cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (books)
Higuri You: Angel's Coffin
(I bought this without even bothering to flip through it, because it's You Higuri! And I love her! I have to remember not to do that any more).


Higuri You: Cantarella vol. 10
(annnnny time you feel like finishing this, Higuri...

Please?).


Tezuka Osamu: Dororo vol. 3
(not much of finish to the series, but the ride is entirely too enjoyable to for me to want to complain).


Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 7
(C'mon, what the fuck happened to Kenji, man? AAAARGH I need the rest of this series yesterday).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (SHOCK DISMAY WHAT WHAT)
~EDIT~
Okay, this is a much better link: the fuller Journalista announcement by Dirk Deppey, who is in great part responsible for this. And the shorter original announcement. And Matt Thorn himself would be good, too right? Yeah.

It is for things like this that I love Dirk Deppey so much. I 'specially enjoyed Dirk's little history on the making of that spectacular shoujo issue for the Comics Journal, a few years back. (I still treasure my copy.)
~EDIT~

~EDIT EDIT~ Aaaand, my write-up in the manga_talk community, here. Man, The last time I unintentionally repeated the word "work" that many times in close succession, I was writing a paper about Richard Smiraglia ("Smiraglia has done wonderful work on this near-comprehensive work on the nature of the work").
~EDIT EDIT~


Matt Thorn has a manga line! Or he will soon, anyway. Matt Thorn is apparently going to curate and edit a line of manga for Fantagraphics--is the meeting of a scholar I respect and admire with a publisher I respect and admire, and anticipate I'll be giving a lot more money in coming months.

I actually got a little hysterical with glee when I read the bit about Moto Hagio. I woke my cat up with all the weird noises I made, and he was asleep two rooms over.

By the way, I think I've read some of that Shimura Takako manga mentioned farther down in the article, and if it's the one I'm thinking of, it's pretty fantastic, and cause for celebration all by itself.



Aaaaand I'm going to go lie down until the spasms of joy have passed. I think the last time I was this thrilled was when I heard that VIZ was preparing to publish both 20th Century Boys AND Pluto (at the same time! So I wouldn't have to wait two or three years! Again!).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (why is there spring in this winter?)
Non fiction:

Skloot, Rebecca, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

(Everybody should read this book. Especially if they work in medicine, or any life science, or for that matter, any social science, but even if they don't; everybody should read this book. Everyone, bar none, has a stake or a potential stake in what the material of this book covers.

Rebecca Skloot pretty much now a personal heroine of mine for this work--for doing it, for doing it right, for taking the time to do it right, and to do right by Henrietta and her family. I feel that this is almost a case study in how to write about an important medical subject and to decently represent the human interests involved--in this case, the woman, her life and her death, her circumstances, and her family, past and present. Henrietta Lacks is one of the most important people ever born in the world. I'm not exaggerating. She deserves nothing less than this book, and probably much more.

I come from a social sciences background to begin with, plus we just covered ethics in that silly mandatory information evaluation class I'm taking right now, so ethics was kind of on the brain anyway; I am practically humming with the importance of treating human beings like human beings in your work, whatever your work may be. I hope this book ends up as mandatory reading in a million college classes, maybe high school classes, too, and teaches people about the intersection of science and humanity and ethics, and the right way to deal with the human beings you'll be working with if you do science. Or, you know, anything at all in your entire life).


Novels/prose books:

Mystery:

Stout, Rex: Trio for Blunt Instruments.


Comics/graphic novels:

Foglio, Phil and Kaja: Girl Genius, book five: Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess.


Manga:

Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vol 7.
(sob sob sob. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I just, I knew this was coming but oh man I hoped and pretended and looked askance because this is an adaptation, and Urasawa can do whatever he wants! He didn't have to! Oh gosh. I have to go lie down now.

By the way, I read this volume in ten minutes flat, standing next to my bookcase with its stacks of unread manga, fist jammed into my mouth, barely breathing. Hoping I was wrong.

sob.)
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (autumn travels)
Romance:

Beverley, Jo: The Rogue's Return
(Better than Dangerous Joy; not as good as The Secret Wedding).


Mystery:

Stout, Rex: Three for the Chair
(includes "A Window for Death," "Immune to Murder," and "Too Many Detectives").


Graphic novels/comics:

Cooke, Darwyn: Parker: The Hunter (based on Richard Stark's prose novel)
(Umm. Great art. Icky, kinda misogynistic story).

Barnes, Bill, and Gene Ambaum: Reader's Advisory : Unshelved 7
(I bought this at ALA Midwinter, along with a truly fabulous "What Would Dewey Do?" shirt. It's autographed by Bill and Gene! The book, not the shirt, that is.

The forecast: scattered humor).


Manga/Manwha:

Azuma Kiyohiko: Yotsuba vol. 7.

KookHwa Huh, writer, and Sujin Kim, artist, Pig Bride vol. 1.

Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 6.

Yazawa Ai, Nana vol. 20
(Aaaand there's that spoiler omg).

Yoshinaga Fumi, All My Darling Daughters.

Yoshinaga Fumi, Ooku vol. 2
(sob. ...sorry, I can't help it. For some reasons, the stories in this series make me want to cry my eyes out and keep me from sleeping at night. Frickin' Yoshinaga).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Romance:

Beverley, Jo: Christmas Angel.

Crusie, Jennifer: Bet Me
(both Crusie and this book particularly are major favorites of a friend of mine. I didn't love the book nearly as much as her, but it's a good book. It's easy for me to see why she loves it so much, knowing her--I bet she imprinted on Min like a baby duckling on its mama).

Phillips, Susan Elizabeth: Natural Born Charmer
(soooo much better than the other Phillips I tried, What I Did For Love. I fell in love with the first chapter, cooled slightly over the course of the book, but was consistently impressed by the way Phillips portrayed Blue's artistry--she showed it very naturally and consistently, in a way that made Blue feel like a real person).


YA:

Ono Fuyumi: The Twelve Kingdoms: The Vast Spread of the Seas
(apparently between the initial meeting of Naokawa/Shoryuu/En and Rokuta/Enki five hundred years ago and their current state of their uber-competent rule and the moderate harmony of their interpersonal relationship, there were a few decades of dissonance. The book is about that, as well as about their initial meeting, which I already know from the anime.

Spoilers. )


Graphic novels:

Lutes, Jason: Berlin: City of Smoke: Book 2.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Mystery:

Heyer, Georgette: Detection Unlimited.


Romance:

Beverley, Jo:
The Secret Wedding
An Unsuitable Man
Dangerous Joy
(After reading The Secret Wedding, I waxed ecstatic to several people about how the newly-discovered-for-me Beverly is the closest thing to reading Georgette Heyer Regencies I'd found yet. After reading An Unsuitable Man and Dangerous Joy, then going to visit my parents in Austin and reading a couple more Heyer romances and mysteries, I have to take back the comparison--Beverly's one of the better romance novelists I've run across, but Heyer's pedestal sits higher still, and Beverly's really not close at all.

The Secret Wedding was pretty awesome in terms of plotting, pacing, prose, sexiness and characterization, and I was impressed by her ability to address modern feminist perspectives and concerns--rape, women's general lack of independence, agency, and financial power in 19th century England, etc--in a way that was not jarring or ahistorical. She did what I thought was an pretty good job of balancing romantic fantasy and historical reality. I could have lived without the cute magic animal, but it was also less intrusive and ridiculous here than in Dangerous Joy.

Dangerous Joy and An Unsuitable Man are among the better genre romances I've read--I haven't read that many, except for Heyer, who really is in a class by herself--but didn't live up to the high expectations I had of Beverly after The Secret Wedding. C'est la vie. I'll continue to look for books by her to read, since if a lesser book by Beverly isn't necessarily better than 90% of everything else out there, it's still a decent read, and her better books are pretty damn good.)


Heyer, Georgette: These Old Shades
(the best part about reading this was how my mother, who probably hasn't read it in years, could still remember the names and roles of all the characters in it, and could recall the context of every little bit that I read aloud. I know I can't do that for many prolific genre authors who primarily write stand-alone works with no carryover characters. I can't even remember the names of most of the protagonists unless they're in the title).



Comics/Graphic novels:

Kafka, Franz, author, Peter Kuper, artist/adaptor: The Metamorphosis

Lutes, Jason: Berlin: City of Stones: Book One.

Geary, Rick: The Adventures of Blanche
(Geary has never seemed so weird to me).



Manga:

Asano Inio: What a Wonderful World vol. 2.

Ito Junji: Flesh Colored Horror.

Hatsu Akiko: Devil in the Water.

Mori, Kaoru: Emma vol. 10.

Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 5.

Urushibara Yuki: Mushishi vol. 6.

Yasuhiko Yoshikazu: Joan.

Yoshinaga Fumi: Ooku vol. 1
(words cannot express how much I adore the Shogun. Holy shit, man. I like Yoshinaga's male characters just fine, but if she decided to write nothing but female characters from now on, I would have no complaints).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (books)
I have to do this now because library books are due, and it got cold and snowed and the heat came on, so I can't keep piling these suckers up on the radiator.


Non-fiction:

Tyler, Royall, ed.: Japanese Tales
(this is an anthology of medieval Japanese stories--not folk lore, but rather stories written by upper-class members of the imperial court. I started reading this sucker back when I worked at the bookstore, some three years ago. It's a slow read, although an interesting and worthwhile read for people who are a) interested in Japanese history and culture, b) folklore and fairy tales, or c) Shinto and Buddhism. I'd heard for years about how Shinto and Buddhism harmoniously co-exist in Japan, but until I read this book, I never fully understood how that worked--I'd imagined peaceful mutual tolerance, but it's really more like a deep blending. You read about things like travelers going down some dangerous, haunted path, running into danger in the form of a powerful kami, and praying to a Buddhist figure. The menacing kami, however, sees that the traveler is a devout Buddhist, and, being a devout Buddhist his/her/itself, spares the traveler. It's a little bit like the way that various kinds of Western supernatural lore--vampire and werewolf myths--intermingle with Catholic imagery and Catholic beliefs--holy water, crosses, prayers, consecrated ground and whatnot).



Mystery:

Matsumoto Seicho: The Voice: Short stories by Japan's leading mystery writer
(In some other decade, I guess. It took me a few stories to adjust to the fact that in every story, the twist was signaled in about the first quarter of the story, and the rest of the story would be dedicated to following events to some logical end. I kept wanting some second twist closer to the end of a story, and it kept not happening).


Stout, Rex: Too Many Cooks
(Um, yeah, as [livejournal.com profile] snarp said, for a white guy writing in 1938, he didn't do too bad. And the story is Stout's usual strong stuff. But if the n-word or any of several other racial or ethnic slurs are dealbreakers for you, I would not read this.

I think Stout's racist like he is sexist--his is the worldview of an intelligent, thoughtful, sophisticated, creative, permissive and rather generous personality who is not, like, spectacularly socially enlightened for his era--I think he fits into his zeitgeist; he doesn't push the boundaries of his world. As a white chick who like snappy writing and vintage mystery, I find it easy and worthwhile to forgive him, but he does sometimes write things that need forgiving).



YA fiction:

Gaiman, Neil: The Graveyard Book
(I try to avoid Gaiman's prose books, because I don't enjoy them, but this was pressed on me by someone who knows my taste, and knows I adore Kipling. And, well, I finished it, which for me is pretty good when it comes to a Gaiman prose work, but I wish I hadn't known that it was a riff on Kipling's The Jungle Book before I read it, because then I would have been pleasantly surprised, instead of disappointed that it wasn't more like it. I love Kipling something ungodly fierce, and although Kim edges ahead by a hair as one of the most beautiful, loving, dream-like tributes to a real lost homeland I've ever read (the racial politics are actually really interesting, and not just massively depressing like, say, Heart of Darkness), The Jungle Book is nearly my favorite Kipling work. Gaiman's social politics are certainly easier to navigate than Kipling's (I mean, he did actually mean well, and he loved, loved, loved India, but boy was he racist), but if I was going to put them up next to each other, that's the only place where Gaiman would win for me.

Okay, will someone please tell Gaiman, for the love of god, that giving characters names like "Shadow" and "Door" and "Nobody" is fine when you're writing for comics--although it's still godawful cutesy--and the name is not the main signifier, but that when you're writing straight prose work, giving characters hideously unsubtle names like that is like slamming the readers in the head with a giant fucking brick over and over and over every single page? And to please stop it. Stop stop stop.

Alternatively, if people would stop trying to make me read Gaiman's prose work, he could continue to write books about people with BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS SYMBOLIC NAMES and using other textual tricks that so work better in a visual medium than in prose, and people who like that kind of thing could enjoy them, and I could ignore them in peace).



Graphic novels/comics:

Beaton, Kate: Never Learn Anything From History
(the only complaint whatsoever I have about this fabulous collection of Beaton's comics is that I had read them all recently enough to be able to remember them pretty well).


Hinds, Gareth: Beowulf
(hmm).



Manga:

Akino Matsuri: Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo vol. 6.


Asano Inio: What a Wonderful World! vol. 1
(okay, I remember these. I was so thrown, because I was sure I'd read some of these stories before when I heard they were licensed, but I started with volume 2 and didn't recognize any of them.

If you like Asano, you'll probably enjoy these. If you don't, you probably won't).


Azuma Kiyihiko: Yotsuba vol. 6
(the translation in this volume felt weirdly stiff--it's all still funny, and god knows, the art is expressive enough, but I know this could be better. Not the work, but the translation. Bummer. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm sorry ADV isn't publishing this anymore, because they were doing it better than Yen Press).


Tanaka Masashi: Gon vol. 3.

Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 5

Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vol. 6
(bawl).

Yasuko Aoike: From Eroica With Love vol. 4.


Yazawa Ai: Nana vol. 18-19
(bawl.

My love for Nana K. continues to grow in a way I never envisioned when I picked up volume 1 of this book, lo those three or four years ago. There is something profoundly satisfying about watching a callow youth mature into real adulthood, and I think Nana K. has experienced more genuine positive growth as a person than any other character in this entire series. Some of her decisions are kind of anxiety-inducing, but they're decisions she made thoughtfully and even selflessly, and she follows though on them in a steady way that's kind of unimaginable for the person she used to be).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:
Bierce, Ambrose: Fantastic Fables
(hmm. Lots to be said. Aesop's Fables, as written by a sophisticated late 19th century cynic; cynicism palls really, really fast. It's interesting, but at least from my perspective, not entertaining).


Romance:
Heyer, Georgette: The Talisman Ring
(I liked it! As I generally do with Heyer. She's very good, you know).

Sutherland, Peg: Queen of the Dixie Drive-In
(When [livejournal.com profile] telophase shipped this to me lo those many months ago, I meant to do an in-depth snarky review of it in lieu of payment. But I never got around to it, and then school happened. I think it was mostly okay? The prose didn't send me screaming and it wasn't hugely misogynistic or anything).


YA:
Jones, Diana Wynne:
The Game (way too short, but a good read. Loved the bit with the pork chop, and also how well the reveal worked with the prior characterizations; Jones always does that kind of thing well. There's a little part of me that keeps waiting for her to do some kind of truly pan-mythic story, but maybe that's not fair, especially at this point; she's a basically Western Civ gal, and I know that. And she does pretty good stuff with Greco-Roman/Western European/British Isles mythology; it's not as if she's stagnated with it).
The Spellcoats (reread),
Conrad's Fate (reread),
House of Many Ways (reread),
--totally meant to go on in more detail about all these rereads, but, as I said, school happened.


Light novels:
Ono Fuyumi:
The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow
(I wanted to love this, and Yoko, as much as [livejournal.com profile] bookelfe did, but I didn't. I felt better about that after I went back and reread her post on it, and her comments about why she identified so strongly with Yoko--identifying with a character is always YMMV, and I'm not that person. But I totally get the bit about it subverting fantasy tropes. It's fascinating for that, and the more I go back and look at it, the more I like the structure and plot. The prose of the translation is unimpressive, but the story is good).

The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Wind
(awww baby kirin. And, while reading this book, I found myself suddenly hugely in love with the entire universe--reading the second book made me love the first more, and made me desperately want more of the entire world, and all the characters. I begin to get used to Ono's mind, and I like it).


Graphic novels:
Foglio, Phil and Kaja: Girl Genius book four: Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams (holds up well on a reread).

Warren, Adam: Empowered vol. 5 (awwwwww fuckity.
But I'm relieved. I expected to cry a hell of a lot more than I did. I am simply grateful that I didn't cry more than I did. I think this series will eventually rip my beating heart from my chest and set it on fire, because that's what Adam Warren does to your heart. And you then say, "thank you sir, may I have another? Because I adore your clever writing, even though you obviously want to hurt me.")


Manga:

Akino Matsuri:
Genju no Seiza vols. 6-7 (was that another PSOH ref with the kirin? Say it's so, Akino!).
Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo vol. 5

Mori Kaoru: Emma vols. 8-9 (oh shit the Meredith bedroom scene was so hot! There is no sex, although there is sexiness, but the intimacy--emotional and physical--is so pure and tangible I kept having to put the book down and go oof).

Ninomiya Tomoko: Nodame Cantabile vols. 15-16.

Otsuka Eiji, writer, Yamazaki Housui, artist: Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service vol. 9

Takaya Natsuki: Fruits Basket vol. 22

Umino Chica: Honey & Clover vol. 4.

Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vol. 5 (and here I'd just boasted to my LCS guy that I knew everything that was gonna happen because I didn't see Urasawa deviating from the basic structure of the plot as outlined in Tezuka's The Greatest Robot on Earth. So far, he hasn't, but this is fucking Urasawa, man. He's a master of suspense. He will surprise you, and he will make you hang. And he'll do it well. It's why he's awesome and we love him.

Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 4

Watanabe Taeko;
Kaze Hikaru vol. 11
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Graphic novels:

Slade, Christian: Korgi v. 2
(Sadly, not as compelling as volume 1, although I don't think it's precisely a crafting issue. And it's still about fire-breathing giant corgis and their human pals, which is wonderful.

Sprout, for the record, looks exactly like my parents' red-and-white Pembroke Welsh Corgi, whom I raised from a pup and helped to train).



Manga:

Yoshinaga Fumi: Flower of Life v. 4
(I recall hearing, prior to reading this myself, comments from people that this seemed like an odd left turn in the series, or a strange way to end it. I suppose I can see why people might feel that way, but it neither surprised me, nor seemed strange or inappropriate to me. The series kicked off with a shockingly upbeat introduction to a kid whose life had been derailed by a life-threatening illness; it occasionally revisited some of the consequences of the illness--light-heartedly, but sincerely. Thematically, it makes perfect sense to go back to that, and touch at some of the things we were happy to ignore at the beginning; that's also pretty standard for Yoshinaga, who loves to make you rethink your assumptions. I dig that kind of thing in storytelling, which is part of why I love her, and come to think of it, may be an aspect of what I like in mystery.

Incidentally, I'm still the only person I know who actually liked the ending of the Planetes manga just as it was, and thought it was perfectly appropriate for the material, although I won't claim I liked it better than the ending of the Planetes anime, which I adore without reserve).


Kawakami Junko: Galaxy Girl, Panda Boy
(josei manga from Tokyopop's defunct Passion Fruit line, under which they published also Mari Okazaki's Sweat and Honey, which I liked much better than this. The whole time I was reading this, I was absolutely convinced I must have read other work by Kawakami--her linework, particularly in the lines of her mouths, feels incredibly familiar to me--but I have subsequently been unable to find the name of any title by her, licensed or scanlated, that I know I've read. I went and flipped through all of my josei manga to see if maybe I was just confusing another artist's work for hers, but nothing. It's a mystery).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Mystery:

Stout, Rex: And Be a Villain (Wolfe),
Before Midnight (Wolfe),
Black Mountain (Wolfe's little Roman Holiday. Eastern European holiday, that is, and a follow-up of sorts to Over My Dead Body),
Three at Wolfe's Door (Wolfe),
The Final Deduction (Wolfe),
Bad for Business (Tecumsah Fox. Fox is like a blend of Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe, and although he is as awesome as neither, he's still pretty entertaining),
Double for Death (more Fox),
Alphabet Hicks (Neither a Wolfe or a Fox mystery, and in the feel of the reading, just a little nastier than normal Stout. Prior to the events of the book, Hicks, the protagonist, actually suffered permanent consequences of the sort Cramer is constantly threatening Archie with, and he's bitter, and so is the book),
A Family Affair (Nero Wolfe, and the darkest Stout I have ever read. The introduction claims it's Stout's Nixon novel, which I believe. Nixon comes up in the book, but I think what that really refers to is not Nixon, but the jarring, unexpected, and upsetting betrayal that the plot hinges on. This reminded me of reading Georgette Heyer's Penhallow--it's a disturbing work from a writer who is normally fun and comfortable. It also has what I think might be the single most romantic scene I've ever read in a Stout book, when Archie goes to visit Lily. They're both so self-possessed and capable, and their non-exclusive relationship so relentlessly casual that to see Archie, feeling vulnerable, go to Lily is impossibly affecting).


Graphic novels/bandes dessines:

Larcenet, Manu: Ordinary Victories: What is Precious.

Rodriguez, Jason, editor: Postcards: True Stories that Never Happened
(Jesus, this was boring).


Manga:

Azuma Hideo: Disappearance Diary
(also boring).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
News! Noah Berlatsky of The Hooded Utilitarian has kindly invited me to be a guest blogger at HU for a few weeks while Bill Randall is on vacation. I'll start next week. I'd tell you what I'm planning to write about, but at this very moment, I haven't decided. Probably manga, but who knows.


Prose books:

Mystery:


Stout, Rex: Prisoner's Base
(wow, one of the best Stouts yet. There are a couple of great moments along with the standard snappy voice and the wit--one genuinely creepy, which is not standard Stout, and one where something gets under Archie's skin enough that it bleeds over into his narrative voice. Also, a very nice twist on the normal Wolfe/Goodwin standard operating procedures).

Stout, Rex: Death of a Doxy
(this features one of Stout's best female characters, in my mind, and I generally quite enjoy the way he writes women to begin with, especially the witty ones who go dancing with Archie.

I was bummed when I finished Prisoner's Base, because it's the last Stout in my local library, and I now have to wait for my library network holds to arrive. Yesterday, I was looking around the library for something as portable as a Bantam paperback and as engaging as a Nero Wolfe mystery to take with me to work, and finding zilch. Sometimes I underrate authors like Stout and Heyer, who are pretty fluffy genre authors--fluffy they are, but they're thecreme de la creme of genre fluff, and it's surprisingly hard to find work that good that hits the right notes. I'm picky about my narrative voices, at least when it comes to light entertainment, and Stout and Heyer have exactly the kind I like. That's harder to find than a decently written plot, says I).


Graphic novels/comics:

El Rassi, Toufic: Arab in America
(Last Gasp. Holy shit, was this ever depressing. I had a hard time getting through it, because every page just drained the energy out of me. It's not that the difficulties and indignities, profound and petty, of being a member of an unpopular minority group are so surprising to me, but being reminded of them is still a major downer even when you are intellectually aware of them.

The form itself is nothing exciting, kind of stiff and distant. Like a lot of non-fiction, though, it gets an additional weight from the knowledge that the experiences El Rassi relates really happened to him, and not so long ago, or so distantly. Also, there's something about the way he draws himself that crawls into my heart, a little--dark-eyed, withdrawn, reserved, sometimes with fear, sometimes with anger and alienation, trudging through the trials of his life, confused and aching.

He's got it way more together than the image of himself in the book, though--he couldn't have put this together if all that confusion and aching hadn't produced a lot of insight).


Katchor, Ben: Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District
(This one, I gave up on. It's mildly interesting, but although I can enjoy its brand of ironic absurdity in small doses, an endless stream of it is just boring. It doesn't build on itself in any way that I could see--I don't really see why it needed to be a book).


Manga:

Tezuka Osamu: Astro Boy vol. 5.

Hiwatari Saki: Tower of the Future vols. 6-7
(I shoul read more than a volume of this every six months, because I keep losing the plot, and Hiwatari's twisty plots are part of her appeal).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Non-fiction prose:

Nicholson, Geoff: The Lost Art of Walking
(didn't finish it--I don't quite remember why now, but I think it was because it was sort of boring and mostly about the author's own experiences walking, rather than being a more general treatise on the act of walking. The latter would have been informative; the former is pretty dull).


Mystery:

Stout, Rex: A Right To Die
(While I appreciate that Stout probably meant well in making race the theme of this book, he probably shouldn't have, because he does a lot of dumb things. The bulk of his work predated the Civil Rights Movement, and racial relations seem to have crept up on him in the last decade of his very long and prolific career. However, the various wince-inducing race-related moments in this book have nothing, absolutely nothing, on the introduction by David Stout--no relation to Rex--which was written in 1994, and kicks off by saying that although there's nothing wrong with a white woman and a black man in a relationship, we all have to look deep into our hearts in order to realize that. Oh, David Stout, FUCK YOU. Rex Stout was a man of his time belatedly recognizing the significance of Civil Rights, and his racial sins were sins of omission, not something more toxic. And he was trying. There is no racist apology in the book itself that equals David Stout's implication that interracial relationships are shocking and taboo and morally troublesome. To to say something that asinine in 1994, in the service of introducing a not particularly transgressive work? Go to hell).

Stout, Rex: And Four to Go, Black Orchids, Trouble in Triplicate
(all very enjoyable, all lacking the mild ambition of discussing race in any way, all lacking people of color, which is pretty standard for Stout. As I said, sins of omission. I'm white and don't know much about the history and racial politics of New York circa 1930-1960, so that tends to be easy for me to ignore).


Graphic novels/comics:

Bechdel, Alison: Dykes and Sundry Other Carbon-Based Life-Forms to Watch Out For.

Rabagliati, Michel: Paul goes fishing
(less about fishing and more about the heartbreak of miscarriage. It's a good book, but not all that well structured. The other Paul books were stronger).

Robinson, Alex: Tricked
(Hated the rock star guy--the romance was underwhelming, and I felt no sympathy for him at all, nor interest in how his sudden fixation on Lily made his life better. It didn't make him a better or more interesting person, it just made him happy, and I don't care. Generally, I hated or barely liked most of the characters, and the conceit of their lives all becoming intertwined until they culminate in that one climactic moment--eh. I've seen it done much better).

Delisle, Guy: Burma Chronicles
(waaaaaaay better than Shenzhen, in many ways, and more of a genuine pleasure than Pyongyang, which was almost purely upsetting. For whatever reason--because he was here with a wife and child, because his wife was deeply involved in humanitarian work in Burma, and the related politics of that, because the length of his stay and his more relaxed lifestyle permitted it--Delisle actually seems to have gotten to know people in Burma, and learned about their lives and culture. While China's political system is by no means ideal to me, Delisle's criticisms of Shenzhen seemed, well...shallow, uninformed, ethnocentric, and lacking in real critical perspective--there is legitimate criticism of China to be made, quite a lot of it, but he wasn't doing it well, and he came across as totally uninterested in people's actual lives. Not the case here. Although life in Burma is pretty depressing and scary in many ways, same as in Pyongyang, this is a much warmer book nevertheless--the description of the betel-nut chewing, the Water Festival, the love of children that made Delisle's infant son very popular in his neighborhood, the deeply emotional, quiet reverence that the locals hold for Aung San Suu Kyi, sitting silently under house arrest in a decades-long act of political protest--all of this made for a much richer, more interesting, less ethnocentric book than Shenzhen. This one, I can whole-heartedly recommend).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (city life)
Books

Non-fiction:

Brunvand, Jan Harold: The Baby Train and Other Lusty Urban Legends
(since it's just a reproduction of Brunvand's columns from the 1990s, it's not as interesting as his other books, which are more in-depth explorations of the history of legends cited; nevertheless, this was a good read).

Mystery:

Stout, Rex: Not Quite Dead Enough, and Over My Dead Body
(I think the biggest appeal of these, aside from the fact that they date from, and depict the fascinating world of mid-century New York City, is the extremely witty prose. Archie Goodwin is as funny as he thinks he is, and it's really fun to read).



Graphic novels:

Blanchet, Pascal: Baloney: A Tale in 3 Symphonic Acts
(Drawn and Quarterly. As gorgeous as the last Blanchet I read).

Campbell, Eddie: The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard
(First Second. He was indeed amazing and remarkable).

Kuper, Peter: Mind's Eye: An Eye of the Beholder Collection
(NMB ComicsLit. I wouldn't really call these visual puns, as Kuper does--Furuya's Short Cuts were visual puns; these are more like Jeffery Archer stories with a twist ending, only the twist is often not much of a twist).

Kuper, Peter: Upton Sinclair: The Jungle
(NBM ComicsLit. A more perfect marriage of original work and adapter I cannot imagine. This is so totally up Kuper's alley).

Larcenet, Manu: Ordinary Victories
(NBM ComicsLit. I've identified one of the many draws for me in reading non-US comics is the possibility of seeing a lovely, unfamiliar landscape through the eyes of someone who knows it well, which does happen here).

Maxx: Bardin the Supperrealist
(Fantagraphics. And superreal--and surreal--it is!).

Morse, Scott: Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! vol. 1
(nice use of a metaphor. I remember being put off by something in the book when I read it--I don't know what now, though. Art's fabulous; Morse is extremely talented and knows his way around a comics page).

Stavans, Ilan, writer, and Roberto Weil, artist: Mr. Spic Goes to Washington
(I'm always trying to improve my comprehension of written Spanish, so I had a Spanish/English dictionary while I was reading this. Alas, there were words my dictionary didn't know--like "vato," which I assume is a noun--they're presumably either slang or just not common enough to make it into my little paperback dictionary. Oh well).


Manga/Manwha:

Akino Matsuri: Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo vol 4
(hark! Do I espy arc plot? I hope so! But even if I don't, I don't care. I love all facets of PSOH).


Byung-Jun Byun: Run, Bong-Gu, Run!
(NBM ComicsLit. This is really all about the city landscape, and the harshness of city life, etc, which was perfectly evident to me as I read the book, and was borne out by the afterword. Still, I found the artist's vision of the urban landscape to be lovely, and not frightening or lonely or alienating at all. I don't know whether that's a failure on the part of the artist, to properly convey the perceived evils of the city, or a failure in me to overcome my love of the city and be horrified by a way of life that to me is both acceptable and even desirable, or if it's just genuinely more ambiguous than the person who wrote the afterword realized...

I do see the seeds of alienation, the unnaturalness, the coldness, the artificiality here, and the rare images of the countryside are so much softer and warmer--but some of those lushly detailed splash pages, the delicately colored renderings of the city streets--I can't help but see them as beautiful, and as legitimate sites for human happiness. Sinclair's The Jungle this is not.

By the way, I really loved this book, especially the art. And the aforementioned vision of the city that maybe I'm not supposed to like, but I do. I enjoyed all of the books in this post, but this was my favorite by a mile).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (woman with hamster)
Romance

Quinn, Julia: Romancing Mister Bridgerton
(this was off my friend's A shelf. It's not what I would think of as an "A" book, but it was certainly better than the last one).


Mystery

Smith, Alexander McCall, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
('twas ok. Unless they get plottier after this, I don't know how much I'd want to read--the love letter to Africa is nice, but not on the level of say, Kipling's Kim, which fits probably into the same sort of cultural framework and also has slightly rambling narrative, but is such genius that I always forget the qualifiers).


Graphic novels/comics

Dickens, Charles, writer, and Rick Geary, artist/adapter: Great Expectations
(abridged, but I got the plot, and Geary is always worth it.

Someday, I will do right by Dickens and read at least one of his actual original short stories or novels, instead of some adaptation or pastiche, I swear).


DeMatteis, J.M. and Mark Badger: Greenberg the Vampire
(nice art, silly story.

A) The next time I read some ooh-aren't-we-transgressive "reworking" of the vampire legend that kicks off with "Bram Stoker had it all wrong! Let me, a real vampire, tell it to you right," I will commit murder, perhaps in some suitably blood-draining thematic fashion. It's not that I'm particularly attached to Stoker or his book--I've never even made it through the novel, and I'm not a devotee of vampire lore--but it's a meta framing device that's never worked for me, like, at all. Vampires are fictional to begin with, dude; you're not bound to defend your reworking of vampire lore--and by the way, you are not transgressive, and you are not original, you are about the seventeen thousandth person to rework vampire lore since Stoker came up with the prototype to begin with, and it's all tired and hokey. Get over it! You were the one who wanted to work with vampires. If your vampires aren't like Dracula, whatever; just don't write 'em like Dracula. Change whatever you like. This whole demythologizing a fiction to serve a different fiction thing is stupid. Stoker created a popular image to bounce off of, so did Anne Rice,* and we've had "Rice had it all wrong! I'm a vampire, I should know" since, probably other steps, too, in the vampire chain, that I don't fucking care about. It's how you know an work's really carved its way into the popular consciousness, when other authors can't seem to tackle similar material without inserting meta disclaimers into the narrative. Jesus. It's so wussy.

Personally, I can't wait for the Twilight references to start popping up in future fictional works. "Meyer had it all wrong, buddy: I'm a vampire, I should know! Here's my super-original story! Vampires don't sparkle! They do glow in the dark, though. And they can't live on animal blood, but they can live on fish blood."

I am asking all future writers of vampire stories to shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up in the future. Just write your fucking vampire story. You are allowed to pretend no one else ever wrote a vampire story before. It's okay. No one will mind.

B) Why is Lilith so interested in this dweeb? She's a fucking demon goddess. I'm not into the dweeb character enough to not be bothered that this is a sadly transparent personal fantasy of being the random super-special guy who attracts multiple hot supernatural lovers who are into him because it's Destiny. And it's not a funny enough book to make up for the wincing bits. Whatever).


Foglio, Phil: Buck Godot, Zap Gun for Hire 2: PSmith
(oh thank god, a good book).

Carlton, Bronwyn: The Big Book of Death
(Paradox Press. Kept me up at night. Not a good book to relax with. *shudder* But as always, the Big Book of n is fun.

Um. About spontaneous human combustion. Really? I can't quite bring myself to believe it. Since this is a controversial topic, it's one of those things Wikipedia is useless on).


*You know something neat about Rice? She didn't waste a lot of time on worrying about how her vampires looked next to Stoker's; she just wrote out her crazy-ass sexy vision, no holds barred. She's nuts, but her work has a powerful kick because she's good with prose and she has these vivid ideas and images, and she puts them down on paper. You can say a lot of stuff about Rice, but at least she had the courage to work with her own vision without playing apologist. Rice is self indulgent, sure, but it's a self indulgence that entertained millions, and that is frankly an impressive thing. Come to think of it, the same thing can be said about Meyer.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (books)
Novels/prose books:

Mann, Thomas: The Oxford Guide to Library Research
(not the novelist, the Library of Congress reference librarian and former private detective. He's a cranky sort, and I love him for it. This is basically a reference work, and much of text is devoted to enumerating many of the valuable and important resources still not available in digital formats, or only available through paid subscription databases--or, Why The Internet Has NOT Replaced Libraries, and Why Google Print Won't Either. Enough money and interest could make a lot of the non-digital stuff available digitally, but he's dead right about how keyword searching and ranking algorithms are no replacement for subject classification, subject headings, and value-added descriptors. A nice supplement, yes, but not a replacement for the expensive mental labor of catalogers.

I wish he was less blase about the copyright bit--he's pretty dismissive about the idea that authorship could function without strict copyright control, since we're greedy sots who want our money. That's arguably just realism, but it follows on the heels of a long discussion of the value of Government Documents, and, hello, LIBRARIES, which would be violating fucking copyright out the wazoo if not for the grace of First Sale Doctrine. Never mind that libraries predate copyright. But all that is an argument for another post).


Stout, Rex: Plot it Yourself and Murder by the Book
(Speaking of libraries, these are from my school library's pet "Bibliomystery" collection--a collection of mystery novels prominently featuring books or libraries. They're my first Nero Wolfe mysteries, and I dug them muchly, although they're definitely more along the lines of Agatha Christie, "read once, then toss," rather than Tey or Sayers, where you would keep and reread the books for their brilliant writing and characterization, not just for the mystery).


Wittlinger, Ellen: Hard Love
(A Printz-winning YA novel a friend pressed on me, about zines, first love, and a Boston-area teenage boy who falls in love with his lesbian friend. I was surprised at how engaged I was by this book--it's been a long time since I read a YA book with the power to grab my emotions this way. Recommended if you like good YA, zines, books featuring well-written gay people, or Boston. Me, I fucking love Boston, and everything else was a nice extra).



Graphic novels:

Geary, Rick: The Murder of Lincoln
(how does Geary create an atmosphere of suspense about one of the best-documented murders in American history? Incredible. It's like watching 1776, where historical knowledge does not diminish the power of the storytelling, or reduce the emotional impact--in contrast, the weight of history increases it many times over. I read with a lump in my throat that never went away).

Ka, Oliver, writer, and Alfred, artist: Why I Killed Peter
(I had a feeling disturbingly early on where this was going, but it didn't diminish the impact as it unfolded. This is Ka's autobiographical account of having been molested as a child by the titular Peter, a priest and beloved family friend. It includes Ka's blissful childhood up to that point, and, briefly, his subsequent, troubled teen and adult years. It gets pretty meta at the end, with an account of the adult Ka telling his friend and creative collaborator Alfred about the experience, and the two of them planning the book and visiting Peter. The whole thing was powerful and unsettling, but I can't tell you how much the last part got to me--it didn't feel gimmicky in the slightest, but instead very brave and honest and sad. Some of the last sequence appears in photos of Ka and Alfred, and there's always something about that technique, and the way it strips the sense of fiction away from the cartoon images of real people that really digs into the gut.

NBM ComicsLit).


Straczynski, J. Michael, writer, and Gary Frank, pencils: J. Michael Straczynski's Midnight Nation
(a friend lent this to me, hoping to amend my very negative impression of Straczynski as a writer based on the clusterfuck that was his run on Spider-Man, back when I still gave a crap about superhero comics.

It didn't work. It's so laughably silly and bad. Straczynzki's ponderous explanation of the conceit as having sprung from certain deeply dramatic events in his youth washed out any potential dignity the thing could have had for me--I know he didn't mean it that way, but god, it read as so very silly and flailing a connection--and the horrible, stiff, inappropriately oversexed, unimaginative art killed the rest. I know I liked Frank's pencils on Supergirl, but for whatever reason--because this is not a cape book, and I expect decent anatomy and clothing from non-cape books, or maybe because the inker and colorists failed or something, I don't know--his work is just hideous and lame here. I un-recommend this book).



Manga:

Yazawa Ai: Nana, vol. 14
(GOD.

I've really come to love Hachi, who's gradually growing into a much more mature, centered person than one would have initially anticipated. I wish we saw more of her. But I might have to take back everything I said about only caring about other characters as they pertain to the Nanas--I found myself with my heart in my throat for all the major characters, this time around.

And, oh, Nana O).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Graphic novels/comics:

Robinson, Alex: BOP! [More Box Office Poison]
(they don't suck by any means, but I can see why they didn't end up in the initial compilation).



Manga:

Ashihara Hinako: Sand Chronicles vol. 3
(such tasteful and pleasing teenage soap! I can dig it).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (the covers of this book are too far apar)
Graphic novels:

Guibert, Emmanuel: Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope
(in Guibert's introduction, he describes how the stories of WWII that Cope told him were mostly nothing spectacular. He's right, they're not. Guibert's renditions of the stories are simple: black-and-white, illustrative art paired with Cope's unembellished memories. But I think I understand why Guibert wanted to draw them: there is something in war and the lives of people who fight in wars, something about the dull minutia of that daily existence that's very important that we know. This is how citizens become soldiers, this is being a soldier in wartime, and this is what soldiers do with their lives when the war is over. We should all of us know this: it's so matter-of-fact. War isn't drama).


Cotter, Joshua W.: Skyscrapers of the Midwest
(shit, I just don't care. I got through I think five pages and gave up on account of shit, I do not care about your male adolescent traumas told via pupil-less space cat superhero pastiche anomie. For god's sake, I have to read ten books on cataloging this semester, and that's not even counting the class reading. And I have to annotate those cataloging books. I have poor judgement and I started with something by George Lakoff, which is super fucking hard and six hundred pages long and not actually cataloging, but linguistics. It's brilliant and fascinating and dense and did I mention very hard as well as six hundred pages long? I have a week to read it and write a five page paper on it before I move on to the next one. I have no time for dumb shit like this depressed cat thing).


Jung and Jee-Yun: Kwaidan
(or this. The art's bonus, but the story is dull and cliched).


Manga:

Mihara Mitsukazu: Doll vols. 1-2
(I fuckin' love Mihara's manga; she's a breath of fresh air. I don't run into a lot of manga--or a lot of comics, period, actually--that actually live up to science fiction's honorable tradition of exploring the consequences of an idea, not simply using it to entertain.* I have seen Mihara accused of being flat and one-note; I would call her refreshingly restrained, with an art style that complements her storytelling. Here, as with some of the stories in IC in a Sunflower, she's working with the classic idea of the robot, and how human beings react to robots; the theme isn't new, but the emotional insights still don't feel stale to me--the question of what makes us human is more, not less relevant than when science fiction authors first picked it up. The short stories of Doll are variations on a theme, but so were a lot of Asimov's stories about robots, and if you dislike Asimov, we're probably not going to agree on much about science fiction anyway).

*I love being entertained. I just also like being challenged, and in science-fiction-themed comics, challenge is novel in its scarcity.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (nana at the window)
Graphic novels:

Allison, John: Heavy Metal Hearts and Flowers: A Scary Go Round Story
(reread. I've actually been reading the webcomic Scary Go Round for years, and its predecessor Bobbins years before that).

Chadwick, Paul: Concrete vol. 1
(It's precious, but I liked this more than I thought I would anyway).

Chinsang, Wayne, writer, and Dave Crosland, illustrator: Heaven, LLC
(okay, actually, I didn't read more than five pages. As satire, it's a little lacking in subtlety...intelligence...purpose...).

Cruse, Howard: Stuck Rubber Baby
(A coming-of-age story set in the 1960s, about a young, white, gay man learning to accept his homosexuality at the same time that he is drawn by his friends into the Civil Rights movement in Dixie. I was brought to tears for the tragedy, and was grateful for the honesty, the humbleness, the generosity of its spirit. God, this was a hell of a thing to read on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. What a good book. Read it).

Los Bros Hernandez: Tears From Heaven
(I think I prefer Gilbert to Jaime).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (walk in the city by yourself)
Graphic novels:

Pink, Daniel H., writer, and Rob Ten Pas, artist: The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need
(oh gee. Had I but known, Tam Lin, that this was, in fact, a career guide, written by a guy who writes career guides, marketed towards hip young things who read manga, I would have skipped it and reclaimed those twenty precious minutes of my mortal existence. I mean what the hell now.

On the other hand, I did read the whole thing).

Simmons, Josh: Jessica Farm vol. 1
(pluses: it's not just a cheap horror flick in comics form. Minuses: it makes even less sense than Simmons' other work, House. Unless that's a plus? I'm losing track).

Orff, Joel: Thunderhead Underground Falls
(sweet, sketchy, bittersweet).

Blanchet, Pascal: White Rapids
(Drawn and Quarterly. This is the most wonderful thing I have read in a while. I should have jotted down the back cover blurb, which nicely summarized the elements of the art style that entranced me--something about neo Art Deco retro something blah blah fishcakes. And a four or five color palette, and really striking, well-thought out layouts, wonderful use of silhouette, cartooning, great perspectives... It chronicles the history of a small company town in Canada which was founded by a power company for its employees in the 1930s, and eventually abandoned in the 1970s, when the power industry was nationalized. The marriage of style to subject is perfect. It is just so cool. I wish I could have prints of basically all of it to put on my wall).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Second: The Reptile Room.

Stephenson, Neal: The Big U
(the wheels fell off somewhere in this book. It's still an enjoyable read, but I can see why he was reluctant to let it be brought back into print; god forbid someone should read this and imagine that this level of writing is what made Stephenson famous. Obviously, this is not as ambitious as one of the monster tomes, like Cryptonomicon, or the Baroque Cycle, but as a shorter work, it doesn't live up to the tighter, more focused plotting of Zodiac. Maybe I should excuse the lack of grounding as probably being intentional--it's very much about the university as a place that's insane and closed-off from the real world, higher education as a mental institution--but it was hard to connect to the book because of that).


Graphic novels:

Lemire, Jeff: Essex County vol. 3: The Country Nurse
(Top Shelf).

Campbell, Ross: Water Baby
(Minx. Wow, creepy. Campbell, doing that thing he does, so weirdly compelling and so well-illustrated).

Abel, Jessica, and Warren Pleece, artists (?), Gabe Soria, writer (?), Hialry Sycamore, colorist: Life Sucks
(First Second. Cute, but not exactly a work for the ages. I vastly prefer Abel's other work--La Perdida, Artbabe--which are better written, and frankly, much better illustrated as well. Abel's linework suffers from the coloring here).

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