 experiment "Marie Antoinette," which attempts to tie together the lives of the infamous French queen with contemporary media star Paris Hilton. | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Youth in Revolt | September 16, 2010
Today's movie: The hilarious, intelligent, surprisingly transgressive coming-of-age tale "Youth in Revolt," starring Michael Cera as both the put-upon nerdy teen hero and the suave, crime-committing French alter-ego he invents in his head. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Alice in Wonderland (2010) | September 10, 2010
Today's movie: Tim Burton's disappointing remake of "Alice in Wonderland," which much like his "Willy Wonka" manages almost by magic to be both overly manic and lifeless at the same exact time, essentially history's most expensive puppet show and with all the lack of emotional resonance that implies. | 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

Justify My Netflix: North By Northwest | September 7, 2010
Today's movie: The 1959 Alfred Hitchcock classic and surprisingly funny Cold War satire "North By Northwest," in which charming ad man Cary Grant is mistaken for a secret agent and chased all the way across the country by both foreign agents and the CIA. | 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

Justify My Netflix: A Prophet | September 2, 2010
Today's movie: 2009's phenomenal French film "A Prophet," not just a prison drama but a caper film and a deep character study, which either won or got nominated for an Oscar, BAFTA, Cesar, and the Grand Prix of last year's Cannes Film Festival. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Book of Eli | August 25, 2010
Today's movie: The surprisingly great post-apocalyptic gonzo thriller "The Book of Eli," done under a low profile by celebrated filmmakers The Hughes Brothers, using a smart script that explores a weighty philosophical issue to center what would otherwise be a zany Sam-Raimi-like 'Mad Max' actioner. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Kick-Ass | August 20, 2010
Today's movie: The much-loved 2010 "superheroes in the real world" comic-book adaptation "Kick-Ass," which I instead found to be a depressing, immature, offensive mess, that grown-ups should be ashamed of themselves for liking. Start your angry comments, Facebookers! | 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

Justify My Netflix: Badlands | August 18, 2010
Today's movie: 1973's supposed countercultural classic and violent crime drama "Badlands," an early hit not just for Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek but director Terrence Malick, which I myself disappointingly found only okay. | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Performance | August 12, 2010
Today's movie: The "lost" 1970 countercultural classic "Performance" (which doubles as Mick Jagger's acting debut), not so much the trippy sex romp of its reputation but more a remarkably solid psychological drama, regarding the complex relationship between a dark-hearted rock star and a straight-laced Cockney gangster. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Chloe | August 11, 2010
Today's movie: The late-night-cable T&A thriller "Chloe," described as a smart guilty pleasure from the otherwise art-house darling Atom Egoyan, but as far as I could tell possessed not one smart thing about it at all. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Precious | August 10, 2010
Today's movie: The Oscar-winning urban drama "Precious," based on the phenomenal 1996 novel by slam poet "Sapphire," an adaptation which of course can't exactly mirror the almost science-fictiony inner-voice literary complexities of the book, but does a fine job trying. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Riverworld (2010) | August 9, 2010
Today's movie: The Former Sci-Fi Channel's dismal 2010 adaptation of the intensely loved Philip Jose Farmer novel "Riverworld," which is even worse than the dismal 2003 Sci-Fi Channel adaptation that this version is supposed to make us forget. | 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

Naughty Netflix: A Hole in My Heart | August 3, 2010
Today in CCLaP's "Naughty Netflix" essay series concerning mainstream films with graphic content: It's Lukas Moodysson's 2004 look at the gonzo online hate-porn industry, "A Hole in My Heart," an ugly and pointless exercise in human cruelty that pretty much ruined this promising indie filmmaker's career. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Is "Inception" actually a film about filmmaking? | July 30, 2010
A recent viewing of the film, plus a pair of essays at CHUD.com and The Awl, has had me thinking today about an intriguing question: Is Christopher Nolan's mindbending new sci-fi movie "Inception" actually an "8 1/2" style autobiographical story about the art of filmmaking itself? Click through for lots of thoughts on the matter. | 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

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

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

Justify My Netflix: An Education | July 14, 2010
Today's movie: The thoroughly charming surprise hit of last year's Oscar season, "An Education," based on a true story by British journalist Lynn Barber (with adapted screenplay by Nick Hornby) about her blossom into womanhood in early-'60s London under the tutelage of an attractive but mysterious older man. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Patton | July 13, 2010
Today's movie: 1970's Oscar-winning World War Two epic "Patton," a superb biopic about the strategically brilliant but hotheaded military commander, and how it was his own inability to get along with others that self-sabotaged his career, based on an early hit screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola. | Read entire entry

Naughty Netflix: Romance | July 12, 2010
Today in CCLaP's "Naughty Netflix" series concerning mainstream films with unsimulated sex: It's 1999's notorious "Romance," the second film of this series by brilliant pro-kinky radical feminist Catherine Breillat, a fascinating portrait of a middle-aged trainwreck which features some of the most intense sex scenes to ever appear in mainstream cinema. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Mary and Max | July 8, 2010
Today's movie: 2009 claymation festival favorite "Mary and Max," with visuals that are impressive enough, I suppose, but sadly done in support of an overly cutesy-wootsy, silly-willy, extremely slow-moving script, a common problem among animators who care more about images than story. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Shutter Island | July 7, 2010
Today's movie: Martin Scorsese's latest, 2010's supernatural/psychological thriller "Shutter Island," nothing spectacular but a good solid genre exercise, a rare example of a film being literally elevated from a so-so "Memento"-style story by excessive visual flair. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Crazy Heart | July 2, 2010
Today's movie: 2009's dismal Oscar-bait fest "Crazy Heart," proving once again that Hollywood executives literally can't get enough of hideous white-trash losers and the hot thirty-something single moms who inexplicably fall in love with them. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Surrogates | June 29, 2010
Today's movie: 2009's "Surrogates," based on the 2006 graphic novel I've also reviewed in the past, which is the second sci-fi actioner I've seen this month to feature a surprisingly smart script and extra-subtle and hence extra-powerful special effects. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Avatar | June 28, 2010
Today's movie: James Cameron's "Avatar," which now upon my second viewing (I also saw it in the theatre) makes its plodding, insultingly simple storyline just that much more nakedly obvious, not to mention its Rudyard-Kipling-style accidental backwards "noble savage" racism. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. | Read entire entry

Naughty Netflix: Emmanuelle | June 24, 2010
Today in CCLaP's "Naughty Netflix" series on explicit mainstream films: It's the surprisingly complex 1974 countercultural classic "Emmanuelle," which not only spawned dozens of sequels but virtually kickstarted the entire "softcore" adult industry as we now know it. You're welcome, late-night cable! | 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

Justify My Netflix: Daybreakers | June 21, 2010
Today's movie: The 2010 speculative sleeper hit "Daybreakers," much smarter and more inventive than a low-budget vampire action flick has any right to be. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus | June 17, 2010
Today's movie: Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Imaginarium of Doctor Panassus" (also notoriously known as Heath Ledger's last film), which like many Gilliam projects features visuals so stunning as to be nearly unbelievable, but which like many Gilliam projects still ends up feeling flat and boring by the end. Sigh. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Lovely Bones | June 15, 2010
Today's movie: Peter "Lord of the Rings" Jackson's much-ballyhooed and much-hated adaptation of Alice Sebold's intensely loved novel "The Lovely Bones," which unfortunately skips almost all of the book's intense characterization to instead deliver an endless series of pretty but empty visual images. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Defendor | June 11, 2010
Today's movie: Last year's Toronto Film Festival hit "Defendor," a surprisingly tragic character drama about a mentally-challenged man off his meds who believes he's a superhero, not nearly the goofy comedy about actual superheroes that the trailer and poster make it seem. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Andromeda Strain (1971) | June 8, 2010
Today's movie: 1971's silly but enjoyable "The Andromeda Strain," one of the first big hits of genre author Michael Crichton, with gorgeous-looking sets but chock-full of cheesy '70s film gimmicks, and much more slowly-paced than you'd expect from a summer genre actioner. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Young Victoria | June 1, 2010
Today's movie: 2009's "The Young Victoria," a silly reductionist piece of chick-lit bonnet-porn about the start of the Victorian Age, much more eye-rolling than entertaining to fans of legitimate Victoriana. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Dark Crystal | May 26, 2010
Today's movie: 1982's infamous all-puppet fantasy-film cult hit "The Dark Crystal," the first-ever attempt by Muppets creator Jim Henson to appeal to a slightly older crowd. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Sherlock Holmes (2009) | May 24, 2010
Today's movie: Guy Ritchie's 2009 extreeeeme!!! version of the Victorian classic "Sherlock Holmes," the most steampunky steampunk actioner in the history of steampunky steampunk actioners. | 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

Naughty Netflix: Sex and Lucia | May 19, 2010
Today in the "Naughty Netflix" essay series: 2001's award-winning "Sex and Lucia," partly a complex "Memento" style metafictional look at the blurry line between reality and art, partly a VERY dirty European erotic thriller. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Phantom of the Opera (1925) | May 12, 2010
Today's review: The classic silent 1925 version of "The Phantom of the Opera," featuring Lon Chaney and his horrific homemade makeup. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Men Who Stare at Goats | May 6, 2010
Today's movie: 2009's surprisingly fantastic "The Men Who Stare at Goats," partly a goofy comedy about Reagan's attempts to build an army of psychic "super soldiers," partly a chilling drama about how this group morphed into the psychological torturers of the Bush years. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Box | April 30, 2010
Today's movie: Richard Kelly's under-appreciated and badly advertised 2009 science-fiction thriller "The Box," just as obtuse and thought-provoking as his previous "Donnie Darko" and "Southland Tales," but not nearly as head-scratching. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans | April 28, 2010
Today's movie: Legendary director Werner Herzog's latest headscratcher, the Nicolas Cage comeback vehicle "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans," which once again proves that Germans' idea of wacky comedy is profoundly different than ours. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Informant! | April 27, 2010
Today's movie: 2009's "The Informant!," billed as a goofy comedy about corporate whistleblowing but also a heartbreaking drama about mental illness, and what I now consider one of the top five films of Steven Soderbergh's entire career. | 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

Justify My Netflix: I'm Not There | April 19, 2010
Today's movie: The truly unwatchable experimental Bob Dylan biopic / meditation on persona "I'm Not There," by the usually fantastic Todd Haynes. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Limey | April 12, 2010
Today's movie: Steven Soderbergh's entertaining but artsy 1999 noir film "The Limey," one of many genre exercises from his '90s "lost years" when no one was paying attention to him. | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Bad Lieutenant | April 2, 2010
Today's movie review: Abel Ferrara's brilliantly dark 1992 "Bad Lieutenant," a character study of a dirty cop and the depths of his depravity, unforgettable in that you will literally never be able to forget some of the dozens of outrageously controversial scenes found within. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The King of Kong | April 1, 2010
Today's movie: The fascinating 2007 documentary "The King of Kong," which follows a group of middle-aged "Balloon Boy" fame-addict losers as they fight over the world's record of thirty-year-old videogame Donkey Kong. Riveting like a trainwreck. | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Best In Show | March 23, 2010
Today's movie: The 2000 comedy classic "Best In Show," a fake documentary about dog shows from the same team largely responsible for "This Is Spinal Tap." | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Gamers: Dorkness Rising | March 22, 2010
Today's movie: 2008's loving and funny ode to Dungeons & Dragons and the antisocial nerds who play it, "The Gamers: Dorkness Rising," one of the smartest and most touching fan-produced films I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Cannibal Holocaust | March 18, 2010
Today's movie: The 1980 seminal horror film "Cannibal Holocaust," recently restored and lavishly released on a two-disc DVD set, so brutally realistic that the director actually got arrested on murder charges, until he could prove that his cast was still happily alive. | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Julia (2008) | March 10, 2010
Today's movie: The brilliant contemporary noir "Julia" starring Tilda Swinton, essentially a two-hour character study of pure evil, hiding behind a falsely sentimental tale of an out-of-control alcoholic and the desperate kidnapping scheme she gets involved with. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Watcher in the Woods | March 4, 2010
Today's movie: The dark forgotten gem "The Watcher in the Woods," one of a trio of '80s films (with "The Black Hole" and "Tron") that marked Disney's first foray into the world of PG films. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Deception (2008) | March 2, 2010
Today's movie: The ridiculously bad erotic thriller "Deception," starring a thoroughly slumming Hugh Jackman, Ewan McGregor, Charlotte Rampling and Michelle Williams. Avoid like the plague. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Public Enemies | March 1, 2010
Today's movie: The 2009 Dillinger biopic "Public Enemies," directed by Michael Mann and starring Johnny Depp, with a surprisingly vicious and modern anti-cop message that is surely what made it originally bomb at the box office. | 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

Naughty Netflix: Rendez-vous | February 24, 2010
Today in "Naughty Netflix," CCLaP's look at 30 mainstream films containing graphic sexuality: The 1985 French character drama "Rendez-vous," one of the first starring roles of Juliette Binoche. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Parasite Dolls | February 19, 2010
Today's movie: The so-so 2002 anime project "Parasite Dolls," itself a spinoff of the legendary '80s futuristic series "Bubblegum Crisis," one of the first anime shows ever available to American audiences. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Jane Eyre (1934) | February 18, 2010
Today's movie: Monogram Pictures' 1934 adaptation of the Victorian classic "Jane Eyre" (the first talkie version ever made), the start of my look at seven different adaptations that have been made of this novel over the decades. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: A Simple Plan | February 17, 2010
Today's movie: The wonderfully convoluted yet always logical 1998 Oscar-nominated noirish caper film "A Simple Plan," so far the only non-FX film in the entire career of Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spider-Man). | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Murder on the Orient Express (1974) | February 15, 2010
Today's movie: 1974's Oscar-winning "Murder on the Orient Express," the first of a series of all-star Agatha Christie adaptations made in those years. | 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

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

Naughty Netflix: I Love You Too | February 9, 2010
Today in "Naughty Netflix," CCLaP's look at thirty mainstream films featuring unsimulated sex: the 2001 European erotic thriller "I Love You Too," which unfortunately is more like Cinemax at two in the morning than its producers and fans want to admit. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince | February 3, 2010
Today's movie: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," the sixth installment of The Most Lucrative Franchise In Human History. Eat it up, sheep! | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Brood | February 1, 2010
Today's movie: The 1979 fantastically disgusting horror film and sneakily misogynist divorce comment "The Brood," the first non-underground hit of David Cronenberg's career. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Che | January 26, 2010
Today's movie: "Che," Stephen Soderbergh's lush biopic of the Latin American revolutionary, ignored by US audiences and utterly snubbed by the Oscars for daring to portray a traditional enemy of America as a godlike hero. Warning: Not for teabaggers! | 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

Justify My Netflix: Big Fan | January 19, 2010
Today's movie: 2009's "Big Fan," an ultra-dark comedy about obsessed sports fans from the former editor-in-chief of "The Onion" (and screenwriter of "The Wrestler"), starring Patton Oswalt in a revelatory, pathos-infused performance. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Xanadu | January 15, 2010
Today's movie: The 1976 rollerdisco musical "Xanadu." Shut up. | Read entire entry

Naughty Netflix: A Real Young Girl | January 14, 2010
Today in "Naughty Netflix," a look at 30 mainstream films containing graphic sexuality: 1976's bizarre and transgressive coming-of-age tale "A Real Young Girl," the debut of the now famous but still controversial writer/director Catherine Breillat. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: (500) Days of Summer | January 13, 2010
Today's movie: "(500) Days of Summer," perhaps the greatest (and definitely the quirkiest) romantic comedy in history. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Cthulhu (2007) | January 12, 2010
Today's movie: The 2007 indie DV feature "Cthulhu," which inventively combines the mythology of HP Lovecraft with a metaphorical story about homophobia in small-town America. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Up | January 11, 2010
Today's movie: Pixar's latest, "Up," the most emotionally satisfying film in that company's history but also one of its darkest. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Battlestar Galactica: The Plan | January 5, 2010
Today's DVD: The fluffy, pointless after-series TV movie "Battlestar Galactica: The Plan," which feels from start to finish like an excuse for everyone involved to get one more paycheck before the sets were torn down. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Son of Rambow | January 4, 2010
Today's movie review: 2007's "Son of Rambow," which begs the question, "Doesn't the world have enough feel-good dramadies concerning delightfully quirky events within otherwise depressing British small industrial towns in the 1980s?" | 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

Justify My Netflix: Tyson (2009) | December 29, 2009
Today's movie: "Tyson," James Toback's riveting 2009 documentary about the surprisingly complex and haunted controversial boxer. | Read entire entry

Naughty Netflix: Exterminating Angels | December 28, 2009
Today in "Naughty Netflix," my look at 30 mainstream films containing unsimulated sex: The surprisingly great 2006 metafilm "Exterminating Angels," as much a wry comment on the making of European erotic thrillers as it is an actual European erotic thriller. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Madness of King George | December 10, 2009
Today's movie: The 1994 lush historical costume drama "The Madness of King George," pretty good for what it is but only if you're an existing fan already of lush historical costume dramas. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Kundun | December 7, 2009
Today's movie: Martin Scorsese's 1997 biopic of the Dalai Lama, "Kundun," a lush but by-the-numbers production that's not too terrible but not too memorable either. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Prisoner (2009) | December 3, 2009
Today's movie: AMC's brand-new six-part modern "rethinking" of the classic '60s British trippy sci-fi TV show, which got dumped on by a lot of critics but I thought was a wonderfully trippy mess worth any fangirl's time. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Star Trek (2009) | November 30, 2009
Today's movie: JJ Abrams' explosive 2009 "Star Trek" reboot, hitting nearly every note right and getting nearly every detail perfect to create one of the most exciting sci-fi thrillers in decades. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Last Tango in Paris | November 24, 2009
Today's movie: The infamous supposed countercultural erotic classic "Last Tango in Paris," which turns out on modern viewing to actually be a badly dated relic of the sexist machismo intellectual Norman Mailer Roman Polanski days, and ironically not erotic at all. | 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

Naughty Netflix: Fiona | November 17, 2009
Today in "Naughty Netflix," CCLaP's essay series about mainstream films which feature unsimulated sex: 1998's experimental "Fiona," a fictional tale about crack-addicted prostitutes actually shot in real NYC crackhouses with actual addict prostitutes. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Monty Python: Almost the Truth | November 13, 2009
Today's DVD: The new six-part "Monty Python: Almost the Truth," the most comprehensive documentary ever made about the greatest comedy troupe in history. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Perestroika | November 11, 2009
Today's movie: Cult director Slava Tsukerman's fantastic "Perestroika," a complex character drama weaving together a Russian-American intellectual's mid-life crisis with his long-awaited homecoming with his beloved Moscow, during the kinder, gentler days of Gorbachev's post-Soviet 1990s. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Queen | November 6, 2009
Today's movie: Stephen Frears' "The Queen," a talky yet fascinating "All the President's Men" style look at what happened behind the scenes among the British royal family after the unexpected 1997 death of Princess Diana. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Girlfriend Experience | November 3, 2009
Today's movie: "The Girlfriend Experience," Steven Soderbergh's experimental look at the 2008 financial meltdown and the coke-snorting frat boys who caused it, which will probably be brilliant in another decade but watched this week simply got me f-cking p-ssed off at these people all over again. | 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

Naughty Netflix: Porn Theatre | October 27, 2009
Today in "Naughty Netflix," CCLaP's look at 30 mainstream films featuring unsimulated sex: 2002 Cannes notable "Porn Theatre," a plotless yet highly realistic look at a sketchy Paris adult theatre and the gay "cruising" that takes place within it. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Hearts of Darkness | October 26, 2009
Today's movie: The 1991 documentary "Hearts of Darkness," using behind-the-scenes footage by Francis Ford Coppola's wife to show exactly what kind of freaking nightmare the production of his movie "Apocalypse Now" actually was. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Personal Best | October 23, 2009
Today's movie: 1982's track-and-field homage "Personal Best," known anymore for its leering lesbianism and gratuitous nudity, but in actuality a complex character drama well worth your time. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Twin Peaks | October 20, 2009
Today's DVD: David Lynch's gloriously weird "Twin Peaks," the "surrealist soap opera" from 1989 that still remains the second greatest television show of all time. | 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

Naughty Netflix: Spetters | October 16, 2009
Today in "Naughty Netflix," CCLaP's look at 30 films featuring unsimulated sex: The surprisingly great '80s coming-of-age tale "Spetters," one of the first big hits by controversial Dutch director Paul Verhoeven. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Brothers Bloom | October 12, 2009
Today's movie: Rian Johnson's disappointing comedic heist film "The Brothers Bloom," smart and funny to be sure but with an artsy weirdness that feels much too forced most of the time. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Gods and Monsters | October 8, 2009
Today's movie: 1998 Oscar winner and sleeper hit "Gods and Monsters," using the basics of the real life of '30s horror director James Whale ("Frankenstein") to take a sophisticated look at openly gay life in pre-Stonewall America. | 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

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

Naughty Netflix: 9 Songs | October 5, 2009
Today's movie: "9 Songs," Michael Winterbottom's brilliant, nearly wordless look at the rise and fall of a sexually adventurous indie-rock couple. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: In praise of Ken Burns' "National Parks." | October 2, 2009
Today, a special personal essay, in praise of documentarian Ken Burns' latest mini-series on the national park system, just finishing up its six-part run on PBS tonight. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The IT Crowd, Season 3 | September 30, 2009
Today's DVD: The truly spectacular third season of the truly hilarious absurdist British sitcom "The IT Crowd," just now out on American DVD. | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: The Brothers Grimm | September 23, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: Terry Gilliam's 2005 "The Brothers Grimm," delightfully similar in tone to such earlier films as "Time Bandits," and better than its reputation makes it seem. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes | September 21, 2009
Today's review: The fantastic '70s British television anthology "The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes," dramatizing the adventures of thirteen other Victorian detectives being published at the same time as Arthur Conan Doyle's creation. | 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

Naughty Netflix: I Am Curious | September 16, 2009
Today in "Naughty Netflix," my look at 30 mainstream films containing explicit sex scenes: 1967's "I Am Curious," one of the movies to help change US obscenity laws and bring about our modern ratings system, more important anymore as a historical record of Sweden's countercultural movement. | Read entire entry

Naughty Netflix: An introduction | September 16, 2009
Today I announce a new essay series here at CCLaP: "Naughty Netflix," a look at thirty mainstream movies that nonetheless contain scenes of graphic, explicit sexuality. Click through for the details, as well as the main list of all movies being reviewed. | 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

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

Justify My Netflix: Art School Confidential | September 11, 2009
Today's movie: The schizophrenic comedy/thriller/love-story disaster "Art School Confidential," based on a comic by Daniel Clowes and a true waste of his talents. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Finding Neverland | September 8, 2009
Today's movie: The treacly yet awfully good 2004 Oscar-bait picture "Finding Neverland," telling the VERY loosely-based story of how JM Barrie came up with the ideas for his play "Peter Pan." | 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

Justify My Netflix: Watchmen | August 27, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: "Watchmen," the high-profile 2009 adaptation of the 1986 Alan Moore comic-book classic, which proves once and for all that one can hit almost all the right notes, yet somehow get the entire f-cking song wrong anyway. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters | August 25, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: 1985's "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters," an experimental tone-poem by famed American director Paul Schrader, looking at random moments from the life of the controversial post-war Japanese author, finally out on a mainstream DVD thanks to cult-film distributor Criterion. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Father Ted, Season 1 | August 21, 2009
Today's DVD mini-review: "Father Ted," the absurdist '90s black comedy about Irish priests in the rural countryside, from the same team that would give us "The IT Crowd" a decade later. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Renaissance | July 29, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The silly yet visually flabbergasting 2006 European animation experiment "Renaissance." | 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

Justify My Netflix: Mongol | July 27, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: 2007's "Mongol," which proves that even southeast Asian film-production startups can now churn out slick, gory, Hollywood-style quasi-historical silliness, in this case a heroic look at the usually villainous Genghis Khan. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Exorcist II: The Heretic | July 21, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The delightful 1977 trainwreck "Exorcist II: The Heretic," by master of the delightful trainwreck John Boorman ('Deliverance,' 'Excalibur,' 'Zardoz,' and a lot more), considered by many (but not me) to be the worst sequel in film history. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: RKO 281 | July 20, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: "RKO 281," an HBO original movie of pretty good quality, which takes a fascinating look at all the complications involved with Orson Welles making his classic film "Citizen Kane." | 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

Justify My Netflix: Choke | July 15, 2009
Today's movie: The excruciatingly awful 2008 zany scatological adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's dark classic "Choke," kind of like trying to make an edgy point about rape by having the woman fart in the middle of it. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Wrestler | July 13, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The okay but awfully manipulative "The Wrestler," the latest by experimental filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, which like his "Requiem for a Dream" tricks you into crying through the sheer spectacle of despair on display. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Fitzcarraldo | July 9, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: 1982's "Fitzcarraldo," one of the last collaborations between German New Wave film director Werner Herzog and completely insane actor Klaus Kinski, stunning in its sheer audacity and of course plagued with problems. Fantastic! | 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

Justify My Netflix: Revolutionary Road | July 2, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The surprisingly mindblowing 2008 Sam Mendes adaptation of Richard Yates' 1961 postmodernism harbinger "Revolutionary Road," the first since "Titanic" to co-star the power actors Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Duchess of Duke Street | June 25, 2009
Today's mini-review: The 1976 BBC television series "The Duchess of Duke Street," an Edwardian period drama based on the true story of the Cockney maid who eventually became the owner of one of the most posh hotels in London. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Dune (1984) | June 25, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The notorious 1984 science-fiction trainwreck "Dune," by celebrated Surrealist filmmaker David Lynch, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Hellboy II | May 21, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The instant stoner midnight classic "Hellboy II," by genre master Guillermo del Toro and based on his much-loved original. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Hitler's Lost Plan | May 13, 2009
Today's mini-review: "Hitler's Lost Plan," a 2004 documentary from the History Channel concerning an unpublished sequel to his "Mein Kampf," discovered in the '90s in East Germany's now-open historical archives. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Television Under the Swastika | May 13, 2009
Today's mini-review: The 1999 documentary "Television Under the Swastika," covering the history of the early TV format under the Nazi regime. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Android | May 12, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The no-budget 1982 Klaus-Kinski-slumming science-fiction thriller "Android." | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Ninth Configuration | May 11, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: William Peter Blatty's 1980 "forgotten cult classic" (read: unwatchable trainwreck) "The Ninth Configuration." | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Demonlover | May 8, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The sex-and-violence-laced look at the global hipster-douchebag entertainment-startup industry, 2002's "Demonlover," part of the so-called "French New Extremity" wave of '00s cinema. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Perfect Blue | May 8, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The 1997 darkly odd anime classic "Perfect Blue," by festival favorite Satoshi Kon ("Paprika"). | 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

Justify My Netflix: Caprica | May 5, 2009
Today's mini-review: "Caprica," the new family-saga prequel to Ronald Moore's massively popular remake of "Battlestar Galactica," which in an ingenious move has been released on DVD months before it's to air on television. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Kolchak: The Night Stalker | May 4, 2009
Today's mini-review: The once-daring 1970s innovative horror series "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," yet another old TV show now available at Netflix for digitized "instant viewing." | 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

Justify My Netflix: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) | May 1, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The 1938 surrealistically Technicolor classic, Errol Flynn's "The Adventures of Robin Hood," plus a mini-essay on the changing nature of arts consumption in the wake of Netflix's growing amount of digitized "instant movies." | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Somewhere in Time | April 30, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The 1980 sleeper hit that's become eventually known by many as the greatest romantic movie ever made, the Christopher Reeve vehicle "Somewhere in Time." | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Coupling, season 1 | April 30, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: Season 1 of the racy British 2000s sex sitcom, "Coupling," a.k.a. "The BBC's answer to 'Friends.'" | 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

Justify My Netflix: Doctor Who: The Ribos Operation | April 27, 2009
Today's movie: "The Ribos Operation," a collection of the first four episodes of the old British science-fiction show "Doctor Who"s 16th season, back during the "Tom Baker years" of the 1970s. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Heavenly Creatures | April 21, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The astoundingly creepy 1994 historical drama "Heavenly Creatures," from "Lord of the Rings" impresario Peter Jackson, about two fantasy-embracing teen girls in 1950s New Zealand who kill one of their parents with a brick. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Out of Africa | April 21, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The 1985 sweeping historical drama "Out of Africa," winner of that year's Best Picture Oscar. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Aguirre, the Wrath of God | April 20, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The 1972 German New Wave classic "Aguirre, the Wrath of God," one of the notorious collaborations back then between feuding artists Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: The Shadow (1994) | April 20, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The forgotten genre classic "The Shadow," from 1994. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter | April 15, 2009
Today's movie mini-reivew: The experimental supplemental 2009 DVD "Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter," which offered background info about the main movie to audience members even while the original was still in theatres. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Slumdog Millionaire | April 14, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The controversial "Indian Dickensian" story "Slumdog Millionaire," winner of this year's Best Picture Oscar. | 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

Justify My Netflix: Batman Begins | April 10, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: Christopher Nolan's 2005 "Batman Begins," aka "The Greatest Superhero Movie Ever Made, Amen." | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Ballykissangel, season 1 | April 10, 2009
Today's mini-review: Season 1 of the gentle 1990s BBC television series about small-town life in Northern Ireland, "Ballykissangel." | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Rachel Getting Married | April 9, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: Jonathan Demme's Oscar-nominated "Rachel Getting Married," featuring notorious good-girl Anne Hathaway as a chain-smoking, substance-abusing emotional trainwreck. All right! | 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

Justify My Netflix: Big Trouble in Little China | April 7, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The 1986 bizarro actioner and cult favorite "Big Trouble in Little China." | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Paprika | April 6, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The surreal 2006 contemporary anime classic "Paprika," by long-time respected underground filmmaker Satoshi Kon ("Perfect Blue," "Millennium Actress"). | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Lost Treasures of Tibet | April 3, 2009
Today's movie mini-review: The fascinating 2003 NOVA episode "Lost Treasures of Tibet," about the clash between working monasteries in the Himalayans and the Western conservators who wish to preserve the crumbling murals there. | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Berlin Alexanderplatz, disc 1 | April 3, 2009
Today's short movie review: Disc one of the astounding 14-part meditation on the German Weimar years (and rising Nazi power), Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1980 television mini-series "Berlin Alexanderplatz." | 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

Justify My Netflix: An introduction | April 1, 2009
Today, an introduction to CCLaP's newest series of mini-reviews, "Justify My Netflix." | Read entire entry

Justify My Netflix: Ghost In The Shell | April 1, 2009
Today's mini-review: The 1995 anime classic "Ghost In The Shell." | 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Coyote County Loser | February 6, 2009
Today's movie: The no-budget indie romantic comedy "Coyote County Loser," a surprisingly great-looking film featuring a surprisingly terrible script. | 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

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

Obsession of the moment: Orange Alert Holiday Guide 2008 | December 12, 2008
Today's obsession: The fantastic little downloadable holiday guide from cultural website "What To Wear During an Orange Alert," even cooler because of it being made in a way that almost anyone could, but that only OA thought of and actually executed. | Read entire entry

Photo of the day: "Untitled," by Fabrizio Mingarelli | December 12, 2008
Today's photo: "Untitled," by Italian photographer Fabrizio Mingarelli. | 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

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

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

"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

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

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

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

Movies for Grown-Ups: "Sex Machine" | September 11, 2008
Today's movie: The darkly humorous, no-budget extreme-horror film and cult hit "Sex Machine," from deep Midwesterner Christopher Sharpe. | 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

Your micro-review roundup: 27 August 2008 | August 27, 2008
Today, extra-small reviews of four DVDs I recently watched: "The Animatrix," Sci-Fi Channel's "Riverworld," "Eragon," and "What The Bleep Do We Know?" | 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

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

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

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

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

Mini-review: Youth Without Youth (movie) | June 27, 2008
Today's review: 2007's trippy and dense "Youth Without Youth," the supposed "street-cred comeback vehicle" for Francis Ford Coppola, after two decades now of disappointments from him. Too bad it's not very good. | 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

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

Mini-review: Meth (2006 film) | June 20, 2008
Today's review: The low-budget, hi-def 2006 documentary "Meth," concerning crystal meth and its effect on America's various gay male "cruising" scenes, not just a great film but also a good example of how technology is changing the self-produced arts. | 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

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

Movies for Grown-Ups: No Country For Old Men | May 22, 2008
Today's movie: The Coen Brothers' "No Country For Old Men," 2007 Oscar winner for Best Picture, and easily the best film of their careers. Click through for my reasons why. | Read entire entry

Your micro-review roundup: 18 May 2008 | May 18, 2008
A weekend roundup of small reviews I've recently collected up, including this week the movies "Superbad," "Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms," and "The Saddest Music in the World." | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Michael Clayton | May 15, 2008
Today's movie: The surprisingly complex and ambiguous 2007 ethics drama "Michael Clayton," which received seven Oscar nominations (including one for Best Picture), as well as winning one. | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead | May 14, 2008
Today's movie: The surprisingly great 2007 noir "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," by the 83-year-old Hollywood legend Sidney Lumet. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: Lars and the Real Girl | May 13, 2008
Today's review: The quirky indie 2007 dramedy "Lars and the Real Girl," from "Six Feet Under" writer/producer Nancy Oliver. | 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

Photo of the day: "carly," by Drew Valenti | May 6, 2008
Today's photo: "carly," by North Carolinian Drew Valenti. | 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

CCLaP consolidates some of its master lists | May 4, 2008
Just a small programming note here on a quiet weekend; I wanted to let people know that I've gotten rid of the main backlist of mini-reviews, and have enfolded them instead into the main lists for longer book and movie reviews. Click through for all the details. | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Margot at the Wedding | April 24, 2008
Today's movie: Noah Baumbach's 2007 "Margo at the Wedding," the latest in a series of brilliant dark character dramas from this writer/director (including "Mr. Jealousy" and "The Squid and the Whale"). | 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

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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Downfall / Der Untergang | April 14, 2008
Today's movie: The haunting, brilliant, absolutely riveting "Downfall," the 2004 German film regarding the last week of World War II from the viewpoint of the Nazis, as seen from Hitler's bunker in Berlin. | 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: "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" | April 10, 2008
Today's review: The awkwardly-titled, fascinating but frustrating 2007 Oscar nominee "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," by obscure Australian filmmaker Andrew Dominik. | 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

Personal essay: Regarding the glorious trainwreck which is "Southland Tales." | April 7, 2008
Today, a sorta half-review and half-essay of sorts, examining in detail why Richard Kelly's latest film "Southland Tales" is such a creative trainwreck, and why I loved it anyway. Ahoy, pretention ahead! | 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

Your movie micro-review roundup: 29 March 2008 | March 29, 2008
Today, the start of a new occasional weekend series, posting a collection of mere one-paragraph reviews of movies not worth saying that much more about. In today's collection: "Braveheart," "Chocolat," "Kill Bill," "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," "The Darjeeling Limited," and "Superman Returns." | 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

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

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

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

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

Mini-review: Great Expectations (1999) | February 28, 2008
Today's review: The 1999 television adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1861 "Great Expectations," made in this case for the BBC in the UK and "Masterpiece Theatre" in the US. | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: Sunshine | February 26, 2008
Today's movie: The visually thrilling 2007 science-fiction actioner "Sunshine," by visually thrilling veteran director Danny Boyle (Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, and a whole lot more). | 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

Mini-review: Zodiac | February 19, 2008
Today's review: David Fincher's latest, the surprisingly good 2007 historical drama/true-crime thriller "Zodiac." | Read entire entry

Mini-review: Apocalypto | February 18, 2008
Today's review: The surprisingly great 2006 Mel Gibson Mayan Empire epic "Apocalypto." | 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

Mini-review: Horatio Hornblower: Loyalty | February 12, 2008
Today's review: The 2003 television film "Horatio Hornblower: Loyalty," based on the highly popular series of Napoleonic naval adventure novels by CS Forester. | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: THX 1138 | February 11, 2008
Today's movie: The surprisingly crappy 1971 dystopian sci-fi thriller "THX 1138," the first film of George Lucas' career, which makes clear why he delved afterwards so fast into the world of "Star Wars" style space opera. | 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

Ten Movies About...Charming A--holes | February 6, 2008
Today, a rare new edition of the "Ten Movies About..." series; in this case, ten great movies all featuring charming a--holes. Click through for the choices as well as the reasons I picked them. | 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

Mini-review: The Simpsons Movie | February 4, 2008
Today's review: 2007's "The Simpsons Movie," which is exactly and precisely what you expect it to be. | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: Eastern Promises | February 1, 2008
Today's movie: David Cronenberg's latest, 2007's Russian expat crime thriller "Eastern Promises," proving again just how on top of his game this talented director is these days. | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: The Man Who Fell to Earth | January 31, 2008
Today's movie: The so-so trippy 1976 science-fiction film "The Man Who Fell to Earth," which in its rush to employ as many '70s cinematic effects as possible forgets along the way to tell a decent story. | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: Helvetica | January 30, 2008
Today's movie: The sharp, smart, fascinating 2007 documentary "Helvetica," a two-hour movie about a typeface that has become the biggest money-maker in the history of Chicago's Gene Siskel Film Center. Click through to find out why. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: Hot Fuzz | January 30, 2008
Today's review: The 2007 buddy-cop-action-thriller parody "Hot Fuzz," by the British comedy team that made "Shaun of the Dead," much better than its insipid American marketing campaign would have you believe. | 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

Mini-review: Clockers | January 24, 2008
Today: The surprisingly disappointing 1995 Spike Lee crime thriller "Clockers," based on the vastly superior novel by Richard Price. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: Ratatouille | January 23, 2008
Today: The absolutely perfect family film "Ratatouille," the latest by Brad Bird and the newly Disneyfied Pixar Animation. | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: The Maltese Falcon | January 22, 2008
Today's movie: The seminal detective movie and film noir, 1941's "The Maltese Falcon," which not only established the career of John Huston but also made Humphrey Bogart a star for the first time. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: Casablanca | January 22, 2008
Today's review: The surprisingly disappointing 1942 so-called classic "Casablanca," which somehow manages to mix jaded film noir with rah-rah wartime patriotism, not to great effect. | 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

Mini-review: Day Watch | January 21, 2008
Today's review: The 2006 Russian big-budget science-fiction actioner "Day Watch," a sequel to the 2004 Russian big-budget science-fiction actioner "Night Watch." | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: Zardoz | January 18, 2008
Today's movie: 1974's science-fiction "masterpiece" (read: cult favorite) "Zardoz," a perfect example of everything both great and awful about '70s cinema. | 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

Mini-review: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow | January 10, 2008
Today's review: The 2004 "retro future" cutting-edge computer-animation experiment "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," which deserves a better reputation than it currently has. | Read entire entry

Personal essay: Like a planet full of people getting back from the drugstore. | January 9, 2008
Today: A recent evening looking through my Flickr feeds via the application 1001 reminded me of something: of how much doing such a thing is like flipping through photos in my youth that were just back from the drugstore, and what this says about globalism and international art. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: Match Point | January 9, 2008
Today's review: The surprisingly thrilling 2005 Woody Allen British crime noir, "Match Point." | 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

Mini-review: Brokeback Mountain | January 8, 2008
Today's review: The 2005 f--king gay cowboy movie, "Brokeback Mountain." | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: "2001: A Space Odyssey" | January 7, 2008
Today's movie: The 1968 masterpiece "2001: A Space Odyssey," considered by many to be the greatest science-fiction film ever made. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: King Kong (2005) | January 7, 2008
Today's review: The mostly disappointing 2005 Peter Jackson remake of "King Kong." | 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

Mini-review: "Little Children" | January 3, 2008
Today's review: The 2006 Oscar-nominated movie adaptation of Tom Perrotta's "Little Children," which believe it or not may actually be better than the book version (which I loved too). | 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

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

Mini-review: "Cube 2: Hypercube" | December 20, 2007
Today's review: The maddeningly disappointing 2003 movie "Hypercube," a sequel to the far superior low-budget science-fiction classic "Cube." | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: Time Bandits | December 19, 2007
Today's movie: The wickedly funny "Time Bandits" from 1981, the first solo film by former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam, as well as an examination of Gilliam's career as a filmmaker since. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Reservation Road," by John Burnham Schwartz | December 19, 2007
Today's review: The 1999 revenge tale "Reservation Road" by John Burnham Schwartz, which was recently made into a high-profile Hollywood movie. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: Lonesome Dove | December 18, 2007
Today's review: The eight-hour revisionist Western freaking saga "Lonesome Dove," based on the Pulitzer-winning novel by Larry McMurtry. | 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

Mini-review: "X2: X-Men United" | December 17, 2007
Today's review: The truly awful superhero film "X2: X-Men United." | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "LOL" | December 11, 2007
Today's review: The masterful 2006 look at technology and relationships, "LOL," a so-called "mumblecore" film by Chicagoan Joe Swanberg. | 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

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

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

Mini-review: "The Bourne Identity" and "The Bourne Supremacy" | November 30, 2007
Today's films: The infinitely smart 2002 action thriller "The Bourne Identity," and the infinitely disappointing 2004 action thriller sequel "The Bourne Supremacy." | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: Donnie Darko | November 29, 2007
Today's movie: The head-scratchingly brilliant (or is that brilliantly head-scratching) 2001 cult classic "Donnie Darko," by "Southland Tales" writer and director Richard Kelly. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Hollywoodland" | November 21, 2007
Today's review: The Los Angeles film noir "Hollywoodland," which takes a look at the real-life bizarre death of actor George Reeves. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Alphaville" | November 20, 2007
Today's review: The artfully messy, messily artful 1965 science-fiction experiment "Alphaville," by French New Wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard. | Read entire entry

Mini-review: "Ocean's Twelve" | November 19, 2007
Today's review: The only so-so "Ocean's Twelve," directed by Steven Soderbergh and based on his much better "Ocean's Eleven." | 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

Mini-review: "Oldboy" | November 16, 2007
Today's review: The highly experimental, ultra-violent South Korean 2003 action film "Oldboy." | 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

Mini-review: "Clerks" and "Clerks II" | November 15, 2007
Today's review: The classic slacker two-film series "Clerks" and "Clerks II," both written and directed by Kevin Smith a decade apart. | 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

Mini-review: "V for Vendetta" | November 9, 2007
Today's mini-review: The truly awful 2005 movie "V for Vendetta," by the "Matrix" trilogy's Wachowski Brothers and based on the '80s comic from Alan Moore. | 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

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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Brick | October 18, 2007
Today's film: The brilliant teenage noir experiment that could've been an absolute disaster, Rian Johnson's 2005 masterpiece "Brick." | 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

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

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

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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Kissing On the Mouth | September 28, 2007
Today, part 2 of CCLaP's mini-feature on Chicago filmmaker Joe Swanberg; specifically, a review of his 2005 sexually-explicit human-interest drama, "Kissing On the Mouth." | 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

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

Movies for Grown-Ups: The Short Films of David Lynch | September 7, 2007
Today's movie: The compilation DVD "The Short Films of David Lynch," collecting up six of the celebrated Surrealist filmmaker's experiments over a 30-year period. | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Rope | August 23, 2007
Today: The classic yet experimental 1948 Alfred Hitchcock gay-subtext murder mystery "Rope." | Read entire entry

Ten Movies About...Creepy-Ass Robots | August 21, 2007
Today: Ten great movies that all feature a creepy-ass robot. | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: Equilibrium | August 20, 2007
Today's movie: The truly awful 2002 science-fiction action thriller "Equilibrium." | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Night Watch | August 15, 2007
Today's movie: The 2004 big-budget Russian science-fiction epic "Night Watch." | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Pan's Labyrinth | August 3, 2007
Today's movie: The breathtakingly expectation-defying adult fairytale and multiple Oscar winner "Pan's Labyrinth," by horror master Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Blade II). | 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

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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Primer | August 1, 2007
Today's movie: The astonishing 2004 no-budget trippy science-fiction epic "Primer." | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: The Squid and the Whale | July 27, 2007
Today's movie: The amazingly good and astoundingly uncomfortable 2005 divorce dramedy "The Squid and the Whale," by master screenwriter Noah Baumbach (Kicking and Screaming, Mr. Jealousy, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: The Passion of Ayn Rand | July 25, 2007
Today's movie: the cable-television biopic "The Passion of Ayn Rand," detailing the sexual affair between the founder of Objectivism and one of her students, back in the 1950s at the height of her career. | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Sideways | July 20, 2007
Today's movie: The 2004 overhyped character study "Sideways," which is actually much better than original hype and backlash would have you believe. | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Storytelling | July 13, 2007
Today's movie: The classically uncomfortable 2001 black comedy "Storytelling," by master of the uncomfortable Todd Solondz. | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Mimic | July 11, 2007
Today's movie: The 1997 low-budget horror film "Mimic," which happens to also be the American debut of Guillermo del Toro ("Hellboy," "Pan's Labyrinth"). | 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

Personal essay: The good, the bad, and the ugly of self-publishing. | July 6, 2007
Today, another in my occasional series of personal essays, looking at a subject in the underground arts that may interest you as well. In this case: how to enjoy self-published material without driving yourself crazy in the process. | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Altered States | July 4, 2007
Today, a special essay: not just a traditional review of trippy 1980 sci-fi thriller "Altered States," but also a look at how my understanding of the film has changed over the decades, as my own education about the world has expanded as well. | 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

Ten Movies About...How Great Drugs Are | June 29, 2007
Today: Ten great films featuring scenes that glorify drug use. | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Dead Ringers | June 28, 2007
Today's movie: The 1988 David Cronenberg dense psychological thriller "Dead Ringers." | 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

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

Movies for Grown-Ups: To Live and Die in LA | June 20, 2007
Today's movie: The overlooked William Friedkin 1985 neo-noir "To Live and Die in LA," also one of the first starring roles for both William Petersen (CSI) and Willem Dafoe. | Read entire entry

Ten Movies About...Sexy Nerds | June 19, 2007
Today, part 1 of a new series, presenting hopefully funny hyper-specialized lists of themed films, and why I in particular think they're so great. This entry: Ten great movies featuring sexy nerds. | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: 24 Hour Party People | June 15, 2007
Today's movie: "24 Hour Party People," the partly true, partly fictionalized tale of Factory Records, the Manchester label behind not only the '80s post-punk scene there (Joy Division, New Order, etc) but also the '90s rave one (Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, etc). | 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

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

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

Movies for Grown-Ups: A Scanner Darkly | June 8, 2007
In today's installment of Movies for Grown-Ups: "A Scanner Darkly," the black 2006 sci-fi thriller by Richard Linklater, based on the even blacker novel by Philip K. Dick. | 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

Movies for Grown-Ups: Metropolis (1927) | June 1, 2007
Today, the latest in CCLaP's series of film reviews, this time covering the 1927 dystopian science-fiction epic "Metropolis." Written by CCLaP executive director Jason Pettus. | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: Requiem for a Dream | May 24, 2007
Today's movie review -- the 2000 dark anti-drug tale "Requiem for a Dream," by Darren Aronofsky (Pi, The Fountain). | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: The Prestige | May 16, 2007
Today's movie: The atmospheric Victorian-Age thriller "The Prestige," by Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins). | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: The Third Man | May 12, 2007
Today's movie: The post-WWII black comedy about the black market, "The Third Man," which recently received a brand-new DVD restoration treatment. | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: The Departed | May 2, 2007
Today's movie: The surprisingly disappointing Martin Scorsese crime noir "The Departed." | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: Equus | April 28, 2007
Today's movie: The trippy 1970s psychological drama "Equus," starring Sir Richard Burton. | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: Cube | April 19, 2007
Today's movie: The cultish Canadian science-fiction horror sleeper hit "Cube." | Read entire entry

Movies for Grown-Ups: Triumph of the Will | April 16, 2007
Today's movie: the 1935 Leni Riefenstahl Nazi propaganda documentary "Triumph of the Will." | 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

Ten Movies About...Master List | April 15, 2007
Master list for all of CCLaP's "Ten Movies About..." hyperspecialized themed film essays. | 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