Reexamining Mother’s Day with Margaret Atwood and “The Handmaid’s Tale”

 

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Motherhood means something other than candy and roses in The Handmaid’s Tale. Read about Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s classic as well as the Folio Society’s illustrated edition–on the Fine Books Blog. 

“To Survive, You Must Believe:” American Gods Collector’s Edition

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean; Folio Society,  $120.00, 560 pages, ages 14+. 

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Illustration copyright 2017 Dave McKean. Reproduced with permission from Folio Society.
Fans of Neil Gaiman’s award-winning American Gods (2001), rejoice: the Folio Society has recently released a commemorative edition of the 560-page genre-crossing tale of myth, fantasy, and faith. The timing is spot-on; recently adapted for television, American Gods debuted last month on the Starz network to such fanfare that the show has already been renewed for a second season.

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Illustrsation copyright Dave McKean 2017. Reproduced with permission from Folio Society.
In the Folio Society edition of the book, Gaiman’s exploration of faith in ancient and modern mythology leaps off the pages with the assistance from longtime collaborator Dave McKean, who previously illustrated Gaiman’s Sandman and Violent Cases. Here, twelve surreal acrylic and cut paper illustrations, including three double-page spreads and an otherworldly slipcase design, create, as McKean writes in the introduction, “an off-kilter, unrealistic place, where perspective doesn’t work.”

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Illustration copyright 2017 Dave McKean. Reproduced with permission from Folio Society. 
For the uninitiated, American Gods centers around a recently released convict named Shadow, who wanders aimlessly after learning of his wife’s fatal car accident during his time in prison. Shadow hooks up with con man Mr. Wednesday, and together they travel across America encountering Mr. Wednesday’s various associates–manifestations of old gods from ancient mythology now half-forgotten and wholly unimportant to 21st century folk. Gaiman’s premise is that the gods only exist so long as people remember them, and some gods resort to desperate measures to remain relevant. While the old gods fade into memory, a new breed of gods have taken over the American psyche, ones who represent humankind’s newfound obsession with social media, narcissism, and sexual power. A battle is looming, and Mr. Wednesday (who turns out to be an incarnation of the Norse god Odin) is leading the charge in a fight for the soul of America.

The Folio Society’s version of American Gods includes Gaiman’s “preferred text,” from the 2003 edition as well as the introduction from the 2005 edition, and fans unable to procure a Hill House 2003 limited edition–which fetch anywhere from $450 to over $1,000 these days–will find $120 for the Folio Society’s American Gods a relative steal.

A Book-Lover’s Guide to St. Patrick’s Day – The Fine Books Blog

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, meaning Irish pubs from Boston to Dublin will be busier than usual and just about everyone will be sporting some sort of good luck charm. However, if the idea of day-drinking and parade-hopping turns you green, there’s still a few ways to let your inner Irish spirit free, even from the comfort of your own library. Check out the bibliophile’s guide to St. Patrick’s Day – The Fine Books Blog

Great Holiday Gifts for Grownups

Why should kids have all the fun this holiday season? It’s easy to forget the grownups during this hectic time of year, and checking off everyone on your list can get pricey. Consider giving the gift of great literature without breaking the bank: The Folio Society recently released a new series called Folio Collectibles, with four classic English-language titles (A Christmas Carol, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Frankenstein) produced especially for the lineup. Why these books? “We wanted to chose popular classics that everyone should have in their library across a range of genres, said Vicky Traino, Folio Society spokeswoman. “We think that they are the perfect gift to yourself or to introduce someone to the joys of books from The Folio Society.” I’m reading Doyle’s chilling crime caper, The Hound of the Baskervilles, complete with linocut reproductions by English artist and printmaker Edward Bawden (1903-1989), who was commissioned by the Folio Society in 1987 to produce six illustrations for the book. Perhaps as exciting about the Collectibles is their price: each soft-covered, flexibound volume retails for $34.95, and perfectly sized to tote around.

Most Folio Society editions are works of art in their own right, and, at least in my house, are handled with kid gloves. The Collectibles series easily lend themselves to cozying up by the fire, book in hand, and reveling in the joys of the season. Interested? Better act fast: Holiday order deadlines are December 9 (today) for regular delivery; December 14 for express.

The Iliad, by Homer, retold by Gillian Cross, illustrated by Neil Packer; Candlewick Press, $19.99 160 pages, ages 9 and up.

Rediscover Homer’s epic poem that pitted the ancient Greeks against the fearsome Trojans in this superb retelling of The Iliad by Carnegie Medalist Gillian Cross, who also refitted the Odyssey for a younger audience. Cross has managed to take this daunting work and wrangle a fluid and enjoyable version full of action and adventure. The book opens with helpful a character map and concludes with the Greek alphabet and an appendix dedicated to discussing whether or not the Iliad was based on a true story. Illustrator Neil Packer, who collaborated on Cross’s Odyssey (2012), returns here to render the scope of human emotions with his instantly recognizable gouache and pen and wash art. (His work ought to be familiar to Folio Society fans: previous commissions for that publishing house include Umberto Eco’s The Name of The Rose (2001) and 2004s illustrated version of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.) Here, Greeks and Trojans locked in eternal battle are rendered in bold colors and appear as if they’ve been plucked directly from some ancient amphora, and it’s wonderful. (Readers interested in seeing Packer’s art for themselves can do so through October 24 at the Illustration Cupboard in London.) Printed in a large-format volume, this Iliad is a welcome addition to the picture-book world, filling the void between overly sanitized editions and those with blood practically oozing from the binding. A masterful gift for the ages.