The Prohibition era is one of the most interesting parts of the 20th century. Gangsters like Al Capone were able to create an empire out of smuggling alcohol and earn a place in pop culture legend. Chicago became a haven for criminals of all kinds and the city is at the centre of Ray Celestin’s novel Dead Man’s Blues. Taking place during the 1920s, the book focuses on a brutal crime that involves the poisoning of several Chicago politicians. Jazz, murder and industrial innovation mingle together to create a story that pops with intrigue and excitement.
Reading comics is a good way of exposing people to new ideas and exploring real life issues. More importantly, they can be an educational tool for children, which is a message that the Pop Culture Classroom (PCC) is keen to promote. Focused in Colorado, PCC was created in 2012 to educate young people through the medium of comics and sequential art. I became aware of the initiative when a member of the team, Rob Keosheyan reached out to inform me about the programme and I was happy to write about it.
We all have stories that are personal to us, whether it’s because we connect with a certain character, or because we relate to their journey. I’ve lost count of the amount of novels I’ve read over the years and I can’t remember a series that has stood out to me more than The Greatcoats quartet. Written by Sebastien De Castell, the series follows the adventures of three travelling magistrates who are determined to fulfil the final wishes of their dead king. It’s been nearly a year since the last book, Tyrant’s Throne, was released and I’ve decided to examine the themes of the series to demonstrate why The Greatcoats are so memorable.
Every day, more and more digital content is churned out in an effort to grab people’s attention. Blogs, social media posts, infographics and videos are all battling it out in an information overload. No wonder some marketers are looking for other mediums to get their message across. The most popular form of storytelling has always been novels, and brands are keen to make the most of the book format. This begs the question as to whether novels can help push branded content in a new direction, and if so, how can your business make the most of it?
Japan is known for its beauty and rich history, but the country has a dark side that isn’t explored as much as it could be. Japan’s seedy underbelly is exposed by Ryu Murakami’s In The Miso Soup, which focuses on the sex trade and Tokyo nightlife. Kenji, a young tour guide, takes an American tourist called Frank on a journey. But Frank is far more sinister than he appears to be and it’s not long before Kenji is dragged into a nightmare he wishes he could escape from.
Haruki Murakami is known for writing surreal fiction, and that can be seen in After Dark. Taking place in a single night, the novel focuses on Eri and Mari Asai. The sisters are vastly different to each other, but are connected by a sense of loneliness. After Dark stirs up a lot of emotions, with Murakami using various techniques to keep the reader guessing what will happen next.
One of my goals for 2018 is to read more widely, and that involves becoming familiar with authors from different backgrounds. I recently picked up An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro has established himself as a talented storyteller and I was drawn to the novel because of my fascination with Japan. The book features a post WW2 Japan recovering from its scars and looking towards the future.