100 Books for 2009:
(The 20th Five Books of 2009)


100) Nightwing: Year One by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty, finished November 22
    You like Dick Grayson? Well, I liked this book. It was a nice look at how he went from Robin to Nightwing and if you, like me, have someone who will lend you such books, it's worth a quick read.

    two evening which may or may not have been sequential

099) Witch Baby by Francesa Lia Block, finished November 20
    I'm pissed off right now. I wrote probably a thousand words on this book and my relationship to it and the first book in its series but all that has now, three days later, disappeared from Blogger. I've never had this happen before and I am mad. I was quite pleased with what I had written.....


    Well, here are the basics.

    I picked this book up because I had been wanting to reread Weetzie Bat because reading that book was a revelation I thought I meet need to have again. But here's the thing: you can't "rehave" revelations. They come once and either you get it or you don't.

    Weetzie Bat revealed to me a portion of my Baizzerrist self that I had not seen in years. Not with real depth since high school. That book turned a key and let out that portion of my writerly soul that finds beauty in whimsy and humanity in lightness. It's a different perception of the same world. And that discovery of myself allowed me to finally understand a book I had been starting and aborting over and over for the last four years.

    Geez, I'm mad. I'm just not getting into this.

    Anyway, reading Witch Baby at first was unsettling, because I wasn't having the experience I had with Weetzie bat. But about three quarters through I realized: the reason Witch Baby didn't read like my book was because I wasn't aping Francesca Lia Block's style --- she had merely opened the door back to my own style.

    Blah blah blah. It was all very good, I assure you.

    Anyway, WB1 was about luck to joy to luck with occasional downturns for flavor, whereas WB2 is about sinking deeper and deeper only to discover at the end that redemption had always been there.

    Also, it was much more obviously "YA" --- can't say if that's because I knew it was this time or I was just less rapt or it was . . . whatever.

    There is nothing worse than rewriting after losing something written.

    four days

098) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Rip Van Winkle The Spectre Bridegroom by Washington Irving and condensed and adapted by W.T. Robinson and K.R. Knight, finished November 8
    My parents gave this volume to the Big O for Halloween last year and we read it for Halloween this year. The adaptation is breezey and fine and the illustrations by Alastair Graham move the story along rather than get in the way. For a series of classics kept desperately cheap (printed on the back: "SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE $5.99 YOUR PRICE $2.50"), Dalmatian Press has done a fine job. Really, unless you're morally opposed to abridged classics, these hardbound cheapies seem pretty dandy.

    One warning: the back does include this copy:

    Reading a classic story when you are
    young opens your heart. Reading a classic
    story again---anew---when you are older fills
    your heart to the brim.

    Never forget that.

    a month

097) Green Monk by Brandon Dayton, finished November 7
    The date listed was for my first reading which led to this review on Fob Comics.

    I just reread it now, November 20, and I am vastly more impressed than I was the first time. This is an excellent story. I don't retract some of my quibbles, but this book is worthy and deserving of your close attention. Plus, it's cheap. Support an indie cartoonist. Click that link.

    just minutes

096) Push by Sapphire, finished November 5
    This book is short and the opposite of sweet.

    If you're not familiar with, it, Push is the story of Precious Jones (now a movie) and how she was raped (and raped and raped and raped) by her father and molested by her mother and then things got worse.

    Naturally, this is a story of redemption and of how this beleaguered girl comes back from below zero. No surprise there. And it earns that redemption.

    When I started this book I was impressed by the way Sapphire wielded style. The book's in illiterate first person. Here's the first paragraph:

      I was left back when I was twelve because I had a baby for my fahver. That was in 1983. I was out of school for a year. This gonna be my second baby. My daughter got Down Sinder. She's retarded. I had got left back in the second grade too, when I was seven, 'cause I couldn't read (and I still peed on myself). I should be in the eleventh grade, getting ready to go into the twelf' grade so I can graduate. But I'm not. I'm in the ninfe grade.

    This worked for a long time (relatively speaking --- it's a short book). The brutal ugly language reflects the brutal ugly story of Precious's childhood. But about a half or three-quarters of the way through, I realized that Sapphire had slipped into gimmickry.

    Now, I could make excuses for her. Precious's writing gets better as she learns how to write and we can't exactly expect someone who couldn't read at all until they were sixteen to have a great grasp of literary devices, but then this is fiction and too much verisimilitude makes me wonder if the author's out to lunch. How many times are you gonna have Precious write the same word three times for emphasis, huh Sapphire? (It probably doesn't help that I'm rereading Love That Dog Dog Dog right now now now which does the same thing over and over and over over over again.) And then when you sample another character's writing and she does the same thing? I start thinking you don't have that many tricks up your authorial sleeve.

    Anyway, the book is about truly horrible things, but it rings true for a lot of kids around here. It's been the book du jour for a few thousand jours now. One kid saw me with it today and told me his mother made him read it a couple years ago (he would've been twelve or thirteen) and several girls have been passing copies around.

    So I'm glad I read it for the social aspects, but this much hell in one tiny book is hard to take, even if the writing her beyond complaint.

    Thank you, ma'am, but I believe I've reached my incest quota for the year.



the first five, 1-5
the second five, 6-10
the third five, 11-15
the fourth five, 16-20
the fifth five, 21-25
the sixth five, 26-30
the seventh five, 31-35
the eighth five, 36-40
the ninth five, 41-45
the tenth five, 46-50
the eleventh five, 51-55
the twelfth five, 56-60
the thirteenth five, 61-65
the fourteenth five, 66-70
the fifteenth five, 71-75
the sixteenth five, 76-80
the seventeenth five, 81-86
the eighteenth five, 86-90
the nineteenth five, 91-95

1 comment:

  1. On the topic of victims overcoming horrific abuse, when your incest quota resets, I recommend When Rabbit Howls. I read it as a teenager, which now seems so young to learn about such atrocities... At the time, I think it was important to me to know that people could live through worse things than I would ever encounter...with the take-home lesson being that I would probably manage to get through annoying-but-not-exactly-scarring puberty.