Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You Guys Gotta Read This...

Even though the 5 of us who contribute to this blog are published writers, we don’t use this as a forum to pimp our books. While it might be tacky of me, just for random example, to rave about my April romantic comedy getting an 4 1/2 star Top Pick review— ahem —I think you guys will allow me to make an exception that’s directly related to Supernatural. So today I am tooting a collective horn—on behalf of myself, MJ and some familiar names that have popped up in the blog comments—to tell you about In The Hunt: Unauthorized Essays on Supernatural.

This is a collection of essays from BenBella Smart Pop, who previously gave us anthologies pertaining to Firefly, Halo games, the Matrix movies, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels, superheroes, Grey’s Anatomy, the Psychology of Harry Potter and about 200 other pop-culture topics. In the Hunt was written for and by Supernatural fans, whether those fans also happen to be published authors, licensed psychotherapists, or one of the three winners of an on-line fan essay contests. (Speaking of fans, there’s a Kripke quote on the back of the book which describes Supernatural as having “the smartest, most passionate, most intelligent fans of any show on television.”)

If you like Supernatural, if you have opinions about Supernatural, if you know more trivia about Sam and Dean’s upbringing than you do about, say, your own family members, if you get antsy during hiatus or whenever the show is up for renewal (I hear it was just picked up for next season—yay!), this book is for you! It goes on sale Mar 1 and you should be able to find it at most bookstores and/or on line. It’s a smart, affectionate, sometimes critical, occasionally funny, often educational look at our Show.

Some of the pieces are “forest” essays, looking at overarching thematic elements of the show across the first three seasons (this book was compiled and edited before season four aired), class systems in the show, some of the anthropological roots of the lore used in different episodes, and even the nature of good versus evil. Other essays are more “tree” focused, analyzing individual episodes, addressing specific concerns such as how to hunt demons on a budget, or secondary characters such as John Winchester, Gordon, the Trickster, Jo, and the Impala/aka Metallicar (who got two essays devoted to her, one written by our own MJ, both bringing up excellent points and complementing each other nicely). I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve had time to read so far, including one whimsical but clever contribution by Heather Swain. Hers isn’t actually an essay but more a short story written as a series of emails and other communications detailing how one die-hard Supernatural fan eventually converts a naysaying skeptic to see the value and depth of the show. At the other end of the writing spectrum were more academic essays on the gender undertones and overtones of the show; one of these was written by Jacob Clifton, whose name I recognized from his BSG recaps on TWoP. His In the Hunt essay was exactly the kind of insightful, densely written, thought-provoking piece I would expect after reading (and occasionally having to re-read) his episode summaries of other shows.

And of course, no book about Supernatural would be complete without essays focused on the brothers themselves such as Dodger Winslow’s “The Burden of Being Sammy,” my own “Dean Winchester: Bad-Ass…or Soccer Mom?” and Amy Garvey’s “We’ve Got Work to Do.”

I love the range of tones and subjects. I even love some of the titles (ie "Who Threw Momma on the Ceiling?") There seems to be a little something for every Supernatural fan in this book…except, I’m forced to note, one obvious lacking gift to us fans. Note to BenBella (apologizing in advance for sounding like my kindergartener when she's frustrated with a big book): There are no pictures!

Perhaps if they do follow up anthologies for seasons 4 and 5, they can include a pictorial essay! Until then....