Tag Archives: M. T. Anderson

Landscape with Invisible Hand

Author: M. T. Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5

Warning: Mature Audience (for language and dark themes, but mostly for language)

Young artist Adam Costello and his family remember a time when things were different. But it seems like a long time ago, now. Since the vuvv made first contact, bringing promises of new technology and wealth, well, everything has changed–and not for the better. Sure, the ultra-wealthy who live in close contact with the vuvv may have a pretty comfortable life. But for everyone else, the coming of the vuvv has meant nothing but hardship: economic collapse, no jobs, looting, costs of medicine going through the roof. Everyone is forced to make tough choices, and Adam chronicles it all in paint, watercolor, and VR rendering.

On the one hand, I’m not surprised that Landscape with Invisible Hand hasn’t made a big splash in the YA community or in the literary community as a whole. (I hadn’t even heard of it until I stumbled on it in the library, and the average Goodreads rating is only 3.59.) Because while this is a solid dystopian novel (novella, whatever), it’s hitting towards the end of that genre’s popularity storm and the type of dystopian is just enough off from the mainstream that it’s not going to fly so well. Plus, it’s not all mushy romance and fighting the invading hordes. It’s dark and depressing at times. . . . Which brings me to why, on the other hand, I’m shocked that this book hasn’t taken the literary world by storm. Other than the obvious–this is an M. T. Anderson book, people! Why is it not getting attention?! But back to my point: this book is one of the most intentionally, incredibly artistic books I have read in a long time. It delves into the darkness and reveals the underlying truths . . . and finds the spark of hope in it all. The topics it handles–while couched in terms of an alien invasion–are incredibly timely for readers today, at times painfully so. Not to mention that the writing itself, the actual choice and arrangement of the words, is remarkable. It’s all present tense, sparse, yet artistic, each word carefully chosen that–were it not for the obvious paragraph structure–I might almost have thought I was reading free-verse poetry; it has that sort of feel to it. Even the book design feeds into the whole artistic structure of the whole–the unusual proportions, the cover that looks like an oil painting on canvas, the way each chapter is outlined and titled by the picture Adam is working on at that time. I get that it’s not for everyone, but I would really recommend giving Landscape with Invisible Hand a try, even if the initial premise doesn’t sound so interesting. Because this reach of this story goes far beyond what it promises on the surface.

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Half-Minute Horrors

Editor: Susan Rich

Do you love the sort of short, startling stories that are best told late at night around a campfire? Or maybe you’re the sort that doesn’t really think it’s possible for a story to be properly scary in only a page or two, but you’d like to see them try. Regardless, this collection of one- to two-page short stories is sure to horrify–and possibly change your outlook on closets, lasagna, and strawberry bubble bath forever!

Half-Minute Horrors was a lucky find at a used bookstore for me–I’ve never seen it anywhere else. This collection features (extremely) short stories (and a few comics) by some of today’s leading authors and artists. The variety is impressive, yet they all prey on our deepest fears, utilizing surprise, disgust, and the ever-useful twist to create stories that are sure to leave the reader, well, horrified. Yet even while being certifiably creepy, these stories are honestly appropriate even for elementary-age children–as long as they don’t get freaked out too easily or have nightmares. I definitely enjoyed this collection, and would recommend Half-Minute Horrors to anyone who likes scary stories–especially if you don’t have much time to enjoy them.

Featured Authors/Illustrators: Lemony Snicket, Jerry Spinelli, Kenneth Oppel, Richard Sala, Erin Hunter, James Patterson, Sonya Sones, Tom Genrich, Michèle Perry, Angela Johnson, Jon Klassen, Arthur Slade, M. T. Anderson, Yvonne Prinz, M. E. Kerr, Adam Rex, Dean Lorey, Sarah Weeks, Gloria Whelan, Holly Black, Faye Kellerman, Lisa Brown, Pseudonymous Bosch, Nadia Aguiar, Sienna Mercer, Jack Gantos, Stephen Marche, Brad Meltzer, Lane Smith, Carol Gorman, David Rich, Jenny Nimmo, Margaret Atwood, Mariko Tamaki, Brian Selznick, Francine Prose, Ayelet Waldman, R. L. Stine, Adele Griffin, Aliza Kellerman, Mark Crilley, Allan Stratton, Sarah L. Thomson, Katherine Applegate, Avi, Gail Carson Levine, David Stahler Jr., Carson Ellis, Tui T. Sutherland, Abi Slone, Joseph Delaney, Alan Gratz, Brett Helquist, Josh Greenhut, Neil Gaiman, Lesley Livingston, Jon Scieszka, Vladimir Radunsky, Alison McGhee, Daniel Ehrenhaft, Melissa Marr, Chris Raschka, Stacey Godenir, Dan Gutman, Alice Kuipers, Frank Viva, Libba Bray, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Connelly, Lauren Myracle, Barry Yourgrau, Aaron Renier, Gregory Maguire

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Geektastic

Editors: Holly Black & Cecil Castellucci

Contributing Authors & Illustrators: M. T. Anderson, Holly Black, Libba Bray, Cecil Castellucci, Cassandra Clare, John Green, Hope Larson, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Barry Lyga, Tracy Lynn, Wendy Mass, Garth Nix, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Greg Leitich Smith, Scott Westerfeld, Lisa Yee, & Sara Zarr

Admit it: you’ve always wanted to know what that super-cute, smart-talking avatar online is actually like in real life–would you actually consider meeting up to see? Or have you ever come back from a convention with a new boyfriend you can’t ever admit to your clan? Had a huge argument about whether a favorite character is actually chaotic good or chaotic neutral? Or maybe you’re the type who finds your truest self in the secret identity you’ve built for LARPing. Hey, maybe you’re the poor cheerleader who’s trying to figure out what all this geeky weirdness is all about. Whatever.

Geektastic. I was drawn by the title, and the pixellated superhero avatar on the spine cinched the deal. And I was absolutely not disappointed by this collection of eccentric short stories that feature, well, the more unusually passionate side of life. Or something. I admit to being something of a geek (well, maybe more than something . . . ), and I’m assuming most of my readers are (or why on earth are you reading my blog?!)–and for a geeky audience, this collection is perfect. Regardless of what sort of geek you are (and let’s face it, there are a million variations), there’s likely something here for you . . . and maybe something to help you understand other varieties of geeks a little better as well. If you are the non-geeky cheerleader . . . you might do better to ask your local population for the crash course, if only because this book is a pretty big plunge all at once. But really, Geektastic is an amazing collection by great authors about some super-fun topics (just do be warned of sex, alcohol, etc.)–definitely recommended!

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The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

Editor/Illustrator: Chris Van Allsburgthe chronicles of harris burdick

My rating: 5 of 5

The basic premise behind this fantastic collection of short stories is nearly as odd as the stories themselves. Supposedly, a person calling himself Harris Burdick came to editor Peter Wenders sometime around 25 years ago, dropping off a collection of 14 drawings with titles and one-line descriptions. This Burdick then left, promising to bring the accompanying stories  the next day, only to never return. In The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, a group of incredible authors take these illustrations and create the stories that might have accompanied them.

Whatever the truth about Harris Burdick and his illustrations may be, this is an excellent collection of stories from a brilliant group of writers. In keeping with the concepts of the illustrations there is an eerie, Twilight Zone sort of feel to the stories. Mostly, they’re about fairly ordinary people to whom some extraordinary events occur. There is a spine-tingling quality to these stories that is simply delicious. Anyone who likes the unusual, or who simply likes short stories, should check out this creative collection.

Featured Authors: Sherman Alexie, M. T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Chris Van Allsburg, & Lemony Snicket

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