For T. --

The Dark Psych.

The Dark Jesus.

(Uh, that second one is both mildly potentially offensive, depending who you are, and also a spoiler for several key scenes in Batman: The Dark Knight or whatever it's actually called.)

Courtesy of Is It Funny Today?

book drop

Sep. 29th, 2006 02:30 pm
verbminx: (librarygirl)
Lately I'm getting to a point where I can't finish commercial or light fiction. I skim it, I get a basic idea of the story, I read over it, but I don't actually stick my nose into it from start to finish.

The Worthy by Will Clarke - A rich Louisiana frat boy is murdered by his fraternity president soon after his induction. The story here is told by his ghost, who possesses the living to achieve his aim of exposing and punishing his killer, who is guilty of more than just the murder. This book has blurbs by Isaac Adamson (Tokyo Suckerpunch etc) and, IIRC, Christopher Moore, but while the voice is similar, I don't think it's as witty as either writer's work. The voice is likeable, but I didn't find it compelling to read this from cover to cover.

Why Moms Are Weird by Pamela Ribon - the first of two Couplandesque books I've been looking at lately, this one feels slight, but getting into it, the characterization and story are both pretty good, and there are some genuine laughs. This reminded me of older Coupland because of its interpersonal sweetness and because of its depiction of a twentysomething adult dealing with her middle-aged mother, a mother who is written much like the mothers in Coupland's books. You may know this writer as Pamie (dot com).

PopCo by Scarlett Thomas - This is the second of the two Couplandesque novels, but in this case, it's gotten that comparison in reviews primarily because it deals with marketing and corporate life and, eventually, culture-jamming. Also, cryptography, buried treasure, and crossword puzzles. I've read the first 50pp and skimmed around a bit, may continue to read the rest all the way through. However, this book is extremely preachy, with characters acting as mouthpieces for Reasons To Be Vegan and Ways To Be Effectively Anti-Corporate, etc. It ties in with the far more effective side of the plot, which is the protagonist's history with codes. I don't think the preachiness is well-integrated into the story, and even before I discovered that stuff later in the book, I didn't think the story in the first 50pp had been told very effectively... there isn't even a single line of dialogue in the first chapter, despite the heroine narrating a work meeting she'd attended. I'm just not sure this book works, but it has some clever ideas and a compelling narrative voice, so I'll withhold judgment until I've read more.

Mountain Man Dance Moves: The McSweeney's Book of Lists - Um, you know those amusing short lists that are always on the web version of McSweeney's? This is a book of that sort of thing. Many of the lists here are ironically amusing rather than LOL funny ha ha. There's a running joke about unicorns. One list, of Things That Make Unicorns Cry, includes "Renegade wizards who refuse to join the alliance," "Unicorn-themed fan fiction," and "Seasonal allergies." Another list is one of Signs That Your Child May Be Using Unicorns. Etc.

Daily Candy A to Z - This is a book of generally good advice on living with some kind of style and grace. It's slight and can be read in one or two sittings. The general book design is nice: illustrations, layout. As you can guess, the topics are laid out alphabetically. The commentary is pithy, generalized, and in some cases, a little shallow (ex: in their financial section, which is just a few pages, I don't think they send you to any further information from good financial writers). I don't really like the Daily Candy website/emails, as they tend to be too consumerist in an upscale way, but this book really isn't much about buying stuff. It's just about life, albeit a certain kind of middle-class life (where most people graduated from college and have office jobs). This is the sort of thing that would be a nice present for someone you like who isn't your closest friend: an aunt or cousin, a favorite co-worker, etc.

My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time by Liz Jensen - I'm mentioning this because some of my LJ friends might like it; I'm not actually going to have time to read it. This is about a saucy prostitute in 1897 Copenhagen who gets herself and her mother jobs as cleaners in an uptight woman's house. They find a time machine in the basement and are sent to modern London, where the protagonist falls in love. Other things happen after that. Those of you who like saucy 19th century heroines in off-kilter stories will probably be interested in this.

Queen Bee by Chynna Clugston - I basically read this because I try to keep up with what Chynna's doing, workwise. It was written for tweens, I think, is published by Scholastic, and is good for its intended audience. For adults, it's cute and amusing but a little predictable, and a very fast read (15 minutes for me). The art is a little less detailed here than in Chynna's stuff for grownups. Mostly for girls, and good fun for your 12-year-old niece.

Still finishing Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell: I am well into book 3, and things are starting to come together and tie up. I'd have to look over a list of what I've read this year, but if it's not the best thing, it's in the top 3. Unfortunately, it has also destroyed the novel I've been working on for years, as there are too many similarities in plot & character (name AND appearance AND fate). I can change the names and some of the appearances with little trouble, but there's a major plot point I now have to rework, and it's frustrating.
(Reposted from Tom's LJ:)

Gail Simone says: 'Early this morning, the Texas home of award-winning writer/artist Lea Hernandez, my friend and co-creator of the graphic novel Killer Princesses, caught fire and burned. Half her house is now gone, and the rest is smoke-damaged. In addition, she lost at least six of her familys beloved pets, two dogs and four cats. If you knew Lea, you'd know how devastating that is.

Shes lost a great deal of her family's possessions, including irreplaceable art. She doesnt yet know the full accounting of what's been lost at this time.'

From the sound of it, it's pretty bad and some... cartoonist folk are one freelance check away from disaster. If you can help out Lea at all it would mean alot. Even if it's just $5. Whatever.

her LJ:

[ profile] divalea

verbminx: (librarygirl)
A few hours of reading last week got me through:

The new Scott Pilgrim book (...and the Infinite Sadness) was entertaining, but it's closely tied to the previous book, and if you don't remember exactly what happened in that book, you might be a little bit lost. There's a chart of characters and relationships, but it's in the back of the book, not the front. The only criticism I have, aside from that, is that there are a lot of characters and some of the secondary characters are starting to look too much alike. If you're reading this one, you know what you're getting, so I don't need to get into criticism of the story. I howled over the bit about Todd going to "Vegan Academy."

How to Make A Journal of Your Life by D. Price - zinelike, and not bad, but not great. A very quick read. This book has been obviated by a few other books I've read on the same topic, with the exception of the advice on photography, which is slight but interesting. I liked both The Decorated Journal by Gwen Diehn (whose book The Decorated Page is also really good) and The Creative License by Danny Gregory; I'd recommend those over this.

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley - I avoided this comic for years and years because of its apparent preciousness and the occasional anthropomorphic character. But I kept hearing good things about it, so when I had the chance to get Fantagraphics' recent hardcover collection out of the library last week, I went for it. I was pleasantly surprised.

For the most part, I liked it. I don't think it actually is a feminist response to Cerebus, but it does portray feminist themes in a similar setting with some similar characters. The anthropomorphics aren't intrusive (there are no "sexy cat girls," for example). The book itself is lovely, designed as a fancy storybook. There's an Ex Libris page and a ribbon marker, as well as patterned endpapers on both the book and various chapters, and a lovely deckled edge on the pages.

The art is mostly quite good, but there were times, particularly early on, when there was simply too much whitespace and line art, and not enough shading or b/w balance.

I have a problem with the story structure, and I'm not sure whether it's fair or not. If the volume I read was the entirety of the story, it has serious structural problems. The nested story within the story, where Sister Peace talks about her life as a bearded girl and how she became a Solicitine nun, takes over the second half of the volume; themes that come up in the first half are never resolved, which means that the book is basically Peace's life story and is nonlinear in a clunky way, because it didn't find its focus until Medley had been doing the book for many years. If the book as it stands is only the first portion of the story, it's probably fine. Nothing ever comes of Jain's intriguing first-half flashbacks in this volume... you never find out who she married, who fathered her child, or why she left. The trouble is that the book never says "Volume 1" anywhere on it, so I really don't know if more is coming.

What is there is interesting, but it won't appeal to everyone (a good litmus test is probably "whether or not you like Bone" - the tone is somewhat similar, and Cartoon Books, Jeff Smith's company, published some Castle Waiting material in the past). If it sounds interesting from what I've said, do consider checking it out. It only took me about two hours to read, and it was worth the time.

(ETA - yes, it IS just volume 1. New issues commence this summer, picking up where this volume left off. Linda Medley's Site.)
So Tom finally got an ebay account, and has posted a bunch of original art for sale. He has lowballed the starting bids compared to what he would sell these pieces for at conventions, so if you like his stuff, this is a chance to pick some of it up relatively cheaply. There are a bunch of different pages from No Dead Time, as well as the art from the poster for this year's SPACE show. I think the SPACE poster and the two-page spread are probably the two best pieces that are up.

I am trying to talk him into better shipping terms. I know why he isn't offering Priority Mail - he can send FedEx stuff from work at a discounted rate, which he will pass on to the buyer - but if you have a problem with the FedEx thing and want to buy something from him, drop him a line and see if he'll work with you. (I've HEAVILY suggested that he should, but as I've said before, he doesn't listen to me most of the time. You can try telling him that his girlfriend suggested you write to him.) Also, if you have No Dead Time and there was any particular page you liked, drop him a line and ask him about it; it's probably also for sale, just not on ebay.
I have numerous and contradictory things to write about. I think this post will have MPD.

First of all... are all of London's LJ contingent OK?
I already made contact with my only good IRL friend in the London area - actually, she lives in Kent, and happened to not need to be in London today, and feels greatly relieved. So she's fine. I hope you and yours are all fine too, UK people.

Second of all, I went to a sneak preview of The Fantastic Four tonight. Tom and I joked that we were only going out of a sense of morbid curiosity, since neither of us would actually pay to see it, not even at the dollar theater. From the ads, I was expecting it to be truly and painfully horrible, something along the lines of... I don't even know, because I don't usually watch movies that look that bad. Actually, though, while it's not exactly a "good" movie, it has some mild success as a light comedy, most of the way through. There are a lot of really bad dialogue transitions, the completion of Victor's transition to Dr. Doom is very abrupt, the action climax feels silly and rushed*, and Ben's Thing suit looks super-fake. At many moments, the whole movie looks kind of cheap. I'm not a fan of the comic AT ALL, so I had no positive expectations whatsoever.

But it's not completely terrible if seen as a "popcorn movie" for 10-to-14-year-olds, which is what it feels like in depth and pacing, and it is certainly at least as good as most of those that I can think of (for example, I thought it was far superior to Spy Kids, while vastly inferior to the more "grownup" superhero films of the last few years like both Spiderman and XMen movies, and Batman Begins). Is that damning with faint praise? Probably. Still, it's shallow and vaguely entertaining fluff to which you can take your kids or younger siblings or cousins, and which they might enjoy, and you might not be driven to gouge your eyes out with a spoon as a result of having to sit through it. The only things that even set a lower age limit are one scene in which a character dies because a hole is bloodlessly blasted through his chest, and another in which Jessica Alba is very briefly shown in her underwear. The performances are OK - Chris Evans is especially engaging and bratty as Johnny Storm, the Human Torch.

Third of all, I have been having an awful week, with a moderate CFIDS relapse. Mostly just very tired. Wearing the same denim skirt every time I go out, because nothing else is comfortable in this weather (I don't actually own any shorts). I can't handle driving myself or being out for very long at a time, but today seemed better than the rest of the week has been.

The real bright spot in my day was popping by the library to return some things and finding that my reserve copy of Yotsuba& had arrived. That's pronounced "yoht-soo-bah-toh", and is about a charmingly weird and spacey little girl named "Yotsuba"; "to" means "and" (&), so each chapter is Yotsuba's encounter with a different thing. The first is "Yotsuba & Moving", for example. It's from the creator of Azumanga Daioh, which I really like. Here's some commentary about both of them.

*How silly and rushed? Well, I got bored and started thinking about laundry that I needed to do at home, and as a result I actually lost track of what was going on.
Tom and his friend Dara Naraghi have a strip on Movie Poop Shoot starting this week - see it HERE. It's about two tech workers, one in his 20s and the other middle-aged, and a tattoo-related decision. Dara wrote it; Tom did the art, of course.

Also, happy birthday to [ profile] lorigami (today) and [ profile] womanonfire (tomorrow)!



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