Hot Off the Proverbial Presses: October 14, 2014

In Real LifeIn Real Life by Cory Doctorow, illustrated by Jen Wang

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing.

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer – a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.

From acclaimed teen author and digerati bigwig Cory Doctorow and rising star cartoonist Jen Wang, In Real Life is a sensitive, thoughtful look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture-clash.

WHY WE’RE EXCITED: Gorgeous artwork meets an intriguing premise all tied up in what sounds like a thought provoking exploration of some of our favorite things.

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Art Imitating Life: Cassie-la Paints a Picture of “Sacré Bleu” by Christopher Moore

Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore
Genre: Historical fiction, humor, satire, art, is this real life?
Rating: 4.67 out of 5 stars

Summary: Impressionists throughout Paris are stricken with strange bouts of memory loss and sitings of a mysterious Colorman. At the center of these curiosities are baker/painter Lucien Lessard and his friend Henri Toulouse-Lautrec who are investigating the mysterious death of their friend Vincent Van Gogh. As if things weren’t strange enough, the love of Lucien’s life Juliette has returned to town and with her a rise in the use of the sacred blue.

Some books cannot be read on an eReader (at least not a black and white eReader), but require full physical immersion, this being one of them. With a focus on art and the color blue, the aesthetic choice was to make all the book’s text blue. Chapter titles, numbers, heading, page numbers, and even the prose are all in shades of blue. Think taking House of Leaves to the next level. The cover is also done in shades of blue to represent the theme (I have included an uncovered less “scandalous” version of this later in the review). There are also paintings scattered throughout that inform the text, but more on that in another section. For now I’ll discuss the plot without giving too many of the surprises away.

Sacré Bleu is ultimately although not completely centered around the strange suicide of Vincent Van Gogh, who shot himself in the chest in the middle of a field and then walked to a doctor’s house where he died. And you thought the ear thing was the weirdest stunt he ever pulled- don’t worry, that comes up too. While not focused entirely on Van Gogh’s death, it covers the Impressionist painters (and Post-Impressionists) who stumble on the inner workings behind his death, which if you think about it, is an awfully bizarre way to commit suicide. It was this mystery that took off in Christopher Moore’s imagination and created this novel, his most ambitious and unique yet. Although I might still love A Dirty Job just a little more. It was my gateway book into Moore’s insane wacky worldview and has a special place in my heart.

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