Poison Circus prep
(and other books, good and so-so)


073) Mort by Terry Pratchett, finished [some time between September 10 and 15]

I was a little underwhelmed by the last Terry Pratchett book I read, but that one's reputation is not as good as Mort's. Yet here I am, underwhelmed again. Do I need a break? Was I off as a reader? Am I just not into the earlier Discworld books?

This is a great and possibly terrible mystery.

How To suggested that the Bromeliad books might be where to go next but ... they're even earlier.

A great and terrible mystery, indeed.


074) Scooby Apocalypse by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis et al, finished September 15

I first saw some Scooby Apocaypse art a few years ago and thought it was fan art. Cool, but then I forgot about it. Until, recently, I found out it is in fact a published comic. And's been around long enough to several collections to appear. So of course I put it on hold.

It's ... pretty good. Maybe as the story continues it'll develop into what the Scooby gang was always really about, but at this point with the real monsters and the character's grown-up not-getting-along, it feels like it's missed the entire point. Plus, it's really too bloody to be a kids book. (Though my kids found it and read it and asked if there were more. I said yes, but they did not ask me to obtain them.)

I don't mind the recreation of classic characters---Scooby-Doo's premier was fifty years ago this month; by rights he should be in the public domain---but I don't have to like your recreation. I hope I'm not the LAST JEDI SUCKS dude of the Scoobyverse, but I only just kinda liked bits of this Book One.

I'm interested enough to want to know if they eventually align with Traditional Scooby Values to keep reading, but the overall quality of the storytelling is low enough that I don't think I actually will. Probably not, in fact. It would take some serendipity. And the real Mystery Machine does not run on such stuff.
gosh maybe a month


075) Thistle and Brilliant by Wren Tuatha, finished September 22

I bought this book because I am a fan of the poet and also of the rag she edits, Califragile. The theme of the collection is love and relationships; the intro warns readers that the poet will stay away from "salacious stereotypes" and while I agree with the stereotypes maybe a bit more of the salacious would have been a good idea---some of the best poems are those that rub up against the erotic.

My other favorite poem (and the only one I read several times) was the final poem, "Shiny Thing while Wintering." Sadly, it only exists in the collection so I cannot link to it for you.

So it goes, so it goes.
maybe two weeks


076) Macbeth by Wm Shakespeare, finished Oct 4
077) Macbeth by Wm Shakespeare, finished Oct 4



077) Miles Morales: Spider-Man Vol. 1: Straight Out of Brooklyn by Ahmed Garron et al, finished October 10

This was reasonably fun and had moments of real character and pathos, but ultimately it never grabbed me. I never quite cared. And I dig Miles Morales!

The kids like it. They can have it.
over two weeks


078) The Autumnlands, Volume One: Tooth and Claw by by Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey, finished October 13

This was sitting in a Little Free Library and I almost didn't take it, but something about its anthropomorphic animals was instantly compelling. I couldn't leave it behind. Plus, Kurt Busiek is a name with a reputation although I couldn't place it at that moment.

But truly: these are some of the best anthomopormics you'll ever see.

It is the far, far future. A time of magic that long ago replaced our world of technology. How we got from the world we are creating to this world is unclear, but the various tribes of the world are the various animals of the world---all people. The wealthy living in floating cities that remind me of 17th-century Amsterdam and the less exalted upon the ground. One such tribe is the bison who speak in a nearly movie-Indian patois.

Which gets us to the stylepoint I love most about this book---its cheerful mining of midcentury (and earlier) pulp culture. Each issue's third and fourth pages are doublespread splashes that look like they are the opening spread of the featured tale in a pulp magazine in the time of gaudy illustration and fancy dropcases. Here are three that I could find online:

And the comics, although of the highest modern sensibility, respect the glories of that tradition. Truly, if comics had matured to point fiction had back in the forties, we would have had comics like this. Just...not on as nice of paper.

Anyway, the characters are terrific, the plot is exciting, the world is compelling, the dilemmas matter, and after several disappointing popular comics of late (see above), this was a feast. I can't wait to read volume two!
four days


079) Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, finished October 17

I first heard of this book from Chip Kidd who sold me on it. And the cover is so striking and reveals so much through an apparently plain surface, that I never forgot the book---even though it's been over a decade since he first pitched me. And, in that decade, I've become increasingly aware of how popular and influential the book is. Once you know about it, you'll see it pop up a few times a year.

I read walking to and from work. No one ever says anything. I was stopped four times (FOUR TIMES!) by people who just HAD to tell me how much they loved the book. A stranger gardening who had seen me many times before. A women IN HER CAR waiting at a stop light who rolled down her window to yell at me. Plus a librarian and a colleague (who once hung with Dunn in Portland). Incredible.

I finally picked a copy up in order to prepare for Poison Circus happening this weekend.

Anyway, the book!

I did enjoy it. It is very easy to read this book and see how, at the right moment in time, this book could mean everything to someone. I will definitely recommend it to people who might be living in that moment.

I could never teach it---sex and deep psychic trauma and genuinely creative cursing are not my high-school-classroom jam---but yes, I will have students I recommend it to. I feel confident about that.

If you don't know the story, it's a family of circus freaks born to a ringmaster, a geek, and a host of dangerous chemicals. And that's only for starters.
perhaps a month


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

011 – 015
011) Kindred by Octavia E. Butler, finished January 22
012) Huck by Mark Millar et al., finished January 24
013) Marketing Precedes the Miracle by Calvin Grondahl, finished January 30
014) Uncle Scrooge:The Seven Cities Of Gold by Carl Barks, finished January 31
015) When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, finished January 31

011 – 015
016) Snotgirl: Green Hair, Don't Care by Bryan Lee O'Malley and Leslie Hung, finished February 16
017) Ghost of the Grotto by Carl Barks, finished February 20
018) When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs, finished February 22
019) Temple and Cosmos by Michael R. Collings, finished February 23
020) The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett, finished February 23
021) Fungus the Bogeyman by Raymond Briggs, finished February 24

022 – 027
022) One Dirty Tree by Noah Van Sciver, finished February 25
023) Snotgirl: California Screaming by Bryan Lee O'Malley & Leslie Hung, finished February 28
024) Sabrina by Nick Drnaso, finished March 7
025&026) Macbeth by William Shakespeare, finished March 14
026) Fences by August Wilson, finished Ides of March
027) N Is for Noose by Sue Grafton, finished Ides of March

028 – 033
028) Ethel & Ernest by Raymond Briggs, finished March 20
029) Let's Go Exploring by Michael Hingston, finished March 20
030) Gentleman Jim by Raymond Briggs, finished March 20
031) The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis, finished April 2
032) No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay, finished April 8
033) Letters to ta Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke, finished April 9

034 – 040
034) King Lear by William Shakespeare, finished April 13
035) Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith, finished April 13
036) The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy: Haunting the Hearts and Heaven of Mormon Women and Men by Carol Lynn Pearson, finished April 15
037) Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson, finished April 19
038) a novel by a friend, finished April 23
039) Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett, finished April 27
040) Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, finished May 3

041 – 044
041) The Birthday Party and The Room by Harold Pinter, finished May 6
042) When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer, finished May 11
043) Aquaman: Sub Diego by Will Pfeifer / Patrick Gleason / Christian Alamy, finished May 18
044) The Tragedy of King Leere, Goatherd of the La Sals by Steven L. Peck, finished May 22

045 – 051
045) Eric by Terry Pratchett, finished May 31
046) The Library Book by Susan Orlean, finished June 7
047) Sing to It by Amy Hempel, finished June 8
048) The Emma Press Anthology of Fatherhood, finished June 17
049) Batman: White Knight by Sean Murphy, finished June 28
050) The Great Pie Robbery and Other Mysteries by Richard Scarry, finished July 1
051) "O" Is for Outlaw by Sue Grafton, finished July 1

052 – 056
052) The Diary of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain, finished July 1
053) Witchy Eye by D.J. Butler, finished July 2
054) The Tree of Life by Terence Malick, finished July 9
055) Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination by Brian Jay Jones, finished July 10
056) Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel edited by Richard H. Minear, finished July 26

057 – 061
057) Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King, finished July 27
058) Your Duck Is My Duck by Deborah Eisenberg, finished July 29
059) The Cat Behind the Hat: The Art of Dr. Seuss, finished August 4
060) Please, Please Call Me to the Bishopric by Jett Atwood, finished August 6
061) How to Hide an Empire by Daniel Immerwahr, finished August 8

062 – 066
062) Giraffes on Horseback Salad by Josh Frank, Manuela Pertega, Tim Heidecker; finished August 10
063) Snow White by Matt Phelan, finished August 12
064) Billie the Bee by Mary Fleener, finished August 16
065) Manfried the Man by Caitlin Major and Kelly Bastow, finished August 16
066) A Fire Story by Brian Fies, finished August 20

067 – 072
067) Wheat: Humor & Wisdom of J. Golden Kimball edited by Mikal Lofǵren, finished August 25
068) Witchy Winter by D.J. Butler, finished August 27
069) Mary, Mary and other plays by Jean Kerr, finished August 28
070) Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, finished September 5
071) Trish Trash: Rollergirl from Mars by Jessica Abel, finished September 7?
072) How To by Randall Munroe, finished September 9


  1. .

    Something I meant to talk about in my GEEK LOVE write-up:

    Without even reading about the attempts, it was immediately obvious to me that people would have been trying to make this in a movie since the 1980s.

    But now is the time to do it. A for-adults film (or even better, Limited Event Series) done in cgi or Laika-style stopmotion could be incredible. We finally have the tech to do GEEK LOVE right. I hope it happens.

  2. Hi greeat reading your blog