November 2009

Anthony Horowitz is considered one of the top television dramatists in the UK, as the mind behind such shows as Foyle’s War, Midsomer Murders, numerous adaptations of Agatha Christie’s Inspector Poirot tales and, most recently, Collision, currently airing on PBS’ Masterpiece Contemporary (the miniseries concludes at 9 p.m. on Nov. 22; Part One encores at 2 a.m. on Nov. 21, for those with insomnia or TiVo).

But his biggest success hasn’t come from his reality-based dramas but a series of children’s books about a teen spy: Alex Rider, a teen James Bond-style secret agent whose latest adventure, Crocodile Tears, was just published in the States on Nov. 17. Horowitz will appear at Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh on Nov. 22 for a signing-line ticket event at 2 p.m.

Read the full interview with this acclaimed creator here!

“Do you want to be a part of history?” asked the flyer in N.C. State’s Caldwell Lounge. Below that question were the words, “Come learn about life as a CIA analyst.” Below that was, “Drop by and chat with officers from the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence.”

And below that, in capital letters: “FREE PIZZA.”

This was worth investigating.

The haunting tale of one man’s misguided efforts to penetrate the secrets of the world’s most mysterious agency, and get some free Diet Mountain Dew.

Click here for the full, chilling story.


A conversation with Edgar Sawtelle author David Wroblewski

11 NOV 2009  •  by Zack Smith 

David Wroblewski didn’t think his first novel, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, would even sell to a publisher: “It’s kind of an old-fashioned story, and I don’t think we’re into old-fashioned stories right now,” he said recently by phone, taking time out from his tour to promote the paperback release of his novel.  

Instead, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle became an old-fashioned success story. After toiling for a decade on the book, Wroblewski saw it finally published last year to rave reviews, best-seller status and, perhaps most significantly in today’s market, an Oprah’s Book Club pick.

Read the full interview here!

The MAGIC of Lev Grossman, Part Three

By Zack Smith

 Our three-part talk with The Magicians author Lev Grossman concludes with a look at the future of comics, the experience of surviving Comic-Con, a literary debt to Larry Niven, and what fans might see in a sequel to his book.

Read the full interview here!

The MAGIC of Lev Grossman, Part Two

By Zack Smith

 Our three-part talk with Lev Grossman (part one can be read here), author of The Magicians continues today. In this installment, we discuss the evolution of comics, how The Magicians may or may not have its roots in fanfic, influences on the book, and much more.

Read the full interview here!

The MAGIC of Lev Grossman, Part One

By Zack Smith

Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.

Lev Grossman’s third novel, The Magicians has hit the bestseller list and earned rave reviews since its release in late August. It’s the tale of Quentin Coldwater, a young, smart fan of a series of fantasy novels about a realm called Fillory, which he longs to escape to.

But Quentin gets the next best thing when he finds himself accepted to Brakebeaks, a school of magic where he not only learns incredible secrets, but also finds the love and friendship he’s been looking for. After school, though, Quentin and friends find themselves without direction…until they gain the opportunity to access a mystic realm, with terrible secrets they may not escape.

Read Part One of our in-depth interview with author Lev Grossman here!

By Zack Smith
 Memoirs about unhappy childhoods are common, but David Small’s Stitches  is anything but.  Growing up with emotionally-distant parents, Small developed a cancerous mass as a result of his father constantly exposing him to high-powered X-rays.  The result left him barely able to speak above a whisper. 

But gradually, Small was able to find his voice – both literally and figuratively – and go on to a successful career as a Caldecott Medal-winning writer and illustrator of children’s books. But he recently stepped into darker and more personal territory with Stitches, his first graphic novel.

We discuss his acclaimed book at Newsarama, which you can read here.


So I was featured in Pop Candy doing a “Top Five” list of flims that make me cry.  I might enjoy some severe mocking for this.

You can read the list here!

Reprinted from the Independent Weekly

Caleb Calypso and the Midnight Marauders
Manbites Dog Theater
Through Nov. 14

Local playwright Howard L. Craft (A Touch of Sugga) explores a little-observed moment in American culture in his new play Caleb Calypso and the Midnight Marauders, currently enjoying its premiere at Manbites Dog Theater. Set against the backdrop of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the play explores the lives of U.S. soldiers stationed in West Germany with realism and humor.


Click for larger image • “Caleb Calypso and the Midnight Marauders”
Photo by D.L. Anderson


With a premise somewhat reminiscent of David Rabe’s Streamers, Craft uses the barracks setting as a microcosm of conflicting backgrounds and values in the world outside. It’s a smartly observed play that, nonetheless, could use more of the drama of its historical setting to give it more edge.

We follow 10 American soldiers, most notably Private Caleb “Calypso” Stephens (J. Alphonse Nicholson), who dreams of studying music and becoming a rapper, along with his friend and fellow grunt “Chill Will” (Trevor Johnson). Various subplots unfold around Calypso and Chill Will that involve pregnancy, past regrets and an expert sniper (David Greenslade) with a potentially career-ending secret. The play takes pains to paint the parallels between the world of two decades ago and the world today; footage of Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush opens the show, and the shadow of Iraq hangs over the production.

The dialogue between the soldiers has an unforced, naturalistic feel; standouts include Lucius Robinson as the satanic Dresner, who gives an articulate yet understated menace to his line readings, and John Rogers Harris as the laid-back sergeant capable of explosive authority when necessary. Calypso suffers, though, from a lack of escalating drama. Many scenes are well written and acted, but there are some plot points, and even characters, that could be cut. One narrative strand about a pregnant girlfriend adds little to the story.

There are interesting issues regarding the racial and cultural shift of the late 1980s at work in Caleb Calypso. Still, the show feels more like a slice of life than a dramatic story; furthermore, the ending is a bit abrupt and on-the-nose. Overall, though, Craft’s play is a smart, privileged look at a little-known corner of a pivotal historical moment, and it offers great authenticity and humor in its best scenes.


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