Faulkner is some kind of author, constructing these gorgeous, intense, lavishly long and winding sentences full of commas and semicolons (my favorite)Faulkner is some kind of author, constructing these gorgeous, intense, lavishly long and winding sentences full of commas and semicolons (my favorite) and parentheses and interesting adjectives and surprising offhand observations that still give one pause (to think on one's own experiences and how they connect with those offhand observations so casually made yet so often ringing with a certain timeless and often sad truth) and somewhat dismissive bits of characterization (that don't feel so dismissive once one again pauses (although it is hard to pause when the sentence goes on for so long, one could get lost) and thinks over what was just said because Faulkner doesn't seem like the sort of author who just casually dismisses a character; close observation of what he is trying to say is of paramount importance) and a narrative that ebbs and flows, starts and stops; clearly the narrative is not the most important thing in his stories. He is like a talkative lover who wants to talk and talk and talk about their love and their passion and who wants to try all sorts of new things, who wants to take you into their world, surround you, just really take you over; I'm not usually into those kinds of lovers but they and Faulkner can be so overwhelming that my defenses are forced down and I have to do things in a new way, their way and his way, and in the end it's not a bad experience, but it is their experience that I have become a part of; as I said, it's distinctly like being taken over, at least temporarily. Faulkner doesn't make things easy for his readers, he wants them to live in his world and in his mind and so his passion and ease and experimentation with language (including a first for me: parentheticals that cross two paragraphs! I'm not sure I've come across such a thing before, certainly not something I recall from reading Faulkner in the past, in high school, with the fearsome and possibly senile southern belle Mrs. Durham, rest in peace.
Ah, Mrs. Durham! A terrible person in many ways, but hearing her lavish praise of Light in August day after day, despite her students' decided lack of interest, made me realize that passion can be expressed for many things, including and perhaps especially for books.) and his desire to immerse his readers in his worlds by challenging them with that - one would almost say - berserkly baroque use of language, that kind of storytelling, vivid and visceral yet loose and casual too, it is like a delicious provocation that a person like me, who likes challenges, certainly cannot resist. Faulkner's style is like the Old Man River of this novella's title: a force to be reckoned with: a flood that just sweeps and pulls everything inside of it, your will be damned. "Old Man" swept me away for a little while, but it was at times a distancing experience as well, characters who made some kind of sense to me but characters that are still unknowable by the end, despite all of the words words words. And despite all of the words words words, these characters barely talk! Everyone locked in their stony worlds, their barred cells where they follow their own rules and things like empathy and kindness are never given, man that journey down the river, the people our convict and our pregnant lady come across, the lack of compassion, I could barely understand it: why can't the people in "Old Man" and why can't people in general just show some goddamned mercy?
I didn't understand it until in one terrible flood of understanding I did understand it: I'm like those people too, especially that trio on the boat who refuse to shelter our convict and our pregnant lady, clearly in dire straits and out in terrible, life-endangering weather, they showed compassion in their own way by giving some food but they didn't take in our convict and our pregnant lady on the verge of giving birth; just as I didn't take that poor homeless guy and his cat on a leash huddled in a doorway in either, not when I see them in the sunlight nor when I saw them last night in the torrential rain and terrible cold while on my way home from the store, all I can do is spare some change and maybe pick up some cat food for him, but the thing is, I could have, there's room in my basement, not the best accommodations but it is outside of the fucking rain and cold, but no, I'm not going to do that, I'm going to walk on and feel sad and help out in a small way that doesn't matter much but I'm not a bad person, not really, and so I realized these people are not "bad people" either, and what does that mean anyway, they are just people who are looking out for themselves and don't want to compromise their world and that's like me and the convict and the pregnant lady too, we all live our own lives and follow the rules of our own worlds, even when we could do otherwise, we do what we know and stick with what we know; and so after all of his adventures and his amazing bravery in protecting our pregnant lady, at the end our convict is back in his jail cell, not much the worse for wear, and he's happy to be back in the box where he feels the most comfortable, where he understands who he is. Just as I'm happy in the box where I'm comfortable. Personally I don't think Faulkner believes in these boxes; well, he respects them in his own way, and he doesn't hold the fact of the box against the person who lives in that box, but I doubt he believes they are necessary to truly living a life. He's too outside of the box to think that way, I think.
mildly entertaining riff on the BPRD/Hellboy supernatural secret agents uncover the supernatural! type of adventure. the featured agent is surprising:mildly entertaining riff on the BPRD/Hellboy supernatural secret agents uncover the supernatural! type of adventure. the featured agent is surprising: SPOILER...
a kickass mermaid who sheds her fishy appendages on dry land, once taken in by kindly super-scientist Doctor Arcturus (great name), now sent on missions impossible. this time, the Loch Ness Monster. Johnson has flair in his storytelling and the narrative is fast-paced without being confusing. unfortunately the dialogue is at times unbearably stilted, particularly when using a regional dialect. the art by the author is bold and vivid but not particularly memorable, with two strong exceptions: a sepia-toned flashback to various past adventures that was a lot of fun; an especially strong sequence within the last few pages of issue two, when our heroine begins what is a genuinely disturbing transformation in front of increasingly rattled bystander....more
a dank and grimy scifi murder mystery, with heaps of Lovecraftian horror: a familiar but successful hybrid of Alien and Event Horizon. Cloonan does aa dank and grimy scifi murder mystery, with heaps of Lovecraftian horror: a familiar but successful hybrid of Alien and Event Horizon. Cloonan does a great job with her protagonist, a prickly and standoffish ex-con out to solve the mystery of her sister's death. Alex Braith is sympathetic, but only slightly. she comes across as distinctly unlikable (and a bad sister to boot), but she's still head and shoulders above the rest of the untrustworthy, double-talking crew and passengers of the Titan-bound space rig The Southern Cross. the story becomes pretty hallucinatory the closer the ship gets to the other-dimensional threat, but the narrative remains taut and focused.
I quite liked Andy Belanger's art, which makes the interior of the ship feel gloomily subterranean. his characters are drawn well; I particularly enjoyed the ship Captain, who looks like a saturnine cro-magnon with a surprisingly hip haircut hidden under his cap. Belanger's increasing use of triangles to signal otherworldly incursions was also very well done. triangles are surely the eeriest and most threatening of all the shapes!
I don't know if I will be continuing with the series, but I enjoyed what I've read so far....more
poor Hugo Strange! according to one of my closest friends, Wikipedia, the now sadly left behind Mr. Strange was one of Batman's earliest antagonists:poor Hugo Strange! according to one of my closest friends, Wikipedia, the now sadly left behind Mr. Strange was one of Batman's earliest antagonists: he debuted prior to such luminaries as Joker and Catwoman, was sharp enough to deduce Batman's secret identity, and apparently created a whole bunch of, shall we say, "Monster Men". and yet time has not been kind to him, and his infamy has faded. all we are is dust in the wind! unless there is a big screen version of us, I guess.
this title seeks to redress that sad state of affairs, with poor result. set a year after Batman became active, the book tries very hard to capture a sort of retro appeal. unfortunately Matt Wagner - usually an intriguing writer - is surprisingly stale here, resorting to overly familiar characterization that does little to breathe new life into his cast. he does a particularly poor job with the annoying female lead. his art is also decidedly on the mundane side of things with an over-reliance on square jaws, even on his women - rather than looking atypical, the unfortunate Miss Madison ends up looking like Bruce Wayne in drag.
Wagner does try though. he juggles multiple first-person perspectives, to no great interest, but at least he tried to juggle. and despite the mainly unattractive line work, there is the occasional panel here and there with imagery that is bold and compelling. the MVP of Batman and the Monster Men is actually inker Dave Stewart, who shades Wagner's drawings in pleasing tones of gray and mud-brown (plus the occasional mold-green) that create a noirish retro atmosphere sorely lacking elsewhere....more
overall quite delightful. the young students at Gladstone's School for World Conquerors are the daughters and sons of various super-villains, excitedloverall quite delightful. the young students at Gladstone's School for World Conquerors are the daughters and sons of various super-villains, excitedly anticipating the time they can follow in their parents' villainous footprints. little do they know, the world outside their school has moved past such old-fashioned and often deadly endeavors like "battles between good and evil"...
this G-rated superhero spin on the always popular School for Special People plot is mainly a lot of endearing fun. full of nice little surprises here and there too, not least being the Shazam-type alpha hero turning out to be (view spoiler)[a little bug in a robot human body! (hide spoiler)]. the writing is cheeky and bright, especially paired with the sparkling, high quality art. I do wish the kids had a bit more personality, especially the girls - who would certainly fail the Bechdel test. still, the book has a charming cast: the leads Kid Nefarious and Mummy Girl have no depth but are still an adorable pair (I especially liked how Kid N's stylish scarf is matched by Mummy Girl's cloth tendrils) and I loved angsty siblings Skull Brother One and Skull Brother Two.
subsequent issues would feature a different, equally enjoyable style of art, but with writing that is too strenuously cute and snappy. I imagine it would be hard to keep a comic genuinely kid-friendly while exploring villainy; still, it was disappointing seeing the series' students - and their parents - become so thoroughly heroic. fortunately, in this collection at least, there is enough (kid-level) super-villainy tartness to balance out what could have been a too-sugary experience....more
features an eerie journey underground and an increasingly amusing journey above ground as Adam finally meets the right girl while desperately racing bfeatures an eerie journey underground and an increasingly amusing journey above ground as Adam finally meets the right girl while desperately racing back to the starship that has at long last been built and is ready for that much-delayed journey to Earth.
summary: Creepy creatures dwell below; sunlit love throbs above.
Adam enters two very different hunting grounds at the mercy of one very aggro alien race. it is full of Adam turning the tables on the bizarrely aggreAdam enters two very different hunting grounds at the mercy of one very aggro alien race. it is full of Adam turning the tables on the bizarrely aggressive Dirdir and various unpleasant human assholes, often using amusingly outside-of-the-box tactics. this novel also has Adam crying with relief after he finds a lost friend, which I thought was just the cutest thing.
summary: Hunting grounds built to hunt most humans don't take into consideration that Adam Reith is not most humans.
Adam explores more of Tschai as he attempts to carry out a rather eye-rolling plan to gain a starship and flee back to Earth. he takes in many sightsAdam explores more of Tschai as he attempts to carry out a rather eye-rolling plan to gain a starship and flee back to Earth. he takes in many sights along the way via various water vehicles, and falls afoul of two cultures: the insanely stylized Yao and the sinister Wankhmen, who may have a very different relationship to their alien masters than outsiders realize. are these Wankhmen actually topping from the bottom?
summary: A travelogue featuring haunting journeys along haunting waterways as various communities are noted and often avoided.
this is my favorite of the four. I think that Vance is at his best when he describes relaxed water journeys full of contemplation on the topics of the strangeness of life and the fascinating oddness and diversity of human cultures.
details the arrival of one Adam Reith to the ancient world of Tschai. this is a world where men live in the shadow of four alien races who have long sdetails the arrival of one Adam Reith to the ancient world of Tschai. this is a world where men live in the shadow of four alien races who have long since made it clear that the human kind is the loser kind. Adam at first just wants to go home, but his burning anger at the injustice of it all means that he finds himself empowering his fellow humans into throwing off their shackles and fighting back for once in their loser lives.
a bed of roses should have been sweet Felicity's place of repose, herself an English rose, one more delicate thanreview for Armed with Madness here.
a bed of roses should have been sweet Felicity's place of repose, herself an English rose, one more delicate than that often hardy breed, but English through and through. a certain kind of English - to the manor born, as they say, but destined to live out her life in a country cottage. alas, poor Felicity! too good for this world, too fragile, too in love with the idea of love, with the idea of a world of beauty; too easily wounded by the thorny realities of both. farewell sweet Felicity, dainty flower, found dead in a muddy ditch.
a manor full of English flowers, last seen Armed with Madness, now finding themselves bereft of weapons altogether. poor little flowers! trapped in their little world.
what can a flower do against encroaching evil, the banality of it? how can a flower halt construction? the taking away of English countrysides, the slow push from callow, selfish men and women with small, small minds and a desire to take and take and take. how can a flower solve the mystery of even one woman's lonely death? a flower bobs with the breeze, turns to the sun, wilts from the lack of it... how can a flower protect its surroundings or save a person from their fate? they are trapped in their English dirt. such flowers can only hope for the best, huddling close to each other and dreaming their flowery little lives away.
four years passed before this strange and often lovely book followed its predecessor, Armed with Madness. that novel's cast of characters has been trimmed, all the better to place in this glassy narrow vessel. Mary Butts' relationship to her characters has changed as well: what were once a flock of chattering, untrustworthy birds have become transformed: those that remain are as perfect flowers in a perfect English garden, frail and exquisite, symbols of all that is good and kind. and yet their scent is not an overly intense one, nor cloying, their goodness and kindness wispy and ineffective but still a pleasure to experience. it is as if all of that noisome thoughtlessness and backstabbing, their preening and posing, were but a stage in their development, a brief stop along their way to adulthood. I far prefer these winsome, sheltered flowers to those troublesome birds.
poor Mary Butts, to the manor born, a writer of prickly talent, a lover of men and women, friend to Jean Cocteau and Ezra Pound, acolyte of Aleister Crowley, a modernist of sublime but wayward talent, now forlornly obscure.
a repulsive obsession with The Problem of the Jew, creeping quietly through her story, delicately broached at first, a comment here and there, a slight slight, and then becoming increasingly bold, the Jews a symbol to Butts of all that is coarse and grasping in the world, her anti-Semitism unfolding like a malicious flower of evil. best to stamp out such poisonous blossoms! alas, Mary Butts, such a rare mind and yet one held back by its own smallness, the toxic quality of her prejudice decaying the beauty of her talent.
but talent will out and Mary's talent blooms beautifully from this book, despite the rancid garbage smell wafting from her moronic malice towards the Jewish kind. her delightfully off-kilter way with words, the love of country and cottage, her sharp and peppery dialogue, the palpable distaste for crudity and unkindness, her skittish narrative perfectly matching her high-strung characters, the sentimental but never mawkish love of England. her tenderness when revealing the inner lives of her favorites and the melancholy ruminations of those creations, full of wonder at how little they truly know. the halting, flowing rhythm of her prose. and, as with Armed with Madness, an ending replete with shocking but coolly described violence, coming from a minor character in the preceding work, now a central one in this novel. cruel and careful Boris, an outlier among these flimsy flowers! his violence was quite a refreshing tonic, an exciting exclamation point at the end of a long and winding sentence.
poor Boris, a Russian exile, trapped beyond his means in a bed of English roses, an amoral young man hardened by his life, once a delicate flower himself before the White Russians were driven out by the Red. he is a far more interesting interloper than the American abroad of the first novel. Mary Butts is at her best when spending time with this amusing, brooding, unpredictable, nakedly vulnerable, coldly ambitious, hungry, greedy fellow. the mystery of poor Felicity Taverner's death may never truly be solved, but sweet, heartless Boris will exact his revenge nonetheless.
Ultra Comics is the lodestone of Morrison's absorbing Multiversity meta-epic. on the narrative level, we discover the reasons behind the various atta
Ultra Comics is the lodestone of Morrison's absorbing Multiversity meta-epic. on the narrative level, we discover the reasons behind the various attacks on various dimensions. on the thematic level, we have a fascinating examination of "cannibalism" in all of its forms - from the constant devouring & regurgitation & devouring again of comic book tropes and icons to the cannibalistic relationship between art & critic & audience to, well, actual cannibalism (very cleverly literalized as superheroes consuming other superheroes). on the ¡GRANT MORRISON MAGICK! level, we have a comic book as transcendent sigil, enticing comic book readers to come together and create something beyond panel and page with er the power of their imagination.
the art by Doug Mahnke is fine, sorta Frank Quitely light. and the rather large team of inkers and colorists certainly did a good job - everything really popped. the writing is smart, sardonic, and clearly energized by finally being able to spell things out to the audience and get to the heart of what makes The Multiversity tick.
Morrison hits his targets perfectly. too perfectly. on the nose x infinity. it was all pretty interesting to contemplate and there were many moments that amused and entertained, but overall it was less than compelling to actually experience. I like to read the text in search of the subtext; it turns out I'm not too big a fan of the subtext being front and center. sadly, it appears I can only take so much meta in my fiction.
(view spoiler)[which is hugely hypocritical of me because so many of my reviews have so much meta in them. like this "spoiler" that you are reading right now. mark monday: hypocrite! (hide spoiler)]
that is the hero of Earth 33 - "Earth Prime" i.e. our world. this hero's name is literally Ultra Comics. he is talking to you, dear reader. to you and to me and to all the comic book readers of the world. unfortunately it wasn't my favorite sort of conversation. a bit cringey, to be honest.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Happy New Year to you all! it certainly has been some kind of a year. and Happy New Year to Locke and Jean too, or rather, Happy New Life! the thrilliHappy New Year to you all! it certainly has been some kind of a year. and Happy New Year to Locke and Jean too, or rather, Happy New Life! the thrilling but often horrible and tragic events in their preceding book together certainly warrant some kind of hopeful message.
for the most part they get over it. Lies of Locke Lamora was mainly a whole lot of fun, but the terrible deaths that occurred were genuinely upsetting, and I appreciated how Lynch didn't just rush past the trauma that Jean and especially Locke experience after losing so much. I appreciated Lynch's compassion and sincerity, doled out in advance of and in between all of the fun and excitement.
Red Seas is a worthy follow-up book in many ways. the odd science fantasy of this series still intrigues, the adventures are still rousing, the mysteries are still compelling, and the dialogue still snaps, crackles, and pops. Lynch is a brash but also warmly humane writer who loves his characters deeply but doesn't love them in a way that overlooks their flaws. he's not blinded by the sparkle of his creations. somehow Lynch is one of those authors whose writing makes me like him as a person, as a human being. I have no clue about who the man is, but I still just really appreciate him.
that said, there is a deep flaw in Red Seas: its structure. the novel starts off as a retread of the previous novel by placing the reader right in the middle of one of Locke's new schemes and the subsequent complications (namely, another complex and amusing heist that gets taken over by darker schemes from darker characters). from the title, I expected a pirate adventure and was a wee bit disappointed. still, Lynch creates an entirely new society and although I was taken aback at how instantly familiar the scenario itself was, I was enchanted by this new country. he's an expert world builder. but halfway through the novel, that storyline is shunted to the side and then Pirate Adventures finally ensue. and then in the last few chapters, it is back to the original plotline. everything is enjoyably resolved, but those last chapters felt sadly rushed. and at that point I wanted more Pirate Adventure! which is clearly what Lynch himself wanted to write about. the central section is the heart and soul of the novel. I loved it completely. I just thought it was remarkably clumsy how we got to there and how we left as well - it starts off as a side trip and then becomes the actual adventure. it took me a bit of time to get into it because although it is exactly what I wanted to read when I first picked up the book, I immediately felt impatience when I realized the story of heists and double crosses was being temporarily abandoned. all in all, what Red Seas Under Red Skies lacks the most is flow. its narrative was herky-jerky.
I hate that my longest paragraph in this review is basically a bitch session. well, I guess that explains the 3 rather than 4 stars. but overall I quite liked this and would certainly recommend it. I wish I could make this paragraph longer!
the MVP of the tale is the pirate Captain Drakasha, who also happens to be no-nonsense ex-military, someone possessed of a surprising sense of humor, and... a single black mother of two. because why? because why not! I'm mixed-race and although I don't seek out books for racial diversity in their characters, it always makes me happy to see more people who look like me in the books I read, and I'm always delighted when it happens in a way that doesn't feel like tokenism. Drakasha was an amazingly unexpected creation to find in a story about fantastical pirate adventures on the high seas. she is fun and original and, best of all, deeply characterized. just a real pleasure to be around. I wanted much more of her and that's a great feeling to have about any character.
at the end of the book, after all of the adventure and even more tragedy, friends sit down to have a drink, try to forget about the year they just had, and temporarily put on hold the foreboding they have for what may lie ahead. and I'm going to do the same in matter of minutes. cheers! I hope your 2017 is a good year....more