All posts filed under: Books


COMICS REVIEW: Bitch Planet, Volume 1: Extraordinary Machine

Bitch Planet makes no bones about being a dangerous object. The bold, garish cover art seems made to be viewed under a black light. The color registration is purposely off, for an artful shoddiness recalling the look of a low-budget samizdat tract. But peer beyond the lurid exteriors of Bitch Planet — the first five issues of which are collected in the new trade paperback Extraordinary Machine — and you’ll find in its back pages footnotes on intersectional feminism, and a discussion guide for book clubs. Plainly, there’s more going on here than cheap thrills. But it is a thrilling work. Co-created by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Valentine De Landro, Bitch Planet is a righteous, riotous hoot, a pitch-black spoof with a deathly serious feminist theme. For DeConnick, it’s a career best — the breakthrough that will propel her from cult figure to superstar. It’s the very definition of a passion project: audacious, subversive, fairly glowing with love and anger. And it’s the most exhilarating comic I’ve read in years. The action of …


BOOK REVIEW: The Best Small Fictions 2015

Writing fiction is both art and science, but never does it feel more like a science than when the fiction is very short. The traditional elements of story — dialogue, action, character development, description — all take time, and words. Sometimes, to keep a short story from turning long, something has to give. Writing a very short story can feel like balancing an equation; one or more of those traditional elements of fiction may have to be omitted entirely, or the variable substituted with the X of cliché, leaving the work feeling incomplete or undercooked. It’s an unforgiving form, is what I’m saying, so tricky to do well that you wonder why anybody even tries. Yet writers of great talent still do, and 55 of them are represented in The Best Small Fictions 2015, due in October from Queen’s Ferry Press — the inaugural volume in a new series, the first annual compendium to be devoted to the form since the 1952–1960 run of Robert Oberfirst’s Anthology of Best Short-Short Stories. But if the perils …