And Orson Scott Card Makes One Hundred


093) Starlight: The Return of Duke McQueen by Mark Millar and team, finished November 29


An Air Force pilot has a JohnCarteresque experience---swept onto another planet where he becomes a great hero---only to be returned home where he is dismissed as a liar and a lunatic for the rest of his adult life. Then, forty years later, he gets a chance to return. And takes it.

This comic ties nicely into the pulp tradition that birthed it and is great fun to read. It did make a point of telling us how much older McQueen was now, but it never seemed to make any difference. So there's a lost opportunity.

But overall a fun and satisfying read.

Some previous Millar: Huck, Red Son, UpUpandAway, Aztek.
from morning to juuuust past midnight


094) Blackbeard's Ghost by Ben Stahl, finished December 6

Stahl is better known as a painter and, seeing the cover to the first edition, I'm convinced he's also the painter of Aldetha from Disney's film adaptation to the novel. Also, it's bears a striking resemblance to the most terrifying book upon the bookshelves as I was growing up.

The movie takes greeaat liberties with the novel, but rightly so, really. It's ... not a great book. I mean---it's fine, I guess, but it's hardly a book that will be remembered. Its best part was the prologue which shows us ol' Blackbeard still alive and in his time. That part's great. Then we move to the present (c. 1965) and we get a couple generic schoolboys who say "Jeepers!" a lot (a lot) and some rules of magic that never quite make consistent sense. In an age that's really grappled with the rules of fantasy and worldbuilding, he would probably get better editing. The illustrations are keen, though!

There is no romance, there is no track coach, there is no casino, there are no little old ladies, etc etc etc. Aldetha is a friend, not a wife, and she outlived Blackbeard, although she did die by fire. So it's really nothing like the movie.

When I was in seventh or eighth grade, we watched a Disney film that was based on a book we had read in class. It was one of the first times I realized a movie could be better than a book it was based on. The main character was abducted by local natives and eventually returns to white civilization because he wants to hang out with his younger brother. The movie makes it a girl he's falling in love with which even as a middleschooler made waaay more sense.

That was a relatively small change compared to what Blackbeard's Ghost would do ten years later, but it just goes to show.

Hitchcock said he would never make the Brothers Karamazov into a film because it's already perfect as a book. The thing to do is to buy bad books with potential and recreate them into excellent movies. Now, I'm not saying these Disney films are "excellent" but it does go to prove the point.
maybe a week


095) Supermarket by Rudy Vanderlans, finished December 11

Flipping through this book, the photographs are ugly and poorly designed---they break all the rules---and the only reason I paid a dollar at the library sale is because it's about the Mojave, the desert that is part of my sense of identity. The towns under his lens brush right up against my hometown. So I paid my buck.

I think I decided to read it finally because we were about to watch Bagdad Cafe and it too is Mojave-based. Even more appropriately, though I did not know it at the time, both are made by Europeans.

The book is mostly two photographs per page, often taken out the window of a moving car with parts of the car in-frame. Every once in a while with a different kind of paper---older is demeanor---featuring quotations from John C. Van Dyke's The Desert, celebrating is starkness and color and beauty. Not what Vanderlans has been capturing at all.

For much of the book, I did not like it.

But then---these humanless photos---the grotesque emptinesses---became to feel almost unbearably true. Although I could not see it at first, this Dutch Berkeleyite has captured something about the desert that I absolutely recognized and, ultimately, was moved by.

"Sometimes it takes an outsider to see a whole clearly."


096) In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang, finished December 14

Video games and economics! That's what this book offers, according to the introduction. And it was an honest description.

Besides the pleasure of just reading it, what I liked about this comic is how it played with identities. There was the surface level of characters appearing both as their IRL bodies and their avatars, but also how the nerds bully the preppie and how foreigners aren't quite so foreign while being more foreign than imagined. Just the opportunity to think about the modern world with empathy makes this book a valuable exercise.
one shoe-shopping trip


097) The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice by Carolyn McVickar Edwards, finished December 16

Twelve traditional tales from around the world. Lots of overlap, lots of divergence.

A lot to think about.

I'm using this as fuel for this year's solstice poem.

Edwards has a knack for making her tellings feel old and oral. She also has a knack to be bloviate in her introductions. But, of course, one could skip those.
month or two


098) "P" Is for Peril by Sue Grafton, finished December 18

This might be the longest I took to read one of these Kinsey Millhone novels, but that's no knock on its character. It was misplaced a few times, for one thing, but also---it might be fair to say I savored this one a bit more. Reading it slowly let the writing settle in a bit more.

I'm not making claims that Grafton is a George Eliot or anything, but she's good. She writes good books. And reading it more slowly, with long gaps, I was able to see how her craft expands to fill the space.

And she ends with a lovely ambiguity that doesn't really match the hardnosed PI's "writing-a-report" gimmick---but would you have it any other way?

The revealed-in-the-final-pages "villain" is no villain at all. She's so richly drawn and good that it hurts to learn she's the bad guy. But, for Kinsey, truth first. And the guilty must be punished. Even when it's kind of a bummer.

onehundredthirtytwo days



099) The Fall of Richard Nixon: A Reporter Remembers Watergate by Tom Brokaw, finished December 20

I heard about this book in a Washington Post review. I was actually more interested in the other book talked about in that review, but the library didn't have this one and they had a dozen or so available copies on this. So I went with #2.

It was okay.

As the review said, it's more a personal remembrance, which largely means Brokaw is telling personal stories, only some of which are amusing if you don't know the people. He also repeats himself sometimes. Once he said roughly the same thing three times on a single spread. He comes of as ... old. From the acknowledgements, it sounds like he wrote a bunch of random stuff and some folks at the publisher put it together for him and edited it up into form.

He's a clear writer but not an interesting writer. Which I'm sure served him well on television, but not so well here. Considering how short this book is (and that it's his eighth) I expected more.

Still. Timely stuff. Who knows what will come next, here, in 2019? The past mostly reveals it'll never be obvious until it's long over.
couple weeks maybe


100) Treason by Orson Scott Card, finished December 23
This novel is:

a rewrite of an earlier novel, Treason.

still an immature OSC work (which he admits in the rewrite's Author's Note) but possessed of the strengths of both his short stories and better novels.

flavored like fairy tales.


delightfully inventive, and happy to be a fantasy as much or more than a work of science fiction.

grotesquely violent in a medieval way.

humanist in the sense of being deeply engaged in questions of what it means to be fully human, both as an individual and as a society.

in possession of a colophon the likes of which the world will never see again:
The manuscript of this novel was composed using
WordPerfect on an AL 386 computer with an NEC Mul-
tisync monitor; it was printed out on an Epson GQ-3500
using a Glyphix font, and duplicated on a Canon NP3525-
an excellent example of everything people who feel betrayed by old Scott Card loved about young Scott Card.

easily interpreted as old Scott Card was there all along.

a rollicking fun read, even with its distant, quasi-philosophical, first-person narrator.
sixty days even, including start and end dates


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 a 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

088 – 080
088) Children of Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez, finished November 23
089) Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics by John Derbyshire, finished November 24
090) Leaves of Sass by R. A. Christmas, finished November 25
091) I Gave Her a Name by Rachel Hunt Steenblik with paintings by Ashley Mae Hoiland, finished November 26
092) Life in Poetry by Kate Piersanti, finished November 27

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