If I keep reading poems and comics I may make it to a hundred this month


084) Now We're Getting Somewhere by Kim Addonizio, finished on August 27

I only knew Kim Addonizio from a very short story and its accompanying photo—but that was enough for me to remember her name and to allow the back of the book to hook me.

I love this collection. The poems are sharp and vernacular. They're recursive in interesting ways (references to Keats, sonnet-like sonnets) and they speak with complexity without pushing away. I enjoyed it immensely. I should have carried a pencil and then I could now be quoting lines.

I did not however. Alas.

Incidentally, I picked this up because it was in my 40ish-strong collection of recent collections that I've been acquiring from my neighbor's Little Free Library (everybody hopes she'll write them a review). For the first time, I dropped this stack of books on my AP kids, just to see what they would think. I'd assumed they would find the poems oppressive and impossible, but they settled right in and read. I had to interrupt them after an hour so we could talk about what they'd discovered. I was hella impressed, to be honest.

Good job, poets.

I only feel bad sneaking this one out for myself.

(Monday it goes back on the shelf for next time.)

two days

085) I Am Young by M. Dean, finished on August 30

Is it a novel? Is it a short story collection?


It walks that line in a slightly more interesting way, however. All the stories are connected thematically (young people in love, with music) as they stretch over the Twentieth Century. One story in particular keeps getting revisited (they meet at a Beatles concert, they end up living together, they end up separated, they keep bumping into each other as Beatles die), largely in the form of letters written (or, finally, not written) to each other, their lives in parallel. Between these looks in, we visit other characters who struggle with mussy relationships.

Anyway, I liked it fine. It did some interesting things with form and color, but I rather doubt I'll remember it. Here the moment after a sudden wedding that should not have happened:

under a week

086) The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye presented by Sonny Liew, finished on August 31


So, first, I loved this book. It's the story of a Singaporean comics artist who has spent his entire life struggling to do great work without money or acclaim. He tries on style after style and, although he executes them all with excellence, he ends up, to my Western eyes, as merely derivative of Tezuka of Pong or MAD or Carl Barks. But although he's borrowing other artists' vernacular, his uniquely Singaporean use of his talents is mindboggling. You want him to find success, even if the recognition comes too little too late ala Jack Kirby. His 1988 visit to San Diego Comic-Con International is particularly heartbreaking.

And through it all, Sonny Liew is our guide. It helps to have a native.

Anyway, it's a beautifully designed volume, generously including swathes of Chan's art through the various stages of his career.

But, it was a brilliant book—until I finished speedreading the endnotes and the acknowledgements and realizing halfway through this was the same author bio on the back of the book—and then I read the copyright page and it changed from merely a brilliant book to a work of genius. But please, don't start with the copyright page. Don't start by reading anything out there about the book. Just start at the beginning and make your way through.

since saturday

087) The Oven by Sophie Goldstein, finished on August 31

It's the distant future. Our heroes, man and wife, arrive at some galactic outpost to live in a trailer park where they will be free to live in the old way. To farm and have children. It's a wild and alien existence for them, even if to us it seems only fifty years past.

Of course, the plot thickens, etc.

I love the orange monochrome of the art. I like the simple character designs—one character always has closed eyes, like a Syd Hoff character. The book is very short, but it finds depth in its ambivalences.

required one bathroom break

088) Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky, finished on September 3

Here's a fantasy novel that knows what themes are important to it but pushes them so hard that it confuses whatever the point was supposed to me. Which is too bad. Witchlight has plenty of cool and interesting elements (my favorite is the candle) but the hiccups in worldbuilding result in a largely confusing exercise.

The best example of what I'm talking about is its excision of men. Except at the very beginning and a couple moments near the end, there are no male characters. All characters are either female or female-adjacent genderqueer. Which could be fine, but then, with the introduction of a male character at the end who inflicts violence and it's supposed to mean something, the meaning is muddled. I could provide a couple interpretations but they would be contradictory.

I'm sure reading Witchlight will give the YA segment it's targeting some good feelings, but intellectually it's a bit vapid.

three or five days

089) Loverboys by Gilbert Hernandez, finished on September 3

This takes place in the same town as Marble Season although it's decidedly less kid-friendly. It deals with a divorced-woman stereotype. In this case, a teacher starts sleeping with men who were here students in their recent high-school past. It's a complicated thing. The most serious of them is the son of the widow who ran off with her husband, for instance.

Some of the moments near the end felt very familiar but I don't have a record of reading this book. Maybe it was excerpted in a Best American Comics.

I do love how Gilbert's smalltown stories feel so real while maintaining the ability to incorporate fantastical elements—sometimes big, sometimes small.

an afternoon

Previously . . . . :

books from this year

1, 2, 4, 5, 6

001) The Sun Has Burned My Skin: a modest paraphrase of solomon's song of songs by Adam S. Miller, finished January 3
002) You're a Pal, Snoopy by Charles M. Schulz, finished January 4
004) Served edited by Theric Jepson, finished January 9
005) Served edited by Theric Jepson, finished January 17
006) Shem in Zarahemla by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 19

7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 3

007) iPlates: Zerin's Sacrifice by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 21
008) iPlates: Alma in the Wilderness by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 24
009) Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard, finished January 27
010) Served edited by Theric Jepson, finished February 4
011) The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, finished February 4
003) Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, finished January 6

12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

012) Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, finished February 5
013) My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, finished February 15
014) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, finished February 16
015) Sisters by Raina Telgemeier, finished February 18
016) A Desolating Sickness: Stories of Pandemic edited by D.J. Butler, finished February 21
017) Nothing Very Important and other stories by Béla Petsco, finished February 22

18, 19, 20, 21, 22

018) Muppets Present "The Great Gatsby" by Ben Crew, finished February 24
 Uncanny Avengers: Counter-Evolutionary by Rick Remender and Daniel Acuna, finished February 28
 Guts by Raina Telgemeier, finished March 2
 The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by D. Manus Pinkwater, finished March 4
022) Ghosts by Raina Telgemeieir, finished March 5

23, 24, 25, 26, 27

023) Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of You by Rachel Brian, finished March 11
 Memoirs of an Invisible Man by H.F. Saint, finished March 12
 Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh, finished March 20
 The Invisible Saint by Curtis Taylor, finished March 25
 Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, finished March 25

28, 29, 30

028) Scrap Mettle by Scott Morse, finished March 26
029) Dugout: The Zombie Steals Home by Scott Morse, finished April 1
030) The Barefoot Serpent by Scott Morse, finished April 1

31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36

031) Is Sex Necessary? Or, Why You Feel the Way You Do by James Thurber and E. B. White, finished April 1
032) Boys Who Became Prophets by Lynda Cory Hardy, finished April 11
033) George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends by James Marshall, finished April 12
034) Stuart Little by E.B. White, finished April 14
035) Achilles by Elizabeth Cook, finished April 15
036) Have It Your Way, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz, finished April 15

37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42

037) The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne, finished April 21
038) The Mystery of the Dinosaur Graveyard by Mary Adrian, finished April 22
039) The Garden of Enid—Volume One by Scott Hales, finished May 2
040) Tiny Writings by Danny Nelson, finished May 5
041) Whispering Death! by R.A. Christmas, finished May 6
042) Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, finished May 9

43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48

043) T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton, finished May 14
044) Sweet Tooth – Volume 1: Out of the Deep Woods by Jeff Lemire, finished May 22
045) Sweet Tooth – Volume 2: In Captivity by Jeff Lemire, finished May 22
046) Sweet Tooth – Volume 3: Animal Armies by Jeff Lemire, finished May 22
047) Sweet Tooth Deluxe Edition – Volume 2 by Jeff Lemire, finished May 22
048) Sweet Tooth Deluxe Edition – Volume 3 by Jeff Lemire, finished May 23

49, 50, 51

049) A Book of Lamentations by James Goldberg, finished on May 23
050) How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell, finished on May 25
051) We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, finished on May 26

52, 53, 54, 55, 56

052) Vertigo CMYK, finished on June 5
053) Plutona by Jeff Lemire and Eme Lenox and friends, finished on January 5
054) The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael edited by Sanford Schwartz, finished on June 9
055) Pastwatch: the Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card, finished on June 11
056) American Cult edited by Robyn Chapman, finished on June 12

57, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63

057) Messages on the Water by Merrijane Rice, finished on June 14
058) Words on Fire by Jennifer A. Nielsen, finished on June 16
059) There There by Tommy Orange, finished on June 19
060) The Shakespeare Stories by Andrew Matthews and illustrated by Tony Ross, finished on June 19
062) The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl, Part Two by Scott Hales, finished on June 20
063) Do the Movies Have a Future? by David Denby, finished on July 14

61, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69

061) World War Z (abridged audiobook) by Max Brooks, finished June 23
064) The Child Buyer by John Hersey, finished on July 14
065) Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, finished on July 15
066) Dani and Ramen: A Nomad's Tale, volume one by Jake Morrison, finished on July 17
067) Dani and Ramen: A Nomad's Tale, volume two by Jake Morrison, finished on July 17
068) The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, finished on July 23
069) Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier, finished on July 23

70, 71, 72, 73, 74

070) It's a Magical World by Bill Watterson, finished on July 29
071) Future Day Saints: The Gnolaumite Crystal by Matt Page, finished on August 1
072) Dutch House by Ann Patchett, finished on August 5
073) Long Walk to Valhalla by Adam Smith and Matthew Fox, finished on August 7
074) House of Women by Sophie Goldstein, finished on August 10
075) Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, finished on August 10

76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83

076) The House by Paco Roca, finished on August 11
077) Are Comic Books Real? by Alex Nall, finished on August 13
078) Top Ten by Alan Moore and Gene Ha, finished on August 16
079) Baby-sitters Little Sister: Karen's Roller Skates by Katy Farina, finished on August 17
080) Lulu Anew by Étienne Davodeau, finished on August 17
081) The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees by Douglas W. Tallamy, finished on August 24
082) Thor: The Goddess of Thunder by Aaron/Dauterman/Molina, finished on August 24
083) Pashima by Nidhi Chanani, finished on August 25

final posts in this series from

2007 = 2008 = 2009 = 2010 = 2011 = 2012
2013 = 2014 = 2015 = 2016 = 2017 = 2018 = 2019 = 2020


the most recent post in the books-read series *

No comments:

Post a Comment