Magpie Monday

Here are some shiny things that caught my eye recently:

♦ I came across so many wonderful images of bookshelves this week I didn’t know what to do with myself. Here are three that really struck my fancy:

The first is this really lovely image from Book Mania. I love how stuffed the shelves are.

The second is this bookshelf that looks like an open book from Bookshelf. How cool it is!

The third comes courtesy of Chocorua Review. Thank goodness I don’t have a staircase else mine would surely look like this!

Some other images of bookshelves that caught my fancy—and which you should click through to see—are (1) this growing cabinet, which extends the bookshelf by pulling out shelf drawers—too sweet; (2) this “eclectic rustic vintage classic modern living room” (what sells me, of course, are the floor-t0-ceiling bookshelves); (3) this photo of the Shiba Ryotaro Memorial Museum, which holds the 20,000 books in Ryotaro’s collection; and (4) this shot of a book sculpture by Matej Kren in the Prague Municipal Library.

Keira Knightley by Ellen Von Unwerth for Vogue Italia, January 2011

♦ Sadly, the wonderful artist Leo Dillon died on May 26th. He and his wife Diane made some of the most beautiful cover art for adult book covers (including a ton of science fiction and fantasy covers) and some truly breathtaking illustration for children’s books. Irene Gallo at posted a nice tribute to Dillon, as did io9, and The New York Times had nice obituary (all three featured many of the Dillons’ pieces–please look at all of them).

Mansa Musa by Leo and Diane Dillon

The Girl Who Spun Gold by Leo & Diane Dillon

♦ Book Nook.

Check out “The Evelyn Variant” by Nicholas Rombes, which is a nicely creepy science-fiction story (some might disagree with the label “science fiction”). Found via a link from Elizabeth Hand on Facebook.

I am really excited about Margo Lanagan’s new book, The Brides of Rollrock Island (due out in the U.S. in the fall)—it’s about selkies, which should explain everything to you. Lanagan wrote about selkies and how they inspired in her in “Knitting with Seaweed” at Katherine Langrish’s blog. The British cover is below, which I think I prefer to the American version:

Oddly enough, none of these “terrifying French children’s books” looked so very terrifying to me. I have a strange compulsion to buy them all, though. In a related post, io9 offered the best scenes from the most demented German children’s book ever published. Ah, Der Struwwelpeter!

The inimitable Kate Beaton has some new Wuthering Heights cartoons—be sure to check them out! Here’s my favorite (probably because it makes me think of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”—well, kind of):

This past week AlphaBooks, an alphabetical tumblr exploration of fictional characters curated by Ben Towle, has moved to the B’s. Do click through to see some fantastic art. Below is my favorite of the B’s: Bloom, from “Ithaca,” Chapter 17 of James Joyce’s Ulysses, by Leah Palmer Preiss (click through to see more of her work). Her Bloom is based on a sketch by Joyce. She writes on her blog about this piece:

In this scene Bloom discovers that he has forgotten his key & decides to scale a fence to get into his house without waking his wife. I had to contort poor Bloom quite a bit to make him into an admittedly  wonky “B”. But I imagine he had to contort himself too, to get over that railing!

Click to embiggen!

♦ Despite my devout compulsion to being on time to everything, I actually have quite a poor internal sense of time. If I’m not careful, I can lose hours and hours (and often do, much to my chagrin—if only I could blame it on blackouts or multiple personalities). That’s why I found Annalee Newitz’s article “How Do You Know What Time It Is?” to be so fascinating.

I liked learning the 10 weirdest ways that ancient rulers died. I’m weird that way. (Okay, I’m weird in a lot of ways.)

♦ DC Comics is bringing Alan Scott, the Earth 2 Green Lantern, out of the closet. Check out these posts from The Beat, io9 (with this follow-up), and Straitened Circumstances for all the news, and read this post if you need some help understanding who the gay Green Lantern is. I know some people were hoping for Batman, but, come on, that’s never going to happen, no matter how tantalizing.

Speaking of comic books, please enjoy 10 perfectly reasonable explanations for “Superdickery.” Also, check out, which is hilarious.

♦ Those of you who keep blogs or websites will no doubt relate to this post about comments from Warren Ellis. I have to say, his speculation about comments systems (the last full paragraph) made me laugh out loud!

♦ Check out these delightful paper pop-ups by Jenny Chen. Tip of the hat to Jennifer, who sent me the link.

Radio Free Other (my friend Andy) has a new blog post: Song of the Wicker Man. Do go check it out! Speaking of music, check out Cliff Chiang’s imagining of DC superheroes as the Runaways. I love it!

Just after I shaved off my beard (the first time my chin’s seen the light of day in at least six years), scientists prove that a goatee makes you look evil (technically, the scientists are talking about a Van Dyke rather than a goatee, but eh–what are you going to do?).

Fairy tales are in the news more frequently of late, since Hollywood is trying to revive the genre for adults (and since Snow White and the Huntsman opened this weekend). What I think is interesting is the articles that have come out about how dark and disturbing the original tales are. io9 offers 10 creepy details glossed over by modern versions of fairy tales (actually, a lot of modern versions don’t gloss over the creepy details). LitReactor offers a similar list of “disturbing” tales in Grimmly Fiendish: The Horror in Fairy Tales (I don’t quite understand why Wilson relies on Bettelheim, as he’s fallen out of favor with contemporary fairy-tale scholars). I suppose I shouldn’t complain; it’s good that fairy tales are getting some acknowledgment by the mainstream as being more complicated than the Disney retellings. At least Wilson used an image by le fantastique Benjamin Lacombe, and I in turn shall use another image from his Blanche Neige:

Le Corset de la Mort by Benjamin Lacombe 2010

♦ Gavin Aung Than made a wonderful cartoon based on a quote from Neil Gaiman’s recent commencement address. Check it out!

Writers’ Corner.

Chuck Wendig offers 25 things to know about writing the first chapter of your novel.

Good advice from Lynda Williams with her 5 Steps to Yes: Make a Good Impression with Your Cover Letter.

What’s the difference between capturing an emotion and creating a mood? Charlie Jane Anders offers some free advice.

Elizabeth Spann Craig offers some thoughts about preparing for a writing career (all of these preparations are essential, I’d say).

I like to know things, and I like to know secret things, so I enjoyed this peek inside the notebooks of famous authors, artists, and visionaries.

Nick Cave's handwritten dictionary of words, 1984

I’m not sure I’ll ever write one, but if  I do I’ll remember the top 5 mistakes writers make at a crime scene.

Nick Mamatas shared a preliminary remark for one of his workshop students, though the last line of his post is what spoke to me: “Sometimes people take a class and all they need from it is to be told that they don’t need the class” (the comments are also interesting). I’ve wanted to say something similar to only a few of my students, but, man, what students they were (you know who you are).

Damien G. Walter had a post about the conflict between autobiography and fantasy for the writer, which I thought was really interesting. Theodora Goss offers a response to Walter and says, “I find that the only way I can actually write about myself, about the story of my life, is through fantasy.” The same is true for me, of course; I can’t even conceive of stories that don’t have some kind of fantastical element to them.

Stag Shades by Eva Sangnoir

One might argue that the best way for writers to learn how to write better is to study other writers. In that spirit, if you want to write better dialogue, check out LitReactor’s list of 10 authors who write great dialogue and then go study their work.

In a nuts-and-bolts post, DIY MFA demystifies dialogue punctuation (via).

I’m a big fan of using lines from old poetry for titles of stories. So of course I enjoyed reading Jo Walton’s list of titles taken from William Blake’s “The Tyger” and Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress.”

Caroline Starr Rose offers 9 tips on plotting a novel in verse (via).

“Shadows Meet the Clouds, Gray on Gray, like Dusty Charcoal on an Ashen Brow, Nation’s Poets Report” at The Onion. I cracked the hell up. Thanks for the link, Andy!

Cameron introduced me to M83, and I’m glad he did. If he hadn’t, I probably would never discovered their two new videos, which feature psychic children and (in the second video) telekinetic battles. (Oh, and the songs rock, too.) I can’t wait for the next part!

Also, Fugu & Tako, a film from visual effects group ROBOT, “follows the story of two Japanese salary men who’s lives radically change when one of them eats a live puffer fish in a sushi bar.” And, of course, as the trailer below illustrates, madcap shenanigans ensue! I really want to see this film. Via.

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4 Responses to Magpie Monday

  1. Laura says:

    I love Magpie Monday! I’m trying to limit my Facebook usage (yes, really) so am writing to you here. As you know, I am also a bibliophile. I plan to work on redoing my house this summer and may call upon you for suggestions!

  2. Caroline says:

    I love all of those images of the bookshelves. I totally want the one that looks like an open book. Also, the top one with the books crammed in every which way? Yeah, I only have one bookshelf (uggggh) at the apartment, and it looks just like that in mini version. As always your blog gives me far too much to look at!

    • rstutts says:

      The open-book bookcase is too cool. But, really, any bookshelf is cool with books on it.

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