A little dystopic fun for everyone


It's reasonable to say that everything here is either dystopian or includes dystopia or contains recipes for dystopia. In one case, a recipe we have already followed. Isn't that fun!


119) What If? 2 by Randall Munroe, finished October 28

This book is so delightful. Like all of Munroe's work. I believe I am a completist.

But how else will you learn that t-rexes and elephants weigh roughly the same? Or that even touching a room-temperature star will kill you?

And constant undercurrent of humor leaves you not quite ready for the big laughs that suddenly appear. (My favorite might by a dry citation for—where were you in 1999?)

But I especially enjoy reading xkcd and family because Randall is clearly a decent human being with a burgeoning curiosity and a love of knowledge that bubbles out into selfless sharing.

I mean, I say "selfless" but he must be loaded by now. Good for you, Randall! You deserve it!

over a week

120) The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy by David Graeber, finished October 28

I keep hearing about The History of Everything which this author cowrote with his friend David Wengrow. As they worked on it, the project grew and grew to multiple projected volumes. Then Graeber died. The project's future is now unknown.

I checked History out from the library when I saw its size (704pp) I knew it was dangerous to try to read it as a library book. This is a book I would need to buy.

So in the meantime, I went back to the library site, intending to put a book or two from each of them on hold. I had plenty of Graeber books to choose from but nothing by Wengrow. This volume was the first to arrive and boy oh boy is it excellent!

Graeber is an anthropologist by training and he has trained his anthropology on the boring nonsense of our own world. And he's brilliant. I wish i had not been a library book because I wanted to mark it up like a madman. One read wasn't enough to completely rejigger my political outlook, but this is an intellectual exploration of the politics I've been looking for. The Millennium will be anarchy.

Speaking of anarchy, I assume it is because Graeber is an anarchist that you can read this book free online.

Among the worthwhile things this book explores will be the purposes of imagination, the damages caused by capitalism, why the future we were promised had to be suppressed, why the third Nolan Batman movie bit rocks, the relationship between language and play, how come grammar books are lies, why it isn't the least surprising police are terrible, how bureaucracy is simply a way of managing violence, and why we like it anyway.

Reading something like this makes me wish I was an academic, that I could spend all my time thinking thoughts with the great thinkers. But in the end, I'm still a storyteller.

This book, incidentally, will also tell you how our stories enforce the power structure even when we don't want them too. Alas.

most of the month

121) Disquiet by Noah Van Sciver, finished November 3

I didn't buy this when it was released because I figured I'd already read most of it. Not so. I'd ready maaaaybe half. Probably less. But "Punks V. Lizards" is too memorable to forget, no matter how many years have passed.

Anyway, it's a solid collection by an excellent artist. But if you're starting off, I recommend something full-length. His shorts are good, but he found mastery in the long.

a week or so

122) Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Road to Epoli by Ben Costa and James Park, finished November 3

When I opened to its first page I was startled and delighted to see the story was in black and white? Could it be possible? I was thrilled!

Ends up it's only some . . . flashbacks? that are in black and white. The rest of the story is good, but I didn't realize how tired I've become of the current crop of color comics for kids.

My favorite aspect of the book is the title characters—a skeleton and a blob and yet so expressive. Even surrounded by other (soulless) skeletons and without his distinctive costume, Rickety can be recognized through subtle touches to his skull. It's terrific.

My 12yrold read all three currently-out volumes before I even picked up the first one (when does he read? I never see him reading?) and wanted to know if the library also had the fourth as, goldarn it, #3 ended in a cliffhanger. The answer, incidentally, is no, but I imagine we'll see it soon.

As for me, I dunno if I'll read on from one. It was entertaining, but I have a lot of books on my to-do list, and I don't know. I just don't know.

Maybe just so we have something to talk about.

And maybe I'll like it more as it rolls on, myself.

under a week

123) 2 A.M. in Little America by Ken Kalfus, finished November 8

First, I disagree that this is a dystopia. It will give you many of the same feelings, but there's no design to this world, no power striving to make some version of perfection that, surprise!, is awful.

No, this is just a distressing realistic imagining of what might happen to us Americans after our country has devolved into a borderless civil war, bloody massacres and constant suspicions—where we run to and how we try to live and how our new host nations are not happy with our presence.

And it's excellent at that. It feels real. It feels plausible.

One thing I don't like about the book is the side effects of how Kalfus represents his main character's trauma. That he has a hard time recognizing people, especially women, fine. I can accept that. But he uses that as an excuse to make everything uncertain. No city or nation is named, few people get names, his dog has a name but it's a placename so we don't get that either. I get that he's trying to make everything on the American side more universal and everything on the not-America side less graspable, but it requires some rhetorical stretches that get too artificial for their own good.

All that aside, I recommend reading it. If we do devolve to war (a less insane prospect by the month) it would be a war apt to awfulness. Perhaps a reflection of that future may give us pause.

how long goes here

124) All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson, finished November 11

This is by family-favorite author of Roller Girl (first reading) and it's similar—girl with an unusual sidelife managing the travails of early adolescence—but it's a very different book all the same, tackling new concerns in new ways.

This time the girl's family works at a Florida renaissance faire and she has decided to leave behind homeschooling for schoolschooling. Things go wrong, she makes mistakes, she grows up, lessons are learned, etc.

I didn't like it as much as Roller Girl (most recent reading) but it's a satisfying read with earned emotional beats. What else are you asking for?

almost twenty days

125) The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin, finished November 16

I didn't know much about this 1971 novel coming into it, except that it's dystopianish. The first half I wasn't sure that was true. But it became true as reality is piled atop reality.

I see a couple low-budget adaptations have been filmed, but post-Dr Strange movies, I think we're ready to really visualize this. I'm not sure it's a good idea, but it can be done.

In short, what if your dreams could recreate reality? What responsibility would this lay upon you? Would you strive to dream intentionally? or not to dream at all?

a week



Previously . . . . :

Previous Posts

001) U Is for Undertow by Sue Grafton, finished January 4
002) Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin et al, finished January 7
003) Joseph Smith and the Mormons by Noah Van Sciver, finished January 7
004) The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, finished January 11
005) The Art of Perspective by Christopher Castellani, finished January 11
006) Bad Kitty Goes on Vacation by Nick Bruel, finished January 12
007) Remina by Junji Ito, finished January 15
008) The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O'Neill, finished January 15
009) The Tea Dragon Festival here by Katie O'Neill, finished January 15
010) A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett, finished January 18
011) Diana: Princess of the Amazons by Shannon & Dean Hale and Victoria Ying, finished January 26

012) Just Julie's Fine by Theric Jepson, finished January 28
013) The Art of Description by Mark Doty, finished January 28
014) Green Lantern: Legacy by Minh Lê and Andie Tong, finished February 5
015) Serious Concerns by Wendy Cope, finished January 9
016) The Art of Mystery by Maud Casey, finished February 11
017) The Art of Bible Translation by Robert Alter, finished February 13
018) No Longer Human by Junji Ito, finished February 15

019) Zatanna and the House of Secrets by Matthew Cody and Yoshi Yoshitani, finished Febraury 17
020) Fuzz by Mary Roach, finished February 19
021) Deserter: Junji Ito Story Collection by Junji Ito, finished February 25
022) You May Already Be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis, finished March 4
023) Audience-ology by Kevin Goetz, finished March 4
024) The Writing Life by Annie Dillard, finished March 7

025) Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett, finished March 8
026) The Croquet Player by H. G. Wells, finished March 11
027) Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made It by Michael J. Trinklein, finished March 12
028) Nightwing: Leaping into the Light by Bruno Redondo and Tom Taylor, finished March 13
029) Batman: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion, finished date
030) Invisible Ink: My Mother's Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist by author, finished date
031) Ghosts of Vader's Castle by a slew of folks, finished March 15
032) The Flintstones Volume 1 by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh, finished March 16
033) The Flintstones Volume 2 by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh, finished March 16
034) The Jetsons by Palmiotti/Brito/Sinclair, finished March 16
035) Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan, finished March 18
036) Ballad for Sophie by Filipe Melo and Juan Cavia, finished March 19

You tell me whether it's garbage-in or not

037) Bride of the Far Side by Gary Larson, finished March 23
038) Batman: Night of the Owls by the entire DC bullpen, finished March 23
039) The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, finished March 25
040) The Pocket Book of Ogden Nash, finished March 25
041) Slaugherhouse-Five or the Children's Crusade: a Duty Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut / Ryan North / Albert Monteys, finished March 28
042) The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith, finished March 28
043) Jem by Frederik Pohl, finished March 31
044) The Mundane Adventures of Dishman by John MacLeod, finished March 31
045) Because Sometimes You Just Gotta Draw a Cover with Your Left Hand by Stephan Pastis, finished April 4

Books: extralong edition

046) Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! Vol. 1: Hooked On A Feline by Leth/Williams/Allegri, finished April 9
047) The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner, finished April 11
048) Weird Al: The Book by Nathan Rabin with Al Yankovic, finished April 11
049) My Year of Flops by Nathan Rabin, finished April 16
050) The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennet, finished April 19
051) Beast of Burden: Occupied Territory by Dorkin & Dyer & Dewey & Piekos, finished April 16
052) Building a Better Life by Stealing Office Supplies: Dogbert's Big Book of Business by Scott Adams, finished April 22
053) On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder, finished April 27
054) Salt Magic by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock, finished May 5
055) Star Wars Adventures: The Weapon of a Jedi, finished May 6
056) Hemingway in Paradise and Other Mormon Poems by Scott Hales, finished May 8
057) Romeo and Juliet: The War by a team assembled by Stan Lee, finished May 10
058) The Dark Horse Book of the Dead edited by Scott Allie, finished May 14
059) A Little Lower than the Angels by Virginia Sorensen, finished May 15

060) Irredeemable by Mark Waid, et al., finished May 20
061) Stanslaw Lev's The Seventh Voyage by Jon J Muth, finished May 23
062) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by Simon Armitage, finished May 28
063) Heike's Void by Stephen L. Peck, finished May 30

064) Night Weather by JS Absher, finished June 2
065) Will Eisner Reader, finished June 2
066) Pen Pals by Aaron Cometbus, finished June 4
067) I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, finished June 6
069) Pluto: Urusawa × Tezuka 001 by Naoki Urasawa et al, finished June 16
070) The Gadget War by Betsy Duffey, finished June 16

071) Sensational Wonder Woman, finished June 22
072) Ain't Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin, finished June 27
073) 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides) by The Oatmeal, finished June 29
074) Socks by Beverly Cleary, finished June 29
075) The Ultimates Volume 1: Super-Human by Millar/Hitch/Currie, finished June 30
076) In China with Green Day by Aaron Cometbus, finished July 4

077) V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton, finished July 7
078) Spin by John Bennion, finished July 10
079) The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker edited by Robert Mankoff, finished July 11
080) The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett, finished July 23
081) W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton, finished July 25
082) How About Never—Is Never Good for You? by Bob Mankoff, finished July 28

083) Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less by Leidy Klotz, finished July 29
084) Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley, finished July 30
085) Urban Legendz by Paul Downs / Nick Bruno / Michael Yates, finished July 30
086) The Best Film You've Never Seen by Robert K. Elder, finished August 1
087) It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken by Seth, finished August 4
088) Spencer Kimball's Record Collection: Essays on Mormon Music by Michael Hicks, finished August 7

089) The Last Man by Mary Shelley, finished August 11
090) Funny Business by Revlio, finished August 13
091) The Sopratos by Stephan Pastis, finished August 15
092) Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, finished August 16
093) Best Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, finished August 16
094) Friends Forever by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, finished August 16
095) The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard, finished August 20

096) One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale, finished August 20
097) My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long, finished August 22
098) Chivalry by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran, finished August 23
099) Chouette by Claire Oshetsky, finished August 25
100) Weiner Dog Art by Gary Larson, finished August 26
101) A Bestiary of Booksellers by Aaron Cometbus, finished September 2
102) Slaughterhouse-Five, or. the Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut, finished September 9

103) Long Live the Pumpkin Queen by Shea Ernshaw, finished September 10
104) Bug! The Adventures of Forager by a trio of Allreds, finished September 22
105) The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, finished September 24
106) Fangs by Sarah Andersen, finished October 2
107) The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, finished October 3
108) Brindille by Frédéric Brrémaud and Federico Bertolucci, finished October 5
109) Shelterbelts by Jonathan Dyck, finished date

110) The Complete Peanuts: 1961 – 1962 by Charles M. Schulz, finished October 9
111) Theseus: Volume One by Jordan Holt, finished October 19
112) Over the Garden Wall by Pat McHale and Jim Campbell, finished October 20
113) Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel, finished October 20
114) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, finished October 21
115) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Amazing Adventures: The Meeting of the Mutanimals, finished October 22
116) Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, finished October 26
117) Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, finished October 27
118) Love by Frederic Brremaud and Federico Bertolucci, finished October 27

final posts in this series from
  2007 = 2008 = 2009 = 2010 = 2011 = 2012 = 2013
2014 = 2015 = 2016 = 2017 = 2018 = 2019 = 2020 = 2021

No comments:

Post a Comment