In this week's edition, the woman behind the monster, an homage to favorite places, a Tinseltown tale, Neil Gailman gets your creative juices flowing, and more.
I’ve never been much for superheroes. If you’re talking about someone who can fly, wears a cape, and lives in an isolated fortress, give me Dracula over Superman any day of the week. You could say I’m more of a monster guy. And like most things, guys dominated the world of classic monsters and horror, both fiction and film. (Happy belated 200th birthday to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, by the way.) Milicent Patrick was an exception. As a special effects artist in the 1950s, Patrick designed the iconic monster from The Creature from the Black Lagoon. But instead of being remembered as a pioneer, her work was claimed by a petty (male) rival, and Patrick disappeared from cinematic history. Mallory O’Meara’s The Lady from the Black Lagoon (March 5) not only restores Patrick’s legacy, but also examines the age of classic movie monsters from a female perspective—a long overdue (and refreshing) point of view. —Jon Foro
I've been waiting for this book for a long time. All of Barry Lopez's books are about places, but Horizon is his memoir told through the places he has been. So far, I've only read the "Author's Note." I'll share the last two sentences with you: "I've not tried to be explicit about what was learned (or unlearned) or when, in part because it hasn't always been clear to me what changes might have occurred. The young man visiting the archeological site on Skraeling Island is the same fellow who at the end of the book encounters a stranger on the road to Port Famine, but also not." --Chris Schluep
I'm having to steel myself the more I delve into Etaf Rum's debut novel, A Woman Is No Man, which follows three generations of Palestinian-American women who have immigrated to Brooklyn. The friction between dual cultures creates much of drama, and I'm rooting for one of the characters (Deya) to break free from her grandmother's tyrannical grip and forge her own path in life. There also seems to be a bit of dubiousness surrounding the death of Deya's parents. Was it really due to a car accident? The plot thickens...--Erin Kodicek
I love stories of Hollywood back in the days before Botox and Instagram, so Hollywood's Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A. is my go-to this weekend for escapist nonfiction. Honestly, I don’t know much about Babitz beyond her being known as kind of a Hollywood wild child who was then discovered by Joan Didion and became a writer. From the looks of this book, there is a LOT more to the story, and I can’t wait to dig in! --Seira Wilson
Neil Gaiman—whose readers follow him from novels to graphic novels to his own personal retellings of myths—teamed up late last year with illustrator Chris Riddell to create an inspiring and personal exhortation about creativity. To outsiders, Gaiman might appear to have an effortless golden touch, but this book has, so far, revealed that all is not unicorns and rainbows. And Riddell’s artwork manages to be both edgy and delightful, mirroring the pain and glee of matching imagination with procreation. I’m looking to kick-start my own creative engine, and I’m hoping this will be an encouraging spark. --Adrian Liang