Saturday, May 30, 2009

What we're reading

The first novel by the creator of the Lemony Snicket series and musician with indie guitar band The Magnetic Fields is a black comedy charting the downfall of Flannery Culp, a world-weary high school senior. The Basic Eight of the title refers to her elite gang of friends, from the glamorous, to the kind, to the jadedly cool – but when the Basic Eight are infiltrated by Flannery’s rival and nemesis, her life spirals out of control, with fatal results.

Written in the form of a journal with faux study questions at the end of each chapter, The Basic Eight is both a witty satire of the American high school genre and a thrillingly cool twist on the Columbo-style murder mystery where the murderer is revealed at the beginning, and the mystery revolves around how the killer got caught. And just when you think the twists can’t get any more treacherous, Handler springs his biggest surprise…


The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler
Published by Allison & Busby Books, available in-store at 4.99 (while stocks last)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

War, what is it good for?

Fantastic retro comics, is what. Just arrived in Secondhand, old (and highly collectible) issues of Commando, plus Conflict Libraries, War Picture Library and Combat Picture Library series, not to mention some volumes of the Cowboy Adventure Library and Sabre series.

The pocket-sized Commando, or Commando War Stories in Pictures to give them their full title, were launched by DC Thomson & Co. in 1961 and celebrated its 4,000 issue in 2007:

Classic World War II movies are one source of inspiration for the stiff-upper-lip Tommy, but for those who came of age during the 60s and 70s, memories of childhood comics are perhaps as great a contribution.

Writing in the Observer, Will Hutton made the link: "For those who lived in the world of Commando comics, in which the dashing squaddy or Spitfire pilot always heroically triumphed in a trial of honest Brit against foreign evil, the contrast is bitter..."

In their heyday, British war comics, like Victor ("True stories of men at war"), Valiant and Warlord, shifted by the Bedford lorry load. Commando, which began in 1961, is all that remains of this history, and continues to sell healthily to this day. Four editions are published per fortnight, and this week the 4,000th issue goes on sale, snappily titled "Aces All".

Each pocket-sized edition houses a 63-page black and white saga of square jawed heroes and dastardly villains (mostly Teutonic types typically exclaiming "Achtung!" when surprised, "Schnell!" when in a rush, and "Aieee!" when shot), clashing mostly on the WWII battlefield.

Available at Chapters Secondhand while stocks last.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Iain Banks signing

We would like to thank everyone who braved the rain and came along to the Iain Banks signing yesterday. Everything went off without a hitch and the long queue of fans were taken care of in record time.

Iain has a new book, Transition, coming in early September, which he talks about in an interview here. Until then you can enjoy his fantastic back-list of both sci-fi and literary fiction novels, all available in-store.

A big thank you to the inimitable Mr Banks from all here at Chapters. Hope you enjoy the whiskey.