127) Nat Turner
by Kyle Baker, finished November 10
This is an impactful book. It spends a long time establishing the horrors of slavery so when the brutality of Turner's revolt happen, no matter how awful it gets, you can't get those opening sequences out of your mind.two days
The book is largely wordless, but the pages with words are filled with Turner's own words. And there's a seriousness and an honesty---almost,
at times, a holiness---to his language that it's not hard to view him as a peculiar amalgamation of Joseph Smith and genocidal Joshua
The result is beauty in ugliness.
I'm in the middle of Tim O'Brien's "How to Tell a True War Story" and his explanations of how to tell these stories seem appropriate here.
The truths are contradictory. It can be argued, for instance, that war is grotesque. But inThis comics recreation is a true war story.
truth war is also beauty. For all its horror, you can’t help but gape at the awful majesty.... Like a killer
forest fire, like cancer under a microscope, any battle or bombing raid or artillery barrage has the
aesthetic purity of absolute moral indifference---a powerful, implacable beauty---and a true war
story will tell the truth about this, though the truth is ugly.
To generalize about war is like generalizing about peace. Almost everything is true.
Almost nothing is true.
126) A Wind in the Door
by Madeleine L'Engle , finished November 7
As far as storytelling goes, this doesn't match up with A Wrinkle in Time. The philosophizzing and whatnot has completely taken over the text. I mean---it was fine, I guess. Elements were quite nice. But it dragged, oh la how it dragged. Eesh.over three months
125) Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster): Life Lessons and Other Ravings from Dave Barry
by Dave Barry, finished November 3
Here's the thing about anyone my generation who rights funny stuff: whether we mean to or not, we all steal from Dave Barry. It's kind of a relief, frankly, to read this 2015 book and see he's still got it. I laughed aloud quite often, and the letter to his grandson was genuinely sweet and touching. And funny. Dave Barry, friends,couple weeks maybe
is still Dave Barry.
(Also worth mentioning: he explained soccer to me in words I understand. Although he didn't say this directly, essentially it is this: every soccer game is a pitcher's duel.)
by Steffen Kverneland, finished October 31
We went and saw the Munch show at SFMOMA. It was amazing. It was also amazing crowded, probably because we didn't make it until the closing weekend.two-plus weeks
Because it was closing though, all the Munch stuff was on sale including this book for $12. If it had been under ten I would have bought it without thinking, but at twelve I thumbed through and saw too many boobs and penises and stuff to have it hanging around the house. So I went to the library instead.
The book's central conceit is that most Munch biographies have extrapolated way too much from the facts and turned Munch into a fictional character of the biographists' own imaginings. And so Kverneland decided that all the words in the books would be direct quotations from primary documents and the only interpretation would come through his pictures.
And what pictures there are! His characters are sharply angled---almost cubist---yet consistent and realistic. And this realism is a great choice for Munch because he too was realist but not. Plus, Kverneland does fun cartoony things like giving drunk people Xs for eyes. And he incorporates Munch's art, using his own artist's sensibility to show the development of Munch's style and compulsions.
This bio captured Munch for me and added to my growing enthusiasm for his work. My enthusiasm is unlikely to ever match Kverneland's. But it is catching.
Previously in 2017