The Human Side of War: Andrew Iarocci, Jack Granatstein, Thomas Weber, Denis Smyth – Nov 4th

All Proceeds from Ticket Sales Got to Restoration of The Soldiers' Tower

Four great Military Historians/Authors Read and Talk About The Human Side of War

In honour of Remembrance Day, University of Toronto Bookstore will honour the students, staff and faculty who were part of WWI and WWII by featuring four well known Canadian military authors Thursday, November 4 at 7:00 p.m. 

The event’s prominent Military Authors and Historians will read from their books, sign autographs and discuss the emotional and physical impact of war on soldiers, family friends and the community, especially in WWI and WWII.  Jack Granatstein will be discussing The Oxford Companion to Canadian Military History, Andrew Iarocci will be reading from his book, The 1st Canadian Division at War, 1914 – 1915, Thomas Weber will read from his new book, Hitler’s First War and Denis Smyth will read the amazing story, Deadly Deception: The Real Story Behind Operation Mincemeat. Images and artifacts from the Soldiers’ Tower about the U of T Alumni will be on display.

 

EVENT DETAILS:

WHAT: The Human Side of War Reading Series Event

WHERE: Great Hall, University of Toronto Bookstore, 214 College Street, Toronto, ON, M5T 3A1

WHEN: Thursday, November 4 at 7:00 p.m.  (Doors open at 6pm)

TICKETS: $15 for general admission and includes coffee and tea.  All proceeds from ticket sales go to The University of Toronto Soldiers’ Tower Visit www.uoftbookstore.com/soldiers-tower or call 416-640-5829 for tickets.

 

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The Review: Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Alan Moore and Curt Swan

Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
Alan Moore and Curt Swan
9781401227319
DC Comics, 128 pp
$17.99

Reviewed by University of Toronto Bookstore Staff, James Bell

Soon students will be returning to university campuses across the country in pursuit of degrees in English literature, and some of them will be taking courses dedicated to a subject that not many years ago wasn’t acknowledged as appropriate for study, let alone a serious art form.  In fact, being caught reading it would have been an embarrassment, a sign that the student hadn’t outgrown childish pursuits, and indicative of a level of immaturity that would have called into serious question whether the student should even be attending an institute of higher learning.  Cries of “Nerd!” or “Geek!” would have rained down upon them without mercy or apology.

Professors and their students will say they’re studying graphic novels, but often they’re really reading comic books.  The “graphic novel” rose out of the comic book tradition, but as a designation it has a complicated history.  It is often a term used to add a patina of respectability to a story that is clearly a comic.  Chris Wares’ Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth is a graphic novel, and so is Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis: they were written as complete stories, meant for the form in which they exist.  Dave Sim’s Cerebus “phone book” compilations are collected comic books.  So is Watchmen, the comic book that everyone loves, as long as they can call it a graphic novel and elevate it to the status of “literature”, because then it’s safe to study it in a way that’s still not possible with mere comic books.

Let me state unequivocally that I’m a huge fan of Alan Moore’s Watchmen and that it was a revelation to me when I read it at age 15 in 1986–month by month, eagerly awaiting the release of the next issue.  That’s how I read it, and I still have every issue, prized possessions amongst more than a thousand other comic books (pared down to just the essentials from close to two thousand–some comics, after all, don’t stand the test of time).  It’s because I read so many superhero comics that Watchmen means so much to me: the themes, rituals, and cliches of the superhero comic were embedded deep within me, just as they were with Moore himself, so that his deconstruction of them was, for me, a coming-of-age that marked a passage from childish pleasures to adult understanding.  I often wonder how much people who never grew up reading superhero comics can appreciate Watchmen or, when I’m being more generous, how their appreciation of it differs from mine.

But that sublime story, almost twenty-five years old (has it really been that long? Am I really that old?) has overshadowed the other work Moore has done in comics over the years, and people should understand that however much of an innovator and iconoclast Moore has been, most of his work has been within the comic book medium.  And as much as he was capable of writing extended story lines that played out over years in comic books like Swamp Thing and Miracleman (both of which I will proselytize about given even the slightest encouragement, so beware) he was also great at writing concise, brilliant single issues of a mere twenty pages.

“Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” is an example (this compilation includes that story as well as two stand-alone stories written by Moore).  For reasons too complicated to go into here, but in part due to the seismic changes taking place in comic books thanks to creators like Frank Miller and Moore himself, in the mid-1980s Superman, the literal grandfather of all superheroes, was facing an overhaul.  A new creative team would be taking over, introducing changes in an attempt to make Superman more “relevant”.  Superman, unleashed on the world in 1938, had a lot of history, and the new team would be scrapping much of it and starting with a clean slate.  Thankfully, someone at DC Comics had the brilliant idea of revisiting that soon-to-be-dismissed history one last time, and the even more brilliant idea of allowing Alan Moore to write it.

Moore perfectly encapsulates the history of an icon, his friends, and his enemies, stories that had played out month-by-month for almost fifty years, in less than sixty pages.  He allows the reader to revisit the characters who had become so familiar, so much a part of our lives, in a way that honours the past, and yet acknowledges the changes to come.  The reader is surrounded by the markers of more innocent times while witnessing their destruction.  The genius of Alan Moore is that, given the opportunity to revel in the past, to lose himself and his readers in youthful nostalgia, he also finds a way to speak to very adult concerns.  Moore doesn’t transcend the genre of comic books; he elevates it by his presence.  And that’s why students will be studying his work this semester, and for years to come.  Watchmen may be the pinnacle of Moore’s career, but perhaps some brave professor will add Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? to the reading list.

Buy Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow Now!

The Review: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour (Volume 6), Bryan Lee O’Malley

Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour (Volume 6)
by Bryan Lee O’Malley
ISBN: 9781934964385
Oni Press
$12.44

Reviewed by U of T Bookstore Staff, Aleks Wrobel

Scott Pilgrim is 23 years old, is in a band called Sex Bob-omb with his friends Kim Pine and Stephen Stills, and has a rating of ‘awesome’. Scott also must defeat the seven evil exes of the beautiful Ramona Flowers in order to win her heart.

Scott’s story starts in 2004 with Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life (Volume 1). Readers were introduced to Scott and all the members of his precious life and immediately fell in love with the Canadian loser. Fans couldn’t wait for the next volumes, and the independent comic book artist and writer Bryan Lee O’Malley suddenly became a local celebrity. Even Hollywood took notice and Scott Pilgrim finally met the world on the big screen this summer. Scott Pilgrim vs the World directed by Edgar Wright and starring Michael Cera, opened on August 13th and was one of the most highly anticipated films of the summer.

Except for the occasional battle with an evil ex, not much happens to Scott. O’Malley wrote the first Scott Pilgrim book as a joke for his friends, creating characters that were 20-something-year-old stereotypes, and put them in a familiar setting: Toronto. Scott’s sister works at Second Cup, midnight cravings are satisfied at Pizza Pizza and the gang’s favorite hang out is Sneaky Dee’s. Toronto fans immediately recognized the world that O’Malley writes about as their own. However, this world is a nerd’s paradise. Each battle with an ex borrows heavily from the video game format. There are ninjas, robots and a vegan with psychic powers. Scott collects lives, points and tips on how to win the girl.

In Volume 6 Scott has defeated almost all of the evil exes. The only one left is the one that really matters: Gideon Graves. Unfortunately, when we find Scott in Volume 6, he’s lost the will to do anything that doesn’t include moping around his apartment. In Volume 5, Ramona disappeared right before his eyes and no one has seen her in months. It’s difficult to talk about the books without giving too much away and Volume 6 is the most important volume of the series as evidenced by the nearly 2,000 die-hard fans who flooded the street at a local comic book shop’s midnight release party. On all the summer reading lists for 2010, fans will be excited to know that Scott does get off his rear end and confronts his issues, the results of which are ultimately satisfying for the reader. Volume 6 gives us fight scenes that are better than ever and there’s enough relationship drama to keep things interesting. O’Malley knows what his fans want and does a good job of giving it to them. Each Pilgrim book depicts the life of the millennial loser-turned-hero. And everyone needs a good hero, even if he is in a band.

Buy Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour (Volume 6) Now!

Reading Series: Win Tickets to Memoirs in May, May 18, 2010

Email cnelmes@uoftbookstore.com to enter to win a double pass to the intimate Memoirs in May event:

Reading Series:  Memoirs in May - Judy Fong Bates, Sarah Hampson, John Doyle, James Fitzgerald

Video: Bill McKibben and Margaret Atwood for the Launch of Eaarth

View the full set of videos.

Photos: UofTBookstore Reading Series: Margaret Atwood & Bill McKibben

Margaret Atwood chats with Marc & Leanne LeClair @ UofT Bookstore's Reading Series Event

Margaret Atwood @ U of T Bookstore

Bill McKibben chatting with Margaret Atwood: The Reading Series, Toronto

Margaret Atwood @ UofT Bookstore

Margaret Atwood @ The Reading Series, Toronto

Margaret Atwood Engaging Chat with Bill McKibben

Guests @ Margaret Atwood & Bill McKibben Event @ U of T Bookstore

Bill McKibben reading from eaarth at his book launch, Toronto

Margaret Atwood makes Bill McKibben laugh with her fantastic sense of humour

Bill McKibben Autographs Book, eaarth

Bill McKibben in conversation with guests at eaarth, book launch

 

Pictures from Richard Vandentillaart.

Did you Attend Intimate Conversations with Bill McKibben and Margaret Atwood?  What did you think?  The video is coming soon – We’d  love to hear your comments on their conversation.

 

Video of the event is coming soon.  Want to come to the next event – register early.  Sign-up for our eNewsletter

Bill McKibben, eaarth

As part of the Reading Series, Bill McKibben’s new book, eaarth was launched to a sold out crowd at U of T Bookstore 

Bill McKibben's, eaarth

 last night.  Margaret Atwood had a conversation on stage with him.  There are only about a dozen books left in the store today – I think almost everyone bought one. 

Before the event started a man ran into the store and desperately wanted to purchase McKibben’s book because he had heard him speak on CFRB and Canada AM earlier that day.  We asked him if he’d like to leave it with us and we’d have it signed for him, but he said, “No, I just really need to read it”.  Need.  

Need indeed. 

All of us need to read Bill McKibben’s book, eaarth.  It’s written for a general audience (meaning, while it’s full of facts it doesn’t read like an essay, technical journal or a manual).  In fact, it’s dripping with sarcasm, with ideas never thought of – such as the impact the environment has on the psyches of war torn countries and sooo, so much more.  eaarth is not about changing our light bulbs – it’s bigger than that, it’s about needing to ask governments to change environmental legislation and not renege. 

Well, I needed to read it before the event yesterday.  I was the MC for the night.  I raced through Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and The Year of The Flood – they were great reads, as we usually come to expect from Margaret Atwood.  I read the advanced reading copy of eaarth last.  I have to admit the reason I had read it last was that I thought it was going to be a daunting affair, that my brain, being more artsy than science-based, wouldn’t be able to fully comprehend, that I’d have to sit beside my computer to look stuff-up. I knew Bill had a huge following and that he was the top dog at www.350.org, but I thought the book would be about proverbial “flux capacitors.”    

Well, as fate would have it – I needed to read that book.  It was a great read, chocked with things that have made me see the world around us a lot and I mean a lot differently. I was absorbed in the book, like a child full of wonder.  The week before I read eaarth, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the weather in Toronto, last week.  Now I think, last weekend I wore shorts, during the week I carried an umbrella for three days rain and then yesterday, the day environmentalist, Bill McKibben was in the store it snowed.  The “creative” side of my brain couldn’t have thought up that type of punctuation to begin my intro on stage when he covers things like that in his book. 

Previously, I skimmed through the “environment-type” issues in The Metro, on my commute in to Toronto on the Go Train.  There seems to be information overload on environmental stories, like health stories – what to eat, what to do, what not to do, wine is good for you, wine is bad for you type stories.  Last week, on one day in the paper there were two big environmental issues… 

“The death toll hits 100 in Brazil from rains and mud slides – the heaviest deluge on record.  In our own Toronto city, Grassy Narrow, residents came 1800 kilometres to march in front of the legislature because, and I quote, “the water has stopped flowing in a clean way and it has become our poison.  Mercury poisoning in the First Nation is worse than in the late 60s, early 70s when a paper mill dumped the equivalent of 9-thousand kilograms of mercury into the Wabogoon River.  McKibben’s book speaks to what big business has done in regards to mercury and how it affects the planet as we know it. 

I’m not saying I would have not read the stories in the paper – I like to keep up on current events.  What I am saying is how reading one book, that I needed to read for work, changed my thoughts.  Look what we’ve done to our world.  Global warming does exist and those 100 people in Brazil may be alive today if we didn’t have more rain.  Grassy Narrow residents are fighting for what we in Toronto take as fact…we turn on the tap and clean water comes out. We did this, government policy did this. 

I needed to read this book, I needed to see the world differently – I needed to change.