24th five


120) A Christmas Carol: The Graphic Novel by Charles Dickens et al, finished December 23

119) Strange Stories for Strange Kids edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, finished December 23
    The Big O and I hit these ones out today.

    He had bought me Strange Stories for my birthday then was visiting grandparents the next week while I read it. Then he missed much of our Christmas Carol-reading time so we did the comics version this afternoon. We enjoyed both, even if neither was per our original plan.

    less than hours even together

118) Justice Be Done by James Robinson, David S. Goyer, and Steve Sadowski (et al), finished December 20
    I've tried hard to think of something nice to say about this book and I found something: I like the respect paid to Golden Age heroes. Particularly Wesley Dodds, the era's Sandman.

    Something nice. Thumper's dad would be pleased.

    Mr Fob lent me this one, I think, for the Starman intro. But I remember this Starman now from books he lent me back in Utah. And it's not the one he recently sold me on.

    Anyway, this book was stupid and with embarrassingly obvious commercial motivations and awfulawfulawful exposition. Plus, the characters were almost universally dull, the only possible exception being the newly introduced Sandman replacement Sand.

    Takeaway: Don't read this one.

    a long while considering it's brevity, perhaps a week

Manhunter v Wonder Woman 117) Manhunter: Unleashed by Marc Andreyko et al, finished December 15
    I've now read all the Manhunters Mr Fob lent me. I have to say I enjoy them immensely.

    about three days

The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place 116) The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E. L. Konigsburg, finished December 12
    Even though what I knew about this book can be summed in one sentence ("Lady Steed thought the introduction to the main character made her really irritating."), I was still predisposed to like it because of the dozen or so times I read From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler when I was younger. The only other Konigsburg book I ever read was Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth which creeped me out, but now that I'm on an inspired-by-Macbeth kick (three movies this week! 1 2 and 3!), maybe it's time to try it again.

    Anyway, after reading it, I did like it. But listen: I'm making no qualms about spilling spoilers today, so stay away if that's going to upset you.

    Lady Steed finished the book a couple days before I did; it's this month's book for her book club and when possible, I like to read them too so we can talk about them and when she talks about book club, I get what was said. I'm not in a book club so I get some vicarious literary thrills this way.

    Anyway, the more we talked about it, the more our conversation swayed from the feels-good girl-saves-the-day surface of the story to an unsettling subtext where, really, the little people felt good about their accomplishment but really they failed, utterly and completely.

    Now that all the spoiler-haters are long gone and the rest of you have spent the afternoon reading the book, let's chat: What was she trying to do? Save the towers. Okay, fine, good. Why was she trying to save the towers? The person who wrote the flapcopy didn't know. That yahoo said it was because she "knows the towers for what they truly are: irreplaceable works of art." No. It never even occurred to her that they are art until someone else calls them such. Because she loves them? Yeah, sure, that's part of it. A big part of it. But at the end of the day, it's less about the towers and more about her uncles whose work they are.

    They worst thing about the towers being torn down is that their destruction will ruin the uncles --- their pending destruction already is! The tower-building part of them has died as is evidenced by the fact that they've stopped maintaining the paint, they're not building the fourth . . . isn't that death the truly horrifying part of the towers' destruction for the hero? Isn't that what she's trying to save?

    Then through a miraculous series of lucky breaks she gets some handy adults involved and they save the towers and she feels like she has really accomplished something, and she has, but she has not resurrected that dead part of her uncles souls. Are they back to maintaining? No. The towers are now owned by a massive corporation and fenced off and the uncles cannot even touch them. Are they building the fourth tower? No, they are still prevented from building any more towers.

    Allegedly the best part of the towers is standing inside them and looking up. But no one can do that anymore.

    Allegedly the towers needed to be saved because they were a vital part of the neighborhood. But the tower-haters still won the day: the towers are gone.

    Gone with the exquisite irony that a new yippily arty community has been built up around the towers' new location and the people who once hated them for lucrecentric reasons now worship them for lucrecentric reasons. The people who took them over to destroy them have now taken them over to trivialize them.

    And the men who built them are relegated to rich folks' dinner party stories: "It became something of a contest to see who had the best story to tell."

    This is a victory? Everyone seems to think it is. Looks more to me like they got played. Someone threw the plebes a bone. So they wouldn't notice they were being screwed.

    Hope I haven't ruined the book for anyone.

    Incidentally, I really hope you heeded my spoiler warning. Because not knowing about the whole tower thing makes it possible to enjoy the first half of the book. Lady Steed tells me that knowing the towers are coming renders the first half of the book a mere waiting game, while I really enjoyed the first half.

    ps: are you as smart as my wife and thought immediately of these?

    one day


1 comment:

  1. "Lady Steed thought the introduction to the main character made her really irritating."

    Without the clarification that the main character is a she as well, on first read-through, I thought the "her" in this sentence was referring to Lady Steed, and was therefore rather confused by your use of "irritating" rather than "irritated", however, I did finally figure it out and am glad that Lady Steed was not really irritating due to the introduction to the main character.