Eisner, Will. Life, in Pictures: Autobiographical Stories.

NY: Norton, 2007.

Eisner is very much the godfather of the modern graphic novel. There’s a reason the field’s most important award is named for him. This fat compilation volume brings together five previously published pieces, two of them quite long, which are drawn from his own life and ancestry — and if not entirely in a factual sense, then in tone and in general approach.

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Hammett, Dashiell. The Thin Man.

NY: Knopf, 1934.

Hammett, one of the fathers of the modern detective story, only wrote five novels, of which this was his last, about the wealthy and sophisticated Nick and Nora Charles. It’s difficult to read about Hammett’s other famous detective, Sam Spade, without imagining Bogie, who made the character his own but who also played the hardboiled Spade pretty much the way the author wrote him. When Nick and Nora came to the silver screen, though, William Powell and Myrna Loy mostly just played themselves, and they mostly played the Charleses for laughs. And that’s not at all fair to the book, which certainly wasn’t written as light comedy.

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Hill, Reginald. Recalled to Life.

NY: Delacorte, 1992.

The previous episode in the detecting and crime-solving adventures of Superintendent Andy Dalziel and DCI Peter Pascoe of Mid-Yorkshire CID was a little shaky, in my opinion, but Hill redeems himself with this thirteenth book in the series. It may be the best yet; it’s certainly the most psychologically complex.

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Crais, Robert. Lullaby Town.

NY: Bantam,1992.

This is only the third installment of the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike private detective series and the body count continues to rise. This time he’s hired by Peter Alan Nelsen, a very famous movie director/producer, to locate the man’s ex-wife, Karen, and his now twelve-year-old son, Toby, whom he hasn’t seen in a decade. Nelsen is an egomaniac; he gets whatever he wants in Hollywood, so he assumes he’s entitled to it and that this also extends to the rest of the world.

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Auchincloss, Louis. Diary of a Yuppie.

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986.

Robert Service is a thirty-two-year-old New York attorney, a specialist in corporate takeovers, who, after eight years as an associate in his large firm, has been promised a partnership at the beginning of the year — but does he really want it? Service analyzes absolutely everything around him and a close analysis of the leadership of his firm leads him to conclude that it’s a slowly sinking ship.

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Johnson, Marilyn. Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rabble.

NY: HarperCollins, 2014.

I’ve been an archaeology junkie all my life, starting with my reading of Gods, Graves, and Scholars: The Story of Archaeology in 5th Grade many years ago. The summer after my freshman year in college, I was an unpaid volunteer for the National Park Service’s Missouri Valley Basin Project on the upper Great Plains — which mostly meant holding a surveyor’s rod steady, but I loved being associated with the guys who were searching for Indian hunting sites.

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Price, Richard. The Whites.

NY: Henry Holt, 2015.

I’ve been aware of Price for a few years, ever since the rave reviews of Clockers, but I hadn’t gotten around to reading him before now. But this one has been on everyone’s “Best of the Year” list, so I gave it a shot. I’m glad I did. It’s certainly on my own list of the year’s best.

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Knisley, Lucy. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen.

NY: First Second, 2013.

I’m a big fan of Knisley’s graphic novels, even though they usually contain no fiction whatsoever. She writes from her own experiences, often in a confessional style, and does it very well indeed.

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Finney, Jack. From Time to Time.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

This author’s first novel, Time and Again, is widely considered, by both science fiction fans and the field’s most experienced authors to be THE BEST time-travel novel ever. Most days, I would probably agree with that opinion. So it’s a bit disheartening to find that this sequel, written twenty-five years later, isn’t up to that standard. Not even close.

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Busiek, Kurt. Marvels.

NY: Marvel Publishing, 2008.

I read a lot of graphic novels, but not often of the superhero variety. Comic books, in the traditional sense, just don’t do much for me, especially those from DC and Marvel. Still, I know who the main characters are, and the Justice League and all that — it’s been part of American cultural history since the ’60s, after all — and this one came highly recommended, so I gave it a shot.

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