Comics in Conversation with Literature: The Immortal Hulk – Part 4

The Immortal Hulk was a critically-acclaimed and fan-beloved run of one of Marvel’s most popular and complex heroes, Dr Bruce Banner and his ‘system’ of alter egos: the child-like Savage Hulk, the morally ambiguous Grey Hulk or ‘Joe Fixit’, and the protective and paternalistic Immortal Hulk. Concluding in October 2021, the series was written by Al Ewing and drawn by Joe Bennett, and centres on a new revelation about the character: Bruce Banner can die but the Hulk cannot. Which makes them, as the title suggests, immortal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With this undead twist, Ewing and Bennett used the opportunity to turn Hulk into a horror book. The newly-minted Immortal Hulk battled such terrors as radioactive zombies, paranormal possessions, city-destroying kaiju, the Devil, the legions of Hell, and a cyborg yeti alien who can manipulate people’s minds through smartphones. Gradually, the series expanded its scope to ask fundamental questions about the nature of man and our own ‘immortal’ obsessions with death, the afterlife, and the relationships we have to our emotions, our friends, our institutions, our society, and the divine. The final issues of The Immortal Hulk go both deeply personal and expansively cosmic, as Bruce confronts his ex-wife Betty (now a monster of her own called ‘The Red Harpy’), his potential for happiness had he not been turned into a monster, and eventually God Himself to ask “why does Hulk have to be Hulk at all?”

Every issue of The Immortal Hulk opens with a quote from a famous book or writer, chosen by Ewing to give thematic weight to each issue and something for the audience to ponder on a close reading. Below, I’ve picked out some of the best opening quotations from volumes ten, eleven, and the ‘Great Power’ spin-off collection of The Immortal Hulk, and linked them to the works of their respective writers so you can find them in our collection.

If you want to read the comic first, you can order the first volume here or read it on Libby here. Check out the previous editions of this blog (Part One, Two, and Three) to read about all the references in the first nine volumes, and if you’ve read up to volume ten, reserve it here.

“Many times he died, Many times rose again.” – from ‘Death’ by W. B. Yeats : the poems / Yeats, W. B.

The best story of the ‘Great Power’ collection, which collects other writer’s takes on the Immortal Hulk, is Irish writer/artist Declan Shalvey’s ‘Flatline’, set early in the series when Bruce is still grappling the Immortal Hulk persona and his new inability to die. Shalvey opens the issue with a segment of the poem ‘Death’ by one of his homeland’s greats, William Butler Yeats. The poem reminds the reader that while we can personify Death all we like, we can never actually meet it on our terms face-to-face. Throughout the issue, death separates Banner from the Immortal Hulk, as one literally becomes the other upon dying, never to actually meet, and this tension fuels their early animosity.

“If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, the child will die” A Christmas Carol / Dickens, Charles

My favourite issue of the ‘Apocrypha’ collection (Volume 11) is ‘Black Christmas’. Stuck in a snowy, vacant New York on Christmas and under attack by symbiotes, Joe Fixit and Savage Hulk take shelter in a department store. When the attack is over, Joe treats the child-minded Savage Hulk to a night in the store’s toy section. On this lovely scene, however, we get the only quote that ends an issue rather than opening it, one from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Addressed to Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas Present, the line is a grim portent of Tiny Tim’s death if Scrooge does not end his selfish ways and treat Bob Cratchit to a fair wage to support his family. It’s a great payoff to Joe Fixit’s arc of learning how to be a more considerate person to other people and deepens his relationship between his fellow Hulk personas, particularly as a protector to Savage Hulk in the Immortal Hulk’s absence.

“Vengeance is from the individual — punishment belongs to God.” –  The last day of a condemned man / Hugo, Victor

As a genre, superhero comics are built on the idea that there is clear good and evil, meaning moral ambiguity has to be explored not through justice itself, but through the specific mechanics of justice. In issue 46, the government sends the Avengers to take Hulk out once and for all, with Thor landing the first blow. The issue opens with a line from Victor Hugo’s 1829 preface to his novelette against capital punishment, The Last Day of a Condemned Man, in which he argues that society sits between the individual desire to seek vengeance after a criminal act and the divine act of punishment from above. Hugo concludes that society cannot punish because that choice alone belongs to God. Ewing dramatizes this idea in Immortal Hulk through Thor, who acts as both a state-sanctioned superhero seeking to do right and a god tasking himself with ridding Midgard of the Hulk, as the Hulk fights back, rejecting Thor’s authority on both counts.

“I, like the arch-fiend, bore a hell within me, and finding myself unsympathised with, wished to tear up the tree, spread havoc and destruction around me, and then to have sat down and enjoyed the ruin” –  Frankenstein, or, The modern Prometheus / Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft

As the Hulk has his rematch with the Avengers, rage seems to flow out of him to infect everyone else, leading to a massive battle in New York. Stan Lee, co-creator of the Hulk, has said that one of his inspirations for the Hulk was Frankenstein’s Monster. Like the Immortal Hulk, the Monster is a brutish creature born of science, grappling with his place in the cosmic order, and capable of both eloquence and savagery. Thor believes Hulk to be Midgard’s ‘god of wrath’ and the blight on the World Tree, further tying him to how the Monster identifies himself in the book by Mary Shelly.

“And I dream of a grave, deep and narrow, where we could clasp each other in our arms as with iron bars, and I would hide my face in you and you would hide your face in me, and nobody would ever see us any more The castle / Kafka, Franz

The Castle is Kafka’s last novel, a paranoid dystopian story about a man, ‘K’, investigating a shadowy bureaucracy operating from the titular castle. The Immortal Hulk quotes a passage where ‘K’ and his fiancée Frieda argue about their relationship. Frieda laments that K is too distracted by his job, and she is so lonely as a result that she finds comfort in her dream of them holding each other close in a grave. Issue 48 focuses on the Hulk and his ex-wife Betty, the Red Harpy, as they reflect on their relationship, most of which was defined by hiding from their own ‘Castle’, be it the authorities hunting them down or Banner’s multiple Hulk alter egos getting in their way. As the series nears its end, we see how Hulk and Betty both had to change and be resurrected (in Hulk’s case, multiple times) to finally be honest about who they are and what they mean to each other. Love expressed through the grave, indeed.

“Through me you pass into the City of Woe: Through me you pass into eternal pain: through me among the people lost for aye. Justice the founder of my fabric mov’d: to rear me was the task of power divine, supremest wisdom, and primeval love. Before me things create were none, save things eternal, and eternal I endure” – Inferno : a verse translation / Dante Alighieri

The penultimate issue of the series sees Hulk mounting a rescue mission to the Below-Place to save Banner from the Leader. Using the Fantastic Four’s ‘Forever Gate’, Hulk sees a vision of a possible Bruce Banner, without the Hulk, truly happy with his family and supporting cast. It’s a life that Banner can never have and never could, because the Hulk isn’t in it, which Hulk has to bear witness to before he sets off to rescue his ‘puny’ human persona. Seeing the Hulk at his most pensive and uneasy, it’s befitting in an issue about standing on a threshold that the chosen quote precedes the most quoted passage of Dante’s Inferno, the phrase above the gateway to Hell; “All hope abandon, ye who enter here”.

“I behold thee Enkidu; like a god thou art. Why with the animals wanderest thou on the plain?” –  Gilgamesh : a new English version

The Apocrypha collects an The Immortal Hulk spinoff called ‘Time of Monsters’ which depicts the first-ever Hulk in ancient Jordan, circa 9500 BCE. The opening quote compares the Hulk to Enkidu, the ‘wild man’ from one of the earliest surviving pieces of literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh. While he is positioned as being from outside civilisation due to his wild status, Enkidu is no less heroic, helping the more traditional hero Gilgamesh in his adventures, despite eventually perishing after being punished by the gods. An unconventional hero seemingly more beast than man, who is positioned against civilisation and the gods and dies tragically? To my mind, it shows that since we first started writing stories, there has always been a Hulk.

A Final Note on Theme: The Left Hand is Strength, but the Right Hand is Mercy – Kabbalah : a very short introduction / Dan, Joseph

So you may be thinking having reached the end of the series, what was the deal with The One-Above-All calling Hulk ‘Geburah’ and ‘Golachab’? And what exactly of ‘Chesed’? These are references to Kabbalah, a practice of mysticism from Judaism. In Kaballah, a mystic traces a path through ‘the Tree of Life’ which contains ten heavenly spheres called the Sephirot, each representing an attribute of God (two of which are Geburah and Chesed), in order to better understand the divine with themselves. The Sephirot also has an inverse tree in the Qlippoth, which have opposing negative qualities to each Sephirot (Golachab as the Qlippoth to Geburah). A running theme of The Immortal Hulk is what the Hulk represents as an entity and what he should choose to do with his immeasurable strength, and tying this to Kaballah allows that idea to be explored within the bounds of morality and obligation, particularly in whether we should act with condemnation or compassion towards others.

Local Travel and Staycations

Explore the gems of Wellington and forget about the rest of the planet for a while. Have a browse at these books that help you explore the best of Wellington, since the summer is approaching… or almost.

Wellington from above / Stewart, Graham
“Wellington is hailed as the best little capital city in the world – it is the southernmost capital and is known for its friendly atmosphere. The heart of the city is compact, walkable and alive with restaurants and cafes that give a welcome with stylish a la carte dining and pavement outdoor casual fare. It boasts more bars, cafes and restaurants per capita than New York. Greater Wellington reaches to Upper Hutt and beyond to the Kapiti Coast.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Day walks of Greater Wellington / Gavalas, Marios
“Wellingtonians and visitors alike have difficulty choosing a walking area to explore because they are so spoilt for choice. This book lists over 70 walks divided into 5 regional sections – the western coast north to Otaki, Wellington city, the eastern bays, Wainuiomata Valley and the Hutt Valley. With overviews of popular walking areas, each walk is given a track grade, approximate travel time, easy access details, notes on the track itself and points of interest to highlight the most memorable features. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Art & about : a pocket guide to Wellington’s public art / Sutton, Frances
“Wellingtonians and visitors love the city’s profusion of public art. Complete with maps and photos to help you uncover even the most hidden treasures, this book tells you about each work and the artist who made it. From classical statuary and Maori symbolism to wind sculptures and the inspired creations of Weta Workshop, there’s a visual and artistic feast in Wellington waiting for you to discover. Also discover the forgotten underground streams now have an above-ground presence.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

A walk a day : 365 short walks in New Zealand / Janssen, Peter
“Walking is one of the best ways to see a country and in this book there’s a short walk to suit everyone. All 365 walks are three hours or less and will suit those who enjoy walking but do not fancy a long tramp with heavy boots and a pack, or visitors pressed for time, and families with young children. Every walk includes a highlight, whether it’s an historic landmark such as Kerikeri’s Stone Store; a dramatic natural feature, like the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki, on the South Island’s West Coast.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Tart & bitter : four decades of dining nightmares : the best of David Burton in the Dominion Post / Burton, David
“Over his long career as a restaurant critic, David Burton has written approximately 2000 restaurant reviews for The Dominion Post and its predecessor The Evening Post, as well as Cuisine magazine. Of these, the vast majority have been either positive or at least mixed. However, Tart & Bitter is a selection of `absolute scorchers’. These reviews build a highly entertaining picture of the most ground-breaking era of New Zealand’s restaurant history.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Raupo to deco : Wellington styles and architects, 1840-1940 / Mew, G
“This book celebrates a century of architectural achievement in Wellington, linking the style characteristics, from raupo thatching to art deco ornament. It contains biographies of more than 300 architects associated with Wellington plus photos, elevations and rare plans. The authors last collaboration was the prize-winning Ring Around the City, documenting the development of Wellingtons suburbs.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

 

Electric cars and future transport

With more and more electric vehicles and scooters on the road, it’s time to think about future transport and technologies. This booklist includes a science fiction book about future cars. Enjoy!

Insane mode : how Elon Musk’s Tesla sparked an electric revolution to end the age of oil / McKenzie, Hamish
“Tells the story of Tesla and argues that, under Elon Musk’s “insane mode” leadership, the company is bringing an end to the era of gasoline-powered transportation.” (Catalogue)

 

Autopia : the future of cars / Bentley, Jon
“Cars are one of the most significant human creations. But in the next thirty years, this technology will itself change enormously. If Google get their way, are we all going to be ferried around in tiny electric bubble-cars? Or will we watch robots race a bionic Lewis Hamilton? And what about the future of classic cars?  From mobile hotel rooms to electric battery technology; from hydrogen-powered cars to jetpacks, Autopia is the essential guide to the future of our greatest invention.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

All about electric & hybrid cars / Traister, Robert JSelf-driving cars : the new way forward / Fallon, Michael
“Author Fallon presents a history of how the technology used in self-driving cars has developed, identifies recent technological gains, and surveys recent controversies surrounding the potential mass adoption of self-driving cars.”–Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

 

Hop, skip, go : how the transport revolution is transforming our lives / Rossant, John
“Urban expert John Rossant and business journalist Stephen Baker look beyond the false promises of the past to examine the real future of transportation and the repercussions for the world’s cities, the global economy, the environment, and our individual lives. In an engaging, deeply reported book, the authors travel to mobility hotspots, from Helsinki to Shanghai, to scout out this future.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

The passengers / Marrs, John
“A ruthless hacker has targeted eight driverless cars, setting them on a fatal collision course. If the authorities interfere with the vehicles before they reach their destination, they will explode, killing everyone on board. Now the hacker is insisting that the public – and a select jury – judge who should live and who should die. It’s a trial by social media – a popularity contest that will be fought to the death…”–Publisher description.” (Catalogue)

Carbon neutral by 2020 : how New Zealanders can tackle climate change
“Climate change has become one of the central issues of our time. This book offers a positive response by presenting solutions from a range of New Zealand experts, all of whom show how we can rethink our current practices, mobilise people and put in place new ways of doing things that will help create a carbon neutral society. This is a timely, important book and a positive response to an absolutely critical issue from many of the best-informed people in New Zealand.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Fiction New (and Like New!)


The first new books for the year are in! Included in this month’s selection is Becky Manawatu’s debut novel Auē. Auē has been called a “contemporary story of loss, grief and domestic violence – but also of hope” and has been getting some great feedback. Check out RNZ’s interview with Manawatu here, and a preview of the first chapter via The Spinoff here.

Also in: re-releases, including the combined works of Giorgio Bassani with The Novel of Ferrara and the first English language edition of Irina Odoyevtseva’s Isolde. And of course there’s also a great range of page-turning summer reads, including Danielle Steel’s Spy: a Novel and Westwind by Ian Rankin. Enjoy!

Auē / Manawatu, Becky
“Taukiri was born into sorrow. Auē can be heard in the sound of the sea he loves and hates, and in the music he draws out of the guitar that was his father’s. It spills out of the gang violence and the shame he feels about abandoning his eight-year-old brother to another violent home. But Arama is braver than he looks, and he has a friend and his friend has a dog, and the three of them together might just be strong enough to turn back the tide of sorrow.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

The novel of Ferrara / Bassani, Giorgio
“Set in the Italian town of Ferrara, these six interlocking stories present a world of unforgettable characters: the doctor whose homosexuality is tolerated until he is humiliatingly exposed by a scandal; a survivor of the Nazi death camps whose neighbors’ celebration of his return gradually turns to ostracism; a man who has never recovered from the wounds inflicted in youth. Above all, the city itself assumes a character and a voice, deeply inflected by the Jewish community to which the narrator belongs.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

I am God / Sartori, Giacomo
I am God. Have been forever, will be forever. Forever, mind you, with the razor-sharp glint of a diamond, and without any counterpart in the languages of men. So begins God’s diary of the existential crisis that ensues when, inexplicably, he falls in love with a human. And not just any human, but a geneticist and fanatical atheist who’s certain she can improve upon the magnificent creation she doesn’t even give him the credit for. It’s frustrating, for a god…” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Westwind / Rankin, Ian
“After his friend suspects something strange going on at the launch facility where they both work–and then goes missing–Martin Hepton doesn’t believe the official line of “long-term sick leave”. He leaves his old life behind, aware that someone is shadowing his every move. The only hope he has is his ex-girlfriend Jill Watson–the only journalist who will believe his story. But neither of them can believe the puzzle they’re piecing together–or just how shocking the secret is that everybody wants to stay hidden…” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Hunter’s moon : a novel in stories / Caputo, Philip
Hunter’s Moon is set in Michigan’s wild, starkly beautiful Upper Peninsula, where a cast of recurring characters move into and out of each other’s lives, building friendships, facing loss, confronting violence, trying to bury the past or seeking to unearth it. Once-a-year lovers, old high-school buddies on a hunting trip, a college professor and his wayward son, a middle-aged man and his grief-stricken father, come together, break apart, and, if they’re fortunate, find a way forward.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

This is yesterday / Ruane, Rose
“Alone and adrift in London, Peach is heading into her mid-forties with nothing to show for her youthful promise but a stalled art career and the stopgap job in a Mayfair gallery that she’s somehow been doing for a decade. She is too young to feel this tired, and far too old to feel this lost. When Peach is woken one night with news that her father, who has Alzheimer’s disease, is in intensive care, she can no longer outrun the summer of secrets and sexual awakenings that augured twenty-five years of estrangement from her family.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

In love with George Eliot : a novel / O’Shaughnessy, Kathy
“Marian Evans is a scandalous figure, living in sin with a married man, George Henry Lewes. She has shocked polite society, and women rarely deign to visit her. In secret, though, she has begun writing fiction under the pseudonym George Eliot. As Adam Bede‘s fame grows, curiosity rises as to the identity of its mysterious writer. Gradually it becomes apparent that the moral genius Eliot is none other than the disgraced woman living with Lewes…” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

On swift horses / Pufahl, Shannon
“Muriel is newly married and restless, transplanted from her rural Kansas hometown to life in a dusty bungalow in San Diego. She misses her freethinking mother and her sly, itinerant brother-in-law, Julius, who made the world feel bigger than she had imagined. And so she begins slipping off to the Del Mar racetrack to bet and eavesdrop, learning the language of horses and risk. Meanwhile, Julius is testing his fate in Las Vegas, working at a local casino where tourists watch atomic tests from the roof.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Spy : a novel / Steel, Danielle
“At eighteen, Alexandra Wickham is presented to King George V and Queen Mary in an exquisite white lace and satin dress her mother has ordered from Paris. But fate, a world war, and her own quietly rebellious personality lead her down a different path. By 1939, England is at war. Alex makes her way to London as a volunteer in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. But she has skills that draw the attention of another branch of the service. Fluent in French and German, she would make the perfect secret agent…” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Isolde / Odoevt︠s︡eva, Irina
“Left to her own devices, fourteen-year-old Russian Liza meets an English boy, Cromwell, on a beach. He thinks he has found a romantic beauty; she is taken with his Buick. Restless, Liza, her brother Nikolai and her boyfriend enjoy Cromwell’s company–until his mother stops giving him money. First published in 1929, Isolde is a startlingly fresh, disturbing portrait of a lost generation of Russian exiles.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Finding inspiration – The latest books and magazines in art

Our newest additions to the collection have a shared focus on mixed media, and how we can use this to really convey our perceptions of the world. We take a look at New Zealand artist Douglas MacDiarmid, some new approaches to how we create art, and finish off with a highlight of some of our digital magazines available through RBdigital, including our recent subscription to the Australian storytelling magazine Dumbo Feather.

Textile landscape : painting with cloth in mixed media / Holmes, Cas
“Textile Landscapes demonstrates how to develop your approach to textile art with a focus on using found objects and paint and stitch on cloth and paper. Cas looks at both urban and intimate spaces, capturing the changing seasons, the technical aspects of painting and dying cloth, experimenting with photos, creating stitchscapes, attaining inspiration from found objects, and so much more.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Overdrive cover Paint Pouring, Rick Cheadle (ebook)
“Paint Pouring is a form of abstract art that uses acrylic paints with a runny (fluid) consistency. The acrylic paints react with each other when combined to make interesting and visually organic motifs. Fluid acrylics can be used on many types of substrates through various techniques such as pouring, dripping, swirling, glazing, dipping, and more to create dazzling and masterful effects.”
(Adapted from Overdrive description)

 

Colours of a life : the life and times of Douglas MacDiarmid / Cahill, Anna
“This biography is the lively, persuasive and colourful story of a talented bisexual man who had to leave New Zealand to find a life as a painter on his own terms. Now almost 95, still resident in Paris, he is oldest survivor of his extraordinary generation of creative New Zealanders, and perhaps a missing link — the one who got away and slid under the radar for choosing to pursue a global career rather than a domestic living.” (Catalogue)

 

Overdrive cover The Watercolor Course You’ve Always Wanted, Leslie Frontz (ebook)
Through thoughtful discussion, expert instruction, and in-depth step-by-step demonstrations, Leslie Frontz shows readers how to eliminate common barriers to achieve beautiful, captivating watercolor paintings. Beginning with teaching readers how to see with an artist’s eye, Frontz then establishes how watercolor painters build on this skill by making timely decisions throughout the creation process. (Overdrive description)

 

Dumbo Feather
Dumbo Feather is an iconic Australian magazine. Published quarterly for seven years, and hailed around the world as a design leader, it is a magazine like no other. Our readers are people who want to be told a different story than the one they hear every day. Each quarterly issue features five extended (20 page) profiles of people worth knowing, across enterprise, education, science, sport, politics, fashion and the arts. Whether they’ve touched millions, or just those around them, we take the time to get to know these people, and ask them to tell us their stories. (RBdigital description)

Artists & Illustrators
Artists & Illustrators is the UK’s best-selling magazine for artists and art lovers, providing advice and inspiration every month. Whether you favour oils or watercolours, portraits or landscapes, abstract art or botanical illustration, Artists & Illustrators brings a refreshing blend of creativity and advice every four weeks throughout the year. (RBdigital description)

The 2019 Nebula long list has been announced

The long list for the 2018 Nebula best novel award has just been announced. The Nebula’s are one of the most prestigious awards in the Science Fiction and Fantasy community and are awarded annually by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. They aim to recognise the best works of science fiction or fantasy published in America the previous year. They were first awarded in 1966 and now feature six categories the most recent category addition was in 2018 when a Best Game writing category was added. The latest list of nominees is incredibly varied and shows just how strong and vibrant the Science Fiction genre is.

The full fiction finalists list:

The poppy war / Kuang, R. F.
“A powerful epic fantasy novel with roots in the 20th-century history of China. Opium runs through the heart of the Nikara Empire, a constant reminder of the war with the Federation of Mugen that brought it to the empire’s shores. A war that only ended thanks to three heroes – the Vipress, the Dragon Emperor and the Gatekeeper – known as the Trifecta. They were legendary figures, each bestowed with god-like powers, who united the warlords of the Empire against the Federation. Decades have passed. The Trifecta is shattered; the Dragon Emperor is dead, the Gatekeeper is missing, and the Vipress alone sits on the throne at Sinegard. Peace reigns, yet the poppy remains.” (Catalogue)

The calculating stars / Kowal, Mary Robinette
“On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process. Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Blackfish City / Miller, Sam J
“After the climate wars, a floating city was constructed in the Arctic Circle. Once a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, it has started to crumble under the weight of its own decay – crime and corruption have set in, a terrible new disease is coursing untreated through the population, and the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside deepest poverty are spawning unrest. Into this turmoil comes a strange new visitor – a woman accompanied by an orca and a chained polar bear. She disappears into the crowds looking for someone she lost thirty years ago, followed by whispers of a vanished people who could bond with animals. Her arrival draws together four people and sparks a chain of events that will lead to unprecedented acts of resistance.” (Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverSpinning silver / Naomi Novik
Spinning Silver is a new take on the classic fairytale Rumpelstiltskin. Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father is not a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has left his family on the edge of poverty – until Miryem intercedes. Hardening her heart, she sets out to retrieve what is owed, and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. But when an ill-advised boast brings her to the attention of the cold creatures who haunt the wood, nothing will be the same again.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Already highly regarded is the stunning Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. It is an urban fantasy adventure novel written from a Native American viewpoint set in a future climate changed ravaged Earth,  its a powerful, unique and gripping read.

Currently available on our eBook Overdrive service:

Overdrive coverWitchmark, C. L. Polk (ebook)
“In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

MyLibrary and New Booklists

Person writing in notebook by laptopAs part of our ongoing programme to upgrade our online services, please note that MyLibrary will no longer be available after 31 October 2018.

We have decided to make this step because we now have other ways of providing new book lists, and the MyLibrary service which served us faithfully for many years was becoming dated and difficult to support.

You may like to consider bookmarking our What’s new at the library? webpage. Many of the booklists and subject picks are updated monthly and the quicksearches are dynamic. This means that every time a new item is added within that category, it will appear in the search results. If you had added some additional links to your MyLibrary page, we suggest you copy and paste them into another document (e.g. Word) so this information won’t be lost.

If you would like a more personalised list of catalogue searches or books (or DVDs etc), please note that our new catalogue has this option also. Please ask staff if you would like help to set this up.

Man Booker Prize 2018 longlist announced

The Water Cure book cover

…and the longlist includes a graphic novel!

So polish your reading glasses people, or if you’re not occularly enhanced, get comfy and prepare to join the judges’ dilemma of who wrote it better. Or with the most finesse, or used the most raw material. In short, which of these will be the one to grab you?

Author (country/territory) –  Title (imprint)
Belinda Bauer (UK) – Snap (Bantam Press)
Anna Burns (UK) –  Milkman (Faber & Faber)
Nick Drnaso (USA) – Sabrina (Granta Books) (Graphic Novel)
Esi Edugyan (Canada) – Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)
Guy Gunaratne (UK) – In Our Mad And Furious City (Tinder Press)
Daisy Johnson (UK) – Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)
Rachel Kushner (USA) – The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)
Sophie Mackintosh (UK) – The Water Cure (Hamish Hamilton)
Michael Ondaatje (Canada) – Warlight (Jonathan Cape)
Richard Powers (USA) – The Overstory (Willian Heinemann)
Robin Robertson (UK) – The Long Take (Picador)
Sally Rooney (Ireland) – Normal People (Faber & Faber)
Donal Ryan (Ireland) – From A Low And Quiet Sea (Doubleday Ireland)

There are some clear favourites amongst Wellington readers.  Warlight by Michael Ondaatje has been one of July’s most popular library lends.  Ondaatje recently received the Golden Man Booker for The English Patient.


Warlight / Ondaatje, Michael
“In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – Warlight is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire. It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth.  A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection, and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel.” (Catalogue)

The water cure / Mackintosh, Sophie
Imagine a world very close to our own: where women are not safe in their bodies, where desperate measures are required to raise a daughter. This is the story of Grace, Lia, and Sky kept apart from the world for their own good and taught the terrible things that every woman must learn about love. And it is the story of the men who come to find them – three strangers washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent, trailing desire and destruction in their wake.” (Catalogue)

Snap / Bauer, Belinda
“On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she’d said. I won’t be long. But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever. Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother… ” (Catalogue)

The overstory / Powers, Richard
The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond… There is a world alongside ours – vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In our mad and furious city / Gunaratne, Guy
“For Selvon, Ardan and Yusuf, growing up under the towers of Stones Estate, summer means what it does anywhere: football, music, freedom. But now, after the killing of a British soldier, riots are spreading across the city, and nowhere is safe. While the fury swirls around them, Selvon and Ardan remain focused on their own obsessions, girls and grime. Their friend Yusuf is caught up in a different tide, a wave of radicalism surging through his local mosque, threatening to carry his troubled brother, Irfan, with it. Provocative, raw, poetic yet tender, In our mad and furious city marks the arrival of a major new talent in fiction.” (Catalogue)

The long take : or, a way to lose more slowly / Robertson, Robin
“Walker, a young Canadian recently demobilised after war and his active service in the Normandy landings and subsequent European operations. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and unable to face a return to his family home in rural Nova Scotia, he goes in search of freedom, change, anonymity and repair. We follow Walker through a sequence of poems as he moves through post-war American cities of New York, Los Angles and San Francisco.” (Syndetics summary)
You can find this title in the Wellington City Libraries poetry collection.

The art of war: the First World War in paintings, photographs, posters and cartoons

By 1916 Britain, Australia and Canada had each established official war art programmes to document their country’s activities in the First World War and to use for propaganda purposes. Muirhead Bone was appointed Britain’s first official war artist in May of that year in an unprecedented act of government sponsorship for the arts. New Zealand lagged behind its allies on this issue because its wartime government considered war art unnecessary and expensive, but in April 1918 Nugent Welch was taken on as New Zealand’s divisional war artist.

Art:
Syndetics book coverArt from the First World War.
“Throughout World War I, the British government employed a diverse group of artists to produce a rich visual record of wartime events. But the art from this important collection often far exceeds this objective, giving voice to both the artist and the soldiers who are depicted. Art from the First World War contains more than fifty images chosen from among the Imperial War Museum’s impressive collection of works by war artists. Art from the First World War features some of the most well-known British artists of the twentieth century, from the brothers John and Paul Nash to William Orpen, Stanley Spencer, and John Singer Sargent, whose Gassed shows a line of wounded soldiers blinded by a mustard gas attack. On the occasion of the centenary, the Imperial War Museum is bringing this book out in a new edition.” (Syndetics summary)

Portraits:
Historically portraits of military leaders were more common then the portraits of the ordinary serviceman. The depictions of other aspects of war such as the suffering of casualties and civilians has taken much longer to develop.

Syndetics book coverThe Great War in portraits / Paul Moorhouse ; with an essay by Sebastian Faulks.
“In viewing the Great War through the portraits of those involved, Paul Moorhouse looks at the bitter-sweet nature of a conflict in which valour and selfless endeavour were qualified by disaster and suffering, and examines the notion of identity – how various individuals associated with the war were represented and perceived.” (Syndetics)

Women artists:
There were no officially commissioned women war artists in the First World War. Women artists were excluded from the front line – the fields of domesticity and social and industrial subjects were considered to be their metier. However women served as nurses, nurse aides and ambulance drivers. Many of them were accomplished informal artists and were able to record their experiences in several mediums.

 

photo 2photo 1
Left: ‘A Grenadier Guardsman’ by William Orpen, 1917. Right: ‘A bus conductress’ by Victoria Monkhouse, 1919.

Syndetics book coverBeyond the battlefield : women artists of the two World Wars
“World Wars I and II changed the globe on a scale never seen before or since, and from these terrible conflicts came an abundance of photographs, drawings, and other artworks attempting to make sense of the turbulent era. In this generously illustrated book, Catherine Speck provides a fascinating account of women artists during wartime in America, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and their visual responses to war, both at the front lines and on the home front. In addition to following high-profile artists such as American photographer Lee Miller, Speck recounts the experiences of nurses, voluntary aides, and ambulance drivers who found the time to create astonishing artworks in the midst of the conflict.” (Syndetics)

Posters:
Posters were recognised as a powerful recruiting tool with simple slogans and strong graphic imagery designed to appeal to the working class who fuelled so much of the machinery of war. They were also used to stir up patriotic feeling, influence women to send their menfolk to the front and to take up positions in service, farms and factories. They were also used to justify the war, raise money, procure resources and to promote good standards of behaviour.

Syndetics book coverBritish posters of the First World War
“During the First World War the authorities emulated the simple slogans and strong graphic imagery of advertising posters to create a form of mass communication that was easily and instantly understood by the British public. They were aimed at the mostly illiterate working class who did more than their share to feed the machinery of war. This book looks at the art of these posters and explores the themes that emerged throughout the course of the conflict.” (Syndetics)

Photography:
Photography in the First World War was made possible by earlier developments in chemistry and in the manufacture of glass lenses, established as a practical process from the 1850s onwards.The ability of photographers to document events was limited to what they could literally see at a certain time, while the quality of their work was hampered by the limited manoeuverability of their equipment. War artists had much greater flexibility as documenters of war, particularly in the difficult conditions of the trenches.

Syndetics book coverWorld War I in colour : the definitive illustrated history with over 200 remarkable full colour photographs
“Up to now, World War I has only been seen in black and white. At the time, it was the only way pictures from the front and scenes recreated for the camera could be filmed. Now, for the first time, rare archive footage in black and white from worldwide sources, including Russia, Germany, France, Italy, the USA and the Imperial War Museum, London, has been recast into colour with the greatest care and attention to detail. The results are breathtaking, bringing a remarkable immediacy and poignancy to the war which consumed the lives of 10 million soldiers and civilians.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverImages of war : World War One : a photographic record of New Zealanders at war 1914-1918
“In this photographic collection from the archives of the Waiouru Army Museum, renowned military historian Glyn Harper has selected and annotated the story of Kiwis at the front during the First World War.” (Syndetics)

Cartoons:
For many confronted with the effects or aftermath of the war’s violence, photos were too graphic for daily consumption. Caricatures and cartoons served as a release valve—allowing citizens to make fun of politicians, or the enemy, to offset the dire realities of the day. The period was a high point for illustrated magazines, and cartoons were contemporary commentaries.

Syndetics book coverWorld War I in cartoons
“Using images from a wide variety of international wartime magazines, newspapers, books, postcards, posters and prints, Mark Bryant tells the history of World War I from both sides of the conflict in an immediate and refreshing manner that brings history alive. The book contains more than 300 cartoons and caricatures, in colour and black and white, many of which are published here in book form for the first time. Artists featured include such famous names as Bruce Bairnsfather, H.M.Bateman, F.H.Townshend, Alfred Leete, E.J. Sullivan, Lucien Metivet and Louis Raemaekers, with drawings from the Bystander, London Opinion, Daily Graphic, Punch, Le Rire, Simplicissimus and Kladderadatsch amongst many others.” (Syndetics)

Art and medicine:
Drawings, portraits and photographs were used to help the four pioneering plastic surgeons of the two world wars to reconstruct the faces of disfigured servicemen and civilians.

Syndetics book coverReconstructing faces : the art and wartime surgery of Gillies, Pickerill, McIndoe & Mowlem
“The two world wars played an important role in the evolution of plastic and maxillofacial surgery in the first half of the 20th century. This book is about four of the key figures involved. Sir Harold Gillies and Sir Archibald McIndoe were born in Dunedin; McIndoe and Rainsford Mowlem studied medicine at the University of Otago Medical School, and Henry Pickerill was foundation Dean of the University of Otago Dental School.” (Syndetics)

How the First World War shaped the future of Western art:
The First World War utterly changed the way artists looked at the world. Throughout Western art, the grim realities of industrial warfare led to a backlash against the propaganda and grandiose nationalism that had sparked the conflagration. Cynicism toward the ruling classes and disgust with war planners and profiteers led to demands for art forms that were honest and direct, less embroidered with rhetoric and euphemism.

Syndetics book coverEsprit de corps : the art of the Parisian avant-garde and the First World War, 1914-1925
“In analyzing the changes in modern art between the outbreak of World War I and the Paris Exposition des Arts Dcoratifs of 1925, Kenneth Silver shows that the Parisian avant-garde was deeply involved in French society and its dominant values and relationships. He radically reinterprets masterpieces of modern art, from Matisse and Picasso to Léger and Le Corbusier, demonstrating how their creators all refer, consciously or not, to the Great War and its aftermath.” (Syndetics)

So you love Downton Abbey…

….then you may enjoy something from the following list of fiction titles, all similar to Downton Abbey. With wealthy aristocrats, servants for every task, intrigue, corruption, romance, political and historical plot influences, all set in very grand and not-so-grand stately homes. There is bound to be a novel or two here that will help you fill the time between each episode, and new series of Downton Abbey.

BYATT, A. S. The Children’s book
COLGATE, Isabel The shooting party
FARRELL, J. G. Troubles
FOLLETT, Ken Fall of giants
FORD, Maddox Ford Parade’s end
FORESTER, E. M. Howard’s end
GALSWORTHY, John The Forsyte saga
GOODWIN, Daisy The American Heiress
GREEN, Henry Loving
HARRIS, Jane The observations
HARTLEY, L. P. The go-between
HOWARD, Elizabeth Jane The Gazalet chronicles
ISHIGURO, Kazuo The remains of the day
MARSH, Jean Fiennders keepers
MORTON, Kate The house at Riverton
SOLOMONS, Natasha Novel in the viola
VON ARNIM, Elizabeth Elizabeth and her German garden
WATERFIELD, Giles Markham Thorpe
WAUGH, Evelyn Brideshead revisited
WHARTON, Edith The Buccaneers

Need a new tattoo? : Life after the Millenium Trilogy

David Fincher’s remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has spawned a second wave of enthusiasts seeking out Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy in print. Starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the Millenium Trilogy follows journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker Lisbeth Salander through a series of conspiracies, murders and dark familial secrets. If you’ve seen the films but have yet to read the books, it’s well worth diving in. Though you’ll anticipate some twists and turns, you’ll also be rewarded with greater plot detail and a more thorough joining of the dots than is possible within the space of a film.

If you’ve already read the series, you might be wondering where to go next. Featured below is a list of titles that in some way echo the themes, characters and feel of the Millenium Trilogy. Cosy mystery fans and other delicate souls avert your eyes! Several of the authors are quite prolific, so if you find one you like there’ll be more to explore.

Syndetics book coverNemesis / Jo Nesbø ; translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.
“In Nemesis, a Norwegian bestseller translated to English, Harry Hole is an alcoholic detective heading straight for trouble. While his girlfriend is away, he reunites with a former lover, Anna, in a one-night stand. The next day, he wakes up alone, and Anna is found dead. The case is ruled a suicide, but Hole doesn’t believe it. While he quietly investigates her death, another case is building that must be solved. A string of bank robberies have left the city ravaged and several people dead, ruthlessly gunned down. The bank robbers are professional, leaving no trace of evidence behind. Hole begins to receive cryptic anonymous e-mails from someone who knows everything, including where he was last night.” (Gale Books & Authors)
Jo Nesbo will be visiting Wellington for the Writers and Readers Week in March 2011.

Syndetics book coverMiss Smilla’s feeling for snow / Peter Hoeg ; translated from the Danish by F. David.
“Smilla Jasperson is an outsider, an exile from the vast white wastes of her birth, an icy, bitter, and intellectual woman. She loves or needs no one, but is touched when a small Greenlander boy in her building, Isaiah, needs her help. When Isaiah dies mysteriously, Smilla is determined to understand why. Despite the official attitude that Isaiah’s death was accidental, she digs for answers–and runs headlong into a vast and frightening conspiracy of which Isaiah was only one casualty.” (Gale Books and Authors)

Syndetics book coverBox 21 / Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström.
“Another best-selling Swedish crime thriller translated for American audiences, this book is the work of TV personality Roslund and former criminal and current youth worker Hellstrom. Their dark and gritty tale revolves around Lithuanian sex slaves Lydia and Alena, vicious and rarely convicted mob enforcer Jochum Lang, and Hilding Oldeus, a desperate heroin junkie. Their stories converge when cranky, old-fashioned police inspector Ewert Grens is assigned to the investigation of Lydia’s horrific murder by her pimp, Lang and Oldeus get out of jail, and Grens resumes his crusade to put Lang away permanently.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverHypothermia / Arnaldur Indridason ; translated by Victoria Cribb.
“Against the backdrop of Reykjavik, Iceland, police detective Erlendur is investigating the apparent suicide of a troubled young woman named Maria. The more Erlendur learns about Maria, however, the more he suspects that she did not take her own life. Rather, Erlendur believes Maria was murdered as the result of an unusually evil scheme. As more details about Maria’s case are revealed, Erlendur examines his own life, the choices he has made, and the misdeeds of his past that remain unresolved. Hypothermia is the sixth book in Arnaldur Indridason’s Reykjavik Thriller series, which also includes Arctic Chill and The Draining Lake.” (Gale Books & Authors)

Syndetics book coverThe man from Beijing / Henning Mankell ; translated by Laurie Thompson.
“When 19 people are brutally murdered in Hesjovallen, Sweden, a judge named Birgitta Roslin becomes interested in the case. Birgitta realizes that she is distantly related to a number of the victims, so she travels to the small town to look for answers. Although the local police are unhappy about her investigations, Birgitta finds a diary that gives clues about possible motives for the crime. It seems that the murder victims were descendants of a man who oversaw Chinese workers who helped build the first American transcontinental railroad. The overseer was a cruel man who mistreated the Chinese workers. After Birgitta learns that other people related to the overseer were murdered in the United States, she suspects that the murders were motivated by violence that occurred more than a century earlier.” (Gale Books & Authors)

Syndetics book coverThe black path / Åsa Larsson ; translated by Marlaine Delargy.
“On an early spring night in northern Sweden, the body of a woman is discovered by a fisherman. Police inspector Anna-Maria Mella and her colleague Sven-Erik Stalnacke are called to Tornetrask to investigate. Identifying the body as Inna Wattrang, the head of information for Kallis Mining, Mella soon learns that Wattrang was severely tortured before she was murdered. Wanting to learn more about Kallis Mining before she meets with its owner Mauri Kallis, Mella turns to attorney Rebecka Martinsson for help in sifting through information about the company. Although Martinsson is happy to help Mella with the investigation, she is still recovering herself from a previous case. Investigating both Kallis and Wattrang’s brother, Diddi, Mella soon learns that Kallis Mining’s business dealings may be the cause of Wattrang’s death.” (Gale Books & Authors)
Also available as an eBook

Syndetics book coverThe informationist / Taylor Stevens.
“In The Informationist by Taylor Stevens, a missing-persons case draws Vanessa Michael Munroe back to the treacherous region of Africa she escaped as a teenager. While living with her missionary parents in Cameroon, Vanessa ran off with a shady gun-runner before giving up her risky lifestyle for a job in the States. Working as an informationist in Texas, Vanessa gathers intelligence for prominent clients. When a wealthy businessman, Richard Burbank, needs help locating his missing daughter in Africa, Vanessa agrees to return. Back in Africa, Vanessa meets up with her ex, Francisco Beyard, and confronts the dangers she left behind.” (Gale Books & Authors)

Syndetics book coverThe reversal / by Michael Connelly.
“The Reversal is a mystery novel by Michael Connelly, author of the Harry Bosch series. When convicted child killer Jason Jessup is set free after new DNA evidence clears his name, lawyer Mickey Haller is determined to prove that Jessup is indeed guilty. He enlists the help of LAPD Detective Harry Bosch to prove once and for all that Jessup is a cold-blooded killer. Unfortunately, time and evidence are stacked against Bosch and Haller–if they aren’t quick enough, Jessup may claim another victim. Connelly is the bestselling author of The Scarecrow and The Lincoln Lawyer.” (Gale Books and Authors)
Also available as an eBook or downloadable audiobook

For more read-alike suggestions, try Books & Authors, a book recommendation tool the library subscribes to. Just type in the name of a book you’ve enjoyed and it will (in many cases) provide you with a list of similar or related reads. They also have recommended title lists for a variety of genres; award winners; book reviews and a search tool where you can choose plot elements and other features you might enjoy in a novel.

See also our previous post on Stieg Larsson read-alikes