I need to start my review by describing what I brought to this book, and what was at stake for me as an individual reader. I studied art history in co...moreI need to start my review by describing what I brought to this book, and what was at stake for me as an individual reader. I studied art history in college; I have both a B.A. and an M.A. in art history. That is to say, I have a deep personal interest in art and the story behind its creation and place in history, but I don't think this really affected me much with this book, since I went in knowing it is fiction. I also have read Christopher Moore books in the past and enjoyed them. I do think this affected my reading of this book, mainly because I went in expecting to enjoy his writing style and humor.
Sacre Bleu was a tough read for me. It took me longer than usual to get through, mostly because I was often bored while reading. Moore has a humorous, irreverent style, but for me, the jokes in this book just weren't funny. It's a very dialog heavy book, but I felt like most of it was throw away dialog. The jokes are mainly having to do with some combination of bonking, shagging, and/or penis, and this kind of humor really ran thin pretty quickly. I wanted more substance behind the jokes, more wit. Instead, it was as if Moore had a post-it on his computer that said, "When in doubt, type 'penis'."
I thought the story itself had a lot of promise. The mystical source of ultramarine, the most expensive and dear of all colors, associated with the Virgin herself. A Colorman and Muse that transcend time to bring both inspiration and destruction to artists. There was a lot of potential there. I never felt the story delivered, though. It felt meandering, and kind of dull. After thinking about it for a while, I decided that this was the result of a combination of lack of character development and just too many things going on in the plot. I'd love to see another writer take on this story, to see what it could have been when delivered with more seriousness and exactitude.
One of the positive attributes of this book is the design. The physical volume is absolutely beautiful. I love the rich blue of the cover, and the design that integrates Toulouse-Lautrec and the Eiffel Tower. There are color illustrations of famous Impressionist paintings throughout the text, which relate back to the story. And the text of the pages itself is blue. Altogether, it's really nicely done and in the spirit of the story.
Sadly, Sacre Bleu is the weakest Christopher Moore book I've read. It lacked the spirit and true humor of his past writing, and struggled with character development and focus. I hope his next endeavor is more successful.(less)
I loved every moment I was reading The Family Fang. If I had to sum the book up in one word, it would be "quirky." The characters are quirky, the situ...moreI loved every moment I was reading The Family Fang. If I had to sum the book up in one word, it would be "quirky." The characters are quirky, the situations they are in are quirky, just about everything about this book is quirky--in a good way. Which is what you get when your parents are performance artists, I guess.
Each chapter of the main plot alternates with a flashback chapter showing one of the Fangs' "happenings," where they would create art through making a bit of chaos. This is always a family affair, and Buster and Annie just have to go with it. From making their kids attempt to play instruments for a street crowd while singing about killing all parents, to creating candy chaos in a mall store, the Fang kids have been exploited by their parents their entire lives. It's no wonder, then, that when they set out on their own they fail, and must seek refuge back in their parents' home.
There are plenty of twists and turns in the story, and you manage to laugh at and feel bad for the characters all at once. This book is hilarious, and will also make you look at your own relationship with your parents and how it evolves as you grow up, as well as your relationship(s) with siblings. This is a surefire good read for fans of The Royal Tennenbaums and anything with Salinger's Glass family.(less)
The world’s first exhibition of Steampunk art was held at The Museum of History of Science at the University of Oxford from October 2009 to February 2...moreThe world’s first exhibition of Steampunk art was held at The Museum of History of Science at the University of Oxford from October 2009 to February 2010. It was a success and drew large crowds of visitors to the museum. This catalog is the result of that exhibition, now in a form where it can be owned, admired, and instructive to those who were not able to make it to the actual event.
In The Art of Steampunk, Donovan attempts to give a summary definition of Steampunk in this catalog, which is meant to appeal to both Steampunk enthusiasts and the layman who knows nothing of the genre and is experiencing it for the first time through the exhibition. We also get a short history of the genre, and samples of work and bios of many of the artists currently creating Steampunk art.
The typography and page layout of this book really worked to compliment the art shown in the photographs, which made the catalog much more appealing to readers and evocative of the idea of steampunk. Nothing can replace the experience of viewing these 3-dimensional art pieces up close and in person, but the photographs still portray enough of the pieces to leave you with a sense of wonder and appreciation for the art.
My recommendation? Have this on hand for when you need a point of reference while reading Westerfeld’s Leviathan or Pullman’s The Golden Compass. Or just keep it on your coffee table to tickle the imagination of guests.(less)