Forget wolves, witches, and Ouija boards. Forget demons and devils. Forget bats, beasts, and black sabbaths. Within the dark hearts of metalheads everywhere live... kitties.
For Metal Cats, Alexandra Crockett entered the homes of these morbid angels--musicians, fans, and promoters--to expose the fluffy underbelly of the metal scene, and the result is a kind of heartwarming. And they're not all black cats, either. Not all of them.
A portion of the proceeds from Metal Cats and a series of benefit shows held along the West Coast will go towards one no-kill shelter in each of the four main cities visited.
Voting has opened up for the 2014 Teen Choice Award and the finalists are a handful of the best books from last year. You have until May 12th to vote, but why wait? The winner will be announced on May 14 at a big gala event during Children's Book Week.
Here are the finalists:
Peter Mountford's debut, 2011's award-winning A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism, explored the overlapping pulls of wealth, love, greed, and deceit through the conflicted coming-of-age of an alleged journalist working for a US hedge fund in Bolivia. It was a lively and, though set in 2005, timely story about power, politics, and how far people will go to achieve the lifestyle they believe they deserve.
His new novel, The Dismal Science, comes at the imperfections of capitalism from another angle. A middle-aged VP at the World Bank, who's lost his wife and becomes embroiled in scandal, tries to start his live over when he has no idea how, or even what that means. A man of habit and conviction, he's suddenly neither. "Look, this is capitalism," says the economist, before his life collapses. "We happen to think it works."
In this smart, somber tale, Mountford seems to be saying, about capitalism and life: It works, until it doesn't.
The Dismal Science tells of a self-destructive and emotionally unstable executive at the World Bank whose outbursts have geopolitical consequences -- at turns tragic and comedic, the novel is a meditation on the fragile nature of identity.
What's on your nightstand?
Preferred reading format?
Print. I don't object to digital reading in the way that some people do, but I just haven't bought one of those e-readers. I keep waiting for someone to give me one. Hint hint!
Book that made you want to become a writer?
Lolita. I was pretty oblivious, I'm sorry to say, and I thought that because Nabokov was Russian, that meant he was from the 19th Century and wrote enormous novels with dozens of characters. I started reading and was floored. I didn't know that prose could be that magnificent. I read all of his published books after that, and he wrote a lot of books. These lectures on Gogol, a book on Don Quixote, etc. All for that voice, those sentences. As he puts it in the opening of Lolita: "You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style."
What are you psyched about now?
Getting back to writing soon. I've been out promoting this book for a while -- touring for a few weeks. But I feel all this potential energy collecting, creative equivalent to static electricity. It's building up inside me -- shedding sparks a bit, at this point. It's going to be fun once I can stop charging around and sit still for a minute.
W.H. Auden: "Great art is clear thinking about mixed feelings."
What's next for you?
A novel set in Sri Lanka in 2009, at the peak of their civil war. It's narrated by a 30-something woman who's always been a bit of an unambitious dabbler, but finds herself in a very demanding situation, wielding a lot of power.
> Read his New York Times Magazine "Lives" column
Reading Michael Gibney's Sous Chef--a debut that plays at the outer bounds of memoir--may be the closest most of us will ever come to living a day as the second in command in a Michelin-starred New York City restaurant.
Written in the second person, it's intense, dramatic, and immediately devourable, but Gibney also turns out phrases to savor: this is kitchen writing on par with Gabrielle Hamilton's Blood, Bones & Butter. While Gibney doesn't challenge Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential characterization of kitchen folk as "wacked-out moral degenerates, dope fiends, refugees, a thuggish assortment of drunks, sneak thieves, sluts, and psychopaths," he renders their efforts to beautifully prepare every plate they send out to satisfy the ravenous multitudes authentically noble, verging on heroic.
We talked with Gibney about why he wrote it, how he created the characters, why he considers it a memoir, and which books he finds essential--plus a bit about his new restaurant, opening in Manhattan this summer.
I've always been interested in writing, and I'd made attempts at other subjects. But when I found cooking as my subject, I realized that this was the story I had to tell, the one I knew best. For the past 15 years or so, I've been cooking, and it's entrenched itself in my life. Even though people have been (at least over the past decade or so) really interested in what goes on in restaurants, it's such a beautiful and intricate world, and it's so dynamic that there's much more to be added to the picture. I felt like this was the time to make my contribution.
My mission was to pay homage to the cooks, to the kitchen itself, to the calling. It's not a story about me. It's a story about all these people that do this every day. These people work hard in the service of others, an honorable undertaking. It's a weird, idiosyncratic family of people, and there's all the love and dysfunction of a family. We're in it together. We're here to help each other help the people in the dining room get the nourishment, the satisfaction, and the delight that they're looking for as well. I want to let people know how beautiful that dynamic is.
On the "characters" that populate his story
The vast majority of the characters in this book are all actual, singular people I worked with, and many of the names are still the same. With each one, my task was to capture the best example of the fish cook and the meat cook and the entremetier, drawing from the people that I know. When it came to the chef, that was really difficult, because what "chef" means to me is an amalgamation of a lot of different people. So in order to stick the landing with the chef character, I borrowed the appearance of a particular guy and the rÃ©sumÃ© and backstory of another particular guy and the attitude of another guy--three people who are all very dear to me. The restaurant itself is primarily one place, with characteristics borrowed from others to make it as crisp a picture as possible.
On why he wrote a memoir in second person
I regard Sous Chef as a memoir, because this was my lived experience. It's a sticky argument, but I'm not betraying the trust of the reader--this is just the reality of what it's like. I wrote it in second person because the kitchen"”not me"”is the star of the show. I'm not trying to say, "Look at all my trials and tribulations. Look at what great food I made." I'm saying, "Picture yourself in this role that I've lived. This is what a day will look like for you."
On essential cookbooks and food writing
But you have to give credit to the godfather of these modern cookbooks: Thomas Keller, The French Laundry Cookbook. It changed the game for what we could expect from a cookbook in terms of the beauty of the food, treating the food with a tender touch in the pictures, and how in-depth the recipes are. But also the supplemental material, where Keller riffs on their philosophy at that restaurant and the reasons they did certain things. The French Laundry set a new tone for how we should be thinking about professional cooking in this country, and that was a really formative book in my life as a cook.
Then there's The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher. She's the godmother of this kind of writing. She in her sort of Dorothy Parker way fuses light, beautiful language with really informative subject matter. She turned me on to nonfiction, especially food writing. Essential Cuisine by Michel Bras is another visual lodestar that changed my own plating game. And A Return to Cooking by Eric Repair put me back in touch with how important it is to think not just that you're a badass restaurant cook, but to remember what cooking is all about on a personal level, on a home level.
I really appreciate Daniel Boulud's Letters to a Young Chef, and Marco Pierre White's White Heat is another game-changer--he opens up and he's like, "This is what I do. I'm not going to apologize for it, and I just try really hard." There's some naked vulnerability with that, accompanied by a power and audacity that I really appreciate.
The list really goes on. But I'd also have to include every Chez Panisse cookbook, where they explained, like, where they get the pig. Alice Waters started this whole awareness of where the pig is from, where the lettuce is from, what the earth is like that the carrots are plucked from.
We'd have to order in some lunch if you want to continue this conversation, but those are my essentials.
On his new restaurant, opening soon
It's a fairly large space in Midtown, Manhattan, with a few different kitchens, not unlike a place called Eataly, Mario Batali's place. The upstairs restaurant space will be my own, and I'm working with a team of two other people to open the entire space. It's a large venue, and it's been a long time coming. These things are slow moving, but we're getting close, which feels great. We're aiming and hoping for mid-summer.
Michael Gibney began working in restaurants at the age of sixteen and assumed his first sous chef position at twenty-two. He ascended to executive sous chef at Tavern on the Green, where he managed an eighty-person staff. Over the course of his career, he has had the opportunity to work alongside cooks and chefs from many of the nation's best restaurants, including Alinea, Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Daniel, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, Bouley, Ducasse, Corton, wd~50, and Momofuku. In addition to his experience in the food service industry, Gibney also holds a BFA in painting from Pratt Institute and an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Last night, he dropped by HBO before a private publishers' advance screening to introduce the first episode of the season, "The Swords," before heading out to Brooklyn, where 7,000 fans were gathered to watch the same episode at Barclays Center.
"Some have paid $5,000 to be there," he noted with some awe. "Think of how many books they could have bought."
Martin, who typically writes once per season, identified the second episode, "The Lion and the Rose," as his. "But you won't be seeing that tonight," he teased.
Season 4, which draws from the second half of A Storm of Swords, the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, begins April 6 on HBO.
People, he said, often ask him, "Did you expect all of this," he told the crowd. "No, I didn't expect it," he answered with mock indignation. "But I like it."
This month, Hellboy turns 20 years old. Dang! Mike Mignola's red, big-armed, trench coat-sporting, smoking, one-eyed, sometimes-horned savior/destroyer achieved what few indie comic creations have: household name status. With two feature films (directed by luminary Guillermo del Toro), 14 (or so) volumes of comics and six oversized "library editions," two animated films, video games, and countless pieces of merchandise, Hellboy grimaced his way into the social consciousness.
To commemorate this milestone, longtime publisher Dark Horse Comics partnered with Mignola to publish Hellboy: The First 20 Years, a deluxe hardcover with over 120 images"”some iconic, some esoteric"”of the man who wields the Right Hand of Doom. After 20 years, Hellboy's design remains unique: an antithesis of the superhero with slumped shoulders (although they began quite broad), tiny wrists, a wrinkled coat, and those mismatched arms.
The new retrospective features covers from B.P.R.D., Witchfinder, Lobster Johnson, The Goon, Abe Sapian, the titular book, and more"”along with convention prints, line art, unfinished work, watercolors, and the first drawing of Hellboy from 1991.
He's come a long way, baby, but not even this book could contain it all. Dark Horse nicely shared two exclusive images that were not collected in The First 20 Years"”the first [above, at left] is a print from Seattle's Emerald City Comicon, and the second [at right] is a print from Wondercon 2007, featuring Hellboy standing in front of the Fremont Troll, a local landmark. Click both for larger versions.
Happy Birthday, Hellboy! Fans, be on the look out for Hellboy events in your city this Saturday, March 22, dubbed "Hellboy Day." Celebrate all weekend long with more from Mike Mignola"”see our Omni interviews with the candid creator here:
There are some children's books that fly a little under the radar but are parent favorites year after year. These are not books by the "S's" (Seuss, Sendak or Silverstein) or books with characters that show up as a PBS show or on nursery decor. These are the unsung staples of a first library, and Nina Laden's Peek-a-Who? is one of them.
Published in 2000, this board book with die-cut pages is one I like to recommend for baby showers or toddler birthdays, and hundreds of customer reviews sing it's praises. This month, Laden released a companion book, Peek-a-Zoo!, which made our first list of Best Books of the Month for Baby-Age 2. Fourteen years is a long time between the two books and we were curious about the how, when, and why now of Peek-a-Zoo!Here is Nina Laden on writing the new book and a peek (I can't resist) inside her studio and early sketches.
It was the year 2000. Some people were worried that the world would end, or that the Y2K virus would cause computers all over the world to crash. But I was anxious about my very first board book, Peek-a Who?
I'd published several picture books that were very well received, but had never planned to do board books. But I got to the stage when all of my friends started having babies and I wanted something hip, cool and interactive to give them, something more "me" than the typical "A is for Apple" and "B is for Ball" book Little did I know that Peek-a Who? would basically become "The Little Book That Could," as I've been calling it for years. My take on the game of peek-a boo struck a chord with parents and kids, and has sold beyond my wildest expectations. Even with that success, I am not the kind of author who likes to do series and didn't immediately plan a follow-up I just don't think that way. I am constantly trying to reinvent myself, mostly so that I won't get bored. But as the years went past, including some difficult years spent managing some family crisis, and Peek-a Who? continued to sell better with each passing year, I began to think of new board book ideas.
Nina's backyard studio
The inside view of Nina's Seattle studio
At first I played with eyes and noses of different animals and creatures and sent these ideas to my editor, Victoria Rock at Chronicle Books. They just didn't work on all of the levels that they should have, and for me those levels are: a good rhyme, fun images that have some sort of game or guessing element, a surprise at the end, and a way to end with the child reading the book. Then one day, the clouds parted. So many people had told me how much they loved the zoo image in Peek-a Who? and I realized that I could create an entire board book with zoo animals.
I did a thumbnail dummy and I rounded up a group of animals that all rhymed with the "oo" sound: MEW (kitten), KANGAROO, GNU, COCK-A DOODLE-DO (rooster), EWE, and the mirror at the end.
I sent these thumbnails off to Victoria and after we discussed them, I drew them full-sized and then I even started painting the kitten for the first spread. Something was bugging me, though and I wasn't quite sure what it was. Then I got the email from my editor saying "these really aren't all zoo animals." Yeah, that was it. They weren't. The kitten was replaced with a tiger cub. The kangaroo stayed, but the gnu failed the audition and was replaced with a cockatoo. The rooster became a panda eating bamboo, and the ewe went away because I had come up with too many spreads! (I may have to do a farm version of the book in the future.)
Once we had the animals all set and my sketches approved, I painted all of the interior illustrations. I love painting in the technique I created for my board books, which involves painting the paper black first and then making it look like a wood-cut.
I had known basically what I wanted the cover to look like from the beginning, but we had to go through a few different background patterns. I had started with leopard spots, tiger stripes and peacock feathers. The tiger stripes won.
It was truly a lot of fun to create Peek-a Zoo! I've also embraced the idea of creating a series of "Peek-A Books." The good news is that there are so many great words with "oo" sounds to play with. But don't worry, I won't be doing Peek-a Tattoo. Or maybe I will. You never know.
This Friday, the film adaptation of Divergent will finally (finally!) open in theaters across the country. There've been teasers along the way in the form of trailers and photos from the set, but now we will get to see it all put together. Will it meet expectations? Exceed them? Disappoint?
I managed to get a seat at an advance screening last night and the audience around me laughed, cheered, and clapped at the end. It was pretty cool. To be totally honest, I went into it thinking I probably wouldn't like the movie much, and possibly not at all, but I ended up loving it from the opening shot to the end. I thought Summit did an amazing job recreating Veronica Roth's Chicago and the tension between Four and Tris came off like a genuine older boy/younger girl attraction you might see unfold in a high school hallway rather than a brutal training ground (the brutal training ground making it much more exciting, of course). I'm eager to hear what other fans of the series think.
Whether you are dying to see it, or still on the fence, here's an amuse-bouche to Friday's big fÃªte--two exclusive photos of author Veronica Roth on the set of Divergent.
Veronica Roth (center with the green accents) and the cast of Divergent
Author Veronica Roth with Divergent Director Neil Burger (wouldn't you love to know what she's talking about??)
"I think I can make it." In 1961, while on an expedition to collect pieces for his father's Museum of Primitive Art, Michael Rockefeller and his traveling companion were plunged into the warm waters off New Guinea. The billionaire scion tied two empty gas cans to his body for floatation and swam for shore, and by most accounts, he made it. But what happened there, when he encountered members of the Asmat tribe--a culture marked by ritual violence and cannibalism--has been long debated. Did he disappear into the tropical jungles, or was he rendered and eaten by the tribesmen, as many speculated and the Rockefeller family long denied? Award-winning journalist Carl Hoffman has stepped into Rockefeller's boot prints and Asmat society, interviewing generations of warriors in an exhaustive and engrossing attempt to solve the mystery. The result, Savage Harvest, succeeds not only as a captivating and sensational puzzle, but also as a (seemingly unlikely) modern adventure and a fascinating glimpse of an anachronistic people pulled into the 20th century by the tensions of global politics. So, did he make it? Read our Q&A with Hoffman and decide for yourself.
What drew you to the mystery of Michael Rockefeller?
I began traveling to remote places at about the same age as Michael. In my 20s I saw Dead Birds, the film he first worked on, and his story resonated with me and never left me. Not only his disappearance, but his curiosity and need to go in the first place. His death took on the quality of myth - Michael disappearing in an alien realm that was difficult to penetrate for us Westerners - an idea echoed by the press accounts of the time. Wrote a LIFE photographer, after a day of searching for Michael: "they say if a man falls in the mud he cannot get up without help..." Which I knew not to be true - the Asmat had been rolling in that mud and spreading it on themselves and walking in it and living in it for 40,000 years.
By the time I began thinking about the story as a possible book project, I had traveled as a reporter to some of the furthest nooks and crannies of the world, and I saw those distant places as real places full of real people with real stories that, with effort, weren't alien at all, but penetrable, untangleable. And there was enough about Michael's disappearance that I believed there was more to know; I believed it wasn't a myth, but a real person who vanished in a real place and that I might be able to pierce it with patience and persistence.
That description is based on the Dutch priest Gerard Zegwaard's seminal examination of Asmat head hunting practices, published in the American Anthropologist in 1959. Zegwaard was the first Westerner to spend any time among the Asmat and he spoke the language and delved deep. Cannibalism was an offshoot of head hunting, an all-important sacred ritual necessary to keep the world in balance and for restoring life in the community, and it was conducted according to formal charters and prescriptions. It was not random. If Michael was killed by the men in Otsjanep, as I argue, what happened would have closely followed standard Asmat ritual practice.
You write, "If I asked anyone about cannibalism, they would acknowledge it. Sure, we used to eat people, now we don't. They didn't want to talk about it." Given the central roles that vengeance and violence played in Asmat culture, is it possible that cannibalism existed in the 1960s, or even later?
Head hunting and ritual cannibalism were still the rule in Asmat in the early 1960s, when Michael disappeared, and there were scattered reports of it well into the 1970s.
The Rockefeller family resisted the idea that Michael was murdered, and even traveled to New Guinea, in part to dispel the worst rumors. What were the factors that influenced this resistance?
I can't speak for Michael's family, but I think they clung to the idea that he disappeared at sea because the Dutch government never told them otherwise and actively denied what it was in fact investigating, and because, of course, the idea of anything else is pretty horrifying. And they wished to keep everything private, as well.
Did you seek assistance from the Rockefeller family for the book? Did they participate at all?
I made various efforts to contact Michael's twin sister, Mary, which all drew a blank. We have since made contact, but no one from the family helped in any way.
Rockefeller's disappearance occurred at the moment Asmat society (and similar cultures) was being exposed to the modern world. What were the factors in play, and was Michael's fate a consequence of that upheaval, at least in part?
Yes, in every way. Michael was in the wrong place at the wrong time; he personally was not the target, but he was traveling in a culture under siege, one in which all of their most sacred and meaningful activities, the very things that defined them as human beings, were being suppressed, sometimes violently, by a growing tide of Westerners backed up by modern firearms. Had the Dutch patrol officer Max Lepre not killed the four most important men in the village of Otsjanep in 1958, Michael would be alive today. And his murder might have become public knowledge at the time if the governments of the Netherlands, Indonesia and the United States hadn't been engaged in a geopolitical struggle over the future of western Papua.
What was the most dangerous or uncertain moment of your own research?
I only felt in danger once when we were in rough, difficult seas crossing the mouth of the Betsj River. I never feared for my personal safety from the people, but they intimidated me at first and it was not easy physically or emotionally to be among them at first. They were hostile to questions about Michael Rockefeller and that was difficult. I had to learn their language and live with them for a month before I came to understand them.
Are your heroes journalists, anthropologists, or adventurers? Or journalist-anthropologist-adventurers? Who are they?
Interesting question. I'd say I admire most those people who can combine adventure with beautiful writing, whether they call themselves anthropologists or journalists or whatever. People who can capture not just the physical essence of a place, but the complex emotional lives of human beings, themselves included. People like Wifred Thesiger or Tobias Schneebaum or even George Orwell.
What were the five (or more) books most influential to your own work?
So hard to narrow it to five! Arthur Ransome's Swallows & Amazons (beautiful story and narrative with simple, precise writing); John Hersey's Hiroshima (perfect prose with deep reporting); Capote's In Cold Blood (the edge of the envelope of the line between fact and fiction); for this book in particular I thought often of Mark Bowdoin's Black Hawk Down and the way he was able to get inside the heads of the Somalians who attacked the Americans, which I try to do a bit with the Asmat; and last, again for this book, I often thought of lots of great thriller writers in terms of pacing. It is a complex story, but it's also a murder mystery and I wanted it to read like one.