A new favorite novel, a new favorite comic,
and some other stuff, mostly good


041) The Brothers K by David James Duncan, finished May 18

Shortly, this year's baseball book is one of the best novels I have ever read. This is no puffery, this is fact. I can't push it into your hands fast enough.

Here's the thing about reading books for me that is different than it was long ago: I read books for craft. I read something hilarious or something heartbreaking and I say to myself, hey! nice craft, that! I do not, however, laugh or cry.

Which is why I love this book so much. This book DID make me laugh. This book DID make me cry. And it did so through intensely well written prose and complicated storytelling.

Complicated's the wrong word. The book isn't hard to follow. But it doesn't have a simple "plot." It's the story of a family with all their starts and stops and loves and losses and discoveries and disasters. It's life, all packed into 716 pages. (That's another thing: when was the last time I read a book of 716 pages?)

Perhaps my favorite thing about the novel is that each character is fully drawn, and that that drawing is largely attained by showing them bouncing off each other---and the world around them.

This is the story of a ballplayer and his religious wife and their larger-than-life kids---and before you roll your eyes, let me remind you that we were all larger than life, at one time, at least according to our own perspective. "Amazing" kids do not, however, always grow up to become Wikipedia articles.

This is now my favorite baseball novel, my favorite Vietnam novel, my favorite Washington state novel...and it has the best explanation of Roger Maris I've ever read.

And more remarkable of all, Theric plans to reread it. And as we all know, Theric does not reread these days. But I'll be rereading this one some year soon when I'm considering my choices for annual baseball read.
since spring training


040) Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis, finished May 18

The movie was a favorite of my wife's. I can't remember for sure, but I think when we watched it together, I was not as sold. But when this book fell into my possession (with ecstatic period blurbs), I started reading it in my free moments at work (eg, while the kids are taking tests) and wrapped it up surprisingly fast. It's not nearly as funny in 2015 as I guess it was in 1955, but I did laugh a time or two. What was most enjoyable about it was the look at the time period. Midcentury classism! Racism in transition! Fashion trends I can't begin to understand!

What fun.

a month or two


039) Skandalon by Julie Maron, finished May 1

Yeah, so, hm. Anyway, this look at fame and art and whatever started intriguing and just got dumber and dumber until it got dumbest and was done. This French artist is sorta a big deal (you may have heard of the movie based on her previous book Blue is the Warmest Color, but I'm not impressed by her follow up. It's draped in philosophy and psychology, but the fanciest curtains don't change the hole in the wall.
two nights


038) The Final Story by Jeff Shaara, finished April 29

I don't read a lot of historical fiction, and the only World War II fiction for adults I can remember reading is Dean Hughes's Children of the Promise series, and this novel shares a lot in common with those ones' scenes of the Pacific. I remember very clearly the scene of one point-of-view character getting killed on the beach of Iwo Jima or Midway or one of those rocks. This book is similar, though grimier and with a few more bad words. They're also similar stylistically---great storytellers, middling wordsmiths. That said, I enjoyed the book, I learned a lot, I'm glad I read it.

It was lent to me by a WWII vet who served in Okinawa (the primary setting of the book). He was on a ship rather than on the ground, but he let me borrow it because a) I had given him my Gallery book (which he had liked) and thought I would do well to understand what the war was like in his theater. I'm looking forward to returning the book to him and having a chat. He's one of my favorites.
four months or so


037) Shutter Volume 1: Wanderlost by Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca et al, finished April 29

These comics just keep getting better! Though The Motherless Oven is more to my taste, Shutter is probably just as good. (I say "probably" because, as a serial, it remains unfinished.) In a world part Jules Verne, part Oz, part Hellboy, part Blacksad, part Dreaming, all awesome, our young hero is thrust back into the world of danger and adventure she had thought she'd left behind. Only now, instead of it being the family business, hitherto unknown family secrets are rising up to kill her.

In the lousy six issues collected here, the world---in all its alien insanity---is fully formed and the necessary character arc has been sketched out. And we care about her. We really do. Because we see this is a world where people die horrible, violent, irrevocable deaths. Plus she suddenly has a kid brother to care for, so there's that as well.

Anyway, after the other collections I've read recently, I haven't usually been upset they ended. They're a nice taste and I'm done. Not so with Shutter. I want more. More more more. It's been a while since I've been so tempted to subscribe.

two or three days

Previously in 2014 . . . . :

Books thirty-second through thirty-sixth
036) The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis, finished April 27
035) Zero Volume 1: An Emergency by Ales Kot et al, finished April 22
034) Deadly Class Volume 1: Reagan Youth by Rick Remender, finished April 19
033) Animal Man Vol. 4: Splinter Species by Jeff Lemire et al, finished April 17
032) Swamp Thing Vol. 4: Seeder by Charles Soule et al, finished April 15

Books twenty-eighth through thirty-first
031) Small Gods by Terry Pratchett, finished April 6
030) The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith, finished April 2
029) The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey: A Graphic Novel of Jewish Wisdom and Wit in the Wild West by Steve Sheinkin, finished March 29
028) Vivian Maier: Self-Portraits edited by John Maloof, finished March 23

Books twenty-sixth through twenty-seventh
027) Passing by Nella Larsen, finished March 18
026) Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson, finished March 17

Books twenty-second through twenty-fifth
025) Ghost World by Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff, finished March 16
024) Hawkeye: L.A. Woman by Matt Fraction and some very talented artists, finished March 15
023) Hawkeye: Little Hits by Matt Fraction and a large number of artists, finished March 14
022) Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction and David Aja and Javier Pulido, finished March 12

Books twentienth through twenty-first
021) Does Santa Exist?: A Philosophical Investigation by Eric Kaplan, finished March 11
020) Babymouse #8: Puppy Love by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, finished March 11

Books sixteenth through ninteenth
019) The Book of Mormon, finished March 3
018) Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse by Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos, finished March 1
017) Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle, finished February 26
016) Drawings II by Jake Parker, finished February 19

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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