Waste of paper. No, that's not right. That's offensive to the artists as the illustrations were brilliant,but there may as well have been no words. SeWaste of paper. No, that's not right. That's offensive to the artists as the illustrations were brilliant, but there may as well have been no words. Seriously. Very little happens. At least very little that makes sense or contributes to plot progression. Only the last few pages have any real meaning with a humdinger of a cliffhanger that leaves you with multiple questions and countless theories.
We meet Dionysus and Prince lookalike Innana. We find out some superfans believe if they kill a god then they'll absorb their powers, which isn't true for everyone except Baphomet - maybe. Ananke seems to be manipulating the gods into making themselves vulnerable enough for her to kill them. (Is she stealing their lives to maintain immortality? Or is she 'removing' troublemakers?) Ananke deliberately told Bap not to kill other gods because he alone could absorb their remaining time on Earth to extend his own life, and of course, what does Bap do? He's on Ananke's to-kill list after he takes Innana's life. Baphomet's symbolic upside down crucifixion of Innana was interesting. That and Innana's forgiving Baphomet and warning him that stealing his life force will just prolong Bap's misery. It's also hinted that Bap is the one behind framing Lucifer for the judge's death. And finally our naive protagonist Laura is bumped off by Ananke after she turns her into Persephone.
Superfan Laura being murdered during the afterglow of becoming a god came as a shocking cliffhanger. Although I'm not sure I believe she's truly gone due to the god she became. Ananke could've killed her when she was still human, so why didn't she? Persephone travels between two worlds and is separated from her husband in the Underworld and reunited with her mother every six months. Might this have something to do with it?
Taking Laura's parents' lives may have been a tactical move. Perhaps Laura's mother would take on the role of Persephone's mother Demeter. Upset at the loss of her daughter to Hades for half the year, Demeter brings on winter by withdrawing her power over vegetation growth allowing crops to wither and winter to take hold. Laura's mother may not have powers but she could turn the world against the gods after watching Ananke murder her innocent daughter.
We're told only twelve gods are remade. Cassandra turns out to be the twelfth, Urdr, the Norse goddess of fate and a seer of past, present and future as part of the trio of Norns. Notice Cassandra's name is that of the Greek prophetess cursed by Apollo to never be believed. Well, that happens here, too.
Laura is the thirteenth god. (How's that possible?) Being Persephone may explain why her presence is so readily accepted by the gods of the Underworld in Baphomet and The Morrigan since she's married to Hades, by the sky gods Baal and Amaterasu as she's the daughter of Zeus, the love and fertility god Innana as Persephone is also the daughter of harvest goddess Demeter, and finally Dionysus since she's his mother (and Zeus is his father, if you're wondering. Incest, yo!)
The Faust Act didn't exactly blow me away. I'm still frustrated with these characters. They feel shallow and superfluous. Except for Lucifer and she's dead. I miss her. Cassandra feels like Luci-lite and I'm not digging her angst. And Laura's desperation is off-putting.
Having the two characters with the most stage time whacked by the same person in the same way is repellent and repetitive. Whether you loved them or hated them, Lucifer and Laura were our main connections to this universe. By seeing the world through their eyes we grew attached to them. Who's left for us to care about?
A British setting (loved seeing the Excel Centre hosting Fantheon as they hosted fan event LonCon3 last year which I attended), a mixed race protagonist, plenty of non-stereotypical GLBT and non-white characters, vibrant illustrations and a fascinating mythology are all things I admire in the W+D universe. However, a jumpy narrative, the lack of plot progression and meaningful dialogue is difficult to tolerate.
Twelve gods, I think, were too many to adequately develop. It feels as if they're thrown into scenes or forced to converse with Laura just because they've had very little stage time and the audience hasn't had a chance to get to know them yet. This has slowed the pace of the story to plodding (I was so bored reading this) and plot threads have been too quickly resolved (who and why were snipers shooting at the gods?) which was anticlimactic or forgotten until the closing act (Laura's obvious god ability). The Faust Act did a lot more in 144 pages than Fandemonium did in 166.
Reviews of the next few issues of the comic aren't reassuring. It seems plot is completely absent in favour of telling back stories. If one of those is Ananke's then that might be helpful. Should my library purchase the third volume, I may skim it. The Wicked + The Divine's mythology is compelling but I'm not willing to waste money on it....more
As an autobiographical sequel to Fun Home, Bechdel's approach to analysing her relationship with her mother couldn't be more different to how she exAs an autobiographical sequel to Fun Home, Bechdel's approach to analysing her relationship with her mother couldn't be more different to how she examined the one with her father. If you have a problem with dry psychoanalysis, then you may struggle with Are You My Mother?
'I didn't understand why we couldn't just read books without forcing contorted interpretations on them.'
'I still found literary criticism to be a suspect activity. Once you grasped that Ulysses was based on the Odyssey, was it really necessary to enumerate every last point of correspondence?'
These two quotes from Fun Home perfectly describe my frustration with Bechdel's obsession with using psychoanalysis and countless dry quotes in academic-speak to not only figure out her feelings for her mother, but to decipher her sense of self. I began to lose patience for her long neurotic struggle which saw me condemn her many times for tedious self-absorption despite obviously low self-esteem and self-hatred and a feeling of being unworthy of love, affection and praise.
Self awareness may be important for personal growth but you also have to look outside yourself in order to understand who you are and who you want to be in the future.
While bits of the psychoanalysis are spot on, things like poking yourself in the eye is just an accident, nothing more. 'Psychoanalytic insight, [Alice] Miller seems to suggest, is itself a pathological symptom.' I'd agree. Bechdel drives herself crazy trying to find meaning in every little detail. This only lets up towards the end when Bechdel falls back to the insertions of literary criticism reminiscent of Fun Home.
'An insecure parent who did not appear to be insecure, but who depended on the child behaving in a particular way. This role secured "love" for the child-that is, his parents' narcissistic cathexis. He could sense that he was needed.'Donald Winnicott
Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott appears to be Bechdel's hero when it came to the mother-child attachment, so much so that her cat is named Donald. He's heavily quoted throughout and is depicted as a nice man who was amazing with children though he had none of his own.
'It appals me to think how much deep change I have prevented or delayed in patients . . . by my personal need to interpret. If only we can wait, the patient arrives at understanding creatively and with immense joy, and I now enjoy this joy more than I used to enjoy the sense of having been clever.'Donald Winnicott
Winnicott's ideology frames Bechdel's insights and belief's into her maternal bond, although they didn't always feel relevant compared to the significant results of simply recollecting and interrogating the past in a basic fashion.
Alison's mother's reaction to a draft manuscript for Fun Home was not what Alison unexpected. '"...Alison is wrecking my life." She said she felt the dread she used to feel with Dad, of exposure and scandal . . . The crazy thing is I was hoping she'd say something about the writing, you know? That I'd impressed her!'
While Alison is desperately trying to seek approval and affection from her mother, she fails to take into consideration her feelings on the subject matter of her book or the fact that she disapproved of airing the family secrets in public under Alison's real name. To add to that, her mother wasn't used to the comic form as 'she thought there'd be more text and not so many drawings' and believed 'the self has no place in good writing.'
On memoir writers divulging the personal information of others without permission Bechdel writes, "Well . . . writers are kind of monstrous, aren't they? They don't have, like, normal human ethics." She herself transcribed conversations with her mother.
'Mom had told me that she felt I'd betrayed her by revealing things in the book that she'd told me in confidence. I'd thought I'd had her tacit permission to tell the story, but in fact I never asked for it and she never gave it to me. Our truce is a fragile one.'
By writing about her dysfunctional parents in order to understand them, Alison severely damaged her prospects of forming the type of relationship she wanted with her mother. A sad irony.
'I don't know why you can't understand me . . . Whatever it was I wanted from my mother was simply not there to be had. It was not her fault. And it was therefore not my fault that I was unable to elicit it. I know she gave me what she could.'
Alison uses her beloved therapist Jocelyn as a surrogate mother figure to absorb the good feelings Jocelyn had about her. 'Mom and I didn't hug or kiss goodbye. We hadn't touched in years.' It's telling that one hug from Jocelyn and calling Alison 'adorable' seemed to do more for Alison than the psychoanalysis.
Jocelyn's comment, "I think your mother has some resentment about being female that got passed on to you" has some merit. Bechdel's father preferred Alison to look like a stereotypical girl, to wear dresses, have ribbons in her hair, etc. Alison rejected this aesthetic instead going for the tomboy image instead. Her mother being seen to prefer her brothers over her probably reinforced the idea that anything "girly" was bad.
Virginia Woolf's influence in having said writing about her mother in To The Lighthouse helped put her obsession with her to bed, Bechdel declares writing Are You My Mother? she was able to do the same.
Want to know the possible roots of misogyny? Bechdel seems to suggest that womb envy may be one and there's also an implication of resentment towards women for the dependence we all had on them as children.
'Some of what [Winnicott] says is very of that era. "Penis envy is a fact." But then Winnicott "reminds" the audience that "male envy of women is incalculably greater . . . We find that the trouble is not so much that everyone was inside and then born, but that at the very beginning everyone was dependent on a woman. . . The awkward fact remains, for men and women, that each was once dependent on woman, and somehow a hatred of this has to be transformed into a kind of gratitude if full maturity of the personality is to be reached."
Poet and radical lesbian feminist Adrienne Rich is another of Bechdel's heroes. 'The essay in which [Adrienne] Rich cites A Room of One's Own covers some of the same ground as Woolf's Book. Like, for example, the woman writer's peculiar challenge to cease being an object and start being a subject.' As a fellow feminist this makes me want to read Woolf and Rich.
In her struggles to write her memoirs Bechdel came across Freud's inclusion of an interesting quote on writer's block from poet Frederick Schiller.
"The reason for your complaint, it seems to me, is the constraint which your intellect imposes upon your imagination . . . you reject too soon and discriminate too severely."
Reading Are You My Mother? wasn't as an enjoyable experience as Fun Home despite being familiar with psychoanalytical theory. As a theme, it's overused and monotonous and certainly reduces the book's appeal to a wider audience, even fans of Fun Home. Prolonged angst over anxiety, depression and writer's block made it difficult to sympathise with Alison despite experiencing those issues for myself and recognising the symptoms. Although one moment of shared history did tickle me. 'I found I could soothe myself to sleep with a fantasy.' I wonder if other writers and bibliophiles did this as children, too.
As for the drawings, there's a change from Fun Home's blue-tinged imagery to maroon. I'm unsure if Bechdel did this intentionally to represent the stereotypical colours corresponding to the gender of the parent she's analysing. In any case, the warmer colour is easier on the eye....more
Shallow, self-indulgent showing off. Look at my awesome Carrie Bradshaw life, designer shoes, cute daughter and long suffering husband. Envy me, bitchShallow, self-indulgent showing off. Look at my awesome Carrie Bradshaw life, designer shoes, cute daughter and long suffering husband. Envy me, bitches!
Motin really needs to tone it down. Maybe it's because she's French. Nothing of this memoir appears to have been lost in translation, however, the handwriting font is illegible at times but Motin's illustrations are wonderful.
When Motin isn't showing off (boring) I appreciated her humorous frankness regarding the pressures of hair removal, her relationships with her guy friends and the realities of motherhood and the affect it's had on her body.
In some ways Motin's life is very similar to my sister's though with a little less showing off. It must have something to do with living in their respective country's capital cities - my sister in London and Motin in Paris.
If the font was more legible and the tone not quite so snobby, I probably would've enjoyed this graphic novel memoir more....more
I don't know why I bothered. The illustrations may be a little better but the disjointed and confusing short story and its implications definitely werI don't know why I bothered. The illustrations may be a little better but the disjointed and confusing short story and its implications definitely weren't for me.
Serenity's crew suddenly become filthy rich. For a while, anyway. And their 'what I'd do if I were rich' dreams were the only good thing about Better Days.
Engineer Kaylee's dream was obvious - sleeping with Simon and her own ship workshop. Doctor Simon would return to his homeworld with sister River so they can work together in a hospital. Jayne wishes to be a distinguished military captain of a ship, plus some x-rated stuff - no surprise there. Spiritual man Shepherd Book shocks the crew by saying he'd spend his riches on prostitutes, cigars and card games, but he was only kidding. And Wash dreams of a luxury cruiser to pilot and a baby with wife Zoe. I was hoping to find out Zoe's fantasy as she's a closed book but disappointingly it was never revealed and neither was Inara's .
It's implied by Inara that Mal arranged to have the millions delivered into their hands stolen from them so that his crew would remain together, because that is his dream.
A horny and impatient Jayne trying to learn from Simon how to woo a high class courtesan so he can get laid was funny and classic Jayne. And apparently Inara and Simon slept together. Awkward.
Has anyone noticed that Zoe appears to have been decapitated on the cover? Her eyes being vacant and bloodshot adds to the effect. Very odd.
Better Days isn't much better than series debut Those Left Behind. Disjointed and incoherent storytelling, no character growth and little depth make this series pointless as it adds nothing to the Firefly canon.
I seriously doubt I'll read any more of these graphic novels. It's too painful to see these wonderful characters in this disrespectful form. So much more could've been made of these comics if only Joss Whedon put in as much effort as he did with his TV and movie work. One wonders if Brett Matthews is doing all the writing and Joss is just signing off, similar to the James Patterson arrangement....more
"I will gladly do anything you ask as long as it does not harm humans, animals, or property. I will avoid putting myself in danger unless it is to pr
"I will gladly do anything you ask as long as it does not harm humans, animals, or property. I will avoid putting myself in danger unless it is to protect you or by your command. The Tanaka logo on my wrist is the only physical indication that I am an android and I am required by law to keep it exposed at all times. I am not allowed to handle legal tender or helm a vehicle, so please keep that in mind if you send me out on errands. I am in your hands, now. Please take good care of me."
Meet Ada the android
An emotionally depressed 27-year-old Alex in a future I, Robot society with Batteries Not Included robot elves receives his grandmother's birthday present - a Tanaka X5, the first human-looking andorid. (Anyone else get confused with Jessica Alba's X5 genetically enhanced generation in Dark Angel?). Alex has no intention of keeping his grandmother's hugely expensive gesture, finding her sexual partnership with an X5 a little creepy.
Otto looks remarkably like the Fix-its in Batteries Not Included (1987)
For safety, no android is autonomous. Don't bother asking one for an opinion, they have no preferences. Their default is whatever their owner wishes. At least that's what the public's been told, though recent events in the news seem to contradict this. Alex tries to return his X5 but found his conscience couldn't allow it. Her childlike intellect (they learn through experience) leaves her vulnerable. One friend phrased it as ' . . . like getting a girlfriend and a baby at the same time.' No one would treat a baby as property. Instead Alex saw her potential. Loneliness probably also had a hand in his decision to keep the newly named Ada. After all, what's better than having a friend you know won't betray or leave you.
In order to help Ada, Alex searches for the truth behind the headlines using Prime Wave-X, which is a way to telepathically connect to a virtual reality internet via a brain implant. Can androids be more than what they are? Can they be freed from the shackles of slavery? Ada's eventually unlocked like a mobile phone - a painful and illegal process androids aren't guaranteed to survive, and should the authorities find out, everyone involved would either be decommissioned or imprisoned.
Alex's depression and awkwardness in response to this new responsibility were realistic, although he does come across as monotone and unemotional with his lack of conviction or eagerness about anything in particular, which made it harder to care about him. Strange, because I immediately liked Ada, the one without human feeling.
However, the fantastic detailed worldbuilding and illustrations more than made up for it, in my opinion. The technology involved in Alex's morning routine, the news broadcasts reporting on controversial android stories and the virtual reality internet forums have all inspired me to read the next volume. That being said, I've seen I, Robot at least a dozen times and Alex + Ada is very similar in its philosophy. They share themes of slavery, freedom and what it means to be human.
P.S. Watching TV while in the driving seat has already been done. At least Luna's way looks safer and less illegal....more
What kind of teenager are you that you don't have Class A drugs to hand? Hmm? Has The Daily Mail been lying to me? - Lucifer
Every 90 years twelve god
What kind of teenager are you that you don't have Class A drugs to hand? Hmm? Has The Daily Mail been lying to me? - Lucifer
Every 90 years twelve gods from multiple pantheons are reincarnated in young people to live for two years. The gods reincarnated are different each time and don't necessarily live out the full two years, as the opening pages can attest with only four gods left at the end of the last cycle in 1923, skulls perched in the empty seats. Ananke is their guardian, goddess of fate, necessity and destiny. She's their protector, but also their judge, jury and, if necessary, their executioner.
Wicked and divine these characters are not. Irritating, confusing, frustrating - definitely. Intriguing personalities are few and far between despite the range of sexualities, people of colour and genders (e.g. trans, goddesses reincarnated in male form and vice versa). Lucifer, or Luci to her friends, was witty and sarcastic and the only character of interest. I loved it when she took out the snipers. That was awesome. Annie Lennox is famous for her androgenous style with white blonde hair and matching white suit and I'm guessing Lucifer's look is based on her. Seeing Luci's downfall kind of kills any enthusiasm to read the next volume. However, the cliffhanger implies drama queen Laura is Tara, or somehow connected to Luci. This might prove entertaining, though I doubt it.
The Wicked + The Divine is certainly culturally apt. Now is the perfect time to be reincarnated if worship is required for the gods to feed. Celebrity culture is in its prime. Live fast, die young rockstars. Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. (It's odd and kind of icky that they can induce orgasms en masse - I wouldn't want to be on clean-up duty after one of their concerts.) But in an age of technology Ananke's lethal punishment is understandable. PR is everything. None of the gods can be seen to be too powerful, dangerous or out of control. Posing a possible threat to humans would incite war and fans would immediately disappear, leaving the gods vulnerable. However, to conform to a watered down version of their real selves is contrary to their nature, but necessary for survival.
Together with their short lifespan, I can understand why not all of the gods are happy. They have no purpose in their lives other than to entertain humans. A hollow existence. With their abilities you'd think governments and media groups the world over would be tripping over themselves to hire them. The devil makes work for idle hands -no wait, the devil's dead. Never mind.
Antonia Thomas as Alisha in Misfits
I appreciated the British setting in culturally diverse London, the mixed race (like me) protagonist Laura who reminded me of Misfits' Antonia Thomas, the mythological figures and of course the vibrant illustrations.
But I'm not sure why Rihanna gets to be a god in the form of Sakhmet (Egyptian mythology, warrior goddess depicted as a lioness).
Baal reminds me of a self-obsessed Puff Daddy, or whatever he calls himself these days.
Woden's fashion sense is Tron-inspired. (Norse mythology - also known as Odin.)
Baphomet is the dark-haired, shirtless rebel in a leather jacket and sunglasses.
Minerva is a 12-year-old female Elton John lookalike. (Roman mythology, virgin goddess of art, craft, wisdom and magic.)
A scene that utterly confounded me was the introduction of Baphomet and the various personas of Celtic goddess queen of death The Morrigan - Gentle Annie (bald), BadB (red-haired) and the black-haired default. They had an extremely cringe-worthy argument for no apparent reason.
The Wicked + The Divine will soon be adapted for TV by Universal Television, although I'm not sure this is wise when the graphic novel series is still in its infancy with not much material to be starting with. The graphic novels may well become novelizations of the show. As it's not being made by HBO, I won't be surprised if the language and sexual aspects are sanitized, though I hope the demographic diversity remains.
As The Faust Act is the first volume and as yet hasn't finished it's introductions of all the gods, I should probably give the series another chance so I've reserved the second volume at the library. Hopefully the mystery of who framed Luci will be solved and maybe the gods will become a bit more compelling because right now they're the opposite.
Offensive racist stereotyping, rampant sexism, an abundance of rape, clichéd and disjointed storytelling and an unwieldy cast of homogenous charactersOffensive racist stereotyping, rampant sexism, an abundance of rape, clichéd and disjointed storytelling and an unwieldy cast of homogenous characters of which to keep track - what's not to love about this 1940s noir in graphic novel form?
Choosing to read The Fade Out may have been a mistake. I judged this book by its intriguingly pretty cover. I clearly didn't take the possibility of historical gender and race issues and tropes into consideration when forming my expectations. Having never read noir before, this may be par for the course.
Brubaker's Hollywood is a sad and scummy place under the glitz-and-glamour facade. Its ruling elite are selfish, hollow alcoholics with a penchant for illicit sex, drugs and rape. It's a Catholic priest's fantasy with so many emotionally stunted sinners eager to offload their guilt, some of whom wealthy enough to furnish his coffers. Our main protagonist, Charlie, follows this particular pattern by attempting to lose his misery of PTSD from WWII in the bottom of many, many whiskey bottles. Trauma robbed him of his creativity to the point that he could no longer function as a screenwriter. That is until he entered into a deal with a fellow alcoholic screenwriter who's been blacklisted from Hollywood and now ghostwriters for Charlie. Waking up in a bathtub in a stranger's home after a bender with a thunderous hangover and no memory of the night before and stumbling out to find the lifeless body of the star actress of his movie, is how Charlie starts off The Fade Out. An intriguing beginning.
Due to its large cast, there's a list in the opening pages. Despite this I still found it difficult to follow who I was reading about as back stories are revealed one by one. Each character reads like the same person. They're far too similar. All women (bar one, so far) are victims to be used, abused, sold and murdered. Damsels in distress. Watching desperate-to-be-famous actresses meekly submitting to the sweaty hands of ageing, overweight Hollywood heavyweights is unsettling. But what really fired me up was the racist stereotyping of the sole black man as a ravisher of white women, both single and married, for which he's regularly beaten. Historically, black women could go where black men couldn't precisely because of this harmful stereotype condemning all black men for their supposedly irresistible seductive nature around white women. A step too far, in my opinion.
I'm not averse to grim situations or violent altercations. It's the monotony of it all. An absence of contrast. Where are the eccentric and charismatic characters? We have a glut of Frank Grimeses and no Homer Simpsons to balance them out.
Concentrating on character backgrounds and returning to the business of the mystery - too rarely for my tastes - meant the unfolding story felt disjointed. I easily lost the gist of what was happening and I never really got it back again. And the inclusion of real people such as politicians and Hollywood stars - Clark Gable of Gone With the Wind fame, for example - added to the general lack of originality.
I can't fault the quality of the illustrations, however, they do fail the Elliot Test in that they exclusively show female nudity.
Overall, The Fade Out is not something I enjoyed reading....more
An erudite,self-aware feminist memoir, in graphic novel form, examining a lesbian's childhood relationship with her parents - especially her closetedAn erudite, self-aware feminist memoir, in graphic novel form, examining a lesbian's childhood relationship with her parents - especially her closeted gay father. Fun Home is chock full of psychoanalysis, literary criticism and commentary on gender, sexuality and suicide. You may recognise the author's name from her Bechdel Test, which 'asks if a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man' to indicate gender bias (Wikipedia).
I grew to resent the way my father treated his furniture like children, and his children like furniture.
Bruce taught high school English while also being a part-time funeral director. Renovating old houses, including his own, was his obsessive hobby. Affairs with men and sex with his students got him into trouble. Criminal charges were pressed when he gave an underage boy beer, code for the real accusation of homosexuality.
He KILLED HIMSELF because he was a manic depressive, closeted FAG and he couldn't face living in this small-minded small town one more SECOND.
...and when we'd go to New York, he'd go out alone at night. Once he got body lice! But it's not just the... the... affairs. It's the shoplifting, the speed tickets, the lying, his rages.
A couple of weeks before Bruce's death, Alison's mother told Bruce she was divorcing him. If he hadn't (maybe) killed himself by walking out in front of a truck, Bechdel ponders whether she would've lost him to AIDS a few years later.
I measured my father against the grimy deer hunters at the gas station uptown, with their yellow workboots and shorn-sheep haircuts. And where he fell short, I stepped in . . . Not only were we inverts. We were inversions of one another.
Bechdel suggests she compensated for her father's stereotypical feminine qualities--for example, trying to force her to like and wear girly things, and his fondness for the tiniest details of decorating and gardening and flowers--by becoming more butch, masculine.
While Alison always wanted to be a boy, she loved dressing in boys' clothes, Bruce confessed he'd wanted to be a girl. Interfered with as a child, his battle with gender and sexual identity issues and his manic depressive nature surely made for an exceptionally frustrated man.
Perhaps my eagerness to claim him as "gay" in the way I am "gay," as opposed to bisexual or some other category, is just a way of keeping him to myself--a sort of inverted Oedipal Complex.
Although Bechdel seemed to resent her father in childhood, she ultimately felt closer to him after learning of their shared homosexuality. Her relationship with her mother, on the other hand, felt mildly distant and awkward especially in her younger years when a 13-year-old Alison struggled to tell her mother she'd started her period. But those years were fraught with anxieties as OCD gradually monopolized Alison's childhood.
Fun Home is emotionally intelligent despite Bechdel's self-confessed difficulty with expressing her feelings. Although it reads like she swallowed an Oxford dictionary, an Oxford Companion to English Literature and several psychology textbooks, it's intimidating nature in its depth and astuteness is still accessible to those who haven't read the relevant books.
Bechdel's autobiographical journey is told through books and their relevance to her and her family. Most references are made to classic literature and their authors, some of which I haven't read. Albert Camus. Ernest Hemingway. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. The Taming of the Shrew. Venus in Furs. James and the Giant Peach. Wallace Stevens. Marcel Proust. Morning's At Seven. Wind in the Willows. The Importance of Being Earnest and Oscar Wilde. Catcher in the Rye. James Joyce. The Odyssey. Earthly Paradise by Colette. Virgina Woolf. Flying by Kate Millett. The myth of Icarus and his father. And many, many more.
I've got to say I'm curious as to what Bechdel thought of her Philosophy of Art class, whether she found it as confounding as I did.
'A graphic narrative of uncommon richness, depth, literary resonance and psychological complexity.'Kirkus Reviews
Fun Home is the perfect book for studying. It's themes of feminism, lesbianism, psychoanalysis and literary discussion are all written with self-deprecating black humour and irony, making for a compelling read.
Of all of the gothic horror graphic novel fairy tales in this collection, Carroll's unnerving take on Bluebeard 'A Lady's Hands Are Cold' blew me awayOf all of the gothic horror graphic novel fairy tales in this collection, Carroll's unnerving take on Bluebeard 'A Lady's Hands Are Cold' blew me away. It's the most complete and satisfying of the bunch. Gorgeous, vivid illustrations and lyrical yet elegantly simple prose. And the goriest story of them all while the others thrive mostly on what you cannot see.
There was a girl & there was a man And there was the girl's father who said, "you will marry this man."
After moving into her former widower husband's home, this new bride hears a haunting song at night.
I married my love in the springtime, But by summer he'd locked me away. He'd murdered me dead by the autumn, & by winter I was naught but decay. It's cold where I am and so lonely, but in loneliness I will remain, unloved, unhinged, & forgotten, until I am whole once again.
After hearing it repeatedly and gaining no acknowledgement or explanation from the servants, our new bride sends them away and takes a hatchet to the many walls and floors of her opulent home. Body parts are what she finds, of the female variety.
Your hands ... are so warm... & your soft skin so fair... Did you know, little one, that is my necklace you wear? & my bed that you sleep in? My mansion? My lands? I gave my love everything... AND HE CUT OFF MY HANDS. Do you think he loves you now? Think you've usurped my role? When I've torn you to pieces, girl, then I'll be whole.
The opening Introduction sets the scene by showing how a little girl's reading at bedtime had creeped her out, making her scared of what's hiding in the dark leading to difficulty sleeping.
Our Neighbour's House. Three sisters are left alone in the house after their father doesn't return home from hunting. In the event that should happen they were instructed to pack a few items and travel to their neighbour's home. The eldest doesn't wish to leave, so they stay. She says a man had visited her in the night yet there was no evidence of that in the snow and no knock was heard. In the morning she was gone. The same happened with the littlest sister. Middle Sister decides it's time to obey her father's last wish: travel to the neighbour's house, where she meets the very same man her sister's spoke of, except the tale ends with:
My sisters were wrong about one thing: while the brim of his hat is very wide, and while he does smile (indeed, it looks impossible for him to do anything else), it is obvious, just at a glance, HE IS NO MAN.
His Face All Red. A cowardly little brother is jealous of his sociable and popular older brother. Coward murders Popular after the hunt for the wolf plaguing the village ends in Popular slaying it. Coward pretends the wolf plaguing his village had killed Popular and takes the credit for taking the wolf's life. Coward then gains the praise he's always craved as well as all of his brother's property. Until Popular walks in alive and well. Tell-Tale Heart style guilt and panic leads to Coward going to check his brother's body. It's still there. Still dead. Who and what is the identical imposter?
My Friend Janna. A Regency period tale of two friends, one of whom does readings for fun, pretending to talk to the dead while the other makes scratching noises and other sounds for dramatic effect, exploiting people's grief and misery. Until one day Janna is haunted for real to the point of insanity while Sound Effects friend really can see ghosts.
The Nesting Place. Classic horror movie fare. Set in the 1920s. Cars are around but the female fashion is loose-fitting shapeless attire.
But the worst kind of monster was the BURROWING KIND. That sort that crawled into you and mad home there. The sort you couldn't name, that sort you couldn't see. The monster that ate you alive from the inside out.
Bell is picked up from boarding school by her much older brother. He takes her to meet his soon-to-be wife Rebecca for the first time. Bell hates her on first sight. She's far too nice and accommodating. Rebecca disappeared for a while as a child and came back changed. Red worms can now come out of her eyes, nose and mouth. She's a mother protecting her monstrous babies who need new hosts. Bell tries to scare her into isolation with the fear of discovery and experimentation if she should travel into the city. Bell and her brother go alone and during the trip she learns he's infested too.
In Conclusion.'There once was a young girl... who lived at the edge of a deep, dense forest.' Little Red Riding Hood having to be lucky to avoid the wolf every time she travels through the woods whereas the wolf only has to get lucky once. Eep. It reminded me of The 10th Kingdom.
AlthoughThrough the Woods tickled me a bit with its dark, lyrical and mysterious tales, my reaction after finishing a couple of the stories was 'I don't get it. Is that it?' An incomplete feeling left me thinking those tales were forgettable throw-aways. My favourites were the ones with slow building tension to a gory ending; A Lady's Hands Are Cold followed by His Face All Red and the Conclusion....more
As Chast's parents aged, she recognised the need to care for them, and she did, until they died. Graphic novel memoirCan't We Talk about Something MorAs Chast's parents aged, she recognised the need to care for them, and she did, until they died. Graphic novel memoir Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? details her uncensored journey with humour and poignancy, examining her changing relationships with them along the way.
Being a middle aged married mother, Chast had alot on her plate already without having to worry about her 90-year-old parents living a couple of hours away. But when the increasing grime and clutter became disturbing, and as they refused to get someone in to help, it was time to move them into assisted living. Convincing them that this was for best was difficult, to say the least.
Roz:How's your cataract-removal-operation recovery coming along?
Mother:GREAT! It's like there was a yellow scrim over everything - and now it's GONE! I still have a patch over the eye, though. But not to worry: there's plenty of food in the house - Daddy and I just came back from Waldbaum's!
Roz:Mom! Listen to me. You can't drive with one eye. You have no DEPTH PERCEPTION!!!
Mother:Not a problem. Daddy guided me.
Chast's experience really resonated with me. She confesses to the things I feel embarrassed to admit, things I feel guilty about, as well as detailing the weirder and more messy aspects of illness and advancing age. I definitely related to the tedium of the never-ending paperwork.
Relationships with her parents were complex. Her mother was brash and never hesitated to give a 'blast from Chast'. Roz's father, on the other hand, was the exact opposite.
...he was kind and sensitive. He knew that my mother had a terrible temper, and that she could be overpowering. She had a thick skin. He, like me, did not. She often accused my father of "waling around with his feelers out."
In many ways, my father and I were more alike than my mother and I. We were both only children, and less used to the constant emotional tumult between people than my mother, who was one of five.
Although the subject matter is somewhat frightening in reminding us of our mortality, Chast's memoir isn't depressing. It's frank and reassuring. Death is only mysterious because we don't talk about it. By shining a light on the end stages of life, I feel informed. I've been enlightened.
"The Devil doesn't want her, and God's not ready yet."
However, Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? also shows the need for medical euthanasia. DNRs don't go far enough. Both parents lingered in pain and unconsciousness. Quality of life did not exist for them in those last days and weeks. It seemed unconscionably cruel to prolong their lives when they could no longer partake in life's joys, in even something as simple as communication, in all its forms.
Upon finishing my library copy I immediately bought myself one. The hardcover feels lovely to handle. It begs to be touched. If you're even a little bit intrigued by this book, read it. It's definitely worth reading....more
For the first time ever I like a Neil Gaiman novel. I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.
It wasn't until I came across a Guardian article with the aboveFor the first time ever I like a Neil Gaiman novel. I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.
It wasn't until I came across a Guardian article with the above image that I decided to give Gaiman a another chance. I mean, how bad could a feminist retelling of Sleeping Beauty be? Besides, the library had a copy so only an investment of time would be required.
A post-curse Snow White is a warrior queen about to get married to a seemingly inferior and submissive man she does not love. When the dwarfs report that the Sleeping Beauty curse is spreading rapidly into Snow White's lands she jumps at the chance to leave and attempt to break it despite the many princes and knights who've died trying over the years.
It's only when she and the dwarfs arrive at the castle that Gaiman's story really sets itself apart from other fairy tales and their retellings. Zombie-like sleepwalkers bent on killing. An elderly (and tragic) lady guardian and a Sleeping Beauty who aren't what you expect. A chaste kiss between Snow White and Sleeping Beauty to break the curse. And an ending which didn't feel quite right.
Instead of returning home, Snow White runs away from her royal responsibilities and her groom to travel with the dwarfs. Why not return home and refuse to marry? And abdicate the throne, if she really doesn't want to be queen? That takes more strength than running.
Everything I've read by Gaiman (his children's books) have received no more than two stars. Though he has intriguing ideas, his execution of them is poor, rarely gripping, and written in too few pages to do them justice. Bland characters I felt little for, one way or the other, is another common complaint. But yes, I had similar issues with The Sleeper and the Spindle. They weren't as pronounced this time. It's the unexpected and feminist twists that really sets this one apart. Black, white and gold illustrations were also positives I enjoyed. ...more
Be warned, Gaiman doesn't really rework Hansel andHaving liked The Sleeper and the Spindle, I assumed I'd enjoy another reworked fairy tale by him.
Be warned, Gaiman doesn't really rework Hansel and Gretel like he did with Sleeping Beauty, he just enlarges on it, adding minor changes along the way. Oddly I enjoyed this story more than any other by Gaiman, which probably tells you more about how much I like, or dislike, his work than anything else.
Lorenzo Mattotti's illustrations feel inappropriate for a children's book, in my opinion. They're 95% black brushstrokes with tiny bits of white. Since the cover of The Sleeper and the Spindlefeatured gold on the cover in addition to black and white, which were all present in the illustrations within, I assumed the green on Hansel & Gretel's cover would feature in the illustrations here as well. I was wrong. These are just black and white. Perhaps the illustrator was aiming for gothic, but when I can't even tell what a couple of them are supposed to be representing, there's a problem.
However, there's a random illustration which doesn't match the narrative. Only after reading the last two pages, which detail the source of the Grimm tale and a few paragraphs describing the original work, did I realise what had happened. Apparently a duck helped the duo cross the river in the original version and this is depicted in one of the illustrations. But Gaiman doesn't include the duck in his retelling. Did Hansel & Gretel even go through an editing stage?
Grimms' Hansel and Gretel was published in 1812. Twelve year old Dorothea Wild, known as Dortchen, was the source of the tale. She later became Mrs Wilhelm Grimm in 1825.
A hundred years before the Brothers Grimm, French author and fairy-tale collector Charles Perrault recorded "Le Petit Poucet," or "Hop-o'-My-Thumb." Hop-o'-My-Thumb, the smallest and cleverest of seven brothers, is also born to woodcutters who put the children out due to famine. Like Hansel, he uses trails of pebbles then breadcrumbs to find his way. The brothers stumble upon the house of an ogre who vows to kill and eat them, but Hop-o'-My-Thumb tricks him into slitting his daughters' throats instead (by swapping their caps). By the end of the story, "Hop-o'-My-Thumb." ends up with the ogre's money.
An Italian tale, "Nennillo and Nennella" is also similar. Then there's Russia's Baba Yaga who promises no to eat the children if they can complete impossible tasks. Kindness to the animals sees them help the children in completing the tasks in order to escape. Baba Yaga may have been inspired by in part by Cupid and Psyche's story in The Golden Ass written almost 2,000 years ago.
I want to award Gaiman's retelling a high rating, but it's not Gaiman's story. He hasn't made it his own like he did by adding a feminist twist to Sleeping Beauty. Sure, it's been reworded, and feels smoother and more eloquent for it, but there isn't any one thing I can definitively point to that sets it apart from the original. For me, the sometimes inarticulate illustrations detracted from the reading experience, as I sat there trying to figure out what exactly I was looking at. I felt they were incongruous and would've been better placed in art book or a gallery wall where I could've appreciated them more.