Books are an excellent source of protein


011) Kindred by Octavia E. Butler, finished January 22

Isn't it great when a lauded book lives up to its reputation? Kindred does.

If you haven't heard about it, Kindred is the story of a 1976 woman who periodically finds herself in 1819 on the plantation of an ancestor. That is, of a white man who would rape a formerly free black woman and whose progeny would lead to our protagonist. But in the meantime, she is stuck in antebellum Maryland and must live, essentially, as a slave. Because when she lives any other way, the weight her boldness is flung back at her.

The book is a simple read in the sense that a kid could read it and understand the words. But it is an enormously complicated read because nothing is easily explained or understood.

Butler chooses not to explain the hows of the novel's time travel: it just is. And this quiet, unfathomable mystery is a fine metaphor for all that is unspoken and unfathomable about man's cruelty to man. It's easy to say I would be different when you stand in 2019. Might not be so easy while standing in the past. Standing and standing. Unknowing if you are to return.
five months


012) Huck by Mark Millar et al., finished January 24

Millar has a big reputation. And not just because he writes good comics. No, he has the kind of reputations people in print media can only get by having their work made into a/v media. And he has. Kick-Ass, Kingsmen---not to mention his big influence on some of the Marvel movies.

Because of the first two, I've always kind of assumed he was an ultraviolence kind of guy and never sought him out. This book more came to me. But although it has a nice fight scene or two for the final act, it's largely a sweet story about a good samaritan with superpowers and a quiet, reserved humility. I was surprised. And delighted. It's a lovely book. Such a nice addition to our legions of superheros.

(Note: I have read one other Millar book, Red Son, though I didn't know who he was at the time.)
a week or two or three or maybe a month---can't remember when I started but I read most of it today


013) Marketing Precedes the Miracle by Calvin Grondahl, finished January 30

I'm preparing for the next episode of Face in Hat for which I am rereading this article and, for the first time, actually reading through this book of cartoons.

I've never found Grondahl or Pat Bagley all that funny, but I suspect a lot of it is timing. This collection was released in 1987 when, I assume, it was more transgressive and therefore had a larger potential payout. I've always thought of Grondahl's Mormon cartoons as transgressive for the sake of being transgressive but they don't really read that way to me now. Some of them are nosethumbery, but others range from the tame, to fair, to lazy (not many of the latter, but a couple are stinkers worthy of now-era Andy Capp). And they're not all about current events (or "current" events) such as feminism and historical secrecy. However, in some ways, I might like that better. The fact is, 1987 just isn't long enough ago for this book to feel like a fun little time capsule ala Latter-day Laughs.

That said, I still find the thesis of the above article compelling. Someone has to talk first, and the jester is a fine choice.


014) Uncle Scrooge:The Seven Cities Of Gold by Carl Barks, finished January 31

Good but not as solid as the last collection.

I enjoyed the essays again, but the one on the one-pagers was weak.

On the bright side, there were some nice extras in the back, revealing Barks's process. So thumbs-up there.

In other news, while typing this (why this writeup sucks), the boys and I watched the first episode of the new DuckTales. Given the props it received upon release, I'm assuming it gets better. Because this wasn't impressive. Only showed the younger characters, turned the Beagle Boys into ripoffs of the Powerpuff Girls' rogues gallery, and just did not gel. I'm hoping for better, moving forward. The books deserve it.
two or three weeks


015) When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, finished January 31

This is a phenomenal book. Kalanthi wrote it as he was dying, and it is unquestionably a book about death, but it's a book about death by a man who, though young, had made life and death and meaning his life's pursuit. So we follow him through medical school and into neurosurgery and through marriage into fatherhood. It's well written. We'll miss not hearing more from him.

And the concluding paragraph knocked me down. It's an astonishing thing. With his wife's spilogue taking us out? Lovely and moving.

A book to read while dying. And we are all dying. Even if we, ourselves, have not yet been forced to recognise that fact.

(Slip the intro. If you want to read it afterwards, that will be fine.)
under a week


The other books of 2019

001 – 005
001) Thornhill by Pam Smy, finished January 2
002) How to Be Happy by Eleanor Davis, finished January 3
003) Arcadia by Tom Stoppard, finished Janaury 4
004) Third Wheel: Peculiar Stories of Mormon Women in Love by Melissa Leilani Larson, finished January 6
005) Fox 8 by George Saunders, finished January 6

006 – 010
006) SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, finished January 8*
007) Latter-day Laughs by Stan and Elly Schoenfeld, finished January 16
008) All We Ever Wanted: Stories of a Better World edited by Miner, Palicki, Chin-Tanner; finished January 19
009) Daytripper by Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá, finished January 19
010) Evolving Faith: Wanderings of a Mormon Biologist by Steven L. Peck, finished January 20

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