The AV Club & Stephen Fry. It's all Supplemental.

I have a strange love for supplemental books. By supplemental I mean books that are linked to other media. Recently I picked up two enjoyable books that fit into this category. Now generally these books are completely contingent on whether you enjoy the primary material. I already read the AV Club website, which is a subsidiary of The Onion.

It was first introduced to me by a co-worker Alex and quickly I made it into one of my fave bookmarks. So it was only a matter of time before they put out a book Inventory: 16 Films Featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls, 10 Great Songs Nearly Ruined by Saxophone, and 100 More Obsessively Specific Pop-Culture Liststo supplement and showcase their online content. Unfortunately it is exactly what it proclaims it is-a book of lists. Don't get me wrong, I am a lover of lists. I admit it is silly and sometimes pointless. However it is often amusing and I might learn about something new, but otherwise this kind of book is not meant for anything beyond the superficial laugh. If that's what your looking for then Inventory is exactly what you want. While I did find it to be a lot of fun there wasn't much that I couldn't find online.

On the other side I also picked up Stephen Fry in America: Fifty States and the Man Who Set Out to See Them All which was very insightful. Apparently British actor Stephen Fry decided to visit all 50 states and film a documentary about his travels for BBC which will air sometime in the future. Stephen Fry is a wonderful actor who is also a very strong educated writer. He is that strange British combination of very educated but also occasionally very silly. Anyone who has watched his work in Jeeves and Wooster will agree with me. Now here in the US we are still waiting for the documentary, however we do have a wonderful book already available. I was shocked at how long it took me to read this travelogue. Fry does visit all 50 states, although I felt that Idaho and Delaware may have gotten the short shrift. He does find interesting new things about each state. (Yeah even in North Dakota!) I think that I would enjoy this book regardless of whether the BBC series ever came out. That is a key sign of any good book, whether it be supplemental or not. At nearly 300+ pages it was well worth the journey.

Here's a preview for the series.

Gosh I hope it makes it way on to my PBS stations. Well until then I'll just have to live with the book. Sigh.

Have a great weekend! Book Slave.


JD Salinger. So It Goes.

There has been a lot of literary loss in the last few days. The deaths of Louis Auchincloss and Howard Zinn are sad, especially when lumped in with Robert Parker. However the loss that affected me personally was the death of JD Salinger yesterday at 91. I don't know why but I guess I thought that he would live forever in that New England cocoon he enclosed around himself long ago. Whether he was crazy, psychologically disturbed, or just done with the human race, I never held it against him that he disappeared back in 1965. His literary work was all I ever needed. In a world where it seems everyone will whore themselves out for a tangential moment of fame, I appreciated the Salinger enigma. I never wanted to know what he ate for breakfast in the morning or whether he was dating Angelina Jolie. He would always be a mix of Seymour Glass and Holden Caulfield to me. And that's fine.

Now I've written about how I stumbled upon Catcher in the Rye here but that actually was not the first time I encountered JD Salinger. The first time was in 1989 when I read Shoeless Joe Comes to Iowa by W.P. Kinsella. At this time in my life I was obssessed with baseball. Not because I'm any good at sports, really I'm not, but I love anything with a history and mythology. To me baseball was magical with heroes and villians, feats of strength and redemption. It was my mom who picked up a copy of Shoeless Joe because she knew I was looking forward to seeing the film Field of Dreams. That movie is based on Kinsella's book and I love it to this day.

However one of the major changes that was made in the literary adaptation is that the character of Terrence Mann, played by James Earl Jones in the film, was originally JD Salinger. Kinsella used Salinger as the perfect archetype of an author who had become lost in his own cynicism. The book version of Salinger, who is actually named JD Salinger, finds spiritual redemption in Kinsella's baseball field. Now as a 10 year old I didn't understand the full ramifications of that characterization. It's really quite daring of Kinsella. Upon reflection I think that Kinsella was exercising his own form of wish fulfillment. We've all wondered when those secret writings would be published. When would our patience be rewarded? It turns out the real Salinger was never worried or was interested in what we wanted.

As I think back today I realize that I wouldn't want it any other way. Starting at age 10 I began to understand that not everyone is meant to be understood. JD Salinger had his own demons, fears, and desires. I can love his work without trying to understand why he choose to become reclusive. The wish fulfillment of Shoeless Joe was one way to cope with a perceived loss. With his death today I am drawn back to the conclusion Holden Caulfield does at the end of Catcher In the Rye:
"Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

J.D. Salinger may not have needed us. But we needed him.


An Epic Evening of Book Club: Jesus's Son

I was psyched when Zach told us that we would be discussing the book Jesus's Son by Denis Johnson at the next book club meeting. For any new readers to these web pages, I attend a monthly book club at a local book store. It's called the Hard Boiled Book Club and is run by friend Zach Sampinos. The focus is alternative fiction and I find that it pushes me to read books that I wouldn't otherwise pick up. It was an epic evening which included discussion of the following:
*Horrible experiences having your blood drawn
*The large number of drug addicts that work in hospitals
*Talking to drunks in dive bars
*Getting high at the library (Don't do it!)
*Jesus's Son the Movie adaptation-It's actually pretty good.
*Denis Johnson's Poetry and other books such as Tree of Smoke and Don't Move.
*Unreliable Narrators
It was a fun time. I invite anyone interested to come on down. Info can be found here.

However I had always meant to read Jesus's Son but had never actually done it. Sometimes books fall thru the cracks and well meant intentions are not met. Actually now that I think about it that is an apt description for the theme of Johnson's narrative. In 11 short stories we follow the fractured life of a drug addict whose been nicknamed Fuck Head (or FH for short). FH lives a life of misadventure. It is clear that he is not a bad person by nature, but he cannot live without drugs and alcohol.

Now I am not a big fan of drug narratives that are about pushing an agenda. I think some authors, like Selby or Goines, are intent on portraying how addiction will ruin your soul. On the other hand there are others that are pushing the idea that drugs are a way to higher perception, so it's necessary for creative people to use. Personally I think that the truth of human experience lies in between. Drug use has it's benefits and consequences, but addiction can lead to an unbalanced life. Johnson portrays a world full of dreamers, addicts, and lost souls. FH is a good-natured narrator who has lost his way. While he's not always perfect, especially in the story "Dirty Wedding", he's not a bad person either. Ultimately FH struggles with wanting to become "messed up" rather than face real life. His innate selfishness and natural compassion are uneven throughout several of these stories. His internal journey is to find that balance using positive means.

Johnson's prose is compelling in the way he juxtaposes spiraling grief with moments of transcendent beauty. I was struck by this in the story "Work" where FH is literally a sad mess. Johnson writes "I had to vomit in the corner-just a thumble-ful of grey bile." But then each man is struck by the amazing vision of a woman flying naked across the water. This dream image reminds each man that life can have simple beauty in it. In "Beverly Home" something perverse becomes a moment of beautific service and worship. Each moment of beauty is a reminder to FH that he is not completely lost. As long as he maintains an intense sensitivity to sentimentality than he'll be able to find redemption.

On the other side I don't want it forgotten how hilarious these stories are. There is a comedic wit that undercuts any saccharine or painful moments. I often found myself laughing out loud during the stories "Steady Hands at Seattle General" "Emergency" and "Two Men." Johnson puts FH in the craziest situations which would only happen if you lived on the fringe. Johnson also confirmed why I would never want to work at a hospital. In fact I think I'll just avoid hospitals altogether.

I cannot reccomend this collection enough. At a little more than 130+ pages it is all too short. Johnson is magically spare but you can open up it up and at any point find a graceful phrase.

A Hearty Welcome & Reading List 1/26-2/2/2010

I just want to say a quick hello and welcome to any new readers to these humble ramblings. By whatever method you ended up here feel free to warm yourself at the fire. I encourage you to check out the 3 year back log of entries. Some are good. *Feel free to leave a comment if you are moved to.
*Also it would be spiffy if you become a Follower, it's not as bad as it sounds. You get an icon an everything.
*There's also many fine blogs in the sidebar that update often and that I find amusing.
*One can also follow me on the twitter @gettsr, although I warn you my life is kinda mundane.

I am always surprised that people enjoy my literary ramblings, so pull up a chair.

Here's a reading plan for next week.

Reading List
Once Was Lost
Way He Lived

(BTW these are both from amazing local authors. One of which, Sara Zarr, I will be meeting in 2 weeks. Very excited.)

Some more comics goodness: Batman, Green Lantern, Some Blackest Night, and Detective Comics.

Four Four Two. Now that I have no more live soccer to watch, then this is my lifeline.
(Go Gunners!)

If Possible: More trades paperbacks! Sherlock Holmes! Walking Dead!

Have a great week! Book Slave


It's still Jane's World. We just live here.

In anticipation of Masterpiece Theatre's new adaptation of Emma, which screened Part 1 last night, my mom and I had a little Austen discussion yesterday. My mom and I have shared a love of "Jane" ever since I was teen. Luckily I was a teen during the Austen revival of the mid 90s. Her and I breathlessly saw all the various movie adaptations that were released at that time. I read the books for the first time, as she revisited them with each new adaptation.

Yesterday's discussion began with a debate about whether Clueless should be compared with more straightforward adaptations of Emma. I argue that it shares enough in common with say 1996's Emma (that's the one with Paltrow) that it should be considered. Her argument was that it set a dangerous precedent. Would we allow Bridget Jones's Diary to be compared with 1994's Pride and Prejudice? Not to mention all these hybrids which are adding zombies and sea monsters to our Jane's original texts? I did see her point, however I think Clueless is the best adaptation thus far of Emma for the screen. I guess I'm okay with making an exception in this case. My very literate mom held her ground, respectively.

Moving on... I then threw down a gauntlet: Rank Your Austen Novels. Although it's a bit silly and arbitrary, it's also kinda fun.
Surprisingly my mom topped her list with Persuasion. Now this was fairly shocking to me. I just assumed that P&P would be the tops for both of us. Isn't P&P universally loved and held on a pedestal by all us Jane-ites? Apparently not. Perhaps Persuasion is rising in people's estimations with the more information that we find out about Jane herself. I've always seen Jane as being an "Elizabeth Bennett"-esque character, but maybe she is more like Anne Eliot. With her use of writer's voice Austen is as much a character in her books as Emma Woodhouse. It is not difficult then to graft our own love for "our Jane" to certain characters that she has created. I feel that this emotional transference is starting to occur with the character of Anne Eliot, a woman who believes that she made a mistake in love years ago.

was Austen's last finished book and it clearly reflects a more adult world view. Anne Eliot is Austen's most mature character. She is full of regret, world-weary, and lost. The return of Captain Wentworth is a chance at redemption. I think a part of us wants to believe that maybe Austen sought a similiar redemption as she was dying of what was most likely Addison's Disease. However I am also starting to believe that Austen, while she was in dire straights, was evolving as a writer. Persuasion was a step towards more adult subjects such as death, war, and lost chances. Will she settle for William Eliot? The stakes are more personal as Anne Eliot feels that she has blown her chance at happiness.

I prefer to believe that Jane Austen regretted nothing about her life. Perhaps she would have liked to make more money and write more books. But otherwise I'm not interested in the tragic view, we'll leave that to the Brontes. I think this is why my favorite is Pride and Prejudice because it reflects a convergence of comedy, commentary, and pure joy. As her first written book P&P, originally known as First Impressions, I still marvel at how different it is than any other books of the time. I've written about this at length here. But today I revel in the humor and knowing winks that Jane gives us through her 3rd person narrative voice. She is our guide in this 19th century country society world. And although she'll show us the silliness of this societies culture, she also shows us the nobility that exists. You get the feeling in P&P that Austen loves it, flaws and all.

Of course this entire discussion is highly subjective. With only 6 novels available in her literary oevre us Jane-ites have the ability to really dwell on all the nuances. The fact that so much discussion could be pulled from so little material is a testament to her skill. It's undeniable.

For anyone interested here's our respective lists:
(BTW In all fairness I have not read Sanditon or Mansfield Park and my mom has not read Northanger Abbey, so these have been omitted)
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
Mansfield Park

Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
Northanger Abbey

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Cranford, The Return.

For the last two weekends I had the opportunity to return to a magical place called Cranford. For those who are uninformed here's where I've discussed my fondness, love, and fascination for this wonderful haven.

*How December Got Awesome
*Television can occasionally be good for you

In my opinion, with very few exceptions, Masterpiece Theater Classic has been an amazing gift for us lit fans over the last two years. This is high quality television that rather than highlight the worst of humanity, it rises above to present us with the best. This tradition is maintained with the sequel Return to Cranford (RTC).

This continuation from last year's was able to capture the humor, tragedy, and progress, of a small 1840s village. The village of Cranford is filled with spinsters who rely on each other as they face the changing times. Of course the oncoming industrial revolution is represented by the railroad, which is still trying to develop a route through Cranford. In RTC the route becomes a necessity as the local economy begins to suffer driving residents to "horrible" towns such as Leeds and Liverpool.

Progress is difficult and inevitable is the theme of part one of this series. And although the time period is the 19th century, I couldn't help but feel the relevancy to our current times. With the economy in the dumps, and no recovery on the horizon, it becomes essential that technological innovation becomes the new driving force. Even in the work that I do (librarianship) it is becoming a case of embracing new technologies, like ebooks, or get out of the way. Not everyone is willing to do this but even in the world of Cranford it is inevitable.

It is a masterstroke and wonderful surprise that the catalyst for change in this story is Miss Matty. Miss Matty, as portrayed by Dame Judi Dench, is the beating heart of Cranford. She remains at the center of events in RTC, but is much more proactive in her influence. As the passive of the two sisters in the original Cranford, in RTC she decides to become a driving force. And how could anyone say no to her? She is the kind of person who is amazingly selfless. Her empathy is untainted by cynicism which is refreshing in this day and age. It is heart-breaking when she has to deal with the often cruel fact that sometimes terrible things happen. I was blown away by how the character of Miss Matty internalizes and takes responsibility for the negative consequences. Further she is able to take that guilt and turn it into a positive action.

Her internal journey gives this story emotional heft that is absent in other characters. I was not as invested in the romantic relationships in this volume. Also the villians were sadly a bit one-dimensional. I'm not sure whether this reflects Gaskell's story-telling or the intentions of director Simon Curtis. It was sad to see Septimus portrayed as such a one-dimensional villian (and btw what was up with the gay overtones? Aren't we past fey gay villian stereotypes in our modern times?) considering the build up that we've had with his character since the first Cranford. Poor Mr. Pryce was given an inconsistent character of Edward Buxton in the second half. One minute he's a good guy, the next he's a manipulative jerk. That's just poor storytelling.

RTC does maintain Gaskell's theme that a strong woman will sacrifice for the better good. Whether it's Miss Matty or Miss Galindo with Harry Gregson, these women are resilient. This series has motivated me to check out Gaskell this year. And I can't wait. In the end I highly recommend checking out Return to Cranford either online here, or on DVD soon. It is completely worth the return trip.


Teach Me Comics, I'm Willing to Learn

Today I decided to take a few hours and dive into my comic stack. It was an enjoyable time I have to say. It solidified my resolve that I need to get rid of things like TV, and make a solid decision to carve out reading time into my schedule. I am a chronic multi-tasker. It's not that I have ADD and can't focus. It's that I just strive to find the most effective way to make use of my time. However I'm slowly coming to the realization that maybe just focusing on one thing for a set amount of time may be more personally fulfilling.

So enough emo-introspection already! I haven't done one of these for awhile but I felt like it today so hell...

Lessons from Comic Literature
(These were curbed from the following comic issues: Amazing Spider-Man 615-617, Buffy the Vampire 31, Action Comics 885, Green Arrow Black Canary 28.)

1. Joe Kelly is the best writer for Spider-Man. He understands the humor, action, and attitude. I will always read a Spider-Man issue where he is the main writer. This is odd since I tried reading his critically-acclaimed series I Kill Giants and couldn't get into it.
2. Joss Whedon should always write Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8. I think one can trace the gradual decline of this series with lack of Whedon writing involvement. Whedon does the best job with characterization and dialogue. If you want to see the difference in quality just check out the difference between #31 & #30. Also I never want to see Jane Espenson write for this book again.

3. I like Action in my Action Comics. I don't know enough about Kryptonian lore to understand any of that hardcore nerdness. I really just like it when they're fighting.

4. Why am I still reading Green Arrow/Black Canary? I don't know.

5. Amazing Spider-Man has the best villian gallery. I really love how they are all getting featured in the latest "The Gauntlet" arc. We've gotten to see Electro, Sandman, and Rhino. Classic Villians are fun.

6. Comics! It's great to read fun superhero comics after reading nearly 50 issues of The Walking Dead. It was just what I needed.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Reading List 1/19/10-1/26/10

Here's the list for this week. Hopefully I'll be able to get some of this reading done in between Sundance screenings. Yes the movies are coming to town! Well at least my town. I'm very excited.

The Reading List
Stephen Fry in America
Jesus's Son
(that's for book club, I can't wait)
A whole stack of wonderful graphic novel trades!
Also the wicked stack of comics that I need to catch up on.
Four Four Two for my football/soccer fix.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Gaining Perspective & The Walking Dead

So it's been a rough couple of days. Right now I encourage all that have the means to donate/buy/whatever to relief organizations like The Red Cross to help those suffering in Haiti. A catastrophic event like this helps you put life in perspective.

Speaking of putting life in perspective it is an utter coincidence that this week I finally digged into The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1 contains the first 48 issues, all written by Robert Kirkman. I wanted to read this series in one big chunk because of the reputation of this series. Kirkman is known for his unrelenting cliffhangers and I didn't want to have to wait for the next volume.

The Walking Dead begins when a police officer from Kentucky named Rick wakes up from a coma. He took a bullet for his friend/fellow officer Shane in a gunfight a month ago. Unfortunately it turns out that while Rick was sleeping the world went to hell. Zombie-esque creatures have taken over and society has fallen. Now I know this sounds just like 28 Days Later but other than this opening premise any similiarities end. Rick reunites with a group of survivors which luckily includes his wife and son. This ragtag group struggles with this new crazy world that tests everything they've ever known.

Now I wouldn't dare spoil what happens along that terrible road. Part of the wonderful horrible experience of this series is that the reader begins to understand that anything can happen. No one is safe. Anyone could die at any moment including the main characters. Kirkman does not hold back in any way. This book is as savage as the world it depicts.

It is a master stroke from Kirkman that this book is not really about the zombies. Sure the zombies are always there in the background. They are a relentless threat. However this story is fueled by the actions of the human characters. Kirkman examines how the continuous horror/violence/death is degrading to the human soul. All the characters are confronted with the darkness that is inherent when one is struggling just to survive. Kirkman doesn't spend any time trying to explain what happened and I hope he never does. It doesn't matter why zombies have taken over. That's just the cataclysmic event that has led us to this new world.

I completely understand how each character reacts but am also repulsed by a majority of it. Let's just say that this series is not for the weak. It makes Scalped look like a nursery rhyme. Reading 48 issues all in one go was a really depressing experience. The moment that you begin to love a character than something horrid happens to them. And I'm not even touching the character of The Governor. As a writer Kirkman puts the reader into the same position as the human characters. And even for this cynical hardened reader that was very difficult. However I don't think that I would want it any other way. To hold back or force a happy ending would lessen the experience. That would make this series just like any other zombie book around right now.

I'd be remissed if I didn't mention the great art from Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn. Black and White is the perfect look for this series. It's the only way that the reader can deal with such horrific images. It also allows for the simplicity of the new world our survivors travel thru. With the loss of a societal structure I loved seeing a world where nature is reclaiming the earth. There are some amazing splash pages that showcase the landscape. Of course there's always a zombie tucked away in the background. This is in stark contrast to the prison which our survivors inhabit. It can't be a mistake that Rick, and others, seems to lose some of their humanity while recapturing their safety. In the prison they visit more violence upon each other than the zombies. Clearly this is intentional and the art reflects it.

It's one thing just to be able to survive. Rick and his family, including those who are not directly related, struggle with finding a way to finally start "living" again. This gives an incredible double meaning to the title of the series. Who are "the walking dead" really? Kirkman wants to confront his readers with that very question. Since this series is open-ended, I don't expect we'll get an answer until the end. Or when every human dies and the answer is moot.


With Great Power...

Hello All,
As a comic geek I've been thrown for a loop this week. In comic movie news it turns out that Sam Raimi & Tobey Maguire are leaving the Spider-Man movie franchise.
Now I've been a major fan of all three films, even the third one, although I admit it had problems. In my opinion Spider-Man 2 is the best superhero film ever made. It's great performances and script paved the way for movies such as The Dark Knight and Iron Man. I think a lot of credit goes to Raimi for capturing the fun, pathos, and humanity that can be found in this web-slinging hero. It's disconcerting to hear that he has left over "creative differences." What is with Sony Pictures? Don't they realize that Raimi is an able captain for this ship? Apparently not because here comes a reboot with Peter Parker going back to high-school.

In the last two years I've dipped my toes into the Spider-Man Universe. I enjoy the fact that while he's got super powers, he's also a real life guy who is just cannot catch a break. For spider-man if the going gets tough, well then it just gets worse. The best writers, such as Joe Kelly, Brian Michael Bendis, or even Dan Slott, understand that rather than cry over his bad fortune, Peter Parker will throw out a self-deprecating quip. This puts him at odds with the current skinny man-boy greyish brooders that are currently in mode at the cineplex. Peter Parker may be a nerd, but he's not conflicted about it. He's conflicted about where the next dollar is gonna come from, and how he's gonna take care of Aunt May.

So if Sony wants to re-boot Peter Parker back to high school than what source material should they draw from? Many have speculated that Sony will go to Ultimate Spider-man by Brian Michael Bendis. This would be an excellent choice. I've read the first few volumes of this series and enjoyed them immensely. Bendis has a great ability to capture the wise-acre sarcasm and his series features Parker in high school. However I don't think Bendis is interested in writing a Spider-man movie. He's too busy writing every book in the Marvel Universe. Well not really, but pretty close.

Well if I had the chance to bend Sony's ear I think that I have the perfect option: Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. I devoured this series about 2 years ago and I love it. SMLJ actually focuses on Parker and MJ in high school, with their romantic travails. In fact Parker as Spider-Man is pretty much in the extreme background. The action focuses mainly on MJ's developing friendship with Peter, her dating Harry Osborne, and how her crush on Spider-Man is tested. It's a fun, adorable, teen series that anyone can read. It's easily adaptable and is already made for the teen market. If that's what Sony wants to focus on, then this is a great choice.

Are you listening Sony? Really all I ask: Don't Screw It Up. Choose great material: Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane is a winner.


Reading List 1/12/10-1/19/10

The Reading List
Library: The Walking Dead Compendium
(This contains 48 issues, which is basically 8 trade paperbacks. Yeah that's a lot.)

Magazine: Wizard #216

If Dreams Come True I Will Also Be Able to Read this Week:
The Ultimates Collection
The Nobody
Sherlock Holmes: Scandal In Bohemia

Oh If I Could Turn Back Time Gentle Readers. If only.
Wish me luck. Book Slave.


Where Have you Been? Don't worry I'm Right Here.

Hey Guys,
Sorry that it's been a few days since I've posted. I thought I'd give you all a breather after the barrage of entries for December. Right now I am knee deep in The Walking Dead Compendium. This book's a monster. I think it's big enough to kill a small rodent if needs be. I plan on finishing it in a few days so look for an extensive review on Robert Kirkman's opus. Coming Soon!

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Reading list 1/5/10-1/12/10

Hello All,
Here's the first official full week of 2010. Yay!
Time to bring it eh? Let's start this week out strong. Coming into Year 3, I want the emphasis to be on diminishing the TBR pile. The motivation behind this blog has always been to put out a public challenge to myself. So the reading list is gonna get more specific.

Graphic Novel: Phonogram vol. 1
TBR Pile: Sherlock Holmes-A Study In Scarlet, Sign of Four.

Magazine: Four Four Two December 2009

Comics: Superman #695, The Stand: Soul Survivors #3, Amazing Spider-Man #614-616

Have a Great Week! Book Slave

A Sleeper, Giant, and Batman Walk Into a Bar...

Hey All,
Here's some reviews Old-school-style. Enjoy!

Sleeper Season 1

I've waited to read this series for far too long. It is a mix of Donnie Brasco and Wanted with a much more gritty tone. Poor Holden Carver is placed undercover in a criminal organization after discovering that he is impervious to pain. When his handler Lynch falls into a coma Holden finds himself with no link to the outside world. Quickly Holden finds himself caught up in the terrible clutches of Tao, his criminal mastermind of a boss. He also falls in love with the wonderful Miss Misery, a woman who thrives on doing evil. Brubaker creates a wonderful comic noir world. Holden has superhero powers but it is a curse rather than a gift. He has to do horrible things to maintain his cover and be constantly paranoid about where he stands. It is always a complaint about comics that there's nothing new under the sun. Great writers like Brubaker show that that is completely wrong. He creates an entire new world of characters with original back stories. My favorite segment is when we learn the origin story of Miss Misery. Brubaker bends gender expectations in such a wonderful way with her character. It was highly enjoyable and unexpected. I can't wait to see where this will go next.

If you like Sleeper then check out: Criminal, Incognito, Wanted

3 Story: Secret History of a Giant Man

A few years ago it was Matt Kindt's Two Sisters that got me back into reading graphic novels. And then Super Spy blew my precious little mind last year. However I wasn't sure what to make of 3 Story before I picked it up. No spies, a giant, and no puzzles to figure out? What is this? All my fears were assuaged quickly. Kindt is about more than the cleverness of Super Spy. 3 Story is about a giant, but only in regards to how his existence is interpreted by those who love him. His mother, wife, and daughter all try to accommodate him. They build a house, send him to college, and even create a family with him. Despite all this though the reality of the giant's physical condition is that he can never be "one of us". In the end he can't even communicate with anyone. I was struck by panels that showed him always alone. The emphasis on isolation reminded me of Jeff Lemire's work in his excellent Essex County Trilogy. This is a wonderful character study without a hint of hipster-ish irony.

If you like 3 Story then check out: Super Spy, Two Sisters, Essex County Trilogy

Batman: Battle for the Cowl

Despite all the characters depicted on the cover this is really about a battle between two types of vigilantism: Faschism vs. Altruism. Which will win out? Well the ending is kinda inevitable. I mean if you didn't know how this would turn out well then maybe you need to read more comics. But I did enjoy the art by Tony Daniel. Daniel is particularly good with action scenes and muscalature. However writing-wise it's a big step down from Morrison. I like my Batman with a little more complexity. It is a nice hardcover, however I think they should've included more of the cross-overs than just the Gotham Gazette issues. If you can't get it on discount then I'd just hold out for the paperback.

If you like Battle for the Cowl then check out: Batman A Death In the Family, Under the Hood, Batman R.I.P.

Have a great week! Book Slave


Stats, Oh Stats.

Hope you are all having a great start to the year. January is a time when we evaluate the past year and then set up goals for next year. Usually it means that you abandon those goals by the end of the month or set upon a new path. I felt that my goals for last year were pretty realistic. Unfortunately I didn't make it. I wanted to read 25% more than the year before. As you can see below I still needed another 10% or about 15 more books. It's not completely out of reach though. So I think I'm gonna keep that for 2010. I also wanted to read more of a variety of books. I want to continue to expand what I read. These goals will have to center around my TBR pile because that has been the point of all this. My TBR pile has become my Everest. It must be conquered. Or I'll have nowhere to sleep. Seriously, I'm not joking.

Here's Some Stats to Ponder
Books read in 2009: 103
Books read in 2008: 90
% difference between 2008 & 2009: +14%

Average read per month: 8.6 books/mo.
Average read per week: 2 books/wk.
Number read in worst month: 5 (December)
Number read in best month: 14 (June)

Fiction as percentage of total: 19%
Non-fiction as percentage of total: 7%
Graphic Novels as percentage of total: 58%
Everything else: 16%

Well there it is. Have a great week! Book Slave.


2009 Year in Review

So here we are. 2010. Brand new year. Are you excited? I actually am. As I discussed here last year this is my blog-a-versary. I've had a great time writing about all things literary and I am shocked that there are those that enjoy these words.

Here's a breakdown of 2009 by month 10-words-or-less style with links included:
January- Good Fortune. ABA Winter Institute.
February-Learning from Dickens. Picking Fights With Poets.
March-S#!t hits the fan. Schedule opens up.
April-Oh Little Dorrit!
May-Rant about E-Readers
June-Read Many Many Books.
July-Became BPRD obsessed.
August-Met Chris Claremont, Comics legend.
September-Rant about Banned Books.
October-Poetry saves me.
November-The format changes. Asterios Polyp.
December-Best of Lists Galore.

In the end I am so grateful to anyone who stumbles upon this and enjoys it. Thank you humble readers. Happy New Years! Book Slave