Full disclosure, I reviewed this book at the request of the editor Dan Reilly, who gave me a free copy to review it.
I've never read a literary magazinFull disclosure, I reviewed this book at the request of the editor Dan Reilly, who gave me a free copy to review it.
I've never read a literary magazine before, with the exception of the fiction in Harper's. So this was a new experience for me, and I don't have a lot to compare this magazine with.
And, I must say a Rating of 3 stars is something I feel is inaccurate, and my best attempt to review this issue of the magazine in whole. There are some stories in here that are definite "5s" and some that I just really didn't like.
In general, I was not a fan of the "flash fiction" -- poetry or short-short stories, that I found in this issue. Without exception, I enjoyed these much less than the short stories. I'm not a poet nor am I particularly learned in poetry, but I know that I find poetry much better when it is read aloud. So I will have to warn that my opinion about the poetry should be taken with a grain of salt.
In general, the fiction in this issue shares a pretty coherent voice. And that, I think shows that the editors have found a coherent voice for their magazine.
Despite the fact that there was some stuff I didn't like very much in this issue, there were some stories that I found extremely well written and enjoyed reading, such as "Passing Through" and "The man who wouldn't jump." Both of these have stayed with me since I've read them, and I've thought about many times. There were several stories in here, which I thought were decently well written, and were very enjoyable to read "Not Donating to the Alumni Fund" and "Putting in the Work." None of the short stories were poorly written, showing that the editors have made some great selections. And actually, there were some very disturbing stories in here, which I didn't like because they were just so disturbing, but I can't help but say they were well written. Specifically "Memento Mori" and "Zeke Stargazing." And this last type of "don't like but well written" I think speaks the most to the level of literature they are putting in this magazine, as it has the capacity to evoke such strong emotions.
In general, this is a really good collection of transgressive literature, and if you like that, and you like reading literature magazines, go for it. Even if you don't know what that is, if you like dark realistic fiction that examines the motivations and thoughts of outsiders, criminals, the insane and other outcasts, this issue is for you....more
This book is some sort of corporate propaganda for Ebel Watches.
The book tries to draw metaphor between watch makers and architects. This is attemptedThis book is some sort of corporate propaganda for Ebel Watches.
The book tries to draw metaphor between watch makers and architects. This is attempted by using a metaphor between Ebel's, somewhat nonstandard and architecturally interesting, head quarters and the watch making business that they do.
The book was pretty much nonsensical and exceptionally hard to follow. At first I figured that it must have been written in another language and (poorly) translated into English. But, I think that it is actually just that bad.
The art was uninspired and the only cool thing about this book is that it did creatively use a mixture of colored and black and white panels. (Which I imagine were because the budget for the book could only include so many colored panels.)
Plot Synopsis, basically sans spoilers, old guy with a washed up life checks into a Motel amidst the emergence of the 13 year Cicadas. He checks intoPlot Synopsis, basically sans spoilers, old guy with a washed up life checks into a Motel amidst the emergence of the 13 year Cicadas. He checks into a hotel room, begins popping pills to commit suicide. He reminisces about his life and mistakes. Calls and escort, all while Cidadas buzz around.
Ultimately, this is a short graphic novel and it is pretty clearly the author's first attempt. I don't know for sure that this is the author's first published graphic novel. But it is the only work I've found listed anywhere. And, it is impressive for a first work. However, it leaves a lot to be desired. The portrayal of the main character and his personality shortcomings is way too ham fisted. His back story, wanting to be liked, is way to thoroughly explained. As is his complete fall from grace. Also, the "twist" is way too over the top.
Also, I'm pretty sure the Cicadas are a metaphor for something, but it is completely unclear what.
So, to concisely sum it up. The things that the author shows, such as character development, are way too clear, and the things the author doesn't show enough of, such as metaphorical themes, are way not clear enough.
However, the Author does do some good, impressive stuff. The way that you feel about the main character, from sympathetic to plain pity at how screwed up he is. The ability to control your reader's emotions this way shows good skill. Furthermore, the back story was explained pretty tersely, which shows good writing skill as well.
The art was not bad, but it wasn't really anything to write home about. It would be more than sufficient if the author's writing was a little better.
Ultimately this book shows quite a bit of promise, and if I see something else from this author again I'll definitely give it a read.
I read this book because I got it on super sale from the old location of Elliott Bay Books....more
This is an autobiographical graphic novel about a guy who gives up on romantic love and instead decides to have sex with prostitutes. The book startsThis is an autobiographical graphic novel about a guy who gives up on romantic love and instead decides to have sex with prostitutes. The book starts with being dumped by his last girlfriend, swearing off love. He then, eventually decides to start having sex with prostitutes because he doesn't want to be celibate and he doesn't have the social skills to pick up women for one night stands. The book follows his history of paying for sex. The last 5th or so of the pages are a series of appendices and notes. The Appendices contain a significant amount of time and space devoted to the authors arguments in favor of prostitution (and against romantic love.)
If you are looking for an honest account of prostitution, this is it. Unbiased, it is not. The author is a proud whoremonger, and this book is his policy piece for why.
I also would take a significant amount of umbrage with the authors arguments in favor of prostitution. And I say "in favor of prostitution" here, not "in favor of legalization (or decriminalization) of prostitution." Because he, clearly, thinks prostitution is awesome.
Now, I would like to state that I am, actually, in favor of legalization of prostitution. For totally pragmatic reasons. I find it totally fascinating that prostitution is illegal, but so hard to control, that the police basically have no choice but to tolerate it. The current status of prostitution (legal but tolerated) in America is such that there are a large number of women participating in it, but who have all the downsides of working in an illegal field. Basically, I think that it is impossible to enforce prostitution laws, and also impossible to stop prostitutes and johns from participating in this trade, SO it should be made illegal to protect the prostitutes. However, I believe it should be regulated and taxed. I would like to add that I think prostitution is a sad thing, and it is against my personal moral beliefs. HOWEVER, I think that it is a personal choice and non of my business what other people do, so I do not judge them.
Chester Brown takes a completely different stance in this book, stating that he thinks prostitution should be decriminalized (not legalized.) Because it is none of the governments business if people are paying for sex. I'm not going to refute each of the authors points, point by point here, but suffice to say, I think his arguments are fairly delirious. At a high level, the author alternates between making pragmatic arguments in favor of one point, and arguing idealistic points (against pragmatic points that oppose his ideas.) But in the end, his argument just comes across as sounding like this: "I like prostitution, and I don't want everything associated with it that legalization will bring (such as paying taxes.) So I want it to be decriminalized." All in all, the author comes across as actually quite selfish in this book.
Furthermore, during his arguments, he says (numerous times) "This may be hard for people to understand, because they have not thought about it as much as I have." To this, I can only say "F*ck You, Dude." If he doesn't understand how dismissive and condescending that comes across in a debate (or persuasive writing, as in here) he's pretty hopeless.
Also, the series of arguments that the author puts forth against prostitution that he argues against are total strawmen. I'll cut him some slack in that it is hard to present opposing arguments and then argue against them without falling into strawman arguments. But still, the appendices of his book are pretty much a strawman gallery.
Not only does the author argue for a change to the legal status of prostitution. He also argues for a change in the social status of prostitution, arguing that it should become social acceptable. Now, as I said before, I don't judge people who engage in prostitution (Well, I do judge sex tourists who go to third world countries to have sex with prostitutes, but other than that...) I don't think we should go around condeming prostitutes or their patrons. I don't really think that is anyone's business. And if you go around making people feel bad for that behaviour, you're pretty much a dick. However, I do not think that prostitution should become socially acceptable. And I think that as I am tolerant of people who participate in prostitution. People who engage in prostitution should be tolerant of those who don't and think it is morally wrong. We just should be accepting and not condeming, while we are free to define our own morale compasses.
The author also spends a great deal of space in the book devoted to arguing that romantic love is bad. He thinks that it is unrealistic and overly idealized. I agree with him, that in the west, this is the case. But I think he goes to the opposite spectrum, he overly demonizes romantic love, and that isn't particularly useful either. I think people in the west need a more pragmatic view of love. but to say romantic love is evil, as the author does here, is just as bad as overly idealizing it.
The author portrays himself as a sensitive guy, but really he comes across as pretty creepy. The way he talks about women and their bodies is very superficial. On the one hand, I do applaud him for being honest, but on the other hand he does appear do be very into women and their looks (in the traditional sense) and unaccepting of nontraditionally hot body types.
All in all, the author seems like a very peculiar guy. He pretty much states this himself in his book. And his friend, who he let write a rebuttal, also states this. His friend states that Brown has a "limited range of emotions." And if I had to guess (which I don't but I will anyway) I would guess that the author falls somewhere on the autism spectrum. So, I think that prostitution works for this guy, and I'm not condeming him for it. I don't think it would work for me. I'll take some real human connection (sans exchange of goods or feduciary instruments) with my sex, thank you very much. But I think that in most cases, prostitution is not a good thing for the men and women to engage in. But I'm not to be the judge of that, and everyone has to make that decision for themselves. In actuallity this is pretty much what is going on right now, so we should just change the laws to allow this and let sex workers pursue their careers safely and legally.
I read this book because I saw it at Elliott Bay Book Company and I was buying some graphic novels to go on a trip with. Also, because I have a sort of morbid fascination with the phenomenon of prostitution and how it is illegal but basically tolerated....more
This is a collection of five short stories by Etgar Keret, each one illustrated by different artists. All the artists and the author are Israeli.
ThereThis is a collection of five short stories by Etgar Keret, each one illustrated by different artists. All the artists and the author are Israeli.
There are 5 stories in total in this book:
HaTrick: A magician's favorite trick becomes a horrible surprise every time he performs it. Margolis: A kid is given a piggy bank to save up for a toy. However, he becomes more attached to the piggy bank. Jetlag: A surreal story of a transatlantic flight where a guy is being wooed by a stewardess while being seated next to a demented little girl. Passage To Hell: A town in Uzbekistan houses the gates of hell, and every damned soul gets a day out every hundred years. This is the story of a woman who falls in love with one of these damned souls. The Romanian Circus: A man falls in love with a clumsy tight rope walker.
HaTrick was quite disturbing, and it may be an effect of the translation but it came across as quite ham fisted. I liked the story, Margolis, quite a bit. When I was a kid, I remember feeling bummed out about having to break a piggy bank to get the money out of it. So I sympathize with the kid, and his overly sentimental tendencies. Jetlag was really weird and kind of disturbing. The passage to hell was an interesting story, but i only liked it a little bit. The Romanian Circus was kind of a cute love story, but I didn't really like it that much. I only liked the art in Margolis story. The Romanian Circus had OK art. And I actively disliked the art in the other stories.
As a Jew, I feel some connection with Israel. As that is where most of the Jews in the world live. However, this book really underscores, to me, how different Israelis are from me culturally. Rarely, do books feel this foreign to me. Or, that may be Etgar Keret, or the translator. It is hard to say. Though, I may try to read some of his other works in translation, just to get an idea on if it is Israelis I feel alienated from, literarily, or just Keret....more