Who's Scarier: Stephen King or Johnny Cash?


101) 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King, finished October 14

This is the Stephen King I've been looking for. He's a great writer finally getting the respect he deserves, but let's face it: part of the reason we read him is to taste fear. And this book set my heart to racing more than any previous read since Cell (which I discuss some in my review of Lisey's Story). More than Carrie or The Shining or Doctor Sleep, 'salem's Lot worked its way inside. I'm still a bit too hard these days to really lose my breath (which I'd taken a bite of Uncle Stevie back at the end of high school), but it works.

Which is impressive, really, because these are pretty traditional vampires. At times, 'salem's Lot deliberately followed in the footsteps of Dracula and made conscious nods to Nosferatu (and probably plenty other stories I'm less familiar with), but it did so as proof of force. It took tropes that seem tired and silly to the modern mind, and forces us to confront them anew. He even gives crosses force, and find a means to justify doing so. (The last time I halfway bought crosses hurting vampires was in Lee Allred's jingoistic Mormon horror story, "Where Nothing Lives But Crosses.")

Anyway, what I like most about reading Stephen King is his formal inventiveness within the constraints of popular fiction. One striking example from this book:

To introduce us to the town, he takes us through the residents, hour by hour, each doing their own thing---milking cows, driving a school bus, taking on a bully, etc. Each bit a story about a different person. Each brief. Each so evocative that when they next appear---whether in the next chapter and every chapter after that or not again for three hundred pages and then just briefly, we know them. We know them.

That's some fine writing.
five months or more although the bulk of the book in about two weeks


100) Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio and Will Staehle, finished October 5

Created by Staehle, written by del Rio, illustrated by Staehle.

I had a hard time with this book in its early pages. Del Rio is aiming for a nuevo-Victorian vibe, but sometimes that results in unwitty overexposition. Here's an example from late in the book:
Sketchy paused to stick out its tongue, making Rupert cringe. He was still terrified of the creature, and the sight of its purple tongue only increased his discomfort.
See what I mean? Lemony Snicket it ain't.

That said, it's a fun romp through a mysterious hotel and family history and witchcraft and steampunk and so forth. It is like a more fantabulous and richly illustrated Unfortunate Event. So that should be enough to decide whether you're interested.

At the very least, thumb through it some time and check out the illustrations. Sort of Wondermark meets Nickelodeon.

a couple weeks or so


099) Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew, finished September 29

Ends up I've read this before, but I didn't realize it until the final ten pages. I guess that means it's just not that memorable.

Largely, I still agree with that review of four years ago, so you can read it for further details. Largely, I think making Mary Ann the main character was a brilliant move. And she is probably the best and most consistent character in the book. The rest often capture the zany nonsense of Wonderland, but occasionally don't.

Really, working within Wonderland ain't easy. Bully to any who attempt it.

This was a satisfactory effort.
a few days


098) Johnny Cash — I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist, finished September 26

This graphic biography begins with Johnny Cash killing a man in Reno just to watch him die, then has a page saying this section will be about 1935 - 1956 followed by a scene from late 1967 or early 1968. So let's just say I wasn't too impressed up front.

The Johnny-playing-characters-from-his-songs gag didn't really start working till near the end but it did start making sense before that point. The main conflict of this biography is Cash's drug problems, but the story builds toward a climax at Fulsom Prison where he and a prisoner meet. Everything following that point is largely epilogue, but the tragic downfall of that prisoner paralleled by the grand old statesman being recorded by Rick Rubin. This old man is still engaged in making great art (seriously: go listen to those albums), ending with one more JOhnny-as-character, a mashup of "Ghost Riders" and "The Man Comes Around," the beginning and end of his careers making a nice round.

Although I was not an easy sell on this book and although it turned me off up front, in the end I loved it. It's stark blackandwhite, the way he draws middle-aged Johnny, the excellent use of a foil, its close connection to the music, it's mix subtleties and exagerrations---it's just good stuff. Sure it had some missteps, but don't let that slow you down.

about 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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