The title image of one is both comforting and haunting. Can you guess which? I'll bet you can.


086) Murder in Manhattan, finished October 7

This authorless giftbook is 89 pages of interviews and facts uncovered by the lead detective. And then---can you solve the case???

The short answer, for me, is no, because the berry cobbler is being served and I don't have time to think very long. But the solution seems reasonable and if I run into another of these (if there are others) I would trust that the mystery is solvable and, if in the mood, would plan to give it more of my time.
an evening


087) The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh, finished October 10

This violent play takes place in a police interrogation room in a totalitarian dictatorship. It does some fun things with metanarrative and the structure of the play is quite nice. I'm not 100% sure I like what it has to say about narrative, but hey. (A writer's stories are taken as evidence of his criminality. Ends up his stories actually cause criminality instead. So.)

My only real issue with the book is the "retarded" brother whose intelligence and lucidity and capacity for language seem to be unstable. A good actor can even out that weakness in the writing, but on the page it doesn't work so well.

That said, I liked it. I would kind of like to teach it when I'm talking metafiction but never would because of the language. Don't want to read that out loud.
two noncontiguous days


088) Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut, finished October 10

I've been putting this particular Vonnegut off---largely because I've heard it is not good. It came out seven (seven!) years before Sirens of Titan announced the arrival of a New Voice and it's not, this is true, peak Vonnegut. But it's a terrific look at what Vonnegut is because all the hallmarks of his style are evident. Onomatopoeia in quotation marks as if the fireworks were speaking. Classic Vonnegut move. And all the absurdity and irony etc etc are there, but not in the amounts you would expect based on his later work. The smell of Vonnegut is there, but if you don't know the aroma, you might not recognize it.

I was reading it because I'm putting it on a list of dystopian novels I'm handing out to students next month. This dystopia, like all dystopias, is a utopia. In this case, a utopia for engineers and managers. The rest of the world has nothing to do and a crisis of boredom has set across America. As you might imagine (or if you've read the opening chapters of Cat's Cradle or chunks of Breakfast of Champions, for instance) Vonnegut finds ample room for satire. But (excepting the time at the Meadows) it's just less. Vonnegut, but not Vonneguty enough.

That said, as a first novel it does take some chances. And with hindsight, no reason to be surprised this virgin would go on to write Slaughterhouse-Five.


089) Lumberjanes, vol. one by Noelle Stevenson and village, finished October 16

This is more or less exactly what I was expecting and, having finally begun it, I'm happy to say it delivers in spades. I'm not utterly in love with it, but there's at least, like, seven volumes out and at the library already, and I think that love is apt to come.

The skinny: strange things are afoot in the woods, and the Girl Scouts-esque organization Lumberjanes is there to investigate. Happily, by the end of this volume, their troop leader has discovered the girls are telling the truth about monsters in the woods, so that won't be snuffleupagusing up the works going forward.

The book is fun and that makes its agenda fun too. And what's its agenda? Girls are fun and messy and dangerous and it's okay for some people and not all people to be lesbians-in-embryo. I guess. Whatever. All that matters is that the girls are fun to be with.


090) SkyHeart Book I: The Star Seed by Jake Parker by Jake Parker, finished October 16

It's been almost three years since I provided Jake with notes on the working script he shared with me and now I finally have the book in my hands and get to see how it turned out.

The short: it's good.

I won't have a long, but here's a medium:

I love the characters as they were originally presented (as collected in Antler Boy) and it's still hard for me when the pig and the whale show up and everyone doesn't have the camaraderie that I loved from those original stories. But that aside, the story here in SkyHeart is stronger. This volume ends on a cliffhanger, but by the time that rolls round, we're already fully invested in the world and our leads.

For the Latter-day Saint reader, there are at least two nods to the endowment to watch for.


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

64 – 68
064) The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg, finished August 15
065) The Humans by Stephen Karam, finished August 15
066) Space Cat by Ruthven Todd, finished August 16
067) Strip Search: Revealing Today's Best College Cartoonists, finished August 16
068) A Contract with God by Will Eisner, finished August 18

69 – 73
069) Space Cat Visits Venus by Ruthven Todd, finished August 19
070) Served: A Missionary Comic Anthology edited by Theric Jepson & Mike Laughead & al., finished August 22
071) Precious Rascals by Anthony Holden, finished August 24
072) The Peanuts' Guide To Life by Charles M. Schulz (sort of), finished August 25
073) Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham by Mike Mignola et al., finished August 28

74 – 81
074) My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris, finished August 29
075) The Customer Is Always Wrong by Mimi Pond, finished August 30
076) Bandette: Stealers Keepers! by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, finished August 30
077) You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld, finished September 6
078) Baking With Kafka by Tom Gauld, finished September 7
079) Mooncop by Tom Gauld, finished September 7
080) Goliath by Tom Gauld, finished September 7
081) Educated by Tara Westover, finished September 12

82 – 85
082) Beyond the Light by Ryan Shoemaker, finished September 17
083) Space Cat Meets Mars by Ruthven Todd, finished September 22
084) Invisible Gifts by Maw Shein Win, finished September 24
085) Middlemarch by George Eliot, finished September 29

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

* 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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