The North Wind Summer Top Five

NW Staff

Top five books
By Jeff Frey

5. “The Angel’s Game” June 16
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, author of “The Shadow of the Wind,” will release a new novel this June. Set in Barcelona in the 1920s, “The Angel’s Game” follows writer David Martín as he uncovers the dark history surrounding his mansion home. It may be considered a prequel to “Shadow,” but it is an independent page-turner in itself. Zafón is a writer who can keep you up untill the early hours of dawn, engrossed in a book.

4.”Censoring an Iranian Love Story” May 5
“Censoring” is an evocative novel by Shahriar Mandanipour that tells the story of the author’s namesake as he writes a love story in a land where doing so is forbidden. Sara and Dara fall in love between the bookshelves of a library, concealing their affection in secret messages. The book shows their story, including everything the author is forced by law to cross out. Lines of dialogue, sentences, and whole paragraphs appear deleted in this sensual and insightful novel.

3. “Pygmy” May 5
The author of cult classic, “Fight Club,” returns with a new novel with prose that promises to confound its reader just as much as Chuck Palahniuk’s most famous work. “Pygmy” is the story of a thirteen-year-old agent sent from a totalitarian state, disguised as a foreign exchange student, in order to complete a terrorist operation. The writing may be confusing, but with some patience and work, this new installment into Palahniuk’s body of work may prove a hilarious and welcome addition.

2. “The Year of the Flood” September 22
Margaret Atwood, well-known author of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Surfacing” returns this summer with a post-apocalyptic drama. “Flood” is a story of two survivors of a great disaster, Ren and Toby. Atwood’s careful prose guides them through an altered world, looking for others who have survived. “Flood” promises to be one of her most inventive novels, and it will no doubt be supported by her shadowy and thoughtful style.

1. “Inherent Vice” August 4
Los Angeles in the 1960s is the setting for Thomas Pynchon’s latest novel, “Inherent Vice,” a nearly noir, almost psychedelic story of private investigator, Doc Sportello. He finds himself wrapped up in an extravagant plot to kidnap a wealthy land owner, meeting ex-cons, surfers, hustlers and an undercover tenor sax player among others along the way. Pynchon illuminates this genre story with his own brilliantly personal touch.

Top five movies
By Scott Viau

5. “Drag Me to Hell” May 29
If Sam Raimi’s name was not attached to this I would have no interest in seeing it, but given the fact that this is the same man behind the “Evil Dead” trilogy, it’s definitely worth a look. “Hell” tells the tale of a girl who turns her back on an old gypsy woman in need and is subsequently stricken with a curse that will ultimately lead with her being dragged to Hell, unless she can find a way to stop it.

4. “Harry Potter and the Half- Blood Prince” July 15
Although the last installment didn’t live up to the hype, the trailers for the penultimate “Potter” make it look like it’ll be up to par with the book, despite the film’s recent PG rating. In this chapter of the “Potter” saga, Harry must turn to Dumbledore and a mysterious new professor at Hogwarts for lessons on the boy who became Lord Voldemort and what may be his only weakness.

3. “Bruno” July 10
After the hilarious and controversial “Borat,” Sacha Baron Cohen returns with his character of Bruno, a flamboyantly gay Austrian. “Bruno” will follow the same format “Borat” did by having the character run around exposing the hypocrisies and prejudices around America. If the trailer for “Bruno” is any indication of things to come, we’re in for a raucous and uproarious film.

2. “Inglourious Basterds” August 21
A new Quentin Tarantino movie is always something to celebrate, and after seeing the trailer for his latest film, “Basterds” could be his best movie yet. Centered around a group of Jewish-American soldiers led by Brad Pitt, the troop travels around striking fear into the hearts of Nazis and each is assigned with a task of collecting 100 Nazi scalps. Hopefully by the time the credits roll we’ll all be seeking 100 Nazi scalps.

1. “Up” May 29
Whenever a new Pixar film is set to be released mouths typically fill with saliva in anticipation of another masterpiece. “Up” presents us with elderly Carl Fredericksen, who, after the death of his wife, wants nothing more than to travel the world in his house, which flies through the air with the aid of thousands of balloons. What he didn’t want was to have young Boy Scout Russell tag along. If Pixar was to ever teach its young (and old) audience about life and death, loss and love, “Up” would be it.

Top five video games
By Josh Snyder

5. “Infamous” (PS3) May 26
2009 is shaping up to be the year of the open world game and it kicks off with this PS3 exclusive. Players take on the role of Cole McGrath after a strange accident leaves the fictional Empire City in ruins, but also leaves him with the power to harness electricity. Just picture “GTA IV” except you can shoot people with arcs of electricity from your hands and you get the point. For those few who own a PS3, this game is a must-buy.

4.“Fight Night Round” 4(XBOX360, PS3) July 31
“Fight Night Round 3” properly introduced gamers to next-gen technology, but the lasting power of the game went far beyond its amazing physics and attention to detail. It was easily one of the most fun sports games ever made. Finally, a sequel is coming this summer, with even more realistic physics and an even greater attention to detail. Forget “Madden 10” – “Fight Night Round 4” will be the best sports game of the year.

3. “Wii Sports Resort” (Wii)July 26
I’ll be honest, I’m not all that excited for the sequel to the game that came packed-in with every Wii console. Although it does sound like fun, it’s the hardware that comes with it that sounds much more promising – Wii Motion Plus. Basically, this add-on to the Wii-mote will allow true 1:1 motion, meaning as you move the Wii-mote, the game will mimic your exact movements in real time. This is the hardware that every Wii owner has been waiting for, and plenty enough reason to pick this game up.

2. “Prototype”(XBOX360, PS3) June 9
Don’t pass this off as yet another open world game – “Prototype” will easily be one of the stand-out titles of the summer. Although the story may be similar to “Infamous,” the game is different in just about every other way. Players control shape-shifter Alex Mercer who can literally consume enemies or civilians and gain their memories, obtaining clues that will help him solve the mystery of a strange attack which hit downtown New York. Brutal in its violence, yet beautiful in the freedom it gives players, this game is definitely a must-own.

1. “The Conduit” (Wii) June 23
The Wii was designed for first person shooters (FPS), yet with a few exceptions, no one has taken advantage of the system’s unique controls. But that will all change with this exclusive FPS. After an alien attack on Washington D.C. (noticing a pattern here?) players control Agent Ford as he tears his way though hoards of alien armies. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, there will also be 12 player online death match. Add to this the high level production values and a fully customizable control set-up and you have what could easily be the best game of this summer.

Top five music albums
by Adam Dompierre

5) Sunset Rubdown — “Drag on Slayer” June 23
Spencer Krug made a name for himself as the co-leader of Wolf Parade, but his side project is equally impressive and far more prolific. Even after two amazing albums in the past three years (particularly 2006’s “Shut Up I am Dreaming”) Sunset Rubdown remains one of indie rock’s most underrated bands. This summer’s “Dragon Slayer” will look to turn more people on to their brand of poignant rock ‘n’ roll.

4) Sonic Youth — “The Eternal” June 9
Almost thirty years after they first formed in New York City, Sonic Youth still pushes the envelope creatively. “The Eternal” marks the noise-rock legends’ first release on Matador, and the band has been keeping followers updated on the album’s recording process through Twitter. Intriguing updates like “mixing a secret ‘something’ for Matador early shoppers” have fans counting the days till June 9.

3) Eminem — “Relapse” May 19
It will be interesting to see if Eminem’s skills have faded during the four years he’s spent on the sideline. “We Made You,” the disc’s first single, is not particularly good. Sarah Palin jokes haven’t been funny for at least six months and the chorus could hardly be more grating, but Eminem’s cadence remains unquestionably sharp. Darker material has always been his forte anyway, so hopefully more substantial subject matter will make “Relapse” worth the wait.

2) Grizzly Bear –“Veckatimest” May 26
Grizzly Bear has been amassing indie cred for the last couple years now, and 2009 is shaping up to be their biggest year yet. The experimental rockers have lined up a nationwide tour in support of their third LP, with stops at Bonnaroo and the Pitchfork Music Festival along the way. And if all that wasn’t enough, Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood recently identified Grizzly Bear as his “favorite band in the world.”

1) Bob Dylan — Together Through Life April 28
Calling Bob Dylan a musical genius is perfunctory praise at this point, but it’s worth reiterating nonetheless. After a fallow period in the ’80s and early ’90s, Dylan is in the midst of a dramatic creative rebirth; a handful of critics have argued that his last decade has surpassed even the ’60s in artistic merit. While that feels like a reach, there’s no denying the brilliance of his last three studio albums. Dylan’s ceiling is still appreciably higher than anyone else’s, which makes this album the most anticipated of the summer.