If you're the kind of person who prefers to read series once they're through, you're in luck! Last week's series of pieces profiling new Seattle publisher Mount Analogue is over. You should read my interview with Mount Analogue publisher Colleen Louise Barry and my reviews of Mount Analogue's books: the erasure series now on display at Open Books, the terrific collection of poetry by Ted Powers, the amazing tone poem constructed solely from captioned screenshots of episodes of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, and the pamphlet series that reimagines the idea of magazines using an ancient form of political communication.
Awful news: conservative writer J.D. Vance's very bad book Hillbilly Elegy, which has become popular as a kind of Rosetta Stone for Trump voters but which is really just agitprop for Vance's brand of conservatism, has been optioned for a movie. Ron Howard is slated to direct.
Over the weekend, it was discovered that an Indonesian comics artist named Ardian Syaf included some coded religious messages in the first issue of a new X-Men series. Abraham Riesman writes for Vulture about the reference to a Quran verse hidden on the shirt of X-Men character Colossus:
That verse is difficult to translate precisely into English, and there has been an array of attempts over the years, many of which you can read here. Generally, it says something along the lines of what the Hilali-Khan translation schema maps out as “O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as awliya (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but awliya to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as awliya, then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the zalimoon (polytheists, wrongdoers, unjust).” Whatever your interpretation, it’s not very nice to Jews and Christians.
This verse is subject to a truly fantastical amount of bullshittery in the modern era. And that bullshittery takes on a particular flavor depending on the agenda of whoever is translating the verse. Keep in mind that 75% of Muslims are non-native speakers of Arabic (I’m one of them), and of that 75%, most know a few phrases of Arabic at most; just enough to be able to perform the five daily prayers, plus some tangentially related religious terminology (I know a bit more). To put it more simply, the vast majority of Muslims around the world do not read the Quran in the original Arabic. They read an interpretation rendered into their local language. And this is where the bullshittery starts.
In the aftermath of all the upset comics fans calling for his blood and some unspecified disciplinary action from Marvel, Syaf published a post announcing, "My career is over now."
Joe and Jill Biden have signed a book deal. Hopefully Joe Biden's book will have a chapter on how to hotwire a Camaro.
Speaking of politicians we love, Wonkette's Doktor Zoom runs down the nerdy books that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (siiiiiiigggghhhhh) adores:
You’ve got your Stephen King of course, and your Neal Stephenson, the master of erudite cyberpunk who gave us Snow Crash (the main character is a guy named Hiro Protagonist), and your Tad Williams, who goes more toward the sword-n-sorcery stuff. The two novels Trudeau names are also science fictional — Ready Player One is a dystopian SF story about adventures in virtual reality, which is a far preferable place than the dying overheated Earth of 2044 that Donald Trump is helping to build right now. And La Part de l’autre is a 2001 alternate-history affair (never published in English as far as we can tell) about the life of a young man named Adolf H. who in 1908 gets accepted to the Vienna School of Fine Arts, becomes a painter, and never bothers with politics. But he does meet a nice doctor named Freud who helps him work through some issues.