The final books of 2012


Holy smokes! The year is over! Caught me off guard so I'm publishing this a few days late.

082) Sing We Now of Christmas by Michael Young, finished December 29

Lady Steed noted that I was sighing a lot when I started reading this collection of Christmas tales. And she's right. I was. But as I read on, the overexplanations and overthetop cheesinesses of the book mattered less and I was able to just enjoy the purity of intent. A Christmas miracle!

The stories vary a lot in terms of skill, but that's not surprising since several included authors have published multiple novels and several included authors count this as their first publication. And sometimes the quality was confusing. One of my favorite stories was Ryan Larsen's take on the Wenceslas legend, but at the same time, its frame story was confused and inconsistent.

The book's proceeds go to charity so I don't want to be unkind. In short, I enjoyed the book very much. And I mostly kept to it's advent nature of a story-a-day (though I didn't get the final tale read until well after Christmas thanks to family and travel). I think it's a great way to structure a Christmas anthology and you should consider it for your own befrosted heart. Or contributing to the next edition. (I happen to know that slots are filling fast.)
about the length of time it was supposed to


081) What now, McBride? by Gary Lee Davis, finished December 27

About ten years ago I found a copy of this novella at the DI. With its crazy cover and protagonist named Nephi and conversion/romance story, it seemed such a snapshot of Mormon lit in 1982---or at least it backed up my assumptions---and I've always regretted not buying it.

We drove to my parents for the days after Christmas, where my dad presented me with the copy you see scanned here. He was excited by this find---a discard from the ward library---and wanted me to read it. It was cheesy and silly (in the second sense) but only 99 pages so I should totally share his experience.

So I did.

You can read more about it on A Motley Vision.

two days


080) Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel, finished December 20

I did not anticipated the epic length of this book when I ordered it from the library.

You can click the image to read the first few chapters.

The advance praise from a healthy variety of luminaries made me hope for something I had been looking for.

Most of the great comix novels of the past decade have shared certain similarities. Jimmy Corrigan, American Born Chinese, Asterios Polyp, Blankets, Habibi, Duncan the Wonder Dog---all truly excellent books.

But they're all engaged in similar postmodern plays against time and narrative. So my first hope when I saw Sailor Twain's girth was that it would be a truly great novel in the traditional, storybound sense.

And I though it would be for most of the book.

Sailor Twain is truly epic and beautifully drawn. It drips with symbolic moments, but sometimes those moments drip off the side of the boat and I can't quite tell where they're headed. Take the matryoshka dolls, for instance. Great idea. Not quite sure where it's headed. And if Lafeyette's last love is his true love, then . . . what about the other six? And if that love is greater than all the others, then what the heck?

See, one of the primary themes under consideration in Sailor Twain is fidelity. Twain loves his wife, with whom he has a longstanding love, but is gradually seduced by the mermaid. And the novel can't decide whether that is tragic or awesome. But not in a pleasantly ambiguous way. In a confused sort of way.

Similarly, Lafeyette's been substituting sex for love but then love appears instantaneously? Isn't that the opposite of what we're getting (or not getting from Twain?).

One argument to make here is that Sailor Twain demands multiple readings to release its secrets. That may well be.

I'm satisfied waiting for Siegel's next book and seeing if he's figured out what he's trying to say.

All that said, I much of the novel and much of the story. In fact, it wasn't until the advent of deeper magic (which you think would be find in a story about mermaids fer gosh sake) and the plummeting collisions that constituted climax and finale and denouement and epilogue that I lost my way. A shame.

I really thought I was going to be pushing this book into your hands.
three or four days

Previously in 2012 . . . . :

Read the reviews of 71-74.
079) Nursery Rhyme Comics edited by Chris Duffy, finished December 14
078) The Truth about Fiction by Steven Schoen, finished December 11
077) Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch, finished December 3
076) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, finished December 2
075) Spawn: New Flesh by David Hine and Brian Haberlin, finished November 29

Read the reviews of 71-74.
074) Level Up by Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham, finished November 23
073) The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck by Rodolphe Töpffer, finished November 21
072) The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim finished probably November 21
071) The Clouds Above by Jordon Crane, finished probably November 19

Read the review of 70.
070) Byuck by Theric Jepson, finished November 17

Read the review of 68-69.
069) Pork Pie Hat by Peter Straub, finished November 16
068) Off Season ("The Author's Uncut, Uncensored Version!") by Jack Ketchum, finished November 14

Read the review of 67.
067) Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman, finished November 6

Read the reviews of 61-66.
066) Nurse Nurse by Katie Skelly, finished November 3
065) Best American Comics 2012 edited by Françoise Mouly, finished November 3
064) Everything We Miss by Luke Pearson, finished November 1
063) Amulet: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi, finished October 30
062) Amulet: The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi, finished October 25
061) iPlates: Volume One by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished October 22

Read the reviews of 57-61.
061) Amulet: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi, finished October 14
060) Amulet: The Stonekeeper's Curse by Kazu Kibuishi, finished October 13
059) Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi, finished October 10
058) Feedback by Robison Wells, finished October 9
057) Mormons in the Media, 1830-2012 by Jared Farmer, finished October 8

Read the review of 56.
056) The Garden of the World by Lawrence Coates, finished October 5

Read the reviews of 52-55.
055) The Skin I'm In by Sharon G. Flake, finished September 27
054) Lote That Dog by Sharon Creech, finished September 25
053) Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech, finished September 24
052) Wormwood, Gentleman Corpse: It Only Hurts When I Pee by Ben Templesmith, finished September 24

Read the reviews of 49-51.
051) The Zabîme Sisters by Aristophane, finished September 20
050) Little Death by Thomas Kriebaum, finished September 16
049) God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut, finished September 11

Read the reviews of 44-48.
048) American Nerd: The Story of My People by Benjamin Nugent, finished September 7
047) Powers by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming, finished September 6
046) Simply Science by a number of authors and illustrators for All Aboard Reading, finished September 5
045) Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach, finished September 3
044) The Strange Case of the Walking Corpse: A Chronicle of Medical Mysteries, Curious Remedies, and Bizarre but True Healing Folklore by Nancy Butcher, finished August 27

Read the reviews of 40-43.
043) How to Analyze the Works of Stephenie Meyer by Marcela Kostihova, finished August 13
042) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, finished August 10
041) Captain America: Man Out of Time by Mark Waid and Jorge Molina, finished August 1
040) If You Believe in Mermaids . . . Don't Tell by A.A. Philips, finished July 28

Read the reviews of 37-39.
039) The Smartest Man in Ireland by Mollie Hunter, finished July 27
038) Blockade Billy / Morality by Stephen King, finished July 12
037) Dispirited by Luisa M. Perkins, finished July 9

Read the reviews of 34-36.
036) Hyperion by Dan Simmons, finished July 2
035) A Short Stay in Hell by Steven L. Peck, finished June 27
034) Kampung Boy by Lat, finished June 22

Read the reviews of 29-33.
034) The Giant Joshua by Maurine Whipple, finished June 20
033) Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl, finished June 18
032) Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart, "finished" June 18
031) Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese, "finished" June 15
030) The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, finished June 9
029) Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick, finished early June

Read the reviews of 25-28.
028) Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, finished May 24
027) The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan, finished May 16
026) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, finished May 10
025) Dominant Traits by Eric Freeze, finished April 10

Read the reviews of 21-24.
024) The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White, finished April 2
023) UNTITLED MS by Kyle Jepson, finished March 12, 2012
022) The Complete Peanuts 1981-1982 by Charles M. Schulz, finished March 4
021) The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, finished March 3

Read the reviews of 14-20.
020) Billy Hazelnuts by Tony Millionaire, finished February 25
019) Good-bye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson, finished February 26
018) Madman 20th Anniversary Monster HC by [everybody], finished February 25
017) Billy Hazelnuts and Crazy Bird by Tony Millionaire, finished February 25
016) Billy Hazelnuts by Tony Millionaire, finished February 25
015) Habibi by Craig Thompson, finished February 20
014) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 1910 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, finished February 15

Read the reviews of 12-13.
013) Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, finished February 12
012) Black Hole by Charles Burns, finished February 11

Read the reviews of 6-11.
011) The Complete Peanuts: 1979-1980 by Charles M. Schulz, finished February 4
010) Blankets by Craig Thompson, finished February 4
009) Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, finished February 2
008) The Millstone Necklace (forthcoming) by S.P. Bailey, finished January 31
007) American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, finished January 27
006) Across a Harvested Field by Robert Goble, finished January 23

Read the reviews of 1-5.
005) Hark! a Vagrant! by Kate Beaton, finished January 21
004) The Death of a Disco Dancer by David Clark, finished January 12
003) Bucketfoot Al: The Baseball Life of Al Simmons by Clifton Blue Parker, finished January 9
002) Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestly, finished January 9
001) What of the Night? by Stephen Carter, finished January 5

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