I like big books
and I cannot lie
although these ones are a little more


058) The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater, finished July 31

This is Little Hill's one-city-one-book this year and I've been asked to be on the promotional committee.

I had a hard time getting into the books. Little things that should have made it easy (short chapters, the tone) just made my skin crawl. I am so over the YA voice. If the book had been first-person I probably could not have talked myself into reading it.

Another issue I have with the book is its lack of transparency regarding how much of the reporting is accurate as reported and how much of it is capote-ized. More clarity there would have been welcome.

The biggest problem I have, however, is not with the book but with the committee. We're focused on the opportunity to open up conversation about gender nonconformers, but, having finally read the book, feel that the bigger conversation our community needs to have is about the circumstances of poor black youth. Most of us may not understand what "agender" means but we're happy while liberals anxious to prove how willing we are to make those leaps in understanding. I'm less certain we feel that way about the kids of Oakland and Richmond who are getting streamlined into a life behind bars. Or dead.

We have our second meeting tomorrow. We'll see how it goes.
four days over twenty-nine days


059) Bandette Volume 1: Presto! by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, finished July 31

This zingy comic feels wonderfully French. But not, like actually French. But a France where the natives speak English with a French accent. Not there there is much written in an accent per se---instead, the arrangements of the words chosen simply feels French---and that's just right for a story of competing cat burglers flirting about Paris. Some of the stuff is dumb (the relationship between the detective and the theif), but largely no matter how over-the-top of silly, its just right for this heightened world.
two days


060) Legends of Zita the Space Girl by Ben Hatke, finished August 3

Picking up where we left off, we see more real girl, fun plotting, wit on every page, and everything else I liked about #1. These are great books.

two days


061) Darth Vader: End of Games by Kieron Gillen & Salvador Larroca, finished August 6

There I was at the library and someone had left this book sitting out the self-check. So I self-checked it. Entirely because I had been so impressed by another Vader book. This one is not quite as awesome, but it was still a terrific way to spend an hour (or however long it took.) I'm not sure I'm reading them in order. I may need to be more deliberate about this....
an afternoon


062) How to Read Nancy by Paul Karasik & Mark Newgarden, finished August 10

Sadly, I am dealing with flu-like symptoms right now, so I may not be able to give this book the full attention is deserves. First, bio of Nancy's creator, Ernie Bushmiller, then over forty aspects of closereading a single strip, then some apendices, then the opportunity to apply the principles taught to other Nancy strips.

I still don't like Nancy, but no question that Bushmiller was a craftsman and his work is highly skilled.

I'm especially intrigued by the notion of sticking with one small work of art and interrogating it until it gives up all its secrets.
ten days


063) The Selected Poems of Donald Hall by Donald Hall, finished August 14

I had been reading this maybe a couple weeks before I got sick. I had but one poem left when I came down ill and poetry moved well beyond my ken. I'm not quite better, but I finished it today. Even though I didn't care for many of the individual poems, it's an extraordinary work and makes a life's work really feel like a life. And a life that feels well lived and aesthetic. It opens not in childhood (though those earlier memories will make appearances as memories). It opens with the incredible "My Son My Executioner"---and ends, in the final poem, in one stanza, with the son taking away the childhood .22 from the father who no longer can be trusted with keeping himself alive.

I'm not going to attempt to discuss the book as a whole, much, going forth, but I am going to talk about the poems that were standouts for me.

Before we start, I checked this collection out from the library when Donald Hall died earlier this year. I couldn't remember having heard of him. While his words were waiting around the house for me, he came up first in one of the Everyman collections (one of the poems was a for or to or after Donald Hall), then in Billy Collins's collection where he, suddenly melancholily for me, imagined them both turning 200. And with this, it appears, I have finished my library-provided summer binge in poetry. But don't worry about me. I have three unfinished short collections I'm now reading, as well as ongoing work on massive collections by the likes of May Swenson and Emily Dickinson.

"Self-Portrait as a Bear" is less remarkable as a poem specifically and more as a concept for poetry I can't believe we aren't all exploiting all the time. I certainly intend to steal it, although early attempts prove it's more difficult than it seems.

When he becomes old, he will write poems that fulfill the prophecy of "To a Waterfowl." The nerdy kid is now sleeping with the daughters of the cool kids from high school.

One thing I'm sure I'll mention again is the idiosyncratic way in which Donald Hall interweaves sex and death (or, often, death's body double, aging). One element of his technique is straight-up explicity to a level that I'm not accustomed to in "high" poetry. That blowjob he observes in a cemetery, for instance, is just one example. There's no blowjob quite so obvious in that 2000-page Norton I hand out to my students every semester. No way.

I'm not sure I've ever had a moment of so keenly missing being in the bishopric as when I read "Wolf Knife." The idea of coming up with a sacrament meeting topic I could introduce with this astonishing tale ... oh, it has to be done. But not by me, I guess. Some minor googling suggests C.F. Hoyt, USN, is probably made up and so this poem is not from his Arctic diaries after all, but who am I if not a supporter of fiction? Suffice it to say, this is one of the most ... bloody amazing Arctic tales I've ever heard. I'll find a way to share it with people. I want to see their faces.

"Edward's Anecdote" didn't do much for me, but the very end left me shaken. The rest of my day was terrible. Everything was terrible. I cannot recommend this poem to you, even recognizing I was particularly vulnerable, but it is great poetry.

"Fete" is just a short and perfect romantic poem. It can be done.

I chose "Ardor" because it helped me understand the large, large section of poems that came before, about the decline and passing of his wife, and his many, sometimes bacchanalian, ways of coping. The final lines here helped me understand a large section of the book that I'd not been able to align myself to.

The final poem I've already mentioned, but I'll bring it up again. "Meatloaf" touches on many of the themes and images that appeared previously in the book, throwing in a meatloaf recipe and baseball for good measure. It's an interesting piece. Preceded by an outright bit of ars poetica, this poem claims in its first stanza to have nine stanzas of nine lines of nine syllables. It has nine stanzas of nine lines of eight syllables. What do you make of that?

The final short essay on selecting the poems was wonderful and makes me want to pick up his prose next.
really who knows


The other books of 2018

1 – 4
001) Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 3 by Ta-Nehisi Coates &‎ Brian Stelfreeze & al., finished January
002) The Complete Peanuts 1950-2000 by Charles M. Schulz & al., finished January
003) The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, finished January 10
004) El Deafo by Cece Bell, finished January 12

5 – 9
005) Cleopatra in Space: Target Practice by Mike Maihack, finished January 13
006) Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve by Ben Blatt, finished January 15
007) Glister by Andi Watson, finished January 18
008) Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, finished January 20
009) The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun by J.R.R. Tolkien, finished January 21

10 – 11
010) The Vision by Tom King et al., finished January 23
011) Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds, finished January 24

16 – 16
012) Anthem by Ayn Rand, finished February 8
013) The City in Which I Love You by Li-Young Lee, finished February 14
014) Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle, finished February 21
015) It Needs to Look Like We Tried by Todd Robert Petersen, finished March 7
016, 017) Fences by August Wilson, finished March 8

18 – 20
018) The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton, finished March 13
019) Star Wars Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away by Tim Leong, finished March 22
020) Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen, finished March 25

21 – 25
021) M Is for Malice by Sue Grafton, finished March 28
022) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany; finished March 31
023) It All Started with Hippocrates: A Mercifully Brief History of Medicine by Richard Armour, finished April 6
024) Don't Bump the Glump by Shel Silverstein, finished April 14
025) Coriolanus by Wm Shakespeare, finished April 16

26 – 32
026) The Trouble with Reality by Brooke Gladstone, finished April 24
027, 28) Coriolanus by William Shakespeare, finished April 26
029) The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost, finished April 28
030) Twisted Tales from Shakespeare by Richard Armour, finished April 28 or April 29 depending on when midnight happened
031) Bless The Child: A Romance of Redemption and Glory in the Ancient World by David J. West, finished May 1
032) The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody by Will Cuppy, finished May 3

32 – 34
032) Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, finished May 9
033) Stargazing Dog by Takashi Murakami, finished May 9
034) Vader Down by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato, finished May 18

035) The Book of Mormon: A Reader's Edition edited by Grant Hardy, finished May 23

36 – 50
036) Bad Kitty Camp Daze by Nick Bruel, finished May 24
037) I'm Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups by Chris Harris, finished May 24
038) The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua, finished May 30
039) Princess Leia by Mark Waid et al, finished May 30
040) Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral, finished June 12
041) Everything You Need to Know About a Mission by Ralph Thomas, finished June 13
042) The Invisibles by Grant Morrison et al, finished June 14
043) The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe, finished June 15
044) Material Volume 1 by Ales Kot & Will Tempest & al., finished June 23
045) Love & Misadventure by Lang Leav, finished June 30
046) The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins, finished July 7
047) Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier Vol. 1: The Man On The Wall by Ales Kos, finished July 7
048) Monster Verse: Poems Human and Inhuman edited by Tony Barnstone & Michelle Mitchell-Foust, finished July 10
049) Poems Dead and Undead edited by Tony Barnstone & Michelle Mitchell-Foust, finished July 10
050) Mary's Monster by Lita Judge, finished July 11

51 – 57
051) Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, finished July 18
052) Hostage by Guy Delisle, finished July 21
053) The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg, finished July 22
054) Paper Girls, Vol 4 by Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, finished July 24
055) Chocolate: The Consuming Passion by Sandra Boynton, finished July 25
056) [Aelian's] On the Nature of Animals translated by Gregory McNamee, finished July 27
057) Blue Yodel by Ansel Alkins, finished July 27

58 – 63
058) The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater, finished July 31
059) Bandette Volume 1: Presto! by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, finished July 31
060) Legends of Zita the Space Girl by Ben Hatke, finished August 3
061) Darth Vader: End of Games by Kieron Gillen & Salvador Larroca, finished August 6
062) How to Read Nancy by Paul Karasik & Mark Newgarden, finished August 10
063) The Selected Poems of Donald Hall by Donald Hall, finished August 14

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

* the most recent post in this series *

final booky posts of
2007 = 2008 = 2009 = 2010 = 2011 = 2012 = 2013 = 2014 = 2015 = 2016 = 2017

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