also a freaking awesome cowboy comic
a weird gamer novel
and stuff


019) The Book of Mormon, finished March 3

It took a long long long time, but we finally got the kids through the entire Book of Mormon. We used a mix of missionary free copies (including some from the 70s), triple combinations, and Grant Hardy's excellent reader's edition.

This time through took each kid from sounding out monosyllabic words to two of them reading just fine.

We made it through. We did it. We did it.


Time to start again!
literally years


018) Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse by Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos, finished March 1

Of all the graphic novels I've seen aimed at kids in recent years, this is one of the simplest, smartest, purest, and most complex. A young boy out hunting for his family, out to collect the bounty on each lousy one of them.

It also has some of the most original and accurate onomatopoeia and dialect I've read. You only have 20 months before volume two comes out, so get on it!


017) Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle, finished February 26

If I had read the author bio, I admit I would not have taken this home from the library. This does not say good things about me, that I'm skeptical of a novel because the author is a musician, but I suppose it's true. NY publishing is so hard to crack, so if you lead a critically acclaimed rock band, I have to wonder if that's how you got in. I mean---I would do the same thing, but still. I dunno. Maybe it's sour grapes.

Anyway, Darnielle proved competent. Good on him! And I found a lot to like in this book.

But ultimately, it's a bit of a groaner. I checked it out largely because the flapcopy made it sound curiously constructed:
Brilliantly constructed, Wolf in White Van unfolds in reverse until we arrive at both the beginning and the climax: the event that has shaped so much of Sean’s life. Beautifully written and unexpectedly moving, John Darnielle’s audacious and gripping debut novel is a marvel of storytelling brio and genuine literary delicacy.
Perhaps if I'd been sold the book by someone else, my final reaction would be more positive. Because yeah, it's sort of backward, and I suppose you could maybe call that moment at the end the climax, but I wouldn't. It's just the beginning. And we already knew what it was. And we already know why it is. It just hadn't been actually narrated yet. So, you know, whatever.

Other bits of puffery from that paragraph: BRILLIANTLY CONSTRUCTED (it was constructed, sure), BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN (I guess so), UNEXPECTEDLY MOVING (maybe I missed that page?), AUDACIOUS (I guess because it had a teenager and a gun?), GRIPPING (um, no), MARVEL OF STORYTELLING BRIO (don't know what that means), GENUINE LITERARY DELICACY (yeah. . . . I'm not going to pretend this has actual meaning either).

So. I feel lied to. But that's not the novel's fault.

In fact, the novel has a lot that makes it pretty great. It might not be BRILLIANTLY CONSTRUCTED, but it does have nice layers of storytelling with the past and the present and the within-the-game. And I do think ending at the beginning was the right choice, but not because I was So Amazed but because it was necessary and where we'd been headed all along. I read the book because I was fascinated by the idea ending at THE BEGINNING AND THE CLIMAX. I might not have read it without that line of ad copy. But that line of ad copy also made me like the book less.

Anyway. It's a nice book. Although it spends too much time being clever, it was not so clever as to alienate me from the narrator who is a rich and interesting and unique and deeply etched character. He's the real reason to read the book. Everything else the flap tried to sell me on was ancillary and confused my reading of the book.

Dang it, copywriters!
about two weeks


016) Drawings II by Jake Parker, finished February 19

Another predictably fun to look at collection of Jake's work. If you haven't noticed, everyone has noticed him now.

Previously in 2014 . . . . :

Books twelfth through fifteenth
015) The PreHistory of The Far Side: A 10th Anniversary Exhibit by Gary Larson, finished February 18
014) Nation by Terry Pratchett, finished February 16
013) Fences by August Wilson, finished February 10
012) Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, finished February 6

Books tenth through eleventh
011) Adverbs by Daniel Handler, finished February 4
010) Death by Chocolate: Redux by David Yurkovich, finished February 3

Books sixth through ninth
009) The End of the World by Don Hertzfeldt, finished January 31
008) Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, finished January 24
007) Drop Shot by Harlan Coben, finished January 18
006) Cardboard by Doug TenNaple, finished January 15

Books first through fifth
005) The Complete Peanuts: 1991-1992 by Charles M. Schulz, finished January 10
004) City of Brick and Shadow by Tim Wirkus, finished January 9
003) Harem Scarem in El Cerrito by Neva Calvert Carpenter, finished January 4
002) iPlates Volume II: Prophets, Priests, Rebels, and Kings by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 4
001) Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, finished January 3

final booky posts of

2014 = 2013 = 2012 = 2011 = 2010 = 2009 = 2008 = 2007

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