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‘Maus’ author explores censorship and Charlie Hebdo attack

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Art Spiegelman, the creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “Maus.”
Art Spiegelman, the creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “Maus.”Enno Kapitza

Serious comics

With the publication in 1986 of his groundbreaking and Pulitzer Prize-winning Holocaust graphic novel "Maus" (Pantheon), Art Spiegelman made a convincing argument for comics to be viewed as serious literature.

In an upcoming talk called "Forbidden Images," he'll discuss the censorship of comic books as well as the impact of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Spiegelman sided with free speech in 2015 when PEN American Center recognized Charlie Hebdo with its Freedom of Expression Courage award. Earlier in the year gunmen who said they were members of an Islamist terrorist group made a deadly attack on the magazine's offices in Paris. The satirical magazine had been accused of fostering anti-Islam sentiment. After six writers withdrew as hosts of the ceremony to protest the award, Spiegelman was among those who stepped forward to be a co-host.

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He'll be speaking at 6:30 p.m. May 25 and 26 at the Museum of Fine Arts. Tickets are $40. The first night is sold out.

Sisters team up for bookstore

On the last weekend in February, two entrepreneurial sisters opened HyperText Bookstore Cafe in downtown Lowell. In a recent telephone interview before the morning coffee rush, co-owner Samantha Cail said they sold about 500 books those first two days and that was before their first shipment of children's books arrived.

"Our vision is a truly independent bookstore with a really thoughtful inventory," said Cail, who owns a massage-therapy business. Her sister, Sheila Cail, an aspiring speculative-fiction writer, is particularly committed to offering a strong selection of books in that genre. Sheila Cail sold her dog-walking business to focus on the new endeavor.

The cafe at 107 Merrimack St. is near Lowell High School, and the sisters hope their young adult section will attract students.

A farm table in the cafe provides a meeting place for book groups. The book shelves are on wheels so they can be moved to make room for author events, being promoted on their Facebook page.

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The "hyper" in HyperText Cafe and Books is shorthand for "coffee." And the "text" in the cafe name is shorthand for "books." HyperText also is a nod to Hypertext Transfer Protocol, known by the shorthand "http" at the start of every Web address. Once their website is up, the sisters plan to sell books online, but their number one priority is selling books person to person and creating a cultural hub.

Cookbook exchange

Would you like to try some new recipes? The Boston Public Market's cookbook exchange can help. Marketgoers are invited to donate and/or take cookbooks. When you make a donation, you're invited to fill out a bookplate noting a favorite recipe. The books are displayed in baskets and on shelves at the market near the Haymarket T stop. About 1,000 cookbooks have changed hands since the market opened last summer.

Coming out

 “Chasing Perfection: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the High Stakes Game of Creating an NBA Champion”
by Andy Glockner
(Da Capo)

 “When God Isn’t Green: A World-Wide Journey to Places Where Religious Practice and Environmentalism Collide” by Jay Wexler (Beacon)

 “The Total Package” by Stephanie Evanovich (Morrow)

Pick of the week

Katie Eelman of Papercuts in Jamaica Plain recommends "Margaret the First" by Danielle Dutton (Catapult): "This vivid novel is a dramatization of the life of 17th-century Duchess Margaret Cavendish, who wrote and published fantastical fiction and feminist plays well before it was acceptable for women to do so. Her literary ventures (and also perhaps the time that she appeared at the opera topless with painted nipples) earned her the title 'Mad Madge.' While the novel takes place in the 1600s, the explorations of marriage, ambition, and feminist ideals are timeless."


Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com.

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