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

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


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).


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 (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.


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).


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


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

Yasuko Aoike: From Eroica With Love vol. 4.

Yazawa Ai: Nana vol. 18-19

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)

Tezuka Osamu: Phoenix vol. 3: Yamato/Space, and Phoenix vol. 5: Resurrection
(the latter in particular is kind of sticking with me. The former was surprisingly creepy.

Tangent: one of the two and a half panels I attended at Anime Boston was The Absolute Worst of Osamu Tezuka, which featured some entertainingly bad stuff, and some stuff that was actually really good. The intro to Phoenix 27somethingsomething, for instance: the female robot who turns into all sorts of random mecha shit in a sexually charged sequence--it's certainly weird as hell and laden with all kinds of...of...things, but it's gorgeously choreographed and animated, and there's a real sense of intent there; I'd love to see it unpacked. Or the massive box-office flop that was Cleopatra--I'd love, love, love to see it with some decent subtitles, by the way--yes, the rotoscoping was hideous and ill-concieved, but the opening past sequence was one of the most lush, colorful, energized pieces of 70s animation I've seen in awhile. And, so, Caesar was blue and there were anachronistic bathroom jokes. This is Tezuka. You're surprised? That was how Tezuka rolled, bitch).

Tezuka Osamu: Black Jack vols. 2-3
(dingos did not eat his kidneys!).

Yamamoto Naoki: Dance Till Tomorrow vols. 3-5
(fuck, VIZ did great work way back in the day; this is such a cool title, the likes of which you don't see anymore--silly, sexy, adult characters with a peculiar blend of cleverness and manipulativeness and heart that always makes me think of the 80s, and that surprising undercurrent genuine emotion that makes it as affectingly romantic as the sweetest, sincerest shoujo. The translation in this thing thrills me--it's so very funny and clever and engrossing. It reminds me of the experience of reading Ranma 1/2 and Maison Ikkoku; witty language to match the witty art. I miss that. I wish it wasn't so unfashionable now to actually fucking adapt a translation so that it can convey the spirit of the material along with the literal meaning. Speaking of which,)

Otsuka Eiji, writer, Yamazaki Housui, artist: Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service vol. 8
(I don't want to downplay the fundamental merits of this title, which are numerous, but it occurred to me during the con, as I pawed through the library's thousand+ books, more than half of which I'd probably hand-picked, that one of the great pleasures of Kurosagi is the quality of the translation: it's witty and lively and the English is the natural, conversational English of fluent native speakers. That's so uncommon as to really stand out, and I think that's a large part of its appeal. Dark Horse, Carl Gustav Horn, I love your work).

Yozaburo Kanari, story, Sato Fumiya, art: The Kindaichi Case Files: The Mummy's Curse
(OMG [livejournal.com profile] retsuko, you're right, this is the most absurd revenge plot imaginable. Just...just shoot them, Jesus Christ, stab them, poison them, garrote them. Hell, hack them up with an ax; it'd be more straightforward.

By the way, at the Edogawa Ranpo panel at Anime Boston, the panelist, who clearly knew his stuff otherwise, thought the Kindaichi Case Files were actually adaptations of Kosuke Kindaichi stories. Presumably, he hadn't read them, since I think they have even more tenuous a connection to the original Kindaichi than The Beekeeper's Apprentice has to Sherlock Holmes. Not that this matters in the slightest. It was a decent panel, although I knew the subject well enough that I didn't learn much that was new to me, and the audience--a particularly stereotypical crowd of male otaku, all six of them, one of whom repeatedly derailed the panel by sharing his obsession with Nazis--were a little creepy. And dammit, they stank. I felt genuinely uncomfortable in the room because of them).

Nakamura: Skip*Beat vols. 16-17
(I already gushed in [livejournal.com profile] meganbmoore's journal about these. You know, the art in these things is nothing to write home about, and the pacing is too slow--less happens in a whole volume than in a single chapter of Nana--but by god, Kyoko is one of the best female characters I've ever run across in manga. The author permits her a really unique kind of inner strength, something I'm just not used to seeing in manga--a sharpness that, once exposed, isn't dulled for anything, not even for the object of admiration).

Yazawa Ai: Nana vol. 16
(but, thanks to an overly enthusiastic scanlations-reading fan, I am now spoiled for a certain major event beyond this volume. Dammit. Oh well, I can't claim I saw it coming, but I can't claim to be surprised, either.

Speculate in the comments on what that spoiler might be, and I will eat your kidneys like a ravenous dingo.

I'm also spoiled for every major character death in Naruto in the last twenty volumes, which also ticks me off, but I admit that being 20 volumes behind the English adaptation and all, I haven't got much grounds for complaint there).

Kye Young Chon: DVD vol. 1
(I hadn't realized this was only volume 1. I'd been meaning to get around to it ever since I bought it for the library last year...a year and a half of the build-up of anticipation did not serve it well. It's okay, I guess? Not my favorite manwha of the year).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (such a change from doing crosswords)
Kate Bush has been awesome since the 1980s, but I only just realized this. I'm sometimes slow. Yes, this is all I've read (cover to cover) since last time. But I've done a hell of a lot of crossword puzzles.

Novels/prose books:

Snicket, Lemony: A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning.

Graphic novels:

Kibuishi, Kazu, editor: Flight, vol. 5.


Tsukaba Sakura: Penguin Revolution vol. 6
(The cross-dressing is still implausibly successful, and there is something weird and awesome about all of these actor characters playing their parents and managers and whatnot in their silly movie).

Tanaka Meca: Omukae Desu. vol. 5
(I dig the anti-climactic finale. I think this is maybe one of the more consistently low-key enjoyable things I've read this year).

Takaya Natsuki: Fruits Basket vol. 21
(why is everybody getting along so freakishly well? What happened to the death threats and people getting beaten up and traumatized? And why is it, that when everybody is getting along so freakishly well, everybody is still so miserable?).

Urushibara Yuki: Mushishi vol. 5.

Tezuka Osamu: Dororo vol. 1
(As always, it's cool to be able to recognize in Tezuka the precursors to all kinds of shit I've read in manga over the years).

Shiratori Chikao, editor: Secret Comics Japan
Jason Thompson, Carl Gustav, et al, had great taste in comics eight years ago, too. Big surprise. )

Nakamura Yoshiki: Skip*Beat vol. 15
Boo! Where has my unfazeable Kyoko gone? )

Yazawa Ai: Nana vol. 13
Uh. )
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Spink, Reginald, translator and collector: Alexander and the Golden Bird and Other Danish Folk Tales
(not much new to me here, since Danish folklore was part of the regional folklore collected by the Grimm Brothers. It was kind of interesting how England kept popping up as a figure in these though--Danish princes going off to marry English princesses and so forth).


Gin Toriko: Song of the Hanging Sky vol. 1
(I picked this up based on Brigid Alverson's review at MangaBlog, and I'm happy to say that I agree with her review absolutely. It's a beautifully drawn, understated, moody book about cultural clash, conflict, and growing up. It's the most interesting title Go!Comi has licensed in awhile, and I recommend it).

Sugiura Shiho: Silver Diamond vol. 1
(this is how you do world-building for a fantasy world if you're a decent storyteller--slowly, in pieces, at moments naturally occurring in the flow of the story. In fantasy stories where characters from the fantasy world interact with characters from our world, there's often a temptation to have them do an infodump in the guise of explaining things to the characters from our world. Sugiura resists the temptation, and writes the protagonist from our world, Rakan as already knowing there's something abnormal about his own past, and hesitant to ask questions of his strange visitor because he's afraid the answers will destroy his sense of normalcy. The result of this is that we still don't know what's going at the end of this volume, but I at least am very interested in reading more to find out.

The sucker-punch is that Tokyopop will probably cancel this title and I'll never know. It's a pity, because it's the best new thing I've seen from them recently, not counting Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo, which is already a known quantity).

Umino Chico: Honey and Clover vol. 1
(Honey and Clover, like Nodame Cantabile, is a josei series I already know I like, and will follow in any format--manga, movie, animation, live-action television. It impresses me that this is the third time I've seen this story unfold, but this is my favorite rendition of it; the original material still feels fresh and exciting to me.

If anybody cares: no, I do not think there is anything skeevy or pedophiliac in Umino's depiction of Hagu as a very girlish woman. It's never felt that way to me at all. There is a significant difference between an adult who looks young and has childish qualities and a prepubescent child adopting sexually adult mannerisms. Other characters are shocked by Hagu's smallness and cuteness, but it's primarily her talent and artistic vision that they respond to, and what makes her interesting as a character is the way her adult persona is gradually revealed through suffering and struggles, through the articulation of her desires and goals and affections. She's not a jailbait character with an age arbitrary legal age slapped on top of her; she's a genuinely complex college-age adult).

Yazawa Ai: Nana vol. 12
(I wanted Nana and Hachi's reunion to be more emotional, but I suppose it makes sense that it's not; it's just a meeting between them, and after all, the separation has never really been about physical distance, but rather emotional distance. The emotional distance is still unbridged between them, and they do not yet understand how important they are to each other. It's so heartbreaking).

Fujisawa Yuki: Metro Survive vol. 2
(this was far less interesting than the first volume, but since the story concludes here, I suppose that's okay. It's nothing spectacular, just a solid take on the disaster survivor plot, and worth reading if you like those).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Remember when I said that after the first volumes of Nana and Paradise Kiss, I was close to throwing up my hands and saying that whatever it was that people loved about Ai Yazawa just wasn't for me? That I didn't like the way she drew eyes, and didn't care about fashion or the lives of the bohemian Tokyo youth?

Fuck all that. Ai Yazawa is the best thing since sliced bread.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Okay, I admit it. I am not Ai Yazawa's biggest fan. Fashion for fashion's sake doesn't interest me. Translucent irises in black-and-white art put me off. The bohemian lifestyles of the Tokyo youth are as likely to make me roll my eyes as to admire, and I do not feel the pull of the romances of Paradise Kiss.

And that is why I didn't rush out and buy Nana vol. 2 as soon as it hit the shelves. I dragged my heels, actually, even though everybody and her cousin has sung the series' praises. Nevertheless, there was something about the cover that appealed to me--the way the second Nana suddenly appeared to light the negative space of the first cover...so despite my growing sense that Yazawa might not be for me, I gave in and bought it.

And it was worth it. Vol. 1 is like an extended, two-part prequel to the main story of Nana, and I'm still not sure I like it. But the minute the two Nanas met in vol. 2, the story picked up for me, and the girls' respective romantic relationships are much more interesting to me in their second phases than I found them in their beginnings. If Nana was the story of two radically different girls not getting along, I could leave it. It's much more interesting than that, though, developing a beautiful and surprisingly plausible friendship between them. Just a hint of shoujo-ai, as [livejournal.com profile] herongale said--but really, it's mostly just a friendship, and it's more special for it. And maybe it's because I'm young, hard-up for money, and searching for an apartment and a roommate of my own right now--but I'm with each of the girls every step of the way in their quests to sort out their lives. Today, this is a story that speaks to me.

I will happily go along for the 9+ volume ride on this one.

January 2017

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