Happy Thanksgiving! Here, we are thankful for poetry, comics and ... math?


088) Children of Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez, finished November 23

It's been a while since I've read anything by a Hernandez brother, but nothing's changed. I recognize their place in history, their importance on several counts, their craftsmanship, and their voluminousness, but I just     don't     get it.


I mean---this book seems like something I would love---bits of fantasy and nonsense among the grounded realness of a small town---but it never quite works for me. It's time to accept that.


089) Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics by John Derbyshire, finished November 24

We were with friends for Thanksgiving last year and picked this off the shelf and was immediately sucked in. I loved it. It stretched my mind and made me think mathematically. I still regularly cite a couple tidbits I picked up from these early chapters.

So I borrowed it and kept reading---and had a Hawking experience: I understood as I read, but the understanding fled me as soon as I set the book down.

As I kept reading, my inability to retain what I had previously learned meant I soon got to the point where I understood nothing. Eventually this became comical as when I read:
1 + 1 = 0 [...] 1 - 1 = 0. (Notice that these results are the same as for addition. In this field, any minus sign can be freely replaced by a plus sign!)
It's that exclamation mark! that really got me. I mean, golly! There's nothing left to do but laugh!

Somehow I did finish the book, and enjoyed the experience overall. Though if I had it to do it again, I might follow Derbyshire's advice.

He noted at the beginning that the book was written in alternating chapters---history chapter, math chapter, history chapter, etc.---and that I was welcome to just follow one track. Ignoring the math chapters, I'm quite certain, would have rendered the history chapters somewhat nonsensical, but at least I would have finished quicker!
three hundred sixty-eight days


090) Leaves of Sass by R. A. Christmas, finished November 25

I've been aware of Christmas forever and read him (or about him) in Sunstone and Dialogue over the years.

The acknowledgements page makes it sound like this collection is an old man making sure everything makes it into print without worrying too much whether things are quite ready to be in print yet---like he's running against the clock, in other words.

And much of the collection reads like the bad impression that suggestion leaves. Some of the poems really do just feel like prose with line breaks. There are some winners in here, yes, but they are certainly easy to overlook given the amount of bog they're buried in.

The two strongest works, imo, are the two final works---both lengthy.

The first is an eight-parter (although the seventh part consists of twelve parts itself) and is an homage to the Church's involvement with Boy Scouts. An homage that includes child abuse and a look at the Scout Law that, at times, reads like a seven-deadly-sins confessional. But his love for Scouting nevertheless shines through. The combination of earnestness and earthy cynicism is a balance many of the poems in this collection aim to strike, but never better than here.

The second long poem (more than a quarter of the collection's length) is a translation from French, an earlier version of which once appeared in Dialogue. Although not Christmas's purely original work and a translation from a nonMormon author, it manages to be as complicatedly Mormon as anything in the book. Plus, the years of work and polish are evident and render the rest of the book even dingier in comparison. This translation deserves wider attention. I hope Valéry's people get it into something more people will see.


091) I Gave Her a Name by Rachel Hunt Steenblik with paintings by Ashley Mae Hoiland, finished November 26

My feelings about this book are almost identical to my feelings about its progenitor---you could just reread that review and know what I'm going to say next.
The Baader-Meinhof
to our Mother. After
you first have reason
to see Her, you see Her
everywhere (228)
This pretty much captures Rachel's entire MO. She's seeing God the Mother in everything and she's just writing it down. (She's teaching us how to do this through example.) She has good instincts, so most of the poems work (although some are short to the point of absurdity), but the overall effect is of an artist's sketchbook---a thousand versions of the same face, presumably in preparation of a major work.

In this sense, the accompanying art is perfect. Deliberately "unfinished" to the point of overlapping images and smeared or splashed paint. It captures what the poetry is doing.

Largely I find this multifaceted manner of attacking the subject successful (if, by this point, a bit redundantly redundant), although it did result in at least one inadvertent hilarity:
She said that all of
the temples on her island
are for female deities
and that they’re all active.
She pointed to one that
was for fertility and another
for protection from the sea:
She takes care of the sailors. (196)
over midnight


092) Life in Poetry by Kate Piersanti, finished November 27

I know Kate---bump into her every once in a while---and thus know she's always thinking about poetry. But she also gave me the impression she had not done much more than think about it.

I was wrong!

This is her fourth collection, newly out. Her style is consistent and, unlike Christmas (above), always poetic. her hit rate is only so-so, but her work does have moments of beauty and grace to celebrate.

The book's of a classic giftbook appearance (lots of photos, small square shape) and I think a lot of moms would go for it.

(Incidentally, what surprised me the most from this nice Mormon grandma was the celebration of physical passion in many of the poems at the collection's beginning.)
one month even


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

073 – 080
073) Mort by Terry Pratchett, finished [some time between September 10 and 15]
074) Scooby Apocalypse by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis et al, finished September 15
075) Thistle and Brilliant by Wren Tuatha, finished September 22
076) Macbeth by Wm Shakespeare, finished Oct 4
077) Macbeth by Wm Shakespeare, finished Oct 4
078) Miles Morales: Spider-Man Vol. 1: Straight Out of Brooklyn by Ahmed Garron et al, finished October 10
079) The Autumnlands, Volume One: Tooth and Claw by by Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey, finished October 13
080) Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, finished October 17

081 – 086
081) Hansel & Gretel Get the Word on the Street by Al Ortolani, finished October 19
082) Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, finished October 23
083) The Autumnlands Volume 2: Woodland Creatures by Kurt Busiek and Ben Dewey, finished October 28
084) Toil and Trouble by Mairghread Scott with Kelly & Nichole Matthews, finished November 1
085) Compulsive Comics by Eric Haven, finished November 2
086) Apocalypse Bow Wow by James Proimos III and James Proimos Jr., finished November 11

087) Rift Zone by Tess Taylor, finished November 13

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