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The Acme Novelty Library #18 (The Acme Novelty Library #18)

4.4  ·  Rating Details ·  870 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
In keeping with his athletic goal of issuing a volume of his occasionally lauded ACME series once every new autumn, volume 18 finds cartoonist Chris Ware abandoning the engaging serialization of his "Rusty Brown" and instead focusing upon his ongoing and more experimentally grim narrative "Building Stories."
Collecting pages unseen except in obscure alternative weekly perio
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published December 10th 2007 by Drawn and Quarterly
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May 26, 2008 Andy rated it it was amazing
I think this may be Chris Ware's best work yet. It's not perfect - not everything works equally well, and in particular his stilted narrator voice still feels pretty awkward to me - but in its unassuming way this is much more ambitious than any of his previous stuff. Loneliness is still the theme but now it's real-life loneliness, and his careful observation is now applied to a convincing character, rather than just to convincing moments in the lives of stylized characters. His virtuosic techniq ...more
Natty Soltesz
Feb 07, 2008 Natty Soltesz rated it it was amazing
It's the details, of course: the fat dried drip of paint on the bottom of an old hook in the ceiling, a piece of errant spaghetti clinging to the side of a pot in the sink, the shade of a lamp turned ever so slightly from one panel to the next (thus denoting the passing of time). These things are nearly impossible to capture with words; it's visual poetry.

Then the words themselves - incisive, breaking down complex interior rituals and patterns that we don't even realize we contemplate ourselves
May 27, 2008 Spencer rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
this is so grim. A one-legged womans depressing absurd life. Beautifully rendered. Her eyes are tiny dots and in the last panels she fades and shrinks. Life is small and insignificant. But the feel and message would be so different if it were feverishly drawn or drawn as crass as the text. But it is breathtakingly arranged. Chris Ware is an artist beyond comparison but I don't think anyone will be a better person for reading this. It is only art after all. Hell will be full of aesthetes, distrac ...more
Oct 28, 2007 Tom rated it really liked it
Chris Ware has a way of reaching into my brain, pulling out my most recent obsessive thoughts, and presenting them to myself in the form of comic (i.e. graphic, not humorous or comedic) narrative. I stumbled across his early, largely experimental work when I was trying to write a critical paper on space and narrative devices in graphic novels, and his work's disparity between text and image provided the perfect example of an adaptation of the Chinese poetic device xing (兴). The maximalism that I ...more
Jan 07, 2009 Marissa rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Marissa by: Solomon
Shelves: comix
Admittedly, Chris Ware is one of the trendier new comic book artists that I never really got the appeal of before I read this book. I had a really difficult time reading all the way through Jimmy Corrigan and there are still some little things about his work I take issue with. For one thing, while I realize his style is very distinctive and uber styley on purpose, I do think it pulls a little too much from the graphic design end of things for my taste. There is a sensation when you're beginning ...more
Dec 19, 2014 Clay rated it it was ok
I hesitated before rating this book and went to three stars first. It said, "You liked it." and that seemed so wrong. It was then that I understood why I didn't appreciate this very well written and done comic book. How could I have liked it?

It deals with a one-legged woman of an age around 30. She is completely alone, broken, stuck in a job without any career chances and so she thinks about her past. Her memories are very dark. Very very dark. I was kinda surprised by this because I read about
Jan 17, 2016 Liam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel
I don't think Ware should compile these into anything but standalone works, otherwise I am going to injure myself. Hunger, sleep-deprivation, unemployment, hermeticism? I have never felt almost morally compelled to read anything from cover-to-cover in a single sitting... in an empty university library on a sunny weekend morning in a comfy chair overlooking the main streets five floors below. I should have had lunch and started work hours ago.
God how my weekends feel like the first two pages, min
Jan 01, 2008 David rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Acme Novelty Librarians
Shelves: comics
Though it deals with themes now familiar in Chris Ware's work - namely those of loneliness, isolation and deep sadness - Acme Novelty Library #18 marks a bit of a change in style.

I thought this might be the case when I noticed that the cover of the book doesn't contain the usual wordy apologies in tiny print, and flicking through, the main narrative isn't spattered with fake adverts, cut-outs and other um, 'fun'.

Instead it focuses on doing one thing very well - taking us inside the head of a you
Jun 10, 2011 Brendan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, comics, humor, 2011
The more Chris Ware I read, the more I like his work. When I picked up this book, Jenny asked what it was about. I said I wasn't sure, but it was probably about lonely people struggling with relationships, self-doubt, and sexual frustration, with a little bit of despair sprinkled throughout, rendered in gorgeous architecturally crafted, intricate art.

Turns out I was right.

The central story in No. 18 concerns a young florist who lives a lonely life in her apartment, the top floor of a three-fl
Apr 21, 2008 James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel
This is everything you would expect from an installment in Ware's Acme Novelty Library. This is, apparently, the first of a three part series each about a different tenant in a three floor apartment. This story, centered around the past 10 years of the life of a lonely one legged girl in her late twenties who left dreams of being an artist and now works in a flower shop pretty much sounds like it would find its way to the bottom of just about any recommended reading list. But this is Chris Ware, ...more
Nov 11, 2011 Jeff rated it really liked it
With this eighteenth installment in his Acme Novelty Library series, Chris Ware has refined a portrait of modern urban loneliness to an almost painful pitch, and yet as in so many of his previous works, Ware succeeds by finding the truths behind his seemingly exaggerated themes. The artwork is colorful and gorgeous as always, and the innovative page and panel layouts continue to amaze with their complex intent and simple beauty. There is an undeniable poetry to Ware's loving explication of his u ...more
Feb 15, 2008 Lauren rated it really liked it
I would give the 1st half of the book 4 stars and the latter 3. I found the beginning to be really sad, depressing, and interesting to observe this young woman's point of view, but then her story became a tad bit too repetitive, but such is life, right? Perhaps that's the entire point the author's trying to make. I get caught up in the story and the details and have difficulty looking at the overall point of stories...The front endpages made me cry...luckily that was not the continuing experienc ...more
Feb 20, 2008 Gregory rated it it was amazing
I'll admit up front that I am a gigantic Chris Ware fan. I think he's the best living graphic designer/book designer, and one of the greatest storytellers ever. That being said, I was a little skeptical going into this book (I mean comic, but look at the thing, it's a hardback book!), knowing that he was turning his attention to a female lead character. I remember reading Alberto Moravia's Two Women and just feeling like he couldn't write for a female character the way he had for his male charac ...more
Oct 12, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it
This was the most technically interesting comic out there for a long while. My problem is, as much as I enjoy weird patterns instead of panels, I need a story. I am lame and middle class and need the characters to do things that make other things happen. Maybe Tv ruined me. But my favorite parts look really amazing, like they're from the USSR. Some of it looks like it's a newspaper strip from the Depression, so my Dad might even like it - plus my Dad likes Dada and this is kinda Dada without the ...more
Feb 01, 2011 Lee rated it really liked it
Sheer Ozu-y goodness in this one. "Parent's house" appears twice, the only real flaw, other than maybe excessive (very small) text. Otherwise, Ware's quest to correct for decades of action-heavy cartooning with wholly original, imaginative, purposefully quotidian assaults on readerly eyes and hearts continues. As always, amazing stuff. Totally individuated art, with nods to Proust and Ozu and Perec's Life: A User's Manual: Revised Edition here and there. 4.75 stars (I'm saving the fifth star for ...more
Nate D
Feb 15, 2008 Nate D rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, read-in-2008
Chris Ware is better at drawing depression than anyone else in the business, I'm convinced. It has to do not with any single rendering but in the mass effect of endless mundane details in a portrait of terrible inertia and quiet desperation, and it relies on his other great strength: intricate and beautifully-designed page layouts. Storywise, we're only getting a little bit of a much larger and more ambitious work here ("Building Stories"), but I do find the nameless heroine a more fully rendere ...more
Sep 16, 2009 Damon rated it really liked it
Kind of surprisingly, I thought this was very good. Ware approaches his character here with a lot more sensitivity, instead of irony or mockery, and as a result, while she still seems pathetic, it's in a way that actually touches you somewhat as the reader, instead of just being dark and awkwardly comedic. I was also kind of surprised at how much of the story I could relate to personally - while I'm not a young woman with a missing leg, I saw a lot of parallels to her art school experiences and ...more
Dec 12, 2009 Madeline rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
I'm pretty sure that I'm going to give everything Ware has ever done five stars because, seriously, what other graphic novelist can compare? Ware is untouchable in his attention to detail and prolific-ness. His stories may not be for everyone--his sense of humor is incredibly dark and subtle--but I personally think them genius. I regret that someday my eyesight may become too awful to read anymore Ware.

This installment features a female narrator and a two pages spread of a pixelated vagina. The
Jan 22, 2008 Jamil rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics
the two things that drive me crazy about Chris Ware are 1)his kinda relentlessly depressing, passive characters and 2) that his panelwork frequently sacrifices clarity for design. a third thing would be that the small detail work kinda inhibits my natural desire to read very fast. ooh, and a fourth thing, sometimes it's a little boring too, right? still he's a genius, I know. I'd just like to seem him turn that genius to some other kind of tale once in awhile. but I know, that ain't what geniuse ...more
Oct 09, 2008 Ian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, imagetext
I've always been a huge fan of Chris Ware, and this latest Acme installment doesn't disappoint. His themes don't often vary, but his richness of style makes up for his monotony of topic. He is also the only comic author and one of the few authors of any type that makes reading about stifling depression and loneliness anything but boring.
Jul 22, 2010 Paul rated it really liked it
Finally, after years of excerpts and teases (in the Times, the New Yorker, and McSweeney's), comes the first full chapter of "Building Stories". It's the quiet and wrenching tale of a very lonely woman, which would be unbearable if it weren't for the painstaking care shown in Ware's work.
Feb 26, 2008 Julie rated it liked it
Because Ware's designs are so intricate, this read has definately been on a bit-by-bit process. However, if anyone is into collecting rare vintage books, you'd get a kick out of the way Ware chooses to format his comics!
Feb 04, 2008 Isa rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
While the last 2 editions left me a little.. let's say cold, this one actually grabbed me immediately. This time the story is told from a female perspective. I absolutely adored the many panels in the flower shop. Sad and gorgeous as always.
Jan 23, 2008 Dave rated it it was amazing
Either things have been getting to me much much more lately, or this book is incredible in its ability to do in a comic what most often happens with novels and movies - shredding up your heart. What a beautiful book.
Aug 31, 2008 álvaro rated it really liked it
¿por qué nadie lo edita en España?
¿por qué casi ninguna librería española lo traer de importación?
siempre me toca comprar el Acme Novelty Library en lugares lejanos...

éste lo compré en Barcelona en Fiestas de Gracia 2008.
Sep 05, 2009 Mrlunch rated it really liked it
Chris Ware is a genius!
I love how he tells stories of characters who don't fit in or are depressed for some reason, but does it in a way that is so beautiful and unique that the heavy subject matter is palatable and even appealing.
Liz Yerby
Apr 06, 2015 Liz Yerby rated it it was amazing
I don't always find Chris ware's layouts that intuitive, but these were imaginative enough I was okay taking some extra moments to follow them. The main character feels very real and the story is sad but relatable.
Russell Grant
Jul 29, 2011 Russell Grant rated it it was amazing
A time out from the Rusty Brown narrative. I found this one to be shockingly profound and completely identified with the feelings of morose and loneliness. Fantastic emotion is brought out by the mundane in this one. My favorite of his.
Oct 28, 2007 Cody rated it really liked it
Ware continues to explore the alienation of the modern human being and to test the elasticity of the bond between text and image, while still managing to craft a poignant and visually arresting story. I kind of hate him for that.
Jen Jones
Jan 01, 2013 Jen Jones rated it it was amazing
Other than the terribly tiny text, I loved everything about this graphic novel. Have pined for a work entirely about this intriguing character since I first saw her in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern Issue #14. Ware is a prolific genius.
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CHRIS WARE is widely acknowledged as the most gifted and beloved cartoonist of his generation by both his mother and seven-year-old daughter. His Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth won the Guardian First Book Award and was listed as one of the 100 Best Books of the Decade by the London Times in 2009. An irregular contributor to This American Life and The New Yorker (where some of the pages ...more
More about Chris Ware...

Other Books in the Series

The Acme Novelty Library (1 - 10 of 21 books)
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  • The Acme Novelty Library #2
  • The Acme Novelty Library #3
  • The Acme Novelty Library #4
  • The Acme Novelty Library #5
  • The Acme Novelty Library #6
  • The Acme Novelty Library #7
  • The Acme Novelty Library #8
  • The Acme Novelty Library #9
  • The Acme Novelty Library #10

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