To call Shopsin's "a Greenwich Village institution" was to understate something profound and important and weird and funny: Shopsin's (first a grocery store, later a restaurant) was a kind of secret reservoir of the odd and wonderful and informal world that New York City once represented, in the pre-Trumpian days of Sesame Street and Times Square sleaze: Tamara Shopsin grew up in Shopsin's, and Arbitrary Stupid Goal
is her new, "no-muss memoir," is at once charming and sorrowing, a magnificent time-capsule containing the soul of a drowned city.
For the past couple of years, I've been making the case, at HILOBROW and in the UNBORED books I've co-authored, that the Sixties (1964–1973, according to my non-calendrical schema) were a golden age for YA and YYA adventures.
In no particular order, here's my list of the Best YA and YYA Lit of 1967. Happy 50th anniversary! Read the rest
the Birds in the Sky
is everything you could ask for in a debut
novel -- a fresh look at science fiction's most cherished memes,
ruthlessly shredded and lovingly reassembled.
Nick Courage was lucky enough to score a blurb from literature-hero Daniel Pinkwater for his debut novel The Loudness: Read the rest
Reading Daniel Pinkwater's novels as a kid changed my life for the better, and I've never looked back, so this beautifully written profile by Josh Nathan-Kazis was a pure delight to read, from Pinkwater's experiences as a cult member to the time that Terry Gilliam blamed him for killing Harvey Kurtzman's Help! magazine, putting R. Crumb out of a job. Read the rest
One year ago today
Odd Duck: great picture book about eccentricity and ducks: Cecil Castellucci's Odd Duck is the story of Theodora, "a perfectly normal duck" who likes her routine -- swimming, stretching, taking books out of the library, buying duck kibble, doing craft projects (with duck burlap, naturally) and star-gazing. When Chad moves in next door, Theodora can tell she's not going to get along with him. He makes weird abstract sculptures, dyes his feathers funny colors, and talks a mile a minute.
Five years ago today
The Yggyssey: Pinkwater takes on The Odyssey: The Yggyssey: How Iggy Wondered What Happened to All the Ghosts, Found Out Where They Went, and Went There, a tribute to (what else?) The Odyssey. The Yggyssey picks up a few years after the world-shaking final battle that concludes Neddiad, and switches POVs to Yggdrasil Birnbaum ("Iggy" for short), the tomboyish female lead of the Neddiad, daughter of the famed cowboy Captain Buffalo Birnbaum, a retired silent film-star.
Ten years ago today
UK cinema copyright warnings: a call to action: "You are not permitted to use any camera or recording equipment in this cinema. This will be treated as an attempt to breach copyright. Any person doing so can be ejected and such articles may be confiscated by the police. We ask the audience to be vigilant against any such activity and report any matters arousing suspicion to cinema staff. Thank you."
Read the rest
Children's author, essayist and hero of literature Daniel Pinkwater has revived his classic backlist as a line of DRM-free ebooks! Each one is only $3, and there are some astoundingly good titles in there.
Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars was my first Pinkwater, and it literally changed my life. It's your basic nerd-discovers-he-has-special-powers book, except it's not: it's got saucer cults, green death chili, mystic bikers, and a sweet and inclusive message about following your weird without looking down on others. It literally changed my life.
The Education of Robert Nifkin is another take on an Alan Mendelsohn-like story, but this time, it's all about taking charge of your own education and an alternative school where the inmates run the asylum. It's probably no coincidence that I ended up at a school much like Nifkin's after reading Mendelsohn (here's my full review).
Young Adults is a hilarious, bawdy romp through the conventions of young adult literature. When got my first paperback copy, I walked around for days, annoying my roommates by reading long passages from this at them until they forgave me because they were convulsed with laughter. Dadaism was never so funny.
Wingman is such a beautiful, compassionate book about race, comics, and a love affair with literature. I read my copy until it fell apart.
What can you say about the Snarkout Boys? They sneak out at night and go to an all-night B-movie palace where they have comic, X-Files-style adventures with the paranormal and diner food. Read the rest
Daniel Pinkwater's Bushman Lives! was one of my favorite young adult novels of 2012. Unfortunately, his publisher refused to give him an advance contract for the sequel, so he's seemingly parted ways with them. Instead, Pinkwater is serializing the sequel through his Twitter account. It's (unsurprisingly) wonderful so far. Read the rest
In the tradition of August's book-review roundup, I've pulled together a collection of my favorite young adult reviews from the past decade. Hope you -- and the young adults in your life -- enjoy these as much as I did!
Read the rest
Planesrunner: Ian McDonald's YA debut is full of action-packed multidimensional cool, airships, electropunk and quantum physics: Planesrunner is the story of Everett Singh, a moderately unhappy schoolboy in London whose divorced, quantum physicist dad is kidnapped before his eyes one night. Everett embarks on an epic quest to find out what happened to his dad, a quest that is complicated by his mother's hostility to her ex-husband, a police cover-up, sinister visits from the head of the Imperial College physics department, and mysterious, threatening strangers who tail him through the streets of London.
Jennifer writes with amazing news! "FISH WHISTLE is a compilation of the best of Daniel Pinkwater's short essays. Contains classic (and very funny) stories of Pinkwater's family, travels in Africa, food, raising dogs and becoming an artist, many of which were first heard on NPR's 'All Things Considered.' Originally published in 1990, this first ebook edition is updated for 2013. And it's free through Wednesday on Amazon."
Pinkwater is like unto a god to me. Read the rest
When I was finishing grade school the works of Daniel Pinkwater delighted me. I read his stories over and over and The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death is a life long favorite.
Reminiscing with an old friend last night brought tears to my eyes. It is amazing how this tale of youth and discovery holds me. Walter's terrible boredom at Ghengis Khan High? Sneaking out to see classic films with Winston Bongo? Beers at Beanbenders? I still want to do these things! My imagination is permanently warped in the most wonderful ways.
I just ordered a copy, the same edition I had as a kid. Next up will be Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars.
The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death by Daniel Pinkwater Read the rest
Welcome to this year's Boing Boing Gift Guide
, a piling-high of our most loved stuff from 2012 and beyond. There are books, comics, games, gadgets and much else besides: click the categories at the top to filter what you're most interested in—and add your suggestions and links in the comments.
Daniel Pinkwater's Bushman Lives
is another of Pinkwater's marvellous novels for young adults (and adults!) in which a misfit narrator embraces his inner weirdo and finds odd joy. Harold Knishke is a young man in late 1950s Chicago who finds himself with a lot of spare time thanks to weird political patronage at his high-school, which results in him serving as a corrupt hall monitor who can excuse himself from school grounds on his own recognizance. One day, he quits flute lessons, sells his flute to his relieved instructor, and uses the money to take up life-drawing classes at a beatnik art school across the street from a mysterious whitewashed house whose paint is constantly being replenished by mysterious, hissing humanoids all dressed in white wrapping.
Hal Johnson's Immortal Lycanthropes is a YA novel unlike any other. It's the story of Myron Horowitz, a horribly disfigured amnesiac orphan whose nice adoptive parents can't protect him from the savage beatings administered by the school bully every day. But then the bully is found bruised and battered and hurled through shatterproof glass, and Myron is found on the floor of the cafeteria, naked, with no sign of his clothes anywhere. And the adventure starts.
You see, Myron is an immortal lycanthrope, part of an ancient mythic race of human/animal hybrids -- one for every species of mammal -- who date back to the dawn of humanity. Nothing can kill him save another immortal in animal form, and there are plenty of those around, as it turns out. They have all come out of the woodwork to attempt to kidnap/kill/rescue/brainwash/claim/manipulate him, because he appears to be the first newborn immortal lycanthrope since the dawn of history.
Myron is off on a madcap trip across America, variously beaten and nearly killed and tricked and conned and even worshipped as he discovers the true nature of his race, and speculates about what animal might lurk within him.
Johnson has taken a slight idea -- his editor says that the book's genesis was a sarcastic remark about writing YA fiction, as in, "What, you want me to write about immortal lycanthropes or something?" -- and made something perfectly wonderful and wonderfully perfect out of it. A few chapters in, I flipped to the beginning of the book looking for an "about the author," only to notice that he'd dedicated the book to Daniel Pinkwater, who is the all-time world champion of weird amazing mind melting brilliant YA fiction. Read the rest
Daniel Pinkwater, a much-loved living treasure of children's literature, has a new book out today. It's called Mrs Noodlekugel and it is a simple, silly pleasure that feels like the end-product of a lifetime of telling children's stories, carefully removing all the elements that are extraneous to young readers' enjoyment until nothing but the essentials remain. I like to think of Pinkwater's books that way, a kind of skeletal Jenga tower, every extraneous block removed and used to make the structure taller.
Nick and Maxine live in a high-rise apartment building, and one day they discover that one window overlooks a tiny, old fashioned cottage in a small green between their tower and several others. The building's janitor tells them that this is Mrs Noodlekugel's house, and when they quiz their parents about it, they are forbidden to go there.
So they go there. And Mrs Noodlekugel is a sweet old lady who has a talking cat and four nearly-blind mice who get the crumbs from their tea-parties, and she is perfectly pleasant and tells them they're welcome the next day for a gingerbread baking project that the talking cat is undertaking. When the kids tell their parents about this, their parents reveal that they knew all about her, and that she is their new babysitter, and the kids realize they've been tricked.
But they don't mind. They've got Mrs Noodlekugel and the baking. The mice help. And the gingerbread mice -- which the real mice roll around on -- come to life when they come out of the oven. Read the rest