Seth doesn't like drawing eyes and feet. Feet, I understand, and yet he renders them quite well. His buildings are superb. In the middle of this hands...moreSeth doesn't like drawing eyes and feet. Feet, I understand, and yet he renders them quite well. His buildings are superb. In the middle of this handsome sketchbook (circa 2000), he started to avoid eyes. Subsequent group shots have 3/4 of the people wearing opaque glasses or caught restfully mid-blink. The quantity of blinkers lend quiet grace to the pages. But I can't help but notice roughly one set of minimal eyes in every group of eight. For groups of four, everyone is blinking or wearing glasses. Pre-2000, he does expressive eyes well. Post-2000, blink, blink, glasses, blink, glasses, two tiny eye-dots, and blink. I wonder if he got bored with eyes, hates them, felt he spent too much time on them for paltry reward, etc. What's the rationale, Seth? Regardless, this is solid work. (less)
The problem with this collection is that The Love Bunglers is the strongest story arc of Jaime Hernandez's career. This volume should hook new adheren...moreThe problem with this collection is that The Love Bunglers is the strongest story arc of Jaime Hernandez's career. This volume should hook new adherents immediately. But fair warning, this is Love and Rockets at its best. If you love it, there are other L&R story arcs that come close (e.g. Heartbreak Soup, Human Diastrophism, The Death of Speedy). If you don't, chances are L&R isn't your thing.(less)
I love Los Bros Hernández, and of course Jaime's artwork is gorgeous here. But what stops Return of the Ti-Girls, a reprint volume, from reaching the...moreI love Los Bros Hernández, and of course Jaime's artwork is gorgeous here. But what stops Return of the Ti-Girls, a reprint volume, from reaching the beauty of Love and Rockets, Vol. 5: House of Raging Women, is that the latter amazing book captures a subculture unaddressed elsewhere in comics and pop culture: women's wrestling.
Meanwhile, Ti-girls takes a pomo approach to superhero comics. Young and elderly, Latin women as superheroes subvert the established paradigm of stale manboy tropes. This is great for adding diversity to an insular masturbatory genre. Though, I personally hate that genre. Regardless of who dons the cape and leaps off buildings, I am not interested. And avoiding superhero comics is a key reason why I read Los Bros Hernández.
The Bros do what they want, and I like that. But reading this storyline in Love and Rockets II was like sitting down to a rare early film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and instead of the usual German art film, finding that on a lark Fassbinder filmed himself watching and providing acerbic commentary for Superbowl V 1971 ("Zee Cowboys from Dallas see nussing but kalt death in zee eyes of the Colts. Zee Cowboys from Dallas are overcome wiss despair"). Football wasn't what I was looking for in Fassbinder. Superheroes, no matter how diverse, was not what I was looking for in these comics. If you are, these are well drawn. But not me. I want to avoid superheroes altogether, except where they belong, in summer blockbusters.(less)
Gilbert Hernandez brings a retro z-movie slant to the story of a busty heroine popping headshots into zombies. Fatima is purposely amateurish and tone-deaf. It belongs with horror movies like Troll 2, Birdemic and Sharknado. Such movies accomplish the meagre goal of inspiring ironic commentary from smug midnight-movie goers. While admittedly this isn't my taste, it seems like Hernandez gave up on the comic in the last few pages. He may have reached a certain page count and knew the comic would not continue. (view spoiler)[In the last page, the main character leaves all the survivors and drives away from the morass of decayed civilization (and the convoluted storyline), and simply says: "Whatever." Whatever indeed, Gilbert. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Given this collection's line-up, it should be the definitive collection of Giuseppe di Lampedusa minor works. This collection contains:
•The Professor...moreGiven this collection's line-up, it should be the definitive collection of Giuseppe di Lampedusa minor works. This collection contains:
•The Professor and the Siren •Blind Kittens (i.e. the two stories) •Places of My Infancy (i.e. the memory)
Unfortunately, time has made these translations somewhat stale. The stories are good in spite of the translation, but the better, more au courant translations can be found in the recent NYRB edition.
What's sadly missing from the new NYRB edition is "Places of My Infancy." Though this "memory" is a problematic work, since it is somewhere between a curio and newly found answering machine message by Bigge Smalls laid over a single by The Police.
Here's the genesis of the memory: Lampedusa's wife was a psychoanalyst. He was inconsolably melancholic after his ancestral home, which he had lived in all his life, was bombed to pieces during WWII. Since he was bookish, she suggested he write out his memories of the home as a curative exercise. He wrote Places of My Infancy. This served as a template of sorts for The Leopard, and with renewed vigour, Lampedusa began a short writing career.
Places of my Infancy is kind of strange, sadly poetic and adorable. Lampedusa leaps between giving the reader a subjective, spatial tour of his house in words, and accumulating impressions of the objects and people of his childhood. He's a rustic royal giving you a tour of his old palace, which is no longer a home but a private museum of reminiscence. Included in this collection are archival photographs of the author, his town, surviving balconies, gardens, stairs and stuccoed wall art.
But I'm already a fan. I would watch a Lampedusa hologram order an espresso and scrawl in a notebook while his latest P Diddy-produced, dinner invitation card was read over "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da." So, you probably would do well not to take my word for it, and read The Leopard if you feel so inclined. (less)
After reading, and in some cases re-reading, Sculptor's Daughter, I came to the conclusion that A Winter Book is a much better collection of Tove Ja...moreAfter reading, and in some cases re-reading, Sculptor's Daughter, I came to the conclusion that A Winter Book is a much better collection of Tove Jansson's stories, because the latter contains an abridged version of Sculptor's Daughter. I am all for directors' cuts and expanded artistic visions, but the extra stories in Sculptor's Daughter add nothing. These extra stories are more of the same. In certain ways, they were repetitive and more vague than the rest.
In Sculptor's Daughter, Jansson captures how children think and seamlessly blends a child's imaginary games with straightforward vignettes. Child-Tove is quite a whimsical little shit. For example, she kills a crow and then says a prayer for it. She tries to get a monkey sick and then makes a sweater for it. While it definitely felt authentic, the author's kid-voice became tiresome at 192 pages.
A Winter Book is a product of solid editing. It contains the right amount of Child-Tove stories. It also showcases beautiful stories from Jansson's other short story collections (Travelling Light and Art in Nature). (less)
The Zoo Where You're Fed to God (ZWYFTG) features a surgeon who might b...moreA DIVORCED SURGEON GOES TO THE ZOO AND GOES CRAY.
Sort of, not really, kidding.
The Zoo Where You're Fed to God (ZWYFTG) features a surgeon who might be going insane, or possibly having a mid-life crisis, having a spiritual awakening, or having a bad staycation in which he stops being himself. There's a sort of punk pixie girl and she might be manic, but less so than the surgeon. And there is the zoo, the surgeon's ex-wife and his son.
I liked how Ventura poetically explained that the surgeon's existential fear, and that his need to challenge and control the world drove him to study surgery. I admired how the story deftly cut away from surgery to avoid being technical and avoid exposing Ventura as out of his depth.
I liked the chief idea(view spoiler)[: People who hear voices may be spiritual or gently crazy or both. Modern society has a low threshold for sanity, because there are too many of us and no one is really paying much attention to anyone else. Therefore, as long as the spiritual or gently crazy don't get violent or frighten other people, if they pass in society by maintaining a harmless exterior, they should carry on and everyone should let them. They are harmless. And all was well, and all will be well (hide spoiler)].
Ventura has this great passage about how today the boundaries of sanity are defined by a shelf or two of books. Yesterday, they were a different set of books. Tomorrow, they will be a altogether different set of books. Therefore, be yourself, do what you do, read what you read. Speed up the change of those shelves or not, because in the long-run, those boundaries do not matter.
I also like a subsidiary idea that floats through the surgeon's mind(view spoiler)[: Humans are the agency of an extinction event. Humans living longer and continuing to multiply are wiping the world-slate clean instead of an asteroid, an ice age or a pestilence. Whatever we do, we are ruining the environment for ourselves, our fellow animals and insects. But the world will move on and create new beings after this depleted set of creatures is erased by human infestation. Michael Ventura was more melancholy in explaining this thought. I'm giving it a darker spin and not doing him justice. Rather than an excuse to begin pillaging or to stop recycling, I personally find this apocalyptic idea calming (hide spoiler)].
Ventura explores the good and the bad aspects of zoos: People get to see wild animals, but the animals are in cramped cages, but the animals are preserved in zoos while their wild habitats are destroyed, but the captive gene pool is so small that animals no longer resemble their wild counterparts over time, etc.
It's also the first LA book that made me intrigued about the city, which I have not yet seen a point in visiting. In ZWYFTG, LA is a dusty place, wild at its edges, instead of a sprawl filled with Hollywood, porn, violent gangs and violent police.
ZWYFTG is a meditative work. It took me some time to adjust to the book's rhythm. Not much happens for quite a stretch. The author maintains a calm and soothing tone as the protagonist slowly falls out of touch with himself and his family. I had to push myself initially, but I found the novel worthwhile.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)