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For fans of literate pop as much as of Ishiguro’s body of work.

The Nobel Prize–winning novelist reveals his inner Elvis Costello.

“I’ve built a reputation over the years as a writer of stories,” says Ishiguro, “but I started out writing songs.” Never an underachiever, Ishiguro reveals that in fact he’d written more than 100 songs by the time his first novel, A Pale View of Hills, was underway. Though the songs, he allows, were “mostly ghastly,” their writing provided a useful apprenticeship in verbal economy: Along the way, he notes before revealing any of the lyrics themselves, he learned from the challenges a song imposes, such as conveying meaning in just a few words, telling a story, and drawing a reader’s emotions into the game without, one hopes, undue mawkishness. The present volume gathers a modest 16 songs, illustrated by Italian artist Bagnarelli, whose work is charmingly suggestive of the eerily whimsical productions of Japan’s Studio Ghibli; the lyrics are matched, via the magic of a QR code, with recorded versions sung by jazz chanteuse Kent. When she told Ishiguro that his songs were sad, he replied, “However sad, however bleak the song became, there had to remain an element of hope.” Sad some of the lyrics may be, but they’re also craftily wordy in a way that Cole Porter might envy: It ain’t “Begin the Beguine,” but “I want to be awakened by a faulty fire alarm / In an overpriced hotel devoid of charm” has its evocative qualities, while Leonard Cohen might not have been displeased had he penned the lines “Like a bird caught mid-flight by a barb-wire fence / I kept going for a time before falling.” Ishiguro isn’t going to force Joni Mitchell into retirement, but it’s a well-intended effort overall, and an interesting side note into a way of storytelling other than that for which the author is known.

For fans of literate pop as much as of Ishiguro’s body of work.

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9780593802519

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024

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A clever and timely conversation on reclaiming identity and acknowledging one’s full worth.

Superman confronts racism and learns to accept himself with the help of new friends.

In this graphic-novel adaptation of the 1940s storyline entitled “The Clan of the Fiery Cross” from The Adventures of Superman radio show, readers are reintroduced to the hero who regularly saves the day but is unsure of himself and his origins. The story also focuses on Roberta Lee, a young Chinese girl. She and her family have just moved from Chinatown to Metropolis proper, and mixed feelings abound. Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane’s colleague from the Daily Planet, takes a larger role here, befriending his new neighbors, the Lees. An altercation following racial slurs directed at Roberta’s brother after he joins the local baseball team escalates into an act of terrorism by the Klan of the Fiery Kross. What starts off as a run-of-the-mill superhero story then becomes a nuanced and personal exploration of the immigrant experience and blatant and internalized racism. Other main characters are White, but Black police inspector William Henderson fights his own battles against prejudice. Clean lines, less-saturated coloring, and character designs reminiscent of vintage comics help set the tone of this period piece while the varied panel cuts and action scenes give it a more modern sensibility. Cantonese dialogue is indicated through red speech bubbles; alien speech is in green.

A clever and timely conversation on reclaiming identity and acknowledging one’s full worth. (author’s note, bibliography) (Graphic fiction. 13-adult)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77950-421-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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From the Wordplay Shakespeare series

Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced...

A pairing of the text of the Scottish Play with a filmed performance, designed with the Shakespeare novice in mind.

The left side of the screen of this enhanced e-book contains a full version of Macbeth, while the right side includes a performance of the dialogue shown (approximately 20 lines’ worth per page). This granular focus allows newcomers to experience the nuances of the play, which is rich in irony, hidden intentions and sudden shifts in emotional temperature. The set and costuming are deliberately simple: The background is white, and Macbeth’s “armor” is a leather jacket. But nobody’s dumbing down their performances. Francesca Faridany is particularly good as a tightly coiled Lady Macbeth; Raphael Nash-Thompson gives his roles as the drunken porter and a witch a garrulousness that carries an entertainingly sinister edge. The presentation is not without its hiccups. Matching the video on the right with the text on the left means routinely cutting off dramatic moments; at one point, users have to swipe to see and read the second half of a scene’s closing couplet—presumably an easy fix. A “tap to translate” button on each page puts the text into plain English, but the pop-up text covers up Shakespeare’s original, denying any attempts at comparison; moreover, the translation mainly redefines more obscure words, suggesting that smaller pop-ups for individual terms might be more meaningful.

Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced e-book makes the play appealing and graspable to students . (Enhanced e-book. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2013


Page Count: -

Publisher: The New Book Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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