We get a lot of books in at A.V. Club headquarters, more than we have time to read, or even finish in a timely fashion, much less review. Here are a few I've been enjoying and hope to finish someday. (I even paid for one of them.)
Under The Black Flag: The Romance And The Reality Of Life Among The Pirates by David Cordingly (Random House)
This is a great piece of popular history from a former curator at England's National Maritime Museum that outlines the golden age of piracy, lays out the day-to-day of a pirate's life, and compares the realities to popular myth. Somewhat surprisingly, Cordingly finds that a lot of the myths are grounded in fact, even if they've drifted away from their origins. Pirates really did like to keep parrots, for instance, but this had as much to do with their trade value as their companionship. This 1996 book is most likely getting re-released because of
Pirates Of The Caribbean, which is as good an excuse as any, although Cordingly doesn't address the issue of ghost pirates, unless that's in one of the chapters I haven't gotten to yet.
Scott Pilgrim Vol. 3: Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness, by Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni)
Honestly, I haven't even started this one yet. I'm saving it. I was hoping it would come in in time for last week's comics round-up but it arrived past our deadline. So I can't tell you why this is awesome, but I can tell you how strongly I suspect it's
going to be awesome, based on Bryan Lee O'Malley's past Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. O'Malley uses the form, fast pace, and expansive page-count of a manga adventure to tell the story of a sweet, slightly feckless Canadian twentysomething who finds the love of his life but is charged with defeating her seven evil ex-boyfriends. O'Malley squeezes in some sharp observations about young love and the easily exhaustible pleasures of doing nothing much at all and his art crackles with the energy of a good pop song. I dub this a can't-miss, although I probably should crack the cover to confirm that.
Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, by Simon Reynolds (Penguin)
Music journalist Simon Reynolds gets inside the disparate scenes that picked up the pieces after punk and even makes a convincing case for Public Image Limited being more important than The Sex Pistols. It's an essential, vivid document of an under-documented scene that should send most readers out to chase down those essential Pere Ubu and Human League albums that they've always meant to get around to picking up.
Fired!: Tales Of The Canned, Canceled, Downsized, & Dismissed, by Annabelle Gurwitch (Touchstone)
Kind of an anti-self help book, comforting mostly because everyone involved got over being booted,
Fired compiles one story of professional failure after another from Felicity Huffman, Paul Feig, Paul F. Tompkins, Morgan Spurlock, Judd Apatow and others, most of them quite funny. Gurwitch, best known for her long stint hosting the TNT series Dinner & A Movie, was inspired to write it after getting dropped from a play by Woody Allen. It reads like sweet revenge. I would have included it in this round-up even if Gurwitch didn't call me to tell me about it herself but, a note to authors and cast members of Shaggy Dog remakes, sometimes it doesn't hurt (but only if you're really nice about it.)