Nearing the end, destroyed by our friends


103) The Gigantic Beard that was Evil by Stephen Collins, finished December 26

Beautifully made book. Lovely to touch and to hold and to open and to read.

It's a morality tale warning us against the conformity and gets a bit heavy-handed in the middle, but as they take Dave and his beard and remove him from the once-safe Here and cast him to the unknown chaos of There, the novel redeems itself by sliding back towards ambiguity.

Of course, like so many comics today, this one is ultimately about story itself, but it's about story in a somewhat new way---which makes early moments like this stronger in retrospect:

Nice layering of details though makes this a terrific bit of literature, regardless of your or my personal opinion on its final level of success. Check it out!
two days


102) Amsterdam by Ian McEwan, finished December 16

How I love McEwan's writing. Even in a book with an overly projected and contrived "tragic" ending, just reading McEwan is a delight. His words and sentences and paragraphs are joys. His adeptness with metaphor and dialogue and the whole dang toolbox.

This story pits humans against their work and I find myself taking art's side even though the tale warns me again and again that's a mistake. It's a startling balance.

Plus, the novel is short, under two hundred pages. This is a more natural length for me as both writer and reader. It's nice to be reminded in this post-King era that short books are still allowed.
under a week


101) Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley, finished December 10

[reviews of Scott Pilgrim]

Bryan Lee O'Malley has done it again. He has managed to put utterly realistic characters into a contemporary world of metafantasy and made us care about them and understand their insane journeys. Seconds is about a late-twenties chef and her manic ability to screw up her life and the magical gift she's given to fix her mistakes.

Since O'Malley credits a drawing assistant and a colorist and a letterer, I'm not sure how single-artist this novel actually is, but regardless, it's freaking amazing. And not just the execution of the story. The execution of the detail. He's taken manga's genius and alternating between detail and no detail and put it to proper use. He does amazing things with panels that are pure black. His characters are truly cartoony but somehow are shaped and move like realistically drawn humans.

The story devolves into chaos but never loses its way---not an easy feat---and the ongoing tension between Katie and her narrator is delightful and instead of throwing the reader out, keeps us close.

If I were willing to make a scan and write all day, I could keep talking about this book for hours. But I got other stuff to do. Read it yourself.
a few days


100) Paradise Vue by Kathryn H. Kidd, finished December 10

I believe I first learned about Paradise Vue from Storyteller in Zion (but I can't check because I can't find my copy), and so for twenty years I've looked forward to reading what is, according to its back copy---presumably penned by Card---"the funniest Mormon novel ever published. . . . [and] also the best." I finally bought it last January and finally picked it up recently.

Only to be pretty much immediately and constantly disappointed. It doesn't help that Card's introduction talked about how much he loves the book, dropping comparisons to Austen and Twain and Dickens like anyone who reads the book will feel the same.

The novel has a hard time settling on anything akin to a plot. Which isn't unforgivable---I don't mind a bit of picaresque now and then---but all the nonce characters and situations are set up with some lazy tell-not-showing then disappear again. At the end, where the novel decides it needs to have a point, that moral/resolution is projected much too strongly. Somehow, the final chapter manages to work even though I still don't really care about the widow's widowness or the cuckquean's husband leaving her. Maybe I'm just a very generous reader....

I'm not being too harsh, but I should point out that the novel has moments where it almost works. But there are much more moments like this:

As she grew more familiar with the group, Doris developed a sense of camaraderie with them. She barked orders and encouragement to each woman individually. (61)

If ever there were a moment to expand with actual diologue and business, it's this, right?

Or maybe not. After all, Doris will never appear again.

Which is probably for the best. When first introduced, Doris seems like she will be an interesting character. But then she devolves into being characterized solely by saying funny Asian things like "Dericious" (66).

I think one thing that made this book impressive in 1989 is how Transgressive!™ it is. The characters drink Pepsi and Diet Coke like Nick and Nora drink cocktails, and every hell and damn is italicized to make it extra realistic.

I can't get over how disappointed I am. I'll admit I might have been expecting too much, but gee whiz. It should at least have been a good book, you know?

Card started Hatrack River to publish books more honest than the extremes on either end being published by Deseret and Signature. His writings on this topic inspired me to get involved with writing Mormon fiction. But reading this novel---? I suppose I'm just thirteen years old and learning my parents aren't perfect all over again.

I would like to know if anyone's read other Hatrack titles and could tell me of any of them are more successful?
a couple weeks maybe


099) Calvin and Hobbes: Sunday Pages 1985-1995 by Bill Watterson, finished December 6

I'd seen this book around before but never picked it up. I had all the Sundays here or there, so why bother?

But when Little Lord Steed chose it from the library, we checked it out and brought it home. I'm so glad we did.

Just a few years after Calvin disappeared from newspapers, Ohio State did an exhibition of Watterson's originals alongside the colored printed versions. Sure, I've read all these strips before, but this book gets you one delicious step closer to the originals. Wonderful.

And even better are the notes from Watterson on his changing process. I could read something much much longer with these insights.

So great book. Just wish it was much much much much more.
two or three days or i don't even remember

Previously in 2014 . . . . :

Books 95 - 98
098) The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, finished November 28
097) FF - Volume 2: Family Freakout by Matt Fraction & Lee Allred & Mike Allred & Joe Quinones, finished November 26
096) A Bag of Marbles by Joseph Joffo and Kris and Vincent Bailly, finished November 24
095) Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd, finished November 23

Books 90 - 94
094) Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, finished November 22
093) The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, finished November 20
092) Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean by Sarah Stewart Taylor and Ben Towle, finished November 20
091) Space Usagi by Stan Sakai, finished November 17
090) Clear the Decks! by Daniel V. Gallery, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.), finished November 7

Books 85 - 89
089) Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World edited by Monte Beauchamp, finished November 4
088) The Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison, finished November 2
087) Fences by August Wilson, finished October 31
086) Richard III by William Shakespeare, finished October 18
085) Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, finished October 16

Books 81 - 84
084) The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith, finished October 11
083) Non-Essential Mnemonics: An Unnecessary Journey into Senseless Knowledge by Kent Woodyard, finished October 8
082) Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis, finished September 28
081) Usagi Yojimo 20: Glimpses of Death by Stan Sakai, finished September 28

Books 77 - 80
080) Lolita: The Story of a Cover Girl: Vladimir Nabokov's Novel in Art and Design edited by John Bertram and Yuri Leving, finished September 20
079) Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, finished September 18
078) "B" Is for Burglar by Sue Grafton, finished September 11
077) "A" Is for Alibi by Sue Grafton, finished September 2

Books 73 - 76
076) Nonsense Novels by Stephen Leacock, finished August 20
075) Yukon Ho! by Bill Watterson, finished August 16
074) Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell, finished August 16
073) Dangerous by Shannon Hale, finished August 11

Books 59 - 71
072) Tale of Sand by Ramón K. Pérez from the screenplay by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl, finished August 9
071) The New Yorker Book of Literary Cartoons edited by Bob Mankoff, finished August 9
070) Liō: Making Friends by Mark Tatulli, finished August 9
069) Paying for It: a comic strip memoir about being a john by Chester Brown, finished August 9
068) Richard Stark's Parker: The Score by Darwyn Cooke, finished August 9
067) Ghosts and Ruins by Ben Catmull, finished August 8
066) The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion by Will Eisner, finished August 7
065) Unterzakhn by Leela Corman, finished August 6
064) Grandville Bête Noire by Bryan Talbot, finished August 5

Books 59 - 63
063) Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, finished August 4
062) Bubbles & Gondola by Renaud Dillies, finished August 4
061) You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About by Dave Barry, finished August 3
060) We Were Gods by Moriah Jovan, finished August 1 or 2 (it was midnightish)
059) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, finished July 27

Books 56 - 58
058) Rachel Rising Vol. 4 : Winter Graves by Terry Moore, finished July 10
057) Rachel Rising Vol. 3 : Cemetery Songs by Terry Moore, finished July 9
056) Rachel Rising Vol. 2 : Fear No Malus by Terry Moore, finished July 8

Books 55
055) Paso Doble by Moriah Jovan, finished July 7

Books 50 - 54
054) The Best of Connie Willis by Connie Willis, finished July 4
053) Battling Boy by Paul Pope, finished July 27
052) Prophet Volume 2: Brothers by Brandon Graham, Fil Barlow, Giannis Milongiannis, Simon Roy (Contributo, Farel Dalrymple; finished June 26
051) Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach, finished June 26
050) Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets by Dav Pilkey, finished June 24

Books 44 - 49
049) Big Nate: In the Zone by Lincoln Peirce , finished June 23
048) Lying by Sam Harris, finished June 23
047) Donald Duck Adventures 17, finished June 23
046) Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell, finished June 22
045) Swamp Thing (the New 52) Volume 1: Raise Them Bones by Scott Snyder, Yanick Paquette, Marco Rudy, finished June 21
044) The Antler Boy and Other Stories by Jake Parker, finished July 19

Books 40 - 43
043) Rachel Rising 1: The Shadow of Death by Terry Moore, finished June 16
042) Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World by Carl Hiaasen, finished June 9
041) Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher by Jake Parker, finished June 8
040) Silas Marner by George Eliot, finished June 5

Books 36 - 39
039) Screwed by by Tyler Kirkham, Keith Thomas, David Miller; finished June 3
038) Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, finished March 2
037) Missile Mouse: Rescue on Tankium3 by Jake Parker, finished May 30
036) Undeath & Taxes by Carter Reid, finished May 26 or maybe a couple days earlier

Books 33 - 35
035) Of Many Hearts and Many Minds: The Mormon Novel and the Post-Utopian Challenge of Assimilation by Scott Hales, finished May 22
034) Field Notes on Language and Kinship by Tyler Chadwick, finished May 21
033) The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson, finished May 20

Books 29 - 32
032) Mormon X: Confessions of a Latter-day Mutant by Ben Christensen, finished May 8
031) Consenting Adults; or, the Duchess Will Be Furious by Peter De Vries, finished May 6
030) The Sleep of Reason edited by C. Spike Trotman, finished April 30
029) Ruby's Secret by Heather B. Moore, finished April 12

Books 22 - 28
028) Road to Bountiful by Donald S. Smurthwaite, finished April 7
027) Atlas of Prejudice: Mapping Stereotypes, Vol. 1 by Yanko Tsvetkov, finished April 6
026) Thelwell Country by Norman Thelwell, finished April 6
025) The House at Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor, finished March 31
024) Barnaby, Volume One by Crockett Johnson, finished March 17
023) A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver, finished March 17
022) Irene #3 edited by dw, Andy Warner, Dakota McFadzean; finished March 15

Books 18 - 21
021) Love Letters of the Angels of Death by Jennifer Quist, finished March 14
020) The Iowa Baseball Confederacy: A Novel by W. P. Kinsella, finished March 12
019) The Complete Peanuts: 1989 - 1990 by Charles M. Schulz, finished March 11
018) Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poppypants by Dav Pilkey

Books 14 - 17
017) Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2: The Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers by Dav Pilkey, finished February 22
016) Who Was Jim Henson? by Joan Holub, finished February 18
015) The Reluctant Blogger by Ryan Rapier, finished February 15
014) The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell, finished February 14

Books 10 - 13
013) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, finished February 12
012) Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown, finished February 5
011) The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, finished January 27
010) The Complete Peanuts 1987-1988 by Charles M. Schulz, finished January 25

Books 6 - 9
009) Heat by Mike Lupica, finished January 22
008) Happy Birthday, Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel, finished January 21
007) Impasse by Kohl Glass (story by Jason Conforto), finished January 16
006) Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, finished January 16

Books 1 - 5
005) The Man Who Grew His Beard by Olivier Schrauwen, finished January 12
004) Pokémon Black and White, Vol. 1 by Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto, finished January 10
003) Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hick, finished January 7
002) The Drop by Michael Connelly, finished January 7
001) The Rejection Collection, Vol. 2 edited by Matthew Diffee, finished January 6

final booky posts of

2013 = 2012 = 2011 = 2010 = 2009 = 2008 = 2007


  1. I was pretty young when I read Paradise Vue in the very early 1990s, but I remember thinking it was funny. I wonder how I would feel about it now. She also wrote the funniest Mormon short story I have every read, “Voucher and the Christmas Wars”, in the “Christmas Around the World” collection (1991). I read a couple of other Hatrack books, but they did not leave much of an impression. I think I liked the Linda Hoffman Kimball book.

  2. .

    I've read one of hers and did not care for it. Maybe we all saw what we wanted to see. I thought Jodi Hilton was funny then, but don't know what I would think today.