And now we, in the name of that which is good, change our links from Amazon to Bookshop


043) God's Man by Lynd Ward, finished June 13

I've been meaning to revisit my Lynd Ward collection, but this book's appearance on this list was the motivation I needed to pull one down and sit with it.

Great book! It looks like it might have been my favorite the last time I read through all of them (or maybe those were just the only images online in 2013?), and it is a solid piece of work. I didn't make the connection when I read The Sculptor, but I'm sure Scott McCloud was doing some rereading of himself as he worked on that also-great comics novel.

Anyway, they are worldless and stark and quick to get through, but they are haunting and beautiful and worth anyone's time.

between tasks


044) Zot! 1987–1991 by Scott McCloud, finished June 17

Picking back up on the Covid Comics Extravaganza, I picked up my Zot! collection, which I bought a couple years before The Sculptor was even released but had never read.

And why had I never read it?

I think because I was afraid I would not like it. I admire Scott as a theorist and as a craftsman, but not all his fiction is great. DESTROY!! is just as dumb as he said it was and The New Adventures of Abraham Lincoln is just as disappointing as he promised, and so his Grown Up slowness to praise Zot! translated into a larger caution sign than it ever deserved.

Because I think this collection is excellent.

The initial ten color issues are excluded for being too silly (and I'm sure it's true, but I wish they were easier to find today) and a couple other Zot! thingeys are also excluded which I'd love to see, but it does make sense to collect these issues as they are, together. The main absence I felt during reading was a lack of origin story. But I'm always complaining that the superhero world has too many origin stories, so I refuse to go home over that.

The book's split into two pieces. The first is the retro-zany superhero comic that zips between Zot's idealized Earth and our own. The second half happens after Zot gets trapped on our Earth and follows his friends in their humdrum normality.

I was excited to get to the second half---and, in the end, I did love that portion more---but the first half was also intelligent and thoughtful and properly mccloudian.

I admired this book so much. I just want to go read more McCloud now. And given I have four volumes of his work plus everything that exists online (including another Zot! story which I no longer remember) this feeling won't be hard to nurture.
probably over a week


045) Big Fish by Daniel Wallace, finished June 20

This is a short book and a delight to read. When I first read it, almost twenty years ago, I rushed through it was left shaking at the side of the road. (Then Tim Burton made a movie and I realized he had become a parody of himself.)

I don't often reread books, as an adult. And I'm not sure why I picked up Big Fish back there at the end of April. But I did. And I didn't rush through this time. I proceeded slowly, deliberately. I savored. But I worried that the novel wasn't having the effect it had on me the first time. And I suppose that's true. It made such an impact on me the first time, I don't know how it could. And my clearest memory was of its powerful ending. So that couldn't really sneak up on me. And yet: although I didn't think I was having quite enough experience, that ending did, again, move me. Maybe not to the extent it did first go-round, but absolutely it did.

This novel, for all its slightness, is a thing of beauty and power and majesty.

And if all you know is that movie, I pity you.
about a month and a half


046) Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz, finished June 24

I read this book on the recommendation of son #3. It's fine. It's as good as the Hardy Boys I read as a kid. It does do some dumb things it can only get away with by targeting an ignorant audience, but it was a fun read. I'm sure I would have loved it as a kid. It's trying to be progressive, but eighteen years have passed since this novel was released and a couple things sit heavily on the lines of racism and sexism that I imagine wouldn't pass muster today.

Anyway. Alex Rider. Did you know he would be 33 this year were he a real person? He's a Millennial!

The main thing this did was give me some drive to turn Hagoth into a series of novels. So-so kids novels do that to me.
three to four days, one of which was half the first chapter weeks before the other two or three


047) Exhalation by Ted Chiang, finished June 28

Like his first collection, Ted Chiang has expanded my idea of what can be done with science fiction today and how powerful short stories should be. I don't know, for instance, if he has any religious leanings himself, but he has again explored religion with as much care and nuance as anyone may, and with multiple stories. The shortest story in this collection is one I regularly teach. Two others I know I'd read before, but I have no idea how or when (their original publication information wasn't likely provenance.

A couple sentenced on each story:
The Merchant and the Alchemists's Gate
A time travel story sent in the medieval Islamic world. It's one of the Chiang stories that make me realize how lazy most of us are. I mean---why NOT a time travel story sent in the medieval Islamic world?
The heat-death of the universe reimagined for a clockwork world.
What's Expected of Us
This is the one I teach! But I access it here. It's also the shortest story in the collection.
The Lifecycle of Software Objects
This is the longest story in the collection (I've seen it as a standalone volume.) Lady Steed liked this one least, felt it dragged. I disagree in part because the effects of this story require living with the characters a long time.
Dacey's Patent Automatic Nanny
Tastes so real.
The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling
This will probably be the one that sticks with me longest, given how much time I've already spent pondering its implications. What will happen, when our own minds pass from oral to literate?
The Great Silence
This is one I know I've read before but no idea when. The parrots are talking, people! The parrots are talking!
A completely new take on faith vs science.
Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom
This, I think, was Lady Steed's favorite. And a great example of how Chiang can take something exciting and exotic (in this case, parallel universes) and mine the mundanity within---which is when a big idea can actually mean something.
Also worth mentioning (again), I love the author notes. I wish short-story writers outside the genres also wrote them.
more than two months but with a huge gap in the middle


books from the recent and distant past

books one through five
001) Titiana in Yellow by Dayna Patterson, finished January 1
002) The Tree at the Center by Kathryn Knight Sonntag, finished January 5
003) After Earth by Michael Lavers, finished January 12
004) Monstress, Volume One: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, finished January 15
005) The Last Hot Time by John M. Ford, finished January 17

books six through eleven
006) The Marriage of the Moon and the Field by Sunni Brown Wilkinson, finished January 25
007) My Parents Married on a Dare by Carlfred Broderick, finished January 26
008) The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl (volume one) by Scott Hales, finished January 26
009) The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl (volume two) by Scott Hales, finished January 27
010) Solid State by Coulton / Fraction / Monteys, finished February 9
011) Into the Sun: Poems Revised, Rearranged, and New by Colin B. Douglas, finished February 16

books twelve through sixteen
012) Wag the Dog: A Study on Film and Reality in the Digital Age by Eleftheria Thanouli, finished February 17
013) Flaming Carrot Omnibus: Volume 1 by Bob Burden, finished February 17
014) The Electric State by Simon Stålenhag, finished February 22
015) The October Faction Vol. 2 by Steve Niles and Damien Worm, finished February 24
016) Minus by Lisa Naffziger, finished February 26

books seventeen through twenty-two
017) Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks, finished February 29
018) Calexit by Matteo Pizzolo | Amancay Nahuelpan | Tyler Boss, finished March 7
019) Emma by Jane Austen, finished March 8
020) Animal Man by Grant Morrison, Book One, by Morrison and team, finished March 14
021) The Chuckling Whatsit by Richard Sala, finished March 16
022) Gloriana by Kevin Huizenga, finished March 18

books twenty-three through twenty-seven
023) Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive by an Allred-led team, finished March 20
024) Homespun and Angel Feathers by Darlene Young, finished March 25
025) Jinchalo by Matthew Forsythe, finished March 28
026) Lost Dogs by AUTHOR, finished March 28
027) The Pearl of Greatest Price: Mormonism's Most Controversial Scripture by Terryl Givens with Brian M. Hauglid, finished March 29

books twenty-eight through thirty-two
028) If Mother Braids a Waterfall by Dayna Patterson, finished April 2
029) Witchy Kingdom by D.J. Butler, finished April 11
030) Prayers in Bath by Luisa Perkins, finished April 14
031) On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden, finished April 22
032) Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher by Jake Parker, finished April 22

books thirty-three through thirty-seven
033) Irreversible Things by Lisa Van Orman Hadley, finished April 27
034) Pillar of Light: Joseph Smith's First Vision by Andrew Knaupp and Sal Velluto, finished May 3
035) Hermana by Becca McCulloch, finished May 13*
036) Best American Comics 2017 by Ben Katchor, finished May 19
037) "Q" is for Quarry by Sue Grafton, finished May 22

books thirty-eight through forty-two
038) Draft No. 4* by John McPhee, finished May 22
039) Salt by Susan Elizabeth Howe, finished May 25
040) Endless Night by Agatha Christie, finished June 5
041) A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle, finished June 8
042) Caldera Ridge by Jack Harrell, finished June 10

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