What, is this nothing but comics?


The short answer is no. But don't blink or you'll miss the evidence.

096) The Unsinkable Walker Bean and the Knights of the Waxing Moon by Aaron Renier, finished August 24

This books is so bananas. It's so strange, so weird. And although I don't understand it, it makes sense. I know it knows and I trust it.

I liked the first one but this volume is even more ambitious (and insane). We have animals made out of stars and doppelgangers and magic alloys and granddaughters of Neptune and ghosts rising from folktales and a floating city and visions and evil kings and all that just makes this book sound borderline ordinary. Believe me when I tell you it is not.

It is something else.

one marathon sitting

097) Just Julie's Fine by Theric Jepson, finished August 26

This was my last chance to do any edits prior to publication. I couldn't imagine there was anything left to catch but I ended up reading the entire novel anyway. I found about a dozen tiny errors still extant. Which means there's probably a dozen more I missed.


Editing is hard.

But I can announce that this book's pretty good. I don't know what you'll think but hoo. I enjoyed it.


098) Bea Wolf by Zach Weinersmith and Boulet, finished August 28

I loved this. I knew it was based on Beowulf and I know Weinersmith and I expected something more dumb than anything else.

That's not what I got.

He's taken the story of Beowulf and transposed it to the world of suburban childhood, bringing fantasies child me had to life but in the glories of Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse.

Last year I had a work published that fits that same description and I can tell you that there is something intensely natural (which is not to say easy) about embracing the pre-Norman forms of English poetry. To embrace alliteration and kenning and just go for it. And that's what Weinersmith does here. And it is glorious. And you can tell he respects kids. Why else throw out words like thole?

And Boulet's art is manic and heroic and absurd. It ties into classic looks of Grendel while staying true to Bea Wolf's own unique conceits.

And then the short essay at the end about Beowolf and the poetry and the process is likewise intelligent and carries a high opinion of child readers and is funny and insightful and, honestly, I suspect this book will make some writers. And baby am I excited to see their work appear twenty years from now.

A total success.

And I am delighted to tell you that just the other day Lady Steed saw someone on her free group looking for a large stuffed bear that could be gutted because her daughter is planning her Bea Halloween costume.

This is as it should be.

an evening

099) Assassinistas by Tini Howard / Gilbert Hernandez / et al., finished August 31

I guess you could call this a fun little satirical look at the American violent-story tradition. It did have some cool elements but it just didn't come together for me.

a week or more

100) Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons by Kelly Sue DeConnick / Phil Jimenez / Gene Ha / Nicola Scott, finished August 31

This is one of the most astonishing comics I've read in some time. It amazes on practically every page.

There are a few reasons for this. Let's start that it feels real. By which I mean these spins on ancient Greek myth carry genuine mythic weight and seem true in a deep and meaningful way. These are stories you can believe in. And they explode the Amazon-based mythos of the Wonder Woman universe in awesome ways. The characters birthed here I reckon will be with us a long long time.

The art has depth and rigor. I'm grateful for the brief notes in the back because there I discovered how little I was even seeing. Read this book with good lighting and perhaps a magnifying glass. There is much to find here.

In short it is beautiful and moving and deadly dangerous. This book is not here to play games.

Astonishing stuff.

You don't have to care half a whit about superheros to love this story.

two days, possibly not back-to-back

101) The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman et al., finished September 6

I read the original Sandman run in the early Oughts, but I didn't read them in order and I frankly don't know if I read them all. I've always intended to start over at the beginning, but just have not.

But I have a son I thought would like them so I got the first two from the library. Dad's suggestion didn't take but, hey, the first two volumes of Sandman!

You know what? I think the time has come.

The first volume does read like the team figuring out what they're doing, but the gist is right and I'm excited to rediscover where it goes from here.


four days

102) Slapstick, or Lonesome No More! by Kurt Vonnegut, finished September 11

Now that I'm back to teaching Vonnegut, I'm hopping back on my novel-a-summer routine. I don't have many left to firsttime as you can see:

 This is not one of the better ones.

Honestly, it feels like something that should have been published posthumously. It has a lot of great Vonnegut spark and plenty of (half-developed) ideas, but it never congeals into a novel and it ends in such a way that makes me feel like he just lost interest in it.

Plus, there is some racial stuff that is satirical, sure, but for every bit that is arguably antiracist, there are ten that just feel racist here in 2023. I would be shocked if that were his intention, but, well, you can't always control how your stuff will be read.

Plus, this is the 2019 Vintage edition and I don't know if it was just the process of changing the punctuation to be more British, but there are several punctuation and other typesetting errors. It's hard to believe that this could happen at a major house to a major author's 47yrold book. How? How? How?

a couple months or even more even though it's quite short


Previously . . . . :

final posts in this series from
  2007 = 2008 = 2009 = 2010 = 2011 = 2012 = 2013
2014 = 2015 = 2016 = 2017 = 2018 = 2019 = 2020 = 2021 = 2022

Earlier in 2023

001) The Dark Room by Gerry Duggan & Scott Buoncristiano, finished January four
002) The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander, finished January 6
003) Rose by Jeff Smith and Charles Vess, finished January 10
004) Acting Class by Nick Drnaso, finished January 10
005) Red Scare by Liam Francis Walsh, finished January 11

006) The Short Reign of Pippin IV by John Steinbeck, finished January 18
007) Filmish by Edward Ross, finished circa January 20

HOW many times?

008) Maddy Kettle Book: The Adventure of the Thimblewitch by Eric Orchard, finished January 24 
009) Fantastic Frights: A Beginner's Guide to Scary Stories, finished January 24
010) Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary, finished February 2
011) Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, finished February 3
012) The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain, finished February 4

013) Is that all there is? by Joost Swarte, finished February 6
014) Edge Case by YZ Chin, finished February 7

If it weren't for a friendly sex talk, everything here would be miserable

015) Double Indemnity by James M. Cain, finished February 10
016) Sex Educated: Letters from a Latter-day Saint therapist to her younger self by Bonnie Young, LMFT, finished February 13
017) Unmask Alice: LDS, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World's Most Notorious Diaries by Rick Emerson, finished February 20 

A Bookful Bounty for thee and thine 

018) I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jeannette McCurdy, finished February 27
019–21) The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kershl, finished March 6
022) Displacement by Kiku Hughes, finished March 6
023) The Many Deaths of Laila Starr by Ram V and Filipe Andrade, finished March 6
024) The Homeland Directive by Robert Venditti and Mike Huddleston, finished March 7
025) Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare, finished March 14
026) Last West: Roadsongs for Dorothea Lange by Tess Taylor, finished March 15
027) 22 Young Mormon Writers edited by Neal E. Lambert and Richard H. Cracroft, finished March 19
028 & 029) Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare, finished March 23 & March 27

Literarily solving for X

030) X by Sue Grafton, finished March 28
031) Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary, finished April 5
032) Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the Twentieth Century by Dana Stevens, finished April 5
033) Abe Lincoln in Illinois by Robert E. Sherwood, finished April 8
034) Theology of Play by J├╝rgen Moltmann, finished April 12
035) The Male Animal by James Thurber and Elliott Nugent, finished April 12
036) Bluffton by Matt Phelan, finished April 16
037) Number One Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss, finished April 15

From Lolly to Elias

038) Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner, finished April 17
039) The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson, finished April 19
040) Beware the Eye of Odin by Wager/Odland/Madsen/Dukeshire, finished April 19
041) The Complete Peanuts: 1965–1966 by Charles M. Schulz, finished April 20
042) A Wealth of Pigeons by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss, finished April 22
043) Elias: An Epic of the Ages by Orson Ferguson Whitney, finished April 23

Old Hollywood & Olden Times

044) Straight Lady: The Life and Times of Margaret Dumont, "The Fifth Marx Brother" by Chris Enss and Howard Kazanjian, finished April 25
045) Voices from the Radium Age edited by Joshua Glenn, finished April 26
046) The Ballad of YFB by Aaron Brassea, finished April 28
047) Reynaud's Tale by Ben Hatke, finished May 3
048) Superman: Up in the Sky by Tom King and Andy Kubert, finished May 5
049) Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary, finished May 5
050) Resurrection Row by Anne Perry, finished May 6 

Saying good bye to our friend Kinsey

052) More Gross: Cartoons by S. Gross, finished May 9
053) I Am Blind and My Dog Is Dead by S. Gross, finished May 9
054) Batgirls: One Way or Another by Becky Cloonan / Michael W. Conrad / Jorge Corona / Sarah Stein, finished May 11
055) Batgirls: Bat Girl Summer by Becky Cloonan / Michael W. Conrad / Neil Googe / Robbi Rodriguez / Rico Renzi, finished May 11
056) Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton, finished May 12 

The tyranny of getting stuff in the right order

051) On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder, finished May 8
057) Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Guruhiru, finished May 13
058) Four in Hand by Alicia Mountain, finished May 17
059) The Glob by John O'Reilly and Walt Kelly, finished May 20
060) Why They Can't Write: Killing the Five-Paragraph Essay and Other Necessities by John Warner, finished May 24
061) Less by Andrew Sean Greer, finished May 25
062) Children of the Woods by Ciano/Hixson/Stevens/Otsmane-Elhaou, finished May 27
063) The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece by Tom Hanks, finished May 29

Such quality. Such excellence.

064) Here by Darlene Young, finished June 1
065) Theseus Volume 1 by Jordan Holt, finished June 1
066) Theseus Volume 2 by Jordan Holt, finished June 1
067) Reviews for Non-Existent Movies by Eric Goulden Kimball, finished June 5
068) The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, finished June 6
069) Anne of West Philly by Ivy Noelle Weir and Myisha Haynes, finished June 10
070) Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary, finished June 10

 Books read: a forensic investigation

073) These Precious Days by Ann Patchett, finished c. June 17
074) Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, finished c. June 19
075) The Burning Book: A Jewish-Mormon Memoir by Jason Olson and James Goldberg, finished c. June 21
076) The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich, finished June 23

From prehumanity to eternal destiny

077) Tuki: Fight for Fire by Jeff Smith, finished June 28
078) Tuki: Fight for Family by Jeff Smith, finished June 29
079) The Writer's Hustle by Joey Franklin, finished July 8
080) Future Day Saints: The New Arrivals by Matt Page, finished July 16
081) Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, finished July 18
082) Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary, finished July 19
083) Just One More by Annette Lyon, finished July 20
084) The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl, finished July 22
085) Somewhere Out There: My Animated Life by Don Bluth, finished July 22

Two women, in comics form

085) Beast by Marian Churchland, finished July 24
086) Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow by King/Evely/Lopes, finished c. July 28

The sex-and-metaphysics Venn diagram

087) Banana Sunday by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, finished August 2
088) Falconer by John Cheever, finished August 3
089) Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins, finished August 3
090) Homunculus by Joe Sparrow, finished August 5
091) Cuckoo by Joe Sparrow, finished August 9
092) Fatal by Kimberly Johnson, finished August 16
093) The Unsinkable Walker Bean by Aaron Renier, finished August 17
094) The Infinite Future by Tim Wirkus, finished August 22
095) Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne by Katherine Rundell, finished August 23


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