You know, I hated book reports back in elementary school


096) North 40 (volume one) by Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples, finished September 23

I like the notion of Lovecraftian horror in a small Southern town via comics. And the ecstatic blurbs suggest this was muy successful. And I liked a lot of the characters and imagery and it started to get interesting now and then. But in the end, I never cared. It's a creative blending of cliches, but the bursts of true originality were too far between.

five days


095) That Smell and Notes from Prison by Sonallah Ibrahim (Robyn Creswell translation), finished September 18

This is two books. Plus some, if you think about it. So I'll deal with them in pieces.

Translator's introduction
This history of the author and of midcentury Egyptian communists and of other bits o' history I know nearly nothing of was fascinating. I found wonderful parallels to Nineteen Eighty-Four for instance. Plus I love anyone's discussion of how they made choices while translating. All fine stuff. In some ways, I must admit, my favorite part of this volume.

That Smell
This was kind of pedestrian, frankly. Long paragraphs, stream of consciousness....you know the type. I didn't really find anything that would make me recommend this section to you. What's most interesting is why it ended up getting censored. I'm fascinated that the thought police were most upset by the protagonist's failure to have sex with a prostitute. I mean---they were upset by the masturbation too (which, I thought, was more startling than the introduction had led me to believe)---but shouldn't they have been most upset by the constant, oppressive police present as displayed? Maybe they couldn't see anything wrong with that, thus, etc. Anyway. I get it as an important cultural document. I don't get it as a good novella.

Author's note
This erstwhile introduction is weird. Partly a talking of why the book was important. Some details of its censoring and banning. Some complaining about those who didn't get it. Some navelgazing. Some not really remembering what he wrote.

Notes from prison
Just that. Scraps written on cigarette papers. The sort of whiny twenty-year-old-writer musings we've all scratched down at some time. Part seeking for a tradition to align oneself with; part deep seated need to write something utterly new and unprecedented. While there are some interesting insights, for anyone who once was filled with artistic self-importance, it stinks of adolescent bloat. If anyone wants, I can edit a book of my self-important ramblings too. I'm sure there's some cogent moments of literary analysis and some well phrased nonthoughts on art buried in those notebooks to sweeten the horror.
four weeks


094) Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar, finished September 17

Look: Louis Sachar is a great writer. Holes is amazing. Dogs Don't Tell Jokes is amazing. Fuzzy Mud, thus, is a disappointment.

It's packaged to look like part of the current fun that is kids in dangerous adventures (Variant is a good example), and its bitesized chapters help propel the action along. And the danger seems real while its happening (though Sachar isn't willing to make it as real as I thought he would).

I can sum up the plot by saying this is a fearmongering anti-GMO tirade starring kids in the mutant woods. And, naturally, scientists. The scientists of Fuzzy Mud are broken into two categories: those who are nuts and those who are stupidly optimistic. Both sets are dangerously overconfident in their findings.

Oh: and one veterinarian who apparently has a Batcave-level lab in which he can instantly discover that turtle skin has exactly one enzyme no other animal has and can magically turn it into a medical treatment. This is 1960's Stan Lee b******t-level nonsense. The science here is TERRIBLE which is itself terrible because this book is only barely pretending to be anything other than a politicization of a science the author seems to have no knowledge of.

Which is a shame because the 2× thing was cool....

I'll give you one example of the nuttiness of Fuzzy Mud's science.

The genetically engineered frankengerm eats up the skin and cuts nerve connections yet as soon as someone's injected with turtle enzymes, not only does the skin grow back nearly perfectly, but apparently there's complete nerve regeneration. Even eyes make a near-full recovery. I'll tell you what: we should all be injecting turtle enzymes! Viva la immortality!

Which brings me back to Sachar's decision not to kill (or even deal longterm damage to) any named characters. Not only is it a bit cowardly, but it undercuts his desire to scare the pants off kids re GMOs. If you're going to use narrative to support bad science, why not use all to tools at your disposal? I don't get it.

Hhh. Maybe it's just the problem (discussed here) that talking about science gone wrong naturally leads to the moral argument Don't Do Science, even if that's not what you actually wish to say. Just because what else is there to say?

I just thought Sachar would try harder. He doesn't seem like the sort to leave things so muddy....
four days


093) Castle Waiting Volume 2 by Linda Medley, finished September 15

Like the last volume, I'm not sure I have the words to express how much I love this book. I love it. (How's that?)

Something interesting about this volume which I wasn't sure about at first, but certainly came around on, was the insertion of so many flashbacks. The first volume had flashbacks, but largely they were of characters telling their own stories. This time, they are actual flashbacks. Most of them of Jain's old life, leading us to realize that what we thought we knew of her past was pretty wrong. What's right? Well. We still don't know. WE NEED VOLUME THREE, LINDA MEDLEY. FANTAGRAPHICS! WIELD YOUR WHIP!

But this gets to one of the aspects of Castle Waiting I most like. Castle Waiting lets life unfold at its own casual pace. Its characters just get to live their lives.

The marketing of the books calls this "Fan-Favorite Feminist Fairy Tale" (or along those words) because its about everyday life. I guess it's feminist in the way Ulrich is feminist. Which is to say if real people living real lives is feminist, well gee whiz. No one should be opposed to that, no matter how blockheaded.

Anyway. I really like Castle Waiting is my point. Here are some images from this volume.

under a week

Previously in 2015 . . . . :

Book ninety-seventh
097) Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, finished finished September 24

Books ninety-third through ninety-sixth
096) North 40 (volume one) by Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples, finished September 23
094) Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar, finished September 17
093) Castle Waiting Volume 2 by Linda Medley, finished September 15

Books ninetieth through ninety-second
092) Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O'Brien, finished September 5
091) The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink, finished September 5
090) The Animal Family by Randall Harrell, finished September 4

Books eighty-seventh through eighty-ninth
089) Zenith: Phase 1 by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell, finished September 4
088) The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Guay, finished September 1
087) Anthem by Ayn Rand, finished September 2

Books eighty-second through eighty-sixth
086) A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales edited by , Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, finished August 31
085) Castle Waiting by Linda Medley, finished August 30
084) An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell by Deborah Levy, finished August 30
083) Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women's Local Impact by Neylan McBaine, finished August 30
082) The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball's Forgotten Heroes by Gary Cieradkowski, finished August 25

Books seventy-fourth through seventy-seventh
081) Saint Cole by Noah Van Sciver, finished August 20
080) That A Guise, John? by Brace Pannier, finished August 19
079) A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett, finished DATE
078) Revival Volume Four: Escape to Wisconsin by Tim Seely and Mike Norton, finished August 16

Books seventy-fourth through seventy-seventh
077) Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, finished August 15
076) Happy Birthday, Wanda June by Kurt Vonnegut, finished August 6
075) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, finished August 4
074) The Erotic Spirit: An Anthology of Poems of Sensuality, Love, and Longing edited by Sam Hamill, finished July 28

Books seventieth through seventy-third
073) Dial H: Exchange by China Miéville et al, finished July 27
072) Sir Charlie: Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World by Sid Fleischman, finished July 24
071) "C" is for Corpse by Sue Grafton, finished July 22
070) Isle of 100,000 Graves by Fabien Vehlmann and Jason, finished July 19

Books fifty-ninth through sixty-ninth
069) Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, finished July 17
068) Dial H: Into You by China Miéville et al, finished July 15
067) Benny Breakiron: The Red Taxis by Peyo, finished July 15
066) Bossypants by Tina Fey, finished July 14
065) Liberating Form: Mormon Essays on Religion and Literature by Marden J. Clark, finished July 12
064) The Rise of Aurora West by Paul Pope and J. T. Petty and David Rubín, finished July 12
063) Battling Boy by Paul Pope, finished July 11
062) The Last Days of Video by Jeremy Hawkins, finished July 6
061) Arabel's Raven by Joan Aiken, finished July 3
060) Templar by Jordan Mechner and Alex Puvilland and LeUyen Pham, finished July 2
059) Heaven Knows Why! by Samuel W. Taylor, finished June 26

Books fifty-sixth through fifty-eighth
058) Itself by Rae Armantrout, finished June 21
057) Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry by John Frederick Nims and David Mason, finished June 19
056) Matilda by Roald Dahl, finished June 15

Books fifty-second through fifty-fifth
055) Bad Houses by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil, finished June 14
054) Star Wars Underworld: The Yavin Vassilika by Mike Kennedy and Carlos Meglia and whoever, finished June 12
053) Batman Vol. 5: Zero Year - Dark City by by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (et al), finished June 11
052) Deadpool's Art of War by Peter David and Scott Koblish, finished June 10

Books forty-sixth through fifty-first
051) Men of Wrath by Jason Aaron and Ron Garney, finished June 10
050) X-Men: No More Humans by Mike Carey & Salvador Larroca & al., finished June 9
049) Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn, finished June 9
048) Miracleman Book 2: The Red King Syndrome by Alan Moore (not credited by name) and a bunch of other people, finished June 6
047) Coffin Hill: Dark Endeavors by Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda, finished June 6
046) Coffin Hill: Forest of the Night by Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda, finished June 4

Books forty-second through forty-fifth
045) Castle Waiting: The Lucky Road by Linda Medley, finished at midnight so either June 2 or 3
044) The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami and translated by Ted Goossen, finished June 2
043) The Round House by Louise Erdich, finished June 1
042) Best American Comics 2014 edited by Scott McCloud, finished May 31

Books thirty-seventh through forty-first
041) The Brothers K by David James Duncan, finished May 18
040) Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis, finished May 18
039) Skandalon by Julie Maron, finished May 1
038) The Final Story by Jeff Shaara, finished April 29
037) Shutter Volume 1: Wanderlost by Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca et al, finished April 29

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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