118) Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, finished on November 26

Teaching Frankenstein for the umpteenth time this year, I was startled by a new experience. A student came to class rattled, emotionally wounded, by the De Lacey's casual anti-Islamic sentiments. This anti-Turkish portion of the book is short and really just a convenient excuse for certain bits of plot and character. We were able to incorporate it into our understanding of the novel and what it's larger aims might be, but I left the experience uncertain how no other Muslim student had ever called out this scene before.

(Incidentally, although it works well, thematically, in Frankenstein, I do think "Islamophobia" was a blindspot of Mary Shelley's. There's more of it [and worse of it] in The Last Man.)

Anyway, this girl asked me to write a letter of rec for her college apps and I decided to incorporate this experience into her letter. I decided to pull out the fun fact that Frankenstein is the most-taught work of fiction in American universities, then thought I might find it one syllabi at the university I was writing.

Instead, I was distracted by finding this.

I shared the link with her and she had bought and read the book before I was even twenty pages into it. (My local library had a copy.)

Anyway, I've now finished it. And it was good.

Basically, a guy (just a guy) finds pieces of bombing victims and puts them together until he has full body. A soul, also displaced by a car bomb, finds the body and brings it to life. This living thing then sets about avenging each piece of itself.

In the course of the novel, we pass through many, many point-of-view characters.But the Whatitsname, only indirectly, by listening to a recording of him telling his story.

(That choice, incidentally, felt like the most direct nod to Shelley, perhaps even more than the creature's existence itself.)

Reading this novel was certainly "good for me" in that it helped demolish my single story of wartorn Iraq, and I enjoyed my time spent with the characters. But for some reason I can't quite explain to myself, I was never pulled into the story. I always felt distant from them. I don't know if it was the (frankly, rather boring) plot or the fiddlings with chronology or the framing choice which made everyone slightly less real (although I think it was intended to have the opposite effect?), but in the end, it became a book I finish because it's a library book. If I owned it, instead of saying four weeks in the next line, it would probably say four years.

four weeks

119) Clockwork Curandera, Volume I: The Witch Owl Parliament by David Bowles & Raúl The Third, finished on November 26

This comic is part of the burgeoning tradition of American fantasy, my favorite of which has been the recent Witchy series. This one takes place in fictional nations around our world's Mexico/Texas border. It has a lot of steampunk and traditional magic and so on and so forth.

The Kickstarter left me rather uncertain, but it did say it was "steampunk graphic novel reimagining of Frankenstein set in colonial Mexico," and how could I ignore that? So I bought it and now I've read it. And I'm afraid all my worries came true.

The art is cool, with retro flourishes from multiple eras and styles. But aspects (the use of accent color, for instance) don't seem to have any purpose—they just look cool. And it's given an oldtimey paper background. But it's just the couple sheets of oldtimey paper repeated over and over. Plus, so much exposition explaining things—I get why this is a comic, but I think the world and the story likely would have been better served by a novel.

The Frankenstein aspect is more Branagh than Shelley: our hero is killed in the opening pages and her brother, an alchemist, brings her back to life. Her sudden transition into an abomination makes things more complicated (allegedly, everyone says that other people don't like alchemy/homosexuality/shapeshifting/certainmagics but every authority figure given a chance in the book works hard to show that they are cool with it).

Ultimately, it's just trying to do too many things, and they don't fit comfortably in a book this short, only a small percentage of which is actually words.

Not surprisingly, you don't have to look far for someone to disagree with me (example) and I suspect the book may work better for younger readings. I'll hand it off to my 12yrold who thinks it looks cool and see what he thinks.

four days

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

84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89

084) Now We're Getting Somewhere by Kim Addonizio, finished on August 27
085) I Am Young by M. Dean, finished on August 30
086) The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye presented by Sonny Liew, finished on August 31
087) The Oven by Sophie Goldstein, finished on August 31
088) Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky, finished on September 3
089) Loverboys by Gilbert Hernandez, finished on September 3

90, 91, 92, 93, 94

090) Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale, finished on September 4
091) In by Will McPhail, finished on September 4
092) Deadpool Does Shakespeare by Gerry Duggan and Ian Doescher, finished on September 4
093) WE3 by Grant Morrison, finished on September 4
094) The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, finished on September 21

95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100

095) Deeper Thoughts by Jack Handey, finished on September 23
096) Lightfall: The Girl & the Galdurian by Tim Probert, finished on September 23
097) Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O'Connell, finished on September 28
098) My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones, finished on September 29
099) Anne of Green Gables by Mariah Marsden and Brenna Thummler, finished on September 29
100) The Grownup by Gillian Flynn, finished on October 1

101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107

101) The Glass Looker by Mark Elwood, finished on October 3
102) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness after Siobhan Dowd, finished on October 6
103) Poison for Breakfast by Lemony Snicket, finished on October 12
104) Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ko Hyung-Ju, Ryan Estrada; finished on October 13
105) Romance or The End. by Elaine Kahn, finished on October 14
106 & 107) Macbeth by William Shakespeare, finished on October 18


109) Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir, finished on October 29

108, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114

108) The Book of Mormon, finished on October 19
110) As You Like It by William Shakespeare, finished on November 8
111) Premonition by Michael Lewis, finished on November 8
112) Tuki: Fight for Fire by Jeff Smith, finished on November 12
113) A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother by Rachel Cusk, finished on November 13
114) The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, finished on November 17

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 *

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