Monday, March 28, 2016

What is Glen Weldon reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Glen Weldon, author of The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture.

His entry begins:
Right now I'm blissfully sternum-deep in Helene Wecker's debut novel, 2013's The Golem and the Jinni. And let's go ahead and slap a big ol' asterisk on the end of that last sentence right now, because technically I'm re-reading it.

That's not something I do a lot, but I'm doing it for this book, because the damn thing works so well, so unshowily, and with such assured grace that I wanted to go back, get a look under its hood and root around a bit.

To back up: The Golem and the Jinni is set in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century. A golem -- the legendary creature of Jewish folklore -- arrives in America from the old country utterly lost. She's been made in the shape of a woman, see, and like any golem, she is imbued with the driving need to serve a master. That master died in passage, however, and...[read on]
About The Caped Crusade, from the publisher:
A witty, intelligent cultural history from NPR book critic Glen Weldon explains Batman’s rises and falls throughout the ages—and what his story tells us about ourselves.

Since his creation, Batman has been many things: a two-fisted detective; a planet-hopping gadabout; a campy Pop-art sensation; a pointy-eared master spy; and a grim and gritty ninja of the urban night. For more than three quarters of a century, he has cycled from a figure of darkness to one of lightness and back again; he’s a bat-shaped Rorschach inkblot who takes on the various meanings our changing culture projects onto him. How we perceive Batman’s character, whether he’s delivering dire threats in a raspy Christian Bale growl or trading blithely homoerotic double-entendres with partner Robin on the comics page, speaks to who we are and how we wish to be seen by the world. It’s this endlessly mutable quality that has made him so enduring.

And it’s Batman’s fundamental nerdiness—his gadgets, his obsession, his oath, even his lack of superpowers—that uniquely resonates with his fans who feel a fiercely protective love for the character. Today, fueled by the internet, that breed of passion for elements of popular culture is everywhere. Which is what makes Batman the perfect lens through which to understand geek culture, its current popularity, and social significance.

In The Caped Crusade, with humor and insight, Glen Weldon, book critic for NPR and author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, lays out Batman’s seventy-eight-year cultural history and shows how he has helped make us who we are today and why his legacy remains so strong.
Learn more about the book and author at Glen Weldon's website and follow him on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Superman: The Unauthorized Biography.

Writers Read: Glen Weldon.

--Marshal Zeringue