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    • CommentTimeNov 8th 2012
    Think I'll be picking up The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For Collection tomorrow come payday.
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2012
    @oldhat - excellent choice.

    i haven't read either of her graphic novels yet ("fun home" and "are you my mother?") but i'm willing to bet they'd be good too.
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2012
    I finally read From Hell, and I started A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. Despite most people I know hating it, i'm digging it so far.
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2012

    Well, I recently listened to a podcast where her and Lynda Barry just talked and it was so amazing that it really made me think how I need to look them up. I've been aware of DTWOF for some time, but never really picked it up. At some point I'll pick up both Fun Home and Are You My Mother? at some point (The last one having the Fishelle seal of approval which is a good sell for me).

    And Lynda Barry. I need to find some good stuff of her. Can anyone suggest anything?
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2012 edited
    @oldhat: Barry's "Marlys" collections are fun. I believe there is a "Best of Marlys" out there. A semi-fictionalized "comeek" about her messed-up childhood.

    "100 Demons," a collection of comic-strip-essays about hurtful shit Barry had been through, was good.

    I have a CD somewhere of audio stories Barry did for . . . NPR? This American Life?
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2012
    Stefan, you know, I've heard SO MUCH about 100 Demons but have yet to find a copy. Will try my local library.

    I really love Barry's energy! She's very optimistic and has a good way of cutting through the bullshit of talking about the process, but not sinking down in to being cynical about it. I actually hope she comes to Toronto one day to do a talk.
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2012
    And just picked up the DTWOF Essential book and wow...the intro comic alone makes it worth the price.
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2012
    I still haven't finished Are You My Mother? yet, but so far it is incredible. I'm just having a hard time sitting down and devouring it because there's so many things to digest. I have (not at all serious) mom issues, and that probably adds to the problem. Plus, you know, busy writing a grant application and making art and shit.

    I'm doing a presentation for a class about autobiographical comics and just sort of researching for my own work, so I checked out two Lynda Barry books (One Hundred Demons and
    What It Is) as well as Jimmy Corrigan (which isn't really an autobiographical comic in the traditional sense, but apparently was somewhat inspired by Chris Ware's actual life) all at the same time. I need to get them all read before the 20th. Something tells me that some of these will need to be reread multiple times.

    I also have borrowed The Casual Vacancy and Everything is Illuminated from people. I don't think I'll get to them before Christmas break, but I hope to read them soon.
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2012
    @Fishelle, also please do check out French Milk by Lucy Knisley. It's about her and her mother travelling to Paris.
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2012
    Oh yes! I remember you mentioning it before. I just placed a hold on it at the best library in town, and I'll pick it up tomorrow. Thanks for reminding me!
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2012
    There's also DAR, which kind of got me through college. :)
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2012
    Oh my goodness YES. I just went back to the archive and read the very first strip and I'm already really looking forward to reading that now.
    Robin, you're the best. You know that, right?
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2012
    *grins* Nah. But glad to help!
    • CommentTimeNov 11th 2012
    Hm. Still reading through DTWOF and, while it IS a wonderful comic, I think I may have appreciated it more five or six years ago. A bit too much "I don't want to own a VCR because of the PATRIARCHY!" for me.
  1.  (10422.555)
    Read through three novels recently: Offshore, The Tel Aviv Dossier and Katja from the Punk Band.

    Offshore I read because of a good reads recommendation and it wasn't terrible, but I found it flavourless.

    The Tel Aviv Dossier was bonkers. It's set in Tel Aviv as this apocalyptic scenario breaks out where these sentient whirlwinds come from beneath the ocean and then tear up the city. Features a psychotic Fireman and a prophetic severed head, as well as a group of feral, tiger eating kindergartners, a militant intellectual faction and more. It's only a little over two hundred pages of madness.

    Katja from the Punk Band was quick witted, slick and cool. It bursts out of the gate and the pace never slows. Drug dealers and addicts and punks and star crossed lovers all on an Eastern European Island where Punk Music and Arcades and strange, fetishistic performance art rule the night.
    • CommentTimeNov 17th 2012
    Just finished 'A Confederacy of Dunces'. It made me chuckle lots.
    Such a shame John Kennedy Toole topped himself.

    About to start Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks. The Kindle edition's only £1.90. What a steal!
  2.  (10422.557)
    Hi, folks. Stepping into the room for the first time, so please forgive me if this goes a bit long.

    Oh! Question: is it permissible to discuss comics here, or is there a more appropriate place for that?

    Okay. So. Books I've read recently. There's Tom Robbins' B Is for Beer, which was a bit light, but charming nonetheless. Based on the books he's written since Half-Asleep In Frog Pajamas, I get the feeling that he's said everything he has to say, and maybe that's okay. I've enjoyed the majority of his books, and it's perhaps unreasonable to expect a guy to keep pumping out great books forever. (Okay, yes -- it's worked for Terry Pratchett so far, but...)

    I also read The Minotaur Takes A Cigarette Break, which was mentioned by Alton Brown on the Nerdist podcast. It's a touch more understated that I was hoping for, and it features that quality of magical-realism that I've never really cared for wherein people are confronted with the marvelous and extraordinary, and aren't particularly surprised or affected by it. But there's a spectral poignancy that shines through.

    And there's Zeppelins West by Joe R. Lansdale, which reads like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as written by Garth Ennis. Pretty fun, if not quite as totally unhinged as his older work.

    I appreciated Alison Bechdel's Fun Home too, and recently borrowed the Dykes to Watch Out For collection from my local library. I've caught a couple of strips in assorted comics anthologies, and the collection strengthened an impression of DTWOF that I know sounds a bit odd: it feels a lot like For Better or For Worse. Maybe that sounds absurd -- DTWOF is infinitely more politicized than FBoFW -- but the two strips still feel similar to me; most of the strips in each title are slice-of-life stories that get to the punchline organically, rather than feeling like Bechdel and Johnston came up with the punchline first and worked backwards from there. I dunno. Maybe I'm nuts. I've got an eye on Are You My Mother?, but I've got to dig my way out of an overburdened to-read shelf first. Incidentally, there's a recent Bechdel interview on The Bat Segundo Show podcast.

    The art style in DAR reminds me of Jam in the Band by Robin Enrico. Perhaps some of you are familiar?

    I remember Confederacy of Dunces fondly. I'll give Neon Bible a try soon -- I don't know anyone who's read it, so I really don't know what to expect.

    After a couple of false starts, I'm getting into The Long Earth. I knew it wasn't a Discworld novel, but my eyes were still looking for the rapid-fire yuks. I'm also slashing my way through a bunch of comics, but more on those later.

    There's been discussion of Anathem and Reamde here, and I'd like to chime in.

    The concent in Anathem was fascinating, and if one were available on this planet, I'd be there in a heartbeat. I felt that the descriptions of the passage of time outside the walls were evocative and elegant. And when Stephenson introduced Fraa Lio, I figured I had his number -- a-ha, thought I, he's going to be the ass-whoopin' Hiro Protagonist surrogate of the story. I'm in. But soon after the Evocations, Stephenson put Lio in a truck and literally drove him out of the fuckin' story. What the hell? After all that build-up, including veiled references to what Lio might be able to do with that sharpened shovel... why even put in the time to develop the character if he's going to be absent from most of the book -- especially considering the mid-book battles that could have greatly benefited from Fraa Bad-Ass. I suspect that my growing disillusionment as the book went on stemmed largely in part from waiting for the guy to show back up, but I still ended the book with the feeling that it could have been tightened up quite a bit.

    Reamde was a different beast. I used to be into James Clavell, Robert Ludlum and Eric Lustbader, so Reamde was familiar territory. I'd read enough previews to know that Stephenson wasn't getting into deep concepts, and I was okay with that.

    And then the ending happened.

    Now, look. I know Stephenson isn't great with denouement. I can point to Cryptonomicon -- which I loved -- which gives the impression that the last few chapters got lost somewhere between the publicher and the printer. I eventually got over that. But here's what we have at the end of Reamde:

    Donald Cameron and Devin Skraelin have amassed huge personal armies in T'Rain, a MMORPG environment that can provide Stephenson -- a proven master of large-scale battle scenes -- with the opportunity to do away with the limitations of physical reality and just fucking GO FOR IT. The major characters have made their way to Idaho. Yuxia's finally in a position to get even with Abdallah Jones and his buddies for her brutal treatment at their hands. There's a bunch of isolationists with plenty of guns at hand. Hells yeah -- shit's goin' down! This is gonna be good!

    Then Forthrast goes into the woods and shoots dude inna head. And everybody has lunch. The End.


    HOW the FUCK is that a satisfying ending? Did Yuxia get her own back? How many dudes from Idaho were left standing? What went down in T'Rain?

    GOD. DAMN. IT.

    When I reached the end of Cryptonomicon and found nothing there, I was eventually able to wave the wand of "well, it's, uh, just like real life, where people come into your life and leave again and you don't always know how their stories end" over it and moved past my disappointment. But action-thriller novels -- which Reamde is -- have rigid and well-understood structures, and perhaps the most important part is the bit at the end where the bad guys get spanked and the reader can examine the welts. After the end of Reamde, I can't trust Stephenson to wrap up a story satisfactorily, and that presents a huge problem going forward.

    Sweet Christmas! I didn't mean to go on for so long! I'd better stop here.

    Oh -- I've seen some folks post links to their Goodreads accounts. Here's mine.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeNov 18th 2012
    Toole's Neon Bible was good, not great. A poor rural youth dealing with the close horizons and small town intolerance.

    I'd say it is worth reading. But don't expect the insane brilliance of A Confederacy of Dunces.
    • CommentAuthorflecky
    • CommentTimeNov 20th 2012
    Current eye-fodder: Book Two of Stephen Donaldson's Gap Series - Forbidden Knowledge. I love reading about people fucking each other over in the cold vacuum of space, so this I an enjoying.

    Comics: Some Walking Dead, Planetary, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009.
  3.  (10422.560)
    If you miss the presidential election, I've just finished reading 43*: When Gore Beat Bush by Jeff Greenfield. It's an alternate history, in which the Elián González incident unfolds differently, which leads to the Cuban-Floridian vote going more strongly for Gore, which results in a clear Electoral outcome and... unexpected consequences. It's not a liberal fantasy in which Gore singlehandedly stops al Qaida and climate change before 2001 is out, and it's not cynical argument that nothing would've changed, or that Gore would've been an even worse disaster than the Shrub. Just an interesting bit of speculation of What Might Have Happened Instead.